January 2017 Honduras coup update
COPINH Calls for Month of Action in March 2017
Posted: 26 Jan 2017
The Honduran indigenous organization COPINH calls for a month of action demanding justice for Berta Caceres and for the indigenous communities in struggle in Honduras. La Voz de los de Abajo and the other organizations of the Honduras Solidarity Network will be organizing actions, so stay tuned to our Facebook pages and other social media so you can join in.
“Berta lives on, COPINH is strong” – COPINH calls for month of actions
On March 2nd, 2016 they assassinated our sister Berta Cáceres. They thought they would get rid not just of her as a leader recognized throughout Latin America and around the world, but also would end a struggle, a political project, that they would destroy the organization of which she was both founder and daughter, COPINH (the Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras).
One year since she spread her wings, since the crime that tried to steal her clarity and leadership from us, the peoples of the world who recognize her legacy are here, walking in her footsteps, confronting the patriarchal, capitalist, colonial and racist system that is imposed upon our peoples. We have been and will continue confronting the deadly projects of transnational corporations and imperialism in every corner of the planet.
In March we won’t just painfully remember that horrendous crime, above all we will celebrate life: the life of Berta, who was born on March 4th and the life of COPINH, which was founded 24 years ago on March 27th.
For all of these reasons, we invite you to use every day of March to multiply:
* Actions of protest, resistance and struggle against the deadly policies of transnational corporations…
* Actions to defend the bodies and lives of women in the face of the patriarchal and colonial system…
* Actions against the criminalization of grassroots movements, against militarization and commodification of the lands and all dimensions of life…
* Actions to denounce the Honduran State in front of its embassies in every country of the world…
* Actions of solidarity with COPINH and with the organizations of the grassroots Honduran social movement…
* Actions to spread the thinking and example of Berta’s life…
* Moments of reflection and spirituality…
We call for these types of actions to be developed and spread through every corner of Abya Yala and the world. As movements, organizations and people, let’s accompany COPINH, embody it, multiply its march.
In all of these potential proposed actions, and all others that your creativity gives rise to, let the world shake with the cry of: “Berta lives on, COPINH is strong!”
In the face of militarization and criminalization, more struggle and organization!
With the ancestral strength of Berta, Lempira, Iselaca, Mota and Etempica, we raise our voices full of life, justice, liberty, dignity and peace.
BERTA LIVES ON, COPINH IS STRONG
Global Witness report and attacks against those who are part of it
Global Witness, a wellknown human rights NGO, published a report that reiterated that Honduras is the most dangerous place on earth to defend environment, land and human rights, where one is the most likely to be assassinated for fighting to protect the planet. The report said 123 defenders of land and environment have been assassinated since the coup in 2009 in Honduras, and others have been threatened, persecuted, imprisoned, and that 90% of these cases is in impunity. It clearly pointed at the business sector as being behind these murders, and that this sector has the support of corruption, impunity, and state departments including courts, military, police, and other departments. Honduras already has 714 extractive projects and about 30 to 35% of the territory has been concessioned out for commercial exploitation. It’s not that this overview or statistics are news to anyone who has been following the atrocities in Honduras, but that Global Witness reported these, that is news, because Global Witness is influential in the ‘international community’.
So, the reaction to Global Witness circulating this report, included that Environmental and Natural Resources minister José Galdámez threatened Global Witness Director Billy Kyte, saying if Kyte does not present himself to the Honduran state to make statement about the facts he published in his report, that Galdámez’s office will proceed to request prosecutors to order Kyte’s arrest. Secretary General of government coordination Jorge Ramón Hernández Alcerro denied that the numbers of assassinated environmentalists named in the report were true. Parliamentarian and ex congress president and president of National party – Gladys Aurora Lopez, announced she will place charges against the representatives of Global Witness for the revealed data. There are hate campaigns by anonymous groups in social media against the UN human rights rapporteur Michel Forst who called on people to read the Global Witness report. Those whose lives are in danger in relation to this report include not only those of Global Witness who worked on and signed off on the report, but also those who gave testimonies for the report from grassroots organisations and communities: Milpah, Copinh, MADJ, Locomapa community, Barra Vieja garifuna community, and the same goes for others who spoke as witnesses and sources of information in the report.
A bill that killing and hurting people is what police, soldiers etc are hired for so they don’t get punished
State security officials kill and hurt many people around the world, and in Honduras the numbers are especially grave – but even in Honduras, once in a while, under pressure from campaigns for justice, the state plays the charades of pretending to prosecute police and army officials for assassinations. The JOH president feels this is a problem, so he proposed a bill to reform the criminal law, article 25, so that police, military, and state security servants or other competent authority won’t be investigated, judged or punished when they ‘in the course of carrying other their duties and in the use of their weapons or other means of defence, cause injury or death to a person’. They want to make official that cops and soldiers have a licence to kill. It does not only mean stopping to pretend, it facilitates for many more murders and injuries to be executed by cops and soldiers.
Violent gun-firing eviction against over sixty farmers families
The ‘9 de Julio’ farmers group consisting of over 60 farmers families have grown crops and made homes on and occupied land in San Pedro Tutule in La Paz since seven years ago. Back on May 11 in the year just gone, they were attacked in an eviction. On 28.11.16, the La Paz court ordered for an eviction for 6.1.17 against the farmers – the terrorising eviction did not take place this day and instead of rescheduled for 13.1.17 and was carried out on this date despite the fact that there is an appeal of the eviction order in process at the Supreme Court which meant they were legally obliged to hold off the eviction until a decision is made on the appeal. At 6am on 13.1.17, 12 police patrols, 3 military police commands and prosecutors representatives arrived, ignored the families’ asserting that the appeal was in place, and began attacking the farmer families. At least four farmers were wounded in the brutal assault – this included: Simpnula Indigenous Council president and Milpah member Victor Vásquez was bullet wounded in the right knee when he was filming the eviction, and David Vásquez of Tutle has perforations in the left hand. Even the UNHCR expressed concern over this forced violent eviction.
Farmers terrorised by paramilitaries in La Confianza, Bajo Aguán
On 19.1.17, it was spoken up that Bajo Aguan farmers in La Confianza were being terrorised by the paramilitary group that is linked to the assassinations of the farmers leaders José Angel Flores and Silmer Dionicio George which were carried out on 18.10.16. Capture orders exist against accused paramilitaries but as these are not carried out, they continue to operate in the region, sowing terror in La Confianza.
Another murdered journalist
On 17.1.17, in the afternoon, in the Suyapa neighbourhood in San Pedro Sula, journalist Igor Padilla of HCH TV channel was at a toyshop shooting a commerical when he received a phone call telling him to leave where he was, and as he did what he was told, unidentified people from two vans sprayed him with over 20 bullets, taking his life. It is likely that this assassination is associated with either his work as a journalist, or his participation in party politics and the recent merging of political parties, or both; on 12.1.17, an alert was sent out by C-Libre (Committee for the freedom of expression), of that a facebook identity ‘Jowe Agular’ sent threats against HCH journalists, and made a post directed to HCH owner Eduardo Maldonado, saying, ‘Don Eduardo, I give you a month to fire this mara of Ms Elsa Oseguera, or else I will kill Suliz or Ernesto’ – this post was full of spelling mistakes and was posted on 4.1.16. Also, a press statement was made by Corazón Azul Movement political party’s Eva Fernández saying on 17.1.17 at midday in an interview with Radio Globo that she hoped that Igor’s joining of the alliance won’t mean that her or her followers would be targetted. Igor is the 63rd journalist killed in the last 15 years in Honduras. 95% remain in impunity. Over 50 of these cases were after the 2009 coup, of which 24 were concentrated in 2014 and 2015. More broadly, 39 journalist and media workers were assassinated in 2016 in 7 Latin American and Carribean countries (Honduras included), compared to 19 in Syria and 20 in Iraq. What the cases have in common is the silence on the cases and self censorship in the press, and that those who contracted the murders is the politically corrupt in the provinces and states associated with economic powers, and to big foreign mining companies and drug cartel, human trafficking, and that the assassinations remain in complete impunity.
Campaign for working conditions of Melon workers in Honduras continue
This January an international mission made up of international organisations including IUF – International Union of Food Workers, visited Honduras to amplify an international solidarity campaign with melon workers fighting for their rights. Hundreds of workers work for subsidiaries of Fyffes (Irish) transnational melons company – 80% of these are women, most are on temp contracts, and half of the women are single mothers. They fight for their rights to organise in unions, to not work such long days that all they do is work, to be paid the minimal wage, to be paid overtime, for holiday pay, for the accumulation of long service leave, for their entitlements to workers’ health services for which employers have an obligation to pay contributions but often don’t. They also fight for better conditions of hygiene and security, against women being fired for being pregnant, and against blacklisting. They have fought for these for some time now, and last year saw dozens of workers fired for participation in union organising just as workers were pushing to negotiate a collective contract, and many others feared not being re-contracted for the new season for the same – the campaign efforts managed to ensure that most of workers were re-contracted, but 35 were left out of this, and work conditions have not improved. Workers got the Choluteca regional Industrial Relations Office to order the companies to pay a millionaire amount to the workers, having confirmed the violations, but when Fyffes subsidiaries appealed, their influence had the central IR office overturn the regional office’s decision, saying that temporary workers can’t form or benefit from unions. Directives of unions STAS and Festagro have received threats and one compañera had to leave the region for a time because her life was in danger. Workers however continue to organise.
In this context, to pressure this company and also the market and associated state bodies, a Make Fruits Fair international campaign was launched. At the same time, Fyffes, a company that has a representative answer in public forums that Fyffes is unconcerned with improving workers rights, is a directive member of ETI – Ethical Trading Initiative – which has not kicked Fyffes out, because ETI is funded mostly by companies and the British government, so it exists to provide marketing for products for its member companies, rather than to advocate for workers. And things look to get worse, Fyffes, an Irish company, had signed a contract in December to sell the company to Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo at over 750 million euros – Sumitomo is in 66 countries and has 65,000 workers under these, and the capitalisation of Sumitomo goes up to over US$15,000 million.. http://bulatlat.com/main/2015/04/12/thousands-of-banana-growers-decry-wage-cuts-under-new-piece-rate-system/.
Soldiers killed seventeen year old
‘Incidents’ like this often happen: on 2.1.17, 17 year old Edgardo José Moreno Rodríguez was killed by military police in Olancho. It is a reminder that very dollar given in military aid translates to human rights violations against poor women and men of Honduras.