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Honduras: News & Updates

Honduras did not experience civil war in the 1980s, but its geography (bordering El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua) made it a key location for US military operations: training Salvadoran soldiers, a base for Nicaraguan contras, military exercises for US troops. The notorious Honduran death squad Battalion 316 was created, funded and trained by the US. The state-sponsored terror resulted in the forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of approximately 200 people during the 1980s. Many more were abducted and tortured. The 2009 military coup d’etat spawned a resurgence of state repression against the civilian population that continues today.

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News Article

On February 20, the Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN) hosted a webinar to launch its new report:  US Intervention Monitor Report: One Year of Xiomara Castro, One More Year of US Intervention in Honduras. With the participation of more than 90 people, primary report author Karen Spring related how the US State Department has been reacting to, responding to, and intervening in the reforms that President Castro is trying to put forward. Many of her policy initiatives are campaign promises she made  in response to calls from communities all over the country who have suffered tremendously during the 12 years of the narco-dictatorship.  Continuous interference from the US is aimed at  weakening the Honduran government’s agenda and undermining President Castro’s progressive platform.

Things got so bad that on October 31, 2022, Honduran Foreign Affairs Minister Enrique Reina requested a formal meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, Laura Dogu, to present a formal protest against the ambassador’s public statements disapproving of new government reforms. Specifically, the ambassador criticized the new president’s Energy Reform Law, Temporary Labor Law, and the repeal of the legislation that gave birth to the widely unpopular Zones of Economic Development and Employment (ZEDEs, or charter cities).

It would be impossible to overstate the damage done to Honduran democracy and economic development by U.S. domination historically and in the recent past.  Public comments, behind-the-scenes meetings, and political coercion are some of the many ways that U.S. interventionism seeks to maintain U.S. power and its economic interests in the region. There’s a pattern to these actions which repeats again and again in both Honduras and the rest of Latin America.

See the article below for the Facebook Live recording and the link to the complete report. PDFs are available in both Spanish and English. See also the link to the opening remarks by HSN member Judy Ancel who set the context for the webinar and report by giving us an overview of US imperialism in the region, past and present.

What can we do? At the very least, we can share this report with foreign policy staffers at the offices of our US representatives and senators. For a sample email script, please contact or call (216) 961 0003. Thank you.

U.S. INTERVENTION MONITOR: One Year of Xiomara Castro, One More Year of U.S. Intervention in Honduras

News Article

Madam President… the decision to halt the massacre of rural peasants in El Aguan is in your hands

Published Feb 18 2023

The Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ) condemns the February 12th, 2023 assassination of peasant leader Santos Hipolito Rivas and his son Javier Riva. This shameful criminal act is followed by an uplifting of the demands of family, friends, cooperative members, and other relations of the deceased:

1. Santos Hipolito Rivas was active in fighting for peasants’ rights and for recuperating land from agrarian reforms, and received a lot of threats to his life because of this. The Honduran government has an obligation to protect him, and to seek justice against the unpunished perpetrators of his murder and the murder of many others.

2. They demand an immediate investigation into the murders and for justice to be served, for the crime against Santos Hipolito Rivas and for all of the crimes committed against peasants in the Aguan Valley. They call on the government to stop acting as servants and accomplices to the agribusiness powers that have been usurping peasant lands since the 80s.

3. They remind the Honduran government and President Xiomara Castro that this is the seventh assassination of peasant leaders in the course of two months. They further remind the government that it is supposed to be a government of the people, and to ensure the life and integrity of peasant families.

4. They denounce the businesses and narco-dictatorships directly responsible for the critical situation in Bajo Aguan. They further question why so many military and police personnel can be mobilized to protect agribusiness, but not to stop the murders and human rights abuses committed against rural peasants with impunity by agro-industrialists and their gangs.

News Article

Guapinol defenders deliver 2nd volume of illegalities and environmental damages to Carlos Escaleras National Park

Published from Tegucigalpa on Feb 24 2023 by Marcia Perdomo

Original article in Spanish

On February 23rd, communities defending the Carlos Escalera National Park and the Guapinol River travelled to the capital to turn in their second volume of illegalities and environmental harms caused by the mining megaproject to Honduran government agency SERNA. After SERNA placed the burden of proof on citizens to prove that the mining operations were illegal, community members submitted their first volume of documentation to the agency on February 6th regarding the pelletization plant and other aspects of this megaproject, which is funded by businessman Lenir Perez.

Institutional technical rulings have already proven that the mining mega-project has manipulated legal information to favor investor Lenir Perez and engaged in fraudulent practices. The reports presented by the community highlight some of the technical shortcomings of multiple aspects of the mining mega-project. In addition, the environmental license for the project was renewed until 2025 during the administration of former president Juan Orlando Hernandez, without notifying community members who had filed opposition to the project, breaking the entire administrative procedure. SERNA, under new leadership, was forced to notify community members and ask them to submit evidence.

Communities are asking for the cancelation of the mining project, and have been very brave in putting forth evidence that both contradicts the story told by the corporation and is shameful to government institutions who should have presented this evidence long ago. On January 7th, two environmental defenders named Aly Dominguez and Jairo Bonilla were murdered traveling near Guapinol, and the community has denounced sightings of drones over the homes of other environmental defenders.

News Article

Honduras has seen massive oppression towards Indigenous land defenders. In the past two months alone, seven social movement members were assassinated in the northern Honduran Bajo Aguán Valley. All of these murders are traceable to a rising food and African palm industry in the country. The largest for-export player in the Honduran African palm business is the Dinant Corporation, controlled by the most powerful land baron family Facussé. Some members of the infamous Facussé family are already directly implicated as the 'intellectual authors' and financiers of the assassination of prominent land and Indigenous rights defender Berta Cáceres in 2016. For years one of the largest investors and profiteers of Dinant's violent operations was the internationally known World Bank. 

The post below provides summaries and links to a collection of articles on topics like the recent assassination of Hipólito Rivas and his 15-year-old son on February 12, the assassinations of Berta Cáceres and Gregorio Chavez in 2016, the history of violence and oppression in the Bajo Aguán area between 2009 and 2014, the US and Canadian backed coup, activism by Rights Action and  the connections between the food and African palm industry, Dinant Corporation and its business partners like the World Bank and violent land barons.

As one article points out, violence against Indigenous communities and land defenders is far from a local Honduran problem. All over the world, corporations work together with oppressive industrial agriculture land owners, paramilitary groups and friendly governments as a means to smash any opposition and generate as much profit as possible.              

News Article

In 2022 there was a record level of violence against members of the LGBTQ+ community in Honduras, specifically in the capital city of Tegucigalpa. The majority of the murders were of gay men and were committed with firearms, and 80% of these murders have gone unpunished, with only 11% even investigated. These murders come along with a rise in other forms of violence against LGBTQ+ people, including threats, discrimination and physical attacks. The Honduran government, under the leadership of Xiomara Castro, has neither protected nor fulfilled campaign promises to the LGBTQ+ community, including the promise to institute sex education classes that discuss sexual diversity from a non-binary point of view. 

artículo completo en español abajo

News Article

In 2009 Honduras saw a violent military coup, overthrowing the then president Manuel Zelaya. With this coup a new system to generate foreign investment was established. The new president and Congress came forward with a law which would allow the creation of so called "Zones for Employment and Economic Development" (ZEDE). ZEDE's are near-tax-free areas within Honduras, governed by private corporations. 

The first attempt to create these ZEDE's was blocked by the Honduran Supreme Court, but this didn't stop the political actuaries. First the Congress impeached the opposing Supreme Court judges, then engineered a new ZEDE law, working around regulations. 

The newly established ZEDE's operate comparable to so-called Charter Cities and are influenced by economic powerhouses like Hong Kong and Singapore. The self-governing corporate territories are known for providing barely any public services besides private police and military forces. Furthermore they:

  • trample rights of the Indigenous and Afro-Caribbean populations
  • force small farmers to sell their land 
  • put extra wight on surrounding communities providing schools, hospitals etc.
  • avoid usage of national currency by using crypto  
  • worsen tax evasion and drug trafficking
  • deny international labor and environmental regulations 
  • violate basic principles of democracy and undermining the national sovereignty

The problems with the ZEDE's are especially notable in Honduras' tax income. If the charter cities weren't shut down, Honduras would lose as much as half of its current sales taxes by 2025 and the equivalent of all of its current import taxes by 2026. 

So far the Honduran Congress has always worked in favor of the ZEDE's, for example toughening the punishment for blocking properties and businesses, making it easier for (private) police forces to repress protests. But the table has turned. With the election of the first opposition government since the coup in 2009, ZEDE's became a hot topic. In its electoral campaign the Liberty and Refoundation (Libre) party promised the elimination of the ZEDE's, a promise they acted on. Among the first laws passed by the new Congress was the outlawing of charter cities. 

To stop this long overdue step, supporters of the ZEDE's pointed out unproven benefits like,

  • helping in the fight against unemployment, a false statement. Since the establishing of the ZEDE's numbers of employment haven't changed. 
  • addressing corruption. An absurd claim remembering the fact, that the former director of the oversight board was secretary for the now jailed ex-president. Till today he still draws a salary, even after going into exile in Nicaragua to escape corruption and a drug trafficking investigation against him.
  • heading off the influence of China. In fact, China is the biggest investor into ZEDE's and already has a massive influence through the charter cities. 
  • pushing trade, investment and growth. The facts show a different picture. Since the introduction of the ZEDE's, the GDP trade percentage dropped in five of the eight years and is now lower than before. In the same time period, the foreign direct investment GDP percentage decreased every year except for 2018, and the GDP growth was below four percent in six of the eight years. 

Supporters additionally compare the ZEDE's to nearshoring in Central and South America, while concealing the fact that Honduras'  ZEDE profits have always lagged behind those of 8 other Latin American countries' nearshoring profits.

But the strongest opposition comes from the usual suspects. Members of the United States Congress are threatening Honduras with withdrawal of aid, forced restitution payments and a limitation of Honduras' share of the private Partnership for Central America investment plan, led by Vice President Kamala Harris. This would undermine the core intent of the plan, to invest to stem migration from Central America.

One thing is definite: the end to the ZEDE's is a necessary and long overdue step to secure labor, environmental and human rights. It is outrageous, though not surprising, that United States congresspersons make themselves accomplices to corporations oppressing the population and destroying a country physically, and politically as a means of profit generation.

We have to support Honduras in its struggle for a democratic future.