Honduras: Murder Rate Surges Deflating Hopes for Better 2019

A report by teleSur on 10 May 2019 gives details of the 2019 homicide rate in Honduras. Extracts from the teleSur report are given below.

“We cannot place a policeman or military member on every bus.”

The number of violent deaths in Honduras has gone up in April and May, sometimes by a rate as high as 98 percent over figures from 2018.

According to a report by the General Directorate of Forensic Medicine and the National Observatory of Violence of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (OV-UNAH), between Jan. 1 and May 8 of 2019, 1,258 people were murdered – a rate of 10 per day. While the overall number for the year is lower than the 1,340 registered homicides that took place during the same time last, the number of deaths in April and May of 2019 have increased significantly.

April 2019 saw 78 more violent deaths over last April and in the first 8 days of May there were 113 violent deaths, 38 more than those that occurred in the same period of the previous year.  

Wednesday (8th) was an especially violent day with 25 murders taking place all over the country according to a report by Criterio. The deaths were registered in cities such as La Ceiba, Choluteca, Danlí, Lepaterique, Teupasenti, El Paraíso, San Pedro Sula and Santa Cruz de Yojoa.  

Just the day before on Tuesday at the Central American Security Conference 2019 run by the United States Southern Command, and including Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico as observers, the head of the Armed Forces of Honduras René Orlando Fonseca had said that Honduras “lives in a climate of peace and security” and that “violence is sporadic.”

This year, 274 homicides were reported in January, 258 violent deaths in February, and in March there were 251 homicides, figures below those registered in 2018 during the same period.

Those three encouraging months of reduced homicides in the country were overshadowed, however, by the high incidence of deaths in April and the start of May.

Spokesman for the Secretariat of Security Jair Meza, a high ranking police official, attributed the increase in violent deaths to “gangs and gangs linking up to acquire territories for the sale of drugs in different neighbourhoods.” Meza argued that another factor causing the high incidence of homicides is extortion, mainly in the transportation sector.

According to Sepol (the Police Statistical System), last Wednesday the driver of a local bus was executed on the Boulevard del Norte, apparently because of extortion.

“We cannot place a policeman or military member on every bus,” says Meza.

Israeli and US Troops to Honduras

By Martin Mowforth

Key words: Honduras; foreign troops; Southcom; migration prevention; counter-terrorism; Olivia Zúñiga Cáceres; civil unrest.

1,000 Israeli troops to Honduras

In May this year a multilateral treaty between Honduras, Israel and the United States saw the deployment of 1,000 Israeli soldiers to Honduras to train the Armed Forces of Honduras and the National Police. The treaty was forged between Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the inauguration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

The main mission of the troops is to train for border protection to prevent migrants fleeing Honduras to the USA, but they will also offer training in the fight against drug trafficking, investigation and counter-terrorism. (It may be a forlorn hope that they will unearth and expose the terrorism practised by the US forces in Honduras against so many Latin American nations.) The 1,000 troops will be stationed with the Joint Task Force of the US at the Soto Cano air base in Palmerola, the largest US military base in Latin America. 

The presence of Israeli soldiers is part of a bilateral cooperation agreed between the two countries and signed before Honduras transferred its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Another agreement between the two countries (signed in 2016 and for a period of ten years) commits Honduras to purchasing a million dollars’ worth of arms and military equipment and the repowering of ships and planes.

Olivia Zúñiga Cáceres, a deputy from the Partido Libertad y Refundación (Liberty and Refoundation Party), explained that the 2009 post-coup government “began to make military agreements where the Honduran army would receive more training, and it is all paid for with the taxes of the Honduran people, so that all of the general budget that was destined for health, education and public services is reduced.”

Zúñiga Cáceres (who also happens to be one of the daughters of the assassinated leader of COPINH, Berta Cáceres) went on to describe the Israeli armed forces as: “specialists in genocide, specialists in torture, which they do against the Palestinian people.”

300 US troops to Honduras

Another Southern Command (Southcom) brigade of US Navy and Marine soldiers arrived in Honduras at the beginning of June to “improve disaster response and other crisis situations”.

As Popular Resistance.org writes, “Southcom has been a controversial actor in Latin American politics for many years since its founding as a force to defend US interests at the Panama Canal. The commander of Southcom, US Admiral Craig Faller, has intimated that the force could be re-oriented for intervention in Venezuela …”

It is interesting to note that this new deployment of forces coincides with widespread civil unrest in Honduras. The protests of health and education workers have grown into broader demonstrations against government corruption and neoliberal economic development policies such as privatisation and deregulation. It also coincides with US efforts to persuade northern triangle countries’ governments (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) to prevent the waves of migrants that have chosen over the last nine months to leave the failed state that is Honduras.

Sources:

  • Telesur, 6 May 2019, ‘1,000 Israeli Soldiers To Arrive in Honduras to Train Troops, Police on Border Protection’
  • Popular Resistance.org, 22 May 2019, ‘”This Is A War Against The Honduran People”’
  • Criterio, 3 June 2019, ‘Masiva protesta de médicos y docentes pese a división orquestada por el gobierno’
  • Rights Action, 3 June 2019, ‘Honduran Presidents linked to drug-trafficking & money laundering since US & Canadian-backed coup ousted Honduras’ last democratic government’
  • Public Sector Finance, 7 June 2019, ‘Protests in Honduras continue over public sector reforms’
  • Telesurenglish.net, 8 June 2019, ‘300 US Southcom Troops Arrive in Honduras to Teach ‘Humanitarian Assistance’’
  • School of The Americas watch (SOAW), 12 June 2019, SOAW News

Honduras: Protests Intensify Against President Hernandez

Hondurans demand the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Oct. 19, 2019. | Photo: EFE

The following report comes from TeleSur:

Published 19 October 2019  Telesur

Hondurans called for the resignation of Juan Orlando Hernandez after a U.S. federal court convicted his brother of drug trafficking.

Hondurans on Friday took to the streets to demand the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) after the New York Federal Court found his brother, Tony Hernandez, guilty on charges of drug trafficking, use of weapons and lying to authorities.

“We call on all our militancy to total, organized and permanent nationwide mobilization by performing peaceful but firm and forceful protests,” said former president Manuel Zelaya, who is the Freedom and Refoundation Party (Libre) coordinator.

Besides asking the United States to suspend all aid to the Hernandez administration, Zelaya asked to give the Honduran people a “democratic government” and fair laws.

During the trial of Tony Hernandez, the U.S. jury heard testimony from drug traffickers who claimed that politician JOH used their money to finance his campaigns on at least two occasions.

This alleged fact, which Hondurans had long been denouncing, triggered protests against a president who began his second presidential term on January 27, 2018 amid accusations of electoral fraud.

Honduras: having the background with shout ‘Out with JOH’, the night was spent with the Hondurans protesting against the narco-government and the tyrant JOH repressing the people. In Honduras, politics and drugs are the same thing.

After Zelaya’s call, protests began to spread throughout the country. On Friday afternoon, Hondurans blocked roads that led to cities such as Yarumela, La Ceiba, San Pedro Sula and Cortes.

The protests would gradually acquire more forceful expressions. On Friday night, access roads to the headquarters of the Honduran government were closed. Meanwhile, the number of burning barricades increased in the streets and highways.​​​​​​​

Former presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla called for the installation of a transitional government, which would be chaired by him until the winner of the 2021 elections takes office.

The rejection of President JOH happened even in the least expected places and moments. During a sports program broadcasted on television, the host railed against Hernandez whom he described as a “drug trafficker”, emphasizing that the ruling National Party lawmakers are “cockroaches.”​​​​​​​

The Hernández Brothers – the narco-state of Honduras

The Violence of Development website has included numerous articles condemning the state of Honduras for the violence of its armed forces, its gangsterism and links with drug trafficking. Here on his ‘Two Worlds’ blog site, John Perry outlines the results of a recent court case in New York which confirms the Honduran government as a fully-fledged narco-state that uses gangster tactics to enforce its ‘policies’.

The article was originally posted inLondon Review of Books , plus comments.

The Two Worlds blog can be found at: https://twoworlds.me/  We are grateful to John Perry for permission to reproduce the article here.

Key words: Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH); Donald Trump; drug trafficking; drug cartels; electoral fraud

By John Perry

October 23, 2019

Court sketch of witnesses in the trial of Tony Hernández (The Limited Times)

Donald Trump said last year that migrant caravans, mainly of Hondurans, were coming to the US from ‘shithole countries’. But now he says that the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, is doing a ‘fantastic job’.

Trump and JOH recently reached an agreement declaring Honduras to be a ‘safe place’ for asylum seekers trying to reach the US. JOH also promised to help the US tackle transnational criminal organisations. He’s well placed to do this. Last November, his brother Tony was arrested in Miami and accused of drug trafficking and possessing illegal weapons. At his trial in New York, which concluded last week, the jury found Tony Hernández guilty. He faces at least 30 years in prison for bringing 200,000 kilos of cocaine into the US between 2004 and 2018, in packets often stamped with his own initials.

In an imprudent tweet two days before the verdict, the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa praised the Honduran government for joining the US in ‘the fight against drugs’. In August, however, JOH was accused of accepting $1.5 million in drug money for his 2013 re-election campaign.

One of the witnesses in the trial of Tony Hernández was Alexander Ardón, identified as a drug trafficker five years ago. He has confessed to involvement in 56 murders. He told the court in New York that the Mexican cartel boss ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, sent to prison for life by a US court in July, visited Honduras twice and paid JOH $1 million in protection money. Ardón said that he had himself paid $4 million in bribes to JOH and his predecessor, Porfirio Lobo. Lobo’s son was convicted of trafficking in the US last year and his wife has just been imprisoned for fraud.

In a separate case, JOH’s cousin was indicted for trafficking in the US in September. JOH responded on Twitter that those testifying against him are liars and ‘confessed murderers’.

The prosecution concluded that drug traffickers ‘infiltrated’ and ‘controlled’ the Honduran government.

A trafficker who gave evidence, Chang Monroy, was asked why he had previously lied about knowing Tony Hernández. ‘I was scared,’ he said, ‘because I’m like other drug traffickers that are violent, but no other drug trafficker has a brother that’s the president of a country that controls the police and the military.’

Witnesses alleged that Tony Hernández had arranged the murder of two of his rivals, in one case by a former death squad member who was later promoted to head of the Honduran police. A cartel that Hernández was linked to, Los Cachiros, has carried out at least 78 assassinations. The victims include three journalists.

The emergence of the narco-state of Honduras began with the military coup of June 2009. In elections contrived to validate the coup (and approved by Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state), Lobo became president in 2010. JOH succeeded him in 2014. The constitution was changed in 2015 to allow a president to serve more than one term, and JOH stood again in 2017. The election was riddled with fraud, but Trump still congratulated him on ‘a close election result’.

Following Tony Hernández’s conviction in a US court, any previous US president would have distanced himself from JOH. Trump, however, is untroubled by criminal behaviour and his judgments are based on electoral calculation: is his base more worried about drugs coming into the US, or Central American migrants? With more than 240,000 Hondurans apprehended at the US border so far this year, Trump backs a foreign president who acts tough. He’ll ignore the poverty and violence that drive the migrants to leave their homes: instead, he’ll continue to support the policies that produce them.

Edwin Espinal, Political Prisoners, State-sponsored Drug Traffickers and Persecution in Honduras

By Karen Spring, Honduras Solidarity Network

17 November, 2019

We are grateful to Karen Spring and the Honduras Solidarity Network for permission to include this article in The Violence of Development website. Karen is the partner of Edwin Espinal who was held in Honduran jails as a political prisoner. The article gives the reader an idea of how difficult life can be for human rights defenders in current-day Honduras.

Key words: Honduras; political prisoners; human rights defenders; criminalization of protest; state-sponsored drug trafficking; President Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH).

 
It has been three months since Edwin Espinal was released from La Tolva prison. I haven’t written anything publicly due to being exhausted for, while Edwin was in prison, I felt like I ran a 1.5-year marathon with little time to sit down, reflect, and absorb what was going on around me.
 
Thank you to the people who have supported Edwin’s case, my human rights work in Honduras and this belated update from Honduras.
 

In the three months since his release, Edwin has been recovering, speaking to media, attending the legal hearings and meetings related to the cases of the other political prisoners, spending a lot of time with family, and planning our future.
 
Edwin continues to have a permanent, loud, ringing sound in his ear. We are told it is tinnitus but still feel we need to see another specialist that can run further tests. Edwin developed the problem in prison after complaining of an ear infection that was never treated. The ringing sound not only interrupts his sleep or other moments of rest or quiet, but also generates a lot of frustration and anger.
 
It reminds him of the whole experience in La Tolva, being denied medical treatment, the unjust way he was detained, and as he often says, “the way the government wanted to make me suffer.”
 
The mental health impact could possibly be worse than the actual physical problem. He frequently gets headaches that he says are linked to the noise in his ears and asks me sometimes to put my head up against his to see if I can hear the loud ringing in his ears. But it is internal and I hear nothing.
 
Every week, Edwin goes to the courthouse to sign a ledger that is supposed to show to the Honduran judiciary that he has not left the country and that he is still present to face the charges against him. His court date is set for May 14 and 15, 2020.
 
As for myself, I continue my work supporting the other political prisoner cases. Within the first 6 months following the 2017 electoral crisis, all were released except five including Edwin. Now, only one political prisoner remains in jail; over 170 people still face charges and are forced to sign regularly at courthouses around the country. I am also doing human rights work related to the criminalization of people awaiting trial. Some are being harassed continuously by Honduran military and police.

One young man who was arrested for participating in protests during the 2017 electoral crisis, and who spent four months in the maximum-security El Pozo prison, has been forced into hiding. Military soldiers and police – with their faces covered, carrying heavy weapons including illegal weapons like AK-47s – have shown up four times at his small house to either raid it, when he is not home, or just stand outside to intimidate him. He reports that a red Toyota pick-up truck with tinted windows and no license plate is frequently seen parked on his street. Out of fear, the young man has since fled his home.
 
Many people face this type of intimidation and are forced to hide, or move frequently. They fear they will be killed.
 
The Honduras Solidarity Network is assisting this gentleman and others to raise their profiles to deter the government from harassing them further and to make all the details of the harassment known publicly.

On November 11, Edwin, Raúl, members of the National Committee for the Freedom of Political Prisoners and myself, travelled to the city of El Progreso for political prisoner Gustavo Cáceres’ trial. It was suspended last week after two witnesses, called by the Honduran government, did not appear. As a defence strategy, Gustavo’s lawyers asked him to testify before the judges.
 
When Gustavo took the stand, the judges asked him to state his ID number, address, and birthdate. He shrugged and could not answer completely, due to his disability. Many people in the courtroom teared up as Gustavo attempted to give his version of the events related to his detention. He was arrested while crossing a bridge where a protest was taking place.
 
When stopped by the police, they put a black bag over his head (a method of torture used by the police to generate fear and attempt to elicit confessions) and took him to the police station. Gustavo told the court in an honest and sincere way, but in broken sentences, that he was close to the protest; he was trying to cross the blocked bridge to go to work. Meanwhile, the police officers that arrested him, contradicted each other, including testifying that Gustavo was arrested in two different places and based on different reasons.

Defamation campaign

In early October, I attended half of the trial of Juan Antonio ‘Tony’ Hernández (brother of President Hernández) in New York. I posted summaries of the trial on my blog aquiabajo.com so people could follow the case.

As a result of my attendance at the trial and being closely monitored by the Honduran government, another defamation campaign circulated against me on October 18, 2019, claiming that I was paying people $200 each to protest outside the New York trial and that I received funding from a convicted drug trafficker who is also in jail in the US.
 
These campaigns are dangerous and have become a common tactic of the Honduran government to try to discredit human rights defenders and create security problems for them. This is another reason that I have not written much as both Edwin and I are aware of the exceptionally difficult security situation that we are in in Honduras, particularly given the current political context.

State-sponsored drug trafficking

Since Tony Hernández was found guilty on 4 counts of drug and weapons smuggling and lying to federal authorities, the environment in Honduras has been eerie and dangerous.
 
As the Canadian and US government insist that the governments in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and now to a degree, Bolivia, are drug traffickers and dictators, it is outrageous to hear absolutely nothing from Canadian and US authorities regarding the drug conviction of Tony Hernández in New York and the role that President Juan Orlando Hernández continues to play in enabling and participating in drug trafficking.
 
Now, weeks after this conviction, military, police, and other government institutions are terrorizing the Honduran population so they do not protest.
 
One Honduran journalist has reported that since the conviction, 11 people linked to the President and the President’s brother’s drug cartel have been murdered, likely to stop them from testifying against them. Human rights and social movement leaders have been kidnapped and tortured, and in some cases, brutally killed. Their bodies are dumped off at the side of a road, which is a strategy to terrorize the population.
 
There have also been 51 massacres in different parts of the country so far this year and often involve individuals dressed in police or military uniforms getting out of unmarked vehicles, open firing at groups of young people in public areas, and then fleeing the scene. The massacres and lack of investigations into why and who committed them, send a cold chill through communities and the entire population in Honduras. However, smaller groups of people still take to the streets to protest this corruption when demonstrations are organised.
 
Hondurans are well aware that Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) is scared and feeling insecure about his control over the Presidential Palace because he has been exposed as a co-conspirator in the drug case against his brother. They believe that while JOH remains in power, it is less likely that the US will ask for his extradition. Hondurans also understand that JOH is not only protecting his political power as President but also his and his brother’s drug cartel interests. Evidence brought forward in the NY trial reveals that their involvement in drug trafficking has converted them into one of the major suppliers of cocaine to the US through the infamous and now-imprisoned Mexican drug trafficker, Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman and the large, Mexican-based Sinaloa cartel. As one cooperating witness said in the New York trial when asked why he was scared to testify against Tony Hernández, “All drug traffickers are dangerous and violent, but none [as much as] the brother of the President of a country that can control the military and the police.”

Edwin and I await an end to this fearful time. We are deeply grateful for the support we continue to receive from our community of Simcoe County that advocates for his freedom, the freedom of all political prisoners, and for human rights in Honduras. Thank you!

Karen Spring
Spring.kj@gmail.com
Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Honduras Solidarity Network

www.hondurassolidarity.org

Honduras 2009-2020: 11 years of U.S. and Canadian-backed dictator, repression, exploitation – 11 years of resistance and solidarity

We are grateful to the Honduras Solidarity Network for permission to reproduce the following summary of developments in Honduras since the military coup in 2009 that brought an end to democracy in the country.

Statement by Honduras Solidarity Network
June 28, 2020
https://mailchi.mp/rightsaction/honduras-2009-2020-11-years-of-us-canadian-backed-dictatorship

“The government can’t combat corruption because corruption is the government”
11 years, and counting, of repressive, corrupt, ‘open-for-global-business’ regimes in Honduras, backed and legitimized fully by the US, Canada and the ‘international community’.

 


 

Eleven years ago today (June 28), Honduras was turned upside down by a military/political coup against President Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

This coup was strongly supported by the US Government led by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Canadian government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Peter Kent.

The coup pushed aside many reforms that had been made or begun by President Zelaya in consultation with Honduran social movements such as an increase in minimum wage, land reform, gender equality, increased rights for indigenous communities and efforts to reduce the costs of living for the poor. The goal of the coup was also to crush the hopes for a deeper change in Honduras and the refoundation of the country through constitutional change and a popular constituent assembly.

The response of the people and their organisations from the Garífuna Caribbean coast, to the Lenca people’s mountains, from campesino communities across the country, to urban youth, trade unions, women’s and LGBTI organisations was to take to the streets in massive numbers starting the day of the coup, June 28, 2009.

Over the last 11 years, Hondurans have returned to the streets over and over again, despite massive migrations, electoral frauds, assassinations, disappearances, repression, and now, in the 11th year of the coup, a narco-dictatorship during a pandemic.

Since the coup, some things have been constant from the dictatorship: militarization, criminalization of activists, neoliberal privatizations and the growth of an extraction economy. All this with US-trained police, military police and military on the streets, violently abusing Hondurans for everything from protesting to being on the street without a face mask.

There are still 11 political prisoners held in pretrial detention and hundreds who still face serious charges from the 2017 electoral fraud protests in 2017 and 2018.

Impunity for the powerful and political elite continues with no justice and virtually no investigations of the hundreds of assassinations/disappearances from 2009 to 2020.

The highest profile assassination since the coup, that of indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, still has not seen the prosecution of the intellectual authors or financiers of her murder; her organisation (COPINH) and COPINH’s communities continue to be threatened and harassed.

In 2019-2020 at least 11 Garífuna activists were assassinated in impunity.

Journalists are threatened and physically attacked and members of the political opposition are continually harassed and threatened.

The military has been given control of significant monies for the agricultural sector while campesinos are killed, arrested and evicted, also in impunity.

In 2020, the criminal nature of Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH)’s dictatorship is now more exposed than ever with high profile prosecutions in New York of his brother and their drug trafficking business associates.

But, despite the blatant and documented violations of human rights, of corruption, and of drug trafficking, the US government continues its public, economic and military support for Hernández. The Canadian government refuses to speak or publicly denounce the abuses committed by JOH.

Meanwhile, JOH has taken advantage of the COVID19 epidemic to further militarize the country, giving the army more power and restricting protests, and destroying the livelihood of the poor (more than 60% of the population) while restricting the small amounts of relief funds to those who support his political party.

Still, resistance continues and the people continue to organise. Over the years, new coalitions and movements have formed and joined the resistance in a fight against dictatorship. This fight continues in the streets, the countryside and in the electoral realm.

The Honduras Solidarity Network has been standing with the Honduran people’s resistance since 2009. We continue to fight for the US government and the Canadian government to stop supporting dictatorship and any use of our tax dollars for violence in Honduras. One tool in that fight in the US is our continued support for the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act in the House of Representatives.

Our member organisations continue to demand an end to impunity in Honduras and justice for Berta Cáceres and for all those assassinated and disappeared or imprisoned and persecuted by the dictatorship. We accompany the struggles against mining, megaprojects and for land rights and all the demands of the Honduran people and their organisations that fight for a new, transformed, and ‘refounded’ Honduras. ”

For more historical and recent information on Honduran resistance and solidarity see the HSN website and its links to member organisation sites and other information.

Tw: @hondurassol
FB: https://www.facebook.com/HondurasSolidarityNetwork

Hondurassolidarity.org

In Honduras, the killings continue

Compiled by Martin Mowforth

On 7 January this year, two environmental defenders, Aly Dominguez and Jairo Bonilla, were shot dead in broad daylight. Both men were co-founders of the Guapinol resistance group to an iron ore mine owned by one of the country’s most powerful couples, Lenir Pérez and Ana Facussé. For nearly a decade, the Guapinol environmental defenders have denounced the contamination caused by the mining megaproject  and the crimes that have been committed against the defenders in the Carlos Escaleras Botaderos Mountain National Park. The case of the Guapinol defenders was featured on the front cover of ENCA 84 in March 2022. They were released last year after 2½ years of illegal detention, but now they are suffering a new wave of persecution by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Tocoa.

On 15 January, three Garífuna women were assassinated on the Travesía beach near Puerto Cortés. According to the National Human Rights Commission of Honduras (CONADEH by its Spanish initials), “the three women were sat on the beach close to the sea when heavily armed men approached them and shot them with issuing a word.” These three assassinations brought the total number of women assassinated within the Honduran territory to 17 women in 2023.

A total of 300 women were assassinated in Honduras during 2022. Also in 2022, official figures registered 35.8 homicides per 100,000 population. That was the highest rate in Central America, despite the fact that it had fallen from 41.2 per 100,000 in 2021.

On 25 January, human rights defender Abelino Sánchez, regional secretary of the National Union of Rural Workers (CNTC) and president of a peasant cooperative in the department of Cortés, was seriously injured after being shot twice by two men who came to his house at 7 pm. He had recently received death threats related to a land conflict. The CNTC has frequently been involved in land conflicts with large landowners during which many rural workers have been detained, criminalized, tortured and subjected to violence and intimidation by private security forces and by police. Report of the attack reached us from COFADEH, the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras.

On 12 February, Karen Spring of Honduras Now reported on her @HondurasNow twitter feed:
“Another campesino leader and his son have been killed in the Aguan Valley. According to Diario Colón, Hipólito Rivas and his 15-year old son were murdered in the community of Ilanga. Rivas was part of the Gregorio Chavez campesino cooperative from the La Panama. #Honduras.”

In November 2021, Jared Olson in the Intercept (https://theintercept.com/2021/11/06/honduras-paramilitaries-land-rights/) explained that in Honduras land battles, paramilitaries infiltrate local groups and then kill their leaders, usually at the behest of a giant transnational corporation such as the Dinant group and its huge palm oil plantations. Amongst other issues addressed in Jared’s The Intercept report, is the role of the U.S. government and military training Honduran “special forces” in the region; and links between these “special forces” and para-military groups and Dinant private security guards. The Intercept reports also on the central role of the World Bank as a major investor in and defender of its business partner, the Dinant Corporation.
HH


Sources

  • https://mailchi.mp/rightsaction/relentless-killings-in-bajo-aguan-honduras
  • https://theintercept.com/2021/11/06/honduras-paramilitaries-land-rights/
  • Rights Action, 14 February 2023, ‘Relentless killings in Bajo Aguán, Honduras, related to African Palm production and global food supply chains: Hipólito Rivas and 15 year old son murdered’.
  • Comité Municipal de Defensa de los Bienes Comunes y Públicos de Tocoa, 7 January 2023, ‘Alert: Human Rights Defenders Murdered in Guapinol’.
  • Nina Lakhani, 11 January 2023, ‘Honduran environmental defenders shot dead in broad daylight’, The Guardian, London.
  • Karen Spring: https://www.hondurasnow.org/
  • Manuel Bermúdez,16 January 2023, ‘Asesinadas tres mujeres garífunas en Honduras, denuncia CONADEH’, Semanario Universidad, San José.
  • Jenny Atlee / COFADEH, 28 January 2023, ‘Criminal attack on land defender’, COFADEH, Tegucigalpa.
  • Dina Meza, 14 February 2023, ‘Caso ARCAH: Por qué quisieron secuestrar a Misael’, Pasos de Animal Grande, Tegucigalpa.

 

 

 

 

Embajador argentino: “madres de esta plaza, el pueblo las abraza”

Por defensores – 24 octubre, 2022

COFADEH (Comité de Familiares de Detenidos y Desaparecidos en Honduras) y su fundadora, Berta Oliva de Nativi ya han figurado en otras páginas del sitio web The Violence of Development. Martin Mowforth entrevistó a Berta específicamente para el sitio web en 2010 y 2016. Se encuentran las dos entrevistas a: https://theviolenceofdevelopment.com/berta-oliva-2/ y https://theviolenceofdevelopment.com/berta-oliva/

Le estamos muy agradecido a COFADEH por el permiso para incluir este artículo en nuestro sitio web.

 

Tegucigalpa.- Este  día en los  bajos del Congreso Nacional se realizó la celebración del Día Nacional de Derechos Humanos, donde la Secretaría de Estado en el Despacho de Derechos Humanos en un acto público dio a conocer diferentes actividades, entre ellas la entrega del borrador del Programa de Memoria, Verdad, Reparación, Justicia y No Repetición para la Reconciliación y Refundación de Honduras a representantes de organizaciones de derechos humanos y al Poder Legislativo.

Así mismo se hizo la solicitud a la Alcaldía Municipal del Distrito Central (AMDC) sobre el cambio de nombre a la Plaza la Meced en el centro de Tegucigalpa y colocarle el nombre de Plaza los Desaparecidos, como parte del rescate a la memoria, ya que a esta plaza por más de cuarenta años acuden cada primer viernes de cada mes madres, hijos, nietos y esposas a exigir verdad y justicia y preguntarle a los perpetradores dónde están los detenidos desaparecidos en Honduras.

También se anunció públicamente sobre el Programa de Memoria, Verdad, Reparación, Justicia y no repetición para La Reconciliación de Honduras, por parte de la SEDH, como parte de las acciones contenidas en la sentencia Herminio Deras versus Honduras.

Entre los representantes que se encontraban en la mesa principal están Luis Rolando Redondo, presidente del Congreso Nacional (CN), el presidente de la Comisión de Justicia y DDHH, Jari Dixon; la Secretaria de DDHH, Natalie Roque; el Procurador General, Manuel Díaz Galeas, el embajador de Argentina en Honduras, Pablo Vilas, y la coordinadora general del COFADEH, Berta Oliva.

“Estar acá como testigos de honor de este Día Nacional por los derechos humanos en Honduras, es muy un conmovedor. Yo quiero decirles madres de esta plaza, el pueblo las abraza. Así empieza nuestra lucha en Argentina de la democracia, el año que viene estaremos cumpliendo 40 años de haber recuperado esa democracia que fue interrumpida en 1976”, señaló el embajador de Argentina en Honduras, Pablo Vilas.

Agregó que “hace dos días, el 22 de octubre, conmemoramos en Argentina el día del derecho a la identidad, por esto que decía también la ministra. En el 2014 el Gobierno de Néstor Kirchner se promulgó la ley que reforzaban y acompañaba la noche de nuestras abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, que 45 años atrás iniciaron la búsqueda de sus familiares”.

“Y seguimos buscando a nuestros hermanos y nuestras hermanas, a nuestros tíos y a nuestros padres, por eso también otra de nuestras consignas es detenidos desaparecidos presentes ahora y siempre. Por qué estamos aquí, porque la memoria es activa, la memoria no es un papel, la memoria se lucha y se mantiene”.

Añadió que hemos venido a representar al gobierno de la Argentina en esta etapa de refundación hondureña, porque fue aquí donde se trabajó el ensayo del Plan Cóndor para la región centroamericana.

Además, señaló que fue en Honduras donde persiguieron a hombres y mujeres argentinos y de toda América, “por eso también estamos aquí hoy presentes, porque ponemos el cuerpo, porque ponemos las palabras y las acciones a disposición de la lucha que ustedes están dando”.

El embajador hizo referencia a la lucha que ha emprendido el COFADEH y su coordinadora general, la lucha de las madres hondureñas y las madres de Plaza de Mayo, y expresó que son un ejemplo para las futuras generaciones .

“Querida Berta, la lucha de nuestras madres, la lucha de nuestras abuelas está asegurada en esta nueva generación de jóvenes, hombres y mujeres comprometidos con el presente, el pasado y el futuro de nuestra América. Seguimos teniéndolas de guía, nuestras abuelas de Plaza de Mayo. Todos los jueves siguen dando la ronda en de la pirámide de Plaza de Mayo, las pocas que nos quedan. Con ellas en sillas de ruedas, con bastones, pero son el ejemplo de la lucha, de que por una gripe no vamos a faltar a nuestras tareas. Que por una pandemia no nos van a hacer retroceder de las calles. Su legado es presente y será futuro”.

https://www.defensoresenlinea.com/embajador-argentino-madres-de-esta-plaza-el-pueblo-las-abraza/

COFADEH recognized on National Human Rights Day “Mothers of this Plaza, the people embrace you”

Translated by Jenny Atlee for COFADEH

jennya@friendshipamericas.org

24th October 2022

COFADEH, the Committee of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras, and its founder, Berta Oliva de Nativi, have appeared in The Violence of Development website elsewhere. In fact Martin Mowforth interviewed Berta for the website in both 2010 and 2016  The two  interviews can be found at: https://theviolenceofdevelopment.com/berta-oliva-2/ and: https://theviolenceofdevelopment.com/berta-oliva/

We are grateful to both COFADEH and Jenny Atlee for their permission to include the article in The Violence of Development website.

Tegucigalpa: On National Human Rights Day, a public celebration was held at the Honduran National Congress in which the Minister of Human Rights led various activities including the presentation of a draft of the Program of Memory, Truth, Reparation, Justice and Non-Repetition for the Reconciliation and Refoundation of Honduras to representatives of human rights organisations and the Legislature.   

A request was also presented to the Mayor’s Office for the Central District to change the name of the Plaza la Merced in the centre of Tegucigalpa and rename it as the Plaza of the Disappeared as part of the effort to rescue historic memory.  For over 40 years mothers, children, grandchildren and spouses of the disappeared have come to the Plaza on the first Friday of every month to hold vigil, demand truth, justice and to ask the perpetrators where the detained and disappeared in Honduras are.

The public announcement of the Program of Memory, Truth, Reparation, Justice and Non-Repetition for the Reconciliation and Refoundation of Honduras by the Ministry of Human Rights was presented as part of the actions required in the sentence from the International Court of Human Rights in the case of Herminio Deras versus Honduras.  COFADEH was the legal representative in this emblematic case.

Among those present for the event were Luis Rolando Redondo, President of the National Congress; President of the Commission for Justice and Human Rights, Jari Dixon; the Minister of Human Rights, Natalie Roque; Attorney General, Manuel Díaz Galeas; the Ambassador of Argentina in Honduras, Pablo Vilas; and the General Coordinator of COFADEH, Berta Oliva.

“To be here as witnesses of honour on National Human Rights Day in Honduras, is a very moving experience.  I want to say to the mothers of this Plaza, ‘The people embrace you’. This is how our struggle for democracy began in Argentina. Next year marks 40 years of having recovered democracy that was interrupted in 1976,” said the Ambassador from Argentina, Pablo Vilas.

He added that “two days ago, on October 22, we commemorated the day for the right to identity in Argentina. In 2014, the Government of Nestor Kirchner passed the law that was reinforced and accompanied by our grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo who began the search for their family members 45 years ago.  We continue to search for our brothers and sisters, our aunts, uncles, parents and this is why another of our statements is that the detained and disappeared are present now and forever.  This is why we are here, because memory is active, memory is not a paper, memory is something we struggle for and it continues.  We are here to represent the government of Argentina in this stage of the re-foundation of Honduras because this is where they developed Plan Cóndor for the Central American region.

Honduras and the mothers of the Plaza de Mayo is an example for future generations.

“Dear Berta, the struggle of our mothers, the struggle of our grandmothers is assured with this next generation of young women and men who are committed to the present, the past and the future of our America.  Our grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo continue to be our guides.  Every Thursday they hold vigil at the Plaza de Mayo; some in wheelchairs, some with canes but they are a symbol of struggle.  They remind us that just because we have a cold doesn’t mean we don’t show up; that a Pandemic doesn’t mean we retreat from the streets.  Their legacy is present and it will be the future.”

https://www.defensoresenlinea.com/embajador-argentino-madres-de-esta-plaza-el-pueblo-las-abraza/

The challenges facing the new Honduran government

June 28, 2022

June 28th passed this year (2022) as the 13th anniversary of a 2009 coup d’état that drastically changed Honduras into a country run by and for organised crime with the approval and active support of the US and Canadian governments. The Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN) – www.hondurassolidarity.org/ – outlines some of the background below. We are grateful to Karen Spring of the HSN for her work gathering and providing information about happenings and developments in the country.

The US supported and benefitted from the years of aggressive and violent neoliberalism that would increase the extractive economy based on mining and hydroelectric projects, further land grabbing by agribusiness companies and oligarchs, and ensure subservience to US foreign policy and wars. This led to the near-collapse of the privatized and plundered public education and public health systems, murders by death-squad groups and security forces of activists across the country, and a terrible increase in poverty, crime and general violence. The eight years (2014-2022) of the narco-dictator Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) were also marked by the forced displacement of millions of Hondurans internally and hundreds of thousands forced to leave Honduras altogether.

The election in November 2021 and inauguration in January 2022 of President Xiomara Castro of the Liberty and Refoundation (LIBRE) Party in coalition with smaller opposition parties is the victory of 13 years of resistance by the Honduran people.

During the first five months of the new government, many important promises have been kept and progress made, but the obstacles to reforms – let alone deeper changes – are enormous. The narco-dictatorship’s economic and political structures are deeply entrenched, including having representation in Congress and among the government civil service employees. The judges at all levels of the court system are still those appointed by Juan Orlando Hernández. Xiomara Castro inherited a country that is nearly bankrupt and in debt, facing forces that oppose change.

The United States and Canadian governments and international financial institutions are among the forces against ‘too much’ change. The US seems to have realised that the JOH narco-dictatorship had become too exposed and untenable and that the opposition to JOH in Honduras had grown too broad to directly challenge. It recognised that Xiomara Castro won the election and sent Vice President Kamala Harris to the inauguration. From day one, it has also pressured the new government to limit its independence from US international interests and even to limit its plan to dismantle the neoliberal and extractive economic model.

The Honduran social movements: the organisations of the Indigenous and Black peoples, small farmers, workers, women, and students, are supporting their new government while continuing to fight for their proposals and the promise of refoundation in Honduras. As international solidarity and human rights organisations in the US and Canada, we continue to stand with the social movements. We continue to tell our governments and corporations to stop interfering, to stop using money and a military presence to control and limit Honduras’ progress in undoing the damage of the past 13 years.

The HSN is working on a campaign to support debt relief for Honduras that is urgently needed for the project of rebuilding and refounding the country after 13 years of disaster. It also supports the ‘Justice for Berta’ campaign led by COPINH, which is fighting to ensure that all those involved in her assassination are brought to justice. To sign up for the HSN’s  informational list serve, email: honsolnetwork@gmail.com

International Commission Against Impunity to Be Installed in Honduras

The following news item from Telesur may be short but is potentially highly significant for the development of Honduras and for the country’s ability to move out of the culture of corruption and state violence that has been the hallmark of the Honduran government since 2009 when a US-backed government of organised crime took over the running of the country.

Keywords: Honduras; corruption; narco-trafficking; MACCIH; CICIH.

By Telesur, 26 February 2022

 

The predecessor of the CICIH [known as MACCIH, Support Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras] was expelled by the Hernández regime when the regime was  exposed and investigated.

The United Nations confirmed President Xiomara Castro’s request to install the International Commission against Impunity (CICIH) in the framework of the fight against corruption.

The process will take a period of time that the UN has not yet stipulated, but they did offer a positive response to the request.

The 12-year management of the national party will be reviewed and exposed by this commission; which seeks to bring the corrupt to justice.

The predecessor of the CICIH was expelled by the Juan Orlando Hernández regime when the corruption was exposed and investigated.

This is the second attempt by the Honduran people to get high profile dishonest people jailed.

 

End of a Narcostate?

By John Perry

LRB Blog, 26th November 2021

We are grateful to John Perry for permission to reproduce his 26th November blog for the London Review of Books. John lives in Masaya, Nicaragua and several of his writings can be found in The Violence of Development website. The London Review of Books (LRB) is a British literary magazine published twice a month. Its blog feature can be found at: https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/

Joe Biden has a Central America problem. Countries that turned reliably neoliberal after the ‘small wars’ of the 1980s have become unwieldy again. After sixteen years of neoliberalism, Nicaraguans returned Daniel Ortega to power in 2007 and re-elected him this month in a vote which Biden dismissed as a ‘pantomime’. In El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, elected in 2019 with Trump’s blessing, has been described as a ‘narcissistic dictator’ by a senior Democrat because of his growing authoritarianism, secret deals with violent gangs, making bitcoin legal tender and fostering links with China. Riding high in opinion polls, he now calls himself ‘the world’s coolest dictator’.

In Honduras, Biden’s problems stem from the period when he was vice-president and the mildly reforming President Zelaya was ousted in a military coup. Neoliberal government was restored, but the corruption and drug-trafficking created a narcostate, led since 2014 by Trump’s confidant Juan Orlando Hernández. When Hondurans voted to end JOH’s mandate in 2017, the US ensured that a rigged result kept him in power.

JOH is finally standing down as Hondurans go the polls again on Sunday. His security in retirement depends on the National Party retaining control so he can avoid extradition to the United States, where his brother has been condemned to life imprisonment for drug-trafficking. The party’s candidate, Nasry ‘Tito’ Asfura, currently the mayor of Tegucigalpa, is under investigation for the alleged embezzlement of $1 million. He is likely to protect JOH if he wins.

He may well lose, however. Until last month, the National Party’s core vote of about 20 per cent looked sufficient to give Tito victory, but two opposition parties have since united. Salvador Nasralla, who should have won the last election, gave way to Xiomara Castro and the last poll put the new alliance on 38 per cent.

Biden would ideally prefer a result that curbs the narcostate, but he’s unlikely to want that to come from a Castro victory. The co-ordinator of her Libre party is her husband, Mel Zelaya, the victim of the 2009 coup. Castro has carefully avoided any impression of radicalism, but while she appears to have won trust among the electorate she is unlikely to have won Biden’s. In a move suggesting heightened US concern, it nominated a full ambassador to Honduras after five years without one.

The election period has already been marked by violence, with the deaths of around thirty congressional or local candidates, mainly from opposition parties. The perpetrators are unlikely to face the law. In the case of Honduras’s most notorious political murder, the killing of Berta Cáceres in 2016, only one of those who commissioned the crime has been convicted and he has still not been sentenced. Cáceres’s daughter Olivia Zúniga, a Libre congresswoman standing in the election, was almost murdered in October when four men broke into her house and tried to strangle her. Fewer than 3 per cent of Hondurans are said to recognise the country as a ‘full democracy’.

Hundreds of fake Twitter accounts have spread authentic-looking lies about Castro; fake opinion polls appear alongside real ones; 300,000 voters still don’t have the identity cards they will need at polling stations; police seized a ‘Molotov cocktail’ factory run by gangs planning to disrupt the voting; a shoot-out during a Liberal Party rally left at least one person dead; a presidential candidate hostile to JOH was arrested along with his wife and mother-in-law; Asfura received a ‘climate positive’ award at COP26 in Glasgow despite being closely associated with deforestation and attacks on environmentalists.

In the year since Biden was elected president, the number of people apprehended at the Mexican border has reached a record high of 1.7 million. A fifth of them came from Honduras. The narcostate is also a failed state. It failed to deal with the pandemic and has Central America’s highest Covid death rate. It failed to respond to two major hurricanes last year, with many people still left homeless. Seven in ten households live in poverty despite $20 billion supposedly being devoted to tackling the problem since the last election (after publishing the poverty figures, the national statistics institute hurriedly deleted them).

Even conservative media in Honduras are now proclaiming Castro’s likely victory, but many people still expect another rigged election. That could lead to massive demonstrations which, as in 2017 when at least 24 people died, would be violently repressed. Biden would have a compliant partner in Asfura but he would still be running a narcostate. And many more Hondurans would head for the Rio Grande.


Comments

27 November 2021 at 12:42pm

Delaide says:

The Cold War is over, why would Biden be so keen to keep Honduras ‘compliant’? Especially so when poor governance by the party in power has created such problems for him at the border, not to mention the narcotics.

27 November 2021 at 1:08pm

John Perry says: @ Delaide

Just because US policy makes no sense, that’s no guarantee they won’t pursue it, unfortunately. They are sanctioning the country in the region most committed to social development (Nicaragua), regardless of the likely consequences for migration northwards.

Note: Although at the time of writing not all the results of the Honduran election are in, it appears that Xiomara Castro of the Libre Party had defeated Nasry Asfura of the National Party by a relatively wide margin. It seems unlikely that the National Party will be able to steal the election fraudulently as it did in 2017.