December 2016 Honduras coup update
Attacks against uni students of National University of Agriculture in Catacamas
Uni students of UNA Catacamas has been occupying the campus for a month in resistance against the uni administration when on 16.12.16 the students were attacked by people paid to hurt the students – they entered and slashed out horrendously and left some students wounded by stabs with machetes and knives. These contractors also damaged uni buildings and vehicles that students had been looking after and occupying. Police watched on and did nothing to intervene to try to stop the attacks. Strangely enough there were even reports of police having been attacked by these contractors. There had also been heavy confrontations between student activists and uni staff, as well as a situation in which over 200 people which include staff and students under manipulation of the authorities, had forcefully entered the campus with the intention of removing documents from the director’s and administrative office, presumably to protect these from being exposed to corruption.
Then on 21.12.16, student leader Isaias Rodríguez Duarte, for having named on his facebook page the uni security staff Andrés Gallardo as someone guilty of damaging a fence of the uni during confrontation between students and the uni authority, was surprised by a public threat made against him (Isaias) by Andrés’s sister Jandi Gallardo who threatened him there implicitly saying that she ‘will put a price on his head’.
Also, back on 7.12.16, student leader Josué Wilton Cruz Salvador had been referred to in a fake note as having committed crimes of ‘illicit association’ on the facebook page of food technology faculty staff Tony Herrera. Josué has been verbally offered scholarship, job, masters fees lifted, etc, in exchange for not opposing the authorities and not being a student leader. Despite of everything Josué continues firm in his struggle in the student movement and occupation.
Cultural centre raided
Paradiso is a cultural centre in which people gather and hear poetry readings of Honduran poets, listen to Honduran musicians, and where there is an exchange of poems, books, zines, cultural projects, and the sharing of political and artistic visions for the new society being built. On the night of 22.12.16, Paradiso was raided by soldiers in the middle of a poetry performance night of young Honduran poets. The excuse the soldiers gave for the operation was that they suspected there was drug dealing in there.
Another discrediting attack against human rights organisation Cofadeh
Following a chain of attacks including a website that published articles accusing Cofadeh of covering up the ‘truth’ of who murdered farmers’ leader Juan Angel Flores recently, insinuating that the murder had to do with drug trades and not land conflict, a letter was then circulated on 13.12.16 that faked being a letter from Cofadeh. The Cofadeh logo, slogan and narrative was used. The fake letter had as its signatory Bertha Oliva – fakely so, she did not write the letter, and the letter was used to make believe that Bertha Oliva had proposed as a solution to the UNAG crisis with the students’ occupation, for the political organisation Los Necios OPLN to be used as the mediator to get students to hand over the buildings. The letter also cited that Oliva and UNAG director Escoto have been in dialogue – something that had not taken place. The intention of the letter is to make believe the argument that Cofadeh has affiliations with political parties and act according to the interests of these rather than from a human rights perspective, to discredit its work, to weaken its credibility, and attack it.
As farmers and indigenous groups continue to fight for justice, there continues to be no justice carried out by authorities, which instead, attempt to distract and confuse onlookers
In Bajo Aguan, as farmers held a forum commemorating human rights day on 10.12.16, they invited human rights organisations, grassroots organisations and authorities from the Aguan region to attend, and in the forum demanded royal commissions on the assassination of farmers in Aguan and for those responsible for the murders to be brought to justice. That day about 2pm, a group of fifteen youths from the community entered land near them that is under dispute with palm company Dinant to reclaim it. Both Aguan Permanent Human Rights Watch and Coronel Coca Cantarero of Xatruch military operation entered too and saw that the youths did not carry any weapons, further to which when the coronel asked them to leave to which they did not put up any resistance. In this context, Dinant spokesperson Roger Pineda proceeded to tell the press that ‘armed men’ had invaded the Paso Aguán farm and shot against ‘unarmed Dinant security guards’, there is no doubt that these lies are told to confuse and distract so past and future violence against farmers in land struggle can be easily dismissed by many as something too muddy to make judgements about, despite mountains of evidence that over a hundred farmers in the land struggle have since the coup been disappeared, assassinated and have appeared on military black lists, their lives taken and threatened by palm company in partnership with state security forces.
In the Garífuna indigenous black communities of Triunfo and Punta Piedra, they continue to struggle to have their collective titles of their ancestral lands recognised and guaranteed – this and for the state to cover legal costs, compensate the communities for the violations by providing a community development fund, and for the murder of their community members to be brought to justice was ordered to the Honduran state one year ago by the Inter American Commission of Human Rights. The state had pretended to accept responsibility at that point, but not surprisingly, one year on, has not implemented its promises to guarantee these lands or bring justice in the cases.
Violations against Garifuna rights including to their territories continue. Similarly, a year ago on 28.12.15, a group of Garífunas were attacked by soldiers at Barra de Iriona in Colón, the youths Joel Palacios Lino (24) and Elvis Armando García (19) were killed by the soldier, with complete impunity one year on.