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Demand transparency & accountability to promote democracy and defend human rights – please support IRTF


IRTF was founded in Cleveland, OH, in 1981to call people here in the U.S. into solidarity with the people of Central America to promote peace, justice, human rights, and systemic transformation through nonviolence.

Four decades later, the people of Central America face formidable challenges like the rolling back of democratic advances, forced displacement from communal and ancestral lands, and attacks on human rights defenders—harassment, threats, false criminalization, and violence (including assasssination). Our solidarity is as important now as ever.

In El Salvador

Human rights groups are denouncing the flawed electoral process early this year. Tens of thousands took to the streets on June 1 when President Bukele was inaugurated for a second term, in clear violation of the country’s constitution. MOVIR (Movement of Victims of the State of Exception) decry Bukele’s mass incarceration policies that have rocketed El Salvador to the #1 ranking in the world for incarceration rates. The whereabouts of many of their families members are unknown. The broad net being cast to detain alleged gang members is also being used as a cover to capture political dissidents. But testimonies of human rights attorneys, advocates, and victims of Bukele’s state of siege are unmasking the realities of violence, torture and political persecution occurring in El Salvador.

In Guatemala

The center-left candidate Bernardo Arévalo was sworn in as president in January, but he’s up against incredible obstacles to move democracy forward. Among the names on the U.S. State Department’s Corrupt and Undemocratic Actors Report (and those on the sanctions) list are the nation’s attorney general, federal court judges, congresspersons, and the current president of the Constitutional Court. Meanwhile, the Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR) is defending the Indigenous Maya Ixil families who lost members during the genocide under General Fernando Lucas García whose military was aided and equipped by the United States. In 1999, President Clinton apologized to the people of Guatemala for U.S. support of right-wing governments during the 36-year civil war that wiped out tens of thousands of Indigenous Maya communities. In 2024 the U.S. has a particular responsibility to see that justice for the Maya families prevails and that democratic institutions are strengthened in Guatemala.

In Honduras

Since 2015, the Afro-Indigenous Garífuna communities along the Atlantic coast have received three separate favorable ruling from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The court decisions show that the Honduran government was either complicit in or directly responsible for the stealing of their ancestral lands. Garífuna community leaders have become more emboldened and outspoken over the past decade. In retaliation, they have been victim to increased repression.

For the past 15 years, IRTF has been working closely with the Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN) that was formed in 2009 after the military coup that ousted the democratically-elected president and reigned in a 12-year narco-dictatorship.  Together with HSN, IRTF succeeded during the last Congress to get more than 60 congresspersons to co-sponsor bills to protect human rights in Honduras. This month, IRTF went back to all of the foreign policy staffers in those offices (I personally walked through the Cannon, the Longworth, and the Rayburn House office buildings to drop off packets at 70 congressional offices in one afternoon!) to drum up support for H.Res.1278 to affirm the cultural and ancestral territorial rights of the Garífuna people. IRTF is also talking with foreign policy staffers in all of Ohio’s congressional districts.

Our advocacy for the Garífuna people is part of a larger campaign for accountability regarding the role of the U.S. government in enabling the 12-year narco-dictatorship. On March 8, the former president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández (commonly referred to as JOH), was convicted in U.S. federal court on charges of trafficking drugs and weapons. But for several years the U.S. had propped up JOH, the narco-dictator, whose administration was known for rampant corruption and systematic militarized repression against pro-democratic protesters. Human rights activists, land defenders, and campesino leaders suffered. Honduras became the deadliest country on the planet for environmental defenders, as marked by the high-level assassination of Indigenous defender Berta Cáceres in 2016.


What did the U.S. know about the establishment of the narco-dictatorship and when?

How can we ensure that U.S. tax dollars are never again used to finance organized crime and human rights abuses committed abroad?


Our Campaign for Accountability is demanding

1.the declassification of documents pertaining to U.S. involvement in the 2009 coup and post-coup administrations

2.Congressional inquiries and investigations of U.S. government support for the coup, and whether U.S. officials acted negligently and/or lied to cover up abuses during the post-coup administrations, like electoral fraud, violence, and extrajudicial assassinations

3.reparations for victims of human rights abuses

4.immediate end to U.S. opposition to progressive reforms being put forward by the current president of Honduras as a means to roll back harmful post-coup policies and address root causes of out-migration from Honduras


We depend on your support to move forward for justice, transparency, and accountability.

Please support IRTF as we demand that the U.S. Congress investigate how and why—despite warnings and serious concerns of rights violations and corruption—the U.S. continued to provide funding, technical, and military/police assistance during the narco-dictatorship in Honduras.

Please join with IRTF in calling for transparency and accountability. Support our commitment to dismantle systems of oppression, end corruption, promote democracy, defend human rights, and protect the precious lands and vital waterways of ancestral peoples in Central America.

More than 80% of our modest budget comes from individuals like you who are deeply concerned about social, economic, and environmental justice. We do not have any large foundations giving us large grants. We do not seek any government funding of any kind. It is your endorsement as an individual donor that gives us the autonomy to be flexible as needs and circumstances change in this volatile political climate. We need, appreciate, and thank you for your generosity.

In hope and solidarity,

Brian J. Stefan-Szittai, Co-Coordinator


P.S. In honor of IRTF’s 44 years, please consider a gift of $4 per month or more. Your donations support accompaniment with vulnerable and oppressed communities who, like all of us, deserve safety, care, dignity, and respect. Thank you!


How to donate

check: IRTF, 3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland OH 44113

@irtfcleveland PayPal or Venmo