February 2019 Honduras coup update

February 2019 Honduras coup update

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

salomon y juan samuel matute

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Environmental Defender attempted against

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

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

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

Update on political prisoners

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

Repression at demonstrations

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

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

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

Immigrants in caravan

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

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

Venezuelan diplomat expelled

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

Attacks against human rights defenders

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

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

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January 2019 Honduras Coup update

January 2019 Honduras coup update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Tegucigalpa:

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

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

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

In Choluteca:

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

In Siguatepeque:

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

In El Progreso:

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

In Olancho:

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

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

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

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

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

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

noel isaac delcid muca jan 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The continuous plight of migrants

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

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

NERLIN ROCHEZ ENE 2019.jpg

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

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

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

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

Politician ruled guilty of defamation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

December 2018 Honduras Coup Update

December 2018 Honduras Coup Update

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

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

presos estudiantes

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

enrique mejia montoya diciembre 2018

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

Repression at protests in Choluteca – gunshots, teargases..

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

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

Journalists – their lives very much threatened

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

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

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

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

Human rights defender threatened by state security agent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Precarious and ended lives of Honduran migrants

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

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

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

General conditions of living in Honduras

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

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

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

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

dennis asesinado dic 2018

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

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

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

Unfair trade

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

 

November 2018 Honduras Coup Update

November 2018 Honduras coup update

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

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

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

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

27 November 2018 protests: two gunshot wounded including a journalist

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

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

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

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

For screaming Get Out JOH

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

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

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

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

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

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

Protests against mines and dams persecuted, militarised, …

In Reitoca:

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

In Guapinol, near Tocoa city:

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

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

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

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

In Pajuiles, Atlántica:

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

In San José, Lenca indigenous territory:

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

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

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

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

Community leader assassinated

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

MUERE-DIRIGENTE-SINDICAL-TEGUS3

Threatened lgbti member killed

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

The exodus this November, precarious journeys and horrifying destinations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arrests and confiscations against campesina people

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

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

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

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

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

Updates on some of the political prisoners

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

October 2018 Honduras Coup Update

October 2018 Honduras coup update

Exodus: Thousands flee Honduras to Mexico and US

It all started on 14 October. Journalist Bartolo Fuentes who went with everyone said over 300 gathered in the San Pedro Sula bus terminal, and more people keep joining in. Lots of kids. Even babies that are just a few days old. People who are frail aged, disabled. Most people travelled with only a small backpack. There are some vehicles and they carry as many people as physically possible. Many others travelled on foot. Many in worn out and inadequate footwear. Some had no shoes at all. They left their homes and homeland in desperation and in hope – it was painful for everyone to leave people, to leave place, to leave behind what little they had. The word had gone out that their journey had started and that they will be hungry and thirsty in places they shall pass through.

In everywhere they passed through, within Honduras, in Guatemala, in Mexico, local people organised and distributed what food, water, and shoes they had to share with the massive caravans of people passing through. When interviewed and asked what they are doing, some cried just thinking about the terrible conditions and life situation so many people fleeing in caravan are in. By 15 October, the caravan was counted to be thousands of people and had reached the border of Guatemala. On both the Honduras and Guatemalan sides of the border, the pathways were heavily militarised – at the Agua Caliente and El Amatillo borders of Honduras with Guatemala and El Salvador, borders were militarised with Honduran soldiers to force people fleeing the JOH regime to go back to their homes. There was militarisation on both sides, and it was hours later when finally people who perservered had made it through to the other side, without having had their ID’s registered one by one (the usual procedure) since the border did not have the staffing level for the number of people coming through.

While inside Guatemala, on 16 October, journalist Bartolo Fuentes was arrested by Guatemalan police, accused of ‘irregular entry into Guatemala’, saying he had not been registered – nobody had been – they targeted Bartolo so that there were less journalists accompanying the exodus to watch out for everyone and report. Bartolo was reporting in international, national and social media. Bartolo was escorted to Guatemala city where he was detained, his whereabouts was unknown for hours, until Guatemala’s human rights ombudsman office communicated to the Honduran human rights organisation Cofadeh.

On 17 October 2018, the exodus was reaching El Salvador, at the El Amatillo border, and people were getting registered with their ID cards. There, people who were fleeing with their little children were being told that they couldn’t go through, not with their little ones. Precisely, a lot of people were fleeing in hope that there can be a better future for their children – so they have food, homes, so they don’t get assassinated, to have jobs, to have medicines in the hospital, to have access to education. People flee gang violence, political persecution, extreme poverty under a neoliberal dictatorship. Queer peoples flee for hope of stopping to be targets for hate crimes. People have a saying, that it is better to say that ‘here they ran’, than that ‘here they died’. Everywhere that the states try to force people to turn back, they chanted, ‘we are not looking for the American Dream, we are fleeing’, ‘we request the presence of human rights advocates’, and ‘we don’t want to go back to Honduras’.

On 18 October 2018, Guatemalan police arrested eight more Hondurans at el Petén, and put these into migration ‘refuges’ – detention centres. In the moment of their detention, they were all soaking wet and feeling terribly physically and psychologically. Nobody has a ‘good time’ at the borders. People everywhere – mostly people who don’t have a lot themselves – show great kindness and reach out and try to do what they can, but the states, they send police, soldiers, under the direction of their presidents, who are in turn on their knees to the US president Trump. In Tegucigalpa, there were protests in solidarity with the migrants in exodus. They met at Hospital Escuela (school hospital), which a journalist pointed out, does not seem much like a hospital since it is not equipped, and has stopped to be a school too in the teaching of medicine.

On 19 October 2018, as the exodus approached the Mexican borders, Mexican authorities had closed off the borders in preparation to block their entrance. Masses of people proceeded to jump the barriers and were attacked by Mexican police with teargases. At the same time, there is a second caravan of people, just arriving to Guatemala City, trying to reach the first lot of people. The exodus is numbering about 10,000 Hondurans at this point. The journalist Bartolo Fuentes, after several days in detention was being deported back to Honduras on a plane this day. People in Danlí, Honduras mobilised in solidarity with their migrant siblings, and chanted that they wanted a city not plagued with violence.

On 20 October 2018, when journalist Bartolo Fuentes was freed, he said he was locked up for over four days, and that there are threats from the Guatemalan government to charge him but emphasised that it was nothing compared with the suffering of those who are in the walk of the exodus, fleeing the tragedy they live in in Honduras. He affirms to continue to struggle with everyone to change the terrible situation so that people stop to having to flee. Meanwhile, the border at Agua Caliente Ocotepeque was and continued to be closed, with police and soldiers there stopping Hondurans from leaving Honduras as they aim to migrate to North America.

On 22 October 2018, as people continue moving along towards their goal, on KM2 in Tapachula, Mexico, Melvin Josue Gomez Escobar, part of the Honduran exodus, fell from a vehicle (they are all overcrowded), and was run over by another and died. The conditions of walking, travelling, moving through borders had been really hard. People had spoken up in assemblies, etc about arrests, rapes, disappearances, separation from families… little kids who lost their parents but others who have taken them under their wings in these difficult journeys until they find their families. There is also a famous 12 year old child Mario David who was travelling without his family in the exodus – he got locked up in a refuge for underage migrants in Mexico, in Tapachula, ‘they just bashed me and I don’t know how I fell, but when I regained consciousness I saw that it was night time, and I had waken up in a prison, closed off. They just told me that they were going to give me the papers and all, to move around in Mexico. I feel sad, here one doesn’t go out or nothing, doesn’t see nothing. If they deport me I will come back again’ – you see, in Honduras Mario David’s dad earned so little, ‘my dad didn’t have money even to eat’, and he didn’t go to school to learn to read or write, for which, his dad got fined. People victims to the impossible environment are blamed and punished for not having the means. Meanwhile, across Honduras, people organised a noise protest across Honduras banging on cacerol dishes in support of the migrant sisters and brothers, and calling, as they have consistently called for, for JOH to get out.

The JOH regime says they don’t want people to go, and tries to enforce this with policing, at the same time, people who are poor and trying to stay and make a living have their little stalls selling fruits on the streets destroyed by the same police.

On 24 October 2018, migrants sent warnings onto other migrants – cross the river, they said, it will be less dangerous than entering on the highway and asking for refuge at the Chiapas authorities in Mexico – something that hundreds had done, declaring themselves at refugees, only to be told, ‘we will take you to a refuge and give you a visa, come on this bus’, they were subsequently taken to immigration prisons-concentration camps, separated from their spouses, children, parents, and told they have to wait for a permit and that it would take 3-45 days (but in reality could be much longer even). So, migrants told other migrants, ‘don’t believe in the authorities, go in group, and cross the river.’

Subsequently, on 31st October, about 200 Honduran migrants from the second exodus were arrested in Chiapas.

A poem by Honduran poet Olga Iris Mencía Barcenas:

Éxodo

La metáfora se extravío.

Caminan sobre espinas

Siguen desconocidas rutas

A golpes Presentidos

Otean el peligro

Pero volver atrás

Sería retornar a constantes pesadillas, perderían el sueño.

Divisan agua en los desiertos

Espejismo

Lloran: agua podría ser en sus labios y hasta el sudor que lleva aroma de miedo y esperanza.

Avanzan, cada paso es trecho ganado.

Lo certero allá son gendarmes guadaña en mano.

Lo certero aquí,

son gendarmes obedientes a un tirano, nada podían perder ya,

se forzaron al éxodo.

Son estas, Palabras en fuga.

17/octubre/2018.

Repression of protest marches

On 13 October 2018, in Choluteca city, at a protest against the rising costs of electricity fees and of food, and against privatisation of all the sectors – an ongoing protest of every Wednesday and Saturday, there was repression by police and military that resulted in over sixty people being physically hurt from the police brutality. Lots were bashed and chased, including children, older people and pregnant women, at least a couple of people ended up in emergency, and there was masses of teargas bombs shot and police were seen picking these up before others pick them up who might put these on the news or in social media or to show to human rights organisations. Human rights defenders of ACI-Participapa – Hedme Castro, Erik Fernando Hernández, José Gudiel and Nivia Vargas, and at least one journalist too, Jairo López were amongst the people hurt by police to the point of having to go to hospital. Jairo had been banned from getting media spaces because of state politicians’ orders. Investigative police did not stop at the scene of repression and proceeded to the hospital where a protester was admitted to carry out profiling against people they had hurt. Equally, police attacked small stallholders selling tamarind and melon juices and destroyed their stalls. More broadly, people see more and more soldiers doing policing and they are seen lots in hospitals, schools, and welfare offices. People have observed an massive increase in incidences of plain clothes soldiers profiling in protests and spying on human rights organisations in other spaces.

Protests in Tegucigalpa in solidarity with the migrants in exodus were equally repressed by police and military. From 22 October 2018 to at least 26 October 2018, everyday, there were protests by students of UNAH, and they were everyday attacked by police and soldiers including with teargases. On 26 October 2018, Los Indignados also organised a mass mobilisation in town in solidarity with the migrants and were also attacked by police and military with teargases – to the extent that people in shopping centres near the protest were also affected by the massive amounts of teargases launched.

Environmentalists and environment attacked – kidnaps, arrests, homes burnt down, shot at, charges and capture orders, curfews…

On 9 October 2018, social and environmental justice organisation MADJ volunteer Ians Rivera of Tela was kidnapped by four unidentified hooded men who threatened him and took him into their van to an unknown direction on a mud road.

On 11 October 2018, young MADJ activist Freddy Molina was arrested by police, reasons for the arrest were unknown, and he was taken to an unknown direction. Freddy had been involved in the protests and blockade camp.

On 6 October 2018, when the environment camp Guapinol in Bajo Aguan against mining company Inversiones Los Pinares had gone on for over 68 days, ‘justice’ authorities emitted capture orders against 18 social and human rights leaders, who belong to COPA grassroots organisations of Aguan, San Alonzo Rodríguez foundation, and the San Isidro Parrish. They are being charged with coercion, usurpation and threats. On 25 October 2018, there were threats of evicting the camp on the 26th or 27th, with the military commands already stationed inside buildings of the mining company on site. By 26 October 2018, hundreds of agents were there ready to evict the camp and the camp had been on alert for some time then.

On 26 October 2018, Guapinol activist Irma Serrano’s home was surrounded by some twenty motorcycles and the hooded riders set her home on fire with her and her two daughters inside and proceeded to fire gunshots inside, and some hooded men kidnapped her and her two daughters under threats to assassinate her. They were kidnapped for over 20 hours before they were free.

On 27 October 2018, around 1000 police and military agents violently destroyed the Guapinol camp of people defending the land from the Pinares mining company, and attacked people – but there was little information about the repression except that it started with a door to door raid in the Guapinol community, and that journalists and camerapersons who were covering the state violence against people were forced by police and soldiers to delete their footage – the press said it was like a war scene. That night, people not willing to give up, continued their protest in a highway blockade, which was violently dispersed with gunshots and teargases of the police and military contingent. The state announced a curfew in Tocoa city to demobilise people in protest and make them vulnerable. The only people wounded named by the media were two dead soldiers and another wounded soldier.

Eviction and state of siege against campesina families

On 11 October 2018, in El Porvenir, Siguatepeque, someone called Marco Valeriano arrived with military comandos at 9am at the indigenous campesina base 11 de marzo of at least 120 families. Marcos jumped onto a tractor and started driving it, and with it, went onto destroying all the ready to harvest crops of coffee, beans, pumpkins, and also some fields of chokos, cassava and plantain. The military comandos without showing any eviction orders proceeded at the same time to carry out a violent eviction against the families that grew food there and destroyed their homes. The families had originally investigated and saw that the land had no owners, that it was council land, (the authorities now say the land belongs to Marcos Valeriano, who must have bribed officials) and had proceeded to grow food and build homes on this land that had belonged to their ancesters, to sustain one another. The families have to start all over again.

On 14 October 2018 at 6.30pm, CNTC campesino federation secretary general for La Paz region, and an indigenous leader, Sebastian Reyes, was arrested by police and antigang agents who also confiscated his motorcycle. He was charged with usurpation against the company Centrol América SA de C but was subsequently released and had the case provisionally dismissed on 15 October 2018. Days before Sebastian’s arrest, he participated in a telephone interview for a radio program of human rights organisation Cofadeh, in which he spoke up about the eviction and abuses against the campesina cooperative in Siguatepeque. According to CNTC, in La Paz alone, there are over 800 campesinos dealing with charges, about 181 of these are women.

On 29 October, the Lempira community that is organised in the MUCA campesina movement, had their campesino settlement invaded by armed agents who raided the homes and dragged the women and children out and arrested the men. The community was very frightened and nervous, their lives were in danger, there was a call out for the troops to get out and let people there live in peace.

More political prisoners still

On 3 October, a new political prisoner was arrested and added to fourteen others who have been arrested already back on 30 August 2018 and 25 September, including three women and two arrestees from 25 September who were given bail, while the nine men arrested on 30 August were taken to maximum security prison. All these were accused of setting on fire the council buildings of Las Vegas, Santa Barbara back on 18 June 2018. There are still others who have capture orders against them (there were 31 who had capture orders in total). That there had been a fire was seen on 19 June 2018, and some administrative documents were burnt and lost. During the day before on 18 June 2018 there were protests at the council demanding for the council to not give away the community’s water resources. People don’t know what had happened in regards to the fire, just that lots of people with affiliations with the Libre party, but who weren’t even at this protest, got arrested or are on a list to be, and people are being made political prisoners.

Police not pretending about the idea and practice of police protecting human rights defenders being a joke

Bernandino Perez is a human rights defender of the Lempira HRD network and a volunteer of Taragual community radio, who is at risk and has ID to show he is someone has a protection order because of the risk. On 10 October 2018, Bernandino tried to use his ID to assist an older couple held at the highway by the police – the man was not allowed to go through and the woman was needing to be at the emergency department of the hospital urgently. Bernandino tried to intervene to get her to the hospital. ‘Get out of the way’, Bernandino was told. He showed the police his protection order ID, and was surprised to be made fun of by the police in a ‘haha what’s this?’ sorts of way. In the end he did manage to get the police to let the couple through. At least 15 defenders who had these protection orders in Honduras ended up murdered in the recent years.

On 26 october 2018, a group of young human rights activists of AEDH and ASOPODEHU human rights organisations were attacked by police in the Las Cascadas mall at an entrance. Police pushed and suffed the youths, trying to dispossess them of their cameras using the pretext of suspicion of that the youths could have weapons and bombs in their backpacks to cause scandals and harm to people and to private property. Police accused the youths of defending delincuents and took photos of them. Their real crime was dreaming of and fighting for a better world and country for everyone.

 

September 2018 Honduras Coup Update

September 2018 Honduras Coup Update

Attacks against students – high school, primary school, university

Throughout August and September, school students at all levels had been protesting, occupying their schools, demanding subsidies for students and against the raised transport fares that went up a whooping 60% impacting on people’s possibilities for going to school and in all areas of their lives. In the end of August, two school students involved in protests were assassinated. Repression continued throughout August, some cases we know about are as follows:

Many incidents of people seeing cops taking uniformed high school students in the police vehicles and utes were reported.

On 30 August 2018, in addition to Gerson and Mario having been assassinated (see last month’s update), 6 INTAE students were taken to the CORE 7 police station, and later released to their parents when COFADEH human rights lawyers intervened.

On 5 September 2018, a whole family was participating in a protest when a cop pointed his gun at the child school student, very much aiming at him and threatening to pull the trigger. The child put his arm between his head and the gun.

On 7 September 2018, a protest of school students was evicted by cops. The cops hurt and arrested two Perla de Ulua school students in the process – Jorge Armando Zavala Martinez and Geovanny Hernandez. There were reports of journalists being pushed aside.

On 9 September 2018, 15 UNAH students had been locked up and were subsequently released with bail conditions of not leaving the country, signing regularly at the court, and not going to political meetings at the uni.

On 27 September 2018, in Ocotepeque, students occupy their school in protest. Hitmen, police, soldiers and DPI kidnappers entered en-masse by force to attack and evict, there was a callout to go and support the students’ effort.

Throughout, high school students in protest have reported persecution, harassment, details of cars with people inside watching and following them, and text messages and phone calls of death threats from the phone number (+504) 9946-1141. In these calls and messages, they say they know where the students live, who their families are, and their routines and movements. The numberplates of the cars that have been parked watching the students at the occupations of the schools are a tourist van with PDV 2862, and a Mitsubishi pickup with PDB7407 that is grey. When students look up the registry they found that PDV2862 does not exist, and the PDB7407 belongs to a trailer. There has been arbitrary arrests, attacks with teargases inside schools.

What independence?

15 September is a date where every year Central American countries officially celebrate Independence Day, and because the ‘independence’ is but a farse, masses of people participate in protests against the dictatorship instead of joining or cheering on official marching bands – and despite of payments being offered to join independence celebrations in the stadium, most refuse or accept but protest anyway. As always, there were protests around the country. This year, in at least one act, the US flag was burnt to highlight the fact that US intervention continues to keep most Central Americans poor and repressed everyday. Despite of the fear of knowing that protests are always repressed, a lot of people chose rebellion. In these dates, lots of new energies were floating around exploding of struggle and revolution. There were people dancing and drumming and some people armed with paint bombs, aimed at buildings, and then ran away from soldiers and police. Others chanted, sang, held, wrote and wore things that told JOH to get out. New seeds of struggle were being sown around, and that’s all ages. There were children on the streets protesting with their families and classmates. Some kids with an upside down sign and picture about justice, when adults approach them to tell them their sign was upside down, they explained that it was because the justice in Honduras is upside down. And since school students were already protesting all of August and September, the Education Minister made a statement saying that students and teachers were prohibited from protesting on this date, that they can only attend official marches that show ‘civic values’. Students rebelled. There are stories of children who attended the official celebrations and held up signs that said get out JOH, to then be repressed, by a zealous teacher, by security forces.. The repressive response, to squash social movements this date, as expected, was severe including over 30 arrests and so much teargas and rubber bullets. Known cases as follows:

In Tegucigalpa, the city was militarised, and in the moments when the 2009 coup deposed president Zelaya was giving speeches, many teargas bombs suddenly went off, followed by chemical water being launched from the police tank, and rubberbullets were also shot, and security agents chased the already fleeing people, wounded several and leaving hundreds affected by teargases – it was so bad that at least 15 people lost consciousness from the teargases and were taken away in red cross ambulances that are not stocked with basics – so as people protested, and are repressed and get treated they are reminded of one of many reasons why they protest. Amongst people who suffocated in the gases were little children. The city centre and surrounding areas were inundated by teargases. Some people seem to forget what had happened because days later conversations can be heard by many people around there, coughing and having chest pain, saying they did not know why. From this scene, at least 6 protesters were arrested by riot cops and taken to the lower areas of the parliament house. One youth in particular got the attention of journalists and human rights defenders, and asked for his name, ‘Meiki Bonilla Bustillo’, he yelled as he was being taken custody. When he was released, he told the press, ‘they didn’t ask me anything, they just told me that I am from MEU and that I am making trouble and grabbed me like that, but thanks to you journalists and the human rights defenders today I am still alive, otherwise I can assure you they would have killed me, because my crime is participating in protests and being young’.

Two kilometres away, in the National Stadium, people mostly of the national party celebrated the false independence, watching the military parade. A few students went into the stadium holding signs of ‘Get out JOH’ and four were arrested with their backpacks still on, two in particular were arrested for ‘disrespecting authority’ for holding a sign that said ‘get out JOH’ – they were taken away and not told what the charges were nor where they were being taken to. Then, students of the Central high school who had entered the stadium screaming ‘get out JOH!’ in protest, were attacked by teargases at the steps of gate 15 of the stadium, where a human stampede by the police followed hurting many who were already gas affected. In an odd attempt to spin the story, police spokesperson Jair Meza told the press that the teargas bombs were launched by the students, asserting that the students belonged to the MEU students organisation.

In San Pedro Sula, school and university students who were protesting the state executed assassinations against students who protested the dictatorship, were especially affected by repression on this date. They were hit with teargas bombs and rubber bullets, and a number of students were wounded, and the repression would have been worse had human rights defenders not intervened.

In Choluteca city, school students were repressed by teargases and water tanks. Mobilisations generally were also savagely attacked, one humble man with a lot of scoial conscience was especially hurt – Gonzalo Hernández. A picture was shared of him with open wound and blood all over his nose, face and eye.

In a lot of places, there were reports that around this date, between midnight and dawn hours, there were soldiers and paramilitaries walking around with their faces covered in the streets and neighbourhoods.

Community opposing mine at gunpoint – Guapinol

On 7 September, the Guapinol Camp in Defence of Water and Life had camped there for 38 days. The rivers San Pedro and Guapinol already show signs of contamination and destruction by the state-backed mining companies that is imposing their operations against the will of the communities. Tensions rose as one of the three culprit mining companies, Inversiones Los Pinares had its staff block the street going to the camp and threaten with not allowing more people come and go from the camp. In the midst of these conflicts, hitmen of Inversiones Los Pinares fired gunshots against protesters, from which the young Rigo Hernández was gravely wounded, and was left struggling for his life. A few days later, there were representations in the media that those who oppose the mine are violent.

Attacks on Rio Blanco and updates re Berta

Two and a half years after the assassination of Berta Cáceres – founder of Copinh and indigenous, feminist, anti-capitalist activist, who campaigned in solidarity with the Río Blanco community against the hydroelectricity dam that the DESA company is still continuing to impose, the court case continued and was going into hearing this September 17 2018. Days before, one of Berta’s daughters, Bertha Zuniga Caceres, told the press that there are no conditions for justice to be brought within the Honduran judicial system. On the day of the hearing, hundreds of people, of different indigenous groups of Honduras – Garífunas, Tolupanes, Pech, Lenca, Maya Chortí, supported by others, camped outside the court from the night before, holding indigenous ceremonies for Berta and protesting the lack of justice in this case, they were surrounded by heavy militarisation, that had the sole purpose of quelling protests. At midday, a DESA shock group headed by Héctor Mejía – brother of one of Berta Caceres’ murderers, and DESA staff Olvin Mejía, arrived to the camp yelling insults at people of the camp, to the Garífuna people, ‘you lived as slaves, you will go as slaves’, and at Copinh people, saying that those charged were innocent and saying how good DESA is, and threatening human rights defender Irma Lemus, saying, ‘you…now there are many days left that I will see you there’. As it was amidst heavy militarisation, police was right there, watching, laughing, filming, egging on the shock group you would say. Shortly after this, the hearing was suspended and people regrouped in safer spaces.

Then, on 26 September, in the Río Blanco community in the Vega del Achotal area where the Lenca community is growing food, DESA company employees of the Madrid family carried out an armed attack using machetes against community working the land there. The Madrid family is the one that stole Rio Blanco ancestral land and illegally sold this to DESA. DESA continues to operate and generate terror in the context of the ongoing courtcase about Berta’s murder.

More attacks against other communities resisting hydroelectricity dams this September

On 7 September 2018 in Reítoca, at the river where there are people organised and camped out to protect the river against the hydroelectricity company Progelsa, two campers were arrested and released after, having been beaten up and hurt too.

On 12 September 2018, communities in Chinda, Santa Barbara are on alert for repression having been organising since the beginning of 2017 when they held an open meeting in which 80% of residents – who are Lenca indigenous – had opposed the hydroelectricity dam El Tornillito. El Tornillito is the second biggest hydroelectricity dam project after El Cajon and is an enormous threat to the ecosystem, local vegetation, and fishing, sand harvesting, and basic grains growing livelihoods of the community. The river the dam is being built on is 240 kms long (with the joining of the Jicatuyo and Otoro rivers) and is to produce 150 megas of energy. It had also been learnt that a ministerial agreement 1402-2018 had been emmitted by environmental minister José Galdámez and published in the national gazette, that now classes all information about environmental licences issued as secret information.

As indigenous Lenca resistance organised in MILPAH organisation continues in Chinacla, La Paz against the hydroelectricity dam of Inversiones Aurora of nationalist parliamentarian and vice president of congress, Gladys Aurora López, one MILPAH defender is under a lot of attack. His name is Ermin López, he is 37, Lenca, and he is also an unpaid council commissioner in Chinacla, a community with ancestral community titles where 21 Lenca indigenous communities live. Ermin has ongoing threats against him and learned of a plan to kill him around the time of the fraud, for having accompanied the struggles against the JOH dictatorship. He received the information from PINU councillor Oscar Aguilar, who heard that money had been offered to end Ermin’s life. As Ermin does his best to carry out his work as a volunteer councillor (balancing this with his paid construction work) and is constantly speaking up about cases involving logging (against Manuel Garcia), about a teacher Juan Ramón Molina who physically punished children at school, against the concession of the El Pacayal hill area and against all mining, hydroelectricity and logging, about politicians’ and other corruption in general – this has made him targets of many politicians and businesspeople and of the teacher. There was a night in August 2018 when he was having dinner at home and he heard noises at the door so he went out and was surprised by attackers who jumped on top of him, one armed with machete. They kicked him in the hand and near the eye and he found a way escape their hold and pushed both of them into a hole that had been dug for a compost toilet, and as he asked his mum to call the police, the two attackers made a verbal threat and fled into the dark of the night.

Raid and persecution against organised farmers of Aguan

On 6 September 2018 from 2am, 50 soldiers raided the home and farm plots of farmers cooperative La Despertar president Marcial López. La Despertar is fraudulently claimed by large landowner René Morales. La Despertar won its land title in court with lawyer Antonio Trejo back in 2012 following which Antonio Trejo was murdered and the court decision was reversed.

Within the Aguán region, a declaration was issued on 28 September that there are concerns that the following activists have their lives in danger: Aguan leaders Jaime Cabrera and Yoni Rivas, Regional Bajo Aguan Agrarian Platform coordinator Hipolito Rivas, José Chavez of the Gregorio Chavez cooperative, and Leonel George of COPA (grassroot organisations of Aguan), human rights defender Annie Bird and journalist Nina Lakhani. Also all the farmer families of the Panama community are living under terror and tension with armed groups having entered and stationed in Paso Aguan farm in the site of land recovery.

Journalists threatened and repressed

On 11 September 2018, journalist Gilda Silvestruchi, director of ‘En la plaza’ program and correspondent in Honduras for Telesur, spoke up about threats she is receiving from Ramón Enrique Jeréz Solórzano using several facebook profiles. Ramón’s mum is court judge Maria Teresa Jeréz Solarzano, he also has an uncle Máximo Jeréz Solarzano who is ex Conatel telecommunications commissioner. The threats had been going on for months. Gilda said that if anything happens to her or her children, she blames not only Ramon Enrique Jerez Solozarno but the dictatorship president JOH too as ultimately the threats are because she criticises the state in her journalism work.

On 15 September 2018, as UNE-TV journalists covered police and military repression at the independence?-day-protests in the Central Park in Tegucigalpa, they were also attacked and repressed. Cameraperson Albert Palacios was attacked by agents for having recorded images of police brutality against a youth ‘I was where Mendels used to be and I was recording when they were hurting a kid and suddenly they pulled me by the neck and started by bash me and damage my camera with stones that protesters had thrown at the cops.’ Cameraperson Mauricio Ordoñez was hit by a supposed rubber bullet that broke his mobile phone screen with which he was recording the repression. Journalists Cesar Silva, Ivis Alvarado and Rony Martinez together with camerapersons were transmitting the arrest of the youth Meiken Bustillo where they were pushed by riot cop shields. A teargas bomb was launched at the feet of the journalists when they were asking for the name of the arrestee. Everyone got sick from the teargas too.

On the other side of ‘journalism’, there are from this date more complaints by HCH journalists of attacks by protesters, of ‘verbal abuse’ with chants of ‘HCH get out, you sold outs!’ and throwing stones etc at their cameras – remembering that HCH reports on the side of police and the state.

Smear campaigns

An alert issued of smear campaigns this month, emphasising that smear campaigns are always followed by killings – there was a smear campaign against Berta Caceres before she was assassinated.

In Colón, the military intelligence created a fake ‘independent campesino organisation’ to attack English journalist Nina Lakhani, who is in the region investigating violent deaths in the Aguan valley as well as covering the hearing against the killers of Berta Cáceres, in Tegucigalpa. The fake organisation accused the journalist of supplying campesinos with weapons to exterminate the Xatruch military force, to destroy the investments of Standard Fruit Company and the palm company of the Facusses in the region, as well as to paralise the petrol exploitation of the British Gas group that has a multimillionaire contract over the Atlantic Coast of Honduras.

Also in Colón, the emporium of companies of Facussé-Nasser, of company Los Pinares, of the council of Adán Fúnes are said to be responsible for the smear campaigns against the communities of the San Pedro and Guapinol areas, where there are communities protesting against mega projects of death.

In Atlántida, the brothers Victor and Martín Fernández of San Juan Pueblo, are currently subject to smear campaign by Pérez, Hawit, Atalas and MINOSA families who are pushing to destroy an ancestral cemetery to mine for gold to export to Canada. The brothers are environmentalists and lawyers and community leaders of MADJ. Victor is currently representing Berta and Copinh in the lawsuit.

In Copán, the leadership of MADJ, ACI Participa, ASONOG, are all under smear campaigns financed by MINOSA gold mining company that has Canadian capital.

In Yoro, the journalist team of Radio Progreso headed by Jesuit priest Ismael Moreno, suffer smear campaign for their work of accompanying communities that resist mining projects.

In Santa Barbara, the MAS environment movement also suffers smear campaign for accompanying communities of Gualala, which oppose the exploitation of a mineral that will destroy 80% of the sand land village. – the province authorities had authorised 86 mining concessions and 28 to exploit rivers, converting the province into an environmental and social bomb. Between Santa Barbara and Choluteca, the American Pacific company alone, sold by US businessmen to Canadian miners, has 45 metallic concessions granted there with Honduran state backing.

All mentioned and more, suffer campaigns with pirated images of themselves, distorted memes, and fake profiles in social media, and official declarations of the dictatorship’s spokespersons, and of private associations, comments from journalists that get payments from Cohep business council, and from the mining association, etc. The smear campaigns some try to smear organisations to halt the influence organisations have to mobilise people, others to create doubt about the authenticity of the human rights defense work, and some to induce fear, kill collective moral and physically assassinate the leaders – this happened to Berta.

Police checkpoint stop at gunpoint

On 25 September there was a police checkpoint operation at the CA5 highway – one cop of this operation forced all passing motorcyclists to stop and get off their motorcycles at gunpoint, threatening to shoot and kill anyone in any moment.

Seven years later, nine years later. Court proceedings

Seven years ago on 24 March 2011, 18 teachers were arrested, imprisoned and released on bail, with charges of sedition, having initially been arrested for ‘illicit protests’, they have gone to sign at the court every fortnight in the last seven years as their bail conditions. The hearing was finally complete – one of the evidence used against them was that they ‘had hate against the police’. On 28 September 2018, the 18 teachers were finally free of the charges.

Nine years ago on 12 August 2009, police captured and tortured 27 protesters and journalists in a protest against the coup, the 27 were taken to a candestine prison, and afterwards they charged 5 policemen and women for this crime – José Ventura Ramos, Carlos Isaías Polanco, Suyapa Marina Elvir, Juana María Alvarado, Esther Esperanza Ramos (the only one still in the police force now). On 12 December 2013, the court dropped the charges. Human rights organisation Cofadeh appealed this decision, and on 26 September 2018, this case is reopened with the first preliminary hearing on 24 October 2018. Note that these do not have bail conditions of signing regularly at the court, they just have to accept management by their own lawyers.

Another politician getting away with killing

On Saturday 8th September, Mario Pineda, IDEOCOAS minister, was driving his no doubt fancy car near Premier mall, when his car went into the footpath, running over an 11 year old child – he took the child to the fire station who said they couldn’t do anything so he took the child to the military hospital where the child died. He paid the costs of the funeral but was never arrested or charged – his brother is Supreme Court judge Miguel Pineda. At the wake of the child, 4 lawyers of the politician arrived to offer the family money and pressure them to not sue Mario or take any actions.

August 2018 Honduras Coup Update

August 2018 Honduras coup update

In August 2018, it was the students in primary school, high school and university who carried on the struggle against the increase in transport costs, since they and their families are hit hard by these. Students protested demanding the return of student transport allowances and the lowering of transport fees in general. There had been at least 12 days of road blocks throughout this month by the students and as many ruthlessly brutal evictions, and at the end of August, two high school students were removed by state investigative agents from one of their homes and their bodies found on the streets near their school afterwards. At the same time, there have been lots of attacks by the state against journalists who tell news of struggle and repression and corruption, while more HCH journalists who tell news that speak of police as the good guys and protesters as inconvenient and irrational complained of being abused by protesters in different contexts of struggle and confrontation. Campesinos, environmentalist and community struggles also continue as does the repression against these.

Killings, and multiple violent evictions against students – school and university aged – in protest

On 1 August 2018, a massive repression was executed by police against students protesting at UNAH. At least three uni students were wounded, as was a human rights defender of International Ecumenical Human Rights Watch Francisco López, they were apparently wounded by ‘rubber bullets’. Students were outraged and half destroyed a bus breaking its windows with stones.

On 8 August 2018, outside UNAH near the Suyapa Boulevard where uni students were protesting, a red ford tourist van drove past firing three gunshots at students there. UNE TV was filming and on their footage, the gunshots could be heard. Six days prior, in the midst of student protests, right-wing-journalist Renato Alvarez of the Frente a Frente program of Televicentro had on his program called on state intelligence authorities to identify students and prepare charges for them, saying that the students were causing chaos.

On 16 August 2018, after the police and military repression against high school students already the day before, police again repressed and violently evicted students in three cities of Honduras. In San Pedro Sula, students of several public schools gathered for a roadblock at the toll booths and were evicted with teargas bombs. From this teargas bombs attack one of the youths told the press he was suffocating and had to go to hospital. In El Progreso, Yoro, 200 students of Perla del Ulua school occupying the highway on the Quebrada Seca Bridge were attacked by a plain clothes person who fired gunshots at these. The attacker was reportedly arrested by police after. In Tegucigalpa, students of ITH and Jesús Milla Selva schools who occupied the Boulevard Fuerzas Armadas highway were evicted by police. As the day developed and the evicted school students went on to join the protests of the uni students, the joint protest at the vehicles gate of UNAH was subsequently violently evicted.

On 22 August 2018, two students of the Central Vicente Cáceres school were protesting the raise of bus fees when police arrested and bashed both of them and took them to the Los Dolores police station at the city centre of Tegucigalpa.

On 23 August 2018, in the Kennedy neighbourhood in Tegucigalpa, police launched teargas bombs by the hundreds against primary and high school students. There were also reports of gunshots having been fired at the youths and children. Some videos of the repression by teargas bombs against the children:

https://www.facebook.com/891458580870767/videos/240307526825621/

https://www.facebook.com/100004767908229/videos/987760388059549/

On 30 August 2018, in Tegucigalpa, a major mobilisation was organised by Convergence Against Continuism (broadly against the dictatorship, called for freedom for political prisoners and also voiced the students’ demands about transport costs.) In the Kennedy neighbourhood, hours after the mobilisation had finished, the bodies of two students were found on the street near their high school (ITH) in an area known as ‘la montañita’ – the two students are Mario Enrique Suárez Gómez (19) and Gerson Daniel Meza Medina (18). Their bodies showed signs of execution, and as words went out about their assassination, images also poured out in social media of evidence that they were kidnapped from one of their homes by two government investigative agents of ATIC department – they kidnapped the pair, took them handcuffed, suffed them into a black vehicle without numberplates. Mario and Gerson wore the same clothes in which they disappeared and were handcuffed still when they were being killed. Their friends said Mario and Gerson were active in organising the student protests. ITH students protested at least 12 times blocking roads and getting evicted violently each time. After the images about ATIC came out, the government made statements saying that there have been ‘criminals’ going around ‘pretending’ to be ATIC. Mario and Gerson are not the first either, to be arrested, disappeared, and then their bodies dumped for all to see.

https://www.facebook.com/andres.molina.50702/videos/pcb.10156517371570359/10156517371475359/?type=3

marioygerson3marioygersonmario y gerson.jpegmarioygerson4.jpeg

State persecution against communities defending their territory and environment

On 17 August 2018, four members of the Puerto Sierra Community of Playa Blanca Village around Zacate Grande had been charged by landowner Jorge Luís Casis Leiva, accused of damages. They have capture orders against them, their names are María Veneranda Cruz, Oneida Cárdenas Flores, Yésica Cruz and Jacinto Hernández Cruz. They join the long list of people in the area who have lived for generations on the beaches there and are persecuted for defending themselves from being pushed out of the area, in a struggle that started 18 years ago. Already, over 70 people have faced charges, there has been violent evictions, persecution, forced displacement, two political prisoners – Abel Pérez and Santos Hernández who have been sentenced to 5 years and a month prison terms. They are appealing the sentence. This repession is in addition to attacks against the community radio and community journalists.

On 28 August 2018, in the Florida sector in Atlántida where around 300 people gathered in assembly and road block to stop the entry of mining project machinery onto a site, two police patrols arrived, and people feared what this intimidation can mean because of history of police brutality.

Meanwhile also on 28 August 2018 in Tocoa, Colón, the city of palm plantations and farmers movement region Bajo Aguán, people have set up camp since 1 August defending the area against mining, a camp called Campamento Guapinol Por la Dignidad, in defence of water and of life, of the rivers around, including of Guapinol river and San Pedro river. The businessman Carlos Alfonso Escaleras Mejía is pushing to impose the destruction of the area for his mining venture of company Los Pinares, using mega machines and dynamites to blow up the mountain and life. A lot of damage has been done already and things will only get worse – there are pictures around showing how tap water comes out in the Guapinol community and it literally looks like a bucket of rockmelon smoothie, but it is pure contamination of industries, you would not drink it. The environmental impact will be far reaching if the company is given the space to keep going, 900,000 people of the municipality will be affected, not to speak of the rivers, wildlife, and plant life. Threats and intimidation have started against people – armed groups have arrived to threaten people at the camp – the armed groups directed a message to one comrade of Ceibita Tocoa saying they have information and lists that blames the organisations COPA (Coordinator of Grassroots Organisations of Aguan) and Fundación San Alonso Rodríguez for getting people fired up and resist – so it was a threat to say these organisations will be targetted for persecution.

On 30 August 2018, Santa Barbara region’s Copinh (indigenous organisation) coordinator Faustino Enamorado Guillén and about ten others had been captured by police this morning who raided people’s homes, workplaces, etc, having a list of people they suspect of setting the council and police building on fire in protest.

Attacks against campesinos and campesinas

On 9 August 2018, a campesino woman suffered a miscarriage, in the context of living and struggling in the 9 de julio campesina cooperative, which has suffered heavy state repression including 27 violent evictions.

On 13 August, human rights defender Irma Lemus of the Aguan Permanent Human Rights Watch has already suffered a lot of persecution and smear campaigns. The latest attacks against her had been calls from private numbers, in which someone tells her that there is ‘already a price for her head’, to please watch out and take all the necessary security measures to save her own life. Should anything happen to her, she knows that the Honduran state is behind this. Her life and Rigoberto Durán’s have been attempted against back on 29.11.15 and the medical files with evidence about this had somehow been disappeared from the San Isidro of Colón hospital. Similarly, they place complaints twice at the prosecutors’ department and not only had there been no response but their files there had also been extracted. Family members of hers have also suffered aggressions.

On 17 August 2018, in Atlántida, in the Lis Lis Salado community, at around 11pm, a compañera and regional leader of CNTC (campesinos federation) was asleep in her home when her home was set on fire, luckily she woke up in time and was able to escape through the window and be safe, in this attempt against her life and the burning of her home. The Lis Lis Salado community has an ongoing onflict with the Standard Fruit Company, along with a seven years old land title case sitting in government drawers. The community is also situated on a beautiful beach area near the border with Colón, so is also target to landgrabbing for tourism megaprojects.

On 31 August 2018, when soldiers violently evicted farmers from the San Isidro cooperative in Bajo Aguán, Colón, community journalist and campesino leader Vitalino Alvarez was filming the abuse when the soldiers got angry at him, beat him brutally and broke his camera and dispossessed his work equipment from him. They hit him in the face and other parts of the body. Vitalino was taken to a hospital centre for medical attention. Vitalino reports for local TV channel Canal 5 of Bajo Aguán and is a member and spokesperson of the campesino movement MUCA.

Attacks against Journalists

On 1 August 2018 where students’ protests were going on at UNAH, police was heavily repressing students, and cameraperson Emilio Flores and other journalists were there filming, and at around 4pm police attacked Emilio and others – Emilio tried to escape but in the process he was chased by several police who told him to hand over his camera equipment and to take off his mask which protected him from the teargases, when he refused to give in his camera the police began to hit him in the back with a baton. When police was reaching for his mask to remove it, he took advantage of that focus to break free and run away.

Minutes later, at the same protest, student journalist Kency Gissel Grandez Duron (21) was there covering the protest for Conexihon, when dozens of police attacked her. Police grabbed her and snatched and stole her mobile phone with which she was transmitting live and in that moment you could hear her saying ‘the police is attacking me, no, ayy, they are attacking me,’ and you could also hear on the live broadcast a police ordering her to take off her mask ‘take off the mask, take off this shit, take in some gas’. The police called her a daughter of a bitch and hit her in the head, kicked her, launched teargas bombs towards her and others. Kency also managed to find a hole to escape and run away to not be arrested. Police could be heard arguing and yelling at one another for having let her escape.

On 16 August 2018, in San Pedro Sula, journalist Ely Vallejo of Canal 36 Cholusat Sur Plus was covering the high school students’ protest about the increase in public transport fees, when a police woman beat them up. The police also proceeded to smash their transmission equipment. In this video he points to his red, burning and painful shoulder and face, having captured this just as they were on their way to a clinic https://www.facebook.com/Catrachos504Organizacion/videos/222408065101028/. Ely has previously been subject to police brutality and death threats and has had to flee the country to safeguard their life, in relation to their journalism work.

On 17 August 2018, journalist Jairo López informed people on his TV program ‘el informador’ about a mobilisation the day before in San Lorenzo, Valle, against the privatisation of the state port company and state electricity company, when at 4.50pm, his program was suddenly paused and blanked out, and he told by one of the channel’s executives, ‘see, you just go around flying… try to put a channel on youtube or something’. Just like that, Jairo lost his TV space, for critising Empresa Energía Honduras – a public private alliance of energy provision that began in February 2016. The same exectutive had told him before that the channel had received calls from CONATEL telecommunications comission, accusing Jairo of doing ‘hate apologism’ in his news space.

On 21 August 2018, journalist Sandra Maribel Sánchez was transmitting a program live at the Tegucigalpa Radio Progreso cabin, when within minutes after going into the topic of the privatisation of health services in conversation with the doctors association president Suyapa Figueroa, Sandra received a death threat telephone call in which she was warned that she had better stop talking about the privatisation of health services, unless she wants to end up where other ‘loud mouths’ have ended up. The call showed up as a private number and she only answered because she was expecting an overseas call.

On 22 August 2018, observers were disappointed to hear UNE TV reporting that ‘the police authorities managed to arrest four students’ because UNE TV had been the only mainstream media that has not been pro-police, pro-government. It is heard that it is getting a lot of pressure and is its strong alternative voice seems to be breaking.

On 29 August 2018, journalist Dasaev Aguilar and the cameraperson, both of Irani news chain in Honduras, Hispan TV, were filming in support, on the road outside National Defence Department building. As they were filming, a solder approached him and said it was prohibited to film because it is a private place. Dasaev replied asserting that it was a public institution and space and that he had to right to keep filming. The soldier threatened him saying, ‘it means shit all to me that you are a journalist’. This was the third incident of threat or attack from the state he had suffered this year in the course of his work as a journalist.

On the other side, pro-police pro-government anti-resistence journalists of HCH continued complaining about attacks and aggression from people who are affected, stigmatised, and appalled by their reporting. On 20 August 2018, Brenda Moncada of HCH was covering the students protests and complained that a student had thrown a stone that hit her. On 30 August 2018, Angel Sevilla of HCH was likewise reporting on the street vendors’ confrontation with the council police from the police perspective when he was chased by street vendors. He went to hide and was helped by a colleague Alex Cáceres who made a similar complaint to Brenda and Angel just the month before.

Another attack against street vendors

Elsewhere, in Siguatepeque, Comayagua on 29 August 2018, council police attacked street vendors who sold food as their livelihood. When they tried to find another spot to sell, police saw them and proceeded to evict and capture the people.

Displacement by the state

On 19 August 2018, fourteen families marked their two months anniversary of setting up make shift homes on the city street facing a government department that manages land titles, having been evicted by the state from their homes where they have lived for 58 years – where they even had land titles but these were snatched from them. On this day they also held a wake for a young woman who died amidst all that had happened.