July 2019 Honduras Coup Update
As barricades and school occupations continued from having started at the end of April, repression against students continue to be severe, and the struggle is in the backdrop of a dengue epidemic that the Honduran healthcare system, denied of resources from the state, is not handling. In Choluteca where the social struggle is reputed to be the strongest, a heavy hunt for the ‘leader’ was confessed by the police, and also an 11 year old daughter of a social leader was assassinated.
1 July 2019
The day before, the Platform for Education and Health made the decision to continue the struggle and not go back to classes on this date, in response to the persecution and intimidation started by the state against teachers; over 300 teachers have been called to discharge hearings in the provinces and some health sector staff had been fired.
It was a date full of action – especially of students, and of heavy repression against these in many parts of Honduras.
In the north:
Uni students of Valle de Sula bravely barricaded the campus only to be met with military police and cobra cops surrounding the campus and firing gunshots as well as teargas bombs at these that night over about 1.5 hours. Three students were wounded in the process and people were calling out for Human Rights Defenders to please go save lives there.
In Puerto Cortes, in the Medina neighbourhood in San Pedro Sula, the school principal is pro-JOH, and was trying to assert authority against parents who occupied the school to stop classes. The parents were educating the principal.
Also in San Pedro Sula, CTHA school students were stopping classes to fight against the privatisation of education and health, when the students was assaulted by a pro-JOH activist who pointed his gun at them.
In La Flecha, Santa Barbaras, students were protesting when they were attacked by police, and a youth named Víctor Cáceres Santamaría was wounded by a bullet shot by police. His sister called out for help to transport him from the hospital in San Pedro Sula to the hospital in Santa Rosa del Copan as it is what he needed but his family cannot afford the ambulance transport costs.
Meanwhile, in El Progreso, Yoro, in the middle of a massive dengue epidemic, the hospital puts only one doctor on duty for the city, when children are at risk of dying.
In the Kennedy neighbourhood, in the afternoon, imbecile police attacked students throwing teargas bombs at them, and the attack took place in front of the hospital. There are images of someone hurt, with large bruises on the chest. Police arrested four students and held these at the Kennedy police station. The Instituto Tecnico Honduras high school in the neighbourhood had summoned the school’s parents to an extraordinary meeting in 3 days time on that date.
That morning, in the Alemán neighbourhood in Comayaguela, students protested – a noise and dance protest – in the Instituto Monterrey high school against the hiring of scab teachers. This was happening in a number of schools as yet another attack against teachers in struggle. Everyone needs to see the struggle to the end, to not lose.
In this atmosphere of constant protests, this day in the city centre, both the MacDonalds and a hamburger joint were closed, in addition to at least 6 smaller shops around there. Street venders are there resisting getting kicked out, but there aren’t the usual number of people hanging around eating street foods. Taxi drivers in the city deal with having to pay higher fees to provide their service when they are making less money. Families whose homes are in the neighbourhood of public high schools complain of being constantly affected by gases from police repression. Occupations of roadways and schools continue without organisational leaders having called for them. Meanwhile, elites also meet in their residential areas plotting to maintain their power. Commentators say the platform of struggle for health and education has some credibility, but that it needs to live up to its words of, ‘if they mess with anyone they are messing with eeryone, that is for everyone to respond to’, because a lot of people have been messed with, manifestain repression, in discharge hearings. There is an example of a doctor who has worked for over two years in San Felipe hospital and had carried out more than 200 surgeries and her contract was not renewed because she participates in the manifestations of the platform
Meanwhile, indigenous Misquito people had already mobilised for 70 days in Puerto Lempira when on this day they had arrived in Tegucigalpa to the teachers university and marched from there to the presidential house from 7am in the morning. Their regional authorities tried to boycott their mobilisation but they resisted and are continuing the struggle and called out for support from people of Tegucigalpa.
Bus drivers’ work continue to be very dangerous, and this day, 35 years old bus driver Franklin Hectaniel Garcia who was completing paperwork to resign from his bus driver position was on this day travelling on another bus when he was assassinated as a passenger.
2 July 2019
As more teaching and healthcare staff are subject to discharge hearings, there is a callout for those subject to discharge hearings to bring copies of these hearings to their respective unions to organise better against these.
In Valle de Siria, Francisco Morazán, the Pedro Nufio school’s first grade teacher was fired. The school’s parents, mothers and students occupied the school since the day before in response.
In Santa Bárbara, the provincial education director Melissa Rodríguez Velasquez made second orders to the school principals of the schools repeatedly occupied by teachers ‘despite dialogues’, to immediately recover the schools naming 6 schools including Instituto Juan Lindo in Trinidad of Santa Barbara, having previously ordered the recovery of the schools on the ten years anniversary of the military coup, on 28 June 2019, and threatened that if the schools were not recovered immediately, including with that the school year would be cancelled for not fulfilling the 200 days of class a year. In Instituto San Juan Lindo, where young high school students had been occupying since the afternoon and the authorities and their allies had been threatening the students, was then assaulted by a group of hooded armed attackers who arrived in the midnight hours and forced the security guards into submission and proceeded to point guns at the heads of students ordering an end to their resistance. The attackers snatched the kids’ mobile phones, clothes, money and other things. They used military style tactics and beat kids and threw kids onto the ground, saying that that was only a warning and that if the kids kept going they were going to kill the kids. The attackers fired a gunshot and disappeared into the shadows. This brutality happened in Trinidad, of all places. Trinidad known for poets, for gigantic chimneys, for academy, for coffee, for famous footballers and for shoe makers, for campesinos growing corns and beans, for its mountains that sing, for beautiful people, and also, for dreams and struggles.
People make comments on social media, saying, ‘they are killing us… they (JOH and his gang) do this by using a discourse of peace and tolerance, by presenting themselves as sheep when they are wolfs.’ Amnesty International had sent a delegation to Honduras to document the human rights situation in Honduras from April to date. Meanwhile, on this date, in the context of also many Hondurans fleeing towards the US, Yimi Alexis Balderramos-Torres, who was arrested by US immigration authorities back on 6 June 2019, on his second attempt of the year to enter US, died this date in immigration detention. This is one way the Trump US government punishes Honduran migrants. Another is its order on this date to suspend all economic aid to Honduran NGOs, for not having stopped the mass migration attempts.
3 July 2019
On this date, in La Mosquitia, 27 people were victims to a shipwreck and 9 had disappeared. Reports of deaths by dengue had reached 79. Multitudes victims of repression. A report also came up this date that a group of 22 indigenous land defenders of territory from Arenales, Santa María, La Paz, have been suffering years of bail conditions of not going to their land, since charges placed from 2012 and 2015.
4 July 2019
In Tegucigalpa, high school and university students were occupying their campuses and schools in protest. State repression was reported at the Teachers’ University – teargas bombs were threw at the campus buildings, and at the high school Instituto Técnico Luis Bográn, and around the Kennedy neighbourhood.
At the Olancho exit in Tegucigalpa, the secretary general of the Good Samaritan campesina cooperative, José Francisco Izaguierre Figueroa, was arrested in the Kennedy neighbourhood without an arrest order. Initial hearings set for 10 July 2019.
In Santa Bárbara, where young Eblin Corea was assassinated weeks before, his family and friends had gone to his grave every night to guard it and prevent the regime from digging up the evidence from the grave. ‘Here we have had to sleep since the death of the child,’ his dad said, ‘here we have placed ourselves.’ On this date, they spotted a vehicle driving around the cemetery and saw its occupants taking photos.
5 July 2019
Amnesty International issued this press statement, ‘the message of president JOH is very clear: yell ‘get out JOH’ and demand a change and one can have to pay for this dearly.’
6 July 2019
In Choluteca, at night, 11 years old Estefany Yolany Quiroz López was travelling with her dad Gabriel Quiroz and other adults in a van when attackers on three motorcycles intercepted the van and fired shots that hit Estefany. Estefany, a child in year 6 at school, died in emergency. She was Gabriel’s only daughter and this could only be interpreted as a political attack of the JOH regime against the resistance in the south, as her dad Gabriel is an active member of the Bastión del Sur movement against the JOH dictatorship and also belonged to the FNRP resistance front since 2009 and its political party arm. He said, ‘I would have preferred to die instead, because my daughter was just starting her life.’ Gabriel had appeared on a list of capture orders together with other compas of Bastión del Sur, accused of damages during social protests. Gabriel is also a founding member of Los Indignados, and was in hunger strike with 3 others against impunity, and has suffered harassment, persecution, charges and attacks for being in the social struggle.
In the rural area of Namasigue, community radio Sterio Namasigue 89.1fm gave the last minute news that in San Bernardo, DPI (police investigative) agents proceeded to capture innocent people of the social struggle without capture orders.
7 July 2019
In the midst of massive protests, the JOH regime played dirty tactics to instigate attacks from the general prison population against the political prisoners – Edwin Espinal, Raúl Alvarez, and Rommel Baldemar Herrera, for these protests, by suspending visits against all prisoners from families and partners and suspending the transporting of prisoners to medical and legal appointments, and instigating that the political prisoners had caused them to undertake these measures. Threats and hostility against the three had intensified placing their lives at grave risk.
8 July 2019
In Tegucigalpa, as high school students continued their occupations and protests, two students of Instituto Central, one guy and one girl, were arrested. The girl was forced onto the front seat of the police patrol 511. Sometimes there were feelings that teachers weren’t aware, weren’t following up, and that there was no first aid organised for students, who put their lives on the line, in a struggle that is for a large part in solidarity with the students. And that along similar lines, that teachers also need to be better organised in communicating about discharge hearings to respond collectively.
Also in Tegucigalpa, a group of indigenous Misquitos siblings had travelled a long way to carry out a hunger strike outside the presidential house – they were gassed by security of JOH. The Misquitos are a very forgotten people that has suffered a lot under the JOH regime. There is a call out for solidarity with them and for donations of electrolites.
9 July 2019
As the Congreso Movil occurred in Gracias Lempiras, where over two days, the legislative power ‘consulted’ the head of security about the presence of journalists towards reforming laws to reduce journalists’ access, journalists of Radio Progreso – a press that covers news critical of the JOH regime, Eleana Borjas and Héctor Maradiaga, arrived to cover these sessions only to be impeded by the JOH regime from doing so.
10 July 2019
On this second day of Congreso Movil in Gracias Lempira, when politicans held a session without quorom to spend 5 million lempiras, Libre politicans went into ‘legislative insurrection’ and demonstrated and boycotted the session – they were attacked by police with teargas and beatings. Parliamentarian Edgardo Castro was taken to a clinic affected by gases, and Parliamentarian Rony Martínez, who is also a journalist transmitting for UNE TV was also attacked and affected by gases. One can imagine, if they do this to parliamentarians, who play within the game, what would they do to people who challenge the system outside of it?
On this day there were mobilisations for education and health, and against JOH, in the central region of Honduras, in San Juan Pueblo in Atlántida. In Choluteca, people organised a Festival of Progressive Song ‘Wake Up Humanity’.
In Comayagua, several compas of the Nueva Esperanza community had been arrested by police, and Sandra Echeverria went to the police station to ask how her arrested compañerxs were and the police in this moment arbitrarily arrested her too accusing her of usurpation of lands.
In Tocoa, 12 years old Stiven Castellanos died of Dengue fever in hospital. Tocoa is the municipality with the highest number of reported dengue cases. In its province Colón there are 688 cases altogether on this date.
12 July 2019
A day of massive protests and repression, especially in schools, but also in other mobilisations of the platform for education and health and against the JOH dictatorship, with images of barricades with tyres on fire, of attacks by regime security forces, of kids throwing back stones, in many places around the country.
Medias that talk really badly of students and protesters were saying that those students in struggle cause the teargas shot by police at other students – amongst these bad medias are Hable Como Habla, Corporación Televicentro, Emisoras Unidas, channel ten, and channel 11. In this context too of abuses by the regime, a journalist overheard a 12 year old girl saying, to her 9 and 10 year old friends saying she wanted to leave Honduras, ‘it’s nasty here’.
The most shocking attack by the state this day was at the teachers’ university UPNFM, against a children’s education centre on campus, CIIE, where over 700 children were in class learning when security forces unleashed massive amounts of teargases inside at the children. A mother said, ‘I saw the little ones run desperately, crying, coughing, frozen in fear and by the terror, in their innocence they don’t know that they are living under a repressive government that violates human rights.’ Parents, as they send their little ones to schools and preschools, instead of packing a toy or school book in the backpack are forced to pack a cloth with vinegre. There are images of a kid receiving first aid from an adult, crying in shock, ‘I cannot, I cannot..’, of children with backpacks on running through the corridors to escape and catch a bus. A teacher made a public apology to the CIIE community for not having been able to protect the children from this state attack, and called out for people to join efforts to protect the children and students, saying a community in silence is in complicity with the crimes. ‘We must keep struggling, as long as the storm continues.’
In the south, in Jícaro Galán, in Nacaome, Valle, where people barricaded, police fired live gunshots and chased and harassed people. There were no reports of anyone wounded or captured.
In Atlántida, at the Ramón Fiallos bridge that the community barricaded for education and health, police heavily repressed the barricade with gases and arrested Movimiento Amplio activist Don Braulio Serrano early that morning. He had not been allowed to see his spouse nor receive the water she wanted to pass him. She was worried for his health because he has hypertension. The lawyers also impeded his lawyer Martín Fernández from representing him.
In Santa Bárbara where families of the prisoners of El Pozo were protesting and fled from police repression to their houses, police chased them and shot teargases at their houses and a 7 months old baby inside an attacked home died inside having inhaled teargases.
13 july 2019
At the UPNFM teachers’ university, uni students protested the police attack against the children of CIIE the day before, for which they were attacked by police and tigre squads who attacked students with gases. School students also protested in Tegucigalpa and were attacked by teargases.
In San Juan Pueblo, from the protests, a youth named Angel Rodríguez was arrested.
In this context, a lot of international human rights organisations are in town, however, people in struggle are not heaps hopeful about what they might contribute towards changing the situation.
Thanks to government repression and manipulation, political prisoners Edwin Espinal, Raúl Alvarez and Rommel Herrera had been receiving death threats from other prisoners since 7 July 2019 and were separated from other prisoners as they had asked to be, but in terrible conditions, without windows, air circulation or running water, and for an extended period without drinking water. They have been sick.
14 July 2019
Dengue deaths continue, in Juticalpa, Olancho, more children and girls died this day and there were endless queues with families of patients with dengue symptoms.
The Cortés Chamber of Commerce announced that Honduras is in recession, that there has been especially huge drops in income in the last months, that the economy is upheld mostly by remittances. Meanwhile, the US Trump government officially begins this day to hunt down Honduran and other Central American immigrants.
And plunder of Honduran natural resources continues to worsen as Tela mayor Mungía is set on privatising and concessioning the Lancetilla Botanic park, the second biggest botanic garden and forest investigation centre of the world, threatening this place.
15 July 2019
In Tegucigalpa, students of the teachers university protesting were again heavily repressed by police which shot teargas bombs at them. Students respond throwing stones.
In Danlí, the teachers university stood strong and resisted the taking of university lands for the building of a mega police station. Just as, also in the south, people protest against plans to impose projects of wind energy and open pit mining there.
16 July 2019
The Agua Zarca dam project of DESA company continues to attack the Rio Blanco company, this time, Madrid family members broke in at night and destroyed all the harvests of ten hectares of land, mostly corn, which indigenous families organised with Copinh collectively sowed on the ancestral lands of Vega del Culatón and Achotol. At least 25 families involved in growing food there were left without the food they grew to feed themselves. The Rio Blanco community has been attacked more than 22 times since the assassination against Berta Caceres and the Madrid family has threatened and persecuted indigenous leaders with impunity since 2012. There are collections for this community in solidarity in three cities, for tents, mattresses, tarps, building materials, tools and food contributions.
Similarly, in the night time, in San Francisco, Locomapa, Yoro, unidentified persons broke in through some wire fence and destroyed the property including the area where the family was preparing to grow basic grains, of an indigenous leader and MADJ member of the Matute Avila family. This leader already suffered losing family members to assassination, smear campaign and other aggressions for defending common and natural resources of the indigenous tribe.
At the national congress, during a heated session, police thrown a teargas bomb inside creating a ‘smoke curtain’, and the congress proceeded to assign over 44 million lempiras to the security department, during a full dengue epidemic too, a crisis that has received no funds.
Radio Globo journalist Marvin Neptalí Ortiz was driving home with one of his children when he was followed by a beige coloured microbus – a vehicle that had followed him on a previous occasion as well. They tried to lose the microbus by making many turns but they were still being followed for a long time.
18 July 2019
In San Pedro Sula, police and tigres squad broke into the high school JTR – Instituto José Trinidad Reyes, breaking the school gates and forcefully entered shotting teargases, chasing and beating up young students, when most students were in classrooms doing exams and had to flee. ‘He killed them, he killed them!’ A kid was heard crying. Police arrested six people; 16 years old student Angie Grissel Bonilla Hernández, 17 years old student José David Morales Gosselin, 18 years old student Víctor Fernando Trujillo Murillo, and 19 years old Yeison Ariel Almendares, and 34 years old security guard of the school, Mario Roberto Sánchez. The six were accused of damages and attempt against the state of Honduras. Solidarity protests were being organised to pressure for their liberation. There were student actions being coordinated in different places on this and the next day, all suffered police repression.
In Choluteca, a teacher in struggle, Olman Osorio, was wounded and had his life attempted against as he was leaving Choluteca. There were reports that his condition was stable.
19 July 2019
Of the six arrestees of JTR high school, the charges were dropped against five for lack of merits in the cases. Against 17 years old student José Morales, however, charges of damages continue, and he had been given the bail conditions of signing at the court every fortnight. His initial hearing was set for 9 August 2019 at which it will be decided if the court case will continue with bail or if he would be locked up. There are real concerns the regime may imprison him. José is organised with MADJ.
In Colón, in the San Marco exit, where there were protests of the platform, there was heavy repression. One person was for example, hurt, with his blood and cuts around the body.
20 July 2019
In Mezapa, Arizona, Atlántida, at the front of the home of Calixto Velasquez, a MADJ activist/leader, at about 11.30pm this night, gunshots were heard, and then people found two youths there aged 24-30, Ronal Rodríguez of Mezapita, and Manuel Rodriguez of Matarras (alias The Grandad) assassinated.
22 July 2019
In Tegucigalpa, school students barricaded the road in front of the school Central Vicente Caceres, and repression continued against them. And that night, in the context of protests, Cabañas, La Paz, was militarised.
A five years old arrived to San Lorenzo hospital with very grave Dengue symptoms, and had to wait more than 3 hours to be seen. Whereas the state never lacks resources to respond with repression immediately when there are protests.
24 July 2019
Police arrived at the field of watermelons and maiz, pointing a gun at Santos Hernández’s head threatening to kill him. Adepza (organisation for defence of territory in the region) member Santos Hernández was once again arrested, this time while on his land growing watermelon and maiz, where Jorge Cassis claims to own land title. The same Jorge Cassis who in easter 2015 got Santos and Abel Perez imprisoned for months for cleaning up the community parking lot and charging a parking fee to holiday goers there to earn something for mere survival, because Jorge Cassis had also proclaimed himself to be the owner there. If this is not enough, it is in addition to an attack in February 2019 by an employee of Jorge Cassis, Sabino González, who wounded Santos in the head and legs and hospitalised him. For the new charges on the watermelon and maiz field, one of his bail conditions are to not go near the fields where he grows corn and watermelon, something which again, robs him of his livelihood.
25 July 2019
When protests are on, the streets of Choluteca are always filled, it feels amazing with so many people, so much consciousness. On this day there was heavy repression against the protests. One teacher was bullet wounded in the leg and hospitalised in the Seguro Social. Five students were arrested and severely beaten by police in the police truck. One of these was a young 8th grade student named Eberto Gabriel – a gang of police chased hem like they were hunting people and the Cobra police savagely bashed him. Erick Orban was rubber bullet wounded. Police proclaimed that after months of profiling that they had arrested the student who ‘organised all the marches and demonstrations in Choluteca’ and that the ‘marches will be quieter now.’
A call out for support for Yeison Paz was made this day. He is a young Honduran who fled in the first caravan of immigrants, dreaming of arriving in the US and helping his mum who lives in extreme poverty. In Mexico he received a beating that left him in a vegetative state, bed ridden with only his mum who has no access to material wealth under this system as his support.
At UNAH, there were night time protest festivities, people made a JOH piñata and enraged people had fun bashing the piñata.
26 July 2019
In Tegucigalpa at the Instituto Central Vicente Cáceres high school, students occupied the school from 2pm and waited for the provincial education director Héctor Napoleón Bonilla to show up for negotiation, having sent him a petition for better physical infrastructure and education quality. Héctor didn’t came, he sent the police. From this brutal police repression that followed, 8 high school students were wounded. Nobody would give testimonies, or if they made comments, not in their names. Arriving afterwards, one can see many rocks and empty tear gas bomb cannisters at the gate of the school and still feel the gas heavy in the air. A teacher lamented that the ambulance came late, waiting for the police repression to calm down to enter the scene and get the wounded students. One of the students was impacted on the face. The student’s condition was observed overnight by medical staff.
27 July 2019
Deaths by one type of dengue had reached 100 in the current epidemic in Honduras. The health system is not paying for attention and treatment on weekend when the situation is clearly calling for this.
30 July 2019
In Tegucigalpa, bus drivers of the UNAH to El Carrizal route stopped their buses this day demanding secure work conditions, facing death threats for their work of driving buses.
New Criminal Code
In the backdrop of severe repression, the politicians of the regime approved a new Criminal Code that they published in May and are ready to roll out in November. It will increase censorship, repression, it will silence and further criminalise people in struggle, heighten level of evidence required in cases of violence against women for lessen penalties, in a place where femicides are high. Those of the state will be able to steal from it and can simply return what they have stolen to avoid proceedings. Drug traffickers and money launderers and organised criminals also have penalties against them heavily reduced.