Cases of political persecution in June 2015
University workers unionist disappeared (Donatilo) and killed (Héctor), by what appears to be plotted by UNAH authorities – which not only show no compassion but proceed to sue anyone who accuses them.
In La Ceiba, if it isn’t enough that unionist Donatillo Jiménez Euceda of the CURLA campus disappeared from his workplace on 8/4/15, and his partner and sister had been in limbo, not knowing if he is alive nor details of what happened to him, facing unresponsive university authorities; on 3/6/15, the partner Sonia Martínez and Donatilo’s sister Jackeline Jiménez were charged for defamation by UNAH director Julieta Castellanos. Julieta Castellanos visited the campus on 26/5/15, when Sonia and Jackeline approached her for help. Instead, she turned her back on them and went to the press and threatened to press charges against them, saying how dare they bring discredit and disrepute to the institution of UNAH. A gang member ‘Mayimbu’ has supposeably been captured and accused of the kidnapping, and Inter American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) requested the Honduran state to implement protection measures, to undertake to locate and protect his life.
Meanwhile, another unionist, Héctor Motiño had a long and intensifying chain of threats, attempts, and persecution against him as well as IACHR ordered protection measures since 2009 that were renewed this January and May, which Héctor had complained as inadequate. It was proved that these protection measures were inadequate as he was gunned down with 12 gunshots at 9.40pm on 16/6/15; they followed him from work for a stretch as he was driving a car home to Maracova after giving classes 3-9pm, before firing those shots. The gunshots came from 2 hitmen on a motorcycle. Héctor wasn’t able to celebrate his and the campus’s 19th anniversary of working there the next day. A socialist, he was the coordinator of International Commerce degrees.
Mostly for being a persistent unionist of university workers – Sitraunah: one way or another, the university authorities have a long history of wanting him ‘gone’. He wrote a public letter on 9/3/15 outlining the abuse and intimidation of the UNAH authorities – he named Aleyda Romero, the current president of UNAH committee of management, as someone who in 2007 had undertaken abusive and arbitrary actions against him and other teachers on the campus. In the same year, he was unfairly dismissed by Rutilia Calderon (acting UNAH director then), in relation to a medical condition – there was collusion by IHSS officials Richard Zablah and Angela Reyes in making false statements about his medical status. In November 2009, the courts ordered his reinstatement.
Then in 2013, in September, Hector was called to meet the current CURLP director Alina Sebeyda Molina Pineda, who pressured him to resign from the union, while he questioned her about cases of labour and human rights abuses by her. Héctor reported that a little after that, since 20/11/13 (and up to and most likely beyond the date he wrote the letter on 9/3/15), he had been followed daily going to or from UNAH by a red double cabin vehicle, and also by a black motorcycle that has a drawing of a lightning bolt on its gas tank, that sometimes also followed him home, but that these never followed him to his other workplace at this time at the Catholic university.
On 28/6/14, Jacinta Ruiz Bonilla, current head of UNAH human resources took over the harrassment against Hector. She called him into her office, told him that he makes the union too annoying for them, and pressured his resignation from both the union and from his job. When he tried to talk about the problems Jacinta said she was not there for that. Jacinta also directed the UNAH contracted private security, and ordered these to watch and take photos and videos of him. She also illegally ordered for his study leave to be deducted. On 8/7/14, following these threats of Jacinta against Héctor, Héctor suffered the first attempt against his life in the CURLP carpark where his car was sabotaged to cause an accident and security was ordered not to attend to what happened.
Héctor said that more recently, on his windshields there are often left for him cut up pieces of papers with messages that they were going to assassinate him, so to stay out of problems. They intensified these threats by also leaving on the windshields cut out photos from newspapers of assassinated persons.
All up, throughout the years, Héctor had undergone 104 discharge hearings pressuring him to leave the union – he has also been accused of defamation in the courts, and of rape by a teacher against a student – he denied this accusation. He was also subject to discharge hearings for having once been accompanied by two police escorts inside campus (as per his protection measure) for violating campus rules of not allowing police presence.
Héctor said there were many problems with the protection measures – that he did not trust his police escort, that due to lack of budget this escort was never provided in times of need, and that his need for on-campus protection. With Héctor added to the list of people who had been granted IACHR protection measures, who despite these measures, were assassinated, there are now 14 people in Honduras who have died under these circumstances. Just days before he was killed, lawyer Kenia Oliva sent a request to the Protection Mechanism of the Subsecretary of Justice and Human Rights to attend a meeting on 18/6/15 about the implementation of the measures – they never answered to confirm the meeting.
Of course, after news came out about Héctor having been killed, the authorities did not send notes of consolation, or offer leave to colleagues who wished to attend his funeral – the majority of the 80 staff there have taught in the same campus with him for over 15 years. Instead, his colleagues are in rage knowing how authorities made fun of his murder. Beyond laughing, the repression is also spreading; on 22/6/15, a compañera who pressed charges against someone of UNAH authority as the main suspect of his murder, was called by the university commissioner who demanded her to withdraw this charge, saying that it was defamation, abuse of authority and other violations. On 23/6/15, UNAH director Julieta Castellanos visited the CURLP campus and gave a closed door press conference in which she said Héctor was corrupted. Meanwhile, when the regional Human Rights Commissioner met with Castellanos and with CURLP director Lilian Rodriguez, Lilian cried saying that she ‘had nothing to do with it’, claiming that Héctor made up the complaints, and that he made them up to divert the attention from the accusations against him (and not the other way around?). That afternoon when Lilian faced students in a public meeting, the student unions questioned her about Héctor and demanded justice – Lilian called them disrespectful and rude and did not answer them.
Indigenous Tolupan assassinated
On 18/6/15, at 5am, at Las Prisas, in Locomapa, Yoro, the Tolupan indigenous leader, Erasio Vieda Ponce, was assassinated by hitmen. Witnesses say they are called Selvin Matute and Carlos Matute, the same hitmen who killed María Matute, Ricardo Soto and Armando Fúnez in 2013. The killers have capture orders against them but the police has not captured these despite often seeing them walking around. There is evidence that behind the killers are landowners, businesspeople and politicians with interests in mining and logging – these definitely have not been captured, with authorities clearly on their side, interlinked. Erasio formed part of the struggle defending indigenous territory and forests. The persecution against Locomapa community has been getting worse with already the recent murder of Luis de Reyes in May.
66 members of Garífuna (indigenous/Afro-descendent) community Barra Vieja summoned to four days of court.
450 people including many children live in Barra Vieja, 66 of these were on trial for defending their territory on 12-14/5/15, having been accused of land usurpation. Instead of a courtroom, the hearing was held in the old Tela Railroad Company buildings – a subsidiary of United Fruit Company, which in the 30s massively displaced Garífuna communities. Almost 400 from nearby Garífuna communities came to accompany, support and be in solidarity with Barra Vieja. The hearing was then adjourned to 3/6/15 to give a chance for prosecution to bring witnesses who failed to appear during the trial – on this day the charges against the 66 were surprisingly acquitted – surprising because the attacks against the community has been driven by company interests of Indura Beach & Golf Resort (began 2006, National Port Company ENP claimed the land but supports for Indura Resort to be there, construction began from 2007, and the resort inaugurated 2013) wanting to expand, and with the state backing it, including with evictions against Barra Vieja on 6th and 30th September 2014 – on both occasions the community returned the same day despite having all their belongings plundered from their homes, as well as arrests that started in July 2013, since which time most adult community members have been charged and given bail conditions. There are more community leaders and 40 others who were charged but weren’t amongst the 66 summoned. Although at this stage, this case of 66 was acquitted because ENP could not demonstrate land ownership, the Honduran state did persist to refuse to recognise the community and the indigenous status of the Garífuna people. The leaders of Barra Vieja who weren’t summoned as part of 66, were summoned to a preliminary hearing on 30/6/14, also of land usurpation in prejudice of ENP. Indura is closely linked to the Honduran chapter of Latin American Business Council, which is financed by Lany Davis who ran a lobby campaign in Washington advocating for Micheletti – the 2009 head of coup regime.
On 26/6/15, Garífuna community radio Faluma Bimetu journalist Alfredo López Álvarez had taken some photos of a tractor deforesting and clearing land, mowing over even women’s crops, and had started walking towards his car to leave, when he found this D-8 tractor moving towards him and several times accelerating in his direction with clear intentions of running him over. Alfredo initially moved out of its way, but having worked out that the tractor was very slow, he took advantage of that to take some close up shots instead. This occurred in the context of Garífuna community radios network gathered at an area in land conflict, between a women’s collective called ‘the Effort’, and a predator company called Isopo Resort company, which has state backing. Attacks date back to 2006, in recognition of which the community was granted IACHR protection measures since. There were also Isopo surveyors present. In 2006, a retired coronel Jorge López organised in a group of ex-coronels illegally acquired land in the community, began palm plantations and selling land to ex-coronels. Later on Isopo company laid claims on the land and Jorge López negotiated for land to be passed to Isopo and Jorge López compensated, now they are pushing the community to cede the land.
A threat from the Belizean PM to human rights and grassroots organisations
On 20/6/15 in the midnight hours, as human rights delegates from organisations were riding in a bus from Belize City to Punta Gorda as part of a bigger itinerary of visits of indigenous and Garífuna communities resisting land-grabbing within Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize, as the delegation came out of the bus, white men wearing all-black intercepted them, saying that they are Germans from a military family. With aggression these men interrogated the delegation, about who they are, how long they plan to be in Belize for, what they are doing there, took personal details from everyone and insinuated that they were being watched. One of the aggressors said he builds for the son of the PM of Belize and cooked for the family, saying that the rich in Belize like European food and that he was doing jobs for the PM Dean Barrow. He told the human rights delegation that they had better leave Belize and go onto Guatemala. The delegation, which included Ofraneh (black-indigenous Honduran), Copinh (indigenous Honduran), Chiapas Support Committe (indigenous, Mexico), Black Lives Matter (U.S.), and Liyawada Cerro (black-indigenous, Belize) continued without changing their plans – and continued exchanging experiences and expressing solidarity with one another. Prior to this interrogation, they appeared on a TV channel KREM, where they shared about struggles and experiences of Ofraneh and Copinh and of the land conflict and landgrabbing against indigenous and black territories facilitated by Central American governments.
Assassination of an lgbti organiser and sex workers
In Tegucigalpa, on 25/6/15 at 12.30 midnight, Angi Ferreira, a leader of Asociacion LGBT Arcoiris of Honduras and also of Group of Transexual Doll Women of Rainbow, who is 26 and also a primary school teacher, was hanging with three trans friends when four hitmen who were in a large dark van, without saying anything first, started to load their weapons and shot Angi. Angi’s friends ran – one remains disappeared, and two hid in a stream of the Choluteca river. When they knew that the car had left they went to find help. Police came and Anngy asked for help but the police did nothing, they left her to die without taking her to hospital.
Weeks before, on 2/6/15, sex workers marched demanding justice for 19 compañeras who had been killed in Honduras in 2013 and 2014 – and denounced that when they go to the authorities to place complaints of attacks, as soon as they say they are sex workers, their complaints get chucked away.
The many intensifying attacks against the Indignados, an angry movement that sprang up in response to the corruption – IHSS scandal.
National Party felt the pressure with large mobilisations against the JOH government and organised pro-JOH demonstrations. On 7/6/15, when such demonstration was organised, students Sergio Ulloa and an anonymous friend sat in front of La Colonia supermarket and read the constitution and talked about people being given money to participate in mobilisations, when a group from the pro JOH demonstration heard and approached them and began to beat them. They left Sergio’s right side of the face, nose, upper lip and other parts of the body bruised. Sergio as as a student leader suffered many other captures, beatings and torture in recent years. His anonymous friend was with a sharp knife brushed on the right side of his body. A witness intervened the attacked, taking photos.
On 15/6/15, indignados leaders were followed all morning by a pair on motorcycles, and a Honduran air force helicopter was flying over the homes of some Indignados leaders.
Miguel Briceño – a hunger striker of the Indignados, who joined because his mum’s health was affected by the IHSS scandal, denounced that his employer almost forced him to resign from his position as a a door-to-door debt collector, saying he spent too much time organising. He also complained that state security had taken info, contacts and photos from his mobile and that his comrades have their phones bugged and irregularities are heard on phonecalls with these. Another hunger striker, Ariel Varela also received pressures to resign from his job as a systems engineer. Then on 20-21/6/15, tactics were stepped up against these and over one weekend, a facebook campaign began to smear both Miguel and Ariel trying to pull up things from their pasts as shown on their facebook pages to discredit these. In Ariel’s case it was particularly ridiculous – they found one picture of him drinking champagne and hung onto that. The attacks came from pro-JOH pages: Golpista-Golpeador and Caiga quien caiga.
On the Monday, on 22/6/15, the JOH regime began to use riot-cops to threaten youths on hunger strike, closing those striking with heavy lines of military complete with tanks, forcing those on strike to stay inside, disallowing the bringing in of medicine for a companion inside with epilepsy, then they build structures to this outside space converted to prison by adding metal sheetings to not let cars and people in and out. Friends, relatives and support people were generally not allowed to visit, and those who are allowed inside are searched and had to hand over their personal details. Some minimal rights and needs were negotiated by human rights organisations over time, but these did not always stand either. As is often the case, while nobody wants to be subject to this militarisation, the police is also shutting down big businesses in their action by turning a part of the city into a prison – nearby shopping centres were shut for these days in the process, their owners were not pleased. Marcela Facussé, a shopping centre owner, declared that ‘this is a mess because they should respect private property.’
At the same time as the hunger strike against the IHSS scandal was militarised, JOH announced the militarisation of at least 10 hospitals with hundreds of soldiers, as if under-militarisation was how this organised theft by the elite and politicians occurred.
on 23/6/15 at 2am, a group of 15-20 men in plain clothes approached the hungerstrike camp site and started violently chasing protesters. They grabbed journalist Magdiel Midence of Republica de Papel of Nicaragua, snatched her backpack and punched her in the face and leg. They snatched the tripod of another journalist, Nixi Perdomo of Agence France-Presse. They hurt Antonio Flores so bad he was hospitalised and had to have 7 stitches on the right part of his head. Protesters asked police to intervene so they proceeded to arrest six of these while others fled. However, they were released immediately at the Kennedy police station, ‘because they were arrested by presidential guards’ and no charges were pressed. When kids tell police where suspects are and to go after them, police respond saying they are not there to chase anybody if they don’t want to.
Around that time, in the public sector, a memo was circulated to management and human resources of each state institution announcing that public employees are now obligated to use social media to defend the image of the term of JOH and of SERNA (department of natural resources) secretary José Galdames. The instructions came from human resources assistant manager firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Staff is told to make a positive commentary about these figures from 29/6/15 on facebook, twitter, instagram everyday, and are warned that there is a presidential house designated work team to monitor their compliance. Most staff are annoyed but feel they have no choice.
Presidential advisor Ebal Díaz told the press that the state is compiling profiles of the Indignados on hunger strike, saying that these are people who want to damage the country, who would burn the country, who have lost their patriotic senses. He said he felt that the movement had lost all hope of being ‘genuine’.
On 27/6/15, police took advantage of that those on hunger strike had not eaten for 6 days and were weak and proceeded to beat Miguel Briceño, kicking him in the empty stomach. This alongside other constant intimidation by state agent made him and Ariel Varela and Luís Banegas decide to end their hunger strike on 28/6/15. Others continued outside though and more people joined in. And the persecution did not end against Miguel and Ariel – Ariel and his family were followed by a police patrol with plain clothes agent on board, and the lives of those on the support committee are at risk also – Agustín Lagos, Darwin Esteban Padilla, Juan José Barrera and Esteban Padilla. Later still, Miguel Briceño was arrested and imprisoned in the investigative department, on a capture order for a crime he was accused of in 2014, human rights organisations argue this arrest is politically motivated.
On the hungerstrike site too, harrassment intensified. A sniper was spotted from high on a nearby building. Police kept throwing teargases and chemical dusts in the midnight hours. Riot cops and spies and strange vehicles surround those in protest camps. There are people who drive by expressing support and others who scream insults. This month ended with about twelve on hunger strike and two fasting. On the last day of June six indigenous Tolupans including one woman travelled to join the hungerstrike, these were harrassed by racist mainstream media including the official media THN Canal 8 saying they are not part of the Indignados. HCH and Canal 10 reporters asked these six dodgy questions that insinuate that they are not indigenous and that there is internal fighting between indigenous peoples and tribes.
In addition to forcing state workers to boost the image of JOH and SERNA minister on their personal social media pages, there has been crackdowns against public sector staff who spoke up in their personal lives about scandals, etc. Jennifer Antonella Padilla for example shared on her facebook about the IHSS corruption, a week later she was summoned to a discharge hearing from human resources of IHSS. She thanked all who had expressed solidarity with her, and said ‘we have been silent for too long. It is time to wake up, speak up, and make changes happen.’. At the same time, in the state electricity company ENEE, ENEE head in Choluteca Juan Ramon Aguilar sent a memo with a list he said was given to him by the engineer Diaz of 16 staff (including two women) to be suspended from their jobs, with a line below saying that all named staff are affiliated to the political party Libre and to the workers’ union organisation.
Journalists – threatened, intimidated, attacked, sued
On 31/5/15, hooded and dressed like state investigative agents, attackers assaulted and sabotaged the editorial room of the newspaper Comando Maya, that has Revolutionary Journalism as its motto. The paper is of the La Popular neighbourhood in Comayaguela, Tegucigalpa. Attackers torn up press credentials, destroyed information, journalist equipment, socialist materials and cut cables, and snatched a radio monitor, USB stick, deodorants and talcom powder. Police tried to sneer it as a ‘crazy house’ (police term for house where assassins are refuged).
On 2/6/15, journalist Modesto Acosta was in a Canal 10 TV news program of Canal 10 in Ocotepeque when he received another threatening message on his phone, saying ‘Ay modesto ay modesto ay ay…’. Threatening messages began on 26/5/15 when, as a correspondent of Radio Globo, he broadcasted an interview in relation to the IHSS scandal and made references to this.
On 3/6/15, also of Radio Globo and also in relation to exposing the IHSS scandal in which National Party officials are implicated, journalist Ivis Alvarado drove his spouse to a doctors’ appointment when he saw a white landcruiser with dark windows and no numberplates park next to them without switching off the engine. Next Ivis drove with his spouse to a shopping centre for a meal to celebrate their anniversary and noticed the same car parked next to theirs, and sat facing them inside the restaurant pretending to be on the phone the whole time and with a weapon tucked under his shirt, but also walking across them a few times. Ivis photographed this man, who got into the car then to put his weapon there but went back to where he was spying on them. Ivis identified their stalker to be a prosecution staff.
On 8/6/15, Radio Globo director David Romero who had driven the exposure of the IHSS scandal noticed that him and his family were being spied on by armed persons with brown bullet proof vests and investigative police badges, on a red RAV 4 van like the one his spouse journalist Lidieth Díaz drives. The spies bypassed security and mounted watch in front of their family house, and when Romero confronted these they claimed to have been investigating a car theft – he was later informed by security bodies that this spying red RAV 4 belonged to a coronel whose name is withheld while investigations continue. Meanwhile, the court process of defamation against Romero by Sonia Gálvez, spouse of general prosecutor Cuellar (a case from before IHSS exposure) was being suddenly sped up, his appeal to dismiss the case was dismissed, and he felt there was influence to send him to prison. New charges against Romero are being threatened by Nationalist MP Rolando Bueso for having said that nationalist Congress Secretary Mario Perez is linked to drug trafficking.
On 12/6/15, in Bajo Aguan, after the indignados mobilisation in Tocoa, a young journalist Cesar Obando Flores of Radio Popular del Aguan, who had broadcasted the mobilisation, had attackers point a weapon at him and tell him to stop going around ‘doing these things’ because otherwise he was going to regret this.
Journalist of Hable como Habla of Choluteca, Mauricio Rivera, complained on 16/6/15 that an employee of Investiones Multimedia and of Choluvisión and of congress president Mauricio Oliva and of Hospital del Sur had threatened Mauricio Rivera with sending him ‘those of the motorcycles’ (hitmen). Mauricio Rivera was involved in uncovering irregularities committed by congress preisdent Mauricio Oliva in contracts with Hospital del Sur, its payroll, and also in relation to Inversiones Multimedia. At the same time, on facebook, someone called Pablo Argeñal who works as a porter for Mauricio Oliva and as a caretaker and cashier of Hospital del Sur began a campaign against Mauricio Rivera, in which he found a photo of his from years ago where he was joking with friends, and re-published that photo massively to use it to discredit him as a journalist.
On 22/6/15, journalists who wanted to cover the hunger strike outside the government house were evicted aggressively by government forces. Journalist Ricardo Ellner of Diario Tiempo and Gerardo Torres of Telesur TV were arrested for 10 minutes having been forced onto a police patrol full of riot cops. Police almost beat Canal 11 reporter Edith Copland as she tried to re-enter the protest area – only the journalist Ronnie Huete intervened by interviewing her. Other journalists evicted include Benjamín Zepeda of Radio Globo, Ezequiel Sánchez of Telesur in English, Radio Progreso journalists including Eleana Borjas, Andres Conteris of Democracy Now, and human rights defenders Ronnie Huete and Denis Muñoz. Some journalists said they had prior permission, to which the police responded saying that NOBODY was authorised, not even official medias. This happened just after the law of protection of human rights defenders, journalists and justice operators was approved.
On 28/6/15, in La Entrada, Copán, a photographer of Canal 13, Deibi Adald Rodríguez (22) was assassinated, he was intercepted by three people who fired several shots at him, just metres from arriving home from having worked all night broadcasting the anniversary celebration of the municipality.
NEWS SHORTS FROM JUNE 2015
And they came (Melissa Cardoza)
At last, the rains came, damned. Awesome! Let the cornfields grow, let the lands wet and let beans smother over them, let the rivers run, let it rain, let it rain. Let flourish again the hope that jumps out everytime a crack appears in the asphalt.
The weather predictors like the analysts of the social movements, they know a lot, yet come up with little. While some had for weeks announced storms that do not come, others elaborate for us complex analyses of sleeping peoples, idiots of hunger, witout any will whatsoever.
Imagination is more powerful than reality, luckily, and now there are thousands of torches which carry with them diverse shades of light. But you must make it grow by certain ways, because the political parties already did their calculations, and without a doubt, the violent regime has too.
The rains came and people are on the streets again, what more can we ask of a June that already has fame for being coup beaten and resisting?
Here are the first four paragraphs translated into English, if you read English, read on, here is the link for the whole, original piece:
There is a lot of rage, sparked by knowing about the theft by National Party officials of over $300 million from the workers’ health care state institution IHSS, in which 2880 have died not having received the care they needed because of staff, medicines and equipment that should have been there and weren’t.
And rage has no shortage of stimulants when everything is just wrong. Here is a video of high school students protesting that they want a quality of education, and not an increase in quantity which is what is being imposed by the government.
Supplying flour instead of the claimed medicines is taking deception to another level and taking mass murder to another level. As part of this IHSS scandal, there were companies that supplied fake and overpriced medicines, accepted and paid for by the public hospitals as real and given to patients. Patients have died and others suffered. Amongst the companies accused of this, is Astropharma, of the family of Congress Vice President Lena Gutierrez. First she claimed they were distributors not producers, then she claimed Astropharma wasn’t theirs anymore although there is evidence that they administer it. There is a capture order out for Lena Gutierrez. In the case of a batch of Nifedipina of Astropharma, it arrived to hospital warehouse in January 2012, but was distributed to patients and it was not until February 2014 that the official lab declared the medicine not to be used – when they are supposed to do this within 40 days. Chemical Pharmaceutical Association found 19 batches of medicines acquired by the Health Secretary to be dubious – much of which had been given to patients.
JOH claims he has nothing to do with this scandal, although he acknowledges that the scandal funded the campaign for his election. His motto is ‘whoever falls, falls, our hands are not going to tremble’, that is to say this scandal symbolises that there are ‘a few bad apples’. And to look like he is doing something, he is militarising hospitals – illogical when the crime was of high officials and not something a soldier could have intervened in.
Two minutes video about this IHSS scandal in Spanish
There has been solidarity demonstrations with the Antorchas/Indignados in New york, Madrid, and Berlin. A documentary film has also come out called Resistencia The Film, by Jesse Freeston, who made various very good minidocumentaries about the Honduras coup for The Real News. This movie Resistencia was released to coincide with the 6th year anniversary of the Honduran resistance against the coup, and different places held premiere screenings, including in Sydney Australia at Jura Books.
It is very good and if you missed it, you can see it here:
Trailer / Live streaming: http://resistenciathefilm.com/
But only until 11 July 2015, this Saturday. It was open for free screening for two weeks following the coup anniversary. Catch it while you can.
And while there are still new details coming out every day on the corruption case at the IHSS, El Heraldo reports that there are new hints of widespread corruption at the public employees pension fund Injupemp as well through purchases of overpriced houses.
PUBLIC SECTOR DISMISSALS AND IMF STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT
Meanwhile, over 1000 staff was dismissed from ENEE state electricity company, and electricity rates will go up to comply with IMF conditions for a $220 million loan. It will impact also mean people will have a lot more issues with their electricity, with less people around to fix these issues.
THE WHOLE UN THING AND ANALYSIS OF INDIGNADOS
The torchlight mobilisations of the Indignados had been going every night. In the beginning the focus seemed to be the indignation against the scandal that killed 2880, and calling for JOH to quit, and as time went on and a hunger strike was set up, the main demand became for UN to open an international commission against corruption, although JOH’s resignation and justice against general prosecutors were on the agenda too.
While initially JOH said he did not oppose the demand for UN to open a commission against corruption in Honduras, JOH is now proposing an Integral Commission Against Corruption as advocated by Asociación para una Sociedad más Justa (ASJ), saying such things as that even UN does not think it is a good idea for UN to open an international commission against corruption there because apparently Honduras is undertaking steps to address corruption unlike Guatemala – presidential advisor Ebal Díaz said, ‘we have already contained the corruption’, and they say the UN commission would be too expensive, having cost Guatemala $150 million over seven years and having only brought to justice four cases of corruption and impunity. The ASJ proposal is different to what hunger strikers are demanding; ASJ suggests a supervision and support unit against corruption in the prosecutors office, and a similar unit for the judiciary and to inspect the courts, a special security unit for justice operators and a justice system watch and a system of business integrity – likely to all equate to nothing (continued control of the justice department by the National Party), plus ASJ is a project of an US based evangelical organisation that receives significant funding for its Honduras Operations from the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilsation Operations of US State department, and has over the years a firmly pro-coup stance, and in a context too in which US continues to push billion dollars in aid to Central America, much of which will go to Honduras including a tripling of military funding. What hunger strikers demand though, symbolises desperation – hopes for international courts to fix things up, but this is forgetting that UN too is driven by international neoliberal interests.
There are always official attempts to denigrate the movement and play the role of deciding when social movements are legitimate and when they are not. For example presidential advisor Ebal Díaz says the protests are not legit because protesters must be using ‘smuggled torches’ that have been imported without having paid taxes for them, ‘because borders control register that 4000 had been imported, but on the streets in the mobilisations there are many more than that’ – his conclusion being that protesters are hypocrits because they are corrupt in using things for which tax had not been paid and therefore do not have the high ground of being anti-corruption(!).
Without falling into this game, it seems more worthwhile seeing that in the demands of the spokespersons, behind that may be that political parties have taken control of the agenda like they had with the Cartagena agreement in 2010 in which there was a secret agreement to de-mobilise the resistance and limit the struggle to an electoral one. But like in 2009, the dream of something radically different is alive – on 23/9/09, there was an uprising in the neighbourhoods of Tegucigalpa in a popular insurrection that threatened capitalism itself. The question is how far to dream and who dreams. In this case, the call for an UN commission may have come from a politician, perhaps Salvador Nasralla, president of PAC – in Guatemala this option had pushed the resignation of vice president Roxana Baldetti, so it could in Honduras force someone to resign, and maybe that won’t happen with the ASJ proposal, but perhaps there are bigger dreams in the grassroots of Honduras.
MODEL CITIES STALLED
In this context of difficult to cover crisis and state collapse in Honduras, South Korean government was going to give by the end of May their feasibility study, but they have not. Meanwhile in a surprising declaration by the Honduran government in the ZEDE (model cities) website, their goals do not align with the institutions Seasteading and El Independent institute that want to do political experiements with the creation of markets of a competitive government and to experiment with new government systems. Seasteading and El Independent held a conference promoting model cities in San Francisco on 8 June called ‘interrupting democracy’.
Towards reducing tax evasion, DEI – state revenue department — is promoting a new billing system, that began on 1/4/15, that enforces tax payments in all commercial transactions. It will affect small and medium companies and especially the informal economy. This is to fulfil conditions to get international bank loans. Those in the informal economy will suffocate and drown in debt, already living in precarity before paying the tax they can’t.
CARTELS BEYOND MILITARY
While millions and even billions are spent on militarisation ‘against drugs’. Drug cartels continue to be clearly more powerful in La Mosquitia in Honduras. When the state auditing board TSC came to audit the council there, they were met and threatened by heavily armed men – when they called for help, Honduran armed forces helicopters came to rescue the auditors and their work. This has happened before.
SISTER A MINISTER NOT A SECRETARY OF STATE
There is a law in Honduras that says relatives of presidents and vice presidents cannot be secretaries or subsecretaries of state. When JOH is asked how is it that his sister Hilda Hernandez is a Minister, he said, but she is not a ‘Secretary’.. when the two terms are used almost interchangeably.
Miguel Facussé died just days before the sixth anniversary of the Honduran resistance against the coup, having never answered for his crimes, at age 90. Palm giant, owner of Dinant, he had sent to kill many farmers his company was in land conflict with in Bajo Aguán.