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.
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.