March 2015 Honduras coup update
The return of death squads terrorising and killing high school students protesting.
Human rights defenders assert it is government affiliated death squads and not merely ‘hitmen’ who murdered four the high school students and disappeared another four in these weeks of protests and occupations of the schools involving students from around twenty high schools in Tegucigalpa (there were also student protests in San Pedro Sula, Intibucá and Catacamas). On the terms hitmen and death squads, behind the different names are histories. Referring to ‘hitmen’ obscures who paid for them and the permanency of the relationship and hierarchical and level of organisation of the structure. With death squads, which were widespread in the 80s in Honduras, rather than random people being paid to kill, ‘per job’, there would be a more direct systematic relationship with the government, in their training, remuneration, discipline, in their resources (weapons, vehicles, technology) in how orders are taken and carried out, in this business of murdering.
Before going into some details of the attempts and murders and disappearances and repression of the death squad machines, to give some context, it is about school hours and it is about something more. Changes just get imposed, the authorities don’t first sit with those whom the changes will affect. The latest changes announced were to school hours. Life circumstances of high school children vary widely in Honduras – some have to work to support their families and continue going to school, some have to travel very far to get to school and either ways leaving earlier or arriving later can be a huge security risk with the high homicide rates Honduras has. The choices of school hours fitted in with the lives of students, families and teachers. There were three choices; morning classes from 7am to noon, afternoon classes from 12.30-5.30pm, or night classes 5.40-9pm. The changes education minister Escoto announced were classes of 7am-1.30pm or 1pm-7pm and night classes that had already become less available overtime that with the changes would stop altogether. Another class that will stop because they are part of the reforms are teachers training for high school students – normalistas (the 43 students killed in Mexico last year were also normalistas) – this option will simply be deleted, leaving more expensive and further away options for most, closing off opportunities to become teachers for many. Also, with the timetable changes, teachers who taught in more than one time slot to meet their income needs will no longer be able to do so. The changing timetable is also part of a larger set of changes which would eventually privatise the schools under the introduced Fundamental Law of Education. Another aspect of the reform had been to reduce teachers’ power to collectively bargain their work conditions. The reforms are in term driven by World Bank, IADB, IMF and USAID, by conditioning loans to such structural adjustments. A lot of students were most infuriated about the condition of the schools and expressed this in the protests.
Gunshots, teargas, and beatings against students during protest on 16th
The first known reports of repression in these current set of protests was on 16/3/15 at the high school Instituto Vicente Cáceres where many of the poorest in Tegucigalpa study/have studied. About 100 students were protesting outside a school, a student said, ‘(the police) began to pull out anti-riot equipment, so we burnt a tyre so that they didn’t come any closer and they began to throw teargas bombs.’ In the midst of this confrontation, Private guards fired gunshots wounding two students – Darío José Cabrera (18) in the abdomen, and José Luis Ochoa (18) in leg, arm and gluteus. Another seven students – Jimmy Santos Gradiz (21), Arely Baquedano (17), Karla Vannesa Caceres (15), José Efrain Girón Sierra (15), Evelyn Vásquez (15), Víctor Díaz, and José Villafranco (17), were wounded by cops with sprains, nerve traumas and respiratory irritation, gas in the eyes, scrapes and minor beatings in face. Cops ran out of teargas bombs, and left but not before arresting some young people. In Darío’s case, he was sitting at the bus stop, and he didn’t realise he was shot until a classmate told him that he was bleeding. His mum said Darío is a good student, and that normally he would go to his dad’s workshop when school is finished, but as his dad was travelling, leaving the protest, he decided to get a bus home this day. It was a guard of the nearby beer factory, Cervecería Nacional, who shot him, its legal representatives approached his mum afterwards to sign a document to free them of responsibility for this attack. When the day began, Education Minister Escoto sent a memo to teachers asking for names of students who participated in the protests ‘to apply corrective measures’, and another to supervision asking for deduction of salary against teachers who didn’t give classes this day. As this day ended, Education Minister Escoto ordered for all secondary school institutions to be occupied by military police, to repress student protests.
The next day, on 17/3/15, following a meeting between government authority representatives and students and parents, students decided to suspend their protests for 6 days until the next meeting. However, it was as if students knew what they were facing – student leaders and some parents pointed out that Education Minister Escoto and military heads are responsible for any attempts against lives of students – there had been some already, but the worst was yet to come. From 18/3/15, schools were militarised to make sure scab students can enter if students wanted to strike these days.
As protests resumed, bloodshed was ordered
As protests resumed, Education Minister Escoto was in the media (on Globo) warning that protesting is dangerous, that students could die…
On 24/3/15, about 9.15pm… within 15 minutes of finishing night class, three high school students of Jesús Aguilar Paz who had participated in the protests, were within 100 metres of their school buildings, sitting on the footpath chatting away, when suddenly hooded attackers inside a vehicle fired shots at them without saying anything first. Having been shot, Elvin Antonio López (19) and Darwin Josúe Martínez (21) had their lives immediately snatched away by the bullets, while Diana Yarely Mendoza (21) was gravely wounded with 21 gunshots in the intestines, spleen and diaphragm – she was rushed to emergency by someone in the neighbourhood, in a private car. Diana underwent two surgeries, and in the end died at 3.10am after fighting for two days to stay alive. Her family tells that Diana was a mother of a four-years-old child, and she went to church. Relatives of all three rushed to the scene when they were told what happened.
24/3/15 was also the date 13 year old high school student Soad Nicolle Ham Bustillo was last seen by her family and classmates alive; by her family in the morning when she left for school, and by her classmates at 11am when she left school. She was in her first year at high school, at Vicente Caceres Central Institute, where two students were shot on the 16th just outside. Soad not only participated in the protests, but there were photos of her in the media protesting, and there are video interviews (with Globo and Canal 36) taken shortly before she was killed, at the protest amongst others, expressing her anger to the microphone, anger always directed at particular politicians. She is on video questioning the regime president Juan Orlando Hernández, how could he send cops to repress students instead of resolving problems that students have raised, she asked. She also yelled this message to Minister Escoto on the Globo/Canal 36 microphones – ‘How is it possible that we sit on the floor like dogs? Fuck, we don’t even have chairs, go buy chairs, old son of a bitch’. The anger from what she and others lived, and from knowing that to politicians, they are less than humans. Young, spirited and expressive Soad was kidnapped this day. Soad was tortured – she didn’t live to tell it herself with words but her body was found with signs of torture – for some hours before being killed by strangling. On the next day, on 25/3/15, witnesses saw a moving vehicle near the bus stop of Tiloarque throw out onto the side of the street, her body, left lifeless, wrapped up in a bedsheet, dumped.
Around the time that Soad’s family was crying at her funeral, Minister Escoto dared to make commentaries in the media saying that Soad always ‘had behavioural problems’. Escoto also accused Canal 36 of coaching Soad and others on what to say on TV. If that was not bad enough, it was building up to an article that came out after announcing that the ‘material and intellectual authors for the death (of Soad)’ were captured – two suspects were captured with a capture order. To reframe from what obviously had happened – a young student murdered for protesting, in this article, the authorities construed her as a gang member ‘of Mara Salvatrucha, and the arrested suspects as members of Mara 18 who are also students at Vicente Caceres Central, saying that Soad was kidnapped and driven to ‘crazy house’ in Nueva Esperanza where she was supposed to be initiated – to kill someone for the first time, but that something went wrong and she ended up killed. Soad’s actual case was too shocking, that the authorities had to paint her as a dangerous and ruthless gang member, for people to forget about her finished life and unfinished story, and that the truth is they found her and her peers dangerous, because this 13 year old was outspoken and fought to change the system..
25th March solidarity protest gassed, four students disappeared
On 25/3/15, the same day that Soad’s body appeared, university and high school students stood together and occupied Suyapa Boulevarde in front of the Autonomous University UNAH, demanding that the new law of education be revoked, and screaming for justice for those assassinated students of Jesús Aguilar Paz and Central Vicente Caceres high schools. Antiriot cops and soldiers teargassed, beat up and arrested protesters, and when some kids ran to take refuge in the uni buildings, these cops and soldiers invaded the uni buildings and repressed them there with teargases.
Around 12pm-1pm this day, four students of Instituto Héctor Pineda Ugarte HPU who were on the frontlines of this protest at UNAH disappeared this day; students went to look for them at the Valle de Angeles police station, maybe they were told they were being taken there, but this police station was ‘closed’. They could see back lights were turned on and kept knocking but nobody answered. Relatives of the disappeared students called and found the phones of their loved ones were turned off.
The director of UNAH, Julieta Castellanos, lost her son to police killing in 2012. While she headed campaigns against police brutality and people who lose their children to police look to her for support in their search for justice, Julieta Castellanos contradictorily calls on the police to repress students on the university grounds which she controls whenever protests break out. Further to the question of her credibility in this fight for justice, UNAH’s Violence Observatory recently endorsed dubious figures announced by the Security Secretary that there had been a 13% reduction in homicides in Honduras as compared with 2013.
26th March, Military Police raided uni student activist’s home, and students identified an infiltrated cop in the protests
So early on 26/3/15, at 4am, Public Order Military Police went to the gated neighbourhood of Miraflores where Nery Cruz Gómez lives and asked private security guards where was the house of Nery. The guards, who shouldn’t have, told the military police. The military police went to Nery’s home, forcefully entered, turned his home and apartment inside out and took his documents – luckily Nery himself was not at home – he felt something would happen because of his active involvement with Movimiento Amplio Universitario and solidarity work with high school students. The night before, he went out to buy dinner, when he noticed that a white Nissan Frontier without numberplate follow him to the place he was going to eat, then it finally left him alone after that.
During the students protests on 26/3/15, people were quick to realise there was a plain clothes cop and started questioning why he was taking photos. When he said nothing in return, they took off his clothes and found on him an ID card that identified him as an intelligence agent of the police, by the name of Juan Carlos Peña Gutiérrez.
Other known threats
Police told student Obed García of Instituto Mixto Hibueras high school that they ‘wouldn’t look for him at a police station, that instead they would ‘look for him in a hill in the bushes’.
An anonymous student of Jesús Aguilar Paz spoke up about scholarship offers, threats of expulsion and death by authorities of the Education Department in an effort to push him to leave the students movement.
It was also reported that some school principals started disciplinary files and began expelling students who participated in protests according to CODEH.
Elsewhere, in Catacamas City in Olancho, on 27/3/15, over 1500 students aged 13-15 of the main high school in Catacamas, Instituto Técnico 18 de Noviembre, protested starting at 8am, gathering at the sports ground inside the school and left for the streets from there. It was when they were hitting the streets that police patrol vehicle 20-15 headed by Inspector Zuniga Amador abruptly ambushed the students using the car. In response, the journalists Gustavo Gallardo (Informativo La Verdad, Canal 11) and José Maradiaga Paz (Canal 33 and Radio Globo) intervened and asked police Ramos Mejía to calm down. Rather than calming down, police Ramos Mejía smacked at and destroyed a camera and pointed his gun at Gustavo Gallardo to shoot, but luckily with all the turmoil the gun fell and a student grabbed it and handed it in. Ramos Mejía also attacked journalist Raúl Amador snatching at his camera and slamming it into the ground when Raúl was filming and then pointing his gun at Raúl, Ramos Mejía threatened him with shooting if Raúl did not stop filming the protest. Both police Zuniga Amador and Ramos Mejía were pressing the levers on the bolt of their guns to attack 10 journalists and the many protesters there. Seeing the police aggression the students stirred up and pounced on the patrol vehicle that the cops travelled in and with a rain of rocks the cops were forced to flee.
Twisters. Given that killing and disappearing students is extreme, Honduran authorities are twisting the stories as they do
They are twisting the stories.
They twisted Soad’s story and said she had behavioural issues, and that she is a gang member and that she was going to kill, but got killed, by other gang members – that it was just internal conflict that has nothing to do with her heavy words on camera to president Juan Orlando Hernandez or education minister Marlon Escoto.
They twisted the students protests in general. High school principal of Instituto Técnico Honduras Nelson Calix said there are outside agitators. He said he saw four medicine students of UNAH in the videos, and that it is the four medicine students together with some young gang members, who organised the high school protests. Another who wrote her opinion piece ‘Outside Agitators will Lead to Misguided Martyrs’ is pro-capitalist pro-model cities writer Elena Toledo. With that title it is no surprise that she also believed it was necessary for police to fire teargases so that the classmates who want to ignore everything that is happening and go to class, can.
They twisted and said the politicians organised the protests. Minister Escoto pointed to Libre party MPs whose participation probably went as far as sharing something on facebook – he pointed at MPs Bartolo Fuentes and Gilberto Ríos. Escoto said Bartolo Fuentes was the ‘mastermind’ of the protest.
They twisted and accused the medias of organising the protests. Escoto blamed the continuation of protests on Honduran medias informing people about the assassination of the four youths who participated in the protests, and twistedly said that the medias are promoting hate and crisis by linking the deaths with the protests, that the medias are irresponsible for making that link. Escoto decided that answering questions about the lost lives are a nuisance for busy and important people like him, ‘for us, the crisis has been overcome’, pointing to that there are parents’ assemblies now. Escoto said Canal 36 coached Soad Nicolle what to say on camera before she got killed. He said Canal 36 organised the students’ protests, and therefore was the cause of the police brutality. He told companies to boycott Canal 36 and not buy advertising there.
They twisted and blamed socialists and teachers for the violence students suffered. They said that socialists want martyrs to be able to foment social unrest. They accused teachers of financing the protest, ‘taking advantage’ of the students.
Then they twisted and said it wasn’t them. ‘The authorities had nothing to do with the killings, it was local young gang members.’ Meanwhile the authorities made efforts to make those killed look in the worst light possible.
Escoto said he is teaming up with UNAH director Castellanos to deal with high school and uni students protesting as one related problem. Solidarity is a real issue for him; he found disturbing how high school students supported uni students when uni students had a 15 days strike, how uni students are in solidarity with (‘pressuring’) high school students now, and how the same poor high school kids who protest will end up going to the autonomous university UNAH to continue protesting there.
Where to from here for high school students…
The easter holiday meant a bit of time to re-group before seeing what else unfolds. Escoto continues to say that it is about increasing school hours, with mentions about making up hours on Saturday mornings, to claim they provide quality education. The priorities of students for addressing problems in education are doubtless very different; many students come to school without having eaten, to sit on the floor while they receive classes, and then have the authorities send death squads when students strike about conditions that they know are shocking. As some students put it, they demanded desks, and what they received, were gunshots.
Political persecution more broadly from March 2015
Journalists – program taken off air, charges for defamation and slander, journalist in farmers’ region almost killed
On 2/3/15, after running for a month, the daily morning radio news program Lo Toma o Lo Deja of Radio Infinita in La Paz municipality was taken off air. While the administrator said it was taken off air because US$25 of the $100 payment was late, journalist Gilberto Gálvez believes it is because he reported local news that mayor Gilma Ondina Castillo did not want reported. Just days before on 24/2/15 this mayor warned the state electricity company’s regional head Javier Suazo not to give the program’s journalists an interview, ‘because they had said that the La Paz Market was at risk of fire’. Gilberto Gálvez also currently faces charges from the La Paz government for defamation and slander.
On 10/3/15, as journalist Héctor Madrid of Canal 35 based in Tocoa, Colón (Bajo Aguán) left the TV station to go home, somebody he did not recognise came out of a taxi with weapons and pointed the gun in his face – when he pulled the trigger, no shot came out – failing to kill him, he beat Héctor in the face and arm with the handle of the gun and fled the scene. After this close shave, Héctor announced on facebook that he will close all his personal social network accounts.
Feminist human rights defender facing political imprisonment
Women’s human rights defender Gladys Lanza received a sentence of 18 months of prison and was ordered to be unable to legally represent Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla for the same period, plus damages and compensation to Juan Carlos Reyes. It is still not finalised yet as to if the sentence would be changed or annulled, however, it is an enormous affront to women’s rights for this to go so far. The ‘victim’ Juan Carlos Reyes, a public official of housing department Fundevi, accused Gladys of defamation and slander for having accompanied and advocated for a woman who was an employee under him and accused him of sexual abuse and dismissal – he was found guilty but then successfully appealed it and turned around and charged Gladys Lanza. Gladys Lanza said that she would rather go to prison as she had before than to admit that she is the one who should be condemned while a sexual abuser remains in impunity.
Farmers – political prisoners
The state’s attack on farmers: in addition to constant violent evictions, there are 5000 farmers who undergo charges, mostly of usurpation of land and damages to private property – 700 of these are women. There are currently 11 farmers held as political prisoners, with sentences of between 6 to 18 years. In exception of Chabelo’s case, most are of La Paz/Comayagua:
Omar Mejía Galea, Benancio Palomo Chavarría, and Edgardo Hernández, of Grupo Buena Vista in Comayagua, were arrested on 10/1/14
Héctor David Gáleas López, Nery Antonio Gonzales, Ángel Arnaldo Martínez Martínez, Manuel Nicolás Domínguez, José David Aguila Gáleas, and Jacinto Bardales, of Grupo 18 de Abril la Pollera of La Paz, were arrested on 11/10/13
Omar Lara, of Grupo Campesino Unidos para una Futuro Mejor, of Marcala, La Paz (arrest date unknown)
José Isabel Morales (Chabelo), of Movimiento CREM, Trujillo, Colón, was arrested on in 2008
Farmers evicted this month from their land and homes, and a farsical withdrawal of weapons by palm giant Dinant
On 4/3/15, in Planes, Santa María, of La Paz, at 3am, when 30 families of the farmers group Juan Almendares Bonilla who have lived and worked on this land for four years (which is now being reclaimed by a landlord) were mostly sleeping but ready to get up soon to work to prepare food and work on the land, 200 army and police agents barged in violently evicting these families, destroying their homes and crops of corns, beans, bananas, coffee and vegies in the process, and wounded farmers. The army/police force also arrested 15, including 3 women and 3 children. A few were let out immediately with bail conditions: María López, Martha Vásquez, Elvin L[opez (14), Jairo López (15) and Jennifer Gáleas. Others arrested: Máximo Carrios, Luís Beltrán, José Vásquez, Oscar Martínez, Esteban López, Héctor López, Arnold López.
Being under the human rights violations radars for many assassinations (123 since 2008) and disappearances (6) of farmers in the Bajo Aguán region, on 16/3/15, palm giant Dinant announced as it celebrates its own 55th anniversary that it has voluntarily eliminated all firearms from its security guards in the factories, extraction mills and fabrication plants. It leaves the question of ‘what about the farms where most of these killings and violence against farmers and land defenders had occurred?’. Dinant PR is also boasting that it is improving community relations with formal complaint mechanisms put in place, and having employed local social workers. People, for example in the Panamá community where there was a kidnapping last month by Dinant guards, continue to report seeing armed Dinant guards.
Persecution against communities against megaprojects of mines, hydroelectricity and tourism
Of Locomapa, Yoro, eight indigenous Tolupans were charged with the accusation from business person Kenton Landa for ‘obstaculising in the execution of a wood project plan’ for having carried out a protest in March 2010 against forest exploitation on community land. On 11/3/15, the charges were finally dismissed by San Pedro Sula criminal appeals court.
At La Paz, where congress vicepresident Gladys Aurora López is imposing a dam project against a community that opposes it, 20 indigenous Lenca human rights defenders: 6 women and 14 men, have capture orders against them, with charges of usurpation of land. The land is federal agrarian reform land not within the jurisdiction of the council to title, yet the council had titled it to Santa Elena council, and the council is on the side of the private company that wants to build the dam.
The mine-damaged community of Valle de Siria faces another onslaught. It is not only in their memory how the company Entremares together with the council promised them development and progress through open-pit gold mining, but heavy metals continue to flow in their bodies and blood, and in the water of the ecosystem there, made visible in appearances of dead cattles near the mine, of skin disease in people, in the tragedy of families expecting healthy babies only to miscarry or for babies to be born with birth defects. The community was never compensated or assisted in its suffering. Now the SERNA (Natural Resources and Environment Department) Secretary and some NGOs are pressuring the community and community organisations to accept a tourism project called Conservación del Nacimiento de Aguas Termales in Los Hervideros for eco-tourism development in San Ignacio on the same site. It is part of a bigger project called ‘Modernisation of the Forestry Sector’ that has both government funding plus funding from the EU of over US $25 million. They are not answering important questions the community has; of whether Entremares which is now called Fundación San Martín is involved, of who administers the project, of who owns and manages the water for consumption and irrigation and of what would be the community’s access to the thermal waters. They aren’t asking them if they want it, they are just shoving the same usual promises of development and progress. ‘The company’ has begun surveying the land. People who demanded prior, informed and free consultation are reporting intimidation – they are being watched and followed by people they don’t know.
News briefs from March 2015
Alliance for Prosperity in development: More of the same old
The negotiation for US Congress to fund over $1000 million projects in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador under Alliance for Prosperity started to become more concrete. It is ‘more of the same’ in that it won’t be the new thing that will suddenly change the conditions in Honduras for the better. And ‘more of the same’ as in it is the same recipe, the same discourse, – all about increasing competitiveness for international investment, militarisation, and containing migration;these goals always worsened rather than improved conditions for the majority. According to US vice-president Biden, when asked about past failures, the difference this time is that the Central American presidents are ‘sincere’ in carrying out these plans, as if the recipe is fine, as if the issue is simply that such plans had never been carried out with sincerity like it is this time.
At the moment, included on the list of things to sincerely implement are: to have a police reform plan in Honduras by June 2015 and to recruit, train and puton the streets an additional 6000 police in the next 3 years (militarisation, aid to police/military constantly accused of human rights violations – the opposite of what human rights organisations ask for), for Central American countries to diversify their energy markets in 2015 and ‘promote’ to install a gas pipeline between Mexico and Central America, promote an integrated energy market and change regulations for this market (business plan to consolidate big private investment on exploitation of natural resources – similar projects in the past always simply provided some jobs with misery wages and caused displacement of farmers and communities from their land), for Honduras and Guatemala to join forces in policing their borders, and then added ‘humanitarian’ rhetoric on expanding healthcare and education, however, the thousands of layoffs announced from the public sector at the same time and measures being taken in education and health point to an expansion of the private provision of education and health services.
The Alliance for Prosperity is being promoted by US Comando Sur head John Kelly, who proudly claimed that Honduras is not the most violent country in the world anymore, having violence apparently reduced by 30%, and is ‘an excellent place to invest’. Contradictorily, US government continues to warn its citizens against visiting Honduras, renewing its travel alert, alerting to a ‘critical’ level of violence and high level of impunity.
Honduras reports its progress to IMF in relation to their stand-by agreement, looking at fiscal deficit reduction, state reduction and restructure of state entities (ie lay-offs, privatisations..). President J.O.H. reported that IMF ‘gave us such positive declarations about Honduras’ performance that I am sure it will mean more social programs, more investment, more jobs, and in the medium and long-term wellbeing for everyone’. The electricity company just announced 600 lay-offs, and National Agriculture Development Bank 400.
Model cities being advertised and sold: ‘a piece of Honduras for anyone rich enough’. Headline for Swedish daily paper about this was, ‘For sale, total power’ (see picture of Honduras’ map tiled with dollars),
assuring that anyone with enough dollars can become the owner of a part of southern Honduras. ‘Who wants to buy a modern princedom?’ It asks. As Honduran authorities were awaiting for the Korea International Cooperation Agency to submit the South Korean government funded feasibility study for model cities in Honduras, the press says it has been ‘leaked’ that the Korean authorities will help Honduran authorities in ‘removing all the obstacles’ in making model cities a reality. In the process of finding investors and buyers of Honduras, amongst the recognised obstacles was the ‘dozens of people had been assassinated in land conflicts’ for which the article said, ‘the project of Honduras can be rare and strange, and significant in that it could only be realised in one of the most violent and corrupt countries in the world…it can be seen as a logical step for political power to be handed directly to those who can pay for it.’ US based General Electric Company has jumped on the bandwagon of assisting in the search for this wealthy, ‘adventurous’, wanna-be-dictator. Not only has it signed up for the electricity and lighting projects of the model cities and plans to put a LED lamps factory in Honduras, but has committed to organise forums to attract international investment in Honduras in different countries around the world.
JOH government imposes forced labour on prisoners and calls this rehabilitation and life improvement. The forced labour include stone cutting. The announcement was made during the inauguration of a new prison. He also said the income generated is then used towards costs of imprisoning prisoners. Prisoners are infuriated, and riots broke out in relation to this from which 10 were wounded. Then, in response to the announced transfers of prisoners between prisons, more riots broke out, from which, in San Pedro Sula, 3 died and 40 were wounded, and in Comayagua, 2 died.
Government financed monocrop palm expansion. Agrarian Department claims to deal with the land conflict of the last 20 years by giving low interest rates for farmers to buy lands and obtain the land title when they contract themselves to using this land to produce and sell palm, in the provinces Yoro, Atlántida, Colón, Cortés and Santa Bárbara.
Latest figures: US/Mexico deportations of Hondurans. So far in 2015, Mexico deported about 8000 Hondurans by land, and US deported 3452 Hondurans by air. In 2014, the many Hondurans who live in the US have sent about $3,500 million to their families.
Announced: new US Marine special force for Latin America to be based in Honduras. Name: Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Taskforce – South, conceived as a ‘special crisis response unit’, with its stated objectives being the training of forces in the region, missions of humanitarian assistance or antidrugs operation. It is going to be at the US military base in Honduras known as Palmerola, in Comayagua in the middle of Honduras – the same place the new international aiport for Honduras plans to be based. This taskforce base is to be built in the second half of 2015. 250 marines will move in, as will powerful war resources like high speed JHSV spearhead catamaran that moves on water and land, or 4 heavy helicopters CH-53 Super Stallion.
Honduras about to spend US$50 million on new ID cards for children to also carry around ID, with the majority of its population, 5.5 million, being children (total population 8 million).
Collection of security tax also funding police and army. It has collected a few millions US dollars every month and it has been going up every year, having started in 2002. The money collected from businesses has been financing cops’ and army’s weapons, vehicles, motorcycles, uniforms, vests, high tech equipment, radars, helicopter repairs, creation of battalions of military police, the canine unit with 80 dogs and 80 trainers, and towards their other spending.