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.

 

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Honduras coup update July 2018

Honduras coup update July 2018

General Strike against high petrol and toll prices

July 2018 had been a month of barricades of highways using buses, trucks and cars with support from students as people worked to paralyse the economy, taking direct action to force the regime to submit to lower excessive petrol and toll prices. The protests started smaller earlier in the month, and even while small there were words on 11 July 2018 that 3 taxi drivers and 2 bus drivers were assassinated between 8pm and 9pm in Reparto Abajo in Tegucigalpa, it is believed that government death squads may have been behind these. People built towards a widespread mobilisation to block all major highways around the country from 19 July 2018 – theatre events and book launches cancelled in anticipation, classes were cancelled, and long distance buses did not sell tickets for these dates.

On 19 July 2018, as people’s organised direct action were effective in putting major pressure on the regime and the streets were empty except for highway blockades with buses and taxis parked in strategic points and tyres burning there, the regime’s police and military responded with repression and violent evictions. They hit cars blockading in front of Camosa with teargas bombs. The university UNAH was attacked with teargases and the military attacks worsened as the day developed – at 2pm dozens of riot cops shot teargas and chemical water tank at people and journalists gathered there. Public forces evicted CA-5 and people talked of reoccupying. Military police of patrol 7031 threatened a taxi driver on strike in the city centre of Tegucigalpa, telling him that he will be found by others, bagged up. Military police there were taking photos of drivers on strike there. That night, at 10pm, there were noise protests with people banging on pots and pans from inside their homes at 10pm. Riot cops were out evicting protests with teargases at Las Brizas and Casamata neighbourhood.

On 20 July 2018, police threatened to pull out (more life-threatening) weapons against protesters, and in Choluteca city there was a violent eviction against protesters. In desperation, a spokesperson of the business council called the protest ‘illegal’, saying that the protest is attacking the national economy.

On 23 July 2018, in the north where protesters blocked of the Danto bridge in an effort to throw some punches at the dictatorship, security forces attacked protesters and arrested fifteen people, their names are: 1. Franklin Noel Carcamo, 2. Aldo Uriel Fonseca Velázquez, 3. Darwin Josué Ordóñez Barahona, 4. Mario Roberto Milla, 5. Misael Alfredo Lagos Castillo, 6. Joel Arturo Lainez Mejia, 7. Héctor Leonel Díaz Castellanos, 8. Juan Ramón Sánchez, 9. Fredy Adalid Hernández, 10. Oscar Javier López Mejía, 11. Wilson Ariel Álvarez, 12. Reiniery Samuel García, 13. Leo Daniel Madrid Medina, 14.Daniel Pérez and 15. Jose David López Lagos. Repression was also reported in Santa Rosa de Copán on the CA-4 highway, and in Siguatepeque where police arrested a driver. In Tegucigalpa the military attacked people in the San Miguel neighbourhood where a journalist Engel Padilla was also attacked (more in the journalists section of the news). There were violent evictions also in 3 other neighbourhoods in Tegucigalpa, in Loarque, Carrizal and Belén. 15 were arrested and taken to El Manchén police station in Tegucigalpa. Lots of people filmed incidents of police and military brutality and uploaded these on social media. The day finished with transport workers declaring that they would give the JOH regime 48 hours of strike suspension before resuming their strike.

The 48 hours suspension did not mean there was no repression or protests in that time – on 24 July, while on the bus, owner of bus company Cotul, Germán Coto, was assassinated by two hitmen who were passengers on that bus – Germán Coto was very active in the preceding days of transport strikes and protests. Similarly, on 25 July in Choloma, public transport fare collector Antonio Martínez was wounded and assassinated. This 25 July 2018, there were protests at the UNAH, stopping traffic in the La Hacienda boulevaard, and security forces drenched these in teargases.

German Coto.jpeg

Protests kept on at the UNAH on 26 July 2018, riot cops shot rubber bullets at students protesting there about petrol prices. Army and police also searched everyone who left the UNAH campus, and arrests were reported.

On 27 July 2018, in Villanueva, again, brutal and inhumane repression was reported, the repression toll was, four were wounded and eight arrested.

Attacks against communities and environment

On 3 July 2018, environmental defenders of Valle de Siria spoke up about threats they have been receiving from Herman Ritchel. Herman Ritchel is a man who applied to set up (he is setting it up and then selling it off to Ormat company based in Nevada, US) a geothermal project in this community and he is sending threats to leaders of the Environmental Committee of Valle de Siría (CAVS) who have been organising and speaking up against the project, of the environmental damages it will cause. The threatened leaders are CAVS secretary and community journalist Carlos Amador, CAVS president Roger Escober, CAVS treasurer Rodolfo Arteaga and also Olga Velásquez. The project being imposed is called 12 Tribus and sadly, it is known as the second project of death that Valle de Siria is confronted with, having recently suffered and been traumatised from the immense health and environmental consequences of the Entremares open pit mining project, and the persecution that came with opposing that project. Carlos is receiving threats in the forms of Whatsapp messages and calls, and the others have known that they are being watched and followed. Rodolfo grows food where Hermán Ritchel intends on building 12 Tribus. Like with the Entremares project, prior to the threats, there were attempts to bribe them, and when these had failed, the threats had begun.

But what are geothermal projects and what is so bad about them? As well as studying these in general and getting environmental impact studies, CAVS activists travelled to Usulután El Salvador where such a project had been installed since 20 years ago. Environmental impact studies point to that the company will be drilling holes in the ground between 3 to 5 kilometres deep. The drilling is facilitated by the use of chlorohydric acid, peroxide, caustic soda and other chemicals mixed together, to be able to install the tubing inside the ground. This process contaminates the waterwells and ground water used by people, farm, animals, wildlife and flora – the same as fracking, only, instead of fracking for gases, the company is fracking for heat. There would also be chimneys from which vapour escapes day and night, and noise pollution too. In the areas marked for drilling, they get rid of all natural life around it – trees, forests, water, rocks, sand, etc, so that nothing can fall onto the tubing. They would drill chains of up to 30 holes, and an exaggerated amount of water is extracted within seconds and minutes. In their visit to Usulutan, when within the 1 km radius, people can smell a pungent eggy smell that gives you headaches. People saw that crops don’t grow anymore in the area, and that people lost their property rights, and there are acid rains, and people spoke of others who died of kidney problems and of people who developed kidney and lung cancers. And people spoke of the noise so loud their ears hurt when the drilling began, and of earthquakes that affected homes of people. The Valle de Siri community already had the Playa river contaminated by Entremares open pit mining, and the water is so drastically reduced that there is only water in the river during rainy times. If Tribus 12 goes ahead, there is likely going to be no water left at all or it would be much less and extremely contaminated.

On 16 July 2018, Santos Suazo was leaving a shop when he was stabbed to death by a hitman, in El Retiro community in Arizona, Atlántida. Santos Suazo belonged to the camp in defence of the Jilamito river, a community that has camped out for 14 months with the support of MADJ environmentalist organisation, against the building of a hydroelectricity dam that would destroy the Jilamito river. Santos was very dedicated and committed to the caring for and protecting of common and natural resources.

santos suazo.jpg

On 18 July 2018, people from different organisations and different regions of Honduras were gathered in Tegucigalpa, marching and speaking up about the attacks their communities have received as they organised against the imposition of mining projects.

On 19 July 2018, in violation against Afro-descendent communities’ right to self determination, the imposed building of a thermal electricity project began, against the will of the Sambo and Corozal communities.

In Amapala, in the south of Honduras where communities have had to defend themselves for years from pressures, threats and charges, the communities had to more recently defend themselves from the taking over of their homes by model cities. On 24 July 2018, members of the Islitas community spoke up about unknown military persons having come to dispossess them of any land in the community’s possession that contains access ways to the beach. The community consists of at least 98 homes and over 100 families, who have lived there for many decades and survive as subsistence farmers. Losing access to the beach will mean the loss of their livelihood.

Attacks against subsistence farmers

During July 2018, subsistence farmers – 23 families – of Quimistan, Santa Bárbara, spoke up about landowners’ violent evictions against their farmers cooperative Nuevos Horizontes. They have suffered four evictions already and police and soldiers have set their homes on fire. An organiser surnamed Guerra had lost his son to assassination and 3 comrades have suffered gunshot wounds in an ambush. Santos Aguilar Perdomo received a gunshot in his face and also has charges against him, so suffers deep psychological and emotional traumas. The cooperative has existed for over 18 years but the state has not legalised their lands. They have millions of lempiras worth of food crops that they stand to lose as there is no protection to their crops, nor for their lives or homes.

Attacks against journalists

On 2 July 2018 in Olanchito city, journalist Javier Rodríguez was arrested by police. Police also broke his video camera by force.

On 7 July 2018, in Cortés, journalist Meilin Coto of TN5 and Hoy Mismo San Pedro Sula city was singled out amongst other journalists and suffed around by a hooded police.

On 23 July 2018, cameraperson Engel Padilla of Canal 11 was filming military repression against protesters in the San Miguel neighbourhood in Tegucigalpa when 20 riot police, surrounded him and attacked and grabbed him by force as he continued to hold onto and film with his large camera. They arrested him and damaged his work equipment. Other journalists and camerapeople went o the police station to put pressure on in solidarity until he was released.

The same date, HCH journalists complained of protesters throwing stones and drink cans at them and calling them sell-outs for siding with the JOH regime. The context though was they covered the news protected by police and talked up the police like they were serving ‘people’ by being ready to evict the protests, saying that teargas bombs were ready in the tone of ‘don’t worry about the protests anymore’, at the same time saying that police are aiming to evict peacefully if people will only agree to leave instead of be dispersed by being shot at, chased and attacked.

On 28 July 2018, journalist Cesar Silva was invited to attend the meeting of Inter American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) at the Hotel Marriott, the entrance of which was cordoned by military police. The military police had orders to not allow Cesar Silva to enter. In this meeting, families of victims of assassination, political imprisonment and victims of persecution in relation to the recent post electoral repression were there to speak with the Freedom of Expression Special Rapporteur of IACHR Edison Lanza. Cesar was invited there to speak of the persecution he had faced as a journalist. When Cesar was stuck outside, Edison Lanza himself went out to the entrance to appeal to the military police to let Cesar in appealing to the fact that keeping him out was authoritarian. This is the same Hotel Marriott that political prisoners Edwin Espinal and Raúl Alvarado were accused of setting on fire.

On 30 July 2018, in a capital city hotel where the health department was hosting an event, journalist Jorge Estrada of UNE TV was refused entrance by the guards of honour of the first lady Ana García de Hernández – who was attending the meeting. The guard was recorded to say, ‘I am not doing this to you because I want to, they have given me an order and I have to comply with it.’ In response, Jorge protested pointing to that another journalist was just let in, so then he should be let in too – but Jorge was not let in as the order was not to block all journalists from entering, but specifically, to block those of UNE TV. It made no difference that even the health department public relations staff tried to intervene and ask the guards to allow any journalists to enter.

Attacks by borders

On 10 July 2018, Honduran father Eduardo Almendarez who was deported by US authorities, asked to have his 11 years old son back. The father and son were separated by immigration authorities, the 11 year old son held in Texas apart from his father since a month before. This is one of many cases like this.

Palm oil farmers

Back on the first week of June 2018, an employee of Dinant palm oil company, Manuel de Jesús Arita Hernández (66) was tying palm fruit on the top of his truck in the course of his work, when the load came falling and collapsed over him fracturing his spine and causing his blood in the brain to coagulate immediately. The emergency operation costed around US$60,000. The employer Dinant refused to pay for it saying it was not Dinant’s responsibility, so it was only the solidarity of friends, families, neighbours, all chipping in fast, that saved his life. Meanwhile the same Dinant goes around putting the word out internationally that Dinant is contributing to peoples wellbeing through packages of compensation and benefits and a supposed health program that workers enjoy.

On 29 July 2018, farmers and families belonging to the San Isidro cooperative on the right side of the Aguan river spoke up about how Dinant guards have threatened them, and how state agents have come summoning people and their land documents originals, and how their area has been militarised, since early on 28 July 2018 when they resumed their struggle to recuperate and defend the land there. Their history with the land is that it belongs to the farmers. It was won in court in 2012 by lawyer José Antonio Trejo, who was assassinated 3 months after winning in court, and months after his assassination, the cooperative San Isidro, Trinidad and Despertar were one by one dispossessed. There had been arbitrary arrests, physical and psychological torture against young and old alike, and women as well as men, bullet wounded, forced out by military.

Politicians attacked too

On 13 July 2018, the Libre councillors of Las Vegas municipality in Santa Barbara were attacked and threatened by other members of the council for refusing to sign points of the minutes – The Libre councillors are threatened and at risk of harm, charges and stigmatisation.

Other news

There was one police assassinated, and the media blew up the case, while no magnitude was given to the thousands of civilians who have been assassinated, ambushed, exiled, persecuted, etc.

On 23 July 2018, 19 of 38 people implicated in the corruption case known as the Pandora case were arrested and held preventively for a couple of days in the Tamara prison until their hearing, accused of money laundering, fraud, falsification of public documents – amongst these was the 2017 election’s presidential candidate of the Liberal party Elvin Ernesto Santos. Amongst others are parliamentarians and ex government officials.

June 2018 Honduras Coup Update

June 2018 Honduras Coup Update

Political prisoners’ situation update

Of the 22 political prisoners from the recent-electoral-fraud-triggered-semi-insurrectional-period, 17 have been released on bail having been imprisoned for more than four months each – one was released on 25 April 2018, the other 16 were released within the first three weeks of May. Five who continue to be locked up – three of them in maximum security prisons – are Edwin Robelo Espinal, Raúl Alvarez, Gustavo Adolfo Caceres Ayala, José Gabriel Godínez Avelar and Edy Gonzalo Valle. Those who have been released are so thanks to campaigning within Honduras and abroad, but there are grave concerns that the plan is to keep these five locked up. Those released are not free and safe as such, since being released, there has been constant reports of harassment which they and their families have been targets of by the police – of raids and police vehicles circling against their homes, of being watched, and direct threats from police, telling them, that they won’t send them to prison anymore – they will DISAPPEAR them. The campaigns, protests and pressure demanding freedom for political prisoners and an end to the political persecution against them and their families are ongoing – they are not resting and some of those released joined in, including the only woman political prisoner of this group, who said they must be tireless and keep fighting, for justice for all the political prisoners, and for a more just world.

Attacks against organisers, those at protests, blockades..

On 3 June 2018, in Reitoca, a Lenca indigenous group that organises and protests against the hydroelectricity project Rio Petacón of the company Progelsa – largely owned by businessman Jack Arévalo, was protesting and watching over the river, when some men suddenly appeared armed with machetes and pistols to attack, intimidate and threaten those protesting. It was found out that this shock group attack was organised and contracted by the mayor Marlon Osorto. Congress had given Progelsa a 50 years concession to Progelsa, and to the building company SERMACO, which is owned by the head of the liberal party legislative chamber, Elvin Ernesto Santos. The concession is not meant to be given without consulting those who will be affected, especially if those affected are indigenous, but of course they were not consulted, the government chose to consult people who weren’t going to be affected instead, who would be more agreeable. The government also did tell this community something early on, but it was very vague, something about a company coming to invest in the community and a dam and watering system. People heard the word hydroelectricity dam for the first time, not knowing what it was. Ex mayor (Liberal party) Manuel Meza explicitly tricked the community to grant permission for Progelsa – and of course he would do that, he has since been found guilty by courts for assassinations, homicide, illicit association and sentenced to more than a lifetime in prison for being a politician who had no limits in his quest for wealth. But in time, people caught on and would not permit the exploitation of their only water source, the river. They organised to set up camp and watch and stop the building process on 14 January 2018 wearing cloth that covered their faces to try to keep safe and avoid being targeted, but on 30 January as people arrived on the camp, a police-military contingent fired gunshots at people as well as teargas bombs – Mirian Sorto was shot on her left leg, and only now she has finally recovered from the wound and surgery.

Construction already being underway for the dam meant that people can already see the pollution caused by the dam and are deeply affected already. Fruit orchards in the area are ruined with fruit trees falling over. The Canta Callo hill is destroyed. The Rio Grande river in Reitoca is contaminated and the fishes in it are dead – with fish being a major food source for people who live there. At the beginning of 2017 the river turned all black, it looked like an oil spill had occurred. People recorded videos of the black water and dead fish. Waterways started drying up because of the diversion of the dam structure. They had meetings with the council and with Progelsa and brought them to the river to show them all this. The right thing to do would be to withdraw and regenerate the area but they have done nothing but attack people and try to continue implementing.

To push their profit agenda Progelsa started with attempts to bribe people. Indigenous council president Alejandro Herrera Euceda was approached several times and pressured to sign documents and was even approached by a government official in this way, telling him if only they agree to the completion of the dam that environmentalists can have a millionaire fund of reforestation that they have complete control over. Alejandro Herrera knows his life is at risk, having rejected the offer. Others’ are too. Human rights defender Renán Zelaya received threats on whatsapp from Miguel Angel Osorto Aguero, a very trusted employee of the municipality authority. Other members of the indigenous council have been threatened, with attempts of bribes and then death threats, but people there keep fighting to keep the river alive, in Reitoca where it was once peaceful and picturesque.

On 6 June 2018 in the midnight hours, Marvin Norales got arrested and locked up at the Satuye police station in La Ceiba. Marvin is a directive member of Ofraneh – fraternal black Hondurans’ organisation – an organisation that defends ancestral territories of the Garífuna people, Marvin is accused of usurpation of land in Puerto Castillo.

Also on 6 June 2018, a digital press release came out saying that the Amapala municipality Environmental Unit’s director Miguel Gonzales had affirmed that there is an eviction that will be executed against 700 people who live on 3 of the 13 islands on the peninsula – an area being concessioned for model cities. There was no precise information so people don’t know if they live in one of these islands or not. The region’s territory defence organisation Adepza is investigating to find out where these evictions are being planned so that people can mobilise to defend these territories. Subsequently, on 28 June 2018, Gerardo Aguilar, the director of the area’s community radio La Voz de Zacate Grande, spoke up about persecution and harassment lately against the journalists of the community radio. On the one hand, there are people sending messages of threat against those who run the radio, and on the other, Miguel Facussé’s guards keep searching the journalists when they arrive from the communities to work at the radio or are on the island doing personal errands. And if not harassed by the guards, then they are harassed by the soldiers, who target and question young people, stopping and searching and questioning these. These abuses happen all the time, as the territories are militarised. The targeting of young people is because the government knows that the youth are the ones fighting in resistance, so soldiers have orders to attack the youth.

On 8 June 2018, in Tocoa, there was on this date an occupation of the council building, protesting and demanding that the municipality of Tocoa be declared a municipality that is free of mining and other types of projects of death. The crowd wanted to go inside to deliver their demands to the Mayor Adan Funez. Adan sent the state human rights representative of Conadeh Juan Fraño to tell the crowd that the mayor will only receive up to 6 representatives in his office. When people sent ten representatives they were turned away – Adan left and listened to nobody. So people added to the demand a demand for Adan to step down from being a mayor. Adan went on to denigrate those who protested in the press. In Honduras when this happens, it is a threat of attacks to come.

On 12 June 2018, at Amarateca in Tegucigalpa, a protest of heavy vehicle drivers against the high petrol costs and tollway charges that started the morning before had drivers of heavy vehicles park their vehicles beside the highway as they rallied. Over 30 police agents abruptly began bashing up people there accusing these of ‘blocking the way’. Police arrested 13 people and one was hurt so bad he was rushed to emergency, and when they were bashing him people thought the police was going to kill him, and anyone who tried to intervene were getting beatings. Once the 13 were arrested, they were identified, registered, and then released.

On 13 June 2018, in San Francisco, Locomapa, Yoro, indigenous leader Ramón Matute was machete stabbed in the front and back and robbed of his belongings by the Tribal Directive Council vicepresident – Ramón belongs to MADJ environment and human rights movement, and is a defender especially of the forest and indigenous Tolupán territory, which was the reason he was attacked. Yoro authorities are supposed to protect Ramón and other environmental defenders as ordered by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, but instead, it authorises illegally concessions to the forest, and Yoro police had said and done nothing about this attack. This is in the context of worsening tensions and confrontations between forest defenders and forest loggers from the weekend before.

On 28 June 2018, a group of young people gathered at the Plaza Cuba in Tegucigalpa on this anniversary date marking 9 years of military coup, and protested the fraud that kept the dictatorship going. After putting on the national anthem, the people went to block a road, and that was when a police contingent arrived and started launching pepper gas at the young people, bashing them with batons, hitting them with stones. Some men in an Honduran energy company EEH car ran over a protester, trapping his body under the car. One man from inside the car kicked the glass window from inside the car and this splattered broken glass cut into the hands of 2 young people in the protest. More than 20 police were chasing protesters. .

Another community with an ongoing struggle against a hydroelectricity dam and suffering ongoing attacks from the dam company and its proponents is the San José community in La Paz, against La Aurora 1, in the protected area of El Jilguero Reserve. People opposing are threatened and definitely have not been consulted, and communities are divided. Despite that there are no assassinations as yet, people know that this is something that can happen, because of very tense conflicts that are in the community. There are some people of MILPAH organisation who have protection measures, but they are not actually safe, because the recommendation is that they obtain security escort, but the state claims there aren’t resources to provide these (but there are always resources for repression). The Aurora 1 dam has the National party behind it because it is owned by the party’s president and parliamentarian Gladys Aurora Lopez.

Attacks against journalists

On 2 June 2018, journalist Nincy Perdomo was trying to cover a mobilisation of the Alianza against the dictatorship outside the Presidential house building in Tegucigalpa, and was filming the riot squad water thank, when this very water tank attacked and shot at and impacted on Nincy’s body with direct and full pressure.

On 3 June 2018, a number of community journalists around the city of Choluteca tried to cover the developing news and were blocked by the police in charge of the prison from accessing the scene: there were at least 111 people arrested and locked up, many of whom had from the police brutality intense abdominal pains and were denied medical attention.

On 8 June 2018, community journalist Fabio Hernán Vallecillo who lives in Juticalpa, Olancho, was covering a scene of police abuse under ‘operation dragon’ in which they raided a nightclub and arrested a group of young people who were there without identification papers. ‘Sure, I was disgusted, I am human and when I see abuse.., so I told them these operations are pure shows going around grabbing youths who aren’t carrying ID cards and the real delinquent that you officers know where they live are happier than ever’. For having said that, police straight away handcuffed him, threw him into the police patrol and Fabio was locked up for 24 hours before being released.

On 10 June 2018, there was an online article that went out fraudulently, made to look like a Reporteros de Investigación article by using their logo. This fake article had the message of that militarisation of schools helped reduce drug dealers´ access to the schools. This happened after Reporteros de Investigación published articles covering the militarisation in schools and how soldiers have been sexually assaulting female students – so of course they are critical of the militarisation which they clearly see as social control and abuse against students. Such fake articles undermine the work and reputation of the organisation.

On 29 June 2018, journalists Lucía Alvarado of HRN and Manolo Escoto of TSI were in court covering the hearing of Juan Carlos Madariaga – a public official accused of money laundering over US$3 million in the IHSS scandal (IHSS is a health service for workers), when Juan’s siblings Jośe Luís and sister asked them to stop recording and the journalists responded saying it was a public hearing and they had the right to film. When a guilty verdict was given, the family slashed out at the journalists threatening them and were physically attacking them – they did this in the view of public and private security guards who did nothing to intervene.

On the night of 30 June 2018, in Olanchito in Yoro, TNS news and Hoy Mismo correspondent Javier Edgardo Rodríguez was covering arrests at the police station. Javier approached and filmed arrestees when he saw they have been hurt and were yelling out that they were beaten by police for no reason. As he filmed, he saw that one of the arrestees was his brother so he started interviewing his brother on camera, asking why he was being arrested. His brother told him that it was because they refused to be searched, so a search was forcefully carried out and they were arrested. The police immediately ordered Javier to turn off his camera and leave – when he refused, they pulled him away from the arrestees by force. As they took arrestees into lock-up, Javier continued filming. A police car was leaving and stopped and Subinspector Jorge Luis Salgado stormed out from it and pressed Javier against the wall, broke his camera, and yelled at him saying it meant nothing to the police that Javier were a journalist. Four other police came and dragged Javier into a police cell abruptly. He was illegally arrested from 8pm that night until 1am, his release was obtained through pressure by his colleagues – they sought justice saying that the arrest was wrong, but police responded saying they are the authority and will always have the power. The security minister had on 1 July 2018 announced in a public statement that this arrest was because the journalist disrespected the authority.

Trans Immigrant died having endured abuses at an US Immigration Detention

Honduran transperson Roxana Hernández tried for the third and last time to cross the border into the US, when she turned herself into the immigration authorities. These authorities kept her in places known as ‘freezers’ for some time, and then transferred her to the Cibola detention Centre in New Mexico where she died having suffered abuses. On 6 June 2018 activists in Mexico and US protested against the authorities involvement in murdering and covering up this murder. Authorities claimed that she died because of complications from HIV, pneumonia, and heart attack. They told the Honduran family they could pay US$8-10,000 if they want the body delivered to Honduras, that the economic option is to have her cremated and the ashes delivered. If the family had the resources to pay for the body, Roxana probably would not have undertaken this risky journey so many are pushed to make. If her body is cremated then there can be no autopsy to expose what had killed Roxana. People were demanding the Honduran state to pay this cost, so there could be justice for Roxana. Roxana is not the first trans person to die in the immigration detention centres of US, there is a Mexican who died in one having had physical and sexual abuses in the detention centre and refused access to HIV treatment for 3 months. Victoria Arellano died chained to a bed.

Meaningless ‘Fair Trade’ labelling

Fyffes melon and pineapples plantations company based in Honduras and Costa Rica received ‘fair trade’ certification despite repeat complaints of labour abuses and violation and attacks against unionism. In May 2017 Fyffes was suspended from being a member of ETI – Ethical Trade Initiative – but this is ignored by Fair Trade USA that certified a subsidiary of Fyffes in April 2018 – Suragroh – as a socially and environmentally sustainable company, which guarantees safe and healthy work, transparency, and sustainable production and respect for biodiversity. Very absurd, given Fyffes refuses to recognise unions and creates two fake unions, and when there are repeat episodes in which workers suffer from poisoning from fumigation.

Honduras coup update – May 2018

 

 

 

Honduras coup update – May 2018

This May had repression including of May Day protests around Honduras, and lots of attacks against defenders of land, environment and territory including one murder, a number of political prisoners released on bail but a few remain locked up, attacks against journalists, and the congress moves towards making compulsory both military service and bible reading in schools..

Repression at protests

The May Day protest repression of 2018 was said to be one of the worst in Honduras for decades. Around the country, as well as fighting for workers’ rights, workers were calling for freedom for the political prisoners and for two disappeared comrades (following arrest) – Rolando Vindel and Gustavo Morales – to reappear, and for justice for compas who have been assassinated, and for JOH to get out, still, and already. Not long into the marches, people were attacked by security forces with teargases – teargases so heavy people could not breathe. The people there included children, older people and pregnant women. Similarly, security forces chased and bashed people – people including women, children, older people, people with disabilities. People showing solidarity with others targeted in the repression became targets themselves: 26 years old Esdras Meza tried to help a woman who was choking on teargases when he got ambushed by 6 security forces agents who grabbed him without saying a word to arrest him. He tried to break free saying he was just trying to help a woman but it was other human rights defenders’ presence and another organised worker who physically pulled him away quickly that managed to de-arrest him. And young journalist Jorge Merlo tried to film police brutality when hooded uniformed agents proceeded to hit his camera. A foreign journalist who is a correspondent in Honduras for New York Times, The Guardian and MinnPost was also capturing records of police brutality when he was attacked by police, he was heard saying, ‘I am press, you are going to beat me…don’t beat me, I am the press.’ Many street vendors – mostly of food, had the food they were selling and equipment they were using confiscated by security agents. The attack in Tegucigalpa lasted for ninety whole minutes. Three protesters got arrested and locked up from Tegucigalpa, their names are Pedro Angel Trochez, Cristian Alberto and Gerson Anual Irías. The council building was set on fire – only perhaps it was not the rage of people who set it on fire, since the people who burnt the buildings did it as police and military watched and the agents barely moved to intervene – there were lots of police and soldiers around since the city was heavily militarised – so it was allowed to happen to later pick up other people and accuse them of this ‘crime’. In Tegucigalpa, the protest was evicted before they reached the central park where they read the workers’ proclamation every year. In Choluteca, Choloma and San Pedro Sula, protests were also heavily attacked by security forces with teargases and beatings.

On 4 May 2018, the monthly rally – first Friday of each month since decades ago – of Cofadeh human rights organisation, was held. Relatives of disappeared political activists stood with their lost loved ones. Military police came too – they came to intimidate people photographing them to profile and scare them.

On 18 May 2018, in Choluteca city, a protest against electricity fee increases started for barely twenty minutes when the military police began to attack people – including children and older people – with water tanks and teargases. There was a confrontation lasting over 2 hours. In the process, uniformed agents gave death threats against defenders and journalists including against journalist Johana Arecely Contreras of Mega Red Nacional – they also threatened her with putting drugs in her house to frame her and lock her up – this is on top of 4 other threats she has received this year already. From this protest, five were arrested and held until their initial hearing the next day.

On 29 May 2018, activist Hugo Lopez was to appear in Ocotepeque courts – at risk of being imprisoned by the dictatorship.

Attacks against the earth, environment defenders, indigenous people and organisers

On 3 May 2018, the Pajuiles community that has a camp blockading the construction of a hydroelectricity dam of Hidrocep that would damage the mountain ranges and contaminate the Mezapa river, woke up this morning to militarisation – a contingent of 200 police in 3 convoys and 7 patrols were there at the camp armed with shields, bullet proof vests, teargases. The agents brutally attacked people who have laid down on the road to block machinery. Businessperson Hawit representing the Hidrocep company was also there to watch the security contingent attack people and he was there filming people’s faces using his phone, as were some of his body guards. When community member Gustavo Norberto Lopez Melgar filmed police violence and violent eviction, however, he was arrested. Only the day before, eleven persons (including one woman) of the organisation MADJ in this Pajuiles struggle appeared before a judge, being charged with coercion against Hidrocep.

On this same day, from La Paz, the Las Huertas Lenca indigenous community, Tutule, the Lenca and campesino leader Carlos López Calix was charged this day by prosecutors with land usurpation – this is after him and another comrade Samuel Edgardo Lopez Martinez having been locked up for four months from 18 July 2017 last year when judge Hugo Danilo Torres Perez decided on denying them bail. The pair were given bail again on 11 November 2017 with bail conditions that isolated these and impacted on their subsistence. On 18 February 2018 they were no longer two people facing the same thing together – Samuel’s life was abruptly ended, after having been followed by a police patrol and then found dead. Given these circumstances and the impending hearing, alone, Carlos and his community are in fear of what can happen. In La Paz, at least 700 people of 49 campesino bases have charges against them. Carlos’ farmers group, that he has not been able to participate in due to bail conditions, are having it hard – some comrades are gone, and their base has been evicted at least 26 times. Yet they do what they can, support one another, and get by with crops of chokos, oranges, cassavas, coffee, fruits and veggies.

At another farmers group also in Tutule, La Paz, there had been capture orders against 8 farmers, 2 of whom had been captured – Luis Alfonso Tejeda Orellana and Arturo Salinas… and Yecenia Padilla Orellana had voluntarily submitted herself to the court – the three were in court then on 10 May 2018 before judge Hugo Daniel Torres, who formally charged these with usurpation against Rosario Dominga Reynoso. The farmers are affiliated with the farmers federation CNTC. In La Paz there are over 40 land recuperations going on of hundreds of families, many are harassed, threatened, persecuted and charged.

Just outside of Tegucigalpa, at La Tigre, on 8 May 2018, the hitmen fired gunshots at Cecilio Figueroa, assassinating him. Days before, Cecilio himself and other relatives have placed complaints as there was already an attempt of assassination then, but the authorities did nothing to prevent this subsequent assassination. Cecilio was a social leader who had received threats as he organised defending this protected area of La Tigre, and spoke up about the warnings that his community would be evicted. La Tigre, is the only source of water and lungs (forest) left of Tegucigalpa and surrounding areas. It is an area looked after by ancestral people of these lands. There, they grow fruits, veggies, and flowers, that are sold in markets in the city. The threats began when they heard and responded to notifications from the Forests Department that they would be evicted. The eviction is driven by the government towards the building of a model city or other such ‘development’.

On 9 May 2018, Pedro Canales, a leader of the ADEPZA organisation for many years that have worked defending beaches and territory in and around Zacate Grande, suffered a second attempt against him and others through the mechanical manipulation of his car. A hole had been forced on the radiator of his car. Just weeks before on 16 or 17 April, someone had inserted into his car’s petrol tank honey and sugar. Both actions can cause the motor to overheat and explode if not addressed in time. This occurred at the same time as a scare campaign by the guards and families affiliated with the infamous powerful and murderous Facussé family to re-occupy the Los Hornos community – this family has expressed that it will push out people who are there to push in its people.

On 14 May 2018, in Tocoa, in the Guapinol community, police arrived at a protest against open pit mining – community members have already lost access to water in their homes as a consequence of this mining.

On 15 May 2018, the community of Valle de Siria now has a number of community members and leaders who have received death threats for opposing a geothermic project 12 Tribus SA de CV of ORMAT. Valle de Siria is infamous for the consequences of sicknesses, disability and death the community suffered from open pit mining of Entremares. People have learnt that promises of ‘development’ means development only for the companies.

In the north of Honduras, the San Francisco Tolupan indigenous tribe, has currently a camp since February 2018 blockading loggers of INMARE of Wilder Domínguez, from logging the pine forest there on indigenous territory. They have stopped company trucks that intend on plundering over 16,000 cubic metres of wood without the tribe’s permission. On 29 May 2018, the camp community received a court summon to attend court on 31 May 2018 in Yoro, threatened with charges of disobedience – which carries as penalty prison term of 1-3 years for each person found guilty. The Honduran state is of course and as always in the wrong for granting the concession without consulting indigenous people. The indigenous environmental defenders have from 2013 IACHR protection measures after 3 of their leaders were assassinated by hitmen in another highway blockade against logging and mining, in the same place. The community is in danger, but they are responding by organising more and having more presence in the camp. Currently, four indigenous leaders have received death threats: José María Pineda, Angela Murillo, Celso Cabrera and Ramón Matute. On 25 May 2018 Ramón Matute had to change his mobile number because in his name, some people have been calling his family members threatening them.

On 22 May 2018, in Gracias a Dios, where in 2012, the DEA and Honduran authorities together opened fire on a boat killing four indigenous people, now on this date in the Warunta community, a similar thing re-occurred. Military police were patrolling the waterway, when they signalled for a passing boat to stop, and fired warning shots when it didn’t. The warning shots were heard by other groups of soldiers around the place and they all suddenly arrived on the scene then and surrounded the streets around the lagoon so people from the boat couldn’t escape. The military police again approached the boat and made stop signals, when the boat didn’t stop, again, the soldiers fired ‘warning shots’ again and these hit and killed two indigenous people and wounded another. It was reported that in this context of rage at the military police killing and wounding people, a soldier was stabbed at and wounded. The infuriated and aggrieved community also set the Puerto Lempira council building and state building on fire and destroyed businesses.

On 23 May 2018, at the Tierra del Padre site where the lenca indigenous community there have ancestral land title that is officially recognised from 1736, but where a landowner called Mario Facussé Handal is claiming ownership and manipulating the indigenous council with infiltration and threats, indigenous member and organiser Angel Lanza Galvez received a threat, he was told, ‘you are going to see, with this pistol, I will give it to you all, because whatever happens, they will evict you and I am going to stay here.’ Since the beginning of this resistance against the territory being taken over, 11 villagers have been charged, as the ‘justice’ is always on the side of the powerful.

On 27 May 2018, at 4.40pm, the families of the Young Martyrs of Tumbador Movement recuperated the El Tumbador land in the Guadalupe Carney community in Trujillo, Colón, but when they woke up the next morning they found themselves surrounded by Dinant (palm giant company) security guards and a heavily armed Honduran army – this contingent in the next two hours or more chased and evicted the families there. Dinant security guards particularly actively insulted and threatened the women there. There is a very long history of struggle, repression and broken promises by the state in relation to this farm

Updates on the situation of political prisoners

Of the 23 political prisoners from the period of multitudes of paralysing barricades across the country with the message ‘Get Out JOH’ everywhere, there has been a number of political prisoners released this month through pressure from the campaigns on the streets. Also lots of reports about how bad the conditions in the prisons are or were..

The first to be released on bail this month was Jhony Salgado (38), on 3 May 2018, having been locked up for 4 months and 4 days in El Progreso prison, during which time, a long time, he, and others, had to imagine being there for years, knowing there are people locked up for 15 years without a sentence. He remembers how police raided his house and took him and packed him onto the paddy wagon, ignoring his questions of what he was being arrested for. He was taken to a soccer field and this time, when he asked why they were doing this to him, they answered saying he was a ‘terrorist’. He was then transferred to investigative police, locked up, a report of fiction was typed up and he was told, sign or be bashed. Jhony is relieved to finally be outside, but is scared that they (police) could grab him and kill him at any moment, he has been threatened. Despite all this, ‘I feel like a new person. I feel grateful with all the people that are supporting me and now it’s my turn to put in a bit to help people who are locked up and give strength to them and their family too.’

On 5 May 2018, young political prisoners Maynor Ariel Reyes Mejía was released from El Pozo maximum security prison on bail. While in prison, they were constantly refused visitors – they would change to get ready, and their families would come every Sunday, only to be turned away, except once, on 31 December 2017, but they were charged over $100 each for a visitor ID card. The conditions there were freezing, their heads were shaved, they were psychologically abused, and were once thrown into punishment cells for 26 days, and in there they could not tell day from night, and were not allowed to shower. To get through this time, he thought of his mum.

On 9 May 2018, political prisoner Edwin Espinal, with an extreme record of political persecution against him, and having suffered the pains of losing his partner Wendy in 2009 to a fatal attack by teargases, as well as losing his brother to assassination, mistaken for himself, and a series of attacks including arrests, raid, kidnapping, he is currently locked up in La Tolva. While some others are getting released, when his bail conditions review hearing was held in court, his lawyers knew that the application for bail was going to be denied because Judge Claudio Aguilar was the judge: the same judge who has it against him and ordered a raid against his home back in 2013. The human rights organisation offered evidence, bond, asked for home arrest, transfer, anything but what he is under now, but it was all refused by judge Claudio Aguilar.

On 10 May 2018, from El Pozo maximum security prison, political prisoners Daniel Eduardo Santos Ordoñez, José Orlando Santos Ordoñez, and Edwin Nahúm Amaya Sánchez were released on bail. They were captured in a group of 11 including one woman on 26 December 2017, accused of looting, hurting police and burning down a police station in Pimienta.

On 13 May 2018, there are still 10 political prisoners, still not granted bail, between prisons in La Tolva, El Progreso, and El Pozo. They are: Edwin Robelo Espinal, Raúl Eduardo Álvarez Ordóñez, Gustavo Adolfo Cáceres Ayala, Dany Javier Banegas Reyes, Olvin Nahúm Villanueva Avilés, Omar Enrique Velásquez Yánez, Néstor Armando Almendarez Rodríguez, Marvin Antonio Godoy Arias, José Gabriel Godínez Avelar and Edy Gonzalo Valle.

On 22 May 2018, an international human rights delegation of seven from Canada arrived at the airport in Tegucigalpa to campaign for the freedom of political prisoner Edwin Espinal and all the other political prisoners. They were held back and retained for 4 hours by immigration as they entered – 5 of them were interrogated one by one for four hours. The most interrogated one was Karen Spring, human rights defender who has worked in Honduras since 2009, and Edwin’s partner, Karen was returning to Honduras after a trip to Canada. Others were interrogated about their interest in and concern for the human rights issues since the electoral fraud and violence – Janet Spring: Edwin’s mother-in-law, Jesse Freeston: filmmaker, Meg Jordan: Elmvale pastor, and William Reeves: emergency doctor. Ben Powless (photographer) and Grahame Russell (director of Rights Action) waited outside for the others while liaising with national and international human rights organisations. They came to campaign, and to push to see Edwin Espinal and Raul Alvarez at La Tolva, as they have been allowed almost no visits in the time since imprisonment. They managed a visit. His mother in law Janet said Edwin was vary pale, that his health was deteriorating, he has lost weight, is dehydrated, that the food he is given is bad, and that his spirit is broken by the cruel and degrading treatment in prison.

It was noted that on 22 May 2018, 17 of the 23 political prisoners have been released on bail. So five were still locked up, Edwin Espinal and Raul Alvarez amongst these.

Grahame Russell said that Edwin and Raúl ‘send many greetings and thanks to all of the resistance in Honduras and all the human rights activists and the Honduran press that has accompanied the Canadian delegation today. They know that we are in the country and also at the international level speaking up about the arbitrary and abusive detention.’

La Tolva maximum security prison – where Edwin and Raúl are held – has atrocious conditions. Food is inadequate and unsafe – chicken is served half cooked still bloody for example. Drinking water is yellow and there are dirty remnants floating at the bottom. Both food and water are very limited so its not like inmates can choose. There is nothing for inmates to do to pass time, no materials for handycrafts, etc. Visits are sporadic and limited and visitors – especially women, are sometimes made to strip off clothing for a full search, some have been obligated to show that they are not carrying anything inside their bodies in their intimate parts. Inmates are only allowed 3 hours of sunshine. After visits, prisoners are searched in case they carried anything in their bodies.

Other attacks against journalists

UNE TV is one of few mainstream medias left in Honduras covering news on the side of the people, so its journalists are especially targeted for repression.

On 4 May 2018, there was repression against a protest demanding the liberation of political prisoners. When a military police held two social activists, UNE TV journalist Víctor Rodríguez filmed and asked the activists what had happened, and was told by the military police that filming was prohibited. Víctor responded that it was his job and freedom to film and take photos – to that the military police Aldo Rodríguez got annoyed and started to take photos of UNE TV journalists there and everyone in turn focussed their cameras on this military police. Officer Aldo Rodríguez got violent, hit Víctor in the chest, knocked his back onto a wall, and grabbed his right arm and bent it back, while another military police went to hit Victor’s camera. Victor’s compas were quick in filming and applying pressure, so Víctor was not arrested, but all journalists filmed by the military police are all at risk of persecution.

On 20 May 2018, one of few critical journalists left in the south of Honduras in Choluteca, Jairo López, director of tv program El Informador, was driving with his police escort – he has one because he is politically persecuted and is on a Protection Mechanism program – when he was stopped by police at a checkpoint in Pavana, in which while other cars were just asked to lower their windows, he was made to stop for a complete search.

On 21 May 2018, at the UNE TV studio, journalist Ronny Martínez was transmitting live on TV when he received messages from his workmates that his car signal lights were on and a window was left open. As soon as there was a news break, he went outside to the carpark to check. He saw that the back window on the other side of the car was broken, that his wallet as well as some papers in a suitcase were taken from the backseat, but other things were left behind. It was also noticed that the security camera in the carpark normally pointing to his car was raised to face higher to not capture what happened at the car. This is the second time in two months people had broken into his car and taken things that are likely to contain sensitive information related to his journalism or parliamentarian work (being a Libre parliamentarian), the first time was in his birthtown, Danlí, El Paraíso. He has been recognised as a politically persecuted person by IACHR since 2010.

On 22 May 2018, the alarm was raised that smear campaigns have been orchestrated again against several human rights defenders and journalists.

Against human rights organisation Ciprodeh’s director, Wilfredo Méndez, there was a viral video on whatsapp that framed him as someone who profits from human rights work saying that Ciprodeh receives millions of lempiras every year and from that Wilfredo spends on travels around the world. A message said, ‘in Honduras we don’t need scammers, much less fellow countrymen who don’t recognise the work of the military in our neighbourhoods where before we could not feel safe… the defenders are a complete failure, if WILFREDO MENDEZ really worked, there wouldn’t be so many deaths’.

Against Lennys Fajardo, journalist of COQUIMBO group – digital media, and member of PEN International Honduras, they cloned her facebook profile page and had her fake facebook profile show her to belong to the National Party of Honduras. Since the beginning of May, Lennys has had five people use fake facebook profiles to frame and attack her.

Against Gilda Silvestrucci, correspondent of Telesur and Radio Globo director of the program ‘En la Plaza’ has for months been subject to threats, insults and harassment on social media, by someone who goes by the facebook name of ‘Ramón Jérez’. On 1 May she was told there ‘you are going to wake up sprayed by gunshots’ and many other messages about her being a woman, about her private life and about her children. There’s someone else too who harasses and threatens her using phone calls.

Obligatory military service

Military service is currently not obligatory in Honduras but the congress is wanting to introduce mandatory military service. Human rights defender Juan Almendarez asserted that governments try to introduce this when they feel weak when they are facing war – but that the war in front of Honduras is one against its own people.

Bibles in the schools

They don’t stop at making military service obligatory, they don’t stop at anything. The congress is pushing in Honduras to make bible reading an obligatory part of schooling, saying it is to reduce violence and corruption, its proponents of course are corrupt, and not for a lack of compulsory bible reading.

April 2018 Honduras Coup update

April 2018 Honduras coup update

Five months on from the beginning of the fraudulent re-election of JOH and the fiery struggle to stop this dictatorship, the dictatorship continues to be such and is attacking anyone still resounding the words ‘Get out JOH’ and chasing others they remember as having been loud in this struggle. Similarly it has under siege farmers who are continuing their years of struggle for land and justice, journalists and environmental defenders are similarly persecuted for continuing to tell the stories and for being there to stop mines and dams. An ex police who joined the struggle against JOH was threatened and now assassinated.

Continued attacks againt people calling for JOH to get OUT including an assassination against an ex-police

While there isn’t currently a blockade in every highway from early every morning to stop the JOH regime that has assassinated many for participating in exactly this before, the JOH dictatorship continues to act with brutality and severity against those who keep the fire burning.

On 31 March 2018, José Duarte was murdered (40th person killed by the JOH fraud dictatorship regime). José was a police agent, but he quitted and joined in with the struggle on the streets and in social media. Before having been killed, he was seen on UNE TV speaking up about being persecuted by the police force for having taken up a position of struggle for justice.

On 3 April 2018, in Tegucigalpa, young Jorge Espinal was somewhere writing ‘Get out JOH’ when a military police launched into brutally beating him to the point of leaving him disabled.

On 4 April 2018, in Choloma, police proceeded without any capture orders to arrest 13 youths who regularly participated in the protest marches.

On 18 April 2018, in Marcovia, Choluteca, people were protesting against the fraud and calling for an end to corruption, when the protest was met with repression and some youths were arrested.

On 22 April 2018, in Tegucigalpa, at night time, lawyer Claudia and her spouse were illegally arrested by police when they were found with a flag of the Libre party – Claudia had been at a protest outside the presidential house with a placard saying ‘Get Out JOH’. As well as arresting them police tried to plant (literally) a marijuana plant in their backyard to then sue them for the possession of drugs.

On 23 April 2018, in Las Vegas, Santa Bárbara, police arrested Darwin Pacheco, who is active in the struggle against the fraude and dictatorship. He is falsely accused of having participated in the burning of the local police station during the antifraud protests there.

Also on this date, one of the over 20 political prisoners of the JOH regime Jhony Salgado, was finally released after having been imprisoned for almost 4 months. He is granted bail to continue the court case outside the prison. The charges he faces are: carrying of commercial weapons illegally, and undue use of police uniform.

The defence lawyer taking his case is Merlyn Bonilla who is herself the parent of a victim of an extrajudicial execution in Agua Blanca El Progreso.

Just to push the point further that the JOH dictatorship regime is very touchy about being told to get out, back in December 2017 when there was a campaign to write ‘get out JOH’ on the money notes of Honduras as one means of protest. THe Central Bank of Honduras president Manuel Bautista warned that all notes intentionally damaged with ‘offensive’ writings on them won’t be received by the banking institutions saying they will ‘lose their value’.

Farmers and land under siege

Especially at the region occupied by palm oil giants such as Dinant in Bajo Aguán, but also in other regions such as La Paz, farmers have faced this month sieges, threats, intimidation and arrests.

On 1 April, the Paso Aguán farm in the Panamá community in Trujillo, Colón, in Bajo Aguán had been told they will be evicted. In addition, people heard that the army will use strategies like planting weapons and drugs and then ‘finding’ these in raids in order to arrest farmers and warp public opinions, and planting infiltrators within the movement. They are resorting to these measures as they had found that farmers’ land struggles keep on going despite violent eviction, teargases, killings, threats and persecution. Back in October and November, during the soldiers’ occupation of the farm, farmer José Alfredo Rodríguez and the 13 year old Mancias were murdered on this farm.

On 5 April 2018, in Paso Aguán, voluntarily withdrawn from areas where farmers organise were Dinant guards and Xatruch army agents who have occupied there since May 2014 – but as these left in their trucks they took away with them people’s work tools, tractors, horses, etc. Farmers also point out that of the region, the area farmers occupy is small in comparison with the area Dinant and the military occupied there.

This withdrawal was not a sign of better times ahead. The very next day on 6 April 2018, the Xatruche operation arrested there Ariel Chávez at 5pm. Ariel is a son of Gregorio Chávez – the name of the farmers movement there because Gregorio was a farmer activist there who was murdered on 2 July 2012. Ariel was selling what he had harvested that day from the land he worked that he inherited from his dad. When people approached police to ask for information about the arrest of their compa Ariel, security agents threatened these, getting their weapons ready and pointing these at the community members, including at the Aguan Agrarian Platform coordinator.

Elsewhere, in Lepaguare, Tutule, La Paz, on 11 April 2018, police captured Arturo Salinas when he was on this way to work. Arturo belongs to the farmers group 8 de febrero and the group is associated with CNTC – national federation of rural workers. On his capture order it says he is accused of usurpation of land.

Another farmers group of Bajo Aguán was undersiege on 14 April 2018 – the La Concepción MUCA settlement in Tocoa, Colón. A heavy military and police contingent arrived to the home of Lazaro Peralta and of some other neighbours there, this military occupation started at 5am, without announcing what their intentions were. People feared Lazaro would be arrested because back in 2016 there was a similar operation against him in which him and his dad were arrested. Four hours on, Lazaro Peralta was arrested, as were Diego Ruiz and Bairon Peralta, all MUCA campesino leaders. All three were charged with the supposed illegal possession of weapons – Lazaro and his dad faced this charge too back in 2016 (he was found not guilty then for lack of evidence). The three were meant to have hearing for the arrest on 14 April at 8am on 15 April – however they were surprised with a new charge of attempt of assassination which caused the hearing to be suspended and moved onto 30 April. This delay meant that the three were imprisoned for 8 days before being granted bail after the new charge was dismissed for lack of evidence. The weapons possession charge remains – the regime is using his charge lots against activists at the moment as part of their strategy. Lazaro is amongst MUCA leaders who since over 2 months ago have been pushing for a MUCA assembly to elect a new directive committee for MUCA because the current one is imposed by a paramilitary group – something that would have singled these out for persecution, in a context with many farmers charged, others assassinated, some both.

Communities and advocates defending indigenous territory and nature against mines, dams and megaprojects also being attacked..

On 4 April 2018, Eulogia García who has received a chain of threats spoke up about new threats she is receiving from an identified National Party activist. Eulogia is a defender who actively opposes a mining company, and who defends indigenous and women’s rights as a Lenca indigenous woman. She is of the San Antonio Chuchiltepec community in the Zacapa municipality in Santa Bárbara. She belongs to MAS – Santa Barbara Environment Movement.

On 5 April, the El Triunfo community of Choluteca were protesting and calling on the mining company that wants to impose itself there to leave, when the company’s agents fired gunshots against women there. In response to the gunshot attack, people threw stones at the attackers.

On 12 April, in San José, La Paz, two police armed with guns and bulletproof vests arrived at the door of Liliam López and her children, asked her son at the door for water and then used that as a pretext to enter the house and once inside they began threateningly searching the house. Liliam’s son asked to see the search warrant saying they can’t do that without one, the police ignored him and continued searching, raiding. When they were done and had found nothing incriminating, they took a photo of the son and left without saying anything, and fled by flagging down a moto-taxi. Liliam López is the women’s coordinator of the indigenous organisation Copinh. When a complaint was placed at the police about the raid, police said they have no record of themselves doing that. Not only was the raid itself a grave violation, it is also a sign that the lives of those targeted in this attack are at risk.

On 14 April, the Pajuiles sector is on alert as they are taking direct action to blockade the Hidrocep company from moving in their machinery to imposing and building the hydroelectricity dam Los Planes. If this project goes ahead, the water source of the community is threatened. The community blockading the machines from the area are at risk of attacks from the company and state.

This same day, in La Paz, Lenca indigenous leader Hilario López has been released after having been found not guilty for the charge of homocide, however, the charge and hearing continue for the charge of illegally carrying weapons.

On 30 April 2018, in Arizona, Atlántida, mayor Arnoldo Chacón is being charged and threatened for accompanying communities in opposition to mining and hydroelectric projects there on the Hilmaito river. The Hilmaito river is the main water source in the area. He is doubly charged with defamation and usurpation of land, together with 4 community leaders. Through Radio Progreso, concerns are raised too about possible plans to assassinate him, given that his lawyer Carlos Hernández has been assassinated.

Against students

On 5 April 2018, at night time when students who work during the day took night classes, hooded police and military under the direction of a prosecutor surrounded the Genaro Munoz school and entered it en-masse and in the name of a prevention operation. They began to search all the students, in some cases taking advantage of the situation to sexually harass – to touch the intimate parts of some female students’ bodies.

In Costa Rica, the student activist and Honduran refugee Eduardo Urbina who has been detained for a few days by the Costa Rican migration authorities (where he was living and seeking asylum), was finally granted refugee status as a politically persecuted person in Honduras and released from immigration prison.

On 19 April 2018, police and cobra squads violently evicted launching teargases repeatedly against students protests at the UNAH campus in Tegucigalpa. There was one protest in solidarity with a UNAH-VS student who has been raped on campus, demanding a safer environment to study in. Another protest was of the MAU broad university movement commemorating the 30th anniversary of the capture and subsequent disappearance of Roger Gonzáles.

Threats and intimidation against journalists

On 23 April 2018, Noti Omoa owner, and Omoa Cortés correspondent for HRN radio and Sinprodoh TV, Mauricio Ortega, received death threats on a facebook message. The message read: “Mauricio no te metas donde no te incumbe x andar ese micrófono diciendo lo que no podes quedar con el osico llena de moscas malparido” – which is something along the lines of – Mauricio you and your microphone, get out of what is none of your business or you will be dead and have flies covering your body. The message was sent from the facebook name of “Mgp Capitan Barcaza”. The same day he got this threat, he was followed in the car at night by a black van without numberplate when he was driving home with his spouse and daughter after having gone to a family gathering.

On 24 April 2018, in San Francisco, La Paz, Olancho, journalist Carlos Roberto Flores was filming a car accident scene involving the police patrol PN-614, in which the police was arresting a motorcyclist, when police threatened the journalist carrying credentials to stop recording or have his camera confiscated. When he continued the police approached him to hit at the camera and at the same time, touched the gun the police carried. The footage of this was put on San Pancho TV.

On 25 April 2018, in Choluteca city, Mega Red Nacional (national mega network) journalist Johana Arecely Contreras was intimidated for the fourth time this year by state security agents. This time, she was covering police repression at a protest in which police launched peppergas at young people who had to flee and find refuge, when she was attacked by police. The video showing what happened is here: https://www.facebook.com/MegaRedNacional/videos/2037652866450046/ – it shows the police tried to hit Johana with a baton and then started to film her face – and immediately at least 5 uniformed agents ambushed her to intimidate her and invade her space, yelling at her, ‘look for something else to do, its better if you go to sleep’. Johana was filming police repression in which they launched pepper gas at young people and they had to flee and find refuge. Previously, back in January, soldiers on patrol 6314 obstructed her work twice, and on 28 March 2018 motorised police officer Moran attacked her directly when she was covering a protest – she was on a motorcycle and officer Moran aggressively forced her off the motorcycle and snatched and threw away her mobile phone with which she was transmitting live and beat her.

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update

 

 

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update

3 March 2018

In Tela, Yusa, 16 communities gathered organising against mining and extractivism, and chanting, Berta Caceres presente, on this 2 year anniversary of her assassination.

5 March 2018

In Namasigue, Choluteca, the community camp Rancherías was set up to oppose the imposition without consultation of a solar park project by the Norwegian company Scatec Solar (that operates as Energías Solares in Honduras). On this date, four unidentified men on motorcycles set on fire this camp including a hut people built. They away the flag and yelled abuse at the villagers. ‘We hold the company and the two people the company has contracted to be responsible for this and any other attacks, because they have been following us and taking photos of us and abusing community leaders.’ The camp is mostly women, this struggle has been for over 2 years.

Around this 2 year anniversary of the murder of well-known indigenous activist Berta Cáceres, on this date, one more was arrested for her murder -Roberto David Castillo. Roberto David Castillo is an electrical engineer and graduate of US military of West Point, who has been dam company DESA’s Board of Directors president and legal representative since 7 November 2011 and granted power of administration for DESA since 1 December2011. He is also the president of Panama based PEMSA -one of two main shareholders of DESA. He has also been the Management Control Coordinator of ENEE (state electricity company) since 14 January 2018. Prior to DESA, he was the second lieutenant of the Honduran army’s military intelligence. His arrest is significant, however, the masterminds of the assassination remain untouched.

6 March 2018

Unidentified persons raided the office of Grupo Sociedad Civil (Civil Society Group) and stole only documents. The group’s director Jessica Sánchez and her team has been accompanying the MAS – Santa Bárbara environmentalist movement, as well as work in defence of women’s rights, demanding the end to femicides in Honduras. This raid happened shortly before International Women’s day, and just days before the election of new representatives on the Protection Mechanisms Board.

This day was last day and day four of the hunger strike of political prisoner Edwin Espinal at the military run maximum security prison La Tolva. He started the hunger strike to demand medical attention for him and other prisoners who had caught a virus going around in this part of the prison where 200 are locked up together and at least 20 caught the virus affecting their respiratory and digestive systems. He had to end the hunger strike as his illness got to a dangerous level. At the same time, prisoners are also denied their basic rights to water in this prison – there are 1000 prisoners in this prison and they are given 5 minutes in which to flush and use toilets, to get and store drinking water, and to shower – water mains are shut off at other times and plastic bottles are somehow prohibited, making it impossible for inmates to store drinking water that they need for the day. When the water was shut off after five minutes this day, inmates began to bang on the walls and make noise. In some parts of the prison, in retaliation, prison guards shot teargas into common areas shared by 200 inmates. Prisons in Honduras are already horrendous, military maximum security prisons means additional access barriers for national and international human rights organisations.

And Edwin is one of many political prisoners captured in this time of antifraud insurrection. There is one more from Tegucigalpa, 11 from Pimienta, 9 from Choloma, and 6 from El Progreso. They don’t formally belong to organisations. They are marginalised and had access to very little education. A lot of their families are working with the human rights organisation Cofadeh to pressure for their freedom. Some human rights organisations and independent lawyers have taken on some of their cases, but them being fairly invisible in the public eye means there are not many advances in the courts. Most relatives have been able to see their loved one only once since their being captured. Speaking with them is very expensive, people have to buy $5 calling cards to speak for 10 minutes. Prisoners are given very poor, bad smelling, portions of rice, beans and two tortillas. Every 2 or 3 days, the soldiers let them out in the sun for only 10 minutes. All prisoners are given only five minutes to wash themselves and drink water in. Soldiers also torture inmates by banging on the metal doors at least twice each night to interrupt their sleep. Guards again dedicate themselves to harass prisoners at the time when guards change over. Inmates are exhausted, dehydrated and psychologically traumatised.

9 March 2018

Early in the morning this day, the Chiquita Banana Company, Honduran Industrial Relations Department and JOH dictatorship regime joined forces to violently evict the Chiquita workers on their 71st consecutive days of being on strike. Security forces fired live gunshots at people and used teargas bombs against them, wounding a number of workers and their children. Police captured two workers who were subsequently de-arrested by their comrades. For being involved in the strike, Chiquita fired 77 workers and suspended 700 more. The workers went on strike demanding that the collective contract be respected and defending their access to local healthcare as workers. They may have been evicted, but the workers are not going back to work and are preparing renewed protest actions. Because of which, they ask those following their situation from anywhere to remain alert. Chiquita is an US company based in Florida.

10 March 2018

In the Florida Sector on the Atlantida coast, around where a mining project is being imposed, soldiers are moving around the area asking people for and about Ubaldina Santos, the National Coordinator of MADJ (Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice), who is always organising in defence of natural resources in the area.

15 March 2018

Since this night, police and military surveillance has under siege the indigenous Lenca community of Reitoca, which has maintained a blockade of about a hundred people every night since 14 January 2018 defending their territory against the imposition of a hydroelectricity dam by the Progelsa Company. The community is protecting the Río Grande river and their water source from exploitation and environmental degradation. Damages caused already by the building include water contamination, reduced water flow, death of flora and fauna, deforestation, and impact on people’s health with cuts on the skin and infections and viruses. The community has kept up the blockade despite the intimidation, surveillance, attacks and harassment they have received from military police, police, army and Progelsa contracted private security guards. Past attacks include repression by military police on 30 January 2018 on which occasion community members Miriam Geraldina Osorto and Andrés Gutiérrez were gunshot wounded and continue to recover.

21 March 2018

On this date, MASSVIDA (Social Environmentalist Movement of the South for Life) coordinator Germán Chirinos Gutiérrez was granted protection measures from the Inter American Commission of Human Rights following persecution and recent death threats against him. Germán was on 6 January 2018 kidnapped from his workplace in Nacaome by unknown persons using his own vehicle who were going to kill him – he was saved by the sounds of people approaching which scared his attackers into throwing him out of the car into the fence, then fleeing. Following this attempt he began to notice people watching him, and he started getting text messages of death threats on his mobile phone. MASSVIDA organises against mining companies. Others of MASSVIDA face repression also and charges.

22 March 2018

Olivia Marcela Zúniga Cáceres received death threats through messages on facebook. Olivia is one of the daughters of Berta Caceres Flores, indigenous feminist anticapitalist activist who was assassinated in March 2016. Olivia is also a parliamentarian of the opposition party Libre. The death threats are aimed at silencing her political discourse in the parliament, ‘keep talking and keep judging without knowing what you are getting into, you got to the congress to say that JOH and (nationalist parliamentarian) Elden killed your bitch mother haha, join everyone, invite the gangsters those of Opalaca, we have put up with too much of your shit already, you wanted war well you just wait, we at 3am we are going to smash you hypocrite.’ Olivia has been the coordinator of CInPH, one of the organisations defending indigenous rights in the region.

24 March 2018

Coordinator and defender of MAS – Santa Barbara Environmentalist Movement, Betty Vasquez, had her image was attacked on TV by 2 Nationalist parliamentarians of Santa Barbara. Betty and MAS accompanies the Chinda people in opposing the installation of the Hydroelectricity dam el Tornillito, and the indigenous lenca people of Zacapa, San Francisco de Ojuera, in opposing mining projects. MAS is also in solidarity with those charged for protesting against the fraud, and with other organised activists in Santa Barbara.

25 March 2018

In Choloma, volunteer reporter of Mega Red Nacional, Carlos Wayne, was covering and live streaming the protest and police/military brutality (beatings, gas and gunshots) early this Sunday, when, to stop him from transmitting, the police/military snatched his equipment and bashed him. He was left with bruises in his chest and dirt all over his face, hands and clothes. They also confiscated his press vest. Lots of protesters health were affected by the teargases. And the gunshots frightened everyone.

In Tegucigalpa on a highway that goes towards Danli, Libre party activist Hector Nuñez noticed soldiers in Mexican uniforms there and was surprised and began to take photos of these. The soldiers bashed him in response to his photography. It showed that Mexican soldiers of the Peña Nieto adminsitration are supporting the JOH dictatorship in Honduras, and were ready to help repress the highway occupations and protests over Easter. A month before, a boatload of US Comando Sur soldiers arrived at the Cortes port as well – having come to train the military police, on the pretext of coming as a medical brigade and humanitarian aid, but they came and trained soldiers and brought arms and are about to go home because they finished that. There is also knowledge of thousands of Colombian soldiers in Honduras.

27 March 2018

In the Choluteca city this night, young people were protesting near the Fausto Flores stadium, when a police patrol slowly drove by and began shooting at protesters’ bodies, and were backed up by more uniformed agents arriving and being and arresting youths. Seven were arrested – three of these were wounded with gunshots and two with severe beatings in the face – José Ruiz Madariaga, Fernando Jacobo Vásquez, Elki Daniel Hernández (aged 15), Justin Ariel Espinal, Cristian José Paz (aged 16), Pedro Pablo Matamoros, and Carlos José Baca Alvares (aged 16). Despite the severity of their wounds they were taken into custody immediately rather than being given immediate medical attention. Journalist Mauricio Rivera of UNE-TV went to the hospital emergency department and livestreamed on his own facebook account following the 16 year old Yorvin Quiroz, who had a bullet perforate the top of his left shoulder.Yorvin was at the protest against JOH with his friends and they were there for 2 hours when the slowly moving police patrol by the street of the stadium started to shoot. Journalist Rivera went onto the police buildings to try to report on the 7 arrestees but police impeded access to the journalist.

30 March 2018

In Comayagua, Marlón Galeano, had during this religious festival of Easter written with colourful religious crafty material that people wrote Easter messages with, ‘FUERA JOH’ – get out JOH. JOH ordered that Marlón be fired from his job – from the Unit of Supervision and Local Control of Water. As well as being fired he is receiving death threats.

31 March 2018

Ofraneh (Black Fraternal Organisation of Honduras) coordinator Miriam Miranda was passing through a checkpoint when police agents forced her to get out of the car, treated her like she had committed a crime, and threatened her with being imprisoned together with her companions. Ofraneh struggles defending Garífuna ancestral territory and the environment, against mining projects and work to demand justice in cases of social and community activists being assassinated.

February 2018 Honduras coup again update

February 2018 Honduras coup again update

The repression against those struggling against the JOH dictatorship continues to be grave. There continues to be resistance, but the rage and immensity of it all is far greater.

1 February 2018

There were hooded persons seen lurking around in front of the home of an activist, Miguel Briceño.

2 February 2018

The city of Nueva Ocotepeque woke up militarised. People see the military presence as a message of fear and warning against those whom oppose the dictatorship imposed by JOH and National Party.

Human rights defender Pedro Ulloa was finally freed, having been captured accompanying the Honduran women’s day march on 25 January 2018 in Tocoa, his initial hearing was scheduled for 31 January 2018 in Trujillo Colon,. His case was dismissed in the courts for lack of evidence from the prosecution. The human rights defender was accused of robbery and of having assassinated more than 10 people on 3.8.09 – something that involved the killing including of an organised farmer of Siete de Enero, Arnulfo Guevara, that farmers assure was killed by the security guards of Coronel Henrry. It is known that the prosecution department had grabbed the lists collected of community leaders in the area and drew out from the list Pedro’s name and that this was how he came to be selectively targeted for persecution.

On the same day, in Comayagua, others arrested and charged and held for protesting against the fraud and dictatorship were freed also for lack of evidence presented by the prosecution for the charges. So the cases were dismissed for Lenín José Guevar, Héctor René Ríos, Luis Enrique Bonilla, and Ludwin Cruz, who were accused of aggravated robbery and an attempt to start a fire. Cofadeh participated as observers in this initial hearing that lasted two days.

3 February 2018

In La Entrada of Copan, a 13 year old child was bashed up and arrested for having been singing the song Fuera JOH! (Get out JOH!), in moments when police agents were doing rounds. The police got off the patrol and began to hurt him when he resisted arrest, protesting, saying he did not commit any crime.

One of the medias that has continued to report news honestly, UNE TV, suffered this day the constant loss of signal.

4 February 2018

The JOH regime threatened NGOs that defend people with the suspension of their constitutionality. The regime made an announcement warning that this can happen to the NGOs that ‘promote the de-stabilisation of the country’, by ‘agitating people’ or ‘misinforming people about companies’ actions for the benefit of the communities’.

5 February 2018

In Choloma, Cortés, Chiquita bananas workers were on strike demanding for the recognition of their rights as per their collective contract. Hundreds of Chiquita workers accompanied by others in the community upheld massive barricades – in addition to blocking the way and placing tyres and setting these on fire, in an epic moment, many people combined their strength and together tipped over a giant cargo truck as part of the barricade that got the company executives’ attention. This was at the Choloma river bridge. As early as 7.45am military police cracked down and repressed heavily with gunshots, launching teargas bombs three times – one hit the roof of a house affecting the breathing including of the children and elderly people inside, putting out the tyres on fire with shots from the water tank.

Some of the gunshots fired hit and assassinated (39th person killed by the JOH fraud dictatorship regime) Ismael Herández (aged 40) – who was hit twice in the back. Ismael was the patronato president of the El Kilómetro community in Choloma, Cortés. He is very well loved in his community. People have no doubt that he was targeted at being shot, that it were not random fatal gunshots. As well as the gunshots he was ferociously beaten by police with batons, so ferociously that his head was barely attached to his body when people lifted his body onto a pickup truck hoping they could save his life.

ismael hernandez

At another person in Choloma was badly beaten by police in the back and was left with marks all over their back. They were advised by the authorities not to place a complaint against the police, for safety. Several journalists who were covering this barricade were also beaten

National Party official puts a bill to ‘regulate’ social media, targeting people who write comments on their social media pages against public officials and power groups.

6 February 2018

Libre (opposition party) politician Heber Esaú Padilla (aged 29) was persecuted back in the 2009 coup, he is now again receiving constant threats. In a recent barricade protest, he saw a police with the surname Gálvez giving orders to shoot, so he approached him and asked why they were doing that when it was not a violent protest, Heber was then yelled at by the police saying he was sick of them (protesters), and then ‘we have got you checked already, and the next time you come, I won’t be coming to throw gas at you, I will come to break you’. ‘Are you threatening to kill me’ Heber checked, and the police answered, ‘this is what I am telling you, if you come back again, I am not coming to play’ – 5 military police and 20 soldiers. On another occasion, Heber was at a protest against the re-election of JOH when the military police arrived and began acting violently against protesters – people wrapped up the protest to go home as did he, but on his way home he saw the sirens of a military police patrol, and saw they slow down and start to fire gunshots towards him – he continued his way home and the military police parked outside his home watching and intimidating for about 20 minutes. His neighbours have also seen at other times police and army agents in front of his house taking photos of the street and his home. Most recently his image appeared on a social media smear campaign that singled him out as an organiser of the barricades in the region.

7 February 2018

Activist Miguel Briceño made a statement that he is at a high risk of being assassinated by the JOH regime. That in recent times, he counts three occasions in which hooded un-uniformed persons have been right outside his home, and another three occasions in which the military police have also intimidated and posted themselves outside his home.

9 February 2018

In Choloma, Cortés, military police evicted the barricades against the fraud and JOH dictatorship firing live gunshots, and then proceeded to launch teargas bombs into people’s homes there, leaving including many children crying unable to breathe and with their eyes burning from the teargas.

At about midnight, Franklin Almendares was on his way home from a meeting when a new black double cabin Hilux reached him, rammed into the back of his car with the intention of stopping Franklin. When they saw that he was not stopping, they drove in front of him to block the way and bashed his car on the driver’s door, to force him to stop. The attackers forcefully dragged him out of the car and searched him and his bag the way a soldier or police would, taking his diary, a little money and a bottle of water – almost all that he was carrying – however they did not take his good watch or good backpack that actual robbers would have taken. Franklin Almendares is the general coordinator of CNTC – National Central of Rural Workers. There were police around afterwards who were suspiciously offering to do something with him to find the attackers but of course he had no reason to trust them and went home.

10 February 2018

In Potrerillos, Cortés, in the stadium, people were having a fundraiser soccer game in solidarity with a young guy who was wounded in the protest, but the game was raided by military police which surrounded the stadium, people fear for what can happen to the young ones and children inside. It was reported that three persons were arrested.

11 February 2018

Choloma, Cortés is on alert. Militarisation.

In El Progreso, Yoro, people are seeking solidarity of lawyers to free political prisoners there, having eight who have been imprisoned since December 2018.

12 February 2018

Melvin Osorto Aguilera’s brother was arrested and beaten all over the body and face for protesting, a rib is wounded and his back was in pain, his two mobile phones and cash were taken off him, the the burnt tyres were used as evidence against him for his ‘crime’.

13 February 2018

Police sees an attacker stab journalist César Omar Silva when he was transmitting live his program at the protest – the police intervened but let the attacker go as if they hadn’t done anything. César Omar Silva works for UNE TV, the only TV financially independent from the JOH regime. César Silva has a very long history of journalism that is on the side of people and truth and of being politically persecuted for such.

15 February 2018

Officially formed this day is a committee to defend political prisoners in Honduras made up of activists of human rights, teachers, farmers, union and other organisations. From this period since November of fraud and dictatorship, there are twenty-two people in four prisons who are political prisoners whom are indefinitely imprisoned. Sometimes on arrest political prisoners start with charges like ‘illicit association’ and sedition, but these are quickly dropped so that only charges like robbery and attempts to start fire remain – this is so official data can be used to back up the regime’s shameless claims to the media that ‘there are no political prisoners’, when it is clear each person was arrested for their participation in protests.

There are political prisoners and the below is the list published by human rights organisation Cofadeh:

In the Tela prison:

1. Lourdes Johana Gómez Núnez. Lourdes is imprisoned with her little daughter and partner. She is from Pimienta.

In La Tolva high security prison, held in solitary confinement are:

2. Edwin Robelo Espinal

3. Raúl Eduardo Alvarez…

Edwin has such limited visiting rights he only been allowed to see his lawyer.

In El Progreso, imprisoned are:

4. Arles Saúl Cardona Saavedra.

5. Gustavo Adolfo Cáceres Ayala.

6. Jhony Andrés Salgado Fuentes.

7. Dany Javier Banegas Reyes.

8. Olvin Nahúm Villanueva Avilés.

9. Omar Enrique Velásquez Yánez.

10. Antony Reynaldo Acosta.

11. Néstor Armando Almendarez Rodríguez.

12. Marvin Antonio Godoy Arias.

And in Ilama prison known as El Pozo, ten people from Pimienta:

13. Daniel Eduardo Santos Ordóñez

14. José Orlando Santos Ordoñez

15. Edwin Nahún Amaya Sánchez

16. Mynor Ariel Reyes Mejía

17. Roque Jacinto Alvarenga Corea

18. Wilfredo Cáceres Sagastume

19. Francisco Miguel Gómez Martínez

20. Melvin Mauricio Chávez Pérez

21. Jonathan Ricardo Perla López

22. Santos Ramón Paredes Quiroz

On this day there was a barricade at the exit to Marcovia in Choluteca.

16 February 2018

In the López Arellano neighbourhood in Choloma, Cortés, there was an alert sent out that there was there a white Hilux with no numberplate that had hooded men inside going around looking for people who participated in the protests. Words are out that state has ordered death squads to search for protesters. There were reported afterwards protesters arrested.

In the neighbourhood Modesto Rodas Alvarado, at 10.20pm on this Saturday night, in the context of a protest against the JOH dictatorship, Sergio Borjas was arrested by military police and in custody in the El Manchén police station in Tegucigalpa. He was held at least overnight, at least until appearing before an executor judge the next morning.

This night the Francisco Morazán Boulevar was barricaded with tyres, fire and bodies.

18 February 2018

The state based MACCIH Mission of Support Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras, might be folding after much publicity about how a member Juan Jiménez Mayor (ex peruvian PM) and a few other members of its international panel had resigned from the mission due to the lack of real support from the UN and OAS. For ‘having shaken’ the image of Honduras in this way, Juan Jiménez Mayor has received death threats.

19 February 2018

This morning, the body of (40th person killed by the JOH dictatorship regime) Samuel Edgardo Martínez López (aged 33) was found, having been killed. Samuel is the president of the ‘9 de Julio’ farmers group in Las Huertas community in Tutule, La Paz, one of the most heavily attacked zones of land recovery by police, military, court and elected authorities. Samuel Martínez was born on 16 February 1985. This young person not only had to carry with him charges that he has had since 20 July 2010, but was locked up for 4 months in the La Paz prison together with another land defender Carlos Eduardo López, accused of usurpation of land. The authorities try to pass off his killing as a traffic accident, which is suspicious, since he is on bail and has on a long term been heavily persecuted. His comrades know his wishes to be farewelled with a music band, so they organised this for him, along with the tears, flowers and memories. The members of this farmers group have lived, struggled and worked together for eight years. A comrade said, ‘We used to talk about what would happen if one of us were gone, but we didn’t imagine it could be so soon, and this hurts, a brother is taken from us.’

In Ceiba, the executive director of human rights organisation Ciprodeh, Wilfredo Méndez, was driving in La Ceiba for work to present a report on corruption and human rights in Honduras, when he was intercepted and threatened by armed men from a vehicle at about 5pm during peak hour. They drove beside him and a passenger pointed a gun at him from inside the car. They kept following him and then stopped and followed again, and when they were beside him again, the drive pointed a gun at him. They did this for 10 to 15 minutes before stopping. Wilfredo is committed to continuing the struggle for human rights despite the threats.

This day also marks a year of Omar Suazo being held political prisoner. Omar Suazo is from Sambo Creek. Omar is a Garífuna musician and someone who has clear ideas about defending his culture and identity and is a protector of ancestral territory there. He is an activist who opposed the building of a hydroelectricity dam over the Cuyamel river. Omar is imprisoned with an accusation of assassination against a hitman who had stabbed Omar four times in the back with a knife.

21 February 2018

In Gualala, Santa Bárbara, (41st person killed by the JOH fraud dictatorship regime) 16 years old Luís Fernando Ayala was reported disappeared on 20 February 2018 and on 21 February he was found assassinated – his hands were cut and there were many signs that he was tortured before he was killed. This child and his family are active members of MAS Santa Barbara Environmentalist Movement. At just age 16, he was someone who had a lot of conviction in the struggle to oppose mining on their territory. Him and other youths have been charged by military police too before that for participating in protests against the fraud and dictatorship of JOH following the election.

In Luzon, Colón, where palm plantations overrun, there is an alert that on this day that there is an eviction order against the farmers group Unidos Lucharemos (Together We Struggle). There were grave concerns because the community is surrounded by authorities and also by a group that previously possessed and sold the land in the 90s.

In Locomapa, Yoro, the indigenous Tolupan people of the San Francisco tribe were being threatened, at a time when this community is holding an active camp in place defending the forest and territory through the organisation MADJ (Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice). There is harrassment coming from Noe Rodriguez, the president of the Xicaques tribes federation.

22 February 2018

In Arizona, Atlántida, attacks against the members of MADJ continue. At 6am, police and investigative agents raided the home of MADJ activists Aquilina Mejía Guerra and Luís García searching their house and arresting the environmental defender Aquilina Mejía Guerra, accusing her of allegedly having two molotov bombs found (which is said to have been planted there by the same raiding authorities, something which happens often). The couple has been persecuted by investigative police agents for some time now. The charges against Aquilina are possession and fabrication of ‘war weapons’. She was imprisoned for five days and finally freed on 26 February, free of the charges.

23 February 2018

The protest caravan against the JOH dictatorship in Villanueva Cortés was repressed with teargas bombs. In Dos Caminos, the military police, cobras and police fired gunshots and launched teargas at the bodies of the barricade there. The human rights defender and MADJ member Fany Beatriz was driving when her car was shot twice as well as being filled with teargases, forcing her to jump out of her car and flee when it was still in motion.

Report released this day: Melon workers of the transnational Fyffes (company recently acquired by the Japanese giant Simitomo), had women workers intoxicated while working because of the use of toxic substances on the plantations back in December. The workers had just entered when they smelled a strong chemical smell – some fainted and others began to vomit and others had parts of their bodies go to sleep. The women were taken to a doctor contracted by the same company, where they received injections, were oral rehydration and some pills and only 3 days of rest. On the following days, some of the workers’ faces swelled up. Others felt a very bitter taste of the inhaled chemicals, others continued getting very dizzy. Most of the workers were single mothers whose families depended on their jobs. The Industrial Commission came to investigate the attack against the workers, but they only met with the administrators and bosses of the company, that said the women had a virus, that they weren’t exposed to toxic gases. The union had trouble getting testimonies – 13 women were affected but only 2 would give testimonies, because they were all threatened with losing their jobs. This intoxication incident is not an isolated case, there were also cases in the farmers Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz in Marcovia.

25 February 2018

Human rights defender Joaquín Mejía received death threats against himself and his family. Joaquín is also a member of ERIC (Jesuit radio). The latest threats had come in the context of his participation in being a travelling guest speaker in different US cities, as organised by Alianza Americas, in speaking about the political situation in Honduras. On this day, the death threats calls to him and calls of extorsion against his family started up again. As well as for going on the speaking tour, the death threats are also because of the investigative and media work he does in relation to human rights violations in light of the JOH fraud dictatorship regime. Joaquín’s work also goes towards the litigation against the Honduran state in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights – the commission of which had recently granted him protection orders – although that state never complies with such.

27 February 2018

In La Paz, over 50 indigenous campesinas and campesinos have capture orders and charges of land usurpation. Before this, already, their daily lived reality included being harrassed, being followed, being threatened and abused, and already before this, also judicial persecution. The targeted community has lived and defending the land from dams and mines for over 40 years. In this province, there are currently 700 farmers facing charges who are on bail. There are two farmers imprisoned without bail – one in La Paz and another in Comayagua. There could have been more but the human rights organisation Cofadeh had pressured for others to be freed.

In Lepaguare, San Pedro de Tutule, 8 capture orders had been emitted against leaders of the farmers group 8 de febrero. They have been recovering land for some years. Police raided the home of 8 de febrero farmer Yesenia Padilla trying to arrest her. ‘Where is the capture order or raid order?’ She and others demanded. She escaped arrest this time but is being charged with usurpation of land against Rosario Dominga Reynoso who claims to be the landowner. Yessenia is now one of three women of the 8 de febrero group who since has a capture order against her.

28 February 2018

Javier Trejo Licona, a leader of Cofradia community in Cortés, and a leader of Vida Nueva of the Libre and Alianza parties, was arbitrarily captured and charged, ultimately for his activism. There are National Party activists who serve as witnesses against him and give fake testimonies, and who have been granted the status of protected witnesses.