March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update
3 March 2018
In Tela, Yusa, 16 communities gathered organising against mining and extractivism, and chanting, Berta Caceres presente, on this 2 year anniversary of her assassination.
5 March 2018
In Namasigue, Choluteca, the community camp Rancherías was set up to oppose the imposition without consultation of a solar park project by the Norwegian company Scatec Solar (that operates as Energías Solares in Honduras). On this date, four unidentified men on motorcycles set on fire this camp including a hut people built. They away the flag and yelled abuse at the villagers. ‘We hold the company and the two people the company has contracted to be responsible for this and any other attacks, because they have been following us and taking photos of us and abusing community leaders.’ The camp is mostly women, this struggle has been for over 2 years.
Around this 2 year anniversary of the murder of well-known indigenous activist Berta Cáceres, on this date, one more was arrested for her murder -Roberto David Castillo. Roberto David Castillo is an electrical engineer and graduate of US military of West Point, who has been dam company DESA’s Board of Directors president and legal representative since 7 November 2011 and granted power of administration for DESA since 1 December2011. He is also the president of Panama based PEMSA -one of two main shareholders of DESA. He has also been the Management Control Coordinator of ENEE (state electricity company) since 14 January 2018. Prior to DESA, he was the second lieutenant of the Honduran army’s military intelligence. His arrest is significant, however, the masterminds of the assassination remain untouched.
6 March 2018
Unidentified persons raided the office of Grupo Sociedad Civil (Civil Society Group) and stole only documents. The group’s director Jessica Sánchez and her team has been accompanying the MAS – Santa Bárbara environmentalist movement, as well as work in defence of women’s rights, demanding the end to femicides in Honduras. This raid happened shortly before International Women’s day, and just days before the election of new representatives on the Protection Mechanisms Board.
This day was last day and day four of the hunger strike of political prisoner Edwin Espinal at the military run maximum security prison La Tolva. He started the hunger strike to demand medical attention for him and other prisoners who had caught a virus going around in this part of the prison where 200 are locked up together and at least 20 caught the virus affecting their respiratory and digestive systems. He had to end the hunger strike as his illness got to a dangerous level. At the same time, prisoners are also denied their basic rights to water in this prison – there are 1000 prisoners in this prison and they are given 5 minutes in which to flush and use toilets, to get and store drinking water, and to shower – water mains are shut off at other times and plastic bottles are somehow prohibited, making it impossible for inmates to store drinking water that they need for the day. When the water was shut off after five minutes this day, inmates began to bang on the walls and make noise. In some parts of the prison, in retaliation, prison guards shot teargas into common areas shared by 200 inmates. Prisons in Honduras are already horrendous, military maximum security prisons means additional access barriers for national and international human rights organisations.
And Edwin is one of many political prisoners captured in this time of antifraud insurrection. There is one more from Tegucigalpa, 11 from Pimienta, 9 from Choloma, and 6 from El Progreso. They don’t formally belong to organisations. They are marginalised and had access to very little education. A lot of their families are working with the human rights organisation Cofadeh to pressure for their freedom. Some human rights organisations and independent lawyers have taken on some of their cases, but them being fairly invisible in the public eye means there are not many advances in the courts. Most relatives have been able to see their loved one only once since their being captured. Speaking with them is very expensive, people have to buy $5 calling cards to speak for 10 minutes. Prisoners are given very poor, bad smelling, portions of rice, beans and two tortillas. Every 2 or 3 days, the soldiers let them out in the sun for only 10 minutes. All prisoners are given only five minutes to wash themselves and drink water in. Soldiers also torture inmates by banging on the metal doors at least twice each night to interrupt their sleep. Guards again dedicate themselves to harass prisoners at the time when guards change over. Inmates are exhausted, dehydrated and psychologically traumatised.
9 March 2018
Early in the morning this day, the Chiquita Banana Company, Honduran Industrial Relations Department and JOH dictatorship regime joined forces to violently evict the Chiquita workers on their 71st consecutive days of being on strike. Security forces fired live gunshots at people and used teargas bombs against them, wounding a number of workers and their children. Police captured two workers who were subsequently de-arrested by their comrades. For being involved in the strike, Chiquita fired 77 workers and suspended 700 more. The workers went on strike demanding that the collective contract be respected and defending their access to local healthcare as workers. They may have been evicted, but the workers are not going back to work and are preparing renewed protest actions. Because of which, they ask those following their situation from anywhere to remain alert. Chiquita is an US company based in Florida.
10 March 2018
In the Florida Sector on the Atlantida coast, around where a mining project is being imposed, soldiers are moving around the area asking people for and about Ubaldina Santos, the National Coordinator of MADJ (Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice), who is always organising in defence of natural resources in the area.
15 March 2018
Since this night, police and military surveillance has under siege the indigenous Lenca community of Reitoca, which has maintained a blockade of about a hundred people every night since 14 January 2018 defending their territory against the imposition of a hydroelectricity dam by the Progelsa Company. The community is protecting the Río Grande river and their water source from exploitation and environmental degradation. Damages caused already by the building include water contamination, reduced water flow, death of flora and fauna, deforestation, and impact on people’s health with cuts on the skin and infections and viruses. The community has kept up the blockade despite the intimidation, surveillance, attacks and harassment they have received from military police, police, army and Progelsa contracted private security guards. Past attacks include repression by military police on 30 January 2018 on which occasion community members Miriam Geraldina Osorto and Andrés Gutiérrez were gunshot wounded and continue to recover.
21 March 2018
On this date, MASSVIDA (Social Environmentalist Movement of the South for Life) coordinator Germán Chirinos Gutiérrez was granted protection measures from the Inter American Commission of Human Rights following persecution and recent death threats against him. Germán was on 6 January 2018 kidnapped from his workplace in Nacaome by unknown persons using his own vehicle who were going to kill him – he was saved by the sounds of people approaching which scared his attackers into throwing him out of the car into the fence, then fleeing. Following this attempt he began to notice people watching him, and he started getting text messages of death threats on his mobile phone. MASSVIDA organises against mining companies. Others of MASSVIDA face repression also and charges.
22 March 2018
Olivia Marcela Zúniga Cáceres received death threats through messages on facebook. Olivia is one of the daughters of Berta Caceres Flores, indigenous feminist anticapitalist activist who was assassinated in March 2016. Olivia is also a parliamentarian of the opposition party Libre. The death threats are aimed at silencing her political discourse in the parliament, ‘keep talking and keep judging without knowing what you are getting into, you got to the congress to say that JOH and (nationalist parliamentarian) Elden killed your bitch mother haha, join everyone, invite the gangsters those of Opalaca, we have put up with too much of your shit already, you wanted war well you just wait, we at 3am we are going to smash you hypocrite.’ Olivia has been the coordinator of CInPH, one of the organisations defending indigenous rights in the region.
24 March 2018
Coordinator and defender of MAS – Santa Barbara Environmentalist Movement, Betty Vasquez, had her image was attacked on TV by 2 Nationalist parliamentarians of Santa Barbara. Betty and MAS accompanies the Chinda people in opposing the installation of the Hydroelectricity dam el Tornillito, and the indigenous lenca people of Zacapa, San Francisco de Ojuera, in opposing mining projects. MAS is also in solidarity with those charged for protesting against the fraud, and with other organised activists in Santa Barbara.
25 March 2018
In Choloma, volunteer reporter of Mega Red Nacional, Carlos Wayne, was covering and live streaming the protest and police/military brutality (beatings, gas and gunshots) early this Sunday, when, to stop him from transmitting, the police/military snatched his equipment and bashed him. He was left with bruises in his chest and dirt all over his face, hands and clothes. They also confiscated his press vest. Lots of protesters health were affected by the teargases. And the gunshots frightened everyone.
In Tegucigalpa on a highway that goes towards Danli, Libre party activist Hector Nuñez noticed soldiers in Mexican uniforms there and was surprised and began to take photos of these. The soldiers bashed him in response to his photography. It showed that Mexican soldiers of the Peña Nieto adminsitration are supporting the JOH dictatorship in Honduras, and were ready to help repress the highway occupations and protests over Easter. A month before, a boatload of US Comando Sur soldiers arrived at the Cortes port as well – having come to train the military police, on the pretext of coming as a medical brigade and humanitarian aid, but they came and trained soldiers and brought arms and are about to go home because they finished that. There is also knowledge of thousands of Colombian soldiers in Honduras.
27 March 2018
In the Choluteca city this night, young people were protesting near the Fausto Flores stadium, when a police patrol slowly drove by and began shooting at protesters’ bodies, and were backed up by more uniformed agents arriving and being and arresting youths. Seven were arrested – three of these were wounded with gunshots and two with severe beatings in the face – José Ruiz Madariaga, Fernando Jacobo Vásquez, Elki Daniel Hernández (aged 15), Justin Ariel Espinal, Cristian José Paz (aged 16), Pedro Pablo Matamoros, and Carlos José Baca Alvares (aged 16). Despite the severity of their wounds they were taken into custody immediately rather than being given immediate medical attention. Journalist Mauricio Rivera of UNE-TV went to the hospital emergency department and livestreamed on his own facebook account following the 16 year old Yorvin Quiroz, who had a bullet perforate the top of his left shoulder.Yorvin was at the protest against JOH with his friends and they were there for 2 hours when the slowly moving police patrol by the street of the stadium started to shoot. Journalist Rivera went onto the police buildings to try to report on the 7 arrestees but police impeded access to the journalist.
30 March 2018
In Comayagua, Marlón Galeano, had during this religious festival of Easter written with colourful religious crafty material that people wrote Easter messages with, ‘FUERA JOH’ – get out JOH. JOH ordered that Marlón be fired from his job – from the Unit of Supervision and Local Control of Water. As well as being fired he is receiving death threats.
31 March 2018
Ofraneh (Black Fraternal Organisation of Honduras) coordinator Miriam Miranda was passing through a checkpoint when police agents forced her to get out of the car, treated her like she had committed a crime, and threatened her with being imprisoned together with her companions. Ofraneh struggles defending Garífuna ancestral territory and the environment, against mining projects and work to demand justice in cases of social and community activists being assassinated.