May 2019 Honduras Coup Update

May 2019 Honduras Coup Update

May day repression

Continuing from the mobilisations and barricades from 29 and 30 April around Honduras, there was a massive May Day mobilisation in Tegucigalpa and the heavy repression continued from previous days. Many streets in the city centre were closed off by police and soldiers. Thousands were marching and students sang with joy, ‘it’s going to fall, and it’s going to fall, the dictatorship is going to fall’ between screams of ‘Get out JOH!’ – the students were subsequently attacked with teargas bombs and chased. People were heard to chant, ‘don’t kill us.’ As well as fighting against the privatisation of healthcare and education, people demanded freedom for the political prisoners. Gustavo Cáceres, Raúl Alvarez, and Edwin Espinal had on this day passed 485 days in prison under shocking conditions.

Repression was in different parts of Tegucigalpa. On the highway that circles around the city, as people went to occupy it at the El Hato part, the repression was brutal and included gunshots. In Central Park of the city centre, as people gathered in protest and a few uni students approached the police and asked them not to follow a dictator’s orders, the police began to attack the protest and other police filmed protesters from the council building. In Barrio El Chile, and opposite the military cuartel in Valle Park, police and soldiers launched teargas bombs at protesters.

At least two people were wounded in the repression this May day. Martín Dagnese who was shot in the ear and kept in Intensive Care Unit – under police custody, he was fighting for his life, and handcuffed and watched. Journalist Yovanny Villalobos of Canal 11 was wounded with multiple wounds while covering the police repression in the Central Park in Tegucigalpa.

There were also many arrests on May Day against protesters. Taken to Belen police station and held for 24 hours were Oscar Leonel Bertrand Garcia, aged 19, Angel Armando Laínez, aged 19, and Denis Cerrato, aged 19. At the congress building, youths detained include Héctor Raúl Padilla Valle, Ariel Barrientos Hernández, Iván Isaac Gonzalez, Ariel Antonio Méndez, Erick Rivera. Other arrests mentioned included two women and one man also at the congress building, six plus teenagers who were arrested, forced onto patrol RP M-08 and locked up at the 4th police station of Comayagüela. There may have been many more undocumented arrests on this day.

Very late the night before, on 30 April 2019, in Guayape, Olancho, teacher of Modesto Rodas Alvarado high school, Richard Agurcia as killed with a number of gunshots.

Repression of protests between May Day and the general strike at the end of the month

On 2 May 2019, showing the poor conditions of the to be privatised healthcare system, there was an emergency situation this day where the Hospital Escuela teaching hospital had no water and its staff was waiting for water to be trucked in. Surgeries were suspended because of the lack of water.

On 3 May 2019, at Las Delicias, La Ceiba, at a protest, security forces fired gunshots hitting the face of a youth, killing her. On the same date in the night time, in Danlí city, police attacked another youth who was protesting the JOH dictatorship, from which was wounded on his back and arms.

On 4 May 2019, news came out that the following political prisoners of Pimienta had been released: Lourdes Gomez, Melvin Chavez, Pancho Alas Roke Alvaranga while three others continue to be locked up awaiting hearing.

On 6 May 2019 in San Pedro Sula, high school students spoke up about how the district and provincial education authorities are pushing the high school authorities of Centro Tecnico Hondureño Alemán to expel students for protesting the privatisation of education. Students imminently at risk of expulsion include Jefferson Adonay Dubon, aged 18, and Cesar Flores, aged 18.

The same day, journalist Francisco Aguirre received threats on facebook for publishing on May day a video on his facebook page Diario El Triunfo that showed a youth being arrested in the Tegucigalpa protests for having a hankerchief with vinegar for handling the teargas.

On 7 May 2019, in La Lima in Aguan Valley, there was police repression from which one protester was wounded. Perhaps in response to this or other repression, in the same region, in Saba, people blocked the road and bridge in insurrection. And from the same region again, the mining company Inversiones Los Pinares accused the media Diario Colón Hn of defamation for its news about the contamination of the river. A number of journalists spoke up about threats from Inversiones Los Pinares.

On 13 May 2019, journalist of Choluteca Jairo López who covers repression of protests and about the struggles in the region, and who had been facing charges in the last 6 months with bail conditions, finally had the case against him dismissed since he was accused of throwing rocks at EEH building and leading meetings of the opposition political party and there was evidence that he didn’t. EEH is the privatised electricity provider. In the time he was on bail, he was given a list of things he was not allowed to speak about. The protection measures of having police escorts as a persecuted journalist were withdrawn from him from 28 January 2019. He received and continues to receive death threats. He was obligated to travel twice a week to sign at the court, – 41kms of travel each time – this trip costed a lot of money and time, especially being an unpaid journalist (due to persecution).

Speaking of problems with EEH, the privatised electricity company, on 14 May 2019, an elderly woman of the Carrizalito II Community in Copán Ruins received an electricity bill of 8,417.61 lempiras (about US$420), when she had not had access to electricity in her humble home for the last two years, where her spouse had been bedridden since 5 years ago.

On 15 May 2019, health care workers are having assemblies and organising, as were students.

On 16 May 2019, in Choluteca, students of different high schools there took the streets, fighting for their rights to free public and quality education. The same day, TV and radio journalist Joel Mejía had to close his media JM Vision and flee the country because of persistent threats he received, including this message he received back in February while he was transmitting live, from Carmen Lastenia Padilla, the mother of the Choluteca mayor Ramón Edgardo Cárcamo, ‘I give you 15 days to lose yourself from the map, you have fucked it up, idiot.’

On 17 May 2019, there were protests in Yoro. In Olanchito, people protested the privatised electricity company EEH that is incompetent and had burnt their domestic appliances – they dumped these outside the EEH building in protest. Meanwhile, in El Progreso, teachers, students and parents mobilised in protest against the privatisation of healthcare and education.

On 19 May 2019, at a football game at the national stadiu, many Olimpia fans started screaming ‘get out JOH’ and the police reacted launching teargases at the stadium. A copcar was set on fire outside in reaction to this repression.

On 20 May 2019, the national general strike was called and people started preparing. In the meantime, in Tocoa, Colón, a community meeting was held to declare the municipality free of mining. Instead of accepting this, the mayor Adán Funes Martínez of Libre party betrayed people and sent police and soldiers to evict people from the council building.

On 22 May 2019, in Tegucigalpa’s city centre, hundreds of high school students protested and were repressed and chased by police and soldiers with teargas bombs and aerosol cans of pepper gas. The students were protesting emergency laws that provides for teachers on strike to be unpaid and for these salaries to be paid to scab teachers who fill their positions, and to create a commission to ‘transform’ (privatise) the health and education system, amongst other measures of intervention.

On 23 May 2019, in Tegucigalpa, police captured high school students of Instituto Milla Selva, in the Villanueva neighbourhood.

On 24 May 2019, in the south of Honduras, teachers occupy highways, and in the central region of Honduras too, there was a barricade with many rocks and tyres on fire, of the CA-5 highway at El Conejo, at the turn off for La Paz.

On 25 May 2019, in Santa Bárbara in the 6 de Mayo neighbourhood, there were confrontations between police and their gasses, and people and their stones. People were there protesting the terrible services of the privatised electricity company, EEH. The same day, in the afternoon, in Danlí city, teachers were barricading. Police bashed up one woman teacher, shot teargases at people and chased people. Screams could be heard of, ‘let her go!’ ‘Study! Learn! Never become cops!’

On 26 May 2019, at 8.45pm, in Tegucigalpa in the Kennedy neighbourhood, two men suspected to be plain clothes police who were hooded jumped out of a grey ute without numberplate and knocked Marlene Sourd to the pavement, telling her that she had to stop participating in the protests, that the attack was just a little show of what can happen to her. Marlene had scratches and bleeding hands and legs from the attack. For her part, she said she will keep going even if it meant that she were to lose her life.

The General Strike against the privatisations was on 30 and 31st May, but there were major protests in many places before then.

On 27 May 2019

It was on this date that the Security Secretary threatened publicly to repress any protest actions in the education and healthcare sectors. The health and education secretaries also threatened publicly with firing any workers in protest.

There were already actions in many places on this date.

In Yoro people barricaded the Quebrada Seca bridge and highway that connected Yoro with Tela. This was violently evicted by police in the morning.

In Tegucigalpa, there was a mobilisation and the presidential guard and police violently repressed protesters. Police also attacked Azteca Honduras cameraperson Gerson Maldonado who was there covering the protests – police hit him with a teargas bomb on the left side of his head as he filmed the arrival of the mobilisation of teaching and healthcare workers. Gerson vomited from the chemical attack and was dizzy from the impact.

In Limones, Olancho, teachers barricaded the highway and forced the attacking police to retrocede away.

On 28 May 2019

In Catacamas, Olancho, police bashed up a student during the protest.

In Quimistán, Santa Barbara, the PN 144 police patrol shot a teargas bomb at people protesting at the side of the highway.

On 29 May 2019

Just as the general strike was about to begin, that night, in Yoro, an organised teacher named Johny Alexander López was at home when some unidentified people broke into his home and without saying anything, opened gunfire at him. Johny was left gravely wounded and the attackers fled the scene. Neighbours went to see what happened and found Johny gravely wounded and rushed him to the Emergency Department. It was while Johny was receiving treatment that he died. Johny was an engineer and a teacher who gave classes in the Santa Cruz del Oro high school.

maestro asesinado.png

30 May 2019, day one of general strike

In Colón, the campesina community of Guadalupe Carney protested against privatisation of healthcare and education – police invaded and tried to violently evict the protest from 6.30am, it was later in the morning when police brutally attacked the community with gunshots, teargas bombs, peppergas sprays, rubberbullets, and chasing people. Those hurt included a youth whose ankle was shot at and destroyed, three others were also gunshot wounded. Don Alejandro Méndez who was injured by a rubberbullet that police launched into his head, human rights defender Obed Ulloa who was bashed by the police and teargasses severely affected many people there including many children and Don Fausto, aged 87, who has renal problems and fell into a very delicate state after the gas attack. Ironically, the police was yelling at the community in protest calling them assassins and delinquents. The community had been committed in land struggle for 19 years

In Tegucigalpa, the general strike occupied the road of the Villa Olímpica neighbourhood and other places, including the Toncontín international airport where the repression was immense over more than 4 hours. Police bashed people, fired some gunshots at the protests, gassed them and wounded them with teargas bombs, militarised the runways and airport police threw stones at protesters. Flights were suspended and national and foreign travellers were not allowed out and were ushered from one area to another instead. With the police attacks, shop windows around the area had been broken. Many protesters fled to refuge in the shopping centre opposite the airport.

In Choluteca, police also fired gunshots at protesters. Known cases of people hurt include 19 year old human rights defender Deninson Escalante who was documenting human rights abuses at the protests when police attacked him, leaving marks of heavy beatings on his back, and journalist Alex Martínez of UNETV was wounded with teargas bomb that the police launched at his head when he was covering the protests.

In Comayagua, Siguatepeque, Lenca indigenous teachers, doctors, farmers and vendors were mobilising, struggling and resisting the regime’s repression, barricading the CA-5 highway, when security forces started to repress with teargas, and subsequently with gunshots when protesters returned some of the teargasses launched at them. One of these gunshots hit Claros Sánchez, who was shot in the back, just centimetres from his spinal cord. In hospital, his condition became very critical very quickly – while waiting for 15 minutes his blood pressure dropped from 80 to 40 and if the wait was longer, he would easily have died. That night, his family confirmed that he survived the surgery, but that he won’t be able to live a normal life anymore. Claros lost his right kidney and now has a tube permanently placed between his liver and lungs. Claros is a teacher in a school in Opalaca. His family emphasised that teachers have worked for a long time without pay – ridiculous when you consider that the state threatens to deduct the striking teachers’ salary to pay scab workers.

In Danlí, El Paraíso, at about 9am, teacher Saúl Iván López was leaving a corner shop where he bought a telephone recharge before travelling to Tegucigalpa to participate in the general strike, when police in front of a police chief office targetted him for a random search and arrested him, only releasing him at 2.30pm.

In Quimistán, Santa Barbara, at night, at the end of a day of protests that was heavily repressed, the police station there was mysteriously set on fire. There are concerns when these things happen especially because they are often inside jobs and mass arrests have followed in the past and political prisoners taken for prolonged periods.

Journalists around the country have been attacked in these protests in addition to some mentioned above. UNE TV journalists Leonidas Maradiaga and Victor Rodríguez for transmitting live as the military arrested a youth without giving any explanations and interviewing victims of military police’s teargas attacks. Cameraperson of the program Panorama Cultural e Informativo PCI of Canal 51, Jonathan Herníquez and the journalist Andrés Moline were attacked, with the teargas bombs hitting their bodies.

In Comayagua, as police forcefully repressed the protest in front of the uni there, Radio Globo correspondent Sandra Pérez was victim of their teargases. Viva TV journalists Roger Corrales and Nathalia Reynoth were chased by a police patrol after they filmed the teargas bombs police launced at the protest in Choluteca. Also, journalists correspondents of Radio Globo and of Canal 51, Wilfredo Zepeda and Fabricio Garibaldi were given verbal threats and of their informative material being taken from them. A police said to Wilfredo, ‘these of Globo only talk shit’ and then one of the agents bolted his gun in front of him.

31 May 2019 Day 2 of general strike

In Tegucigalpa, there were mobilisations and very severe repression in many parts.

Many reports of security forces firing gunshots and chasing people while opening fire, in addition to teargas bombs. For example there was shooting by the police against protesters in the San Miguel neighbourhood. Suyapa Figueroa, organised doctor, spoke up about doctors having been bullet wounded this day. People heard the following police order at the protests, ‘if they advance, shoot them.’

In the city centre, shops were hurrying to close as people were chased and there was chaos, in between screams of ‘Get out JOH’. The barricades were effective to the point of people spotting that ambassadors from other countries had to walk on the CA5 highway. Protesters and teachers organisers witnessed the Red Cross vans were once against involved in collaborating in the state repression by helping transport teargas bombs.

There were several arrests this day:

Sociologist who gave classes, Milton Leonel Reyes Navarrete had been arrested at the Morazán Boulevard with a minor charge and was held at the El Manchen police station. It was announced that he would be released the next day after 24 hours of arrest.

Another locked up for 24 hours at El Manchen was Adrian Francisco Palma.

There was another youth arrested with him who was released earlier as he was very sick with fever and asthma and they wanted to accuse him of burning tyres and there was nothing.

The youth Rommel Valdemar Herrera Portillo appeared initially to be charged with public scandal/disrespect along with others – accused of calling the police sons of bitches. His brother was also arrested, at el Manchen, this day, whereas Rommel was locked up in Core 7. The brothers are both sons of a teacher, nephews of another teacher, and are both uni students. However, the charges became aggravated burning and damages and he was retained as political prisoner. There were fears that all the arrestees would be accused of the burning of US Embassy – another apparent inside job of the state as US Embassy is never without security to randomly have a few tyres dumped at the door and for these tyres to be on fire. It was symbolic and the US Embassy was not burnt down. Plus, a police truck was seen and photographed transporting tyres towards that direction. Rommel was accused of this. The update on 11 June 2019 was that he continued to be locked up at La Tolva high security prison, where two other longer term political prisoners have been held for many months. His lawyers are to appear in court this date with an appeal, and the next hearing date is 24 June 2019.

Uni student Jeffry Alexander Blanco was seen to have been captured by police of the JOH regime and there were concerns about his disappearance but there were confirmations in the following days that he had appeared.

In Santa Rosa de Copán, teachers of Ocotepeque, Lempira and Copán barricaded, there was heavy repression at the 6 de Mayo neighbourhood in La Entrada, police went around kidnapping people there, taking some arrestees, and leaving some wounded.

In Brisas del Valle, Cofradía, police was also shooting at protesters using live gunshots. There was a note at about 11pm saying that there was a death there, that the police of the dictatorship had killed him.

In Calán, Villanueva, Cortés, the military police also opened gunfire at the people on general strike against the emergency laws. From this brutal repression, the youths Edgardo Diaz and Rigoberto Hernández were critically wounded and were hospitalised in Catarino Rivas hospital.

In Talanga, Brenda was wounded in police repression. There were images of her bleeding in the head.

Meanwhile, in May 2019, the desperation that only grows had about 10,000 Central American migrants detained by US border police in a one week period in Texas. The detention centres were compared with concentration camps by commentators.

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April 2019 Honduras Coup Update

April 2019 Honduras Coup Update

Repression against the Wednesday and Saturday protests of Choluteca: selective assassination and selective teargas bomb attacks

On Saturday 6 April 2019, in the context of a regular protest against the JOH regime that night after 7pm, police made several teargas bombs attacks. The first one was by police on motorcycle led by Subcommissioner Obando, which arrived in Barrio La Libertad and threw a teargas bomb towards the face of Julia Vargas, aged almost 90, who was sitting at the door of her home. Her daughter is Hedme Castro, a human rights defender of the ACI-PARTICIPA organisation. Julia Vargas is diabetic and has hypertension and her health was severely affected by this teargas attack. The second teargas bomb was launched into the office of Metro TV, where Elizabeth de López and Melissa Hernández worked. Elizabeth is Hedme’s sister, and Melissa is also a volunteer at ACI-Participa. The third teargas bomb attack was launched at the softball field of Barrio La Libertad where families with children were playing ball. As well as an attack against these families, the teargas also went inside Hospital del Sur as this was very near the softball park, and the patients there were affected by the teargas.

On Tuesday 9 April 2019, there was a blackout in Choluteca and police headed by regional head of police Milton Obando used this occasion to carry out a witchhunt that morning against protesters that they have identified. In the El Estadio barrio, a police on a motorcycle saw 17 year old Wilfredo de Jesús Ramírez Moncada and fired a gunshot into his head, critically wounding him. He was initially taken to Hospital del Sur, then his mum and brother accompanied him in the Red Cross Ambulance as he was transferred to the HEU teaching hospital in Tegucigalpa where he arrived alive at 10pm and was taken to the Neurosurgery rooms there. There were rumours that he had died during the transfer but his brother said that ‘Wil had not thrown in the towel, he is a leader, a warrior.’ Wilfredo went into a coma and died hours after arriving to HEU, on 10 April 2019, but he is a warrior and those who knew him carry their memory of him as they continue the struggle. People were outraged by this and threw rocks and broke the windows at the Hospital del Sur emergency. The press was outraged at the broken windows, not at the police assassination of the young activist. On 11 April 2019 at the funeral of Wilfredo, police arrived to repress at the funeral with teargases – people collected the used teargas cans filling a rubbish bag, showing just how many they used. People could not believe the police killed Wilfredo and turned up at the funeral to attack everyone there and so they channelled their rage burning a cop car. Threat was always looming, people noted that there were armed men passing through in double cabin Toyotas. The prosecution carried out the autopsy for Wilfredo and apparently could not work out the causes of his death.

Wilfredo Jesus Moncada

At the end of April, there were massive protests blocking highways at many places around the country to stop the congress from passing a bill to privatise education and health services, 29 and 30 April were major days of protests but many started days before

On the build up before the big protests: barricades, an assassination, threat and arrest, teargases, a tollway undermined for a day..

On 26 April 2019, the day started with people barricading roads in El Progreso, Yoro, and also in the capital city near the teaching university and the teachers’ pension institution INPREMA – here police and military militarised the area and impeded protest actions. At the same time, the state sometimes plays games and makes fake sensationalist news about protest actions, and on this day a forestry department vehicle was seen carrying tyres to an area where no barricades was organised.

On 26 April 2019 in the afternoon, people in the general strike at Santa Cruz de Yojoa managed to open the toll way so drivers could go through without paying.

On 26 April 2019 in the night time, there was police and military repression with teargases against the protest at the city centre of Tegucigalpa. There, as the march was finishing, Melvin Roberto Oserto Aguilera was filming the repression when he was threatened by a traffic police who said, ‘delete this video or I will “enchachar” you’, following which Melvin was arbitrarily arrested. People looked for him in all the police cells and feared for his safety. He was finally located, detained in El Belén police station. Melvin is the Libre party secretary of ‘D19’ – there are 18 provinces in Honduras and the 19th one is of Hondurans living in the U.S.. The same night there was also a barricade of around 1000 people in Santa Rosa de Copán.

On 27 April 2019, at night, heavy repression was reported in Choluteca.

On 28 April 2019, at night time in the La Esperanza neighbourhood in Tegucigalpa, someone described as a compa in the struggle, as a youth with social conscience and love for the country, Junior Javier Rivas, was assassinated with about 12 heard gunshots – his body was then soaked in gasoline and set on fire. People know he was killed by the JOH regime.

junior javier rivas

That night, community journalist Yohana Contreras, who has protection measures as a persecuted journalist, had a capture order against her. Yohana is a member of Network of Defenders of the South.

Repression of protests against privatisation of health and education: 29 April 2019 – assassination, gunshots, rubber bullets, teargases, infiltrators, arrests, etc

On this day there were over 73 barricades and mobilisations from early in the morning across the country against the privatisation of health and education and against attacks against teachers and healthcare workers’ working conditions as well as against the JOH dictatorship.. at the barricades all around Honduras were teachers, healthcare workers, students, street vendors and many others. There were also schools and buildings and healthcare centres occupied and closed, and workers on strike. For example, students of Instituto Departamental de Occidente in La Esperanza, Intibucá occupied the school from sunrise and were repressed by soldiers around midday. Everywhere there were battle scenes, of youths with T-shirts tied around their faces resisting teargases and collecting stones around the parks to fight back. People running with hankerchiefs full of vinegre. Gunshots were heard, reported, had hit bodies, killed (at least one person) and wounded. People were chased and stampeded. Plain clothes police and paramilitary stood amongst police and attacked protesters.

In this morning, high school student/refrigeration student of Instituto Luís Bográn, Denis Avila participated in the protests in the Carrizal neighbourhood was found assassinated that night. Similarly, another student of the Jesús Milla Selva school was also found assassinated, with gunshot, around Residencial Plaza, although reporters did not find information on whether this other student was also involved in protests or not.

In Tegucigalpa at the city fringes, late in the afternoon, a teacher from Yoro at the protest, José Humberto Duarte, had an armed civilian who stood amongst the police pull out a gun and fire a shot at him – there were two such ‘civilians’, as captured by an UNE TV cameraperson and Univisión correspondent Claudia Mendoza and other independent journalists. The police denied that the attackers were working with them, under their protection, but people investigated and found out the shooter is Jairo Flores with the alias of Timbi, a police member, together with another council police. Not only did he walk with the cops but he was seen speaking with them, and charging a radio in his leg. The gunshot hit the right side of José’s chest. A group of people carried him to Hospital Viera three blocks from there. It is a private hospital but it was the closest one, but the gates were closed. People yelled and knocked, and were plainly ignored – they saw a security guard disappear behind a closed door, they knocked and yelled, ‘open up! Someone is wounded! Son of b…, open up!’ They then took him to Hospital Escuela. José’s health was delicate, but it was confirmed that he survived and stayed alive.

From the protests in the city centre and outside the congress building, there were at least five arrests. At the city centre, uni students únior Omar Zelaya (19), Kendal Eduardo Zepeda (18) and Josué Farid Aguilar (18), were arrested by police who beat them in the arms, legs and faces while arresting them. The youths were accused by the police of beating up a police agent and inciting violence. While locked up, they ate gases again as police let a teargas bomb off ‘by accident’ while they were inside, and had to be evacuated. At 6.47pm, Cofadeh lawyers put in habeas corpus for these and three judge executors of the Supreme Court went to the El Manchen police cells to check on the physical condition of the arrestees, two of whom showed many signs of beatings all over their bodies. At 8pm, the trio were released to their parents. Outside the congress buildings, police and soldiers there arrested Ariel Ricardo Moncada, a graphic design student, and another student Javier Avila, and maybe others, these were also taken to be locked up at El Manchén police station.

The repression of the city centre protest in Tegucigalpa was particularly ferocious with teargas bombs, gunshots from snipers and plain clothes police, and rubberbullets and people being chased and military helicopter hovering above the protests. The repression had left the historical municipality building and fast food joints next door to that set on fire. The teargas was damaging to large numbers of protesters’ respiratory systems. In this context many people ran to and sought refuge in the human rights organisation office of Cofadeh – its doors was open to them but the riot police stationed a water tank very close to the office and shot gases into the Cofadeh building as well. ‘We are under siege and we aren’t going to close the doors, the doors are open to people who need the protection.’

From the repression in Tegucigalpa also, Tolupán teachers Siriaco Martínez and Tomás Sevilla were not to be found for a few hours and had many worried that they may have been disappeared. Late that night they were found to be safe and reunited from the others, having ran and hidden and taken shelter for some hours from the brutal repression.

Attacks against journalists this day included when a military truck was launched in front of protesters, police attacked national radio correspondent Marcelo Castellón, and young journalist Isis Ramírez of GoTV was covering the protests in Tegucigalpa when police wounded him hitting him with a rubber bullet – the footage of which had been put on social media by a colleague.

In Reitoca, Francisco Morazán, military and police forces violently evicted the mobilisation of Lenca Indigenous Council of Reitoca. One compa was bullet wounded by the security forces in the foot and taken to emergency department. The state security forces there stood behind the interests of the Progelsa company that wants to exploit the environment there at the expense of the indigenous community. Five days prior, a contingent of police and military agents had arrived to intimidate and threaten to evict the Lenca Indigenous Council.

The security forces closed the night by continuing the have armed soldiers move around the streets of the barrios to impose terror to try to shut down the protests, but the protests refused to be shut down.

The privatisation of health and education are outcomes of the negotiation and the newly signed economic agreement between the Honduran state and IMF. The pressures from the protests got the congress session to be suspended, with the congress president saying that they are opening up a dialogue. People are not falling for the dialogue, their response is: complete abolition of the bill or the protests continue.

Repression of protests against privatisation of health and education: 30 April 2019 – more attacks, arrests and attempts

The barricades and mobilisations were very militarised with riot cops this day. In Yucarán in El Paraíso, teachers barricaded the provincial education office for hours and repression was feared. People barricaded Nacaome bridge blocking access to the Amatillo border from Tegucigalpa for some hours. These are some examples, there were many other barricades, and militarisation and repression against these, like the day before.

In Villanueva and Hato de Enmedio in Tegucigalpa where people barricaded the highway there was massive repression and persecution by state security forces using gunshots, teargas bombs late at night, with the attack being sustained over an hour.

Around the Central Park of Tegucigalpa, the area and shops were closed, and the people in protest were attacked with teaergasses. Many were arrested, more than what was reported. Known arrestees included Ervin Misael Zúniga, a young person who was taking photos of the protest (who was arrested and then released since the case had nothing to hold it), Alexander Carías Arce (16) who was arrested for being found with a handkerchief with vinegar, and three youths who were held in Belén police station for 24 hours: Oscar Leonel Bertrand García (19), Angel Armando Laínez (19) and Denis Cerrato (19).

There was another plain clothes police spotted on this day who was seen trying to kill teachers.

Terror and repression against Tegucigalpa uni protest

On 9 April 2019, students protested the high costs of electricity and the privatisation of education – particularly of INFOP in this instance. The response of state security forces that afternoon was the raining of teargas bombs against students trapping students and teaching staff in the building. They also had four helicopters hovering over the university. The Eduardo Lanza plaza was filled with gas and the uni authority suspended the 3-5pm classes in the D1 and F1 buildings as a result. There were young people wounded from this police attack.

Repression against Lenca indigenous resistance

On 29 April 2019, at La Vega del Cultatón where Lenca indigenous people who belong to the indigenous organisation Copinh have been recuperating ancestral land to cultivate, where the DESA company wanted to exploit for the bloody Agua Zarca hydroelectricty project (a number of people who have opposed the imposition of this project have been assassinated, including Berta Cáceres), the Madrid family arrived with Mrs Nery Méndez to threaten and intimdiate the food growers there. The attackers were carrying firearms including those of the 35 calibre. She also flashed her machete. The Madrid family particularly gave death threats to Rosalina Domínguez, but also against the young people Arnold Sánchez, Fredi Sánchez, Amos Sánchez, Leonidas Sánchez, Salomé Rodríguez and Mrs Cornelia González and others. Over three days there had been many threats and incidents, in which the attackers almost pulled out their machetes to stab at the compas. There were comments like, ‘at any moment they will find you alone’ and ‘hope you eat lots because you will all die very full.’ The threats were especially directed at Rosalina because they consider her the organiser of the group and had said they would kill her the same way they killed Berta.

Back on 4 April 2019, Copinh went to protest and demand the condemnation of David Castillo of the DESA company… while some others present on the DESA side protested demanding his freedom. Copinh’s banner said – Atalas Assassins.

On 2 April 2019, an indigenous Lenca pilgrimmage of 300 people walked to Tegucigalpa with the motto ‘Justice, Land, Respect, and Tortilla for Our Peoples’. They protested demanding the removal of debts against the small farmers of Intibucá, for the destruction of their forests to stop, they demanded solidarity with communities that defend their natural environment/commons, for freedom for the prisoners of Zapote Yamaranguila who had been sentenced to over 10 years of prison for defending the environment and land: Antonio Pérez Gómez, José Gómez, Leonel Rodríguez, Policarpo Rodríguez, Franklin Eduardo Pérez and Franklin Mejía Gómez and for freedom for the political prisoners from early stages of the electoral fraude, they protested the corruption in the country, and they demanded for the militarisation and repression against their people to stop. They announced that they were not going back until they got responses to their demands. On arrival to the presidential house, the access was closed off with structures and with a heavily armed and massive contingent of police and military together with shields, batons, teargas bombs, and gas masks. They were pushed to protest outside the supreme court instead.

Terrorising attack with gunshots from state and other forces against Campesinos in La Paz

In Lepaguare, San Pedro de Tutule of La Paz, the 5 de abril campesino cooperative recovering land was attacked at night on 14 April 2019 by police and plain clothes police/paramilitary who arrived firing gunshots and chasing everyone there. People had to flee, knowing they could get shot and killed, and had nowhere to flee to. Several were wounded, many from not seeing things that were in the way while running for their lives. Some people were lost. It was 1am when everyone knew where each another was .

In another part of La Paz in Terreno, Concepción de Soluteca, the campesino group Nueva Alianza 9 de Marzo was on 7 April 2019 attacked by a group of armed persons – José Erminio Ortiz (who is not a landowner there) and three others who had their faces covered, who arrived pointing guns, and poured gasoline on their homes and set these on fire. Campesinos had to flee and some continued to be lost from fleeing at the time of the report of this news.

Attack against campesinos of Bajo Aguan

On 1 April 2019, in the afternoon, an armed group of at least 20 people with weapons and bullet proof vests led by Santos Marcelo Torres attacked campesinos of the Gregorio Chávez campesinos movement who are in a land recuperation process in conflict with Dinant, a palm giant company. The attackers set on fire the make shift homes of two Gregorio Chávez campesino movement members. The authorities did capture Santos Torres but they said that to keep him locked up, campesinos had to come and give testimonies, without any regards for how this endangers their lives. Despite the risk, campesinos went to give their testimonies, but the authorities still released Santos Torres in the midnight hours that night. This was not the first time this happened, Santos and his group had been accused of attempting against the life of Ruber Ponce with gunshots on 24 February 2019, and of gunshot wounding José Luis Hernández on 13 March 2019, both incidents within the immediate region, and even police agents had been wounded, but similarly, Santos Torres and Alexis García were captured and released within hours. In the past, Santos had also attempted against the following campesino leaders and given death threats to their family members: Hipólito Rivas, José Chávez, Jaime Cabrera, Orlin Pérez, Dayrin Baquedano, Sofía Baquedano and others.

Threats against territory defenders of Zacate Grande

On 7 April 2019, police accompanied land plunger Jorge Luís Cassis as he arrived to Playa Blanca, Zacate Grande, approching a group of women and threatening them, saying, ‘I will put armed people here to look after my lands’. People filmed this and diffused the video on social media. They are in fear that these threats will be carried out. Jorge Luís Cassis had in the past charged land defenders including Abel Perez and Santos Hernández who were sentenced and imprisoned, and charged them again last year for ‘continued aggravated damages’. He also has three others charged.

On 18 April 2019, Playa Blanca territory defenders again received threats from Jorge Luís Cassis.

Enviro defenders arrested in Choluteca

On 11 April 2019, of Costa Azul, Namasigue, Choluteca, eight environmental defenders – four women – with one nine months old baby – and four men, were summoned to ‘give testimonies’ and went to the police investigative office in response to the summons, but on arrival were arbitrarily arrested and later freed on bail conditions of signing regularly at the courts. The names of the arrestees are Marlene Pastrana, Carina Aguilar, Ancelma Escobar, Sulema Mendoza, Nelson Gómez, Erasmo Pastrana, Kelvin Gómez and Félix Pastrana (of radio Namasigue). Their struggle is against a photovoltaic company that is causing damages to the environment and drying up one of the creeks in the community – drying up community sources of food and water.

Other news

On 21 April 2019, a Honduran migrant on their journey to the US along with many others, Ronny Adalil Osorio Reyes of Santa Rosita, Siguatepeque, was in a train accident and was hospitalised, people were trying to contact his family.

On 14 April 2019, the Council police of Santa Rosa de Copán confiscated baskets and buckets of fruits, veggies and flowers from old indigenous women accusing them of being ‘street vendors’, and for ‘giving the product to a refuge for women escaping from violence’. It shows what state law and justice is about.

On 2 April 2019, a report came out that only in February 2019, in Honduras, there were 61 violent deaths of young people aged under 30, out of 124 total violent deaths that month.

On 20 April 2019, in Choluteca, a young person was filming with his phone and demanding medical attention for his sister in hospital when the hospital sent soldiers and security guards to remove him from Hospital del Sur.

March 2019 Honduras Coup Update

March 2019 Honduras Coup Update

Journalists – one assassinated, others threatened, another captured

On 11 March 2019, UNETV journalist Cesar Silva (UNETV is a channel that has been a major target of state repression because of its critical voice) who was charged by a Venezuelan journalist entered into conciliation but the accusing party represented by lawyer Leonel Núñez showed no interest in trying to conciliate. Hearing was set for 19 March 2019.

On 17 March 2019, at about midday Sunday, journalist Gabriel Hernández, aged 54, was heading home from the university where he studies law, to the La Ceiba neighbourhood in Nacaome, Valle, when an unidentified person fired several gunshots at him just metres from his home. People tried to take him in a car to hospital but he died in the car. Gabriel was the director and presentor of the program ‘El Pueblo Habla´ that is on the local Valle TV channel. He is known to be critical of the council mayor Victor Flores and of Valle parliamentarians in the congress as well. He had sought protection measures back in 2018 because of threats and intimidation but the state denied this entitlement to him. A very close colleague of Gabriel Hernández, Leonel García who directed the program “Dígalo como Quiera”, also recently reported threats and police harassment.

gabriel hernandez.jpg

On 23 March 2019, journalist Marvin Portillo of the Tocoa region who has a program on Canal 38 called Caiga Quien Caiga reported that he has been receiving threats from engineer Ramon Rivas.

On 25 March 2019, there were looming threats by the state to capture journalist David Romero who had been sentenced to 10 years of prison back in 2018 for charges of defamation. Inter American Commission of Human Rights asked for the capture to be suspended. Committee for Liberty of Expression Honduras demanded the application of protection measures.

Three days later, on 28 March 2019, intelligence and special response troops Tigres surrounded the Radio Globo building, broke the gates and forcefully entered. David Romero was in this moment transmitting a news program with his colleague Gustavo Blanco. The security forces ambushed and dragged out all the journalists, damaged cubicle doors, accompanied by a judge executor as Tigres squad members proceeded to violently capture David Romero. The Radio Globo buildings were closed for 4 days by DPI investigative police and police. Outside, people protested showing solidarity with David Romero and other journalists and the media channel, they were repressed with teargasses. A cameraperson of Teleprogreso fainted from the gases while giving coverage, other journalists helped him.

Territory defenders had soldiers try to demolish their home, while others were attacked with police and hitmen gunshots

On 13 March 2019, in Siguatepeque, attackers Nelson Ritinhaus, Emilio Hernández Amaya, Coronel Luís Orellana and Inocente Cruz arrived onto the La Alianza community lands threatening community members and tried to demolish the home of a community member. Nelson Ritinhaus called himself the land owner and had started harassing the community months ago – but this time was the worst yet. Emilio Hernández Amaya also gave a death threat to Melvin Hernández and other community leaders, saying they would resolve the problem anyway they can, if it meant doing bad things. They came again on 16 March to harass the community on which date they said they would come again on 19 March 2019. The Alianza community has been in a land recuperation process for over 18 years – the titles have not been resolved by the authorities. The community is organised with the Copinh indigenous organisation.

After hitmen René Cordova and Melkin Cordova assassinated indigneous Tolupan land defenders Salomón and Samael Matute back on 25 February 2019, they have been walking freely and on this date of 17 March 2019, they arrived on Tolupan territory firing gunshots. Now the victims’ compas and relatives are newly terrorised and threatened.

On 29 March 2019, territory defenders of Azacualpa, Copán were blocking the machinery of the Minosa company from entering when police repressed these with teargases to evict them and destroy their community, when the police saw that people kept protesting, they began to repress using live gunshots against people

Campesinos arrested and refused bail

On 13 March 2019, in Porvenir, Siguatepeque, campesino members of cooperative Empresa Sociativa 11 de Marzo – José Santos Vázquez and Juan Mejía, were captured by police and accused of usurpation and ploughing forestry lands and they were subsequently refused bail and had to spend at least 6 days in prison until the first hearing date on 19 March 2019. The campesina cooperative president Vicente Castro went to show solidarity with the compas, and having done so, he was then arrested as well and accused of the same crime and imprisoned.

Repression against Guapinol continued

It is unclear whether some arrestees back in February were released or kept on despite their cases being dismissed or re-arrested, as there are some overlaps in the names of Guapinols defenders who had prison time during March 2019 and those named in February – some lists name the exact same people. The updates are as follows: hearings continued into the first days of March while about 11 compas continued in Tamara prison.

One list of defenders with charges from Inversiones Pinares on 3 March 2019 were as follows: 1. Jose Daniel Marquez Marquez, 2. Kelvin Alejandro Romero Martinez, 3. Obdulio Cruz Portillo, 4. Jeremías Martinez, 5. Jose Abelino Cedillo Cantarero, 6, Ramon Diaz Martinez, 7. Marco Tulio Ramos, 8. Antonio Martinez Ramos (a compa who died over a year ago), 9. Trinidad Dominguez Ramos, 10 Porfirio Sorto Cedillo, 11. Reinaldo Dominguez Ramos, 12 Juan Antonio Lopez

On 4 March in the midnight hours Fusina security forces entered Tamara prison where the arrestees were held carrying out a search intimidating and threatening them. There were news on 5 March 2019 in the wee hours of the morning that the cases were being dismissed for most of these but not everyone. At the same time there were images of soldiers going into Inversiones Los Pinares mining company offices ready to receive instructions on what attacks and threats to do against the Guapinol community. Some news sources said that the arrestees were still not free on this date, until 4pm that day. A bus carried these home in the midnight hours on 6 March 2019 at 3 am, having been away from their homes for 12 days through the arrest and trials. At this hour, they were very warmly received by their community.

It is also unclear if there are others charged whose cases are not dismissed who are vulnerable.

What is clear is that the repression continued. On 18 March 2019, Guapinol Tocoa was under military threat. This community that needs its river for their daily activities is militarised, persecuted and there are permanent abuse and persecution, especially against young people who cross the river to transport workers.

Protest repression

On 6 March 2019, another incident of police abuses against people in protest was reported.

Black feminist environmentalist summoned to appear in court

On 2 March 2019, Miriam Miranda, feminist environmentalist Garífuna leader of the organisation Ofraneh received a summon to appear in court on 7 March 2019, roughly three years after the assassination of her friend and compa Berta Caceres – indigenous feminist anticapitalist environment defender and leader.

Students protest

On 8 March 2019 at UNAH, students held a protest dressed like handmaids from The Handmaid’s Tale.

 

February 2019 Honduras coup update

February 2019 Honduras coup update

Two indigenous defenders assassinated, other campesinos and indigenous defenders suffered evictions and arrests

salomon y juan samuel matute

On 25 February 2019, from the struggle and tribe of San Francisco Locomapa, Yoro, members of MADJ (environmental and social justice organisation), Salomón Matute and his son, Juan Samuel Matute, were assassinated, dying from gunshot wounds. The father and son pair have in the past spoken up many times in this struggle about the aggressions and threats they have faced for defending the forest and the indigenous Tolupán territory; territory that is plundered with the complicity of the police and institutions of Yoro municipality. Salomón and Juan Samuel both were holders of protection measures that failed to protect them from assassination.

On 4 February 2019, at 7am, in La Paz, the Las Torres campesino group in Lepaguare, in San Pedro de Tutule was violently evicted by 40-70 uniformed and plain clothed officers, including launching teargas bombs without warning. The women and children were gassed. There was smoke everywhere and all the families had no choice but to run. The coffee farm and other crops were totally destroyed with chainsaws and machetes. The homes were burnt down to the ground. They are some 30 families who have been in a land recovery process there since 14 years ago growing food -plantain, maiz, coffee, and other crops- there for their loved ones. In the region of La Paz over 700 people have been persecuted, processed or imprisoned for land and territory defence. 90% of people in La Paz are Lenca indigneous.

Left in desesperation, anguish and powerlessness, they subsequently occupied a highway that goes to Marcala blocking the way between Marcala and La Paz, in protest of the violent eviction. They burnt wood and parked a huge truck across the highway paralysing cars from both sides, demanding negotiation.

On 27 February 2019, in a war operation of the state (police, military and courts) against indigenous land defenders, 6 indigenous leaders of the Zapote Semane Yamaranguila community were captured arrested in an attempt to break down indigenous organising. The arrestees were Policarpo Rodríguez (Zapote neighbourhood president), Antonio Gómez (religious community leader), Martiniano Domínguez Pérez (neighbourhood secretary), Celin Leonel Rodríguez Mejía (community security coordinator), Franklin Eduardo López (community helper), and Franklin Gomez Mejía (community helper). They were arrested because this community decided to build a community park with ball games fields, but somebody from elsewhere had arrived wanting to take over the land. The army had been putting up a terror campaign against the community, destroying the community’s flag and yelling at them saying that they army will ‘finish off these “indian terrorists”. The judge Liscien Knight not only denied them bail but proceeded to issue new capture orders against several indigenous people of the community who are hiding in the mountains escaping the heavy military operations. They face charges of robbery of beds, mattresses and gloves, and damages and usurpation, illicit association, etc, for which they have been imprisoned for weeks. The judge and prosecutor told them that if the community handed over its community land they can be freed of the charges.

On 27 February, in La Paz, the more than worrying news had come out that some leaders of the indigenous environmentalist organisation Milpah, which had put up ongoing protests against the building of the hydroelectricity dam (currently named Los Encinos, owned by Arnold Castro, spouse of nationalist parliamentarian Gladys Aurora López), have been profiled for execution by nationalist party activists who are members of the 10th battallion. This came from information from several sources, and that there are already hitmen lined up to kill them. In the past, similar information had surfaced about leaders having been profiled for killing, preceding these being killed, like in the cases of Berta Caceres and Margaret Murillo. In the area, of Santa Elena in La Paz, recently, many (12) rivers had been concessioned. In addition to this information, there had been other attacks. The President of the Honduran Association of Renewable Energy Elsia Paz had been making racist comments on TV saying that the communities who oppose the hydroelectric projects ‘don’t think well because they don’t eat three meals a day’. An aggressor stalked on 25 February the Milpah’s commission of women’s rights member and Nahuaterique municipal committee member Emilia Ventura, saying to her, ‘I have been waiting for you! Bitch, come here you…’. Some national party activists threatened General Coordinator of Women, María Felícita López, including one time when she saw that some people had drawn a skull and wrote her name with the drawing. The same national activists in town had been spies of the army back in the 80s.

Defenders of the Guapinol river: one killed, community militarised, many arrested and charged and refused bail

The Guapinol community had been under a great deal of persecution for defending the Guapinol river of the Botadero Mountain that supply nearby communities with water. The area has been militarised and attacked. Protection measures were ignored as always.

On 4 February 2019, in the Ceibita community in Tocoa, Colon, Gerson Leiva was violently killed during the midnight hours. Following this, the media showed images of Gerson having participated on a TV program with the Inversiones Los Pinares mining company back in September 2018 as a threat to other community leaders of what can happen.

On 6 February 2019,at 9am, the Guapinol community’s entrance and exit were occupied by police and military police who came in five patrol vehicles, causing panic to the community with this increased militarisation.

On 17 February 2019, at 9.10am, uniformed soldiers forced a person wearing a white shirt into a military truck and covered his face so that others couldn’t see who they were kidnapping. People saw the uniformed soldiers beating him. Villagers followed the military truck to try to see where the arrestee was being taken and they saw the soldiers drive towards La Concepcion community instead of any official detention centres. There are concerns about the person’s safety and life, within a context of constant persecution.

On 22 February 2019, from the Guapinol community, two environmental defenders were arrested in the morning when they were on an interurban bus – José Santos Hernández and Arnold Vajier Alemán, and another eleven, including one woman, who have capture orders against them for defending the environment had voluntarily appeared in court.

On Saturday, 23 February 2019, all thirteen defenders were imprisoned, charged with damages and usurpation against the Los Pinares mining company. Names of arrestees are Lourdes Elizabeth Gómez Rodas, Marco Tulio Ramos, Reynaldo Domínguez Ramos, Juan Antonio López, José Eugenio Esquivel Villeda, Juventino Cruz Hernández, Ally Magdaleno Domínguez Ramos, Juan Manuel Cruz Hernández, Juan Francisco Cruz García, José Santos Hernández, Carlos Leonel George George and José Adalid Cedillo Mendoza. They endured four days – over 50 hours – of court, and the whole time there were people outside chanting ‘you are not alone’, and playing Garifuna drums, guitars and sharing poetry and holding up placards in accompaniment. The hearing continued while they were imprisoned because the judge Carlos Irías de León had refused them bail. They had a mix of the following charges: usurpation, damages, occupation of public spaces, starting a fire, robbery, illicit association and unjust denial of liberty, and they were accused of belonging to a criminal group.

Since, despite of the spite the judges showed towards the defenders, there was no evidence to support any of the charges and accusations and the judges felt watched, the judges had to dismiss the case on 25 February at 2am, and release all the imprisoned environmental defenders, their families and friends were outside waiting for them.

Including these 13 defenders, there were a total of 31 defenders on the list of defenders charged by Inversiones Los Pinares, on this list appeared the name of Antonio Martínez Ramos, a compa who had died 3 years ago, long before the alleged ‘crimes’ could have taken place.

Another Environmental Defender attempted against

On 20 February 2019, German Chirinos’s family member was kidnapped by armed unidentified people who forced this family member to disclose the whereabouts of German. The intentions to intimidate his family and to end German´s life are clear. German Chirinos is the coordinator of the environmentalist movement MASSVIDA in the south of Honduras. He has protection measures as a recognised persecuted person.

For saying this land is not for sale, a rock in the head

On 17 February 2019, at 10am, an employee named Sabino Gonzalez of the large landowner Jorge Cassis was claiming to be the new owner of the lands of Playa Blanca and Puerto Sierra and showing these lands to a potential buyer, when community member and land defender Santos Hernández, aged 51, arrived on the scene and exclaimed that the land was not for sale, that the land dispute case is in the court, and Sabino responded by attacking Santos and throwing a rock at his head, wounding him. Santos’ compas of Adepza land defence organisation took him to hospital. Santos had for years grown food on these lands. As well as suffering this attack and the subsequent stitches in his head, back in 2016, Santos was imprisoned for 101 days for apparently breaching bail conditions. After that he was condemned to 5 years and one month in prison together with the compa Abel Perez, charged with usurpation, damages and threats against landowner Jorge Cassis.

Update on political prisoners

The political prisoners Edwin Espinal and Raul Alvarez continue in high security prison and had court on 18 February 2019. The conditions they live in are beyond terrible. Protests were held outside from 9am.

Repression at demonstrations

On 1 February 2019, when human rights organisation Cofadeh had their monthly demonstration protesting assassinations, disappearances and impunity at a plaza in the city centre, eight police officers arrived dressed in riot gear complete with teargas to repress, while saying they were there to give security.

On 13 February 2019, at the UN event launching Spotlight campaign – which focusses on femicides and political violence against women, one might think it is appropriate for Olivia Zúniga, the daughter of the assassinated environmental indigenous feminist and anticapitalist defender Berta Cáceres to be there yelling out ‘Get out JOH! Assassin!’, but such thought is mistaken. Olivia was removed by UN guards. The president JOH was not. UN may have the discourse, but it protects the dictatorship in practice.

On 15 February 2019, in Choluteca, there were protests and the state forces raided homes of people of the struggles in the morning, there were arrests against protesters, including against Elvis Izaguirre.

Immigrants in caravan

On 15 February 2019, a further caravan left San Pedro Sula.

On 19 February 2019, yet another Honduran immigrant died in the journey. His name is Julio, and he came with the second caravan of immigrants during January. He supposedly died from a heart attack when he was in Tecun Uman, the border area between Guatemala and Mexico. When he started to feel sick the migrants around him begged for medical attention for him, but he didn’t get the prompt medical attention he needed and was instead let to die by the medical systems, collapsing to the ground and dying minutes later.

Venezuelan diplomat expelled

On 1 February 2019, the Venezuelan Ambassador in Honduras, Filinto Duran, received a notice at night from Honduran Exterior Relations, that he was no longer recognised as an ambassador and had to leave Honduras with his family within 5 days.

Attacks against human rights defenders

On 19 February 2019, Esly Banegas, human rights defender of the Bajo Aguan region, spoke up about being subject to smear campaigns on social media, with fake names and fake profiles.

On 27 February, police officer Vallecillo and traffic police attacked two ACI Participa defenders.

January 2019 Honduras Coup update

January 2019 Honduras coup update

Protests against fraudulent government’s anniversary repressed – with threats, gunshots, teargases, militarisation, arrests,

On the buildup to the anniversary of the fraudulent JOH regime being in government and the corresponding protests:

On 9 January 2019, an ex police officer, Norman Mondragon, who spoke up against the JOH electoral fraude and resigned, was arrested by (current) police and detained in the first police station of San Pedro Sula.

In Choluteca regular protests against the JOH regime resumed as the year started. The concern was raised by one journalist there that some medias of the region had become silent, and that the worsening of special forces police’s repression was noted at the same time. On 15 January, in the evening, the protest was brutally repressed – security forces shot live gunshots at protesters as well as masses of teargas bombs. Ten protesters were suffocated by the gases. Lots of car windows were broken with the explosive violence of the security forces.

There was a week of protests being planned around Honduras leading up to the anniversary date of 27 January. Right before which, the security minister Pacheco Tinoco announced to the press that all protests will be brutally repressed, saying that everyone involved would be treated as vandals who are a threat to people’s safety, and who ‘wage psychological war in the social media’. Tinoco made a repeat announcement on 25 January that police will be deployed around the country so that ‘there will be normal circulation’, and that ‘very heavy intelligence work was being carried out to arrest those who disrespect the law’. You may recall, the semi insurrection efforts a year ago had people in some 80 different parts of this little country simultaneously maintain highway blocks for as long as they could. They were literally evicted using gunshots. The Honduran state was frightened about not having terrorised everybody and reminds people it is authoritarian and violent.

On the week before, protesters organised occupations of the borders to neighbouring country, and in the capital city. On 21 January, indigenous organisations occupied the El Florido Copán border with Guatemala, calling for JOH to get out, and for freedom for political prisoners and justice for renowned assassinated indigenous, feminist and anticapitalist activist Berta Cáceres. Cinph leader Salvador Zúniga reported that police attacked protesters who were mostly indigenous Lencas and Chortis, spraying these with green peppergas in the eyes.

On 24 January, social organisation ARCAH protested at the border of Trojes, El Paraíso, they were equally brutally attacked; police pushed them and sprayed them with toxic aerosol/peppergas.

On 25 January, in Choluteca, people were protesting into the afternoon and night. The reaction of the police and military was to brutally attack these – this lasted 3 long hours. Journalist Jairo López reported that police shot at protesters rubber bullets, wooden bullets, as well as ammunition gunshots against people protesting.

The same date, in Tegucigalpa, people protested at the US Embassy demonstrating against its blood stained foreign intervention. The embassy was heavily militarised with police and military. Meanwhile, in Panamá, where an international catholic youth gathering took place gathering thousands of young people around the world together with the pope Francisco, there were protests and banners as well as a beautifully coreographed performance of traditional dance, sending JOH the message to get out.

Security Minister Tinoco followed up on his threat to repress and attack protests by militarising the country with contingents of cops and soldiers in all the strategic points where protests normally take place starting the night before the major protests, on 26 January 2019. This night, in repressing people who did go to set up protests, police arrested and placed in lock-up in Manchen police station four youths Franklin Geovany Ramírez (18), Melvin Antonio Sosa and Carlos Orlando Hernández, and one other whose name journalists could not find out, with charges of public scandal. Franklin and Melvin were released the next morning, following people’s pressure for their release. However people outisde the police station also were repressed, with the shooting of teargas and rubber bullets.

On 27 January, date of one year of imposition of dictatorship. Despite all the contingents of soldiers and cops stationed from the night before. There were people everywhere – including Choluteca, Comayagua, Santa Bárbara, La Esperanza, Ocotepeque, different areas in Tegucigalpa, La Paz, Catacamas, and others, who were determined to protest and block highway this day, and proceeded to do so. There are images of tyres on fire blocking road with lots of people in many parts Honduras, and some images of police arresting a lot of tyres, piled in the police pick up truck. In one place, Las Sarrozas village, a group came out with flags and shared roasted corn cobs with anyone who yelled ‘Get out JOH!’ from their cars. There was repression everywhere, below accounts are from available reports.

In Tegucigalpa:

In the Kennedy neighbourhood, the repression was heavy in both daytime and night time. Masses of teargas was shot at protesters. Journalist Isaac Bueso of UNE TV who was covering the protest and repression there was shot by a rubber bullet launched by the Tigres police squad into the right side of his abdominal muscle.

From the roadblocks at El Carrizal and 3 de Mayo neighbourhoods, security forces arrested four compañeras including one human rights defender named Neepty Godoy. Others were worried for sometime about them as they did not know the whereabouts of the four. It was later known that they were in the fourth police station of Comayagüela.

At and around UNAH, students’ protests were repressed not only by teargas bombs but also by gunshots in El Hato Enmedio, where there were over 100 cobra and riot cops. Police also filmed students without any attempts to hide what they were doing.

In Choluteca:

The city that has regular protests despite constant heavy repression, was heavily militarised, and the persistent protests were attacked with teargas bombs. Journalist Jairo López was covering the protests and repression, when police (officers Rodas, Martínez, Andino and Fuentes) intercepted him and forced him on patrol PN577, without telling him why he was being arrested. Other journalists who tried to interview him after he was forced onto the police truck were treated violently by the police. Those in charge of this operation were police subcommissioners Milton Obando and Villanueva.. Milton Obando referred to Jairo as ‘the leader of the protests’, rather than as a journalist, and as a recognised persecuted journalist, Jairo was previously assigned a police escort and the police even arrested the police escort and stripped him of his weapons. Knowing this would not be a good look in the press, the security minister made up another story for the press, saying that police was chasing a truck and van where people inside were throwing stones and fireworks at the cops from which one police was allegedly wounded, and that when they stopped this vehicle, they found Jairo López, with his police escort next to him, was driving the vehicle and they were arrested for investigation. Jairo has been persecuted for a long time, including being taken off air by the public-private Honduran Electricity Company EEH

In Siguatepeque:

In the context of repression against protests with massive amounts of teargases, many ran into buildings to take refuge and were subsequently arrested. The list of arrestees was rather long: 1. Jorge Adalid Mejía Santos (26), 2. Gustavo Chicas López (18), 3. José Alexander Rodríguez Reyes, 4. Brayan Pereira Cruz, 5. Luís Manrique Cartagena Perdomo, 6. Santos García Sanchez, 7. José Osman Sanchez, 8. Edwin Guillermo Polanco Varela, 9. Jefri Ariel Castillo, 10. Roger Cervantes Inestroza, 11. Allan Josue Alas, 12. Alex Gustavo Chicas, 13. José Jacobo Tabora, 14. Carlos Amilcar Hernández, 15. Marvin Josué Mancia, 16. Jorge Adalid Mejia and 17. Marco Esteban Cáceres. The majority was released on the same day, except Roger Cervantes Inestrosa and Allan Alas, who the lawyers were to pressure to free them the next day. Roger was painting a mural at the Ríos college where he works during vacation periods when he was arrested. Allan was taking refuge from the teargases in a clinic near his work – a tyres workshop, when he was arrested. They were held at the Siguatepeque police station.

In El Progreso:

In Yoro, where protests were dispersed by the shooting of teargases but many more people would then arrive to take the place of those evicted, and stay some hours, the police and Tigres contingent there was heavily armed. The contingent was headed by the head of Investigation Police Department, Jimi Morazán, who was carrying a granade launcher to sheet 5 bombs in one shot. There, two journalists were attacked by police with teargas bombs shot at their bodies: El Progreso Video News EPVN reporter and coordinator Luís Sierra, and UNE TV reporter Edgardo Castro. Also on the atlantic coast, the Puller area was militarised from very early on to impede people from mounting highway blockades.

In Olancho:

Dr Luis Amador, who is amongst many voices against the dictatorship, complained that soldiers and military police were surrounding and watching his home and medical clinic from early in the morning, posted just opposite the clinic. The medical clinic had been under military surveillance for some time.

On the next day, 28 January 2018, despite heavy repression from the day and night before, there were some more protests.

In UNAH, students showed they have no fear of the regime’s repression and will keep fighting and never give up, and put up quite a fight this day in confrontation with the police.

At the entrance of the Las Mercedes neighbourhood in Comayaguela, there had been protests against JOH, and two young law students who participated in these protests were arrested 9pm there that night. They were Alejandro Bonilla and Mario Gerardo Rodas. They were forced onto the PN-513 police patrol and taken to the 4th police station, with charges of Scandal in Public Spaces. Alejandro was released at 10am having been held for 13 hours, and Gerardo about 5pm (locked up for about 20 hours). Alejandro is a leader of the Comayaguela Libre party and a member or ARCAH, an organisation that had accompanied and led some protests in the last week.

Campesinos in land struggle – assassinated, attempted against, arrested, raided..

On 4 January 2019, Attackers assassinated Noel Isac Delcid, 32 years old and administrator of MUCA farmers movement of Bajo Aguán, from the La Confianza settlement.

noel isaac delcid muca jan 2019

On 15 January 2019, in Sabá, Colón, Jorge Mejía was going from one place to another with 17 years old Oscar Alvarez, when the two of them were fired at repeatedly with gunshots from attackers who fled after firing the shots. The attack would have been meant for Jorge Mejía, a campesino leader of the Unidos Lucharemos cooperative, who had received death threats related to this struggle. It is not known whether they were left in grave conditions.

On 15 January 2019, in El Progreso, a number of campesinos organised in CNTC – national federation of rural workers, had been captured. This occurred in the context of constant persecution from the state that defends companies rather than the campesinos, and of persecution against the campesino group Nuevo Esfuerzo, in relation to lands they are on that the Chiquita banana company wants.

On 26 January 2019, in La Paz, a police patrol raided the home of José Amílcar Rodríguez of the Calaveras El Matazano campesino base ‘5 de noviembre’.

Territory Defenders – against mining, dams, megatourism – kidnapped, arrested, shot at, raped and stoned to death

On 16 January 2019, the coordinator of black Garífuna people’s organisation Ofraneh Miriam Miranda was travelling with two other women defenders also of Ofraneh, when the three of them were arrested by soldiers on the Tocoa highway near the Guapinol community. The soldiers treated them with a lot of disdain and tried to confiscate their car illegally.

On the same night, inside the Guapinol community, gunshots of high calibre weapons were heard, and someone found a bullet engraved into their house. The gunshots were fired by mining company Los Pinares’ security guards.

Also on 16 January, near Tegucigalpa, the Progelsa hydroelectricity dam company’s security guards used weapons against and brutally repressed the Reitoca community which has a protest camp where Progelsa wants to build the Petacón dam. This was in front of a police contingent that watched and did nothing. At the same time, Progelsa had bribed impoverished people of the Muluaca community to approach the Reitoca community, dressed in yellow vests, to pressure the Reitoca community to withdraw the protest camp. They had even sadly bribed a human rights defender.

On 23 January, Garifuna community leader Celso Guillen was for the fourth time arrested with charges of usurpation despite of that the previous usurpation charges have all been dismissed. The accusation came from Canadian business people who have usurped Garifuna community lands.

On 26 January 2019, aggressors in a white double cabin car without numberplates that belongs to Progelsa company kidnapped two comrades Alexander Martinez Ilovares and Nelson Hernandez, of the Agua Caliente community. Their lives are in danger.

On 27 January 2019, garífuna/black and young Belkis García was raped and stoned to death by unknown attackers who are not garífuna/black men. Her body was found near a bridge. This rape and assassination took place on community land in Sambo Creek – garífuna territory that is being usurped and privatised for exploitation.

Journalists – a couple’s children murdered, one sued for defamation (see protests repression for journalists attacked by state security in protests)

On 13 January 2019, in the night time, Paul Alexander Reyes John, aged 27, was assassinated when he was outside his home in the La Guadalupe barrio of the capital city – unidentified persons came out from a van to assault him with another person who was walking about, then they shot him. Paul was taken to the HEU teaching hospital, but he died there. Paul was the son of journalists Walter Reyes and Nancy John. The parents said Paul was a good noble person, so many who knew him are very saddened.

On 31 January 2019, there was a conciliation hearing scheduled in a lawsuit against journalist Carlos Martínez who had been charged by parliamentarian Bernardo Enrique Yllescas for defamation. The accusation is related to Carlos reporting on that Yllescas had put forward a bill in May 2018 to reactivate military conscription/obligatory military service, something that was abolished in 1994 through campaigning work out human rights defenders. Carlos had already been charged with defamation previously – by parliamentarian Brenda Mercedes Flores, but this charge was withdrawn afterwards.

The continuous plight of migrants

Another massive caravan left Honduras for the US leaving from the San Pedro Sula bus terminal on 14 January 2019. They left ignoring both the scare campaigns coming from the US government, and also from the Honduran JOH regime pleading people to not leave. Their lives in Honduras is simply too hard, with no jobs, and with terrorising gang violence, so people left risking their lives and futures, for the chance that they and their families may survive, because they are likely to be killed by hunger or gang violence in Honduras.

Even as this caravan was just beginning and past ones are in Mexico, grave news continue pouring in of Honduran migrants in their journeys. On 14 January 2018, Nerlin Rochez (Rocky) who was always there as part of the struggles to recovery ancestral garífuna land, was found assassinated while travelling in as part of the exodus in Mexico. The same day, Ruth Resendiz (of the caravan), had been kidnapped in the Mexico City, news came out the next day that people were still looking for her. On 15 January, Kely Abigail Hernandez of the caravan was run over and killed, leaving behind her daughter.

NERLIN ROCHEZ ENE 2019.jpg

Two best friends traveling together shared with a journalist their story. The journalist named them Elmer (aged 26) and Denia (aged 21), since they needed to tell the story annonymously. Elmer and Denia decided to got in the caravan together to look out for one another, they left on the caravan of 14 January 2019. The journalist asked them, how much did they carry for the trip? They laughed and said less than US $8 between the two of them. This is not their first attempt, they tried to flee on 27 December 2017 from Choluma, where the homicide rate is very high, but that time, they were deported when they were near Mexico city. Denia has been looking for work for two years and had not found anything. Elmer received death threats from gangs.

On 16 January 2019, as around 500 migrants leaving Honduras reach the Guatemalan border, there was a hunt by the security forces against migrants aged under 21, whether or not they were accompanied. Of these 500, some passed through with their documents, others without documents were returned on buses. Dozens were insisting to be let through. Things were sometimes heated, there was a confrontation the night before – migrants and police shot at each other, migrants with stones and police with teargases. There were images on the media of people walking from Esquipulas to Chiquimula in Guatemala.

On 24 January 2019, the Mexican state had registered that 9120 Hondurans entered Mexico just in these 24 days, who are seeking visas for humanitarian reasons. These numbers do no include many others who have not been officially registered. These are clear signs of a humanitarian crisis.

The migrants not only live in these conditions of vulnerability and precariety, but there are politicians that go out of the way to incite hatred and racism against the migrants and turn other poor people against them. Not only the atrocious Trump had done that. Back in October 2018, Tijuana (Mexico) mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum told the press that the Honduran caravan was ‘different’ to other migrants, pointing to their lack of papers and saying all sorts of things to dehumanise these. The next day, some hundreds of struggling Mexicans organised a protest telling Hondurans they weren’t welcome there, throwing stones at these. Politicians turn poor people against other poor people by emphasising that public services are limited, so that people show their rage at migrants rather than at their state and the state of the world. This happens everywhere, very sadly.

Politician ruled guilty of defamation

Some politicians are persecuted too. Current Libre parliamentarian and ex police commissioner Maria Luisa Borjas was charged with defamation against businessman Camilo Atala. Maria Luisa Borjas had spoken up about the assassination of main social leaders, and against corruption, in a way that is direct and without ambiguities. She spoke up about Berta, naming public figures who are wellknown as suspects of intellectual authors of Berta’s assassination, and about how 20 high level police officials were involved in killing young people. Maria Luisa Borjas had received death threats for these. On 28 January 2018, the judicial president declared Maria Luisa Borjas guilty of the charges. She could be sentenced to between 2 years and 8 months to 4 years in prison.

Killings and a disappearance – specific contexts unknown but is the overall context of things that happen in Honduras nowadays

On 19 January 2019, a humble man named Roberto Cuellar died at the hands of soldiers in Gracias, Lempira, near the San Sebastian plaza. Roberto’s children became orphaned.

On 21 January 2019, judge Jorge Salvador Serrano, brother of judge of constitutional court Jorge Avilio Serrano, was assassinated in Santa Barbara, in a dark quiet street.

On 24 January 2019, in the Torocagua neighbourhood, an unidentified woman driving a grey tourist van without a numberplate was assassinated by a motorcyclist who was subsequently arrested.

On 26 January 2019, Elmer Antonio Villalta was last seen leaving his home at 7am for work, his family was seeking help to find him.

Melon workers stuffed around by Fyffes/Sumitomo as the company plays games to regain fair trade stamp.

Fyffes/Sumitomo signed an agreement with STAS union just before Christmas, to enter into a negotation process with STAS during January/February 2019 and recontract 60 workers who were dismissed because of their affiliation with the union. These workers never were recontracted. They arrived 3 times to work and were not allowed in. The last time they went they were blocked off by hundreds of people who aggressively expelled them. Days before, the board of STAS received a letter from the fake union Sintrasuragroh (of bosses, etc) that it will be Sintrasuragroh that negotiates with Fyffes/Sumitomo not STAS.

 

December 2018 Honduras Coup Update

December 2018 Honduras Coup Update

Attack against uni students this December 2018 – one kidnapped and killed, several arrested and politically imprisoned

On 6 December 2018, at UNAH there was a protest against the high costs of public transports when at about 12 midday, a hooded person dressed up as a student protester was seen heard and videoed to have been coordinating with a uniformed police, and saying, ‘leave now, and come back after,’ before surprising everyone by proceeding to set mini buses full of people inside on fire, and meanwhile, a police stood around and did not try to intervene, and someone else was there coordinating and ordering those who went about setting the buses on fire. At around 3pm, four students got arrested accused of this crime. Their names are Carlos Hernández, Rolando Melghem, Misael Martínez and Samia Amador. Misael for one had been in a practical performance all day for his folkloric dance class and was inside that building involved in that until 12.45pm. The real reason he in particular had been picked up is for having had an argument recently with a HCH reporter. HCH is the absolute worst and most inhumane TV news company, that is always saying what a good job the security forces are doing at repressing and controlling protests, very blatantly siding with dominant interests while smearing anyone who struggles against the system. So like others, Misael was telling off the HCH reporter, who responded by telling her photographer to start filming him, ‘film him, so that they can profile him and imprison these ones,’ and the photographer did, and she did get him arrested. Samia on the other hand was a journalism student who was there covering the protests. She is the only one of the four released about 6pm that day. When the press asked her what happened, she said, ‘I was just there covering the protest, they told me not to speak, I am okay.’ Carlos, Rolando and Misael were refused bail, denied access to human rights defenders, and were imprisoned in the Tamara prison. Their mums, classmates and teachers were outside, the prison cordoned off by the police.

presos estudiantes

While this is going on and the media focuses on getting people to think how bad student protesters are for apparently setting 3 mini buses on fire, on 9 December 2018, 24 years old civil engineering uni student who is part of MEU student organisation, Enrique Mejía Montoya, was kidnapped, cruelly tortured, assassinated and his body was inhumanely burnt using tyres on fire. Media had nothing to say.

enrique mejia montoya diciembre 2018

After Carlos, Rolando and Misael had been imprisoned for 6 days, they were finally released on 12 December 2018. A public statement came out on 15 December 2018 explaining that they were released because of video evidence that none of them were involved in the burning of the buses and they were free of all charges.

Repression at protests in Choluteca – gunshots, teargases..

On 15 December 2018, special services police repressed and shot at protesters outside a government building. A number of protesters were wounded and taken into hospital emergency. Tamy Gonzáles was in such a critical state that she was unable to recognise any of her family members. The attacking security contingent was headed by Subcommissioner Villanueva of UDEP No.6, of Choluteca, with the new head of Choluteca police being Milton Obando.

On 28 December 2018, it was the 104th protest in Choluteca for 2018, and the last one for the year – people having been protesting twice a week there. This 104th protest was attacked by teargases launched at people and into people’s homes around there. Journalist Jairo López said that as a recognised persecuted journalist, he has a police escort assigned to protect him – but the police even wanted to attack the police escort. Another youth was also viciously attacked for filming there. These ongoing protests call on JOH to leave, and protest the lack of medicines and budget in hospitals, the high costs of food, petrol, and privatisation of public services.

Journalists – their lives very much threatened

On 9 December 2018, in the morning, a message was left for Radio Progreso journalist Erick Pineda, this message was written on the outside walls of his own home, the message said, ‘we give you 24 hours to leave the country. Correspondent of Shit.’ Erick is part of a Jesuit news team. They had advised protection mechanisms of Honduras that have responsibility for protecting him.

On 22 December 2018, news director Leonel Enamorado Enamorado of San Luís Santa Barbara who runs the program Más Noticias of Radio Super Z, was at his home when Councillor Jośe Rommel Rivera Orellano came by and told Leonel to get in his car and held him captive for an hour driving around the town. In this time, Jośe told Leonel that he was sick of being criticised and of ‘dirty politics’, and asked Leonel if the Libre party was financing him. To that, he said no. What spiked this was that Leonel had reported that José belonged to the purified police force, and interviewed the head of the purification comission who said that charges were coming against purified police. This same day at the central park, Councillor José Rivera Orellano’s brother, Inmer Rivera Orellano, tried to run over Leonel and threatened him in front of his children, saying, ‘the next time if you will see, the next time you won’t be saved from me, because you carry on criticising people.’

Then, on 27 December 2018 at 5.40pm at the Fausto Rodriguez stadium, in front of a group of almost 30 people, Inmer Rivera Orellano spotted Leonel, and yelled, ‘aha daddy, I wanted to grab you just like this.’ Leonel initially escaped with people around him, but Inmer managed to get Leonel in the middle of a field and gave him two stabs with an iron baton and two kicks to his body and back. His wounds required for him to rest for 10 days. Leonel has had been reporting for four years from 12 to 2pm everyday, and he has been many times before been intimidated by the public official.

Earlier in the month, there was a demo in solidarity with another journalist Geovanny Sierra of UNE TV outisde the Prisons Department, Geovanny having been shot in the arm in November; fellow journalists each protested with casts on one of their arms.

Human rights defender threatened by state security agent

On 20 December 2018, Irma Lemus, who is a defender of a number of human rights organisations of Bajo Aguán, was accompanying a judicially persecuted woman, when Irma was threatened by a DPI agent for doing this accompanying work. Irma has already previously spoken up about other threats from police at different times.

Attacks on campesina people, their food, their homes, their lives

In Saba, Colón, amidst palm plantations, from the beginning of December 2018, military and police had surrounded the homes of campesina families of the Unidos Lucharemos cooperative, harassing and intimidating these to the point where nobody felt safe to go out. On the 4 December 2018, The military and police were joined by others and proceeded to destroy the families’ crops of plantain and other food crops that they had grown to feed their families. After that, the security contingent continued to occupy the area with the intention of forcing the families out of their homes and livelihoods.

On 9 December 2018, charges of land usurpation were laid against a number of people, including José Anibal Zelay, belonging to the Buenos Amigos campesino cooperative in Cortés which was founded in July 2017 on agrarian reform land and have grown food crops to feed their families. The judicial persecution is attacking those in land struggle, after the community removed a concrete wall, and the company Cementos del Norte SA laid claim on the land, removed light posts. The company owner Saul Noe Coello Paz also made threats against Buenos Amigos, and had sent gangs to attack these. In the night, motorcyclists enter the field and fire gunshots into the air.

On 29 December 2018, the partner of the son of the Las Delicias Campesina Cooperative and affiliate of the national rural workers federation CNTC in El Progreso, Jesica María Castillo Sauceda disappeared, and her family reported this on 30 December. She sells Avon products and sandals for her livelihood, and was travelling this day to La Cantona community to go collect a box in relation to this work, but the person she arranged to pick up from said she never made it there that day. Jesica was looking forward to travelling the next day to Nicaragua with her four children to visit her dad and bring her some food. When her family approached the police worried about her, the police laughed in their faces saying she must have ran off with someone else instead of helping search for her. On 31st December at 11.30am, her body, having been killed, appeared in Corte Culebra.

Defenders of territory against mining and sugar industries – held political prisoner, got death threats, chased, wounded, burnt, discapacitated

On 5 December 2018, following the arrest in 30 November 2018 against 63 years old defender against mining Jeremias Martínez, the court denied him bail, holding him as a political prisoner accused of usurpation and damages against Inversiones Los Pinares mining company. People occupied the CA13 highway indefinitely, demanding that Jeremias Martínez be free

On 7 December 2018, 35 families of community Corrales de Piedra, which is near the mining project of Inversiones Los Pinares, have been given death threats and notice to leave their community. They are amongst many people in favour of the mine so are especially attacked.

On 7 December 2018, campesina people in San Marcos of Santa Barbara spoke up against damages to people’s health, environment and crops by the sugar cane company Chumagua SA that used a plane to fumigate its plantations and in the process contaminated and damaged others’ crops. Chumagua also burns sugar canes and in the process produces and dumps chemical wastes into the river where people – fishers, children, etc, who have entered the river got burnt, one to the degree of not being able to walk anymore. The company guards have also invaded the La Persa community and chased farmers there accusing these of causing damages to the sugar cane company – these farmers had not even done that though, damages were carried out by others affected by the contamination.

On 18 December 2018, indigenous environmentalists and territory/forest defenders and elders Servio Avila and Porfirio Cordova were violently attacked for defending their territory. From the beating Porfirio was gravely bruised in the head.

Precarious and ended lives of Honduran migrants

On 20 December 2018, Honduran migrant Gerson Suazo was arrested in Mexico. He was being referred to with hostility to by his captors as a leader of the caravan, and as such fears for his life.

On 22 December 2018, Honduran migrant Nelson Espinal aged 28, had been back in Honduras for about one week after the US government denied him asylum and deported him, when he went outside to buy a plastic rubber for the horse in the corner shop that night and was assassinated by 15 gunshots, just blocks from his home. He lived in a neighbourhood dominated by the Mara 18 gang in Tegucigalpa. He told his sister shortly before he was killed, that, ‘I have to leave, if I stay here they are going to kill me.’ Nelson worked as a labourer, builder and painter of homes, and was planning to try to go to the US again, having set 10 January 2019 as the date to leave for Mexico. His funeral was held in his mother’s home, his body in a coffin donated by the government. His crying mother Sara cried for justice for her son.

This month also, in Mexico, two teenage Honduran migrants aged 16 and 17 were assassinated, one was strangled and the other stabbed to death. They were in Tijuana at the border to the US. Another youth who was with them survived but was wounded and is under protection. The trio were apparently travelling alone.

General conditions of living in Honduras

A few things that happened showing what it is like living in Honduras for most.

On 3 December 2018, in the light of day, amidst many soldiers and police, unidentified people assassinated a lawyer named Reynaldo Barahona, in front of the Supreme Court in Tegucigalpa.

On 4 December 2018, a mother told about how her daughter was hospitalised at Catarino hospital, diagnosed with some illness and sent back home, but what she had was Dengue Hemorrhage, and as she was being taken back to hospital, she died.

On 4 December 2018, young Dennis Alvarez was at the parking lot of a capital city shopping centre when in a mistaken moment he reached with his car keys towards trying to open a car that looked identical to his, as that happened a soldier – Banhprovi head Sandra Ismari Martínez Hernández was drink driving and watched Dennis and fired gunshots at him, wounding him in the head and leg. The soldier fled, and Dennis was critically hospitalised, before he died on 7 December 2018 in the Teaching Hospital.

dennis asesinado dic 2018

On 16 December 2018, outside the sports stadium, at the final game of Motagua-Olimpia, there was confrontation, and police and military proceeded to launch teargas bombs at the bathrooms of the stadium.

Between December 2017 and February 2018, a number of people were made political prisoners during the semi-insurrectionary period following the fraudulent reelection of JOH. There are several who continue imprisoned, and others who continue to have charges against them, from about 1 year ago now. See and share this video made by filmmaker Jesse Freeston about political prisoner Edwin Espinal and the current context https://www.facebook.com/318605205311679/posts/503944090111122?sfns=cl.

Electrical engineering student Allan Izaguirre was someone who struggled financially and worked hard on campus selling his phone data, selling phonecalls – something different people did on campus. Earlier in December, a group of other people who worked doing the same thing threatened him telling him to stop working there (in competition), then in mid December they beat him up so badly on campus that he was hospitalised. On 29 December 2019, he died from the injuries. His sister was taking up a collection towards his funeral.

Unfair trade

Fair Trade USA took a really long time to disqualify Fyffes/Sumitomo melon and pineapple plantations in Honduras and Costa Rica from their fair trade certification, but it did finally happen in December 2018. Ethical Trade Initiave suspended Fyffes much earlier, in May 2017. There are ongoing complaints and campaigns against their systematic violation of laboural and union rights. The company set up a fake union and harasses staff that organise in the real one and does not recognise the real one. They make their workers work long days, they don’t pay minimal salary, nor long service leave, nor provide social security. There are bad conditions of hygiene and security at work. They blacklist staff.

 

November 2018 Honduras Coup Update

November 2018 Honduras coup update

Repression of protests in Choluteca: arrests, beatings, gunshot wounds, teargas bombs

In Choluteca, there continued to be protests against the JOH regime and its privatisations and abuses every Wednesday and Saturday. On 10 November, people blocked the bridge and road to Tegucigalpa with the main message being for the private-public-alliance electricity company EEH to get out. A lot of known attacks had been unleashed against organisers, protesters, agitator of Choluteca this month.

On 15 November 2018, at about 10.30pm, in the context of protests against EEH, police and soldiers guarding this building arrested 14 years old Samuel Emilio Aguilar, saying it was because he had thrown a rock at the buildings. The police bashed him and locked him up in UNDEP. Similarly, the police arrested Curlp uni student Levi, and his compas of the Stibys union. There were news that they were finally released about 9 hours later.

On 21 November 2018, on this extra day of protest, being on a Friday, against the inauguration of the mobile parliament that started in Choluteca, there was massive police repression involving many gunshots, beatings : two underage persons, one named Wilber Josue, were gunshot wounded by police and hospitalised and another teenager who was arrested. Before that, police was bashing an old man who was selling iceblocks there. Even before that, police blocked the UNETV news team from travelling to Choluteca to cover the protests, but either they made it through anyway or at least one UNETV journalist was there, as UNE TV journalist Mauricio Rivera was there transmitting live. Mauricio was walking around and through the bridge, reporting, saying, ‘look over here, there is left over food thrown about everywhere, police officers, you need to pick up after yourselves, here you can see more soldiers than anything, look, they are shooting at the press..’ it was at that point that you can see on video teargas bombs shot towards him one after another, and the air is filled with teargas clouds, and as Mauricio continued to report, you could hear he was starting to struggle with his breathing. They were attacking him to stop his coverage. Libre parliamentarian was also using his phone to transmit live on his facebook the repression, when a police agent attacked him. He said, I am a parliamentarian. They responded with, ‘you are no parliamentarian, nor are you a journalist’, and they proceeded to push him, snatch his phone, and shoot teargas bombs directed at his body.

27 November 2018 protests: two gunshot wounded including a journalist

27 November 2018 marked the one year anniversary of JOH’s fraudulent re-election and with that, of the insurrectionary resistance against this fraud and of the reactive chain of killings and gunshots by the military state at protesters blocking highways and of the subsequent taking of political prisoners, some of whom continue to be imprisoned. To continue to protest JOH, this day there were protests in Intibucá – the home of Berta and Copinh, and in Choluteca, and in Tegucigalpa. These protests were large but smaller than a year ago, not because people aren’t feeling rage and desperation, but because they are very aware that state forces do open gunfire. The day before, people who had travelled into Tegucigalpa from other parts of the country gathered at the Stibys union buildings, they found themselves surrounded by police and people had to call on human rights defenders to come and accompany the people there to prevent this early repression.

And on this anniversary date, they did open gunshots. In Tegucigalpa at 6.15pm, Geovanni Sierra of UNE TV, was reporting live from the scene of repression, that was already filled with teargas which was hurting children especially. Police joined by shopping centre private guards and soldiers were attacking protesters who were trying to flee the gas there, and protesters were surrounded by riot cop cordons and metal fences, when Geovanni started to say, ‘they are shooting, they are shooting, they are shooting! From the yellow bus, (pause), oh no! They wounded me, they wounded me, they wounded me, arrrgg, they wounded me, they wounded me, no, I can’t, old man, okay they’ve wounded me, that bus over there, I am losing blood, they wounded me in the right arm, I can’t feel my arm, they wounded me they wounded me’, ‘I will take you, I will take you (another voice)’ ‘they wounded me in the arm, I am okay, they wounded me, it’s hurting a lot’, ‘compas we will take him over here, come come, lets go, lets go.’ The gunshots that came from the yellow bus also wounded Angel Avila, a unionist of Sitraunah, the workers union of the public university UNAH, who was shot in the left arm. So the yellow bus was of INP – national prison department. The department confirmed that its police fired the gunshots that hit Geovanni and Angel. Its statement said the bus carried prison police and 8 prisoners who were being transferred. Their excuse for the attack was that they needed to ‘stop protesters from freeing the prisoners’ and that the protesters were ‘violent’, and so, as well as stopping protesters from freeing the prisoners, they had to take action to protect the prisoners and the prison police from the violence, ‘the protesters threw rocks at the INP bus, … face with such violent actions, the prison agents used what resources they had in their disposition, from which, the journalist Geovanny Sierra resulted wounded.’ The labour law in Honduras does not obligate employers to cover their employees in case of injuries at work, so Geovanni is without social security, and there will be financial difficulties in addition to generally recovering from the gunshot wounded arm. INP representative McNeil proceeded to offer to pay the costs of hospitalisation for Geovanni, without extending the same to others wounded from the same incident. Geovanni did not accept, saying his life and all the harm caused by the police weapon are priceless. It’s not that he didn’t need the money, of course, but they are offering it to try to buy out of their culpability. Geovanni has been told that he was shot with a veretta, from this information he concluded that the shots were fired with an intention to kill.

Also on this date, it was reported that the JOH regime sent soldiers to raid the home of ex captain Santos Orellana, as he is an ex soldier who had spoken up about JOH’s close relative Tony Hernández being a drug trafficker. In the raid the agents tied up their home’s domestic worker and interrogated her for information about the ex captain’s children. This raid occurred 4 days after the news being transmitted about Tony Hernández having been captured in the US in relation to drug trafficking.

On 30 November 2018, in La Lima, police kidnapped a protester, and did not release the protester under pressure of people around. There was an alert and grave concerns for this protester.

For screaming Get Out JOH

On 4 November 2018, at Dos Caminos, somebody screamed, ‘get out JOH’ to the police there. The police responded by beating this person in the face and different parts of the body, and slamming this body into the police truck floor.

Other attacks against journalists and the press – raid, state neglect, assault, smear

At around 5.20am on 10 November 2018, in Choluteca, about 30 hooded criminal investigation police surrounded the home of journalist Jairo López, raided his home, hit his spouse, pointed a gun at her in front of her daughter, and then, with a capture order, arbitrarily arrested Jairo and pushed him into a white double cabin van plated HAJ1374 and threatened him with a gun. They did not tell anybody where they were taking him. For seven hours, apart from an initial phonecall in which he told his family the numberplate and that he had been threatened with a gun (he could not say more as security agents snatched away his telephone at this point), his family and friends and fellow journalists did not know where he was and whether he stayed alive. He was locked up and then taken to court in Valle over 7 hours later. Fellow journalists and others gathered in large numbers outside the court in solidarity. By 6.20pm, he was released and granted bail, charged with damages against EEH (private public alliance electricity company of Honduras since February 2016), but with bail conditions of not giving declarations about the case and not participating in any protests and not leaving Honduras. This is not the first attack he has had from EEH, he had in his recent TV space El Informador spoken up criticising EEH for the negative impact it has on people in the south of Honduras, and subsequently lost this TV space he had. He said EEH was responsible for this. He also criticised JOH and congress president Mauricio Oliva in his work. As a recognised persecuted person he is a recipient of national protection mechanism measures, but that never prevents this type of state persecution.

On 15 November 2018, Faluma Bimetu community radio member, community organiser for over 25 years and Garífuna fisher Secundino Torres went out to fish and was caught in the currents and let his family know by phone which way the water was taking him before he disappeared. His family and community and some individuals in solidarity from different places are searching everywhere for him and doing what they can, but 15 days later they are still looking and had only found his boat and belongings. National and international authorities are largely absent in the search efforts.

On 22 November 2018, at 7.30pm, Ely Portillo, who is the director of the liberty of expression unit of Human Rights Defender Lawyers, was in front of his own home when two men hopped off their bicycle and viciously bashed him up and slammed him into the ground. One made a fist to punch him in the abdomen. Ely gathered all his strength to scream as loudly as he could to get help – some neighbours did hear him and came out to find out what is happening and as soon as they came out the attackers fled. Ely had previously been attacked by police and riot cops who shot 6 teargas bombs at his home forcing his whole family to evacuate.

On 2 November 2018, 80s death squad leader and security advisor of the previous government and ex candidate of party-in-power Billy Joya smeared the digital news website www.criterio.hn on a TV program, saying that criterio.hn journalists are ‘shameless radical leftists and populists’, after an article appeared on the site about Billy Joya having charged Libre parliamentarian Jorge Calix for defamation in having informed about state security’s assassination of 2 students, but that the court had declared the defamation charges inadmissible. Billy Joya had recently appeared in the same TV program, in tears, about his visa having been revoked by the US embassy in Honduras, being a recognised human rights violator. Note that the journalists of criterio.hn are at risk because smear campaigns are usually followed by further attacks, whether assassination or injury, or charges.

Protests against mines and dams persecuted, militarised, …

In Reitoca:

In Reitoca, there are community protests against the building of a hydroelectricity dam of Progelsa company over the Petacón river. On 12 November 2018, two environmental defenders of Reitoca, having been charged with usurpation and damages, attended hearing. On 24 November 2018, they became free of Progelsa’s charges. They are grateful for the emotional and economic supports of their community through the process.

In Guapinol, near Tocoa city:

The Guapinol community continues to protest companies attacking their water sources following the violent eviction of their protest camp on 27 October 2018. On 11 November, the community held a community assembly to voice their opposition against this concession in protected areas that are destroying the community’s water sources. As they gathered in assembly, the community was surrounded by military and police forces, and the roads going towards the site were heavily militarised with checkpoints where soldiers forced people off buses and small cars, and checked every bit of equipment and papers, intimidating people and controlling their movement. In the following days, the number of checkpoints between Guapinol and Tocoa city entrance increased, that within a 5km stretch of highway, there were 5 military checkpoints.

On 15 November 2018, weekday news program ‘Más noticias de Colón’, director on canal 22, Rigoberto Mendoza, was surprised by a call on his mobile from an investigative police agent summoning him to make a testimony about the protest against the hydroelectricity dam in Guapinol near Tocoa. Surprised and suspicious, because Rigoberto had covered the violent eviction of Guapinol on 27 October 2018, in which he and other journalists were also attacked by the police and military contingent of 1000, and because Rigoberto has also spoken up about death threats he had received because of his work, and that he had been followed when leaving after transmitting his program. Also that his son and photographer Erick Mendoza had suffered attacks to his health with the teargas in the eviction.

On 24 November 2018, people in Tocoa city organised a caravan protest, declaring Tocoa free of mining.

On 29 November 2018, police went inside the home of 63 year old campesino Jeremías Martínez Cruz, showing Jeremías a capture order and arresting him with charges of usurpation and damages against mining company Inversiones Los Pinares and the Honduran state; basically for participating in the camp against the mining company. This same file has 18 capture orders open against defenders of Guapinol. The first hearing is scheduled for 5 December 2018.

In Pajuiles, Atlántica:

Pajuiles has been in protests for over a year now. On 4 November 2018, the Pajuiles community blocked the Panamerican highway in protest against the building of a hydroelectricity dam over Mezapa river by Hidrocep company.

In San José, Lenca indigenous territory:

On 18 November 2018, a grassroots plebiscite was organised by the Convergence Against Continuism CCC, about mining and the JOH regime. More than 20% of enrolled persons attended, the results are as follows:

On agreeing or not to mining – 97.8% voted not, and 0.2% voted yes.

On whether they are living in a constitutional and democratic state – 96.9% voted no, and 0.7% voted yes.

On agreeing or not with the JOH regime and the extractivist model – 96.1% voted no, and 1.7% voted yes.

Community leader assassinated

On 11 November 2018, unidentified persons assassinated Berta Aurora Rodríguez Matamoros (aged 45) inside her own home. Berta is the president of the Las Pavas neighbourhood in Tegucigalpa. Her spouse is the president of the teaching hospital workers union, José Girón.

MUERE-DIRIGENTE-SINDICAL-TEGUS3

Threatened lgbti member killed

Jonathan Cruz of the lgbt community had received lots of threats, because of which he was going to flee to Costa Rica – his mum had already bought him a suitcase. However, before he managed to flee, he was assassinated, and was buried on 10 November 2018 at 10am. Jonathan was attacked 3 years ago, his intestines were damaged, and his community accompanied him throughout his treatment and recovery from this attack. Because of the threats and prior attack Jonathan was under ‘protection’ measures. He was not protected from his murder.

The exodus this November, precarious journeys and horrifying destinations

At 11.30pm on 31 October 2018, the Honduran people in exodus to the US had an emergency meeting to change how they were to proceed the next morning, because they were previously promised help from the Veracruz state governor Miguel Angel Yunes Linares in the form of 70 buses or 150 vans that were going to take them to Oaxaca. They were promised this, but because the Mexican federal government blocked this offer under pressure from the US government, this was withdrawn very late the night before the buses were to take everyone. The buses were going to mean that they didn’t have to walk through long stretches with too many curves, hills, and too few towns to receive them and a complete lack of medical services en-route, so they decided against this because many children were in delicate health conditions and needed to know that they are passing through places with health services and help in general. They decided instead to walk to Veracruz an area that has a high level of gang violence, because walking to Oaxaca was impossible.

The risk that they ran because of the buses having been cancelled did turn out to be a great tragedy. On 2 November 2018, during their walk, they were somewhere in Puebla and three trucks appeared and from them, ‘help’ was offered; ‘helpers’ pushed desperate women and children into the trucks KY88765 registered in Mexico, GX3391C registered in Guerrero, and a van KXC7906, they were obligated to get in and then told that the trucks had to be padlock closed so that people couldn’t see from outside who were travelling in it. Armed men were guarding the whole time. They began to obligate the women to make payments. The first time they handed over what little they had. The second time, they said they had nothing to pay, and eight hooded men appeared then, one entered, and announced that they were all sold. 65 children and 7 women. A handful managed to escape to tell others some of what happened, they escaped in a moment when the armed commando wanted to swap some of the victims between the vehicles around. The children and women are most likely being sold to sexual exploitation and child labour.

On 10 November 2018, in Nuevo Laredo, near the border of Mexico with US, federal police and migration police stopped a bus of migrants and ordered 19 Hondurans including 5 children aged 1-12 inside to get off. They didn’t want to get off because they were told they would be deported to Honduras. The 19 Hondurans were arrested as was the bus driver and everyone had their personal documents confiscated.

On 12 November 2018, one month from when the walk began, a month of sun, rain, repression, discrimination, perserverance later, the first group of Central Americans of this exodus reached Tijuana, Mexico, the border of US, including about 80 people of the lgbti community, who intend to be the first ones to ask for asylum from the U.S. authorities.

In California, there are collections being undertaken in solidarity to support migrants of the exodus. And back in Honduras, there has been marches in solidarity with the migrants, including in La Paz.

On 18 November 2018, a Honduran migrant named Darwin Donaldo C. Z. aged 34 was in a migration detention centre in Tapachula, Mexico, when he decided to use his own shirt to hang himself, choosing suicide over deportation back to Honduras.

On 23 November 2018, a Honduran migrant called Jeremías, of Las Aradas, died in Mexico.

On 25 November 2018, at the Mexico-US border, where almost 500 asylum seekers have reached out of over 7000 Hondurans fleeing the dictatorship, poverty and violence. What they flee are conditions that US policies have direct contributions to. Rather than changing the harmful policy, the Trump US government approved the sending of about 5200 soldiers to the US-Mexico border. From one side of the borders to the other, these soldiers fired teargas and gunshots at the 500 unarmed asylum seekers. US government tries to smear the Hondurans fleeing in desperation as some media stunt. While it is a massive group travelling together, normally, already, about 400 Hondurans leave Honduras everyday, that’s 100,000 a year.

Meanwhile, back in Honduras, nurses and doctors at the teaching hospital complain that not having adequate equipment nor medicine there means some people are killed for lack of medicines, and others killed from getting the wrong dosis, not having drip drums. This and other conditions are some of what people flee.

Repression in the education sector: school principals persecuted and uni students wounded

On 8 November 2018, Gabino Vasquez School principal was threatened with being fired, its students having participated in independence day marches and played the song Get Out JOH there.

On 24 November 2018, in La Lempira the Lucila Pérez school principal Marco Antonio Reyes was arrested under charges from La Unión mayor accusing him of damages to state property – building a mobile wall at the school without having sought permission. Prior to the arrest, he was already persecuted – the state had not paid his salary for 14 months.

On 28 November 2018, state security forces entered UNAH autonomous university and wounded students there. When they saw that the press and human rights defenders were there, they turned around and left.

Arrests and confiscations against campesina people

On 4 November 2018, Inspector Rosales and Officer Castellano arbitrarily arrested Aguan Regional Agrarian Platform Coordinator Jaime Cabrera together with his motorcycle. On his release, he was told that his motorcycle was being confiscated unless he pays US$450, money he did not have. The reason they gave for confiscating the motorcycle was that two men rode on it at the same time, but this is not illegal where they rode. In contrast, a Dinant palm giant company employee Manuel Toledo was arrested at the same time for driving motorcycle without a licence, taken to the same police station in Tocoa, but he was released with his motorcycle.

On 15 November 2018 in the afternoon, in the El Progreso region, Juana Carranza, who belongs to the campesina cooperative Reyes Rodríguez Arevalo, and to CNTC campesino confederation, was on her way to Tegucigalpa to seek treatment for epilepsy, when she was arrested again for usurpation. Juana was transferred between police stations while under custody, stressing out people who were supporting her and not being informed of her whereabouts. She was released on bail conditions the next day. She already had the same charges from 10 years ago and has had gone every week for the last 10 years to sign at Potrerillos courts as her bail condition.

More news on the murder in March 2016 of indigenous anticapitalist feminist activist Berta Cáceres

On 13 November 2018, an anonymous ex special forces Honduran soldier who fled and travelled with the exodus told the press while in Mexico that he and others knew of JOH’s orders to assassinate Berta Cáceres, and also that one of the killers is Herzog Arriaga, another special forces soldiers, who had pretended to be an activist and got very close to Berta and earned her trust to then assassinate her. The soldier said it was Herzog Arriaga and one other man who had entered her home that night, and that Herzog Arriaga fired 6 gunshots. He said that JOH already had his eyes on her when he came into power while she organised against mining projects and in support of campesino struggles, and the order came in relation to her fight to stop the Agua Zarca hydroelectricity dam project. For knowing what happened, this annonymous ex-soldier and 18 others were imprisoned for some time through orders of JOH. They had been released since and this ex soldier took the opportunity of the exodus to flee. He highlights that Herzog Arriaga is not amongst the people charged.

On 29 November 2018, the hearing in relation to the assassination of Berta Cáceres concluded, finding seven of the eight accused guilty, the sentencing hearing witll be on 10 January 2019. Found guilty were: Edilson Atilio Duarte Meza, Elvin Heriberto Rápalo Orellana, Henrry Javier Hernández, Oscar Aroldo Torres Velásquez, Mariano Díaz Chávez, who was working as a military agent in the moment of the assassination, Douglas Geovanny Bustillo, who was head of security of DESA, and Sergio Ramón Rodríguez Orellana who is head of social environmental and communications department of DESA. Emerson Duarte Meza was absolved of charges as one of the material authors of the assassination. The family of Berta made the following statement, emphasing that many people who were behind the murder had been left out, that a system of impunity continues, that the social structures are left as they were before, that true justice would require a radical transformation for which they will keep fighting. https://libya360.wordpress.com/2018/11/30/family-of-berta-caceres-condemn-court-decision-that-denies-justice/

Updates on some of the political prisoners

On 26 November 2018, 9 of the political prisoners of Las Vegas, who were arbitrarily accused of setting a council building on fire in June 2018, have been freed.