Part 3: Honduras Coup Repeat Update 15 December 2017 to 31 December 2017

Throughout, people are blocking highways everywhere, burning tyres and stopping vehicles from passing through, with the intention of paralysing the economy and Honduran production until the JOH dictatorship regime collapses.

15 December 2017

This is especially so on major days of action like this one. It is said that on this date, starting at 6am, there were 95 barricades all around this rather small country on this coordinated day to stop it all. All barricades were repressed by the military. Of these, 7 barricades were repressed with live gunshots, 9 people were wounded by these gunshots, and 10 people had been arrested.

 

15 de diciembre

At the Guacamaya neighbourhood, Dos Caminos, Villanueva, Cortés, (19th person killed by the regime in this fraud) David Octavio Quiroz, aged 32, was participating in the blockade protesting the fraud of JOH when the military fired gunshots at the protesters. People ran fleeing gunshots at the military. David didn’t escape being shot, a gunshot went in his left arm and went diagonally through his body, inside and through his chest. He was taken to hospital but him, his family and visitors were constantly harassed by soldiers who stayed beside his hospital bed the whole time taking photos and videos against those who visited him – some of these being protest participants. It was in the midnight hours the next day that he died, his heart had stopped as a result of the gunshot wound. The hospital Mario Catarino Rivas had minimal resources because of the corruption of the JOH regime. David was a humble, responsible person, he worked as a welder and was a church leader. He was one of millions of Hondurans sick of the corruption and of the governing delinquent politicians.

At the blockade where David Octavio Quiroz was killed, at Dos Caminos, where the repression started with teargases and ended with bullets, at least eight people were wounded altogether – 3 more by gunshots and others by rocks. Those also gunshot wounded are Denis Josué Reyes (34), José Cruz Orellana López (56) and Héctor Hernández (32) – the last one was taken to hospital with David. It was one of those protest where afterwards, protesters picked up bullets around the streets to keep as evidence that soldiers were using gunshots against people.

Another place where the repression was especially brutal this night with gunshots and gases around the midnight hours was Río Blanco, in San Pedro Sula. (The 20th person killed by the regime in this fraud) Brayan Noé Mejía Gonzales, aged 26, was at this blockade, when he was killed by the military.

Other places where in the midnight hours there was very brutal repression with gunshots and gases were in Fesitranh and Juan Ramón Molina in San Pedro Sula. But many other parts of the country too.

At a barricade of a highway that links La Esperanza Intibucá to Siguatepeque, people were attacked with rocks, teargas, batons and were being chased by soldiers. To escape the persecution, people had to run into the mountains and go into hiding. For a time, nobody had seen or heard from or knows what happened to Berta Zúniga Cáceres or Salvador Zúniga, who went into hiding after being chased for a long stretch by soldiers. Berta Zúniga Cáceres is the daughter of Berta Cáceres, the well known indigenous, environmentalist, anticapitalist and feminist activist who was assassinated in March 2016, Berta the daughter had assumed her mother’s struggle and position as the coordinator of the indigenous organisation Copinh. Salvador is her dad and her mum’s ex partner and is also an indigenous leader.

In San Marcos, Ocotepeque, the authorities cut off the electricity at 6.30pm to carry out the violent eviction. Without any warning they turned up and attacked. They shot 3 teargas bombs inside a shop. People wounded and hospitalised there were: Pablo Fuentes, Angel Omar Mejía, and people gravely wounded were Buenaventura Gavarrete, José Alfredo Maldonado, and Wili Merari Serrano.

At the Jerusalén neighbourhood in La Lima, security forces repressed people, and people fled and responded throwing stones.

In Nacaome, Valle, soldiers entered homes of some protesters to try to arrest people from their homes. But people were brave and defended one another and resisted. Frustrated, police and soldiers reacted by launching teargas bombs at the homes.

In El Progreso Yoro, after taking the Los Castaños bridge, people were evicted, beaten and chased by soldiers – they captured and beat Oscar Fabricio, a youth of the Libre opposition political party.

Each thing that happened carried with it the things that happened before. At 6am, tyres were already on fire and sticks, cement bases and whatever else they could find to block the road were at the 23 de febrero neighbourhood. While the press ignored a youth who approached them speaking up about what happened there three days before, the press was busy ignoring him and covering the ‘heroic work’ that the police and soldiers were doing repressing people and removing obstacles people place on the road. What did happen three days before? 9.30pm at night people were making noise protest with cacerol dishes out on the street as another action calling on the JOH dictatorship to get out, when a group of soldiers suddenly arrived and began shooting at people who were making sounds with cacerole dishes. People then fled into their and their neighbours’ homes for refuge and soldiers continued to attack with gunshots. One home, but not the only one, had bullets hitting the door, the floor and a fan in the living room, in this tiny house that has only one bedroom and had two little girls sleeping in the living room. The little girls screamed when they heard the gunshot, yelling, papi! Mami! What is happening? Their parents ran to save and hug the children and put them in the room, while the pet animal remained in the living room hiding under a furniture to protect itself. The children live with this trauma forever having almost been killed by soldiers. The youth told the press, ‘this looks hard, but if people don’t protest, they won’t let live on the streets, and then we will live under a dictatorship for the rest of our lives.’

At another neighbourhood, 21 de febrero in Tegucigalpa, it was about 11am, the barricade there suffered heavy gassing from some 46 police agents who were there repressing. Glendy Gisell Montoya Aguilar (19) and Freddy Varela ran desperately to flee but they were being chased and ran into a dead end road, so they got caught. The police having caught them starting beating them, they beat the forearm of Glendy and pulled her by the hair and asked her if she was paid to be there, she said no, that it was their free choice to protest for their rights. Against Freddy they beat him all over until he fainted and then dragged him onto the police patrol. The two were arrested and taken to the Belén 4th police station and charged with ‘scandal on a public road’. Human rights organisation Cofadeh came to accompany these and they were finally released at 5pm.

Overall in Tegucigalpa there were many blockades to start with, but as the day developed people concentrated on three important and crucial points of their geography in this city. One of these places was El Carrizal, in which after some teargas bombs from the army side, an army truck was set on fire, after which, immediate repression followed. Soldiers accused protesters of setting the army truck on fire with a molotov bomb. Protesters said, no, it was the teargas bombs that had set it on fire. As they argued, soldiers proceeded to arrest the youths Jorge Luís Sánchez and Mario Josué Anduray. The latter was not even participating in the protest, he was just passing through going to work, with a packed lunch in his backpack. It’s never very clear who is behind such attacks on army and business structures – are they people putting these on fire in rage fearlessly because of the killings and plunder that the army carries out and conserves? Or is it the army doing it themselves to present a story and convince people they need to act with the gunshots, teargas bombs, beatings, and arrests that they do? There is photographic and witness based evidence around for example that the state security forces transport people around who carry out the looting of shops.

The other hotspots in Tegucigalpa were Villanueva and Santa Rosa. In Villanueva people resisted military repression, defending and attacking with rocks to resist and continue barricading. In Santa Rosa people received gunshots from soldiers but luckily nobody was wounded or killed there. Some barricades held ground from 6am to midday.

16 December 2017

In the 10 de enero neighbourhood in Brisas del Valle, Cofradía, San Pedro Sula, Cortés, (21th person killed by the fraud regime) Delmer Josué Medina, aged 28, was travelling in a pickup trailer when soldiers fired shots at him from their vehicles. One gunshot hit his face at the top of his nose, another in one of his legs. The people around him tried to get him medical attention, but because of shameless military intervention, they couldn’t and Delmer died. Delmer has been participating in the resistance protests.

At San Juan Pueblo, Atlántida, late at night, soldiers brutally evicted the barricade with teargas, and then as people ran to shelter in their homes, soldiers shot teargas into the homes, forcing people to then flee their homes and then chased and arrested several of those who did run outside.

TIGREs elite police unit was seen at the southern exit of Tegucigalpa repressing a barricade there. The TIGRE agents were armed with heavily weapons, teargas canisters hanging from their chest, and fire extinguishers. They are a US trained and funded police unit that was created in the name of fighting drug trafficking and organised crime, so people questioned, what are they doing there repressing protesters already repressed and beaten?

17 December 2017

In Choluteca, (22nd person killed by the fraud regime) Jarol Uriel Garcia (36), was killed. No further details are known about this killing, but we know this night in the midnight hours in Choluteca, there was repression against the protests against the fraud. Soldiers threatened people with being ‘taken off the streets’. Military police captured about 20 youths who were protesting. Some time later, some of the arrestees had been released and had gone home since, but the whereabouts of some others were then unknown. The media was blowing the protesters’ action out of proportion there – protesters burnt a tyre, and the press said protesters set a media channel on fire and burnt it down. The protest barricaded a highway that goes from the city of San Marcos de Colón to the border with Nicaragua at El Espino.

At 11pm near the Lomas del Norte neighbourhood, an 11 year old girl told her dad José Luís Borjas Lagos (41) that she felt like a soft drink so he agreed to go out looking for one with her. The only place open with soft drinks for sale in this hour was a local chicken shop so they went there. There were three youths hanging at the shop: Brayan Josué Oseguera Flores (18), Jacqueline Vanessa Flores Flores (22), and Gerson Alexander Flores Valle (25). Military police suddenly turned up at the shop and started their harrassment by asking the young people to remove the rocks that were left there by protesters – they obeyed – but the military police proceeded to search all five people there and arrested all five including the 11 year old girl arbitrarily accusing them of ‘extorsion’. They were not freed until 4pm the next day. From the time of arrest, police drove all around the capital city to display to everyone their arrests, and insulted and beat people including hitting one youth in the face. They spent 4 hours trying to placate the 11 year old in this terrorising situation. They were then held in the cells of CORE 7 until release.

Another known case is of Alejandra Saravía. Her family, mum and especially her aunt were attacked by staff of the regime – around 20 gunshots were fired at their home, guns were pointed directly at the mum and aunt. She placed this complaint on facebook and had intentions on placing formal complaints at the authorities the next day. She said if anything happens to her or her family, this regime is responsible.

18 December 2017

18 and 19 December 2017 were intense days of protest and repression, because on the 18th, the public official Gazette published JOH as the winner of the election, and on the 19th, JOH himself went out to the press to announce himself as the president re-elect.

As confrontation heightened between protesters and military police at the highway intersection barricade at the Felipe Zelaya neighbourhood in San Pedro Sula, Cortés, military police fired a gunshot into the head of (23rd person killed by the fraud regime) Cristian Fernando Hernández Yánez (24) and it was not long before he died. People around him tried to help him. Someone next to him was heard begging, ‘you can’t die, I’m your mate! Your can’t die, ..your daughter! Old man…’ The military police that killed Cristian was under the command of Coronel Oscar Reyes Paz, who in turn is under the command of JOH.

cristian fernando 2017

At the same site, which is also in front of the factory gates of Lear Factory, a white van coming through had three men come out of it and fire shots at protesters wounding a child and a pregnant woman. These three men shot repeatedly at protesters wounding several of these, and were seen later entering the Lear Factory using the same van – white Ford Escape, without realising people were observing this. The three man are identified as two other security guards of International Security Sistems company led by the parliamentarian elect Bernardo Enrique Yllescas of Alianza Patriótica party of Romeo Vásquez in Cortés, who also owns the company International Security Sistems. The security company is contracted by Lear.

The barricade near the Garífuna community Sambo Creek was violently evicted by military police using teargas, following where over 50 military police agents invaded the Sambo Creek community firing live gunshots, wounding one garífuna youth. They broke the homes to get in, and chased people without caring if someone was too old or too young to be attacked.

In Villanueva there was news going around that a six months old baby died from teargases, that the mother was carrying the baby in their arms and that they were coming from los Pinos. We don’t know if it happened for sure or not but many assassinations do happen that don’t make it into being public knowledge.

In El Hato de Enmedio, there were gunshots fired by security forces against protesters in the midnight hours. Similarly, in El Pino and in Atlántida, people had been wounded. On the eastern exit of Tegucigalpa, protests were repressed with teargas bombs, there were children choking and suffocating from the teargas.

As the broad-scale direct action of barricades everywhere was being felt, four airlines announced the cancellation of flights that day.

An anonymous testimony came out from technical staff who worked on the system for processing election results. They admitted being ordered to put a stop on the system. At the time they thought it was strange but followed the order. Subsequently they were ordered to stop updating the database and to manipulate the votes so that votes in favour of JOH suddenly and steadily increase. They were ordered, to do it, or they or their relatives would be killed, and so they carried out this order.

An anonymous youth had for participating in protests against the dictatorship received multiple death threats by hooded military police. One time he was leaving work and two soldiers stopped him. The soldiers were on a motorcycle marked ‘PM’ (stands for military police) but had no numberplate on it. They said to him, ‘son of a bitch, don’t go around on strikes, because we are going to fuck you up.’ Days before he already did notice being followed, but he ignored it. Each time he was threatened, he knew that the threats were made by the same people despite their faces being always covered, because he recognised the shape of their bodies and their way of talking. Like him, there are many others at risk of losing their lives at the hands of military and police agents.

19 december 2017

On 7 Avenida, Comayaguela, Francisco Morazán, (24th person killed by the fraud regime) Juan Carlos Flores Silva (26) was passing through the market area doing errands when he was hit by a bullet and died – soldiers were there ‘intervening’ in a case of shops being looted. Juan Carlos was a Liberal Party activist. He died in hospital

In the López Arellano neighbourhood in Choloma, Cortés, (25th person killed by the fraud regime) Katerine Nicole Bonilla (14) was participating in the road blockade at her neighbourhood when military police fired gunshots that killed her. There is a video of other youths there carrying her body. Her family is enraged. Katerine’s mother is a humble woman who worked as a school cleaner at a local public school.

Nicol asesinada.png

 

At Río Blanco Zapotal, San Pedro Sula, Cortés, (26th person killed by the fraud regime) Marlón Evelyn Mendoza Herrera (24) was travelling through the site of the blockade there when he was persecuted and shot many times with gunshots, and died. A doctor on the scene was also wounded. This is a blockade on which on the previous day people were playing football at the blockade.

In Villanueva, Cortés, people tried to occupy the police station, and police fired shots against seven people. There was a callout to help with transport.

In Villanueva, Tegucigalpa, a woman was hurt and detained. People were calling out ambulance but a cop had her under custody.

At the eastern exit of Tegucigalpa – teargas bombs were launched. People were worried about little ones affected by the gases.

On the other side of a Honduras/El Salvador border at El Poy, people of the Movimiento Popular de Resistencia – 12 de Octubre (MPR-12) blocked the passage for 3 hours in solidarity with the Honduran people against the JOH fraud imposition. Many Honduras approached to express their gratefulness for the gesture and to also protest and chant together in an act without borders. Honduran soldiers and police on the other hand didn’t dare cross the borderline with all the rocks thrown in their direction, but Honduran security forces did launch teargas across the border at them.

In Cofradía, Cortés, soldiers were attacking people inside their own homes.

For the suspected burning of the military truck back on 15.12.17 in El Carrizal, Tegucigalpa, the Honduran state suddenly issued a capture order against Eduardo Enrique Urbina Ayala – but human rights organisation Cofadeh refuted any possibility of his involvement because he had come to Cofadeh on 10.12.17 to report on the persecution he was suffering related to his student activism at UNAH, and was advised to exile and put on an international bus the same day to flee from Honduras because of the level of danger he was in.

At the 105 Brigade of San Pedro Sula, there was an emergency meeting involving JOH and Chambers of Industries of Cortés, in which the resolution was to repress protesters at all costs, and orders were given then and there to assassinate.

20 December 2017

In Choluteca, soldiers were firing live gunshots at protesters. A protester was filming this for a minute when the soldier saw them doing that and went to knock over the camera and attack the cameraperson. There is also video footage from this date showing soldiers firing gunshots at protesters in Río Blanco, San Pedro Sula. And there were photos going around showing police transport, let off and pick up people who loot the shops, who are infiltrators.

In the Centroamerica Oeste neighbourhood, Fernando Madrid and Bryan Gutiérrez were arrested.

In Comayagua, security forces attacked protests with teargas, hurting a woman and child.

21 December 2017

At the Cuyamel River at Sambo Creek, Garífuna community leader Luís Enrique Garcia, an ex-president of the neighbourhood and member of Libre party, was at 8pm attempted against.

22 December 2017

FUSINA security force not only assassinates people, but it charges people, and was from this date offering money in exchange for information about protesters, playing on the hunger that the same government had generated in people.

23 December 2017

Amidst all this judicial persecution with invented charges, a couple more people were charged, Johnny Andrés Salgado Fuentes, charged with ‘undue use of police uniform’, and Gustavo Adolfo Cáceres Amaya, charged with carrying explosives of material of war or of combat. Hearings began 27 December 2017.

24 December 2017

In Peña Blanca, Cortés, (27th person killed by this fraud regime) Walter Daniel Lemus Ramirez (38) was at his road stall stand close to his home selling merchandise and listening to music of the Libre party this Christmas Eve and had resolved to not head home until he had sold all the produce, when at 8pm, two people on a motorcycle shot at him without saying anything. As Walter realised that he was wounded he ran to his home to ask his partner, Nely del Carmen Gómez, for help. Seeing what had happened to her partner, she ran out onto the street to scream for help – it was frightening especially because the street was very quiet and no cars or taxies were passing. Within minutes though, someone did pass in a van and reversed to answer her call for help and take Walter to the clinic. Having been given the lift, he was able to walk into the hospital. Nely pleaded for the doctors to not let him die, to please do something, but Walter told her, ‘leave it, it’s in the hands of the doctors now.´ It seemed that they did restrain from treating him and let him die. He was admitted in the Santa Cecilia clinic with a gunshot on the right side of the body, and died hours after being admitted. Nely had to leave the home as it was too painful to live with the memories that the house is associated with, and of the promises left hanging, with the blood of her partner spilled about there – there was a trail from the stall stand to the house of his blood. She was annoyed at him for putting on Libre music when it was Christmas, something that would have made him a target. That and his Libre flags – he had one in the workshop and another on the motorbike he rode. Nely went to the workshop the next day and saw footprints of someone having had been there, who must have pulled the flag from its place because it appeared to have been thrown onto the ground. Walter leaves behind his partner, a 13 year old daughter and a 6 year old son.

26 December

This ‘boxing day’ was a day of ‘casual assassinations’, casual, in that they did obviously happen in relation to the protests, but they were not so openly blatant as people in uniforms having fired the shots in plain view.

In the Toronjal neighbourhood in La Ceiba, Atlántida, (28th person killed by this fraud regime) Julio Alexander Funez Rodriguez (22) was on his motorcycle on the highway, where there are some blockades against JOH, when an unidentified person (according to La Prensa) riding a motorcycle fired gunshots at him and killed him. Julio was a law student.

julio alexander funez

At Jesús de Otoro, Intibucá, at 4pm, (29th and 30th persons killed by this fraud regime) Héctor Napoleón Guevara (30) , known by his friends as ‘Teto’ and another youth with him – name unreported, who had both participated at the antifraud protests locally, were riding together on a motorcycle on his way to ‘Vega del Perico’ where he goes everyday to look after cattle, when both were shot at. Their bodies were found with gunshot wounds (Héctor had one in the head), as well as stab wounds in the neck and face. Héctor’s friends said he was someone who was very loving, a good friend, a good dad, and a dedicated uni student. At age 30, he worked with cattle and had always identified with the social struggles within his community. He was involved in the highway blockades against the fraud that the community had self organised.

hector

It was also informed that at Aldea Los Naranjos, in Santa Cruz de Yojoa, the compa – name unpublished – (31st person killed by this fraud regime) who organised the blockades in the area was similarly ‘casually assassinated’.

27 December 2017

On both 26 and 27 December 2017, there were many cases of raids against homes in the municipality of Pimienta in the province of Cortés – from these raids, 14 people had been arrested and accused of various crimes. From these, 11 were sent to prison, while 3 were given bail. Another raid was in El Progreso, Yoro, where 5 were arrested and accused of robbery, damages, and starting a fire. The right wing newspaper, La Tribuna published a headline article entitled ‘Torturers of police, burners of police stations, also fallen there are looters of shops’, criminalising and smearing names of protesters and trying to make people think they ‘deserved’ to be arrested.

28 December 2017

Another raid by a heavy police contingent was reported to have occurred in the morning hours in the neighbourhood ‘Victor F. Ardón’. They invaded a home in the name of searching for ‘burnt tyres’ and grabbed three youths. They handcuffed these, and afterwards, simply said it turned out that they got the wrong neighbourhood and home, let these go and left without any apologies or explanations. The police go around in this neighbourhood asking for information about people who ‘burn tyres’, like police have done in many other neighbourhoods.

Elsewhere, police chased people who, outraged by the regime’s killing of 3 minors, had set on fire a police station – it is also said that police captured suspects as well suspected of having captured and stripped naked police that were repressing people.

Having been widely accused of assassinations in these dates, military police went out on missions to buy people back by bringing a truckload of nacatamales and coffee onto the street – traditional christmas food in Honduras. They had people line up and receive food from them in two neighbourhoods in Tegucigalpa; one near the university hospital and another a crematorium.

29 December 2017

Persecution with captures and intentions to capture continued:

Kevin Cubas (student), Poleth Cubas (student) and two other youths were captured.

In Gualala, Santa Bárbara, three youths of 3 different communities there were being persecuted by plain clothes soldiers and hooded persons for having protested against the fraud on 15 December 2017. Without any judicial order, these agents wanted to invade their homes. On the desk of the secretary of the National Congress there is a list of people to be captured in the following days that includes the coordinator of MAS social movement and human rights defender in Santa Bárbara.

And, the JOH regime just fired 135 Cobra cops for participating in the strike against the repression and for better salaries.

30 December 2017

A new judge in the southern region, Iris Amanda Hernández, who had only arrived in the region just before the 26 November 2017 election, and who is constantly protected by a contingent of military and navy force, on this date issued eviction notices on fifteen families who have lived for over 30 years on different beaches on the Exposición Island that is within Zacate Grande Amapala, Valle. This is for tourism development, she stated, and that people had to vacate by end of January. People put two and two together and knew by ‘tourism development’, she meant ‘model cities’. People are being displaced, and the island is being handed over to the Suazo Tomé family. Families in other parts of Zacate Grande, an area where families have been defending the territory for decades against dispossession by the ultra rich and by mega projects, they know it is only a matter of time until all of Zacate Grande would be evicted. People are having assemblies and organising to defend their territory.

31 December 2017

The 11 arrestees were officially made political prisoners, as a further hearing was had this date, and the judge had decided to imprison these. Ultimately, for participating in anti-fraud protests.

On these days…

As well as insurrectionary direct action blocking major highways of the country and spectacularly setting tyres on fire, people have organised collections of food items for families of assassinated and wounded people fighting the fraud for christmas. Different neighbourhoods have organised curfew concerts to gather outside and play and listen to protest music and sing and dance in defiance of the curfews. There was a national cacerolazo (noise protest involving the banging of cacerole dishes), at midnight of Christmas. There was a campaign publicising JOH’s different personal and less personal phone numbers for people to call from public phones to ‘congratulate him on winning the election’. And, to say goodbye to the old year, people from many different parts of Honduras made giant puppets of JOH and burnt these as they counted the seconds to the new year.

And an update about disappearance the disappearance of Manuel de Jesús Bautista on 3 December 2017

Previously, it was published here that

Manuel de Jesús Bautista (22) was last seen detained with two comrades by military agents. They were captured after participating in a highway barricade. He is from Naco, Cortés. Manuel is disappeared.

…Manuel continues to be disappeared and his brother and family are in pain not knowing what had happened to him, without any closure as to if he is dead or alive. When Manuel and 3 other youths were arrested they were captured for being out and about ‘in violation of the curfew’. They were all very brutally beaten and were not allowed to speak. They had teargas sprayed in their faces. One of the people Manuel was arrested with was a relative of his, so they know he was beaten at least almost to death. When the others had been released at first they were so traumatised they were not able to articulate anything. It was the next day that they spoke about the beating, and how they couldn’t see much because their faces were so full of blood. One said he saw the soldiers shoot at Manuel from a car and took away his body. Manuel’s family had in pain gone around looking for him in registries of police stations, morgues, hospitals, clinics, military buildings, but he is not registered anywhere, and military police also did not confirm having arrested and held him.

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Honduras Coup Repeat Update 26 November 2017 to 14 December 2017

Honduras Coup Repeat Update 26 November 2017 to 14 December 2017

The presidential election in Honduras took place on 26 November 2017, and the counting was supposed to be finished and winner was meant to be announced about 9pm that night. Instead, the last regular announcement updating vote counting results was after midnight when 68.4% of votes were counted; the Electoral Commissioner Marcos Ramiro Lobo Rosales declared to the press that the tendency was irreversible. That last update of who would be the next president was 45.4% to the candidate Salvador Nasralla of the Alliance of Opposition Against Dictatorship, followed by 40.6% the illegal re-election candidate Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) of the National Party, and then 13.77% to Luís Zelaya of the Liberal Party. At this point, Nasralla at 5 points ahead and confirmed irreversible trend, and announced he won. Luís Zelaya recognised that Nasralla won and asked JOH to accept defeat. Somehow, being 5 points behind, instead of insisting he could still win, JOH also announced and celebrated that he had won. A further detail is that JOH should not have been in the running for this election in the first place because of laws against re-election that is not within the power of the congress to change.

Then, people heard that the Electoral Commissioner Lobo Rosales was getting death threats and seeking protection, as well as being threatened with suspension from his position, and from that time people stopped hearing updates of the vote count. So people waited, a large number celebrated Nasralla’s win, to for once break out of the biparty system, and to have someone there whose promises align more – for example to end plans of model cities, to construct a new alternative economic model and revert privatisations. Everything was in slow motion and each hour that passed of silence from the Electoral Commission and authorities not proclaiming who won confirmed more than the last that an electoral fraud was being cooked up.

Demonstrations against the fraud began the next day, on 27 November 2017, and by 30 November 2017 when there was suddenly an official update of the count (saying 94.31% of votes were counted and that JOH was ahead at 42.92% to Nasralla 41.92%), many were outraged by the manipulation and there were spontaneously barricades of highways and bridges all around Honduras. People placed tyres on barricades and set them on fire just about everywhere, and plazas all around were filled with people, screaming ‘Fuera JOH!’ (get out, JOH!).

A brief recap on the election day prior to all the counting

Signs of electoral fraud were already coming in from all the angles. There are many cases where people complained that they turned up to vote only to be turned away being told that they had already voted, that someone had used their name and ID to vote already. There are, like in past years, reports that thousands of dead persons have voted (prior demands to clean up the rolls had been ignored). People reported seeing full ballot boxes being dropped into voting schools (in the case of Alfonzo Guillen Zelaya School near El Pedregal). There were reports in Santa Cruz that there were more vote count documents at the centre than there were boxes so spares could be used to write fake information and swap documents behind closed doors. Nationalists tried to steal ballot boxes in the Torocagua neighbourhood only to be stopped by opposition activists. Voters at El Pericón Tutule were searched by police and soldiers to stop campesinos and indigenous people who have capture orders against them for their environmental activism from voting. There was an instance of 6 heavily armed men going inside the voting centre of Arturo Quezada, Comayaguela, furious about the Alliance winning, and their being there intimidated people who wanted to observe the count. At Instituto España Jesús Milla Selva, the nationalist president of the table took photos of voters and filmed the list of voters, and responded to people protesting this by calling on a shock group, which only calmed down when Organisation of American States international observers turned up. Another mob intimidated the election observing delegation La Voz de los de Abajo with verbal attacks. The delegation La Voz de los de Abajo documented coercion from activist police, things being given away in exchange for votes. There were mobile phones being given away by nationalists in exchange for votes. Journalists of community radio in Zacate Grande were told they were not allowed to be at voting centre; not to report, and not to send food to comrades working at the elections. The community radio had early in the month been intimidated and spied on by the navy. At the José Santos Guardiola school, people saw that Nationalists are voting twice each. The sale of election credentials were spotted in San Antonio Villa Comayagua. There were voting tables without stamps so the votes may not get counted. These were some of the reports. Before the election, the staff at the National Registry of Persons RNP revealed that they saw National Party officials go into the office as the staff finished their work days. They belief that they had gone in these nights to fill out the vote count tables.

27 November 2017

At 7.20pm, there were celebrations of the Alliance of winning the election. Yudy Karina Obando Ponce and her family were driving home with an flag, some Alliance banners, and a photo of Alliance leader Juan Barahona in the car making visible that they were activists of the Alliance. As they were driving through a man stood beside their car, seeing what was inside he tried to stop the car and others with him started surrounding, kicking and bashing the car. They threw a flag pole at her daughter who was filming, hitting her on the left shoulder, and they tried to punch Yudy as well, but she moved quickly to avoid the punch.

28 November 2017

At 3 pm from UNE TV channel building, journalists Jorge Alberto Estrada Baca and Leisy Johana Flores Gáleas saw that at the building site in front of the channel building, there were snipers there pointing their gun towards the channel building and behind them was another individual with a shotgun and some long distance binoculars. The two were just 3 days before followed by two people on a motorcycle, who pulled out and pointed a weapon at them.

29 November 2017

By now protests are building up, especially outside INFOP – the department where votes were being processed inside. On this day at 11.30pm, police began repressing people flooding the area and surrounding suburbs with teargas. Someone was hospitalised with convulsions from the gases. When it was almost midnight, journalists Cesar Silva and Mauricio Rivera who had been there monitoring continuously saw that national and international press and observers were arbitrarily evicted from the votes digitalisation centre. The area was also increasingly militarised, as more military tanks, riot police, police and soldiers appeared.

30 November 2017

This is the date when barricades around Honduras became widespread. It is also when the military began openly killing people in the crowd. In La Ceiba City, at the bridge about Danto River, (1st person killed by the regime in this fraud) José Abilio Soto was part of a group of protesters that blocked vehicles from passing through there, barricading the bridge, when soldiers fired gunshots, which hit and killed José Abilio Soto.

Outside INFOP, at 1pm, a security contingent arrived on the scene attacking protesters outside INFOP and protesters gathered around nearby areas – and repressed using gunshots and teargas and throwing rocks. José Francisco Valladares (28) was gunshot wounded in the right leg and taken to hospital, Mario Reynaldo Betanco (45) was gravely wounded by a rock a soldier threw at his head. A police woman and military officer Sánchez were also injured by stones thrown, and another soldier fainted from the gases their own contingent had covered the area with. A second round of repression came late at night when ex president Manuel Zelaya and president elect Salvador Nasralla came on the scene to accompany the protest and knock on the door of INFOP. Police started firing teargases, which also entered the warehouse where the ballot boxes were, obligating elections observers to leave and leave the ballot boxes unattended. Some infiltrators were identified within the crowds.

Police patrols began randomly picking up and arresting children and youths and accusing them of aggravated robbery out of the blue. They did this to Róger Teruel (28) and at least two other children this night. And others were arrested accused of other things. All taken into custody. Another arrestee was Oslin Josúe Soto Godoy who was taken in for four hours before being released to the international delegation La Voz de los de Abajo.

Around Miraflores in Tegucigalpa, at 3.35pm, repressive forces attacked the place and people with teargases. People reported there were infiltrated persons and some intelligence analysts profiling individuals in the crowd.

Repression was also reported at barricades at La Democracia bridge in El Progreso, in Yoro, and in Lima, Cortés. In Olanchito too, where one person was wounded. There are direct action, major demos and barricades in fourteen of the eighteen provinces in Honduras by this date.

At a protest in another part of Tegucigalpa, in El Pedregal, military police also shot live gunshots that hit and gravely wounded people. At least Arnold Flores (24) and Daniel Isacc Suazo Varela (12) were gunshot wounded, and there seemed to be another who wasn’t identified. Arnold was at the antifraud protest, ‘We were protesting against all the injustices that are seen in our country, for a clean democracy, for a Honduras of peace, free of bloodshed and for all the persons who are at a time when they can’t go out to the street to raise their voice…,’ Arnold explained that the struggle is also for all those people who lives in a similar or worse condition that what he lives in, and for those over 3000 people who died because of the lack of due medical attention because of the IHSS corruption scandal who can’t anymore raise their voices. Arnold described how different military groups were surrounding protesters and coming in from different routes, so protesters tried to split and go in different directions to deflect the repression, as soldiers chased people with batons and shields and weapons and damaged local structures and roofs of local shops and pharmacies. People ran and sought refuge in nearby houses. Arnold was just under three metres from a refuge house when soldiers started shooting at people. Arnold heard the shots and felt cramps in his two legs and the next thing he knew was that he collapsed, so he clambered back to the refuge, where he looked down and felt heat in his legs and saw he was bleeding a massive amount of blood. He panicked and started yelling for help, yelling that he did not want to die, nor for his legs to be cut off, he fainted a few times. Arnold recalled a woman helping him, tying bandages around his legs tightly to control the bleeding. His friends from this house took him and Daniel to hospital. His fears turned out to be very realistic. The gunshot went through his two legs, and broke the biggest artery of his body.

‘Where I live, 3 years ago, a kid was shot there and the kid was only alive for five minutes, and died, he lost too much blood. So the danger with this artery is lethal, the doctors and specialists had seen me, they had said that I am alive by miracle…the doctor when she came to treat me, she says that when she saw me in emergency, the first thing that she said was, ‘ayyy poor thing the kid has lost his legs’ but see, God had the last word and it didn’t end this way.’ Arnold will be seeking justice, for himself and for everyone.

12 year old Daniel was there as he was on his way home from playing soccer.

1 December 2017

A curfew that was for ten nights was announced to start at 11pm until 6am this first night and 6pm-6am for the following nights. They said it is imposed to ‘establish order’. During the curfew, armed forces soldiers and security forces are given absolute power on the streets to commit abuses and with a few official exceptions, nobody is allowed to be out on the streets, where they would be arrested, beaten up or killed. The cities and towns were completely militarised. Banks, shopping centres, and many shops were closed. Tegucigalpa was like a ghost city with drivers filling tanks and police zombies around outside, but there are some resistance groups gathered in places, blocking roads, lighting tyres on fire, being alive in those moment and risking their lives. Before the curfew, at 9am, in San Manuel Cortés, people burnt highway tollbooths that they have always wanted to.

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Just as the curfew started this night and the barricade at the bridge above the Danto river, where José Abilio Soto was shot dead the previous night, had not dispersed, soldiers turned up firing shots, hitting (2nd person killed by the regime during this fraud) José Fernando Melgar (16) who fell off the bridge and died as people were taking him to the hospital.

Also just minutes after the curfew started, in the Tegucigalpa neighbourhood Residencial Honduras, 19 years old (3rd person killed by the regime during this fraud) Kimberly Dayana Fonseca Santamaría went out to look for her brother, not knowing he was at his girlfriend´s home, and as she was passing through where people were protesting, soldiers opened fire into the crowd and shot and killed Kimberly. In this same scene and place and time, taxi driver (4th person killed by the regime during this fraud) Denis Mauricio Oseguera was gunshot wounded, and died in hospital.

In Choloma, Cortés, in the López Arellano neighbourhood, military police opened fire against the barricade, (5th person killed by the regime during this fraud) José David Ramos Lambert (22), (6th person killed by the regime during this fraud) Roger Alberto Vásquez Reyes (35), and (7th person killed by the regime during this fraud) Victor Evelio Martínez Alvarez (23), and (8th person killed by the regime during this fraud) one other unidentified person were hit by these gunshots and died. José’s dad said he was not participating in the protest and was just passing through, and added that very close by at the same time at this protest there were some shops being looted which the military police knew about, that but their absolute priority at this time was firing gunshots at protesters who blocked a road.

When Roger Arias Cárcamo (47) was walking through the bridge Puente de Chile in Tegucigalpa at 3pm, police arrested him, beat him in the head with batons and kicked him in the back as they threw him into the police patrol. The names of the police that beat him are Héctor Rivera and Hernández. He had to go to hospital after that.

The regime absolutely did not want journalists reporting on their killing sprees. So, a few things happened.. cameraperson David Matute of Marte TV was filming the protests when he was attacked by a security agent. He screamed that he was a Marte TV cameraperson, and the agent went, well where is your clearly visible journalist badge? And Telesur cameraperson Antonio Torres accompanied his colleague to immigration department to seek an extension to her stay in Honduras, when some people approached them aggressively for being in the office with camera equipment. He explained that they were from international press. Antonio learnt afterwards that the aggressors were retired army officers.

On this date, some of the documented arrestees were, Roger Osmar Teruel Martinez (28), Angel Velasquez (14), Michael Alexis Lemus (16) .. there were many more though.

2 December 2017

On this second day of curfews, people said, ‘if they stop Honduras from 6pm to 6am, we will do that from 6am to 6pm #GranParoNacionalHn’, with barricades to make sure they can forget ‘business as usual’. The curfews were in place to evict barricades, and people did what they could during curfews – some protested outside during curfew bravely disobeying knowing their lives are on the line, and there was a coordinated effort to make noise protest using casserole dishes (cacerolazo) from inside the homes everyone with screams and beating of pots and pans this night. As well as the noise made collectively, outside, gunshots of repression are heard.

In Comayaguela in the Santa Eduviges neighbourhood, after a day of work delivering bread, high school student Yimi Hernández Mendoza (22) was near a cornershop having some donuts and soft drinks with some relatives, amongst some noise and fire cracker protests, when a group of soldiers and military police opened fire at a group of protesters, and a projectile of the security forces hit Yimi’s face, lodging itself in his left eye causing him to lose vision in that eye. There were also projectiles that lodged into his left waist and right side that had to be surgically removed.

Around the same place and time, 13 year old William Joel Almendárez Cortés was accompanying some chanting of the protests from his front porch, and was also hit and wounded by the security forces’ gunshots in the neck.

After wounding these two, soldiers went to trace their footsteps to pick up any bullets they shot to hide evidence. Relatives of Yimi managed to keep one before they got them though, to use as evidence. The bullet shows that the soldiers and military police were using high calibre weapons that could be R15 or R16. The bullets also hit a home and one was incrusted into the wall.

At the protests near the uni (UNAH) of students, 15 year old Ericson Ariel Pérez Rosales was participating in the students’ mobilisation, when UNAH security guards wounded him by gunshots. As the UNAH private security guards started to shoot, they tried to look like they were shooting in the air and not at people, but Ericson’s left leg was not in the air when it was shot, he was hospitalised in the children’s hospital.

This day there was a total of about 20 who were wounded in the protests. In San Pedro Sula, at night time, 3 were gunshot wounded in a confrontation with military police.

More than 100 were arrested this day in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba, many for ‘acts of vandalism’. Jorge Izaguirre and Francisco Duarte were two of the many arrested this day by cops, and people did not know where they were being taken to. Generally there is panic, when friends and family got arrested, where they were being taken to and what would happen to them. In Cortés, people were blocking a highway of Cofradía when the military arrested 29 people including one woman, and were held in a military building of Tercer Batallón de Infantería. In Copán, a highway blockade was evicted at 3am, state repressive forces arrested 17 including 3 minors, for ‘violating the curfew’.

The repression of protests this day were recorded in Miraflroes, El Hato, Yoro, Arena Blanca, Las Minas, La Guacamaya, Balsamo, Agua Blanca, Santa Rita and Santa Cruz de Yojoa. People who protested inside their homes in the coordinated cacerolazo (noise protests hitting pots and pans in the kitchen), were not safe either, military police went around the neighbourhoods Miraflores, San Angel, Kennedy, Pedregal, Los Llanos, Las Vegas, etc, and launched and aimed teargas bombs and peppergas sprays to inside the homes that were participating in this noise protest during the curfew.

3 December 2017

This night, again at 9pm there was a coordinated effort to from homes yell all at once, ‘Get out JOH’. It was yet another date with many assassinations.

(9th person killed by this regime during this fraud) Erick Javier Montoya Cruz (27), was going to the cornershop in his neighbourhood where protests were going on during the curfewPaseo los Laureles, in Comayaguela, when at 9.20pm, five motorised military police patrols repressed protesters there firing shots. He was hit with two gunshots – one in the side of his body, and another in his abdomen. Erick was taken to hospital but died there. He was a law student at UNAH. His grandma María asked him not to go out saying it was dangerous, but he insisted. He comes from a family of 13 and he was going to not get married and focus on providing for this family. His mother died 4 years ago and his grandma became the mum of the family and she called Erick her son. ‘I didn’t see what happened.. since he went to the corner shop, I sent people to look for him, as it was bedtime, but they didn’t find him, then, they came to tell me that he was down, not sure if beaten or shot, and when I came, to where Eric fell, he was already there face down.. I felt like dying to see my son (dying)…my daughter asked the 2 ambulances because they – the military police – had two with them, and their response was to say – and for what, if this one has already died?’ So a friend took them to hospital but at arrival, Erick died. They live in a gated neighbourhood ‘Francisco Morazán’, on the day of the noise protest, the gate was closed because the protesters felt the presence of military police, but the military police shot at the lock to open it and entered the neighbourhood. María in her 6 decades of life, has never before seen such a violent scenario. Where there are orders to kill whoever is wandering the street. At the entrance, is the writing on the wall ‘get out JOH’ and the image of struggle – Francisco Morazán, with the idea that, ‘if the present is struggle, the future is ours.’

(10th person killed by this regime during this fraud) Raúl Antonio Triminio Sisnado (35) was participating in a noise protest and road block in his neighbourhood – Villanueva Sector 7 – when military police drove in in a police patrol with lights switched off – to drive in without the protesters seeing them coming. On arrival the patrol fired shots at this group of 20 that protested during the curfew. A gunshot hit the head of Raúl, who died in hospital.

(11th person killed by this regime during this fraud) Eduardo Rubén Rivera who is from the same neighbourhood – Villanueva Sector 7 – had been chased. He was outside during the curfew as he was looking for his brother. He had received death threats in for some time now. It has not been identified who had chased him, but his body was very beaten up, and it appeared from the release paperwork he had that he had been in custody. He was a bus driver.

(12th person killed by this regime during this fraud) Mauricio Jonatan Echeverría, aged 29, and (13th person killed by this regime during this fraud) Michael Jair Ponce Sauceda, aged 15, were both killed in the neighbourhood López Arellano in Choloma, Cortés.

desaparecido

Manuel de Jesús Bautista was last seen detained with two comrades by military agents. They were captured after participating in a highway barricade. He is from Naco, Cortés. Manuel is disappeared.

In Río Tinto Catacamas Olancho, 2 cops died on duty during the curfew. Some police and COBRA police (but not all), had organised and participated in a strike – announced 5 December 2017, from carrying out repression against people protesting the electoral fraud as well as demanding better pay, that is why mostly, the military police and soldiers are repressing. For the boycott, some police are being persecuted by elements of the state. And on this topic, an army sergeant appeared to have committed suicide with a gunshot in the head, holding a gun and a beer, around 13.12.17.

4 December 2017

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In Agua Blanca Sur, El Progreso, Yoro, 15 years old (13th person killed by this regime during this fraud) Yareth Gonzales was checking out what was happening in the protest – a road blockade against the fraud, when police arrived firing shots against protesters, and a shot hit Yareth in the head killing the teenager.

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In Olanchito, the dead body of 32 years old (14th person killed by this regime during this fraud) Arnold Fernando Serrano Moncada was found in La Pradera in Las Vegas neighbourhood. Arnold had participated in various protests of the Alianza de Oposición contra la Dictadura. He received death threats on 2.12.17.

21 years old Raúl Humberto Brizuela Reyes (15th person killed by this regime during this fraud) Colonia López Arellano, Choloma, Cortés

In Azacualpa, Santa Bárbara, when there was a protest at 7pm, a military commando arrived from the Pinalejo Infantry Battalion, and on arrival began to shoot at and chase protesters and fired shots at a car full of people – three people were gunshot wounded inside – Bayron Aguilar Romero aged 23, shot in his right leg, Valeria Cristel Espinoza, aged 19, Bayron’s spouse, shot in the right gluteal, and Josué Castañeda Aguilar, aged 19, shot in the eyelid of his left eye.

In Barrio La Plazuela, in a home where protesters have taken refuge from the repression, six military police forced open the gate and searched the home and stayed inside the house for 5 minutes and 15 minutes on the footpath just outside to terrorise people.

Instead of limiting their stays, the JOH regime had come to refuse entry to and deport international journalists. On this day at the airport, the regime held 3 such journalists for over 24 hours – all freelancers – Reed Lindsay from US, Fahema Abdel Hafiz Sokaika from Great Britain, and Deward Philip Augustin from New Zealand. On 5.12.17, they were officially told that they were being deported by the same airline that they came to Honduras in. The pretext given was that they were being deported because their next destination was Cuba.

Cofadeh human rights organisation tallied that between 30 November 2017 and 4 December 2017, on top of the assassinations – many of which had many witnesses that they were killed by gunshots of the Honduran military, military police or police, there were 51 wounded – 7 gravely wounded, and 844 arrestees – many accused of breaking the curfew, 148 of ‘aggravated robbery’, 3 of terrorism.

5 December 2017

Many ignored the curfew this day, asserting that it was unconstitutional. Some police (1000 of Cobra forces, 12000 of police) have announced their strike. JOH announced more bonuses and benefits to try to talk some of those police out of the strike. There were however this day, two killed and two wounded.

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(16th person killed by this regime during this fraud) 43 years old Jesús de María Sánchez Euceda was going out to buy things at the supermarket for her family In Satélite, San Pedro Sula, when there were gunshots fired that hit her at a protest where police had pulled out their guns.

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(17th person killed by this regime during this fraud) 37 years old Set Jonathan Araujo Andino’s body was found, dumped, hands and feet tied together, he had been strangled and tortured and killed. Set participated in some major protests on 3 and 5 December in the Flor del Campo neighbourhood. He seems to have been kidnapped on his way home after the protest and tortured and assassinated.

At 7pm, as Juan Carlos Perdomo Reyes (45), was gathered with others in the street prior to the cacerolazo noise protest that was at 9pm, police, having been persecuting him, came out of nowhere, and fired shots against him. Juan Carlos was shot in the back, and has been operated on in the hospital.

At 9pm, in the Guadalupe neighbourhood, a youth, Andrés Contreras, was going home after participating in a noise protest / cacerolazo, when he was ambushed by three hooded military police agents. He tried to escaped but they pointed weapons and captured him and in this time drove him from one place to another and kept hitting him with weapons. The patrol was reinforced with three more agents as they continued to bash him and threatened him with killing him if they saw him again in the street. Andrés noticed the helicopters that have been flying in the sky in Tegucigalpa since before the election that have been flying even lower in the last nights that the police must be using to watch people and identify targets.

In the Panamá community in Bajo Aguán where campesinxs are camped, at 3.30pm, a military contingent approached the group that keeps watch at the campesino camp and began throwing rocks at whoever was at the camp. Only minutes later, the contingent – about 60 soldiers and Dinant security guards, began to shoot live gunshots at whoever was there, announcing that they had an order to kill. While shooting at people they burnt people’s things – clothes, pantry goods, pots and pans, homes, etc. They chased anyone there firing gunshots and teargas bombs against the community, leaving no air for people to breathe, affecting children and an old woman, and wounding three youths in their attack. Hours later, 100 soldiers came surrounding the community searching for the leaders of the campesino settlements and captured two campesinos, the soldiers tortured them, but hours later the pair managed to escape.

6 December 2017

In Tegucigalpa, in a number of different neighbourhoods, at least 28 had been wounded – some by stabbing, some by fire arms, others by batons) by police during protests on this day. The 28 include 4 minors who have been gunshot wounded and were taken into the children’s hospital.

In Barrio Morazán, at 5am, military police beat up and terrorised people who lived there. They, with hoods over their faces, captured a number of youths and took them to unidentified places where they kicked them and beat them with rifles.

In Atlántida, in Arizona and San Juan Masica, protests were repressed in the morning.

7 December 2017

This day, curfew had been lifted for 9 of 18 provinces decreed with a state of siege, amongst those that continue to have curfews every night are Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula.

At 4am, a group of people barricaded the highway that goes from Tegucigalpa to Olancho to protest the fraud. As they were setting up and had the first tyres set on fire, a white 3.0 and a grey frontier vehicle arrived carrying 3 and 4 people arrived. One of those people looked for Guadalupe Avila particularly and tried to kill her, but fell over a tyre and broke a foot. Then someone else from one of the cars shot at her and a bullet hit her right arm. Guadalupe was taken to hospital, ‘look at the situation we are living in this country. Its dangerous but we keep fighting, against the injustice, against the neoliberal model… we visited the provinces and municipalities in the country, we see that it is grave, the situation we live in, we are against this, so of course we have to protest, because this is the only solution, it’s now or never.’

In Olancho, protests were attacked massively with teargas and gunshots. A newborn was endangered by the teargas, and a pregnant woman was gunshot wounded in her belly by soldiers.

In San Juan Pueblo and Lean, state security agents raided the homes of villagers and members of MADJ – Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia – and in these raids, they destroyed belongings. Their pretext for the raids was that they were ‘searching for weapons that people would be using in the barricades and public protests against the fraud. Since 30.11.17, there had been brutal repressions against protests in the region with military and police shooting live gunshots against people.

Many were arrested this day, many taken to military installations. Attacking the looting had been the excuse used for the repression against the protests.

In the midst of such obvious attacks against human rights, the US Trump administration made a preliminary announcement that it wishes to certify Honduras’ progress in human rights – if this is approved by US congress committees, this certification would ensure Honduras receives millions of US dollars of funds that are conditional on progress in human rights and corruption. It sounds ridiculous that this certification could be considered, but such is global politics. Human rights certificates become simple creative writing exercises with no references to the lived reality.

8 December 2017

Military police and cobras police force raided the Torogoces finca in San Juan Pueblo in Atlántida – the finca is a place used by MADJ (Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia) for its members’ workshops and meetings. As the repressive forces raided, they searched for MADJ general coordinator Martín Fernández. Neighbours in the area said that in the days before, there had been military police around asking people about Martín’s whereabouts. There is a long history of persecution against Martín; in 2013 he was arrested by police for his environmental defence work, the agents who arrested him were later found guilty of illegal arrest against him. In 2016 army had raided the same finca and made death threats against him calling in live on community radio Radio Dignidad (run by MADJ). Martín has Inter American Commission of Human Rights ordered protection measures like many other leaders in the area. He had this August been beaten and had his nose injured by people paid by hydroelectricity dam company Hidrocep, for his involvement in organising against the damming of the Mezapa river.

10 December 2017

At midnight, Radio Progreso in Tegucigalpa abruptly went off air while broadcasting about the protests going on there. Two days before, two Conatel (Honduran Commission of Telecommunications) came to the building, claiming that they had to have a look at the radio’s frequency. When they were asked to sign the visitors’ book, they refused. The radio’s technical team investigated why it went off air and saw that their tower and transmission antenna had collapsed, and can only conclude that it was a planned sabotage linked to Conatel which would have made cuts. It’s worth adding that when the curfew was announced, it was also announced that Conatel is empowered by the police and army to suspend any media, that do not ‘adjust their programming according to the present dispositions.’

11 December 2017

(18th person killed by this regime during this fraud) Lesman Anibal Cárcamo Bonilla, aged 18, in Morazán, Yoro

Ocotepeque residents blockaded the Panamericana highway, which connects Honduras with El Salvador and Guatemala. Police arrived to ‘recover order’. Police subcommissioner gave orders to teargas people and threatened human rights defenders there of organisation DEOCODERH. He threatened Néstor Zelaya, saying, ‘much of this shit is yours, i don’t know what you are doing with human rights, since here nothing has anything to do with human rights.’ Others who have received threats were Dr Luz Mata, Pedro Pinto, Marcos Chacón, Oscar Cáceres and Gerardo who had his flags snatched from his car by the police.

In Choluteca, people self-organised a highway barricade on the exit of San Marcos de Colón in Choluteca. Police responded opening fire at people and capturing arbitrarily and loaded onto the police vehicle Melvin Alexander Rodríguez Alvarez and Javier Eduardo Laínez López. People protested the pair being arrested yelling for the two not to be taken, and throwing things. The police brutally beat up the pair, and then from patrol 3397, police fired shots against the multitude. Their gunshots hit a number of cars, including the cars of the journalists Juan Gabriel Mendoza and Nilda Sosa, who are correspondents for Canal 11, who were present covering the protests.

In Nacaome, Valle, people barricaded a highway towards the border going to El Salvador. The military responded evicting these aggressively, wounding Efraín Domínguez fracturing his arm, and arrested him and ten others including three minors: Wilmer Adán Meléndez (16), Oscar Adonis Flores (17), Oscar Alvares (17), Óscar Mejía (18), Wilmer Manuel Meza (23), Jair Peralta (26), David Antonio Velázquez (26), Juan Flores (27), Noe Alexander Flores (29) y Hermes Roney Valdez (33). All were retained for about 24 hours. While in custody, Efraín was refused medical attention.

In Intibucá, protests were attacked with gunshots by state forces.

In San Lorenzo city, community journalist Neptalí Rubí (28), who was covering the protests for Telesur Canal 33, was filming when soldiers captured and arrested him and charged him with ‘disorderly conduct’ arbitrarily. This was the second time he had been arrested – the first was during the curfews of the 2009 military coup, when he was going home from school where he worked as a teacher.

12 December 2017

In Guaymas, where people from the villages Buena Vista, El Negrito and Yoro barricaded a highway that connects El Progreso with Tela, a contingent of 300 police and military evicted these attacking with an exaggerated amount of teargas bombs, live gunshots, tanks and batons against people who live in the area. One person was bullet wounded but luckily the wound was skin deep. A number of people were beaten. Fourteen people were arrested including minors and three women. The contingent shot teargas bombs into the interior of the homes and invaded homes to beat the people inside and arrest them. In at least one case they dragged out a whole family from inside their home. There was a arrested youth who had a baby a few months old that is only breastfed who was not allowed to take the baby with her when she was taken into custody. Human rights defenders and doctors who came asking to see the arrestees were not let in. Dr Francisco was forced to delete photos that he took of police brutality on his phone. All arrestees were released that night through pressure from lawyers. During the repression, some people were about to take off the police a teargas bomb launcher.

A group of Copinh indigenous organisation (whose coordinator was the now assassinated Berta Caceres) were travelling in a bus and car to join in the antifraud protests, when they were stopped by the military. They stopped the bus and retained the car of Berta Caceres’ daughter, Berta Zúniga Caceres, who was told that they can go to the protest on foot, but that they won’t get the car back. Against the people on the Copinh bus, they were all forced to show their Ids and the police took photos of the Ids.

Burning and looting?

The regime and the media that props up the regime say that it is because of all the burning (tyres at blockades) and looting (eg of big shops) that it has to impose the curfew and the repression that involves gunshot, while they had obviously prioritised their repression using gunshots and brutality for those at barricades and those holding protests during hours of curfews. In the systematic way, it is the JOH regime that has been burning and looting Honduras and people have had enough. There are also people pointing out that some of the actions taken of vandalism against structures of the army and regime and Honduran elites’ businesses were actually carried out not by people in struggle but by the regime themselves to justify to the public their repressive actions – but the regime’s concept is ridiculous either ways, that because there are people taking things out of shops, or even managing to burn a military vehicle, that gunshots killing people in barricades are then justified. The real reason why they are shooting people is that so many groups of people all over Honduras are taking direct action and barricading roads and highways that have been effective in stopping business as usual in Honduras, and they are trying to terrorise people into submission but people are connected and the grief only builds on the rage.

Some of the local commentators said:

‘Almost a spontaneous general strike around the country. Highway blocks. Not from the party that just gets votes but doesn’t defend them, it is the people… every hour more towns neighbourhoods, etc.. more bridges and highways paralysed. There’s knowledge that this is the only way. Can’t trust international observers nor OAS nor UN nor US. OAS even threatened Nasralla with charges when he criticised OAS. OAS had never for one moment denounced fraude.’

‘Don’t be mistaken. All this (resistance) is not because Salvador is the best candidate that Honduras has had, or because we all adore him and are in agreement with everything that he does or says, nor because he is our elected president . This is happening through Honduras and through us, the honduran people that is sick of being downtrodden. This happens because the assassinations of innocent people, because of the femicides, because of the environment defenders, for our indigenous people, for our lands, because of the IHSS embezzlement, because of the privatisation of public services, because of the model cities, and mainly, because of that over 60% of our population lives in poverty ‘

To be continued…

15 December was a National Stop Day, and it won’t be the end of this either. A summary for this day is: 95 barricades in different points of this little country Honduras, 7 barricades were repressed with live gunshots, 9 wounded by these gunshots – 2 were assassinated, 10 were arrested

Part 3 is next.

November 2017 Honduras Pre-Coup Repeat Update (Part 1)

You might have heard about the world cup play off. How Australia won against Honduras in the middle of November this year as the privileged Australian soccer team bought its way out of jetlag with a private plane that got the players to Sydney many hours before the Honduran players arrived on economic flights. Whatever one makes of that, less than two weeks later, Honduras had an election, on 26 November 2017, which eventuated in another electoral fraude, a widespread grassroots insurrection and what is so far, another coup and a lot of repression. What comes below will be a part one – before the election – November news update, as what goes on ‘normally’ is extreme already and needs to be known. And part two will be an election focus. An update that will come shortly, covering 26 November 2017, to about mid December 2017.

Bajo Aguán palm plantations war against campesinxs – TWO FARMERS ASSASSINATED including a THIRTEEN YEAR OLD, another wounded, violent evictions and arrests

In Bajo Aguán, when the preparation of shock groups are mentioned, it is a serious and systematic abuse about to happen, and this is precisely what happened on 2.11.17 in Paso Aguán finca as it became known that the government – army and police headed by Commissioner Juan Adolfo Zapata and Coronel Hugo Coca – and Dinant palm company were collaborating to create shock groups to attack campesinos recovering the Paso Aguán farm. This land struggle and reactive and extreme repression has a long history but this latest land recovery process began on 27.8.17.

 

nino asesinado en aguan nov

So twelve days later, 14.11.17, on the Paso Aguán finca, it was 4pm when 13 years old Leodan Macías had finished school, and rode his horse that dragged a cart into the finca to collect maize in the cornfield that his family had sown. His family worried because he did not come back. They put out the word that he had disappeared. Leodan’s grandpa Fabian Mencía let known that at 6pm he heard gunshots and as he went searching, saw his grandson’s cart with its tyres pinched at 6pm. Those who reported this wrote, that the next morning, the sun did not come up, the darkness fell where the sun set the day before, when Leodan Macías didn’t come home.’ A phonecall at 8am to Fabian confirmed what the whole family had feared, that Leodan’s body has been found, on lote 12. He had been killed. His horse had too, still tied to the cart. Leodan’s family belonged to the Rigoreña campesina cooperative. Paso Aguán is agrarian reform land designated for farmers that was illegally taken over by Dinant palm company, since agrarian reform lands cannot legally be bought or sold. Paso Aguán is an especially bloody part of Bajo Aguán, many bodies of farmers in this land struggle have been found before Leodan’s.

In another part of Bajo Aguán, in El Tumbador, a group of some 300 youths organised in Movimiento Juvenil Martíres del Tumbador had began at 4pm on 5.11.17, in less than 24 hours, at 1pm 6.11.17, a contingent of 300 police and military invaded and violently evicted the land recovery effort. They launched teargas and fired gunshots at the bodies of people present. This violent eviction and brutality against people there of all ages and genders lasted over 6 hours, during which the contingent arrested eight land defenders present: Heliberto Paredes, Nicolasa Calderon, Mauricio Urea, Argentina Berrios, Yolanda Hernández, Yolanda Hernández and Yoni Aguilar (underage) plus one more whose name was withheld.

Then, in another part of El Tumbador in Bajo Aguán on 17.11.17, men in soldiers clothes ambushed and shot at two campesinos – they killed Héctor Noé Cárcamo Catellanos instantly, the other campesino is a youth – name withheld – left gravely wounded and hospitalised. Both are subsistence fisherfolk. Héctor was a young dad, like many others of over 125 farmers killed in Aguán in the last years. His body was found on lote 37 on a Dinant part of the el Tumbador finca. He belonged to MCA Movimiento Campesino del Aguán, and is of the 300,000 landless campesina families that there are in Honduras. This attack is likely in response to a new land recovery process in the region that began on 27.8.17 by 800 campesinas and campesinos on 8 farms of Bajo Aguán. Since that date, there has been 14 violent evictions, militarisation, Héctor is the fifth campesino killed since.

Then, in another part of El Tumbador in Bajo Aguán on 17.11.17, men in soldiers clothes ambushed and shot at two campesinos – they killed Héctor Noé Cárcamo Catellanos instantly, the other campesino is a youth – name withheld – left gravely wounded and hospitalised. Both are subsistence fisherfolk. Héctor was a young dad, like many others of over 125 farmers killed in Aguán in the last years. His body was found on lote 37 on a Dinant part of the el Tumbador finca. He belonged to MCA Movimiento Campesino del Aguán, and is of the 300,000 landless campesina families that there are in Honduras. This attack is likely in response to a new land recovery process in the region that began on 27.8.17 by 800 campesinas and campesinos on 8 farms of Bajo Aguán. Since that date, there has been 14 violent evictions, militarisation, Héctor is the fifth campesino killed since.

Bajo aguan – information theft against human rights defender

On 14.11.17 at 2am, unidentified persons raided the home of human rights defender Haydeé Saravía, taking among other things her work laptop. To get in, they jumped the fence and broke some glass windows. Her work, much of which is on her laptop, includes protesting against militarisation in Bajo Aguán, and against state forces attacking farmers recovering land, against mining concessions in the region, in addition to these she is also the neighbourhood president of Buenos Aires, Tocoa, Colón. Haydeé is also one of many people granted protection measures by the Inter American Commission of Human Rights for the Honduran state to implement – it almost never implements these and is complicit in the persecution against her and others.

Student beaten arrested charged

On 6.11.17 at UNAH, students protested demanding that the expulsion and charges against 30 students during the Castellanos administration be reversed. Police came on the scene to repress launching dozens of teargas bombs, and arrested Erick Josué García (24) bashing him brutally in the face, head, back and limbs. He was taken into custody with blood all over his face. Erick is an engineering student. It was until 9.23pm on 7.11.17 that he was taken to court and given bail – something that prosecution argued against but the judge granted. Prosecution tried to argue that he should remain detained because he was recently arrested back on 8.9.17 with other students – these charges had since been dismissed however. This time, he is being charged with damages to property and attempt against police and state, although of course it was the police and state that attempted against him. Outside the court, the rain was pouring but that did not stop a group of fellow students from protesting there and accompanying Erick in solidarity. Erick feels that comradeship is the best thing he had gotten from uni.

Raid against student leader

On the night of 14.11.17, about 7.50pm, when Nancy García answered the door, a woman in jeans and t-shirt pointed a weapon at her, said they were police, ordered her to open the door, and barged in with two other armed men. They claimed that they came because someone called 911, and proceeded to stay in her house for at least 15 minutes going through her drawers and searching the rooms of her house. The attackers asked for Nancy’s ID and took a photo of it. They kept interrogating her, asking her name, where she worked and where others were. Outside there was another armed hooded man who was next to a double cabin Hilux. Nancy is an UNAH student and a spokesperson for the student organisation MAU, and has charges hanging over her since the last months from participating in the student protests. Another student leader had her home raided recently – Mirtha Gutiérrez on 31.8.17.

Student leader threatened by uni security

On 7.11.17, at the CURLP campus, student leader Felipe Avila was studying in front of the library, when a fire cracker went off from a distance and Felipe began filming. When new ESPA security supervisor Dagoberto Gonzales saw Felipe filming, he approached him angrily and threatened to hurt Felipe, then said that if he kept filming, he was going to commit to him, to say that the aggression may be more than a beating. Felipe decided to leave and Dagoberto followed him, and when Dagoberto saw Felipe was still filming, Dagoberto signalled to Felipe that he was heading towards the exit, and took a photo of Felipe’s face. It is known that there are three new guards including this one, especially hired to chase and watch students who participate in the student occupations. Felipe has also received an expulsion threat from the CURLP general secretary Rogelio Alvarez – if Felipe organised talks on campus.

Community radio Radio Taragual taken off air

On 21.11.17, at 6pm, Radio Taragual, a community radio that has been airing since 2014, was taken off air, and spontaneously came back on after 7pm. Its coming back on was not responsive to technical fixes. The same thing happened at the same time three months ago. When it came off people can tune into commercial radio channels still but not this community radio. It comes off when Alianza activists are programmed on and political topics are being discussed.

Journalist‘s contract cancelled

The news program ‘Alcanzando Retos’ has been running Monday to Friday, 5-6pm on Canal 13, since the start of a one year contract on 7.8.17 in which journalist Gabriela Bonilla contracts this space. She began to broadcast here because where she last had a space, the administrator of that media told her that she had to leave because she is being watched by someone that she knows it would put her life at risk to name (for the political contents of her news program). It is in this context that Gabriela had been warned several times to ‘lower the gas’ on political topics, especially when criticising the government in power. On 27.10.17, she organised a preelection survey on her program and as she went to enter the channel buildings to announce the survey predictions that the presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla would win the upcoming elections, she was not allowed in. On 28.10.17, she was called and advised that her program was cancelled for management reasons and that her last show was to be on 30.10.17. She protested that that was a violation of their one year contract. On 1.11.17, she asserted her way into the Canal 13 building to carry out her program for which she had a guest. A private security guard tried to stop her, saying, ‘I’m sorry miss, I have been given orders from high up that your program is not at Hondured any more because of which you can’t enter the channel.’ She was surprised but proceeded to enter, the guard followed her and she was met by the webmaster who told her she couldn’t produce her program anymore. It was in that moment that her guest arrived and she decided to do the program via facebook live.

Threat of lawsuit against journalist

Pro JOH mayor Carlos Miranda of Comayagua (who have been the mayor there for now 6 consecutive terms) threatened to sue journalist Reynaldo Irías of Marte TV and correspondent also of Canal 11 for publishing on his facebook status about a corruption scandal of the JOH administration exposed in a government audit about using government funds to carry out social projects to buy votes. As he threatened to sue he said, ‘you are an idiot because you publish what the other idiot tells you, I am going to place charges against you’

More plans to kill leaders

Sometimes leaders find out they are targeted for assassination. The newest cases are Rafael Alegría of Vía Campesina Honduras, and Gilda Silvestrucci, a Telesur correspondent. They have been officially informed that they are on the lists and that there are elaborate plans to end their lives. In Rafael Alegría’s case, he has been persecuted for many years. Rafael Alegría was on 25.7.09 captured with 45 others in a protest against the coup at the Honduran border and detained for 6 hours, for ‘violating the curfew’. He has IACHR ordered protection measures that none was ever implemented. On 11.8.09 at midnight the Via Campesina office was attacked with gunshots when there were people temporarily sleeping in there, during a curfew that went from 10pm to 5am. On the following days an unknown armed person tried to enter the offices when there was a campesina leaders meeting going on. On 8.2.11, Rafael was told confidentially in Miami city US that a kidnapping and torture against him and against the FNRP resistance leader Juan Barahona was being planned. On 26.1.16, the Vía Campesina office was again at midnight hours receiving gunshots at least 11 gunshots, this time at the main entrance of the office. Rafael and Gilda are both Libre MP candidates.

Honduran immigration department block entry of international journalists, musicians, and an observer

On 16.11.17, as 4 members of the Venezuelan protest music band ‘Los Guaraguao’ arrived in Honduras, the four band members were retained by immigration for 18 hours, with the intention of sending them straight back to Venezuela, on the argument that their coming to Honduras was ‘an interference of the upcoming elections’. Their pleas for food and water were ignored by the authorities in this time – they were finally allowed to enter Honduras because of the legal action (Habeas Corpus) taken by the Jesuit organisation ERIC-SJ.

On 20.11.17, the Immigration department retained Al Jazeera International correspondent Mariana Sánchez and her photographer for almost 6 hours.

Likewise, Telesur International journalist Adriana Sivori was retained at the airport by immigration for almost 3 hours, only to be given a visa restriction of 10 days stay in Honduras. Perhaps they were actively making sure international journalists were not around when the post election repression begins.

Similarly, the day before the election on 25.11.17, an US based human rights observer Irene Rodríguez was retained in the airport for 11 hours, and when released it was only on the condition that she left as the elections finished (how would you define that? Has it ever finished?). Irene was part of a delegation of observers organised by La Voz de los de Abajo, and has been part of the international voluntary solidarity effort for several elections in Honduras. JOH have been referring to ‘foreign agitators’ who interfere with the Honduran electoral process, particularly trying to close their borders to Venezuelans. The excuse she was given for having been detained was that someone else with the same name had entered.

Pre-election smear campaign

On 25.11.17, just some hours before the election, some false info came up on social media against human rights defenders. There is a graphic that frames Carlos H Reyes an MP candidate, campesino leader Rafael Alegría, father Ismael Moreno and a young uni student as provocators of chaos. They are all involved in the campaign against the re-election of JOH.

 

October 2017 Honduras Coup update

October 2017 Honduras Coup Update

Afrodescendent Community leader killed for opposing carbon trading project

silvinio

Silvinio Zapata Martínez, a Garífuna leader of the Masca community, aged 73, was closing up a restaurant around midnight on 14.10.17 when shot at with firearms by two attackers, Silvinio was taken to hospital and died there. http://www.oncenoticias.hn/ambientalista-honduras-es-el-pais-mas-peligroso-del-mundo-para-defender-el-medio-ambiente/ this prior link has a video on it of a police report with people grieving in the morgue, having lost someone they loved. Masca has been under siege for some time by ‘investors’, who have plundered already much of the Masca ancestral territory but have their eyes on plundering more. Silvinio was very active in organising in defence of the Masca River, since the company Hidromasca has been pushing to dam this river as part of a carbon trading scheme signed off by the UN, in the name of tackling climate change. Damming the river would, of course, destroy the ecosystem and river damaging the environment and hurting the community. So, the community had been protesting to put brakes on this project being imposed without consultation; this imposition being something that happens all the time. Hidromasca belongs to the ex Energy Commissionor of the previous Lobo administration, Salomón López, showing the close connections between state and business. Further to the imposition of this dam, Masca was also in an area where a model city was to be imposed upon, because of which people who live there are also affected by real estate speculations.

Bajo Aguan – violent evictions gunshots arrests teargas bombs beatings

The Panamá community of campesina families has been for years in a land recovery process in Paso Aguán. It is land that was assigned as agrarian reform land for landless farmers, but as always, big business, in this case palm oil company Dinant, twist authorities and get their way outside of the law. The latest campesina land recovery process began on 27.8.17 at the Paso Aguan farm. On 17.10.17 at 8am, some 300 police and army officers of the Xatruch III operation under the command of colonel Hugo Coca, evicted the families from the land. Hours later, the families returned to take possession of the land again. The reaction was severe repression. At 6.30pm, Dinant security guards, backed up by police and army, invaded, pointing their guns at people. They fired gunshots at the bodies of campesinas and campesinos who were there to recover the land. The contingent also launched teargas bombs. Through this attack, Darwin Josúe Ramos (15) was wounded, and Mario Rosa (20) and José Luis Lobo (35) were beaten by army and police officers. All three belong to the Gregorio Chávez campesina cooperative. The families, despite the gunshots and teargas bombs, continued to take possession of the Paso Aguán farm. Dinant backed up by state forces, was equally determined to repeat the same heavy repression. On the next morning on 18.10.17, phone calls were made, ‘they are shooting at us, please call and put pressure on the police, on the UN commissioner, on the human rights commissioner’, they tried to inform the world as it happened again, as gunshots and teargas were aimed and shot again against occupying families. Paso Aguán has for many years been constantly full of heavily armed security guards, and soldiers were stationed out there permanently. It has also been a clandestine cemetery for dumping and burying the bodies of disappeared and assassinated farmer leaders. There are at least five documented cases of these between 2011 and 2017; Ramón Lobo has been buried on lote 18 in 2011, José Antonio López in lote 3 in 2012, Gregorio Chávez on lote 8 in 2012, the skull of an unidentified person in lote 26, found in 2016 and José Alfredo Rodríguez in lote 6 in 2017. And that doesn’t count others who have been murdered whose bodies were taken elsewhere.

In another part of the Bajo Aguán region, another group of campesinas and campesinos organised under the farmers cooperatives Nuevo Ebenezer and Nuevo Remolino, newly installed camp at 4pm on 22.10.17, in El Remolino farm. These campesin@s have land title there, but large landowner Reinaldo Canales says the land belongs to his company Inversiones La Ceibeña, and called on the authorities to kick out the campesin@s. Riot cops and soldiers answered Canales’ call and were at the site next morning at 11am violently evicting farmers using bullets and teargas. Human rights defenders from the cooperatives said that over 120 people were at the eviction and had to flee running for their lives, but that at 4pm they only knew that 40 of these were safe. At the eviction six women defenders got arrested – Sindy Ramos, Vilma Rosa, Deysi Rosa, Elsy Rosa, Kenia Rosa, and Raquel Méndez, along with two of their partners, one of whom was wounded.

Violent eviction against occupying indigenous farmers in La Paz

Equally horrendous, around the same dates, in a different region, in Lepaguare, San Pedro de Tutule, La Paz, on 20.10.17, a violent eviction was carried out against a group of 17 indigenous subsistence farming families which have been recovering 28 hectares of land for several years to date. The farmers group is called Fuerzas Unidas, and they are part of the National Federation of Farmworkers CNTC. Early this morning, they were barged in on by a police and military contingent of over 200 agents loaded with shields, batons, and gas masks, under the command of commissioner Daniel Molina, accompanied by prosecutors Yasmin Angela Varela Chinchilla and Wilmer Sánchez. They came in response to an eviction order sought by self-proclaimed landowner Nancy Chinchilla. This contingent came firing their gunshots and teargas. Blas Bardales, aged about 35, was gunshot wounded. Blas belongs to another nearby farmers’ group – Casa Blanca, and came to accompany in solidarity against the eviction. They did not stop at attacking people’s bodies, police set fire to the homes and slashed the crops people grew for their families with machetes. The 17 families were left without homes nor livelihoods. Little ones couldn’t breathe, affected by gases. A woman fainted. The attacks were grave despite the presence of human rights observers there of MILPAH – independent indigenous Lenca movement of La Paz.

Death threat for being an advocate opposing mining in Tocoa

The pastor Erlin Henrriquez is amongst voices of the Abisinia community in Tocoa speaking up against mining exploitation in the community, given that the mining will contaminate and destroy waterways there. It was after a community assembly on 15.10.17, in which the community collectively decided to oppose mining in their community, that pastor Erlin Henrriquez received a phone call. The caller told him that he was ‘on a list to be eliminated’, seeing him as an obstacle in the imposition of the mining

Journalists assassinated, shot at, given death threat

osmin españa

Osmin España (50), was a community journalist who mixed critical journalism with humour. He ran and directed ‘The Show of the Prince’ and was in the process of writing a book about the historic memory of this city, Santa Rosa de Copán. From his show, he is known around there as the TV prince or ‘el Pimpin’. On 4.10.17, an anonymous call was made to emergency services saying there was someone in the Osorio neighbourhood who was wounded in the face. He was taken then to hospital as an unidentified wounded person, with a gunshot wound in the face. It was the medical staff at this hospital in Copan – who recognised who he was, an exceptional journalist. The doctors declared him brain dead on examination, and transferred him to Mario Catarino Rivas hospital, to be operated on by neurosurgery specialists. At Mario Catarino Rivas, he died on 5.10.17, at 10.45am. Osmin is the fourth journalist to be assassinated in Honduras in 2017, taking the tally up to 69 journalists since 2010 in Honduras.

Extorsion on public transport and against small businesses and families in Honduras is a very difficult reality affecting many Hondurans everyday. On 18.10.17, ConfidentialHN journalist Lidieth Díaz was at the FNA (anti-extorsion police) questioning FNA agent about why an extorsionist was not captured, when a hooded FNA agent told her, ‘get lost, because if you don’t, we will disappear you’.

oveniel.jpeg

On 23.10.17, at La Entrada, Nueva Arcadia, Copán, in the morning, Canal 12 Telemaya cameraperson Carlos Oveniel Lara was heading to work, when he was assassinated. He had previously informed state authorities that he was receiving death threats. Carlos has worked in this TV channel for over 8 years and was well known there.

One journalist survived an attempt against his life but is now ruthlessly dismissed by his employer

Back on 30.5.17, Televicentro cameraperson René Alberto Ortega was shot at several times. After 15 days of hospitalisation and 90 days of rest and rehabilitation, he went back to work on 5.9.16. Instead of welcoming him back, he was asked verbally to go to IHSS workers health service to confirm with documentation that he was fit to return to work. René agreed and went to IHSS the next day. On 26.9.17, he was still waiting to hear back from IHSS when René was called by his work to a discharge hearing, accused of not having gone to work on the dates 30.8.17-5.9.17. He was given a letter this date of 26.9.17, notifying him that he was fired.

And other journalists were silenced some other ways

On 9.10.17, journalist Issac Calix of Insular, Bay Islands complained that stemming from pressures from Roatán Mayor Dorn Ebanks, his tv program ‘Elections 2017, your vote is your voice’ of the TV channel ‘More TV’ was cancelled. It had a space that he paid for. He is also a correspondent of Hoy Mismo and TN5 tv news programs of Televicentro.

On 18.10.17, there was a protest at a meeting of the president and presidential candidate, Juan Orlando Hernández. Journalist Humberto Orellano, director of RCTV – Chains Breaking Television, was filming amidst protesters as he was entering the event when a security guard removed him. ‘They told us that the journalists with cameras could not enter, so I protested saying that was not logical, to not let us in.’ He was let back in. He had also on 12.10.17 and 14.10.17 been impeded from attending two political meetings in Copán.

Berta’s case more than 1 and a half year later..

The international human rights and criminal law specialists Gaipe carried out an independent investigation, and revealed with evidence that a lot of planning and time preceded the assassination of Berta Cáceres, indigenous Copinh leader assassinated on 3.3.16. Gaipe accessed records of telephone, and text and Whatsapp messages, revealing a communication web of an operation to kill anyone in the way of the imposition of the Agua Zarca project. Gaipe showed that this web included public officials, state security apparatus, high level officials, intermediaries, DESA private security, and that the plan involved controlling, neutralising and eliminating anyone in the way – generating the rupture of the community’s social fabric, discrediting campaigns, infiltration, following, threats, hitmenry, sabotage of Copinh’s communication equipment and coopting justice operators, security forces and reinforcing structures of security forces. State police and military forces have always supported DESA in attacking the Rio Blanco community in resistance against the dam, rather than take any action to protect the community from DESA’s attacks. They showed that Berta had been watched and followed since November 2015, and that in February 2016 it was communicated to a DESA high official that there was an operation to kill Berta then, but that it aborted that date. On 2.3.16 the same high official communicated with one of the executors of the murder and again on 3.3.16 – before and after the assassination. The DESA high officials, as well as staying in touch with the hitmen, also stayed in touch with Security and Police departments to be updated on the legal proceedings, in a way that they have access to more information and sooner, whereas Berta Cáceres’ lawyers and family are left in the dark. The family had to seek for some hearings to be suspended repeatedly because needed documents were never served to them. Berta’s lawyer Victor Fernández said, ‘these people talk on the phone without any fear, with certainty that they would never be touched by justice. We are talking about the state agents, parallel security structures and high executives of DESA company, people who control the destiny of our country.’

To date, eight people linked to DESA and public security structures have been arrested and are being trialled for the murder. The information around the murder had been kept very secret, making it hard to identify and bring to justice all the intellectual and material authors of this assassination. Gaipe’s recommendations agreed with Copinh’s demands – all permissions and concessions to Agua Zarca be cancelled. That no dams in Lenca communities be authorised without free, prior and informed consultation. To keep checks on the companies´ power and influence and manipulation. To investigate and bring to justice everyone linked to DESA and state security who had a part in this criminal web against Berta and against the Rio Blanco community and Copinh members – noting that the latter continues to be under siege. For investors and finance institutions to respect their obligation to make sure there is prior free and informed consent with indigenous and afro-descendent communities before they can finance anything. For the Honduran state to respect the work of human rights defenders. To reiterate, those who have blood on their hands against Berta, Rio Blanco community and Copinh are: DESA – David Castillo, Atala Zablah family and other directives, the finance of CABEI, FMO, FinnFUND; USAID, SERNA, Banco Ficohsa, Voyth Hydro-Siemens, Honduran armed forces, police, private security forces, Cohep (Honduran business council), AHER (dams council).

Copinh calls on the Honduran social and grassroots organisations and movements to keep advancing in the defence of territories and of life and to show that Berta did not die, that she instead, multiplied. Copinh also calls on the international solidarity to accompany them in demanding justice.

Hashtags:
#DesaAsesina
#20MesesSinJusticia
#JusticiaParaBerta
#DondeEstanLosAutoresIntelectales

For begging, a single mother was imprisoned, and her baby removed

Jenny Marilu Cruz, aged 29, was in Tegucigalpa, on 18.10.17 in the afternoon, arrested by police for ‘begging in a prohibited area’. As they arrested her they took off her her 17 months old baby daughter to the Children and Family department. As well as being threatened with a prison sentence, she is being threatened with losing custody of her baby. ‘I had no option, I am a single mother, I haven’t been able to find a job, and the government had also excluded me for the assistance programs’ she said, with tears swelling up in her eyes. She affirmed that she has had to go to beg on the streets of Tegucigalpa everyday in order to feed her children, that a lot of people do help out, but there are others ..

State entity fires its freedom of information officer for performing her duty of providing information

The state electricity company ENEE head Jesús Mejía fired its officer of access to public information – Emy Marcela Reina. He accused Emy of ‘corruption and using information’ to damage the company. This saga started when a citizen asked Emy for, amongst other things, a ‘copy of the receipts of food supply services, a copy of the register of Siafi, and the budget assigned to Enee’s communication unit. She was given her notice of dismissal on 30.8.17, saying that the information she provided were ‘restricted information’

Facebook closes feminist pro-choice page

The Ecumenic Women for the Right to Decide attended a demo against femicides in Honduras outside the presidential house on 28.9.17, on the international day of free and secure abortion. Following this, when they tried to access their facebook page, they saw that it had been closed down. When they investigated and questioned as to why, the response they got was that there were religious complaints. When the women tried to reopen their page, facebook asked them for personal and group documentation in order to be allowed to open a new page.

An update on a one sided ‘crossfire’

Evidence just came out five years after the US DEA attack, showing that what occurred was not a crossfire – something that DEA has claimed during these five years, but instead an unilateral massacre by the DEA against people on the water taxi.

Scholarship students manipulated to pay back their scholarship

Have you heard of something like this before? UNAH vice director Ayax Irías made an open threat against 166 students who are recipients of scholarship, that they must pay the the UNAH authority what they have received of the scholarship, in order to be allowed to graduate. Some of these students, believing this threat, have succumbed to paying.

September 2017 Honduras coup update

September 2017 Honduras coup update

Journalist assassinated

On 13.9.17, in Omoa, Cortés, Canal 22 journalist Carlos Willian Flores was driving back with a companion from a border town with Guatemala when a vehicle approached theirs in Cuyamel, and attackers from inside the vehicle fired gunshots gravely wounding both Carlos and the companion. People from the neighbourhood gave them both first aid and rushed them to the hospital but Carlos died in hospital, and the identity and health status of the companion remained unknown. In his journalism work, on his TV program ‘Without Hairs on the Tongue’ Carlos remained critical of palm oil and biofuel companies, pointing out that just in the Cuyamelito area, thousands of hectares have been deforested for these monocrop biofuels.

william flores

Journalists attempted against last month now receive further death threats

In August, owner and director of newspaper El Libertador, Johnny Lagos and his partner who also works as a journalist at El Libertador Lurbyn Cerrato were attempted against back in August. Now, on 22.9.17, a message in the form of a painting made during the night was left for them in front of the El Libertador office – the painting was a silhouette of a crime scene and it says ‘RIP’ on it.

Persecution against UNAH students and those accompanying their struggle continued

Journalist Ronnie Huete who on 25.5.17 was tortured and then arrested and charged with ‘damages and deprivation of freedom of UNAH private security guards’, together with 19 uni students, was in September finally absolved of all charges. While threats of imprisonment now subsided, other threats continue, forcing him to undertake security measures to continue publishing his work.

On 7.9.17, at 8.25pm the Prosecutors’ Office sought a capture order against 9 student leaders who have spoken for the students movement in the press.

On 8.9.17, as early as 5am, cops and troops and investigative agents entered the uni campus where students have been occupying for 84 days. These security agents chased and attacked students and arrested 22 students and 4 human rights defenders during their rampage of violence this day, they bashed people and shot peppergas repeatedly, they hurt and injured all arrestees and others and left psychological traumas with those they hurt.

The twenty-two students arrested are: Yasser William Fuentes, Brenda Miralda, Fernando Ramírez, Pablo Madrid, Miguel Flores, Kenny Reyes, Dorian Turcios, Duncan Adonay Turcios, Jorge López, José Jorge Cruz, Dorian Álvarez, Erick Geovanny Gómez, Zuly Rodríguez, Suset Velázquez, José Jorge Chacón, Christian Sanabria, Edwin Salas, Bryan González, Santos Ruíz, Andy Villanueva, Marco Silva and Nahun Portillo, they were taken to ‘Core-7’.

A cameraperson of Interpretando la Noticia of Globo TV Oscar Zavala was driving in a Globo TV vehicle towards the campus to cover the eviction when a traffic police intercepted him and pointed a weapon to his chest.

The cops also blocked access roads to UNAH. Human rights defenders were arriving on the scene in a government human rights commission (Conadeh) minibus to intervene in human rights violations against students together with three Conadeh officials, when cops surrounded the minibus with a tolltruck ready to toll it away with everyone inside. In this moment the three Conadeh officials magically disappeared. It must have meant they knew what was happening and quietly and quickly left the vehicle with the cops assistance. The human rights defenders who remained inside demanded that the human rights of student arrestees be guaranteed and to be allowed to get off the minibus – the cops reacted to this request by beating them up and spraying them with toxic gases causing everyone inside the minibus to suffocate, causing some to faint. Cops continued their attack and arrested Tomy Morales – human rights defender of Association for the Democracy and Human Rights (Asopodehu) and journalist of pasosdeanimalgrande.com, Carlos del Cid of Ecumenical Human Rights Watch, Ariel Diaz of Association for Justice and Human Rights and Hedme Castro of ACI-Participapa who was hospitalised for the gases and was the only one subsequently released without charges earlier than the others. Others seriously hurt were not treated the same way – Carlos del Cid had second degree burns and cuts in the left eye cornea and burns in the right eye.

The 22 students and 3 human rights defenders charged with covering up and attempting were imprisoned for over 24 hours before most of them were released on bail.

On 27.9.17 in court, while the charges were finally dismissed against the three human rights defenders, student Marco Silva was denied bail by judge Melvin Bonilla. Marco is a psychology student who is a spokesperson of the MEU student movement of UNAH. He is being refused bail on the basis that this was a second charge against him having already been arrested and charged on 25.5.17 in the same context. This time, he was inside the Conadeh minibus with human rights defenders when he was arrested. So in addition to accumulated trauma, he is being imposed prison while the court cases continue. It is also worth noting that the uni authorities had published a statement threatening to be revising students’ bail and bail conditions a couple of weeks before.

On the other side, the Committee of Solidarity with the Students Struggle on 28.9.17 placed a charge against judge Karla Magdalena Vásquez Rodríguez for abuse of authority for having admitted a prosecution application for the charge against students of ‘detentación’ of public spaces on 7.9.17, since her action facilitated the subsequent eviction order and capture order against students and human rights defenders on the 8.9.17, and the refusal of bail against Marco Silva.

On 30.9.17, two university students were travelling in a bus to Comayagua when, at a checkpoint, police began arresting these and confiscated their mobile phones saying they were being taken for ‘investigation’. On this occasion, the bus was driving off with the students inside and the cops outside, but as they arrived past Comayagua, cops there made everyone get off the bus, and proceeded to arrest the two students.

In 2017 so far, 60 students had been charged, dozens threatened, a parent had been assassinated in June 2017 – Roberto Antonio Gómez, and a student also, in July 2017 – Luis Joel Rivera Perdomo.

More persecution against Ofraneh black Garífuna organisation coordinator

Mirian Miranda who is the coordinator for Ofraneh, is facing judicial processes driven by Canadian megatourism company Carivida (for ‘defamation’) as well as in regards to Ofraneh’s community radios, the latter driven by Conatel – telecommunications commission of Honduras. To add to these attacks against her, on 5.9.17, at 12.30pm , two police investigative agents including one who carried an automatic weapon and a Conatel official turned up together at Ofraneh offices in Sambo Creek, and asked for Miriam Miranda. When people responded that she wasn’t there, they threatened with finding and arresting her, saying there is a capture order against her. Miriam Miranda is an activist well known within the international community for the work she does. She said, ‘there is not much left for me to do but to hold the government of JOH responsible for any attempt against myself or members of Ofraneh.’

War against farmers in Bajo Aguan

1500 families renewed land recovery efforts by starting occupations in several communities since 27.8.17 on lands illegally possessed by the Facussé (Dinant company) and Canales (Inversiones Ceibeña) families. From the same date, these farmers have faced heavy militarisation and persecution. The Panamá, Guadalupe Carney and Orica communities are all surrounded by army, police and armed security guards contracted by the two companies who are stationed waiting for farmers to leave to go to work to capture and torture them, to add to the list of 28 compañeras and compañeros already charged, with capture orders lying around accusing farmers of usurping lands or leading groups that defend their rights. There have also been three wounded farmers from dealings with security forces. There are 500 armed guards altogether around the Panamá community alone, where 1100 young people live, and these guards are backed up by Xatruch III force agents and police, as they together cause terror, harass, watch and humiliate the community. The vigilance go as far as doors of people’s homes. People tell of seeing track marks of military boots on their door step. Similarly, farmers of Nueva Ebanezer and Nuevo Remolino tell of being surrounded by private guards of Inversiones La Ceibeña, who move around holding heavy weapons like R15, 2-23, and AK47s. With 123 farmers killed in the last five years it meant many children in the area have lost at least one parent.

One of the 28 arrestees is Salvador Enrique of the farmers cooperative Unidos de la Mano, who was arrested on 13.9.17 by cops who came to his house and captured him there, with charges of usurpation. He had court on the next day on 14.9.17, where he was given bail conditions of staying away from the property being recovered, and from the people who accuse him of usurpation (who of course, do not own the land, even legally), and not leaving the country and going to sign in the court books every 15 days. During the process, farmers of Unidos de la Mano were being blackmailed by subinspector of DPI, Carlos Alberto Barrera, who told the occupying farmers to vacate the land in exchange for the freedom of Enrique – they said they would imprison Enrique otherwise. And as Enrique was being released, he was taken in a police patrol to his community accompanied by the same subinspector Barrera who asked members of Unidos de la Mano – Pablo Salvador Enrique, Fredy Anold Guevara, and Dennis Karin Guevara to be there when he came to release Enrique, telling farmers that the three were to be held in prison for 24 hours, again to pressure the families to leave the lands. Barrera’s visit was followed by a visit from ex coronel Juan Ramón Bustillo, accompanied by the police patrol again, to continue the chain of intimidation against families there. Bustillo is whom claims to be the owner of the land, but it is precisely because he is not that the courts have not issued an eviction order to date.

It is in this militarised environment that, at the Paso Aguan farm near the Panamá community, on 20.9.17, organised farmer José Alfredo Rodríguez was assassinated between lots 6 and 14 of the farm while working and sowing maiz. José was an active member of the Gregorio Chávez farmers’ movement. He has five children. It was his 14 year old son José Luís, who, going to the farm to bring his dad breakfast, instead, came across his dad’s body, with life stolen from it. His family said José was constantly threatened by army members and by private guards of Dinant. José is also a catholic delegate of Word of God.

Farmers reiterate they will keep fighting for their rights and for justice.

Imprisoning the poor

This September, there is an appeal process in the courts against the 3 years prison sentences ruled against Eleuterio Hernández, Nieves Hernández Dominguez and Adán Hernández (dad and two sons) for growing food for their families on land. The three belong to the indigenous community San Pedrito of Intibucá. The ruling was that the land they farmed on was forestry lands. They had never been told the land was destined for forestry before. Their parents and grandparents have been working on the same lands for more than 50 years. The Intibucá council even had inspected the land and confirmed it was agrarian land and not forestry land. The other history to this was that when they were accused, they were arrested and then released with US$500 fines each. They didn’t have the money to pay this and also knew the fines were abusive, given they had a right to farm the lands and to not be arrested and fined. It was because they did not pay these fines that the case went to court and they were subsequently given prison sentences. And, everybody knows, the motive for kicking the indigenous communities off the land is not to care for, but to destroy environment with megaprojects which only want megaprofits for private hands, and politicians help facilitate these because they get personal favours in return. Copinh indigenous organisation asks for pressure from everywhere and everyone. Twitter to @COPINHHONDURAS @PjdeHonduras (Honduras Courts) hastag #NoMásInjusticia. Call Comayagua court of appeals on 504-2772-0176, 504-2772-0136

Protesters against imposed projects arrested and charged

Back on 29.8.17, there was a protest against the installation of high tension electricity cables across the community in the municipality of la Villa de San Francisco. At this protest, cops arrested seven people including an underage person and a woman who were involved in blocking the road. Arrestees all belong to the Grassroots Independent Environmentalist Committee for Water and other resources Capirho. The arrestees are: Mario benigno Gonzales, Rodolfo Quezada Bengtson, Santos Julio Zúñiga, Juan Camilo Palma, José Jorge Aguilar (presidente of CAPIRHO), Cristian Marisol Hernández and underage Maicol Aguilar Gonzáles. The intention reported was to charge the arrestees with ‘coercion and attempt against the state’. The high tension cables are being installed for the sugar company Azucarera Tres Valles, for its biomass energy generation project and to connect this to the grid of the state electricity company ENEE. In the last days there have been over 100 people charged for protesting, – mostly uni students.

On 25.9.17, at least 14 villagers of 6 communities of Namasigue in Choluteca, who participated in demos against a solar energy company imposing itself without having consulted with the affected communities, are facing charges of ‘coercion’: Reynaldo Reyes Moreno, Leonardo Amador Rodríguez, Florentino Molina Sánchez, Luduin Javier Carranza, Gerson Armando Carranza Dávila, Magdaleno Centeno Osorio, Santos Agripino Reyes Aguilar, Erasmo de Jesús Pastrana, Ramón Azael Zúniga Velásquez, Denis Patricia Ordoñez, Raúl Carranza López, Suyapa Zúniga Ramos and Santos Armando Vázquez Rodríguez. Just who is coercing who? Similarly, in the lawsuit, prosecution also asks for protection for those who work for the company and sought military police to militarise the area, treating community members as aggressors instead of victims

Model cities failed but being resuscitated again

Imposition of model cities hadn’t been possible to date. Take one. However, the JOH regime hired a consultant, McKinsey, who drafted plan Honduras 2020, with which there is a renewed proposal of model cities and other ‘development’ projects. They have obtained the support of Inter-American Development Bank that had expressed it would invest in such projects.

Kidnapping and disappearance of journalist

On the wee hours of 3.9.17, Jan Carlos Claros, another journalist, had been disappeared in the Olancho province in the city of Juticalpa. Jan Carlos reappeared on the afternoon of 4.9.17 and spoke up about having been held when he had a confrontation with an attacker. He is reporter for ‘Guayape Visión’ and partner of another journalist América Castro who works in the same TV channel. It was América who reported the disappearance of her partner and colleague. During the ordeal, C-Libre (Committee for Freedom of Expression) tried in vain to communicate with the Tegucigalpa police spokesperson and the provincial police headquarters of Olancho but nobody ever responded. 21 journalists had been assassinated in Honduras between 2014 and May 2016 as confirmed by Inter America Court of Human Rights.

Other abuses against free press

On 28.9.17, parliamentary reporter Nincy Perdomo was refused entry to the congress. Association for a More Just Society ASJ reps also tried to enter in the morning and were refused. In the afternoon they tried again and also intervened in favour of journalist Nincy Perdomo, they were again refused entry as well.

In September, also, the same congress passed a law outlining the crime of terrorism for criminalising social protest, in which the crimes of terrorist association and cyber terrorism are punished with prison terms of 10-20 years.

Another new penal code was also rushed through and approved within 24 hours. The change was adding a new article that says, ‘who publicly diffuses repeatedly news of false rumours that terrorise people of some people, who because of this believes that themselves of their health or their assets to be in grave danger must be punished with the penalty of 1-3 years of prison, unless the acts are punished with penalties that are more grave using other parts of the criminal code.’

August 2017 Honduras Coup update

August 2017 Honduras news update

Gunfire against Libertador newspaper owners

On 24.8.17, as ‘El Libertador’ newspaper owners Johny Lagos (director) and his partner had left the office at night, attackers fired three gunshots directed at them. Whilst firing the shots, one attacker said to the other, ‘finish off this son of the b… get him in the head’. El Libertador is one of few commercial medias left that is committed to reporting news about repression and resistance.

In midnight hours, more gunshots at journalists, at their homes

On 1.8.17 at about 11.30pm, in Comayagua city, Mirian Mejía of the Canal 60 Panorama news program was sleeping when she heard several gunshots, so she got up first to check on her kids in one room to see if they were okay, then to check on her grandchildren in another room. Seeing that they were all okay she went outside to see what had happened, thinking that someone might have been assassinated. She saw that other neighbours had also come out to find out what had happened too. They received a witness account from some other neighbours who were sitting outside drinking beers nearby. These neighbours said, they saw a gold-coloured tourist van go close to Mirian’s house and these fired shots at the home’s roof. To know that you are persecuted for your work and commitment to your beliefs is a difficult thing. Mirian knows it is not a one-off because she has been two or three months before followed by a gold van like that in the city centre. On that occasion she pulled into a shop and stopped there a few minutes so that the gold van would drive on, but as she resumed driving changing her direction she was surprised to see the van still following her from a distance.

On 3.8.17 at about 3am, in La Paz province, Wilfredo Zepeda, of Dialogo Municipal program and who is a Radio Globo correspondent, heard an explosion. He didn’t think much of it at the time. It was only at 6am when someone who comes and helps clean the house pointed out that there was a hole in the wall and asked him about it, that they called the police to examine it. It was confirmed that there was a firearm bullet embedded in the wall of his home. Wilfredo has no enemies but is a journalist who supports the community, and can only conclude that the attack is related to his journalism work. Of the many possibilities is that the attack was because he recently interviewed an indigenous leader of Copinh who told him that five mining concessions have begun work on open pit mining.

UNAH – students struggle continue against privatisation, repression and authoritarianism. Repression also continued

On 2.8.17, as students protested in front of the uni calling for uni authorities to resign, over 2 hours and 15 minutes, dozens of riot cops, police and army agents evicted the protest attacking students with water tanks, and launching dozens of teargas bombs inside and outside campus buildings.

On 4.8.17, National Party MP Francisco Rivera stigmatised UNAH uni students, he went on TV news program ‘Hoy Mismo’ where he called students ‘vagrants who are becoming delinquents’, and said that if the students think they can direct the agenda of the congress, that they are ‘very mistaken in thinking that’.

On 7.8.17, at the pacific coast campus of UNAH – CURLP, students had been occupying the uni for 47 consecutive days protesting in solidarity with the three students who had been ruled guilty of charges of usurpation by the repressive courts, and also protesting against privatisation and demanding a new transition authority at the uni and for quality education. This protest was evicted and fifteen students were charged with usurpation by occupation of public building and given court attendance and subsequently bail conditions of signing at the court every Friday and not leaving the country. The names of the charged students are: Nahun Gutiérrez Yanez, Carmen María Lagos, Marvin Josué Padilla, Carlos Levi Ortéz, Bryan Yojarshi Cárcamo, Wilfredo Flores Cruz, Kevin Armando Aguilar, Luis Felipe Zepeda, Kevin Gabriel Estrada, Fausto Fernando Betancourth, Darwin Edgardo Sánchez, Adán Orlando Rivas, Harim Josué Reyes, Dagoberto Rosali Andino and Kevhin Ricardo Espinal. They add to 29 students already facing charges and bail conditions in Tegucigalpa, and one in San Pedro Sula. All are at risk of harm ordered by uni and state authorities.

An update on 11.8.17:

  • While on campus, one of the student facing charges, anonymous for security reasons, had been threatened and ‘robbed’ by someone with a firearm and had his phone snatched. When other students chased him he responded by pointing the gun at them
  • The hunger strike tent had been up for 47 days and nights by this time. Every night there are people in unidentified cars with polarised windows and no numberplates spying on and intimidating them
  • Protests have stopped classes at this point for 2 months. University authorities are using this now to announce that they are stopping to pay lecturers their salaries for having fallen behind in the curriculum and accusing these of being ‘complicit’ with the MEU students’ hunger strike
  • Journalist Ronnie Huete who had been repressed and tortured and charged for accompanying the students’ struggle, has been this month for weeks followed by strange cars in the streets of Tegucigalpa and notes interference against his mobile phone

On 16.8.17, a contingent of over 300 cops with 2 tanks of gases and water arrived on campus, and suddenly without any warning or announcement of eviction launched pepper gas against students on hunger strike. Also affected by the gases were human rights defenders and students who were there in support. There were about 50 students around (not many like there are in demos) as there was no particular event on. Red Cross rushed four students on hunger strike to hospital after the attack.

On 19.8.17, students organised in MEU presented a proposal (university constituent assembly, provisional uni government, participative democracy and transparency, keep education public, quality and secular, and stop charges, persecution and repression against students) backed by thousands of signatures to a special commission of the congress.

On 23.8.17 a smear campaign was launched on facebook by uni authorities posing as students. As the students have a UNAH Estudiantes page where they give updates to 122,000 plus followers on the student movement, the smear campaigners launched a page called UNAH Estudiantes Oficial <https://www.facebook.com/unahestudiantesoficial/#> which has dedicated itself to posting images to mock and portray negatively those it attacks, including MEU student movement and those identified as its leaders, those on hunger strike, Ronnie Huete the journalist who is persecuted for reporting on students protests, human rights organisations, and making jokes of acts of protest and masking up for safety.

On 24.8.17, judge Armando Ramón Valdez who is assigned the case of charges against 20 students, was requested by the students to obtain and see with them unedited video footage of the 70 security cameras of the administrative building, since edited videos from the same had been used to justify the arrest and as evidence, and since students are accused of property damage and who damaged the property would have been captured on camera. When the judge attended the university offices asking for the original videos, the administrative staff from the different offices all replied saying such videos would have been deleted already. The NGO C-Libre had back on 24-25.5.17 requested the same videos from the uni authority, to which the response they got was that the required information from the security video cameras needed to be obtained through the prosecutors department since the footage will form part of the evidence of the facts for the case.

On 25.8.17, Uni teachers association representatives were refused entry by security as observers to the public sessions of the university council.

And for some context, between 2010 and 2016, 21,000 students have been assassinated in Honduras -most of them high school students.

Lawyer of students raided against and arrested

On 9.8.17, in the morning before 8am, military police and ATIC (crime investigation unit) members raided the home of lawyer Laureano Carbajal in the calm neighbourhood of 21 de Octubre in Tegucigalpa. Four unmasked soldiers pounced about at the front door. Three masked ones in another exit. Six were on the footpath. Two ATIC agents raided inside. They arrested Laureano on a pretext of accusing him of falsifying documents for having obtained for a van owner a permit 3 years before he subsequently was found with drugs – a pretext that does not justify the raid. The real reason has to be because he is the lawyer defending the three condemned student activists Cesario Padilla, Sergio Ulloa and Moisés Cáceres, who were ruled guilty in June and supposed to be sentenced in July but the authorities are feeling the pressure given the guilty verdict is a clear human right violation and there are protests against this on many different levels. Laureano was also in the 80s a human rights defender helping family members demand the truth and appearance of their disappeared loved ones. When Laureano was a student he was the president of students organisation Federación de Estudiantes de Segunda Enseñanza (FESE).

More communities fighting hydroelectricity dams attacked – mob attacks, arrests, eviction and burning of campsite

Camp burning and mob attack – on 4.8.17, a resistance camp (then 136 days old) against the HIDROCEP dam of Jason Hawit (which would destroy the Nombre de Dios mountain ranges and Mezapa river) had been set on fire. Those who burnt the camp took advantage of that most people of the camp were out at the highway blockade action in Tela and La Ceiba that day. MADJ coordinator Martín Fernández and community leader and Word of God delegate Oscar Martínez were going to check out what damages had been done to the camp when a shock group of about 20 ambushed the two and attacked them with insults, batons, rocks and kicks to hurt Martín and Oscar. They were beaten in the face, back and legs. Martín’s injuries included a nasal septum fracture, severe back and left leg injury that left him limping, and they stole his phone. The 20 men were allegedly paid by Hydrocep US$6-8 each for carrying that out. The mercenaries had the complicity of the police and Atlántida council in destroying the camps. With the attack, police was less than a block away – their excuse for not intervening was that the shock group was ‘armed and throwing rocks’. Those responsible for or who carried out this attack walk around freely, while those attacked and at risk have Inter American Commission of Human Rights ordered protection measures, but are anything but protected. And police has shown that when the company calls on them, they come many and armed.

After having destroyed the campsite, police maintained a tank there to continue threatening those who maintain a blockade there.

Just six days later on 10.8.17, Oscar Martínez who just suffered the above attack was arrested by military police together with his partner Angélica, and René Mejía, Arnaldo Castro, and Orlando Castro from the Pajuiles communities in Tela when police and army came to evict those blockading. They were arrested for their defence of the Mezapa river and their community water source and organising against corrupt business people and the mayor who signed off the dam without consulting the community. They were released on 11.8.17 with bail conditions of signing at the court twice a week, and not leaving the country, and not attending public meetings. Their hearing process have been postponed because they were assigned a judge who is the sister of Tela mayor Mario Fuentes who collides with the dam projects and arrestees requested another judge. There were also capture orders against 12 community members for ‘usurpation for occupying public spaces against the state and the company Hidrocep’. Some sources say ten were charged this day. The day before this wave of arrests, the organisation accompanying the blockade MADJ received the visit of Sagrario Prudott who is the security department’s head of human rights, accompanied by police, who rather than responding to their hosts’ demands, took advantage of the visit to identify leaders in the area to target them for arrest.

Another five days later on 15.8.17, a massive contingent of heavily armed police with riot gear and teargas arrested Albertina López (6 months pregnant, was taken to a private clinicafter to check on her pregnancy because her baby didn’t seem to move), José Rodríguez (underage), Kevin Linares, Juan Bautista Santos and Wendy García. Human rights observers were asked to refrain from taking photos. What happened was that they were blocking the road to not allow heavy machinery onto the dam building site, and a heavy machinery did come and the community blocked its way, but then within half an hour another heavy machinery came escorted by police. Tela police head ordered the community to let the machinery through and the community asked to see the warrant. Police responded by violently arresting, pointing guns and firing teargas bombs into people’s homes, into the camp including the cooking area, and chasing and capturing leaders who were blockading with complete disregard for that children, old people and pregnant women were around. Police also confiscated motorcycles of community members who placed them there to block heavy machinery from coming through, the same way police smashed windows of cars placed there for that purpose. Arrestees were kept in inhumane conditions. Teenager José Rodríguez was beaten by police while under custody. Pregnant Albertina López was also treated with violence and was supervised by male police officers the whole time of being in custody. They were charged with illicit meetings and damages released on bail and in the last of three dates of subsequent hearings on 28.8, 29.8 and 1.9, the judge announced that charges against these were dropped.

The blockade against HIDROCEP of Jason Hawit had on 15.8.17 marked 145 days of continued resistance in defence of the communities’ right to water, and to protect the river and mountain ranges. There are also communities blockading nearby another hydroelectricity dam company Ingelsa of Emín Abufele. There are 20 communities that have joined in these struggles.

Albertina who was arrested on 15.8.17 and had joined in one of the camps since some months ago said following this arrest, ‘they have arrested me twice already, but the struggles makes us stronger. I don’t feel scared, just concern for my pregnancy. All this motivates us to keep going and struggle. The violence, persecution, and evictions aren’t going to stop us. It has not been easy, but neither is is impossible’ ‘Now I understand the words of the compañera Berta Cáceres. Her assassination was something that I felt deeply, but I never thought that we would have to fight the same struggle, that we were going to have to find the same courage that she showed to defender the Gualcarque river. Today it’s on us to defend the Nombre de Dios mountain ranges, the Mezapa river and all the rivers of Honduras that have been sold and plundered.’

Attacks against Garífuna people, radios and territories

Black Garífuna communities have long been in struggle particularly against Canadian companies who plunder their territories for tourism. As the Canadian companies take over by moving in and getting their names on the papers illegally endorsed by state authorities, communities continue to resist and organise.

On 7.8.17, Canadian businessperson Patrick Daniel Forseth placed charges of defamation and injuries against four Garífuna rights defenders: Mirian Miranda – Ofraneh (fraternal organisation of black people in Honduras) coordinator, Medelin David, Neni Avila and Letty Alvarez. Forseth owns ‘Carivida’ Mercantile Society together with Randy Jorgensen – known as porn king – and the two of them try to take over Garífuna territories in the region for their tourism megaprojects. There is a long history of charges by these business partners who have the support and complicity of council and state authorities. This May had Garífuna defender and Radio Progreso correspondent Cesar Geovany Hernández arrested by police for ‘usurpation of lands’ through charges placed by Forseth. November 2016 had Medelin David arrested through charges placed by Jorgensen.

The day before, on 6.8.17, Waraguma Garífuna community radio received a second resolution from the telecommunications commission Conatel in which Waraguma is named a ‘rebellious’ radio and threatened its closure quoting the an older resolution it said it has sent and saying that the radio’s right to defence had long ago expired. And as Waraguma is of Ofraneh, Ofraneh Mirian Miranda, who was charged as above, was then summoned to appear on 14.8.17 at the prosecutor Angela María Figueroa’s office, to declare about ‘the facts related to the complaint in which the offended is CONATEL’ and bring the documents to show that the radio frequencies of Ofraneh community radios have been renewed. Another Garífuna radio was also threatened with closure through a resolution by Conatel in 2014 – Sugua Community radio. Another Garífuna radio, Faluma Bimetu, was intentionally set on fire in the beginning of 2010. The community radios broadcast news, strengthen culture and language, and speak up in defence of ancestral territory against illegal sales to entrepreneurs of the north development of model cities on these lands.

A week later on 15.8.17, the congress approved LFT – Law of Strengthening Tourism, without many changes to the bill, proving the state’s tendency to auction off its territories to investors. The law includes auctioning of indigenous territories, tax incentives for investors, the handing over to tourism exploitation of protected areas and national parks, wildlife refuges, and archaeological parks. It legalises expropriations when they find a way of justifying them as ‘works of utility and public needs’. Banana Coast, a cruise ships port that has dramatically diminished patronage over several years, is an example of a project that had been justified as a work of utility and public needs. They are justified on the grounds of promised job creation and under the guise of sustainable tourism without regard for the impact that the project has for indigenous and other communities or the environment.

Another smear campaign targeting journalists

A webpage http://nosquedaclaro.com has been created to smear journalists’ reputation and put their lives at risk. This site has articles that argues that journalists (journalists with a human rights defence focus) it smears are linked to organised crime and drug traffickers. This site so far attacks David Romero of Radio Globo, and Renato de Jesús Alvarez of Corporación Televicentro.

Towns getting roadblocked by politicians

The neighbourhoods Santa Rosa and Cruz Roja is accessed using one road that was damaged a year ago and was being worked on by a contractor but which abandoned the project without finishing it. People don’t know what happened, maybe the council did not pay the builder? All they know is, the road is breaking on both sides, and every time that it rains the road gets narrower. And it is under pressure all the time as those who live there depend on water that gets carted in on trucks, which puts pressure on the road.

Human rights defenders of Zacate Grande get 5 year prison sentences

On 18.8.17, courts ruled the prison sentence of 5 year and one month each for Zacate Grande community leaders Abel Pérez and Santos Hernández for ‘taking advantage’ of a public beach. A re-cap on this case: Abel and Santos are subsistence farmers and fishers and also organise within the community to oppose the taking over of land by large landowners. To support their meagre income, as they had done in previous years, they cleaned up the beaches and carpark for easter and charged visitors a small parking fee. They were charged in April 2015 and have been imprisoned for around 100 days each initially before being granted bail.

Attempt against a lgbti human rights defender

Human rights defender and program manager of Development Centre and LGBTI cooperation ‘Somos CDC’, Osmin David Valle Castillos was being persecuted and in fear for his life and sought protection measures from the Honduras state – but all they gave him was a few security cameras installed in his office. Days later, on 10.7.17, Osmin was stabbed and gravely wounded on many parts of the body on 10.7.17. In the last 7 months in Honduras, there have been 24 lgbti persons assassinated.

Farmers abused and getting framed for murder

On 27 and 28.8.17, about 800 campesina families recovered 8 farms in Bajo Aguan. Five of these were violently evicted by police under the command of Subcommissioner Juan Adolfo Zapata and army agents led by head of Xatruch III, Hugo Coca. A number of the farms were legally agrarian reform land that are not for private exploitation: Paso Aguan, Remolino, el Plantel and los Laureles. In Paso Aguan and Remolino, armed guards were also participating in these evictions. Hugo Coca was intimidating and threatening community members of the Panama community, the Xatruch Operation made a military station at Paso Aguan farm.

During the night of 27.8.17, the Dinant (palm company of Facussé) armed guards Santos Misael Guzmán Bautista and Juan José Salazar Villeda were misteriously found dead 6 kms from Panamá community. Farmers who found out about the killing on the 28.8.17 do not know what happened to these and call for investigation. Dinant guard Obdulio Pequera made public accusations against the farmers’ movement for these deaths. Despite that a number of farmers there have been assassinated in the last years, some at the hands of guards, it would have been impossible for the farmers to kill them because the farms are always watched by the military and security guards, the farmers were grouped in protest and were not involved in any confrontations with guards that day.

At the same time, on 28.8.17, in the midnight hours, farmer Edgardo Rodríguez of the farmers cooperative Nuevo Evenecer was shot at several times by armed guards of Inversiones Ceibeña. Nuevo Evenecer works on the Remolino farm which is in conflict with the large landholder Reinaldo Canales who says the land is his, despite the land title papers stating that it belongs to the organised farmers.

July 2017 Honduras coup update

July 2017 Honduras coup update

Killed: Student activist and actor

luis-joel-rivera

In the midst of these months of university students struggle, including of many sociology students, on the night of 12.7.17, a group of armed and unrecognised persons abruptly appeared at the Rivera family home’s door. They forcibly entered searching for Luís Joel Rivera and did not leave until they were dragging him with them. His family desperately called police emergency numbers, where they kept reiterating that Luís had death threats against him. Police did nothing. The attackers took Luís with them, they didn’t go very far before they assassinated him. Luís was an active member of the Sociology Students Association for which he was the communication secretary. He is also an actor and the director of a threatre group Sombra Roja, and has worked as an organiser of cultural events and in arts for over a decade. Luís also has been an active part of the students movement.

Student arrested out of the blue

On 2.17.17, student Armando Velásquez was this Sunday afternoon travelling on a bus from the Atlántic coast towards San Pedro Sula, when the bus was stopped at a police checkpoint at El Porvenir, and as they checked everyone’s names, they picked him out and arrested him. Armando was back on 24.5.17 arrested with 19 other students for occupying a university building at UNAH. During this May arrest, he was also singled out at the cells in the midnight hours for interrogation. Armando was in addition one of the 75 students charged the year before but these charges were dropped because of an agreement between students and authorities then.

Evictions against students

Throughout July, there were ongoing student demonstrations including a hungerstrike by several students that lasted most of July and beyond. There were a number of eviction attacks against the students:

On 13.7.17 about 10pm, ESPA security guards and police tried to evict students who occupied the odontology faculty building using pepper gas, verbal and physical threats. The students managed to stay put but one student on hunger strike needed medical attention because of poisoning by peppergas. Students gathered evidence showing the guards smashing desks – something guards did with the intention of blaming students for property damage. They also showed the involvement of Roger Aguilar the retired military with ESPA – Roger was part of the 3-16 batallón which in the 80s disappeared at least 83 citizens.

On 17.7.17, since 7am, at the health sciences buildings, a group of hooded uniformed security guards with red and green ‘Spartan security uniforms’ were on campus holding firearms and knives and pointing these and chasing students in an effort to evict them. They beat students in the faces and bodies and wounded five students. Minutes later though, more students came and they managed to evict the ‘Spartan’ paramilitary group reverting the situation.

On 25.7.17 in the morning, security forces launched teargas bombs to evict students.

Arrestee students now also suspended for 5 years

The 19 arrrestee students from the 24.5.17 uni campus occupation were now also suspended for 5 years.

After a concert: UNAH attacks father Moreno and cancels students radio program

On 28.7.17, the Venezuelan protest music group Los Guaraguao came on campus to give a free half an hour concert in solidarity with university students of UNAH who are continuing their more than 40 days of continuous struggle. After this concert, which also is supported by Jesuit radio organisation ERIC-SJ, UNAH director Castellanos announced to the media in a university council meeting saying that she was cancelling a cooperation agreement between the uni and ERIC-SJ, so that the students radio program supported by this agreement – UNAH VOZ of journalism students, is forcibly cancelled. Castellanos based her decision on her opinion that ERIC-SJ father Moreno ‘encourages anarchy and disrespect of a legally constituted authority’ and ‘encourages practices and ways that generate violence in university youths.’

Students blamed for cancellation of academic term

At the CURLP campus, the authorities on 15.7.17, arbitrarily suspended the second academic period, they they went and gave the press the names of five student activists, announcing that it is their fault this second academic period got cancelled, inciting hate against these.

Journalists close and personal with students’ reality

On 26.7.17, TV journalist José Carlos Cardona expected to hear about the students struggle when he invited them into the studio to talk about their situation on his show ‘Sigo Yo’ which has the slot of 8-9pm, Monday to Friday. José did not expect that as the student activists Héctor Estrada and Héctor Ulloa would minutes before that be yelled death threats by people holding pistols on motorcycles just outside the UNE TV studios. ‘Death to MEU’, they yelled. Cardona was nervous and did not give the usual welcome speech. He said, ‘The life of these youths are in danger, since 2 months ago all this began, this is very regrettable… what just happened to you has me in shock, it is so extreme I don’t want to believe it, this war of hate against you, against you student leaders within MEU and all who are part of this struggle.’

The day before, on 25.7.17, during the morning, as La Tribuna cameraperson Arturo Hernández was covering the eviction against students at UNAH, he was wounded by police – a stone impacted his head. Students helped Arturo get help and take him to a safe place and got him to the care of Red Cross Honduras. Security forces were launching teargas bombs to evict students.

Human rights defender smeared

On 12.7.17 UNAH CURLP director Alina Molina in a tv interview smeared Costa Rica-based human rights defender Ana Franzen calling her a ‘psychiatric patient’ for speaking up against UNAH authorities and their implications in the persecution and assassination of Hector Martinez Motiño.

Attempt against lives of Copinh leaders

On 30.6.17, Copinh leaders Sotero Chavarría, Asunción Martínez and Bertha Zúniga Cáceres were travelling together in a car after having met with the Cancire community. While driving along, their car was intercepted by four unknown people armed with machetes, but they managed to escape swerving to avoid contact with the attackers, but not without having been hit by a stone thrown at the driver’s window. Minutes later, a black Toyota Tacoma PCH1886 that was at the initial attack tried to crash into them and push them over the edge. When that did not force them over the edge, the Tacoma drove in front of the Copinh car and braked in front of them, but the Copinh driver managed to break away in a different direction and escaped. The Cancire community like the San Antonio, Higuito, and Cedrito is organised with Copinh and is standing to lose their water sources if the building of the Puringla-Sazagua hydroelectricity dam that is supported by USAID funding goes ahead. Bertha Zúniga Cáceres is the daughter of the assassinated Copinh coordinator Berta Cáceres 16 months ago, Bertha the daughter is the current coordinator of Copinh.

FMO and Finn Fund – withdrawn but not without any buts

On 6.7.17, following tireless campaigning and pressure of Copinh communities, there was finally official confirmation that FMO and Finn Fund have withdrawn from the assassin hydroelectricity dam project Agua Zarca – however they have ignored Copinh recommendations about the responsible exit they should take. For one part it meant they are still promoting a decision making process on a hydroelectricity project even though the Lenca indigenous communities have clearly rejected this and that continuing to put this on the table only invites more violence and repression against the communities. For another part FMO and Finn Fund have not recognised their responsibility for the deaths and human rights violations through their contributions to Agua Zarca. Copinh continues to demand that they recognise their responsibility.

Corrupt teacher gives death threats against journalist

On 5.7.17, for having spoken up about teacher Félix López having found an administrative loophole to get paid for teaching without fulfilling a teaching role, Trujillo based journalist Miguel Dubón received death threats from Félix, who said, ‘this son of hundred thousand bitches of Miguel Dubón has me tired but today is your end, you will die slow you ungrateful piece of rubbish’. Miguel is journalist and director of the Noticiero Independiente program of the Warumuga Garifuna community radio of Ofraneh. He is also a correspondent of Radio Globo and of Radio Progreso.

State fines and threatens to close a garífuna community radio – Waruguma

On 27.7.17, Conatel (Honduran Telecommunications Commission) threatened to close the Garífuna community radio Waruguma (Estrella) and also sent Ofraneh received a resolution signed by Conatel president Javier Duarte García, which declared the community radio as ‘rebellious’ and imposed a fine of 30,000 lempiras (US$1300). The document referred to a proceeding that began on 1.6.11 when they also tried to close the media using the law Ley Marco del Sector Telecomunicaciones. Waruguma and other Garífuna community radios do work of defending ancestral territory, speaking up against illegal land sales.

Radio program ordered closed

On 6.7.17, journalist Jorge Oseguera spoke up about that after having remained on air for 3.5 years and almost daily messages telling him to watch out and to stop talking about certain topics, his news program on 96.1 FM of Buenos dias Buenas noches San Pedro Sula’ was removed from ‘Radio International’ programming in an unilateral decision made by the owners. Jorge described himself as a pretty aggressive journalist and is also a correspondent of HRN. He received an average of 150,000 calls a year on the program.