Monthly news summaries

November 2014 Honduras coup update

A long-threatened organised farmer is now added to the list of over 130 organised farmers assassinated since the coup, as is the 14 year old daughter of Globo Radio/TV journalist in the context of having a long list of journalists assassinated since the coup, UNAH uni students are told that protesting on campus is now illegal, and 2000 electricity workers are fired by the Honduran state as they take the street.

One journalist’s daughter killed, another journalist’s case of being suspended getting attention

On 4/11/14, Merilym Abigael Espinoza Bustillo (14) was assassinated; Merilym is the daughter of Globo Radio/TV journalist Rony Espinoza and his partner Karla Patricia Bustillo. Under dictatorship of Juan Orlando Hernández lots of journalists of Globo had been attacked..

merilym nov 2014

In the beginning of November 2014, Inter American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ordered for the Honduran state to annul the ruling to suspend journalist Ernesto Alvarado from practising journalism – he was politically found ‘guilty’ for defamation against a public official. Human rights defenders Dina Meza and Kenia Oliva applied for protection measures for Ernesto, these were then ordered by IACHR for the Honduran state to provide him protection.

One organised farmer assassinated, another farmer-human-rightsdefender charged

At midnight on 11/11/14, Juan Ángel López Miralda (Juan Galindo) – a leader in the Aguan land struggle, was assassinated after having for a long time received death threats. He was assassinated where he lives, in the Rigores, in the municipality of Trujillo, in the Colón province where there is massive land conflict mostly with palm giants. A year ago, he went to human rights organisation Cofadeh to put on record the threats, persecution and attempts he suffered as a member of farmers movement MUCA and the president of Marañones farmers settlement’s Cristo Rey cooperative. He recounted that on 16/4/13 he was attempted against by armed men with hooded faces, and that on 9/10/13 the home of this dad was visited by Coronel German Alfaro of Xatruch with a Yanga Nueva police in a threatening and interrogative manner, and then on 16/10/13 he suffered another attempt similar to that suffered on 16/4/13. All this made Juan exile after the November 2013 elections, but he returned on July 2014 for family reasons without advising Cofadeh of the reasons, despite being someone accompanied by the human rights organisations for being at high risk.

Juan was interviewed in December 2010 on a rainy day by Dick and Miriam Emanuelson, and can be seen on this video: http://youtu.be/J1oFJEKyp8M. He said, ‘we live in a terror zone. The army with huge weapons. Farmers are dying, brutally assassinated. We know that there are Colombian and Israeli hitmen filtered into the battalions. We are going to keep going in this struggle. It’s going to cost us in blood but one day we will see the light’; today, more than 130 farmers in Bajo Aguan have been assassinated since the coup.

juan galindo nov 2014

On 18/11/14, human rights defender Irma Lemus responded to a capture order against her by voluntarily attending a hearing – she is accused together with other farmers of land usurpation, theft of cattle, and damages and prejudices against the Fondo Ganadero. At court the judge asked what her profession was and she said human rights defender, to which the judge laughed saying, ‘so that means you go around usurping lands, hey?’ Irma is on bail conditions of signing every 15 days at the Trujillo court with her next hearing date being 10/12/14. She belongs to farmers cooperative Fuerzas Unidas, is the sub-coordinator of Aguan Human Rights Observatory, belongs to the Honduran national network of human rights defender which in turn belongs to IM-Defensoras (over 300 defenders of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua). In Ocotos Altos, there has been a land conflict with Fondo Ganadero since 2007 that the Agrarian Department has delayed in resolving, in a context where in the region, from the land conflicts, 125 have been assassinated and 6 disappeared since 2009.

Uni – arrests, expulsion interviews, criminalisation of protests

On 3/11/14, as students protested privatisation and neoliberalisation and demanded participative democracy in the running of the uni, protested against the exclusion of 80,000 students, against the handing over of autonomous decision making of the universities to the private universities, against cuts to the UNAH budget, against new taxes and increases to student services, against imposition of ‘the finger’ of student representatives on the SRC, and against UNAH authorities impeding the organising of student councils, UNAH authorities exercised one-way communication as they know only imposition, and appeared only to present a document of a new law that prohibits protests within uni grounds, and announced that students had 30 minutes to disperse and dismantle their protest.

In the San Pedro Sula campus, four sociology students had already recently been charged by the Department of Public Prosecution Ovét Córdova, Franklin Benítez, Marcos Rubí and Javier Hernández. Franklin Benítez was accused of participating in an illicit protest. He said that the authorities of UNAH began criminalising protest by destroying placards, posters, banners, and audiovisual resources that the students used in this struggle, while the police beat them and launched large amounts of teargases.

On 10 and 11/11/14 in the Tegucigalpa campus, six students were called for expulsion interviews/hearings with the uni authorities for their participation in protests – Sergio Ulloa (social work student, MAU member), Dayanara Castillo (sociology student, MAU member, who said she is sure they will all be expelled but that they are not giving up this battle to defend public education, additionally she said that the Economy Dean Belinda Flores discriminated against her for her sexual choice and way of dress in comments she made against her in front of others), Cesario Padilla (MAU member, journalism student, who pointed out that the repression is used to dismantle the students’ uprising), Javier Barahona (sociology student, MAU member), José Luís Herrera (sociology student), and Moisés Cáceres (sociology student)

On 18/11/14, at 5.45pm, in Tegucigalpa, six students and a graduate protested using arts, culture and music and noticed that they were watched by armed men in plain clothes as they were leaving, and as they left together talking about the protest and going to get a guitar from a friend’s house nearby, they were arrested outside the uni Erchell Raudales (28, psychology graduate), Daniel Guzmán (philosophy student), Erick Aguilar (literature studenta), Kevin Barahona, Adán Galo (border administration student), José Luís Rodríguez (biology student) and José Barahona. Police said they were arrested for ‘public scandal’, the arrestees said they were abused for the way they dressed – for having long hair like rockers for example, and had their shoelaces taken off them and used to tie them up, and at 7.50pm, took them to the Manchén police station. They were locked up in a tiny foul smelling dark cell, where the police laughed at them and warned that they will ‘pay’. There was no conciliation judge present at the police station like required. One student was denied access to the toilet. An officer told them that if they made a fuss that he would beat them with sticks. One arrested student managed to hide their phone and contacted journalist Ronnie Huete who intervened with CPTRT human rights defender Edy Tabora to obtain the release of the students at 11pm based on that the arrests were illegal – the charge given is not a legally arrestable one – they were supposed to be given fines – they were not, in addition they were not informed of their rights when arrested. The uni director Julieta Castellanos denies the political persecution against students claiming the testimonies made to media were lies, saying that there were no protests. UNAH has been spending public funds on a discrediting and media disinformation campaign (on Presencia Universitaria paper, UTV channel whose cameras zoomed into faces to profile student leaders) against students to de-legitimize their protest and justify the criminalisation against them.

Ironically, given that authorities have been destroying students’ placards, police also said that on 18/11/14 it was not a protest ‘because the protesters didn’t carry placards…the day before they did protest and we even protected the protesters, for protesting in Honduras, nobody gets detained so much as they are not annoying anybody’. Police claimed instead that they arrested the students because somebody called them ‘smelling alcohol on the students’ – something they did not test for ‘since they weren’t driving’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ap-K3dhZM68&feature=youtu.be an interview (Spanish) between an arrested student and journalist Ronnie Huete can be seen here.

Shots of threat against indigenous community

On 19/11/14, police mission assigned to repress against the Rio Blanco Lenca indigenous people that has maintained a resistance and endured very severe repression of over 1.5 years against the damming of the Gualcarque river, this day, this mission constantly fired shots with their weapons near where the community works on their collectively recovered land and by the meadows of the Gualcarque river. Police also militarised aggressively and permanently around Los Robles (the site of the blockade) and committed acts of aggression against the community there on the weekend. These add to recent attacks in Rio Blanco including against the Tejera Health Centre and the murder of young Maycol.

Protection measures???

On 23/11/14, Movimiento Amplio Por La Dignidad y Justicia made public that 20 villagers of Florida Atlántida that oppose mining and hydroelectricity companies’ imposition had protection measures ordered on Christmas Eve of 2013 by Inter American Court of Human Rights for the Honduran state to implement. Honduran authorities and MADJ were supposed to have met by 18/11/14 to agree on how these measures would be implemented. Honduran authorities cancelled a meeting they had committed to on 10/11/14 on short notice when MADJ had already travelled to the meeting place. A meeting was held on 17/11/14 but the authorities sent delegates who did not know the case who pushed to militarise the area with ‘community police’ to be made up of police that had threatened and intimidated the at-risk community. This would obviously only endanger the community. The affected community’s proposal was being ignored – the community asserted that in the context, their safety can only be obtained through collective/community self-protection.

Council driven Social cleansing in El Negrito, Yoro

A villager travelled on 18/11/14 to the capital city to ask for assassinations of youths in El Negrito, Yoro to be investigated. Since 2010, when the council endorsed ‘Patronato de Limpieza Social’ (social cleansing committee) began – run by hitmen – the dead bodies of youths aged between 15-23 began appearing; bodies belonging to people who had little economic resources, who come from broken families. The council of Negrito is headed by re-elect mayor Delvin Salgado of National Party; this council has imposed a curfew using ten men who impose the code of silence at gunpoint while the mayor says nothing, ‘it fills us with powerlessness, silence and fear’. In this town, more than 45 youths were killed just last year. The villager said that people aren’t going to take this anymore.

Eviction of market stalls against indigenous community – privatisation

The Indigenous Association of Producers of Fruits, Vegies and Others of Marcala told that people had always sold their produce on the paths near the council market, but with the privatisation process the market is undergoing, Mayor Gloria Argueta prepared and sent troops of 10th infantry battallion of Marcala with orders to evict market stalls on these paths, destroying livelihoods in this indigenous community.

NEWS SHORTS – November 2014

  • To fulfil IMF requirement for loans, the JOH regime is firing 2000 state electricity workers (of ENEE) in the name of saving 57 million lempiras a month (US$2.85 million) – ENEE’s debt has risen to 4000 million lempiras (US$200 million) with 2000 million lempiras (US$100 million) in accumulated interest, while the state telecom Hondutel has a debt of 750 million lempiras (US$37.5 million). In ENEE’s case the roots of the debt are in corruption with several administrations signing permanent exorbitant contracts with thermic energy companies at cooked up rates, in addition to not chasing debts of big business that continue to consume masses of energy while they don’t pay electricity bills – contrasted with the poor majority who cop increases all the time and when they owe 50 lempiras ($2.5) their electricity get cut off. Both ENEE and Hondutel are in crisis – Hondutel is in the process of being completely privatised, while ENEE follows its steps. Hundreds including from other cities protested being fired from ENEE taking capital city streets with chants, banners, placards and fireworks, calling for fixed payments to thermic companies to be stopped, for the privatisation to be stopped and to be reinstated to their jobs. They planned more actions, including to legally challenge the dismissals.
  • Femicides – over 328 women have been assassinated so far in 2014 in Honduras according to Centro de Derecho de las Mujeres – that is one woman every 18 hours, and 89% of these murders remain in impunity. This month, a case catching international attention is the assassination of Miss Honduras – María José Alvarado (19) together with her sister Sofía Trinidad Hernández – they were murdered and their bodies thrown into mass graves, the murders being motivated by jealousy in this sad patriarchal world where ‘love’ is messed up and ‘beauty’ objectified and commodified.

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October 2014 – Honduras Coup Update

Political Persecution summary from October 2014


Rio Blanco dam resistance – youth disappeared and killed

On Sunday 26/10/14 at 6am, Maycol Ariel Rodríguez (15) left home and was never seen again – he was invited by Evelio González to go hunting at la Vega del Culatón. Maycol was born and lived his fifteen years in Rio Blanco where in the last year and a half the community had resisted strongly against hydroelectricity dam project Agua Zarca (of DESA and Sinohydro), and a number of indigenous activists had been assassinated and tortured; that includes Maycol’s own brother William Jacobo Rodríguez, who was assassinated this April. Who could it be but Evelio González? The place where they supposably went hunting is a site where Agua Zarca was going to build the machine room, and Evelio is linked to DESA company and has a history of aggression and threats against Copinh activists – he has been sighted in the Agua Caliente community, close to the conflict zone. After days of search by Maycol´s family and compas, his body was found, drowned, in the very Gualcarque river; the focus of love and defence of the Rio Blanco community against the Agua Zarca project. Maycol is remembered, ‘as a child who learned with great clarity at his early age, all the conflictivity in his territory, who participated in the exercises of autonomy, reaffirmation and of self control, he constantly participated in mobilisations, and always remained disposed to the defence of the indigenous cause, he was always happy and always playing with other children – boys and girls, of Rio Blanco, under the Oak Tree ‘El Roble’, and on the sacred Gualcarque river.’ His remains were returned to the community.

Also of the Rio Blanco dam resistance – eviction threats

On 9/10/14, as the compas of Rio Blanco worked together on the collective cornfield in Achotal and el Culatón – lands that the communities recovered and collectivised through resistance, a group of police accompanying 4 Madrid family members who are known to illegally sell land slots from the area to DESA company for the Agua Zarca hydroelectricity project invaded aggressively and the police made eviction threats against Copinh activists, warning that they were going to come on 13/10/14 to carry out the eviction. The same police had just on 23/8/14 broken into a community meeting where people analysed and made decisions about the illegal concession of another river Rio Cange, that is invaded by Blue Energy. The police also violently entered and caused destruction to the Tejera Health Centre in Rio Blanco.

Aggressions against another dam resistance

This time, on 6/10/14, the aggression was in Santa Elena, Cabañas, La Paz, against the Lenca indigenous people who rejected mining and hydroelectricity projects and privatisation and criticised the functioning of the the land registry/records office. There was an open meeting and assembly, and the aggressors included the mayors there, the puppets of Gladys Aurora López – Vice President of Congress and major shareholder of Inversiones Aurora of Gladys Aurora López, and representatives of this company as well as of Hidroeléctrica la Sierra SA, and Energías Renovables de Honduras ERHSA. These aggressors attacked community leaders of Santa Elena, Cabañas, and of Copinh, and reporters of Copinh radios La Voz Lenca and Radio Guarajambala who were there covering the community mobilisation. They were attacked physically, emotionally, with racist words, and when they expressed dissent and opposition, they were quickly denied a voice inside the meeting. The area was militarised, even the police were snatching microphones from the compas. The Santa Elena church, with the complicity of the priest parrish, lent itself to ‘provide information’ and give ‘approval’ for the hydroelectricity project, together with sectarian groups. National and Liberal parties representatives sent six truckloads of El Salvador Arena members to come participate in this meeting. This circus was an abuse particularly in the light of that the community gathered on 1/5/2010 in defence of Río Chinacla, in which the mayor who is the mayor today too, signed an agreement with the indigenous community agreeing to declare Santa Elena a territory free of mining projects, as well as to not sign or approve any hydroelectricity projects as demanded by the Lenca people in the region.

Indigenous people judicially persecuted

A number of affiliates of CinPH (Indigenous Coordinator of Grassroots Power in Honduras) have been arrested and face hearings; CinPH members are involved in defending ancestral territories. On 4/10/14, Miguel Martínez was arrested. He is from the indigenous community 21 de Octubre of San Pedro Lomás in Intibucá. He was held at La Esperanza police station for 24 hours, having been captured by police and military. On 5/10/14, a Sunday, Oscar Gerardo Aguilar Robeles was arrested by military and police from his own home, he was freed the same day in the afternoon. On 9/9/14, arrests were against Esperanza Domínguez, Blanca Blanca Cardona, Faustina Domínguez Gómez, Inés Sarabia, Socorro Osorio, José Marcelo Herodes, Ángel Alexander Hernández, José Gabriel Pérez Hernández, Alejandro Cardona, Pio Domínguez and the child Marcos Orlando Mejía Redondo. These were freed after 24 hours of being held at La Esperanza police station; they are from the indigenous community Zapachogo of El Duraznito La Sorto. They had hearings on 10/10/14.

Journalists – one banned, two others killed in assaults

Journalist Julio Ernesto Alvarado has been suspended for 16 months by the court from journalism for ‘defamation’ – his lawyer Kenia Oliva put in an appeal. On 6/10/14, at 11.30am, Court of Appeals representatives arrived at Kenia Oliva’s home, parking outside her house and ringing her doorbell, informing her that the appeal had been rejected.

Within one week, two journalists have been killed in confusing assaults. On 13/10/14, radio announcer and reguetón singer of San Pedro Sula, Dorian Ortez (El Vikiry) was killed in a supposed robbery although there is no information on just what was robbed, and there are contradictions between police and other versions about what happened with his death and the events that led to this. On 7/10/14, a UNAH journalism student of Tegucigalpa, Liliana Lizzeth Reyes, together with taxi driver Daynis Flores Solórzano were sprayed with bullets and killed inside the taxi; the police also did not give information in their official report on what was supposedly robbed from these.

Uni students occupying under siege

In the San Pedro Sula campus of UNAH, on 20/10/14, students were on their sixth day of occupation, and since 1am this day had been threatened with eviction from military police. In the afternoon, students were ‘watched over’ by five undercover agents who were heavily armed and who parked their cars without numberplates over long hours close to the campus. One spy had verbally attacked students, saying, ‘my president JOH is going to control you all for being troublemakers´. There are also reports that heavily armed undercover agents interrogated security staff who were given the task of taking photos of all students and then of passing the ‘evidence’ to a sociology professor who passes this info to her boss on a daily basis. They then went to take photos of the banners that were hung up and tried to do the same with the students who reacted avoiding them, though a group of students accompanied by a lawyer confronted these. The cops looked nervous with hands over the weapons, arguing they were sent by the prosecutors at the request of UNAH authorities.

On 21/10/14, a day when a mobilisation to the city centre was scheduled, the agents tried to enter campus but did not manage, and some picketing students who ignored demands from scab medical students to have classes were threatened by these.

On 28/10/14, at the Tegucigalpa campus where there are actions simultaneously, independently organised students were protesting but their protests have been falling on deaf ears. A group of students went to have lunch at Paseo Hollywood, when a white man with green eyes, 1.75m tall, in plain clothes, a black jumper, of military build, went recording the faces of the compas – students asked him not to but he kept going before leaving. He threatened students saying that their attitudes are forcing one to shoot at them, and to take their fists out on them. Students also reported that someone who is part of UTV channel and who has a close relationship with Roger Aguilar Flores (owner of private security company that has dedicated itself to filming students’ faces closely during assemblies as well as outside of the campus – there are also reports from human rights organisations that Aguilar Flores is a retired captain, and an ex-member of 3-16 death squad from the 80s assigned to Choluteca, and yet he was hired by UNAH). When Aguilar Flores left, the UNAH security head arrived on the scene but ignored students’ complaints. The students’ protests are against the reforms in indexing that will exclude 1400 high school students from uni, and of the fines and charges for cancelling classes as well as against the criminalisation against five classmates.

Military police fires at bus that didn’t stop

On 1/10/14, when a bus driver did not stop at the checkpoint as signalled to do so by the authoritarian Military police, the military police machine gunned on the urban bus – four were wounded, one gravely so, – and a puddle of blood was seen inside the bus. This happened on this day at 7.50am, in Tegucigalpa.

Blood on cops hands

From Jan 2011 to the time of this particular report, 149 civilian people have died at hands of police, 18 were minors, ..

Wind resistance – community on alert

On 11/10/14, Yamaranguila affiliates of CinPH met about wind projects there – and how wind energy is not clean energy – they pointed out that the project will pollute and dry out community waters with 100 antennas that will be installed in this water producing area, and how the energy won’ t be public or council or community run – as it will be run as always by transnationals who will set high prices. The community is on alert, in defence and resistance.

Conciliator killed by hitmen

A conciliator working for public defence Iris Argueta just finished work and bought an ice-cream at the Catacamas Park in Olancho, when she was killed by hitmen and taken to emergency and died. This happened about 24 hours after the congress passed a law to punish with life sentence anyone who commits crimes against justice operators.

News Shorts October 2014

  • In the Guiness Book of Records: 60th anniversary Special Edition – Honduras is recorded as the country with the most assassinations
  • In the name of ‘democratising access to radio communication’, instead of attacking the concentration of media in few hands, regulation changes goes to limit radio licences to organisations legally constituted and recognised by the state, proceeding to attack a number of community radios – how does one justify this as being more democratic?
  • On 23/10/14, the first official cruise ship arrives to the Canadian-owned cruise ship and real estate project in Trujillo, Honduras, bringing unwanted tourists onto Garífuna land where communities were evicted and illegally displaced to make way for these tourists.
  • Now under discussion is a bill called ‘Law Against Terrorism’. Back in 2010, a law was approved ‘against finance of terrorism’. The new bill is completing the police-military state by defining actions considered terrorist (including ways of blocking traffic without permission and sabotages to the economy or hacking, for example), and empowering police, military and court authorities to take heavy actions against these, with the help of informants. The penalties are a very long list, but to get an idea: ‘whoever provokes or maintains jumpiness, alarm or terror in the population or part of the population through acts endangering lives, health and freedom of people, or infrastructure intergrity, public interest services or publicnation services, with the intention of subverting the constitutional order or disturbing internal order, will be sanctioned with being locked up for 15-20 years’ ánd ‘Everything with the intention of terrifying and causing anarchy, impeding or making hard the work of any person or company, or of their owners, managers, workers or employees, will be punished with 1-3 years in jail.’ and ‘Whoever benefits from terrorist activities incites the staff of Army or police personnel or state security organisations, to dessert or leave their positions, or to put that in practice, any means towards that end, will be punished with 10-15 years of jail’ and ‘If the crime has been committed against a member or army or police or state security agent, the penalty applicable will increase by half.’

Snapshots of resistance in and outside of Honduras

Uni students of UNAH began an occupation of the uni buildings on 15/10/14, this is the first time in seven years UNAH students have occupied, and do so under heavy repression.

In Choluteca and Valle there were mobilisations against model cities, knowing that model cities will only increase inequality.

Ángel Amílcar Colon Quevedo, Honduran, Garífuna, and an immigrant who in 2009 was on his way to the US before being arrested and tortured by Mexican authorities, is free at last – on 15 October 2014.

Karla Lara – resistance singer with beautiful voice and soul has been on October and early November on an US concert tour – La Alegría Rebelde, cheers to whoever catches her there :).

 

September 2014 Honduras Coup Update

Regime head Lobo uses corruption scandals with social security system to introduce privatise social security, works hard to introduce poverty increase measures and cutting public sector jobs to sign agreement with IMF in November, while using people’s desperation for ‘jobs’ to push model cities ahead. At the same time, and ‘green’ false solution REDD+ is making inroads.

Mario Zelaya, ex head of IHSS – social security department, was captured for plundering millions, approximately $250 millions to be precise, funds that came from pockets of affiliated workers as well as of private companies and the state. It made big news and was used to boast/do PR that the military police of Honduras captured him when he was actually captured in Nicaragua and handed over to the military police (with weird collaborative relationships between Honduras and Nicaragua like when Sandinista Nicaragua president celebrated the inauguration of ultra right wing fraudulent president Juan Orlando Hernandez). But, since there are lots of state representatives like Mario Zelaya, and he is the only one captured, it is more likely an electoral campaign stunt than a serious effort to capture all high officials responsible for corruption. The new program JOH is pushing through is is called Social Protection System for A Better Life, that capitalises by centralising into one safe retirement and pension funds from different contributors, and managing all health services through’ LEASE CLINICAS PRIVADAS’ networks, privatising social security and opening more loopholes still for corruption and business by officials and the private sector.

On pleasing the IMF the sign agreement for loans for the next 3 years, JOH was already getting workers to pay more taxes, for security tax, raising fees for public services, adding tax for internet, cable and public services, 15% tax for crossing borders… now JOH decides to reduce the public deficit in state electricity and other services of central administration by cutting 700 staff rather than addressing corruptly signed contracts or large unpaid debts from the private sector, and to reduce poverty reduction measures, swapping a subsidy marginalised families received called bono 10,000 to something like basic cards where people can only use to buy from shopping centres. Cuts have been in stopping students’ transport subsidies, in stopping free school fees, and there are negotiations now to stop all transport and petrol subsidies, for debts of Honduras to be paid for by consumers and the poor.

2 November 2014 is really soon. It is the day when model cities – concessioning out of whole cities – in Honduras are anticipated to stop being a plan and start being a stark reality, with the first one to be ‘hosted’ by General Electric. This is to start in the north in Cortés, and then in the south, and in Atlántida, and near Puerto de Castilla – all locations being near airports or ports or both. JOH wrote to the UN saying that Honduras had overcome the 2009 crisis claiming ‘full democracy and complete freedom for people to choose their authorities’, and even that there is participative democracy with the path paved for people to participate in rewriting their constitution, but above all that in this ‘peace building effort’, to create opportunities (jobs) for everyone, more international investment is needed, in the form of model cities. JOH claims that unlike the other 3500 model cities already around the world, the Honduran ones will be ‘integral’ – submissive to global capital in fuller ways in the legal (eg using international judges), economic (money incentives for business), administrative (governments friendly to business) and political (autonomy for business concessioned to have political autonomy over the region). JOH wants money from all the sources; in the letter as well as model cities, he was indirectly requesting more funds for war-against drugs, and talked of Bill Gates Foundation as a ‘socially responsible’ business, and also of Hillary Clinton helping found a program to install clean kitchens. In the south, KOICA – International Aid Agency of Korea gave the studies it did for developing the southern region – to include the establishment of a free trade zone in Alianza, to build a port in Amapala, and a centre for investigation and development in Nacaome – the Honduran government and KOICA are seeking finance and complicity from Inter-American Development Bank for this before giving the concession that gives Korean investors control of this strategic region that connects the pacific ocean, assuming the debt, and handing over decision-making and the receiving of profits and taxes and price determination.

A re-cap of what model city concessions could mean: recipients of concession will be autonomous with own legal status, administrative system pass their own laws, have their own jurisdiction, they will have own ‘Constitutional Councils’, there is no clarity about how international conventions will be applied, they can sign own international trade and aid agreements, they can have their own police and prisons and sign agreements with other countries and regions to receive police aid, and with national and international intelligence services to fight organised crime, they have their own budget and control and collect own taxes, they can ignore labour laws, they can control people coming in and other, they can grant public private alliances contracts, and they will not allow ‘undue intervention’ by Honduran state authorities for which they obligate the Honduran state to hold responsible any representatives guilty of intervention. Model cities law is proposed to protect foreign investment, not rights of Hondurans, much less of indigenous Hondurans. Those inside opposing model cities laws and policies could be expelled from the territory, and model cities can pass laws to facilitate forced expropriation to landgrab from indigenous communities – they will make much worse an already unacceptable situation.

Receiving the ‘gift’ of model cities, KOICA expresses its ‘gratitude’ donating patrols for police training to control people in model cities, as today found parked at prosecutors’ offices.

modelcitycopcar

As if indigenous and communities had any say already before within the system, in the process of imposing (introducing) the market-based false climate solution Redd+, the Honduran government is altering laws to diminish the reach of convention 169 of ILO – in relation to indigenous communities’ rights to prior, free, and informed consent. Background: REDD is the concession and privatisation of nature; it is putting on market and quantifying the CO2 absorption capacity of forests, and it serves private and transnational sectors interests, expanding possibilities in monopolising and privatising biodiversity. It will attack indigenous and community autonomies, affect people’s livelihoods, and manipulate and militarise in the pretext of control. Those who will receive get money from this are big business, finance organisations, multilateral and aid agencies under the name of Technical Interinstitutional Climate Change Committees. The carbon credits under REDD schemes serve to facilitate business as usual for governments and multinational interests instead of addressing climate change.

REDD proponents want to define as forests even monocrop palm plantations, when such cannot be forests. In practice, REDD concession recipients also hand over large areas of wetlands and forests to agroindustrialists for exploitation.

Political persecution in September 2014

Muskitia: drunk soldiers and police jail and wound people at a party, the community stood up and burnt the copshop

On 30/9/14, in remote Wampusirpi, Muskitia, twelve soldiers (headed by Lieutenant Boquín) and four police drunkenly busted into a community party in their uniforms demanding free beer from the business owner. When they were met with refusal, the soldiers and cops began to beat people at the party – they forced a whole 40 people who were partying under arrest, requesting these for money for the security agents to continue drinking, minutes later they forcefully encarcerated Olvin Castillo and 15 of his friends. A mob of community people approached to confront the agents, when soldiers pushed, kicked, and shot three times towards these people, and drunken lieutenant Boquín fired gunshots against the prison attempting against and wounding four people, including against Olvin Trino Castillo Angulo (24), who was left gravely wounded with a bullet wound in the leg that fractured the bones, and another shot grazed his arm, another wounded the back of Nacho Godoy.In this town where drunk uniformed agents firing shots are a frequent occurrence, people did not take this attack with heads down, they wanted to tie up Boquín – the military left running to the mountains and the community uprose burning the copshop together with two cops’ motorcycles.

Brus Laguna, Miskitia: imposed state of terror causing heart attacks.

In Brus Laguna where in 2012 there was a massacre air-attack against people on a boat by an operation of the Honduran army and US army, on 6/9/14, the military agents imposed a war zone against the community in the midnight hours from 12.30am till 4.30am, firing shots of high calibre weapons all around the community. In this atmosphere of terror and sleeplessness and panic inside the homes, Devorah Sterbrrok died of hypertensive and heart anxiety, a number of other people’s health was affected too, some now receiving medical attention for it. This imposition of terror killing someone is not a first, just on 6/8/14, in the same community, Roberto Sierra caused fear in his neighbourhood by exploding a bomb – he said to make a hole – from this, Mrs Anita Campos was killed with a heart attack.

Not only are actions carried out to sow fear, the military also break into Miskitus’ homes and farms and destroy their crops, plunder and take everything inside like pots and pans and even pants, and animals and car oils and any cash and phones lying around and pinching bananas from the fields. They also impose body searches against people and confiscate without writing these in the registrar. Like in the case of Wampusirpi – also in Miskitia – the money made from this plunder is used by the soldiers for drinking, and they shoot when they are drunk, and after scandals, soldiers are simply moved from one area to another without any justice done. When community leaders complain, the soldiers tell them that ‘these are instructions and orders from Mr President Juan Orlando Hernandez and the gringos’. This happened in Kruta community in Villeda Morales there for example, during the first week of September, when police on different occasions confiscated wood from villagers of Auka and Tipi – taking the wood, selling it and spending it on alcohol. On the last occasion when the police confiscated wood from a Auka community family that was transporting some wood to exchange for basic needs, WAITASA territory council leaders intervened without carrying any weapons towards resolving this abuse against the indigenous family, and they were met with gunshots and threats from the soldiers, the ordeal calming down only when higher authorities intervened.

Attempt and burning of homes against indigenous farmers who resist dam, and occupied and worked on land..

On 3/9/14, in Santa Elena where there are continued efforts of resistance against the imposition of a hydroelectricity dam, an indigenous farmers group that have been occupying and working on agrarian reform lands in Caserío El Nazario of El Potrero in Santa Elena, when heavily armed men accompanied by Santa Elena council representatives headed by Santos Victor Ventura of Liberal Party fired gunshots at this indigenous farmers group. The survivors ran for their lives, chased by 12 police and 8 civilians – when they did not catch anyone, these police and civilians proceeded to burn the makeshift homes there, and homes of victims along with the food and belongings inside. No prosecutor accompanied these. This attack appears to be part of the repression against the dam resistance. The dam is pushed by the council, the Los Encinos hydroelectricity business people and owner, and Mrs Gladys Aurora López – current congress vice-president, and president of party-in-government. The indigenous farmers group attacked is called MILPA, Movimiento Indígena Independiente Lenca de La Paz.

Living precariously – indigenous mining resistance

A number of indigneous Tolupanes communities who live in Locomapa, Yoro, continue to live amongst assassins – Selvin Matute and Carlos Matute – who walk around the community freely and to threaten human rights defenders. Back in 25/8/13, María Matute, Armando Funez and Ricardo Soto were killed for their opposition to mining by these hitmen. The Inter-American Human Rights Court had since ordered protection measures for 38 people who live there, but this never means anything in terms of the Honduran state, which is in complicity with the hitmen, doing anything to protect these lives. Increasing threats are reported. The permanent death threat comes from pressures to impose mining, illegal logging and to build hydroelectricity dams there. The threats had been such that Locomapa representatives and the accompanying Movimiento Amplio por la Digndidad y Justicia made a public statement declaring that they will not participate in an assembly to elect a new tribal council with the threats hanging over anyone against corruption and manipulation.

Forced displacement and evictions against Afro-descendent Garífuna communities from their ancestral lands

Following the arrests and home burnings by Juticalpa police against the Garífuna Nueva Armenia community on 8/8/14, in September, about 80 community members are currently being accused in court of ‘land usurpation’ and a number of these are living with pending capture orders against them, while others have bail measures banning them from being near ‘the conflict area’. Carolina Castillo (60) of Nueva Armenia is indignated, ‘they are the usurpers, not us, we don’t want palm oil, we want to grow our own food on the land that belongs to us,’ she said that despite the accusations, they are disposed to face whatever kind of threat to oppose palm oil, since palm oil only brought them destruction, contamination and violence. This community was in the 20th century displaced by the Standard Fruit Company, and when this concession expired, the company returned the land to Juticalpa council instead of to the Garífuna community, that instead gave the land to some supposed small farmers who sowed palm plantations. And with the passing of months, landgrabbing increased, as had palm expansion. Cornered and caged, the Garífuna people began an intense land recovery process, they were visited and accompanied on 9/9/14 by a number of international environmental organisations accompanied by Rel-UITA union and the platform of social and grassroots movements in Honduras, to support their struggle and right to live in the territory.

Another Garífuna community in Tela, Barra Vieja, was living on eviction alert all during September. They are being pushed out by ENP – a state port company, and Indura Beach Resort – a new development the community lives next to. The 450 people who live there are seen as obstacles to a tourism project that will destroy wetlands of the Micos Lake. They already suffered an attack on 6/8/14 when police raided the community and looted their homes and threatened to come back with a larger contingent to ‘finish the job´. Politicians also kept blurting out words charged with intimidation and threat. On 29/9/14, police came in the morning to evict, suspended the eviction, and then in the afternoon a police contingent of about 80 returned in five patrol vehicles and armed with weapons, ignoring the court processes in the Supreme Court placed on 26/9/14 that are supposed to prevent such evictions; they came with soldiers and with Abimael Toinoco, a judge executor of the local court. They then warned the community that they had one night to leave, or be prepared for a violent eviction on 30/9/14. On 30/9/14, at 5.50am, the contingent came again, this time the police and army went ahead to destroy the community’s humble homes and to force out the people who live there. Security forces actually forcefully transported in Dorado community farmers in a truck demanding these to remove villagers of Barra Vieja, but they refused to comply, including after they were offered payment. The Nueva Armenia community has ancestrally lived there, with a history of displacement – in 1941 with the building of an US military base, in 1978 when death squad leader and military Alvarez Martinez forced Cristales and Rio Negro communities to hand over the old Castilla to the state port company ENP. The land continues under dispute, as Indura tourism company (previously Laguna de Micos & Beach Resort) – belonging to elite Hondurans implicated in the 2009 coup – came into this picture and are now heading this state-backed-attack against the community, they had already taken lands of Tornabe and Miami for their profit project. Indura is a Garífuna word that business people are using for marketing an image of a 5 stars hotel appropriating Honduran carribean language. Indura employees have been seen feeding state security agents, showing they are paying them to evict the Garífuna community. This is happening in a context in which over 20 Garífuna communities are tainted to become model cities ready to auction off to international business.

Community radio pressured to close

On 26/9/14, National Telecommunications Commission of Honduras CONATEL was acting as if it owns the radio, summoning for Garífuna organisation Ofraneh to to close SUGUA Garífuna community radio belonging to the Garífuna community of Sambo Creek. This community drives the program and facilitates this social and discussion space. Sugua began in November 2009, after the coup, strengthening Garífuna language and culture. CONATEL is persecuting Ofraneh for the work it does defending territorial struggles and political and cultural rights of Garífuna people.

Silencing journalists

On 24/9/14, journalists who were invited by the authority Tribunal Superior de Cuentas’s public relations to cover the signing of an agreement between TSC and Inter American Development Bank, but as they were entering, the receptionist told them they were not on the authorised list and cannot enter. The journalists insisted that it was a public event so the receptionist made some phone calls, after which she told them, ‘regretably, because of instruction from superiors, there is no authorisation for entry of journalists from Globo.’ Globo has a history of asking questions and criticising TSC, like about why TSC’s latest reports only carry recommendations instead of responsibilities, about abuses related to purchases of ambulances and medicines, and of not making public the audit results of the two periods of the mayor Ricardo Alvarez’s administration linked to his being TSC judge Ancheta’s church buddy.

On 26/9/14, La Paz councillor Mélida Isis Velásquez threatened to sue journalist Gilberto Gálvez, unless he made a public apology to mayor Gilmma Ondina Castillo of National Party, for having reported on the council minutes on 3/9/14 on the council resolution to not work Saturdays from that day. She insisted that he said sorry to avoid problems, ‘as Juan Orlando (regime president) would say’. Gilberto is a Channel 10 and HRN correspondent, director of info space ‘Construyendo Sociedad’ that transmits on Channel 33, member of RAPCOS – network of alerts and protection to journalists there.

On 26/9/14, journalist Julio Ernesto Alvarado is now suspended from journalism for 1 year and 4 months with the latest order from Francisco Morazan Court of Appeals following a long court battle that began in 2006 with uni lecturer Belinda Flores charging him for defamation and injuries for speaking up about irregularities she committed as an official for which she was found guilty. Julio was ruled guilty of defamation on 28/4/14 – given a fine of 50 cents for each day of jail sentenced, which added up to $250, which he paid instead of appealing knowing that the system is biased against him – he was also banned from journalism, but placed an appeal, but this appeal is now knocked down.

Resistance activist and ex parliamentarian‘s car shot at by police

On 19/9/14, at 2pm in San Pedro Sula, a man in national police uniform pulled out a weapon and fired two gunshots against the car of ex congress parliamentarian and FNRP activist, Silvia Ayala, when she was driving with her underage daughter. Her daughter had a panic attack as the shots hit the passengers side. They identified that it was someone in police uniform in a white minibus without numberplates. Silvia called Interpretando la Noticia – Radio Globo program to speak up about what happened.

Police linked to death squads

An ex police agent revealed to Radio Globo director David Romero how death squads work with the police organisation. They had documents showing complicity of high ranking police, with declaration from this ex-police who worked in the analysis department for several years and said he knew about the executions because he was present in each operation. He told of five cases of kidnapping and murder implicating high ranking police that include Juan Carlos ‘Tigre’ Bonilla, commissioner Zavala Vásquez, officer Turcios Andrade, ex police head Héctor Iván Mejía, another commander Zavala, commissioner Heberto Arias Aguila, López Flores, Arias Aguilar, Mejía, López Flores, and others.

Military and police break in ‘stuff up’ staged against activist doctor / Libre party member

On 1/9/14, in the morning, military and police jumped the walls and broke into the home of Samuel Francisco Santos – a doctor at Hospital Mario Catarino Rivas and member of Libre party, making his family suffer and worry. The police and military afterwards gave as an explanation for breaking in that supposably they broke into the wrong house. Samuel is critically outspoken about the national health system and of this hospital – was likely a deliberate action. Samuel is head of Neonatology of this hospital. Samuel speaks up about irregularities and corruption in the hospital and believes this was an act of intimidation to silence that.

Military and police firing shots at bus for not stopping

On 30/9/14, four people were wounded including a woman hospitalised by a gunshot in the head, gunshots ‘courtesy of’ the soldiers and police at a traffic checkpoint operation around the Los Laureles dam of Comayaguela. The fired the shots against the urban bus, saying because the driver did not stop when signalled to stop.

Miners tortured with heads shoved into dirty water by military police who collect fees illegally

On 30/9/14, as appeared on news, in the San Juan de Arriba El Corpus artisanal mine, where recently 11 miners were trapped inside, 3 were rescued and the rescue mission was called off by the Honduran government before the other 8 were found – dead or alive – the mine was militarised and closed in the name of safety; yet, four young miners found working there in the tunnels one day in September 2014 were tortured by military police, living an ordeal of terror and anguish. They were forced to the ground physically abused by soldiers assigned to Regimientode Caballería Blindada who laughed as they tortured. The survivors gave testimonies of that their faces were covered by their own t-shirts, that their hands were tied, and their faces, mouths and noses were forced under dirty water to the point of suffocation – ‘we told them soldiers to let us go because we were choking on the water and couldn’t take it anymore’, and at least one had his stomach kneed. Evis Arkelano Rueda Muñoz, who turned 18 on 28/9/14, was underage when he survived this torture. There was also a 15 year old and another underage and the one who turned 18 shortly after amongst the 4 tortured. The soldiers told them not to go back to the mine unless they paid ‘entry’ – the soldiers illegally charge between $5 and $50 entrance fees for miners who want to come dig for gold. They were threatened not to speak up. This torture was not a one-off, this team of 8 soldiers that include someone named ‘Tesón’ has regularly illegally charged miners, – they did not torture miners who paid them, whereas they had used teargas bombs to prevent miners from going into the mine and tortured and even fired shots, ‘this day we were 4 who were tortured, but many days ago they were doing this with other miners.’

Dam drying river

In the Chiquila community in the northern valleys of Santa Barbara, the imposed dams have dried the river, forcing villagers to fetch water from further away.

AUGUST 2014, Honduras coup update:

Political persecution from this August 2014…

margarita murillo aug 2014

Woman resistance leader and organiser of farmers sector killed

While political assassinations go by almost unnoticed way too frequently in Honduras, amongst those in social movements of Honduras, everyone is speaking of Margarita Murillo. They are saying having killed her, people will revolt for real. On 27/8/14, at 11am, hitmen crept up on her from behind, with premeditation, and assassinated Margarita, when she was working on recovered cooperative lands Las Ventanas, in El Planón Village, where she is the president. Margarita has been a strong force and critical voice, not for days, not for weeks, or months, or years, but decades. Back in the 80’s as a leader of the CNTC farmers workers’ federation, she was captured, tortured and disappeared for a time by the state, but survived past that time, and always continued in resistance and was analytical, outspoken and firm in commentaries that came to shape both the resistance, being the first FNRP coordinator for both San Pedro Sula and Cortés, as well as the electoral part of the resistance – Libre Party. She was also a leader and founder of the Valle de Sula Social Forum. In San Pedro Sula, the women of Foro de Mujeres Por La Vida described her as a close friend, a compañera, who was always there, who always spoke the truth with courage, passion and coherence. ‘With pain and indignation today we say goodbye to her… (but she) rebirths in the courage of her family, in the words of her friends and compañeras, in the conviction of the many to not stop…for her dreams cut short, her rubbed out smiles, her snatched away life, we women demand justice!’ Margarita was also a mother. Her family were under fire already before she was killed. On 26/7/14, military kidnapped her son Samuel (23) from the family home in Marañon, just south of San Pedro; his whereabouts remain unknown. Margarita’s husband Oscar was gunshot wounded in the leg during repression unleashed by military contingents against farmers in Choloma who demonstrated demanding access to land there.

Another femicide – this time in the name of witch hunt

In Santa Anita, La Esperanza, Intibucá, on 30/7/14, Mrs María Flora Claros Claros (59) was kidnapped and taken away in a lead coloured Mazda B260, she then had her hands and feet tied up, and was tortured, strangled to death, and her body, with machete cuts on her face, thrown away on the side of a highway. Her body was found there on 31/7/14. The suspect is Marvin Cruz Lara, who prior to the kidnap called her a number of times – he accused her of being a witch. It does not end there either. A relative of Marvin is giving death threats to Yolani Melisa García, also of Santa Anita, accusing her of having named Marvin Cruz as someone who accused María Flora of being a witch. Similarly, Mrs María Sofía Sedillos Claros is receiving death threats from relatives of Marvin Cruz.

Evictions and landgrabbing against Garífuna (Afro-indigenous-descendent) communities

The Barra Vieja community is at the entrance of the ‘Indura Beach tourism project’; tourist companies associated with Indura & Beach Resort pushed for the community to be evicted. The Tela Court, in violation of legally stipulated indigenous rights as authorities do frequently in Honduras, does not recognise this indigenous community’s ancestral property. While taking the name ‘Indura’, a Garífuna word for Honduras, the companies have already imposed the filling of 80 hectares of wetlands of Laguna de los Micos to build a golfcourse without taking into the account the environmental damage that will be caused.

On 6/8/14, with Tela Court orders, police attempted an eviction against 400 community members arguing that the land belongs to the National Port Company ENP. In support of the Barra Vieja community, human rights organisations and other communities rushed to the region. The people of Barra Vieja are not going anywhere; they declared they would rather die before abandoning their homes. Given that they lived there all their lives, they are questioning why they are suddenly being told that the land belongs to ENP. These families are living in constant terror that at any moment, police could burn their homes and what little they have gained materially through their own efforts over time. It was in the 80s that speculations of Tela land values began coupled with threats and assassinations against those who resisted handing over their territories. As communities face persecution and expulsion from their land, they are told the tourism projects are good for them because supposedly there will be jobs, and a ‘whooping’ 7% of profits will go to Garífuna communities.

The Armenia community was founded by Garífuna community at the end of the 19th century, from these lands they were forcefully displaced from the delta, to the left margin of the Papaloteca River, under pressures of Standard Fruit Company (SFC) that burnt property registrations of La Ceiba to gain possession of the land and turn it into a banana port, that then became a municipality, with the complicity of state officials. In 2000 when the concession to SFC now DOLE ended, the land was returned to Jutiapa municipality instead of to the Armenian community. This community was in a process of reclaiming the land through occupation (despite the risk also faced because the land had lately been under the control of organised crime networks), when on 8/8/14, in the midnight hours, Juticalpa police evicted the community, arrested 11 Garífunas and set their homes on fire.

Attacks against Lenca Indigenous communities – threat, warning shot, hydroelectricity dam imposition, capture by army..

In San Francisco Lempira, on 3/8/14, over 300 people assembled together with indigenous organisation Copinh and local catholic church authorities confronting Mayor Elmer Noel Molina for negotiating in their name and on the San Juan river on which their lives depend, since 2010, a hydroelectricity dam project Tanguay. Always, without consulting with people, in four municipalities where people will be affected. Mayor Elmer initially denied accusations, before admitting that he already signed an agreement including to give possession of the plaza to army and police, on which to build prisons and police stations, in addition to the concession with ELSA Hidroeléctricos Energías Limpias company and finance contracts with FICOHSA, Bancahfe and BCIE banks. The dam project is at the third stage of the feasibility study, having received permissions for these studies and for the land lease from both the environmental authority SERNA and the mayor. The threat came as, outside the assembly, Mayor Elmer Noel Molina reacted angrily to the confrontation and community protest, saying that it was because they were inside a church and in front of Father Dióminis that he did not shoot (Copinh indigenous activist) Aureliano Molina Villanueva. The following night, armed men fired warning shots around the family home of Aureliano’s. This adds to other death threats against Copinh compas, radio members and relatives of these indigenous activists. Mayor Elmer Noel Molina had also privately threatened to burn down Copinh’s community radio station La Voz Lenca, for its work in speaking up.

On 17/8/14, Florencio Aguilar Robles, Lenca indigenous activist involved in defending territory, member of indigenous organisation CinPH, was captured by 1st Batallón de Ingenieros armed forces that were armed with high calibre weapens of Israeli brand Galil, coupled with special police forces also armed with war weapons. No further information about if he was released after. He is the fourth to be captured from his community, after two other compañeras and a compañero, from this community in land conflict with David Medrano Herrera – a close relative of National Party parliamentarian Rodolfo Irías Navas, who had sent heavily armed men to burn corns and beans plantations there.

Still locked up. Courts still taking it slow. Political prisoner and farmer – Chabelo.

It’s been six years behind bars, that Chabelo blatantly did not commit murder but for which he was recently sentenced, he is now 37. He said he learnt a lot in prison, like how in Honduras the biggest crime truly is having money to buy legislation, to buy judges, to buy prosecutors. He has since been accused of killing Carlos Manrique Osorto, a relative of police subcommissioner and land usurper Henry Osorto, in an incident in 2008 when Osorto’s house was burnt down and with that, 11 of his relatives died. One farmer died too in the confrontation. An unreliable (due to cognitive/conscious state from dying, and having also been certain that two others were there including one who had never been in the region in their lifetime) witness claimed he saw Chabelo on the crime scene. Chabelo was selling ice cream that day, and was playing a bit of soccer in the afternoon, when the spouse of Arnulfo Guevara, a fellow organised farmer, approached Chabelo crying, saying Arnulfo suffered a gunshot wound, to please help. Chabelo got on his bicycle and went. Arriving there a Radio Católica journalist took a photo of him and he appeared in La Tribuna, as he went to get and carry away Arnulfo. It was because of this photo that they charged him and accused him of everything. The pool of suspects were drawn from making a list of who lives in the Guadalupe Carney community only.

Chabelo’s years in prison had been tough. He had to deal with hunger, death threats by other prisoners, poisoning attempts, and was not given leave to participate in the funerals of his dad nor of his daughter. He also lost his right eye in prison, when he was doing farm work using farm machinery, that got tangled up with the wire of the cage of the football field, and a wire perforated his lips, cut his tongue, broke two teeth and hurt him severely including causing the lost of vision in his right eye.

History: The Guadalupe Carney settlement in the 80s was used as a US military base to train counter-revolutionaries of El Salvador and Nicaragua – early one morning in 2000, 50 trucks of people organised and converged, entering the former base and tore down its fences and began its reclaim of this land through occupation. Following a long struggle where over the years lots of leaders and members were killed and wounded by private security guards and paramilitaries contracted by Osorto and by palm giant Facussé, the farmers’ land title in Guadalupe Carney was eventually recognised there by the Agrarian Department.

Also in Bajo Aguan: more threat, intimidation, brutal eviction, and crops burnt

The Paso Aguán community of Movimiento Gregorio Chavéz had been under brutal repression and attacks numerous times in the last months, 450 farmers had just re-occupied unarmed following the last eviction on 15/8/14, when over 240 police and Xatruch III Operation soldiers also arrived, brutally evicting the families with teargases, batons, and live gunshots. They arrested four farmers, two of elderly age: Juan Ramón Salinas, Elver Jose Salinas, Alejandro López and José Argueta. FUSINA head coronel German Alfaro shamelessly tried to accuse and link these arrested at the eviction to a supposed attempt against a police patrol. The families, who have parents involved in land reform processes in the 70s, have lived there for 45 years and does not accept being evicted. Xatruche head Coronel Martínez mentioned that he called a meeting on 1/7/14 to which 9 leaders of the Gregorio Chávez movement came as well as agrarian department director Lara, and said the meeting was going to be used to issue capture orders after against the participating leaders. Not to mention that in this meeting, Lara ordered farmers to not act in solidarity with other farmers’ groups.

On 19/8/14, at 11am, a contingent of 8 soldiers and 3 security guards arrived on a grey double cabin Toyota, barging in on the home of Gregorio Chávez farmers movement leader Santos Torres, pointing firearms at him and his spouse saying things like ‘with one shot we will finish you’ (un solo tiro te vamos a pegar). A similar thing happened recently to human rights defender Glenda Chávez’s home of the Aguan Human Rights Observatory – who was told by her mother because she wasn’t home. From the same vehicle shots were fired at farmers on 15/8/14 when farmers re-occupied and anti-farmers evicted farmers.

Also within Aguán, in Trujillo, next to the Rigores village is the La Consentida citrus farm. On 27/8/14, at 8am, a contingent of 6 vehicles of military and police and an ambulance headed by Xatruch head Coronel Martínez, arrived evicting 36 families of farmers cooperative ‘Nueva Esperanza’ who entered to recover and grow on the lands four months ago. The farmers left but called on Aguan Human Rights Observatory (OPDHA) defenders accompanied by Human Rights Commissioner delegate Frañon who went there at 10.10am to talk with Martínez. Martínez who refused to speak with OPDHA, verbally attacking OPDHA coordinator Martha Arnold saying she was responsible for what happened there and that OPDHA is illegal, but spoke with Frañon.
Whatever was said, and ignoring prior agreements with INA (agrarian department) and OPDHA, at 10.30am, tractors sent by the authorities proceeded to destroy 21 hectares of corn crops, one fifth of which was at the flowering stage. This land is in conflict with CoFrutCo fruit company in Sonaguera, who when approached by OPDHA and INA was unavailable for comments.

Killings against journalists continue:

nery sorto august 2014

In Olanchito, on 14/8/14, an unknown person sprayed with bullets and assassinated journalist Nery Soto when he was coming home that night. Nery would have opened the garage to put his motorcycle inside but couldn’t as there was a blackout or the electricity was cut. There was a march by including journalists from Ceiba, Tocoa and Sonaguera in Olanchito demanding the truth to be found about what happened to Nery.

In Danlí, El Paraíso, on 23/8/14, hitmen sprayed with bullets Dagoberto Diaz, owner of Canal 20 and of the cable company that operates in the municipality.

Charges and jail threats against journalists

Radio Globo/Globo TV had been amongst the most listened to opposition media critical of the 2009 military coup since it began. On 21/8/14, the spouse of General Prosecutor Rigoberto Cuellar, Sonia Gálvez, placed charges against 4 Radio Globo journalists accusing these of injuries and defamation – the journalists are David Romero, Ivis Alvarado, César Silva and Rony Martínez, they run a critical program ‘Intepretando la Noticia’. The maximum penalty of the charges is 15 years jail sentence and closure of Globo radio and TV. The journalists have been speaking up about the corruption involved in the case of a cartel operating disguised as a law firm with the name of Cuellar-Gálvez-López, that is involved in scandals of financial plunder of government institutions. The day before this accusation was placed, Romero spoke up about being followed and watched by a motorcyclist and having been threatened by Sonia Gálvez, who is said to have commented to prosecutors’ personal advisor Claudia Diaz that she wanted David Romero behind bars.

Trujillo Radio program Independent News taken off air.

Its presenter Miguel Dubón is also a Radio Globo correspondent. It started when through Committee for Freedom of Expression, he complained on 18/8/14 that since he regularly criticised local government on his program, that the mayor had manipulated to regularly cut off electricity at the same hour as his broadcast. On 20/8/14 his program was cut – the manager of the Trujillo radio station Estéreo de Castilla told him, after 12 years of broadcast, that because of pressures from the council and mayor and from a representative of National Telecommunications Commission that he had to cut the program, saying that a councillor said to him, ‘I want to ask you a favour, you will fire that son of a bitch from the station. If you get rid of him, the mayor will make sure you are paid 7000 lempiras. If you don’t, then they will close down the station.’

‘Justice’ system and uni authority gang up against arrested student

Student Ronmel Darío Moran who was beaten and arrested on 24/7/14 and had bail conditions imposed on 31/7/14, continues to face a court case against him and carry bail conditions including of not attending protests. He is accused of illicit protest. Police accused him of throwing stone and hitting police with the stone, although the police who declared that Darío threw the stone was positioned at another uni gate far from Darío, and the lawyer argued that using stones does not turn protests into illicit ones, that more forceful weapons are needed to qualify a protest as illicit. The university director Julieta Castellanos said if the court rules to have him expelled that they have her support.

Security guard loses job at uni over whistleblowing, and shows uni as complicit in the attempt against lecturer/unionist

In the case where lecturer and unionist Hector Martínez spoke up about an attempt against him with the complicity of UNAH authorities on 8/7/14 through the unscrewing of the backtyre at the uni carpark, on 28/7/14, campus security guard José Antonio Bustillo Gonzales made a statement in support of Hector Martínez and providing evidence for what happened. He said that he was working that day and all guards were instructed that it was important to watch the movements of lecturer Martínez and note who he talks to, and report to their supervisor in charge. He said he subsequently saw a 20 year old approach the car and talk with his boss Betancourt, and that after he saw the car lose control, the boss Betancourt ordered security staff not to approach Martínez nor to note anything in the incidences book because those were ‘instructions of the engineer Alina’. José said that as Martinez left he stopped at the exit gate to say to security that he will complain against them and when Martínez left, José said to his workmates that he was not responsible for anything about the car and that if Martínez complains, that he would tell the truth too. He said Betancourt then told everyone not to worry, because they have Alina’s protection as head of the campus CURLP. José insisted that it was wrong and was told the next day that he did not have a job there anymore but to keep quiet if he wanted to be re-employed there later.

Lgbti human rights defender and resistance activist under threat

On 30/8/14, about 1.15pm, Erick Martínez was driving with his mother and sister near the presidential house, when a motorcycle without numberplates drove the wrong way towards him in his lane. He slowed down and manuvered to avoid crashing this motorcycle that never moved or slowed down, but after passing him, a motorcycle then caught up to him at full speed, drove by his window and said, ‘I know you and I know who you are. I didn’t fire the shots at you because your señoras (mum and sis) are here, but where I see you, I will kill you’, as he touched under his shirt with the threatening gesture of pulling out a weapon, before speeding off away. So who is Erick? A leader of Movimiento de Diversidad en Resistencia MDR, and human rights defender.

International human rights delegation accused by head of military operation FUSINA

For visiting Honduras over 10 days in August and having visited Bajo Aguán over 3 days where they witnessed the sound of gunshots and documented human rights violations by Honduran army and by Dinant security forces, for taking testimonies from human rights organisations and undertaking interviews, a group of 11 (mostly from US and Canada, some being part of Honduras Solidarity Network) were accused by FUSINA head German Alfaro of ‘encouraging farmers to launch attacks’, of ‘causing dispension in the region’, who also said that they were suspicious for having gone to a ‘practically restricted area of the country’. These were similar accusations to those made against Annie Bird of Rights Action in December 2013 and July 2014, as part of a strategic plan to silence the documentation of human rights violations by human rights defenders.

NEWS SHORTS August 2014

There’s serious insecurity in Honduras: national homocide rates sit at 85.5 for every 100,000 people, that’s an average of 20 a day – over half of them occur within the provinces of Cortés (where San Pedro Sula is), Francisco Morazán (home of Tegucigalpa), and Atlántida (home of Tela and Ceiba..), and San Pedro Sula the most dangerous city in the world with at least 3 homocides a day, at 169.3 cases of homocide for every 100,000 people during a year.

When insecurity is spoken of in Honduras, assaults, robbery and distortions come to mind as things that often happen, from which people are killed occasionally, yet many Hondurans can tell you the biggest crime is that of politicians, hand-in-hand with big business, who keep the vast majority in desperate conditions causing the commonness of assault

Robbing people through state institutions:

ENEE, the state electricity company, has long been plundered through the unilateral signing of state-bankrupting expensive contracts for thermal energy companies to supply, with such millionaire contracts having been handed out to companies that contributed to electoral campaigns. With crisis of ENEE being over $750 million in debt, ENEE head Hawit announced that blackouts are being planned nationally to deal with recent over-use and under-production. In reality the blackouts are because of the debt crisis from these exuberant contracts, paid for by poor consumers through reduced access to electricity and electricity being cut when payments are late. By contrast, big businesses continue to enjoy electricity without paying bills and many have protection from blackouts.

IHSS, a state health and welfare system founded in 1959, was supposed to serve all Hondurans, but actually only looks after a minority, 600,000-900,000, excluding the vast majority (8 million Hondurans). The hospitals lack medicines, funds, proper systems, because of corruption and plundering, for which fingers are pointed at IHSS head Mario Zelaya, IHSS intervention commission officials Vilma Morales and German Leytzelar who are silent about this corruption but very vocal in complaining to the press about patients and nurses and health staff who go on strikes and organise stop-work meetings protesting the hospitals’ condition and the corruption. Fingers are also pointed to the IHSS workers union SITRAIHSS general secretary Pacheco and Honduran Medical Association CMH president Elmer Mayes who acknowledged their failure to speak up about the plunder which they knew about earlier publicly. The story is the same, officials and authorities signed multiple exorbitant contracts from 2010-2019 – towards paying lots towards modernisation – digitalisation, organising systems, biomedical equipment purchasing, when the institution is in debt and does not fulfil its basic obligations of supplying medicines, sanitation, and paying staff on time.

To illustrate the state of Honduran hospitals, Costa Rican authorities recently rescued a Costa Rican patient, Daniel Rodriguez Izquierdo (72) from the Honduran Hospital Mario Catarino Rivas, after 26 days there with a delicate medical condition. His son took photos showing the conditions, and the lack of syringes and medicine, and the lack to such an extent that because nurses had little time and resources, they showed him how to care for his dad and passed him the responsibility. He saw funeral companies fight over sales; the disconnection of machines, putting urine in the drip – boosts to the funeral industry. And if that would solve the problem, Honduras militarised the hospital to ‘provide security’ in response to the published photos. A humanitarian plane took Daniel to a Costa Rican hospital, but for Hondurans who can’t afford private hospitals, there is no rescue.

In both cases, as well as officials/politicians’ corruption, there had been cuts to expenditure on social services stemming from orders imposed from international finance organisations such as IMF, World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank towards austerity measures, free trade and privatisation.

With the Honduran government in deep debt, it now looks to forcing money from artists

The proposal is, for any group performing any form of arts in a public place to have to pay a fee to the government – eg, $750 to hold a concert, and businesses (venues) risk a $1250 fine if they don’t ask performers at their venue to pay the government. This can apply to poetry reading, to street theatre, to the magician who performs on the town square, who never quite collects close to $750. This represents a massive attack against counter-culture, containing and stifling these and people’s enjoyment of arts. Artists in Honduras have declared that they don’t recognise these rules and fees against their creative work, and that they will continue singing, dancing, making poetry, screaming, so that art continues to belong to everyone. Remember a part of this debt is to the electoral campaigns that brought in the current fraud government

World Bank audits shows FICOHSA (Citibank Honduras) also finances blood-stained Dinant.

There is evidence that palm giant Miguel Facussé’s Dinant was implicated in the El Tumbador massacre against five farmers in 2010, and that Dinant guards used Paso Aguan farm as a clandestine cemetery having buried and hidden there murdered farmers Gregorio Chávez and José Antonio Lopez Lara. Dinant is accused of many other murders. There had previously been reports about World Bank being implicated in loans. About involvement of various banks and companies in carbon trading deals with Dinant, of being whitewashed as an approved Clean Development Mechanism project. Now it has just been uncovered by World Bank CFI CAO Ombudsman’s audit that Ficohsa bank (Citibank Honduras) also facilitated a $70 million loan too to Dinant – and that CFI has capital investments in FICOHSA in 2011, blames are on the lack of social and environmental evaluation that gets carried out when contracts are being signed.

Most likely will be an empty law, the law for human rights defenders, journalists and justice operators

As this law is being discussed, human rights organisation CPTRT said if it is through the participation of all human rights defenders and an autonomous organisation arises from the law, independent from the state security and defence system, that the law could be supported, but this participation is unlikely given Honduras’ record and actual intentions in introducing this law.

Honduran government never cedes to Garífuna rights, now seeks to reduce them

From every indigenous people, the complaints are constant, of damaging projects imposed upon an indigenous people without free, prior, and informed consent of this people, in violation of the 169 convention of indigenous peoples of ILO. In the case of Garífuna people, the regime now seeks before the Inter-American Human Rights Court to erase the indigenous descendence part of their beings, to erase their having historically mixed with indigenous peoples of Honduras, to ignore their self-identification, and the fact that they had conserved more their traditional cultures, language and territory. This is to be able to say, that they are not indigenous, and that therefore projects can be imposed on their territories.

Snapshot of actions and solidarity in Honduras

In the Florida region where there has been a long struggle by Nueva Esperanza and surrounding communities that cumulated in death threats against just about everyone in the communities and those accompanying them, the 16 communities of Florida assembled, coming together to declare the area an area free of mining.

Chabelo, the political prisoner, had a birthday party, outside, at the Porvenir prison complex. 2 buses and about six pick-ups of people arrived to celebrate with him. He has been locked up for 6 years, an organised farmer, wrongly sentenced (recently) for murder he did not do against a family responsible for murder and other crimes against farmers. He sold ice cream the day of the ‘crime’. On his birthday, he happily scooped out and gave out ice cream to lots of people. They keep trying to kill his spirit but they can’t, Chabelo is a calm, strong soul, and his links with the community remain strong.

 

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Honduras coup update – July 2014

Political persecution in July 2014:

Brutal and murderous eviction by police and army, against Gregorio Chavez farmers movement in Panama community in the Bajo Aguán palm plantations

On 3/7/14, a contingent commanded by current head of Xatruch, René Jovel Martínez, of 300 police and military entered occupied palm plantation land Paso Aguán at 6.15am and between 11-3pm, carried out a brutally violent eviction with live gunshots, teargas, batons, chasing and a number of arrests against 400 families of the Gregorio Chávez farmers movement that only came to re-occupy after previous evictions the afternoon before, without ever showing an eviction order.

 

These live gunshots from police and military killed José Sánchez Hernández – his compas tried to save him, taking him in a pickup truck to the hospital, but he died before they made it.

 

They arrested at 11am seven farmers, going beyond the occupation and breaking into people’s homes in the community to capture them, however, the police only brought them to the police cells at 4pm, when the workday for prosecutors was over and the security forces no longer had to present a report to them. All arrestees sustained injuries from torture and cruel treatment by police and military, the seven face usurpation charges and are: Jorge Meléndez (46), Moisés Meléndez (56), Gloria Enamorado, Jeremías Cruz, José Chavez (60), Hernán Ricardo Omar Ocampos and Ricardo Rodas (16).

 

This was one of many evictions this community has suffered since their initial occupation on 4/7/2012. The land is in conflict with Dinant – of palm giant Miguel Facussé, accused of a large number of the more than 130 organised farmers in the last four years. This land had been occupied by others farmers groups in the past, but was since 2012 occupied by neighbours, after one of the neighbours, Gregorio Chávez, an independent farmer, was murdered and disappeared by Dinant guards.

 

José Isaías Sánchez Méndez and David Ponce both suffered serious gunshot wounds. With a gunshot wound of a 223 military bullet that entered him from one side and left through the other, damaging his liver, José Isaías, who had trouble speaking while resting on a hammock, recounted what happened for human rights defender Bertha Oliva. He said when they shot him in front of the football field, ‘they were in front of us, only they (the soldiers) were in front when I felt the impact, I went backwards and fell over a bit after that, I lost consciousness’. He only regained consciousness later in hospital, when the doctors extracted part of his liver and commented that he was at a point of dying. Afterwards the surgeon told him it was a miracle that he didn’t die. For 18 days he stayed in hospital and couldn’t talk. The gunshot wound however, is irreversible, he won’t be able to do farm work again. He spent his whole life working on the palm plantation and never had the opportunity to learn to read and write. He is worried about the survival of his family. His mother and sister are looking after him and struggling to pay for the medicines and diet that he needs to recover. Unlike José, David Ponce expects to recover well enough to return to work – he has a gunshot wound at the height of his left collarbone – the bullet stayed in the upperpart of his back as seen through x-rays, he needed surgery to extract that. Mariano Baquedano and Roger Rodríguez were injured too, with batons, they received medical attention in hospital.

 

Everyone in the community, including women, children, men and old people, suffered psychological trauma and were affected by gases. Other abuses reported in the eviction: goods and means of the transport of the community were damaged under police and military custody. Aguan Human Rights Watch OPDHA coordinator Martha Arnold was intimidated by Xatruch Subcommissioner Santos Nuñez who sneered at her saying, ‘who are you to go around documenting what happens?’, he said they may be backed by national and international human rights organisations but these are ‘good for nothing’ and demanded the registration paperwork for OPDHA. Also, Bajo Aguan Agrarian Platform coordinator Jaime Cárccamo said police and army agents have him identified and many times pointed to him as a ‘land invador’.

 

200 re-grouped hours after the eviction to occupy the highway that connects Tocoa city with the left margin of the river – a region they belong to; they demanded justice for the bloodshed committed against more than 1000 now assassinated farmers involved in land struggle since 2010.

 

On 5/7/14, the same 400 families re-occupied, calling on OPDHA to come accompany and observe. OPDHA noted heavy presence of military and private security guards all armed and with weapons pointing at farmers. They saw military request more reinforcement and noted that between 10-11am 40 more agents arrived, firing their guns towards the farmers  group as they entered. They saw soldiers attack human rights defenders Glenda Chávez and Digna Idalia Perdomo Díaz, who were forced to take off and hand over their human rights vests, two mobile phones and a camera, and attempted to arrest them and impede them from doing their work as the observatory’s defenders. With the NGO FIAN-Honduras, they managed to recover some of what the soldiers took, but still missing one vest, one phone, the camera memory card and some cash.

 

On 30/7/14, between 7-9am OPDHA coordinator Martha Arnold was waiting for a bus to Sonaguera outside the Metro Plaza in Tocoa when a 3.0 double cabin white vehicle with tinted window watched her. On 31/7/14, at 10am, before the hearing at the Trujillo Court where 6 farmers of this Panamá community faced usurpation charges at the 3/7/14 eviction, a soldier who gave the name of Rolando Maradiaga filmed against OPDHA members Irma Lemus, Rigoberto Durán, and CIPRODEH human rights organisation lawyers Alex Navas and José Alejandro Mairena. Then between 6-7pm after the hearing, Irma and Rigoberto were stalked by two 3.0 double cabin white vehicles with tinted windows, forcing these to take refuge in a corner shop and get help from human rights organisations, which arrived and recognised one of the cars.

 

Armed assault and abduction against a liberation theology priest in company of another priest and 3 international human rights observers.

 

Cesar Espinoza is a priest from Guatemala. He accompanies the la Nueva Esperanza community in their struggle to blockade the Minerales Victoria company. On 4/7/14, he was driving in the Arizona parrish car with another priest Abel Carbajal, and three international observers (of PROAH – Honduras Accompaniment Project) one from Switzerland, the others France) at 7pm. They were driving home from Tegucigalpa after a celebration at the US embassy for US independence Day, when a white car – similar size to a typical Honduran cab pulled up in front of them and three men jumped out pointing their guns and forcing all five into the backseat of the white car while a fourth attacker drove away the parish car. The attackers drove the five for about 45 minutes, to a hotel in El Porvenir neighbourhood, and gave them death threats before leaving them in Siguatepeque. The priests, along with 16 community members of La Nueva Esperanza have been ordered protection measures by the Inter American Court of Human Rights, stemming from threats and violence from Minerales Victoria representatives, advocates, and police. The company owner is Lenir Perez, a son-in-law of infamous palm giant Miguel Facussé. On 25/7/13, two international human rights accompaniers of PROAH (French and Swiss) were abducted for 2.5 hours from this company by seven armed men.
Lecturer and union leader attempted against, again

on 8/7/14, in the night time, uni lecturer and Sitraunah unionist Hector Martínez Mortiño’s car lost control, because five screws were taken of the back tyre. It happened at the Choluteca campus UNAH carpark. His car was parked within five metres of the newly contracted private security office. He started the car and drove for 8 metres when the car spun out of control and almost ran over five students as the tyre went flying – only one of the screws were found after. This was witnessed by 18 uni lecturers and 58 students. He had been attempted against before. He actively speaks up about human, economic and labour rights violations within the UNAH, and is also a directive member of the Honduras Cuba Friendship Association.

 

Specialist human rights defenders under threat

 

Dina Meza is a journalist of the Honduran human rights organisation Cofadeh, she investigates human rights violations in Honduras and reports on these nationally and internationally and accompanies victims seeking for justice, she has a history of receiving threats and intimidation and also of recognition for her work at the international level: awards she received includes the 2014 Oxfam Novib/PEN International Freedom of Expression Award, and the 2007 Amnesty International UK’s Special Award for Human Rights Journalism Under Threat. On 5/7/14, Dina was followed by unknown people in Tegucigalpa when she was with a relative. There has been a chain of harrassment lately: on 28/5/14, just minutes after Dina published some news about the murder of a political activist on her facebook page, she received a call from an unknown person with a high-pitched voice at 9.05pm saying, ‘I’m going to beat you up if you continue messing around’, on 5/6/14 she was followed by an unknown person on a motorcycle without numberplate, who took off his helmet to show Dina he was looking at her, causing her to run, on 23/6/14, Dina was interviewing in a public place when an unknown person approached her and started taking photos of her, and on 25/6/14 an unknown person took photos of a close relative who was meeting a friend in a public place – he approached this relative and showed them the pictures he took of them.

 

Annie Bird is the co-coordinator of human rights organisation Rights Action, that has for many years monitored and published reports on human rights violations in Central America, reports that make authorities uncomfortable. On 16/7/14, Coronel German Alfaro, the now head of FUSINA – National Interinstitutionaly Security Force head, and previously head of Xatruch Operation which militarises the Bajo Aguan region, together with Jorge Pineda, high executive of Dinant (company of infamous palm giant Miguel Facussé) made declarations to press and on TV (including Canal 11) and radio about the work of Annie Bird, accusing her of illegally entering Honduras, of promoting ‘land invasions’ in Bajo Aguan, and of internationally discrediting Honduras through dozens of organisations and press around the world including Al Jazeera – that German Alfaro said is ‘under Al Qaeda control’ insinuating that the media is controlled by ‘terrorists’. He said Annie was ‘working to destabilise the Aguan region. Annie Bird’s reports had involved investigations against Alfaro as ex head of Xatruch and current head of FUSINA, for human rights violations.

 

Journalists killed, threatened

 

At the beginning of July, investigative journalists Yanina Romero, Carlos Martínez and Lourdes Ramírez, received death threats by telephone calls from unknown persons who claim to be doctors or nurses, after the journalists reported about a possible corruption case in Mario Catarino Rivas hospital in San Pedro Sula, investigating suspicious deaths of patients there looking into if the doctors had intentionally caused the death of a few patients to support the markets of funerals and organs trafficking. The hospital PR denied that the calls came from the hospital.

 

People have been observed to be outside the media station in intimidation. The KTV team needs protection measures. Of Canal 27, another received death threats – in his case calling as audience while he was on air is Ricardo Oviedo – of political program ‘Frente al pueblo, ante la audiencia’, he was told by telephone ‘you haven’t learned anything, so we are going to follow you, te vamos a pelar‘ – he already had to exile in 2010.

 

On 10/7/14 when journalist José Ramon Maldonado of La Ceiba asked defacto President Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) if he would allow a marble mármol and canteras mine in the Nombre de Dios National Park, saying that the mining and natural resources departments (INGEOMIN and SERNA) would be granting concessions for these mines with the support of the presidential house, JOH’s tone went up against José Ramon, and JOH ordered his assistants to get the camera and take a picture of José Ramon’s face and warned him that they will be prosecuting him for his ‘accusation’ as a form of threat. José Ramon was not afraid though. This occurred in the context of a press conference where different medias interviewed JOH marking the inauguration of the third central park that he calls ‘Internet del Pueblo’ in La Ceiba.

 

On 20/7/14, journalist Herlin Espinal was abducted and reported disappeared, when he was going home to Santa Rita, Yoro, after having dinner with some friends in a restaurant there. Herlin arrived to leave his car at the home of his aunty in Barrio El Centro,  and was not seen after that, until on 21/7/14, when his body was found with multiple gunshots, in the La Danta village in the same municipality. Herlin worked as a TV reporter and chief correspondent of ‘Hoy Mismo’ at Televicentro, San Pedro Sula. He has been a candidate of ‘regidor’ of the National Party.

 

Axel Daniel Menjívar (23), son of journalist Jesús Alberto Menjívar and grandson of well-known journalist Jesús Vélez Banegas, was assassinated with three gunshot wounds in the head, in the Céleo Gonzales neighbourhood in San Pedro Sula, after he got a haircut at the barber’s. He also played some time ago in the reserves of the first division football team Parillas One.

***look up the date

 

On 22/7/14, at 8pm, as journalist Geovanny Castro was arriving at Canal 51 where he directs ‘La Voz’ program that starts at 8pm, he was forced into his car by heavily armed men who drove him to an unknown direction, they took his TV equipment and documents. As this was reported by most medias immediately and police was pressured to announce an operation to arrest the attackers, Geovanny was almost immediately freed, abandoned onto a city street.

 

Vallecito – Garífuna (Afro-descendent) territorial struggle under attack – twelve kidnapped

 

This land Vallecito, which was a land coconuts and cassavas grew on, has the Garífuna community in an extremely vulnerable position. Forces against the Garífuna community include giant palm companies and their paramilitaries, drug traffickers and organised crime, and military that militarised the place in the name of war against drugs, that in reality makes the community unsafe, rather than attack drug traffickers. Miguel Facussé invaded the land in 1998, but when the Garífuna community won land title the year after, organised crime took over control of the land, having possession of 80% of the land. They built a clandestine landing pad where drug planes landed over years with the authorities knowing about it and doing nothing. The community took control to destroy this landing pad about six months before. Last year, the Agrarian department sent a brigade to survey and measure the land, but the community, despite collective property rights, have been subject to a permanent state of siege.

 

Days before 17/7/14, the community noticed strange movements on the territory and decided to go and check what was happening. What they saw was some men repairing the destroyed landingpad – refilling the holes etc. On 17/7/14 a big group organised with Ofraneh (fraternal organisation of black people in Honduras) went back to Vallecito, the coordinator of Ofraneh, Miriam Miranda recounted, ‘several men with high calibre weapons ambushed and captured us,’ these men had their faces covered. ‘Luckily, a few of the group managed to escape and hid in the forest and were able to send out alerts and inform people what was happening’. Twelve were captured. Those captured could not communicate with anyone as they were made to hand over their mobile phones, and people were separated, ‘there was a clear intention to disappear us, because we witnessed what happened with the clandestine landing pad. What’s more, they insistently asked for me, for the Ofraneh coordinator, and I was really lucky that they did not know me. One of our captors spoke on their mobile with someone called ‘the boss’, who supposably wanted to negotiate our freedom to the condition that we called out for the villagers to gather. However, the national and international reports and fast mobilisation of solidarity and the pressure to national authorities helped stop this criminal plan. The armed men then left, and we could go back to the town.’ The ordeal lasted for two hours, but the terror, repression and psychological warfare remain. People can’t go out, they stay waiting for others in solidarity to come accompany them, but, they firmly affirmed that the defence of their ancestral territory will continue.

 

Migrant tortured and imprisoned in Mexico for being black

 

On 17/7/14, reports came out about Honduran migrant Ángel Amílcar Colon Quevedo, also a human rights defender and ex president of Ofraneh, who has now been detained in Mexico since his arrest on 9/3/2009. His story just came out now, about how he tried to migrate to the US to pay for treatment for his 8 years old son Alexander who had cancer. He found a coyote at Tijuana who promised to help, and stayed in the coyote’s house on the coyote’s instruction, which was subsequently raided by police and while Ángel tried to escape, he was captured. The recent reports came out following human rights organisations’ recent investigations and confirmation of the torture he suffered by the Mexican authorities. Over 16 hours he was beaten in the ribs, exposed to unhygienic situations, was forcefully stripped naked and made to lick clean the shoes of other arrestees, suffocated with a plastic bag over his head, deprived of normal sensory stimulation, made to walk on his knees, kicked, punched in the stomach. He was blindfolded and taken to a military base where he could hear the screaming of other arrestees and threatened with having the same thing the arrestees were under happen to him. They made racist insults against him. After that, he was made to make a ‘confession’ to the prosecutors  that incriminated him, under torture, with his retraction later ignored. Ángel continues to be detained, and as time went on, Alexander forgets the face of his father, and, six months after the arrest of his father, died. There may be other Hondurans subject to similar torture in Mexico, allegedly for delinquency, but actually, for being black.

 

Uni student beaten up and arrested in a protest and further abused while hospitalised

 

On 24/7/14, at a protest at UNAH against reforms the authorities are imposing that involve increasing school fees as well as not allowing students to continue if they repeat a class three times and measures along those lines, Darío Moran was injured and arrested by police. Dario studies at UNAH and is also a resistance activist. He was taken to the Kennedy police station and was then taken to the emergency department of Hospital Escuela as he was bleeding from skull trauma, but even there he was harrassed by the emergency coordinator Francisco Fernández, who asked for him, and then asked for food to be suspended from him and for him to be discharged as soon as possible. Dr Fernández also harrassed and insulted an accompanying human rights defender as well as Darío’s family.

 

News from July 2014

 

Mine-workers fucked over even before they were stuck

 

It felt like much of the world were hanging on for the miners in Chile during the mine-workers’ ordeal when they got stuck in the mine. Maybe the San Juan Arriba mine in El Corpus, Choluteca was less heard of, but many around Honduras at least followed this with their heart and hoped. Those most committed to the rescue work were the community, the miners, the firies – over 100 involved, taking turns. They looked for signs of life through sounds. Initially they also had the support of rescue missions from Guatemala and El Salvador.

 

El Corpus is actually not a company-run mine. It is a gold mine where 200 work for between $12.50 and $15 a day. It’s extremely dangerous work for not much money, but being in a region where gold mining is the main source of work since colonisation, and where the option of working for the rock melon industry for $4.25 a day really is not an option, and even after this disaster, it is still not an option, just as survival is not an option.

 

The workers may have always known the dangers of that work as disasters happened before too, but that morning, when the eleven men went to work at 7.30am, they had no idea that they weren’t going home that day. They worked in a 600 metres+ long tunnel, and it collapsed.

 

As news kept rolling in, it felt like some time from when contact was made by the firies with Nehemías Méndez Rodríguez, Bayron Maradiaga and Brayan Escalante, to when they were rescued. For a few minutes, there was news coming from COPECO (permanent contingencies commission of Honduras) re-sounded by president Juan Orlando Hernández that suddenly the other 8 who they had no contact with before were rescued and were being checked by doctors, even naming them. This was denied minutes after, the initial mis-information breaking the hearts of the families of the 8. Shortly after that, it was then recognised that the other three were being given water. Very dehydrated, hungry, in shock, saying only their names. Bayron almost walking. Brayan and Nehemías carried. And of the other eight, nor contact. There was, however, a strong smell already indicating likely deaths.

 

At this point, we heard that Chilean government was sending a mission and just before they left, they were told by Honduran authorities not to come, because they ‘decided to end the rescue work because of the region’s difficulties. Mexican specialists were turned down as well. And just as miners announced they were going back in, even if it is just to get the bodies, the Honduran government commissioned three geologies and a mines specialist engineer who said the rock instability made rescue attempts and any mine work there too dangerous, and ordered for the mine to be evicted and closed and the rescue to be ended.

 

Miners went to enter the mine in a last effort to try despite the danger and now also the dangers of confrontation with the army and police, with the militarisation that came with the Honduran authorities’ decision. ‘The decision is that we are going to keep looking for them…we gathered and talked about it and decided that it is our duty to hand the rest over to the families.’ In addition, many feel that COPECO lacked efficiency in how it led the operation. As well as continuing the operation, the mine workers said they will keep working in the mine despite of the danger and order because they have no survival alternatives. Two years ago, the Geology and Mining Department of Honduras INGEOMIN carried out a technical study on the risk of this El Corpus mine – they recognised the risks and recommended to the Natural Resources and Environmental Secretary, Work Secretary and El Corpus Council and DPP to adopt preventive measures including stopping the work immediately. That was not executed and the workers never had any options either ways.

 

With more and more Central American children migrating to the US, US militarise even more their borders

 

While Obama calls the children coming a humanitarian crisis and asks the congress to increase $3.7 billion spending to ‘deal with this’, his plans are far from humanitarian. A humanitarian response would mean recognising the children as refugees and helping them re-unite with their families in US with open arms, and spending on welfare services accessible to these. A justice response would mean recognising that the US government has always and continues to actually create the situation in which these Central American (from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala) children have no choice but to migrate – and actively withdraw from this role and recognise its debt to these children for the tremendous and historical harm caused, having financed state forces of El Salvador and Guatemala in the 80s to stop grassroots revolutions and supported the 2009 coup in Honduras, not to mention money spent to support police and military in these countries that already massively violate human rights and increase violence. Already, before the $3.7 billion increase, Obama has deported more immigrants than any previous US president in history, and spending on border and immigration enforcement is already the highest too at $17 billion a year. Obama’s ‘humanitarian’ response of increasing $3.7 billion in spending is broken up into $1.533 billion for National Security department (mostly for accelerating the deportation process, but $433 for targeting coyotes at borders), $1.8 billion for health and human services (insde of, funding, detention centres), $300 million for State Department, $64 million for justice. In short, literally, towards increasing jailing and deportation of refugee children without taking into consideration the context. The children leave Honduras running from military, police, drug traffickers, violence of private companies and extreme poverty in Central America to reunite with their families, risking already deportation, theft, rape, mutilation, extortion and murder on the way.

 

News shorts

 

Politicians from both sides on the wrong side of justice. From the left, after taxi drivers complained to traffic police about Libre party parliamentarian and journalist José Luís Galdamez going in the wrong direction to the traffic and felt that police were overlooking that and giving the parliamentarian special treatment because he is a politician, apparently to support the police he got out of the car, and fired a shot in the air followed by another hitting the abdominal region of the taxi driver. He said, (the drivers) ‘began to accuse him of being corrupt and I found myself obligated to shoot’. Imagine. From the right, Nationalist Mayor Arnaldo Urbina Soto alias ‘Moreno’ was accused of money laundering and illegal possession of arms and was found to have many luxurious homes, cars, properties, with prohibited weapons buried in the ground and even fighting roosters. He was identified by the authorities as heading a criminal band ‘Los Urbina’, that has over 37 people in his team running operations, and which is responsible for killing over 100 and disappearing over 40.

 

Gang violence more precarious than ever. One killing after another with words of warning from gangs. Emilio Sánchez Rodríguez (40), assassinated in Tegucigalpa, had a message on a cardboard near his body, saying, ‘for not wanting to hand over his home, attentively, the 18’. Three women’s bodies were found in body sacks in Comayagǘela with a sign next to them, saying, ‘this is how bitches end up, attentively, MS’. Also in Comayagǘela, a youth was assassinated, with a knot tied around his neck and a sign saying, ‘attentively la MS, the MS gang killed him because he didn’t do what we told him to.’

 

World bank ranking to facilitate landgrab against indigenous lands. It produced Doing Business Rankings, a points system based on how much each country facilitates business. This means countries competing to have less tax, less administrative requirements, less protection for people and environment, reforming laws to push land onto markets, etc.

Drought damages crops in 10 provinces of Honduras and over 64 municipalities.  Winter came late and summer was prolonged – it meant not enough rain, around 30% loss of crops of basic grains..

 

 

June 2014. Five years since the coup in Honduras began. The killings and persecution and evictions continue. Model cities experiments have been made legal again and are moving along in the south of Honduras. Reports point to masses of Honduran children trying to get to US under lots of danger.

 

Indigenous community leader assassinated by army

 

On 18/6/14, José Husbaldo Guzmán Argueta (62) was running errands in the Colomoncagua centre towards a drinking water project, when he was attacked by soldier Nectaly Carranza together with another 3 soldiers and a police agent under the command of the responsible sargeant in the area – they beat him and threw him to the ground, the soldier Carranza used his M16, shot Husbaldo twice with it, one hit his face killing him immediately. A group of military then came and transported Carranza away from view. José Husbaldo is a recognised community leader of La Hacienda community of Colomoncagua, Intibucá – recognised for this service to the community and honesty

 

2 Journalists killed, another two judicially persecuted, another dismissed, another threatened

 

On 1/6/14, in the morning, in the Palestina community, Patuca municipality, Olancho province, hitmen ended the life of young journalist Oscar Anthony Torres (24) with several gunshots. Oscar worked for Patuca Stereo (103.3fm) and in La Doble M Stereo (97.1) – music stations with local coverage, since 3 years ago, Oscar directed the programs ‘radio taxi’ and ‘mañanas gruperas’ that transmitted from 5am. Police tried to say the murder is an assault because his trousers pockets were turned outside.

 

Globo TV Journalist of program ‘Mi Nación’ Julio Ernesto Alvarado was from December 2013 sentenced to a sixteen months ban from practising journalism plus a $250 fine (that comes with a 500 days prison term if he cannot pay). Julio was condemned as guilty for ‘defamation’ as accused by Belinda Flores, for having covered complaints of corruption against Belinda at the local university. Belinda was implicated in charges of peddling of influences and of falsifying university titles – for which the court proved that she was guilty, yet, not they subsequently found Julio guilty for reporting on crimes Belinda was guilty of, and after he paid the fine since he knew too well that the system was against him to appeal, but got the judge to lift his journalism ban on 28/4/14, this was appealed ‘successfully’ by Belinda’s lawyer within a week. Both Julio and Dina Meza, another journalist who spoke up in her work on Julio’s case, received harrassment and threats on facebook, not to mention an attempt against Julio Alvarado in March 2013.

 

On, 5/6/14, journalist Gonzalo Rodríguez was dismissed by Canal 6 apparently for having leftist tendencies, after a series of conversations. On 20/5/14, Canal 6 executive Joaquín Nodarse asked Gonzalo, ‘listen, you are of C-Libre, aren’t you?’ To which, Gonzalo confirmed that he was a C-Libre (committee for freedom of expression) correspondent and that he was also chosen by journalists locally as the president of the Colón journalists network. On 21/5/14, Canal 6 human resources called him and confirmed that he was away when he was at the RAPCOS (Network of Alerts and Protection to Journalists) national meeting in Tegucigalpa; Gonzalo was told that he was ‘directly affecting one of the channel’s clients that was based in San Pedro Sula’. Through investigation, C-Libre found this client to be Dinant Corporation of palm giant Miguel Facussé. ‘Dont send us notes that affect our client,’ he was told, ‘don’t mention the name of Dinant’. After returning from Tegucigalpa, he met with Nodarse as obliged; Nodarse said to Gonzalo, ‘You are affecting one of my clients. I don’t eat from the farmers, they don’t give me anythying.’ Gonzalo responded that he always covers both sides of the conflicts and that seemed to have been accepted in the meeting, but the day after that, the head of human resources called Gonzalo and told him that the Nodarse family decided that he won’t be a correspondent anymore. His text messages asking for explanation to executives ‘Tadeo y a Umanzor’ were ignored. When he went on the next Monday to drop work equipment, he was told that the real reason he was let go of was because Joaquín found out that he worked for C-Libre and concluded that he must be a ñangara (derogative term for communist). He had not been paid since January, and Canal 6 also recently arbitrarily cancelled the informative space of another journalist for making comments critical of the current JOH regime.

 

On 16/6/14, at 10am, TV reporter and member of RAPCOS (network of alerts and protection to journalists) Alex Sabillón was threatened opposite his work place and in front of Choloma Police station, by Miguel Callejas, who is the Choloma Council Roads Commission Director and who lives in the same neighbourhood as Alex. The threat was, ‘I don’t care that you move around with police, son of a bitch, we are going to kill you.’ He is and was accompanied by police because he was granted protection due to the amount of threats and intimidation he receives, so he was with police Selvin Omar Cardona, but this police did nothing. Miguel Callejas has attacked Alex Sabillón before – snatching his video camera on one occasion, and attacking him physically on another.

 

On 18/6/14, one of hardly any assassins sentenced and imprisoned (to 24 years) for killing a journalist given the high level of impunity – Jorge Alberto ‘Georgino’ Orellana, fled prison with 4 others, jumping the walls.

 

On 18/6/14, Intibucá Radio Progreso correspondentAlbertina Manueles Pérez was accused of sedition against the internal security of Honduras along with 30 indigenous leaders, with hearings that started on 24/6/14. Albertina was charged because she diffused the indigenous communities’ agreement to self-govern following a fraudulent council election following which Socorro was imposed as their mayor, she gave voice to that the community held a public assembly and announced that they did not recognise Socorro and nominated their own.

 

On 23/6/14, about 8pm, in Barrio La Hoya, Catacamos, Olancho, Radio Patria journalist Luis Alonso Fúnez Duarte (47) was arriving home with a son on a motorcycle, when he was assassinated with 5 bullets by unidentified persons who intercepted him, and without saying a word, fired shots. He ran a mixed music program, and is the 40th journalist killed since the coup.

 

Persecution in the courts against the indigenous autonomous council of Opalaca

 

Four and a half months later, the San Francisco de Opalaca indigenous community that rejected the imposition of a fraudulent Socorro municipal government and autonomous organised indigenous governance, continued occupying the council and defending their autonomy. On 30/5/14, Socorro’s supporters of National Party attacked the antennas of the Opalaca community radio Puca Opalaca. And instead of proceeding with charges the community placed of corruption against the prior Socorro Sánchez period, the courts judicially persecuted the indigenous council using prior profiling and intelligence gathering against the community. The state charged 36 activists of San Francisco de Opalaca – including community chosen mayor Entimo Vásquez, others with council positions, Jesús Rodríguez of Copinh indigenous council, and leaders of church organisations, ADRO, COCAOPAL cooperative, Radio Progreso, Radio Puca Opalaca community radio team, etc. They are accused of ‘sedition in prejudice of the international security of the state of Honduras, and usurpation of functions’. The have bail conditions that order them to not enter the council building and to sign regularly at the local court. During the hearing, the La Esperanza court was surrounded by at least 60 armed men with shields – riot police and soldiers. Their next hearing is on 22/7/14, however precariously, the occupation of the council continues.

 

Imposition of more hydroelectricity dams through arms and intimidation

 

On 9/6/14, indigenous San Rafael, Jesús de Otoro communities denounced that for days there had been an invasion against their land by INTER hydroelectricity company using armed and hooded men in their communities, towards imposing a dam their. The communities have community land title of the land and have entered a legal process to expel the businesspeople. The community has also suffered destruction of their farms and plots and repression by the Jesús de Otoro mayor, the community announced that they have begun an operation to expel the invading company.

 

This month, another community is entering into resistance against the damming of their river – Cuyamel River – the community is in San Francisco municipality in Atlántida. The government not only gave concession for hydroelectricity exploitation there in favour of private Honduran company and international corporations, but ceded part of the municipality to army control – installing a military contingent there that controls and prohibits people who live their, members of water juntas, and of the council, from accessing the river and water basin. Given the context, communities organised in different groupings agreed that it would be useless to insist through legal channels ‘if there are no social forces to contain this aggression against the Honduran people and their future generations’. They are under permanent threat.

 

A sacking, and persecution, against human rights defenders

 

Human Rights Commissioner CONADEH sacked Carlos Moíses del Cid García – coordinator of childhood and adolescence human rights program, hours after he submitted a report on the ‘Programa Guardianes de la Patria’. It was his job, to provide the report, but this program is a pet program of the Juan Orlando Hernández regime so it was expected that he was report that the program is good, instead of exposing critiques to it. Guardianes de la Patria, which began in September 2010, is supposeably not a recruitment program, but is a program ran for youths aged 5-23 in marginalised neighbourhoods that the army identifies, and classes and activities are run weekly in 17 military unitis around the country by army with some civilian participation, and involve over 25,000 young people/children every year. Carlos concluded in his report that the program should not have the name that it does and should not be run by the army – that it was an unconstitutional arrangement given that neither the child protection nor the education departments had asked for such intervention, and recommended that a long term department be established to attend to and execute programs and policies for children and adolescents with adequate funding and transparency to be under the watch of civil society and international cooperation organisations. Carlos also annoyed the commissioner by having taken the initiative to ask questions to and request a report from the army coordinator Amador (no response), and for having surveyed participants and wider communities of the affected communities. He gave voice through the survey that civil organisations are critical of that the program serves to naturalise the relationship of children and youth with weapons culture and to have closer relationships with the army. (Comparable but to a worse level to police citizen youth clubs in Western Sydney?).

 

On 4/6/14, a compañera of COFADEH (Committee for Families of the Disappeared in Honduras) was leaving an event about forced violent displacement in a capital city hotel, when she got onto a taxi, in which the taxi driver and two women and a man who acted as passengers kidnapped her and held her for two hours, driving to different parts of the city including gated neighbourhoods in which she was assaulted, beaten in the face. They tried to suffocate her and attacked and hurt her with a pen in her leg, neck and left hand. The day before, at 8am, a murder happened on the street within 100 metres of the Cofadeh office, against small business owner Ricardo Castillo Molina, who coming out of the car to go to work, was shot dead by two hitmen – his family tell that he has no personal enemies and is not known to have received threats. On 5/6/14, at 7.40am, a red car moved, and a blue car that has no numberplate immediately parked in that spot. Nobody left the blue car and it was observed that someone had stayed inside with his phone in his hand, seemingly recording with it, staying until 8.45am. Cofadeh is beneficiary of IACHR protection measures that the state has no adopted. There has been a long chain of recent past incidents against Cofadeh involving vigilance, persecution, intimidation with weapon. In May, Cofadeh presented a report about human rights situation that the Spanish Parliamentarians’ delegation had given from their visit to Honduras in April – and Cofadeh’s General Coordinator had toured with this information in Canada in April, and in May went as invited to Belgium to an EU human rights forum ‘arbitrary and summary and forced disappearnaces’.

 

Fake exhumation, violent eviction, and arrests against farmers of Bajo Aguan

 

In Bajo Aguán where more than 100 organised farmers from land occupation movements in territories that had in the last decades been taken over by palm giants, an exhumation process of a Special Investigation Unit led by prosecutor Javier Guzmán began on 16/6/14, claiming that ‘we can’t speak of impunity anymore, because the cases are being investigated, we will see the results very soon’, however, the Agrarian Platform is calling for this process to be suspended immediately because it is not transparent nor participative, they are not consulting with families of victims, and it is blatantly clear that the process is lending itself as a means for Dinant (palm company of Miguel Facussé – accused of many of the murders in the region) to clean its image as it desperately seeks to, in front of World Bank and the international community. Farmers denounce in advance that any report will have been manipulated towards this end. They demanded that the exhumation of farmers be stopped until there is concent and accompaniment of families of victims and participation of international forensic doctors that are proposed by the farmers organisations and families. There is also information that this exhumation is funded by USAID via Organisation of American States, and that US military intelligence is involved, so farmers are demanding transparency of the funding of the investigation unit. ‘Irregularities’ farmers are concerned about include that some of the bodies exhumated don’t belong to farmers assassinated in the agrarian conflict.

 

On 20/6/14, at 5.30pm, Sergio Calix and his compas Marlon Omar Zelaya and Bairon Leonel Ramírez were giving a villager a lift to get medical attention at a hospital in Tocoa when the three were arrested without a judicial order and taken to Trujillo police station. Sergio is the president of Gregorio Chávez farmers cooperative number 3, he has IACHR ordered protection measures since 8/5/14, the movement occupy land – Paso Aguan, that has been used by Dinant guards as a clandestine cemetary.

 

On 26/6/14, at 5am, a contingent of about 100 of Xatruch III led by René Jovel Martínez arrived and at 9am, evicted 400 families of Gregorio Chávez farmers movement at the Paso Aguán farm, that is being illegally appropriated by Miguel Facussé. The families began occupying on 5/5/14, 1300 hectares of land. They had the land taken from them in the 90s. A minister visited in May announcing that nobody should give support to people from another movement – should not be in solidarity with one another.

 

Jaime Cabrera gave testimony to that when he was arrested with 14 others of MARCA on 21/5/13, in a violent eviction, he had an officer pointing a gun inside his left year and threaten to kill him, and that when driven in the pickup of a police truck, he had his hands tied and suffered beating by batons and kicks. He said they were all treated like that.

 

Begging criminalised

 

Iris Amador, a single mother who begged with her children, to feed them, was jailed for a month, banned from approaching her children, is now on bail but is threatened with a 3-8 years jail term. They asked for money outside a shopping centre. When there is work, she works to buy her children food and her little daughter with hydrocephalus special milk. The penalty for someone begging with children in Honduras can be a 3-6 years sentence, that can go up by a third when one of the children has a disability, while a guilty plea allows her to pay a fine instead or to undertake community service. She is the first to be charged with this crime, this crime of poverty.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmCroMH0R_A

 

Community demanding more territory threatened, prosecuted and intimidated

 

There are charges, threats and intimidation that continue to hang over Santos Concepción Canelas, the president of the Zavala community, in the La Sosa village. He is part of a struggle that began 12 years ago, as the community (200 families) fought for just 30 blocks (manzanas – 500 square metres) of state land, to build school, kindergarten and church community centre for the community. The Agrarian department ruled against them, in favour of Nora and Juana Isabel Torres who were given in May 2013 agrarian reform land state title. In August 2013 the prosecutor charged 25 villagers with usurpation and damages. On 4/3/14 at 8pm, Santos was arbitrarily, without capture order, arrested by Catacamas police, and locked up for 8 days in a police cell without toilets for prisoners to use, that was full of faeces and urine – prosecutor Gustavo Adolfo Varela Barahona is pointed to as the one responsible for this torture. Santos proved in the initial hearing that they did not usurp any property and the case was suspended. As well as charges, the community pointed out that a number of times the sisters Nora and Juana brought armed persons with their faces covered (who villagers say are the sisters’ nephews) to intimidate and threaten villagers and have illegally used the police, that the Torres sisters and the police are responsible if anything happens to any community member. In May, 10 charged persons voluntarily appeared and in an initial hearing on 12/6/14 showed they did not usurp any land, and proposed conciliation and the withdrawal of charges to the lawyer of the Torres sister.

 

News shorts from June 2013

 

Model cities declared legal again, Honduras becoming more of a laboratory for free-market crazyheads as Korean company POSCO gets ready to present the results of the $4 million feasibility studies for building model cities in three municipalities.

Amapala, Nacaome and Alianza. This month, charges of unconstitutionality against ZEDES were rejected by Honduran Supreme Court – it was no surprise that the judges voted unanimously in support of model cities, since judges that voted against them previously, before the bill underwent name (to ZEDE) and cosmetic changes, were sacked. The reasons the proposal is unconstitutional haven’t changed – ZEDEs WILL also vulnerabilise Honduran territory, its form of government and public interests in general, affect people’s rights to a nationality, impact on people’s rights. ZEDEs will be cities concessioned out to companies that can make its own laws, courts and tax system. And having own laws opens up Honduras as a lab for all sorts – mass production of synthetic biology, agro-production of GMOs, for instance. Still, the judges had to come up with some reasons other than that they would lose their jobs for rejecting the charges. They said that one of the reasons was that ‘none of the parts that place the charge have direct interests or are affected by the building of what are popularly known as model cities’ – but that was untrue, amongst the signatories was the organisation OFRANEH, an organisation of Afro-descendent Garífuna communities – and twenty-four Garífuna communities are within five possible model cities locations stated for the north coast of Honduras – Garífuna communities have rights as an indigenous group to prior, free and informed consent – this is violated and Honduran state is trying to get around that but denying their condition as an indigenous people.

 

A re-cap: Model cities are privatisation of entire cities, they are sold to foreign capital as tax free paradises without bureaucracy and state control with plentiful cheap labour, natural recources and biodiversity, and to Hondurans as a new model of development with concentration of foreign investment, technology, and jobs – selling an illusion for a society submerged in misery and darkness, that worsened with the coup. In 2008, model cities adventurists tried to implement their experiments in Madagascar with the cooperation of president Marc Ravalomana who is also a businessman – this president was deposed by massive protests and looting that made him flee, and the charter city idea cancelled. Model cities are an extreme neoliberal neocolonialist idea and model that theoretically considers the problem of poverty as one where a corrupt state reflects the lack of education of the masses who are not equipped to govern, let alone choose government leaders, and therefore the ruling needs to be handed over to <the free market>: foreigners who know better (!!!!!) to bypass ‘obstacles’ such as farmers and ethnic organisations’ resistance, corrupt and politicised judicial system. In Honduras, model cities were first approved in August 2011, declared unconstitutional in October 2012, re-introduced in congress as ZEDEs in 2013, the charges of unconstitutionality were placed again in 2014

 

Exodus of Honduran children to US.

There is lots of news this month about an explosive number of children from Central America – many from Honduras, making the dangerous journey to the US without papers – many make this journey without their parents or carers. There have always been children and adults making this trip, knowing of the risks, of extorsion, or rape, of assassination by gangs, by the Mexican authorities, of losing a limb on the train, of not surviving difficult conditions in the desert. Apparently, US politicians are blaming it on false rumours about entitlement of entry through a provision: DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – an old policy of Obama’s not applicable today. Washington is announciing ‘new measures’ in dealing with arrivals of undocumented minors from Central America to defer these. But, the reality is that while the defacto president Juan Orlando Hernández and his wife can enjoy a holiday to watch world cup games in Brazil, for the children and adults who try to go to the US, it is seen for them a necessity – their circumstances a re so dire, they don’t see any option but to go to the US although that is itself far from accessible. While, US policies have a lot to answer for regarding the realities today of the poor majority in Honduras.

 

Travel warning to US citizens.

Department of State sent another travel warning to US citizens about the level of crime and violence in Honduras being critically high, after having sent one on 24/12/13. Honduras has still got the highest homocide rate in the world.

 

Snapshot of actions in Honduras this month

 

New community blockades and actions are being organised, against hydroelectricity dam company INTER in San Rafael, Jesús de Otoro, and also the San Francisco community in Atlántida on the Cuyamel River – they can see that legal alternatives are exhausted, that the system is against them.

 

La Casa del Pueblo in San Pedro Sula, with a vision of creating popular power in its space, are carrying out a number of projects like people’s kitchen, solidarity clinic, legal advice office, low prices shop, and a popular library and bookshop – it always seeks collaboration – books donations..

 

The indigenous community of Locomapa on their beautiful land, held workshops and discussions to recognise their indigenous wealth and knowledge, and to talk about the different issues that affect them, the dreams they have, building the collective visions as they continue resisting a mining company.

 

San Francisco de Opalaca continues their 24 hours blockade of the council building that began in January, resisting for their ancestral rights to be respected, and continuing their autonomous council. They developed a rotations system, taking turns to look after the office, cook in the community kitchen the donated foodstuffs, to clean, sweep and mop every morning. In February an assembly was organised of direct democracy to declare the indigenous peoples autonomous and without political parties. ‘Nothing has been given to us, we don’t want and we haven’t asked for crumbs, nor pity, nor charity; we are actors and protagonists of this indigenous construction and the community…we are working to get to the democracy, transparency, and direct exercise of power in the administration and control of our municipality and territories’ declared in Opalaca in February 2014.’ There may be leaders but who know that, ‘here, the people govern’, and that leaders obey collective will; this is part of their collective life tradition.

 

 

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May 2014 Honduras coup update – More murders and more extremities

Summary of political killings from May 2014

Rigoberto López Hernández, community defender against mining company, was assassinated on 3/5/14

William Jacobo Rodríguez, community defender against hydroelectricity dam company, was assassinated on 24/5/14

Irene Meza, resistance activist and autonomous council activist and spouse of councillor in Opalaca, was assassinated on 25/5/14

Hernán Cruz, community radio journalist and resistance leader in Copán, was assassinated on 28/5/14

Territorial struggles – mining – assassination, threats, intimidation

On 3/5/14, Rigoberto López Hernández (36) was tortured and assassinated – his body was found with his tongue cut out – as a threat for those who were going to report on this; Rigoberto is a community movement leader of the Santa Cruz community in Níspero, Santa Bárbara, that have opposed the cast and iron oxide Quita Ganas mine. Rigoberto and his neighbours organised protests and blocked off the access road to the mine in the mountain. The mountain is the water source for this and other communities.This blockade was evicted by police and military. Rigoberto then participated in a community asssembly that the mayor Leiva and a mining representative came to – Rigoberto demanded the mining company to leave, asserting that they do not accept false promises and that there is no negotiating that. He always encouraged people to see that the promises of development are false, but the destruction the mine will bring are real and to oppose the mine’s continuation. The mayor’s position had been that the mine was legal because it has permission for the authorities SERNA and INFOMIN, and called people’s saying that the mine destroys the environment and their livelihoods ‘myths’.In the 6 months since the mine began, it has destroyed over 2000km² of mountains there that before gave water, basic grains, coffee and wood, where this is now replaced with water scarcity, violence, respiratory and skin diseases and contamination.

rigoberto

On 18/5/14, the Tránsito community spoke up about threats and intimidation – physical, emotional and judicial, from politicians, police, military as well as from prosecutors and state officials. The community has since 24/2/14 blockaded indefinitely the entrance to a hill of the mine, to impede the companieis’ continuation in exploiting and stealing resources.

Territorial struggles – Zacate Grande – illegal detention, beating and threats

On 29/5/14, at 7.30am, Puerto Grande police station sargeant García turned up at La Voz de Zacate Grande community radio station to call two activists Ethels Corea and Miguel Vásquez – who work on the radio and have been granted protection measures for being at risk – to go meet with the police head and the human rights officer when they are supposed to correspond with the lawyers and Cofadeh human rights organisation to arrange such a meeting.

On 30/5/14 about midday, Inspector Duarte and Sargeant Garía and Nacaome Human Rights Officer Lilí arbitrarily entered the radio’s buildings without permission, interrupted a meeting of community organisation ADEPZA, so Miguel and others asked for respect and to not interrupt, Duarte then was about to take photos ‘for his report’, and Miguel left to not be in the photos and that seemed to annoy them. Police stayed for half an hour.

On 31/5/14, Miguel Vasquez was travelling to San Lorenzo, he noticed Sargeant García were in a car and followed but stayed at the las Pilas turnoff. When Miguel got off and crossed the street and went towards the market, a patrol with 4 police and 4 soldiers drove slowly behind him. One asked him for ID so he kept walking but gave his ID and protection measures papers, but a police then jumped off, pushed him and ordered him to walk behind the truck. Miguel ran to the market to try to find someone who is of the community to contact family and comrades about his arrest, but was stopped by people from a warehouse there who helped the police capture him. Police beat him and detained him from 9am. Miguel tried calling from his phone but had no credit and police took it. He tried to ask politely to make a phone call but they kept refusing, they even said they lost his papers.The state agents threatened to his ear, ‘you dog, if we don’t finish you off today’, ‘you lot are digging your own grave’, and ‘who would believe it’s you here who believes nothing can be done to you?’ Duarte then appeared and pretended not to have met Miguel and told him he was accused of illegal use of weapons despite Miguel repeating that he is a beneficiary of protection measures. Then Duarte said he reminded him of a kid who had no manners from the day before at the radio and fell silent for a bit. Duarte then started saying things like, ‘why do you not want the police to patrol the radio? What do you do on this radio? What are you hiding that you don’t want us to know? If we are good, why are you scared of us? What are the real reasons they granted you protection measures? Two and a half hours later, Miguel’s aunt came to look for him and ask him why he was arrested and Duarte told her that there was a search on the bus he was on and he got nervous and ran away so the police got suspicious of him and captured him. Cofadeh called and was given the same version. As ordered, the officers opened the cell and looked for his papers, and once outside the cell, a soldier walked in front of him and threatened, ‘you are going to pay for this!’ His comrades came from the radio after this. It was negotiated to release him without charge if Miguel did not place complaints against the beatings and threats made against him.

Inspector Duarte claimed that the operation was carried out because there was a complaint about an armed youth who was supposeably a dangerous gangster, with description of what colour and types of clothes and shoes he was wearing exactly. Shamelessly pretending that it weren’t completely premeditated. Miguel is also the General Secretary of the farmers cooperative Empresa Asociativa Campesina de Producción Puerto Grande.

Territorial struggles – Rio Blanco indigenous community defending against hydroelectricity dam company – killing, torture, illegal detentions and threats

In Rio Blanco on 24/5/14 at midnight, William Jacobo Rodríguez was assassinated when he was on his way home. William is an activist in defence of the Gualcarque river, against the dam project.

William Jacobo Rodríguez copinh rio blanco mayo 2014

On 25/5/14, as persecution has no limits, despite that someone had confessed to the having killed William, police stationed at the DESA dam site, on a special operation against the indigenous Lenca people, proceeded to invade homes and arbitrarily and violently captured two Copinh activists Lindolfo Benítez and Salvador Sánchez – physically and emotionally torturing both following their capture, and gave death threats to the minors who were in their homes. They were released early in the day. In the process, police also threatened and verbally attacked Francisco Javier Sánchez, president of the Rio Blanco indigenous council.

Territorial struggles – Puerto Castilla – repression against protest

In the Garífuna community Puerto Castilla, in the process of reclaiming land that is ancestrally their community land to address overcrowding, was attacked by a large contingent with hundreds of teargas bombs as well as rubber bullets. The bombs exploded including in the community kindergarten and inside people’s homes. Six children were hospitalised because of the teargases. The land conflict is with the state port company Empresa Nacional Portuaria (ENP) that used threat of violence by General Alvarez to force the community to sign over the lands in 1974. Apart from which ENP also promised a number of jobs for locals that they did not fulfil, and is known for acts of corruption and of racism by staff. The community originally received land title in 1889 that was conceded to Truxillo Railroad Company in 1921 and returned to the community in 1942. The community had also been shoved to make space for an US military base that is now an US-Honduran military base with helicopter ports and piers being built. The commuity is moving on a plot of land that Japanese company Intermares Mauricio Weizemblut Oliva, that tried to establish itself in the 90s, assumes, and is selling the land.

Territorial struggles -Bajo Aguán farmers – violent evictions, intimidation, militarisation, persecution, gunshots…

Inter-American Court of Human Rights demanded the Honduran state to provide protection measures for 123 farmer activists in the Bajo Aguán region (concrete measures to be determined with each according to their needs and situation), considering these threatened, persecuted, in urgent situations and people at risk. The main actors of human rights violations are reported to be Miguel Facussé (Dinant), and René Morales (Oleopalma). The farmers considered in danger are part of Movimiento Campesino Gregorio Chávez (5), MOCRA (3), MARCA (32), and MUCA (83).

On 8/5/14, in finca Paso Agúan where Empresas Asociativas Campesinas de Producción of Movimiento Campesino Gregorio Chávez are recovering 1200 hectares of land, farmers reported that guards and military have been using infrared lights and reflectors on the property in intimidation. This, as well as ongoing harrassment by Xatruch Operation and Dinant security and an eviction order that needs to be suspended have been noted by a special commission of officials of different state departments – Lucy Tovar (ombudsperson), Erleny Elencof, and Remberto Zavala that are ‘in support’ in words.

On 11/5/14, at 6am, security guards in a green Nissan Frontier attempted against five Movimiento Campesino Gregorio Chávez farmers and a watermelon seller who was there, with verbal aggressions and threats to their physical security and intimidating shots fired to the air of 12mm, 9mm and 22mm guns.

On 14/5/14, La Consentida that began recovering land on 11/5/14 were evicted.

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On 19/5/14, Movimiento Campesino Gregorio Chávez denounced that authorities have installed military to surround the community and block their sales of palm and justify repression against farmers, when families’ occupation and palm sales are based on addressing their needs for food and medicine.

On 19/5/14, El Mochito’s community in protest was evicted by army. Gunshots from guards and army against people have been reported. Oleopalma security guards under orders from landowner Reinaldo Canales surrounded ‘El Mochito’ community in intimidation. Two commandos of Xatruch and an ambulance are also mobilised to carry out an eviction that has already been threatened by Oleopalma representative Carlos Moncada.. ‘El Mochito’ are being recovered by 130 families who named themselves, Movimiento Reivindicado Segundo Gómez, after a compa who was killed in this struggle in El Mochito demanding justice for farmers in the Aguan Region. The movement organised a protest demanding clear answers of what happened to two farmers forcefully disappeared, and another two assassinated in the region, and hold the state as responsible by complicity. They announced in a communique that even if they are evicted, they will come back again.

On 21/5/14, at 6am, hundreds of families of MARCA farmers movement were violently evicted from La Trinidad and El Despertar farms by a contingent headed by Coronel Jovel Martínez and ordered by Germán Alfaro Escalante using an expired eviction order. The contingent of at least 80 arrived in four military commandos and four police patrols – Xatruch Operation, Trujillo police, and private guards of René Morales. As the executor judge spoke with leaders and looked at papers, police launched teargas bombs, beat children, youth and old people’s bodies with batons, chased people and fired gunshots at people as they ran –some may have disappeared. Human rights defenders were not permitted to take photos Witnesses saw police pull and tear off bags farmers were carrying with their belongings and threw their food everywhere. Police arrested 15, including 4 minors and 8 women, and wounded two – fracturing the arm of Glenda Xiomara Hernández (36) who was pregnant, and Ada Marina Velásquez (58) and refused arrestees medical attention. The arrestees included Mirna Yadira Pineda (14), Nolvia Berrios (35), Berta Ramos (40), Omar Espinoza (20), José Luis Chávez (28), Walter Cárcamo (MARCA president), Jaime Adalid Cabrera (35, president of Regional Agrarian Platform), Ana Maryuri Maradiaga (15), Jervin Giovanni Rodríguez (17), Silverio Orellana (53), Seida Xiomara Alemán (14), Elder Nahúm Meza (14), Wilmer Alexis Antúnez (17), and Antonio Rodríguez – a number of whom have protection orders from IACHR. After the eviction, militarisation continued and military and police stopped people from going in to check if anyone was left wounded or dead there or from getting their things. After the eviction, Dinant representative Pineda told press that Dinant security guards would be disarmed, but that ‘they would support the building of a military cuartel there’. MARCA’s lawyer Antonio Trejo was assassinated in August 2011, and the last land reclaim by occupation started on 12/7/12.

On 22/5/14, in confrontations of land conflict at La Consentida, Marvin Molina (29) who was found by the security guards was shot 3 times and wounded.

Human rights defenders – persecution including by police

Rosalinda Cruz Sequeira, one of four supreme court judges dismissed in a judicial coup in 2012 for ruling model cities unconstitutional and against human rights, denounced that they continue to be persecuted and virtually given death threats.

On 8/5/14, at 11.30pm, children’s human rights defender Casa Alianza director Guadalupe Ruela was leaving a social event of human rights defenders in Tegucigalpa and as he was in his car parked near the presidential house, 2 police on a motorcycle drove into his car crashing onto the passenger door of the car in a supposed accident and then military police grabbed him kicking, dragging and kicking him in the face, chest, back and other body parts and a soldier dragged him by feet face down on the pavement as they kept kicking his body and verbally abusing him. An officer took from his wallet his ID and $200 worth cash and confiscated his car and things inside including a Casa Alianza computer. He was taken and held at the Kennedy police station. At 1.10am Cofadeh coordinator Bertha Oliva came and saw the state he was in with hurt ribs and nose bleeding and asked for him to be taken for medical attention immediately. Initially they argued they had to do an alcohol test first and did that 6 times, before reading him his rights, transferring him to Metropolitan 1 police station, to then be taken to private hospital Viera from there where he received x-rays and was under observation. At the emergency room, a police watched over him, supposeably ordered by a prosecutor to be there, and a police patrol5-65 were at the entrance, arguing to journalists asking about Ruelas saying he was ‘retained’ not detained, and Officer Rodríguez in an act of intimdation pointed at journalist Nelso Flores and said, ‘take down the name and the media that this one is from.’ Police claimed it was an accident, denied knowledge of police violence claiming that any injuries Ruelas sustained was from the ‘accident’, and said traffic police were doing alcohol tests and that it came up positive despite that it was negative when done in the hospital. As Director of Casa Alianza he reports to the press about systematic assassinations of children in Honduras. On 5/5/14 Ruelas gave press statements critising the army program Guardianes de la Patria – as something not to address insecurity, but to militarise. On 23/4/14, he reported that there has been an average of 90 youths under 23 a month assassinated. He knows this was a premeditated abuse that happens to people linked to human rights defence in honduras and holds responsible JOH for anything that happens to him or his family. Since this, the media have been publishing stories in efforts to discredit him.

Cuban doctors in Honduras attending to patients solidarity – assaulted

On 10/5/14, at midday, El Progreso, Yoro, a group of heavily armed men assaulted the home of the Cuban medical brigade, tying up the hands of doctors, beating them up and giving death threats. They took all of the doctors’ belongings. The brigade is in Honduras attending to patients as an international solidarity act attending to people who cannot afford health services.

Politicians and their supporters

On 12/5/14, around 9.10pm individuals driving a toursim van drove in front of the car Rafael Barahona – councillor of Libre party – hitting the right side of the car, in el Country barrio in Comayagúela. The armed persons jumped out firing at least 10 shots at his car, a shot hit his hand and left arm that he used these to block the shots. He fled and went to the La Granja police station and was assisted by Red Cross and went to a hospital in La Granja. They had to surgically remove a bullet from his hand that could affect his nerves.

On 7/5/14, parliamentarians of the Libre party protested with placards and black ribbons at the main table 100 days of Juan Orlando Hernández as the fraudulent president, they sang the national anthem and highlighted unfulfilled promises, and increasing violent deaths etc, and Libre MPs having been denied rights to speak inside the congress. Threats reported to suppress the protest included the actual cutting of the electricity, and that the military and police sent by the president had arrived. Journalist Esdras Amado López denounced that there are snipers planted in the buildings adjacent to the congress.

On 13/5/14,riot police repressed with masses of teargases both inside and outside the congress. From 3pm, outside the congress about 250 protested repression in the congress and the attempt against Rafael Barahona, as well as in solidarity with farmers’ demand for a transformative agrarian reform. This protest met a heavy contingent of riot cops. At 4pm police began spraying peppergas at people, who ran in different directions chased by police while some responded to the gas with stones. A group returned to occupy the central park, and military closed roads near the congress. Police repeated massive teargas bombs eviction against people at 4.26pm and at 4.36-5pm, and at 5.40pm (activists kept fighting back and re-occupying). Meanwhile, inside the congress, at 5.29pm, after a group of Libre and resistance activists made their way inside the congress while it was in session, in occupation and protest, a heavy contingent of riot cops smashed the doors and entered congress by force evicting all 200 people inside launching teargas bombs inside, and beat people with baton and shields and trembled on them, notably, against Libre party parliamentarians (37 were present). Libre parliamentarian Claudia Garmendia fainted with the teargas and beating, and Audelia Rodríguez was also beaten. Within minutes, MPs were pushed downstairs by the military. Outside, Carlos Andino was beaten savagely by soldiers, until MP José Adalberto intervened. Mirian Yamileth Zerón was beaten in the face, both Carlos and Mirian were taken away in ambulance. MP Rafael Alegría had his right arm fractured, bronchial tube obstructed due to gas and abdominal trauma from kicking, in addition, congress president Mauricio Olivia also threatened to judicially persecute Rafael Alegría, Esdras Amado López and Manuel Zelaya Rosales. Libre MPs María Argentina Valle, and Beatriz Valle, Jari Dixon and Wilfredo Paz were beaten as well. Dozens of activists had grave bruisings from riot cops and military police brutality. See video of what happened inside congress: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1C2cQQOeqxo&feature=youtu.be or http://youtu.be/6KGuqnQRXok. Last repression inside the congress was on 12/8/09 when over 20 were tortured savagely after repressive bodies ambushed a protest against the coup there.

Another murder in the ongoing struggle for an autonomous council in Opalaca

On 25/5/14, in Opalaca, just after an indigenous assembly where the autonomus municipality celebrating the taking the possession, and the findings of an audit the community demanded was shared and a decision making process about the building of an indigenous governance facilitated, a group of people linked with ex nationalist candidate Socorro Sánchez arrived in a car, and

Hugo Sánchez, without saying anything, pulled out a pistol and began shooting villagers with firearms – and shot against Opalaca activists Irene Meza and Plutarco Bonilla Irene is a resistance activist and the spouse of Libre Councillor Ada Elizabeth Méndez and was shot in the abdomen and chest, and Plutarco an exceptional activist against the coup, who was shot in the hand. As Irene’s spouse and driver drove him to the hospital by the Zarco river, they were attacked again by a group of heavily armed employees of Socorro forcing the car to have an accident before then firing six shots, killing Irene. Irene is not the first to be killed in this struggle, the brother of the autonomous council’s mayor Entimo, Justiniano, was tortured and killed in February.

Attacks against journalists – an assassination, programs cancelled..

On 28/5/14, Hernán Cruz (52) who runs a program ‘Otro Nivel’ 5-6pm on community radio ‘La Voz de la esperanza’ in the buildings of Institute of Ecumenical Services for the Community coordinated by Fausto Milla since July 2013, was kidnapped in Santa Rosa de Copán, taken towards Dulce Nombre where he was assassinated with gunshots and his body found in a taxi. His program focussed on analysis and reflection. Hernán also founded the social movement los Chuñas de San Juan de Opoa, is the coordinator of the Opoa resistance, and a Libre party activist. He was well loved and his solidarity with others are well felt and he was a role model for young people. He was someone who used to lend his projector. He also had a position as a disputes resolutions mediator at the community justice centre there.

hernan cruz mayo 2014 comunicador social

On 26/5/14, journalist Jorge Burgos, denounced that Canal 6 management cancelled the program of his and his colleague Emy Padilla, ‘Suelte la Lengua’, which was transmitted nationally 1.30-2.30pm five days a week since 10 monhts ago. Jorge recalled that the manager Paul Misselem called and cancelled the program without giving any explanations, but Jorge knew it was because the program always denounced corruption and this upset shareholders; he criticizes defacto president Juan Hernández on his program as well as against some banks that do business with the state and some fast food companies that receive state subsidies, which are clients of the commercial radio. Some of their recent guests were José Guadalupe Ruelas, the human rights defender accusing the regime of assassinating youths in Honduras, other human rights defenders, as well as ex-president Zelaya. Emy recounted being once passed a note from the production team of a list of topics that are prohibited.

There is a generalised direction towards this type of censorship. Another example of a journalist who notices this is Ricardo Guerra of program Actualidad Porteña of private regional channel Teleport Cortés. He said journalists always get told, ‘we don’t cover that topic here’, Ricardo is one of many journalists victim to threats and telephone insults because of the information he gives in his work.

News shorts from May 2014

– how the academic, and NGO worlds collide to reproduce rather than critique oppressive geopolitics

University making model cities in Honduras an exciting experiment to play with

In its PR article for Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala commodifying careers in playing with ideas of controlling and ruling over entire cities, images were shown of white elite or middle class young adults being equipped with an environment to gain skills towards careers in manipulating model cities – something ‘legal’ in Honduras. The university proudly announced that Startup Cities Institute is now launched with the Lean City Lab, towards creating decision making tools, strategic planning, – by strategic planning, it refers to deciding where, structuring land auctioning, and learn what institutions and markets would best suit their interests. While it mentions that this is to advise ‘communities’ that are interested in creating model cities, it did else where outline honestly that their ‘public’ are reformers of public police, business people and ‘political activists’, and not the ‘community’. It allures students with computer labs in which people can play with experimental economy, to simulate markets and economic structures, turning this concept into a game, a stock exchange, obviously as far removed as possible from people’s realities. It also alludes to field studies where trial and error can be used. Alert!

Kansas University partner with Honduran teachers’ university UPNFM to recruit students as professional informants, against indigenous communities the students are from

This disturbing public recruitment callout for a job was noticed by an indigenous professor, with the criteria including being an UPNFM student in first or second year, belonging to an indigenous community of Honduras and speaking the language, having recognised leadership within the community, and having knowledge in computing and data collection. Applications were being received 24-31 October 2013 at the humanities faculty at the university. There was no information as to the sources of funding, the objectives or proposals, and there was no consultation with indigenous people. Some indigenous leaders have been invited the year before to Kansas university – the offer of paid work and signing collaborative agreements in the local universities made them attractive offers of what is in reality contracting informants towards destroying indigenous organising and taking over their territories. Another source found that this was a research project nationally with the title ‘Indigenous Municipalities – landuse and conflicts, to digitally map all indigenous communities – a recurrent topic of counterinsurgent geographers. This is supervised by Peter Herlihy who is accused of being paid by US Department of Defence and Office of Foreign Military Studies based in Kansas, and of having carried out research in Honduras and Mexico that are considered geopiracy and to aid counterinsurgenies and corporations. There are also two unnamed geographers and a social anthropologist involved. This is being done similar to Bowman Expeditions

NGO – Human Rights Watch links with CIA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquival and Mairead Maguire and about 100 US and Canadian academics sought Human Rights Watch to take concrete measures to be independent, – given that its main directives have links with the Democrats Party, US government, and even CIA – in the case of Miguel Díaz, who is a functionary of the Department of State, was a CIA analyst in the 90s, and he was on the council of advisors of HRW from 2003-2011. Other 3 members of HRW linked with US government are Tom Malinowki, Miles Frecheette and Michael Shifter.

A snapshot of resistance in Honduras

The Puerto Castilla community – an Afro-descendent Garífuna community undertook to reclaim ancestral territory historically snatched from them, as the community suffers from overcrowding – see their blockade of the highway to Puerto Castilla. They faced massive teargas repression from the state this month.

highway blockade may trujillo

Social work students at UNAH who belong to the social work students association held an assembly and decided to occupy the social science building. They are angry at authorities for not consulting and deciding to give the building over to juridical sciences, disregarding the countless unfulfilled needs there are already for social work students including the lack of classrooms, oversized classes, insecurity in transport, commodification of education, excluding students from decision making, intimidating students from protesting, etc. Sociology students joined in in solidarity, other associations are starting to talk about it.

A number of other newer land occupations/recoveries of territories have been mentioned this month:

El Tránsito, Nacaome, in south of Honduras, has since 24/2/14 occupied indefinitely a road to a mining site in the community to shut down the company.

In Bajo Aguán, 130 families decided to enter to recover the farm ‘El Mochito’ since they have been snatched by landowner Reinaldo Canales with state complicity in his support. They announced in a communique that they will continue recovering the land, and even if and when evicted, they will come back again.

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April 2013 Honduras coup update

Political persecution cases in April 2013

A journalist killed, others arrested, followed, threatened and impeded in their work..

On 11/4/13, in the midnight hours, Carlos Mejía Orellana was murdered with 4 stabs in the thorax, inside his home. He is a lawyer and has worked for many years as the head in the marketing and sales of Jesuit radio Radio Progreso and recently of ERIC, and of the printer San Ignacio in El Progreso. Due to serious ongoing threats, the Inter American Commission of Human Rights had ordered the Honduran state to protect his life many times – on 2/7/09, 26/4/10, 3/5/10, 2/6/10 and 27/5/11 but no measures had been taken.

Carlos Mejía Orellana 4.14

On 1/4/14 at 9am, near Parque Central, Catacamas Olancho police agents temporarily arrested journalist and Canal 45 TV reporter Cesar Rosales and confiscated his work equipment, deleting all the images on his video camera.

On 3/4/14, Canal 6 correspondent Dennis Menjivar, who reports on the police in the Choloma city of Cortés – is being followed by vehicles everyday since he began news coverage about the capture of accused drug trafficker ‘Negro Lobo’ – each day as he leaves his home, cars follow him until a certain point and then disappear as if by magic – it was first a Ford Ranger and now 2 tourist vans that have dark windows and no numberplates, all going the same route. Dennis was the victim of an attempt 2 years ago from shots fired from a vehicle without numberplates as he was leaving home after he reported on a Villa Nuria massacre where he questioned the work of the security minister and an official told him to watch his words – an attempt that remained in impunity.

On 22/4/14, despite ‘El Negro’ Lobo’s legal representative Raúl Suazo Barillas having expressed that El Negro wanted to be interviewed by journalists, soldiers of Primer Batallón de Infantería refused entry to journalists Lidieth Díaz and Wendy Funes of En Exclusiva program of Globo TV Honduras. El Negro was to be the first Honduran to be extradited in response to a request from the US government, accused of drug trafficking.

On 28/4/14, ‘Fuera del Camino’ news director on www.laradiopopular.net José Onorio Cruz spoke up about being victim to being watched and followed near where he lives. He is in fear for his family. Recently, when inside a shopping centre in Choluteca, ‘a man came up to me and told me that journalists of the Libre Party had bee well identified so be careful’ and then threatened him not to ‘andar con papadas con nosotros’. A neighbour also confirmed that someone on a black motorcycle stopped at his home’s gate and stayed watching the inside of his home, weeks before. In December 2013, as he left the El Observador forum, two me on motorcycle told him to stop talking about the National Party, that ‘journalists of the resistance like me had to be disappeared. José also collaborates with covering news in Choluteca for Radio Progreso and Radio Uno. José describes his work as analysing the reality from a people’s rights based perspective, criticising the ultraright Honduran, speaking up against corruption, and militarisation of society and state.

Liberation theologist under fire from the right

On 2/4/14, in Lepaera, Lempira, over 100 national party activists accompanying nationalist mayor Edgar Murillo occupied into the night the parrish home of Esteban Guzmán putting up messages against him. There are national party agitators (including mayor Edgar Murillo, and German Péres, Marcio Lara, Juan José Bautista) who are pressuring for actions of violence to be taken against Lepaera villagers who came to support their religious leader Esteban Guzmán who practised liberation theology – he holds a position of preferential for the poor and against the coup. Police and military police were present, and of course they did nothing to prevent bloodbath that may come still. There were cars without numberplates around, who may have been profiling supporters of father Esteban. The pressures to force father Esteban out began when Darwin Andino arrived to the Copán Diocese whose agenda is to remove all liberation theologists from these Western parts of Honduras. Some months ago a high power bomb was launched at the gates of the priest’s home and no investigation had been carried out.

Under siege and under threat: territorial and environmental defenders

On 21/4/14, a comunique came out denouncing eviction threats against MARCA coming from Xatruch operation headed by Coronel René Jovel Martínez, in favor of landowner René Morales who is the executive president of Oleopalma palm company – the threat is including against 3 hundred families of Trinidad Farm of Truillo who could be evicted after 21/4/14 based on an eviction order dated February 2014. About 12 months before MARCA received a court judgement favourable to them, only for it to be reversed almost immediately and their lawyer Antonio Trejo murdered months later. In the same region, Ariel Padilla (20) was kidnapped and tortured by Xatruch Operation when he was on security duties at Cooperativa San Esteban, where he was forcefully kidnapped and taken to Balastera where he was beaten in different part of the body, had his weapon stolen from him, and was given death threat for if he spoke up about what happened.

On 23/4/14, a land registry commission – Daniel España, Manuel Valladares, José Marín, and Saúl Figueroa – arrived in Nahuaterique (population 14,000) of La Paz, telling villagers there that the Honduran government is dividing Nahuaterique territory into 4 parts, into municipalities of Santa Elena, Yarula, Cabañas and Marcala, with support by the mayor of each. 300 villagers gathered in opposition to this territorial intervention – they expressed fears also of military intervention.

The Honduran state has not complied with IACHR orders dated December 2013 to protect lives of over 50 MADJ (Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia) members who are at risk as human and environmental rights defenders involved in struggles of Nueva Esperanza and Locomapa against mines and logging companies. Those granted the protection measures said that they are the ones who had to achievely engage with the state to assume responsibility and that they contiue to be at risk and in some cases are at more risk than before. And that those who give them threats are state officials and businesspeople who feel their profit interests threatened by the struggles of MADJ and the communities in protection of the nature and environment. The conflicts are fueled by the current government’s policy to submit territories to national and transnational business.

News briefs from April 2013

Work towards having the International Penal Court to qualify what happened in Honduras as crimes against humanity continues: a delegation of Spanish parliamentarians accomaied by human rights specialist Enrique Santiago visited Honduras to bear witness to human rights violations and work on providing the necessary data to International Penal Court, for this to eventually investigate and judicialise individuals whom in their positions within the state promoted or contributed to systematic human rights violations.

Enrique Santiago and other mission members at the Spanish embassy looked at the Billy Joya case – where Billy Joya, a state agent applying national security doctrine, was responsible for grave human rights violations – he belongs to 3-16 death squad, and was responsible for kidnappings, tortures, forced disappearances in this ‘lost decade’ – he was sued in 90s, with a detention order in Honduras – but he refuged in Spain and was sheltered by a religious centre linked to Opus Dei in Sevilla city where he was hidden for months with a false identity, working including as a catechist for young people. When he was detected by torture victims of Honduras, human rights defenders sued him and he appeared in the courts asking to be extradited back to Honduras. He was freed on arrival to Honduras, the case was filed away in Honduras and then in Spain too.

Impunity persists with killing of women and journalists and human rights defenders. And others, but these were highlighted this month. Femicides have an impunity rate of 94%, 636 women were assassinated in 2013, thats one every 14 hours. At the same time, UN human rights experts Frank Le Rue and Margaret Sekaggya are asking the Honduran government to end impunity in cases of attacks to journalists and human rights defenders through rapid and exhaustive investigations, and pressuring for protection measures to be given to those for whom such measures had been requested by the Inter America Commission of Human Rights, as well as for UN recommendations to be adopted.

Prosecution not surprisingly shamelessly defends model cities as constitutional, when organisations charged that model cities aren’t constitutional in relation to articles 294, 303 and 329 – related to national sovereignty, form of government, and internationally recognised basic rights. The prosecution’s position was published in a brief in El Heraldo. Related to model cities, some of the pressures experienced since the coup include threats of forced expropriation in Trujillo against the afrodescendent Garífuna Rio Negro community by Canadian investor Randy Jurgenson. Model cities laws were approved in February 2010, charged as unconstitution immediately, declared unconstitutional on 18/10/12 – and within two months the judges who passed this judgement were fired by the congress under other pretexts. In 2013, ZEDE – that is almost the same as the law made unconstitutional with a little more wordplay, was passed. The main discourse used is attracting foreign investment.

Snapshot of resistance of Hondurans

In the north, centre and southern regions of Honduras, a network is formed of youth within farmers’ movements to take on the role of being journalists – with training on popular communications, on using new technologies, and on being spokespersons – each delegated youth is given a computer, internet modem and usb memory for this work. The youths are from different farmers organisations and this was an initiative of the Campesina Articulation Alliance and La Vía Campesina.

Similarly, in Bajo Aguan region, RAPCOS was formed of over 45 journalists of a network of alerts ad protection for journalists. They have plans including to speak in high schools about the right to freedom of expression.

In Tegucigalpa, women organised a protest in front of the Presidential House, placing a large number of coffins, and of black body bags tied up, for everyone to see. They demanded an end to femicides, with 636 cases in 2013, all in impunity.

A group of 16 Hondurans aged 29-50 from El Progreso, Yoro, visited Guatemala City – the are all part of the Association of Returned Migrants with Disabilities AMIREDIS – this is the start of a journey to visit different groups in Central America to share their stories about the dangerous conditions they were under in search of employment and better life conditions. They all had accidents in Mexico on their attempts to go to the US, only to return to Honduras with legs or arms amputed on the dangerous journey. They tell their stories, contextualise their lives, pressures and dreams. The journey they are making now means for many of them to ‘confront the places and memories of their encounter with the Beast – the train in Mexico. This group began in 2006, at which time, was motivated by a movement of women with disappeared relatives in Mexico. Their demands to the Honduran authorities are for immigrants to be protected, for the persecution to stop, and for possibilities to have employment and salary – so partly the tour is to show how they are neglected and excluded.

 

March 2014 – more murders, machete stabbings against activist family, many organisations almost closed down..

 

Known political persecution cases in March 2014

 

Summary of political killings in March 2014

Organised farmers Alma Yaneth Díaz Ortega and Uva Erlinda Castellanos Vijil were assassinated by hitmen on 27/3/14

Son of organised farmers leader, who is a local court judge, Lenin Casteñeda was killed by hitmen on 14/3/14

Lawyer and resistance activist José Nicolás Bernárdez, was killed by hitmen on 14/3/14

An attempt and violent machete stabbing against three community activists of Rio Blanco that defend their territory from the imposition of hydroelectricity dam project Agua Zarca since 1/4/13

 

Near midday on 5/3/14, María Santos Domínguez was on her way home after preparing with others some school lunch for children, when at least five people who were hooded and armed with machetes and sticks who had hidden and waited for her ambushed her with one of the aggressors Fausto Vásquez shouting, ‘this time we are going to take your life from you, india gran p…, not even Copinh will defend you. You are an agitator and now you are going to learn not to stick your nose into these things. Getting rid of you will be enough, that will end all this noise.’

 

Her spouse Roque calls her frequently to ensure she was okay because of constant death threats – so when he called for the 4th time this day and she answered, she told Roque she was surrounded, so Roque rushed off to look for her with their son Paulo (12). When they found María, she already had deep machete wounds on her – they split her thumb first and went onto wound her head and chest, and the attackers, in an out-of-control state, were beating her with sticks and stones. Roque tried talking with them, asking them not to kill his spouse, and when little Paulo ran to his mum’s side to help her, one of the attackers slashed the machete at this little child, slicing off his right ear and part of his face. They also attacked Roque, wounding him in the head and body and almost cutting off his hand. The three managed to escape and ran to find help, all three were left gravely wounded. Only one of these attackers was detained despite the complaints.

 

María, Roque and Paulo are community activists. María is the coordinator of the Rio Blanco and northern Intibucá indigenous council. They have received constant death threats and aggression for their active resistance. The attackers, some who previously destroyed the crops of María and Roque’s family, are sympathisers of the Agua Zarca hydroelectricity projects. María’s brother Tomás García was assassinated by the army on 15/7/13, as the community mobilised, without any weapons, towards the dam site. Soon after this, she appeared on a video shared on social media, saying that she will defend the river with her life too, that if they killed her, it would be a matter of pride for her to give her life to this struggle.

 

See the pictures of María, Roque and Paulo following the attack on this article: http://www.rel-uita.org/index.php/es/derechos-humanos/item/4490-ni-balas-ni-machetes-detendran-nuestra-lucha-por-el-agua-y-la-tierra

 

Two organised farming women assassinated, a farmer’s activist persecuted by army, and another attempted against by hitmen

 

On 27/3/14, at 7.30am, Alma Yaneth Díaz Ortega (46) and Uva Erlinda Castellanos Vijil (48) were assassinated as they were coming home after a day of work on the land – they are members of Empresa Asociativa Campesina Bella Vista at the Bella Vista village, in Pimienta, Cortes. They were assassinated for reclaiming their right to the possession of land that the agrarian department had granted them.

 

On 29/3/14, around 6.30pm, as José David Ramírez was returning after visiting his grandmother who lives in the Lempira community and as he stopped to talk with some friends outside a home in this community, hooded soldiers with black balaclavas jumped off a patrol threatening the three youths. Minutes later, a soldier shot the gun against José but missed him and he left running to hide inside the Lempira settlement farm around Tocoa, 12 hooded soldiers hopped on the police patrol and 4 motorcycles to chase him. When they couldn’t get him, they forced his friend nicknamed ‘Mel’ onto the patrol and made him take them to José’s home – luckily nobody was inside – the soldiers kicked the door down and found that. His dad Raúl Ramírez said that they had to change homes months ago already due to persecution. Raúl is the treasurer of the farmers’ movement MUCA. Just the day before this attack, farmers organisations met with police lawyer Vegas, traffic police head Rojas and DGIC investigator Alemán, about supposeably ending persecution in Aguán.

 

(Exact date unknown at time of compilation) Miguel Sánchez was attempted against, shot with 6 AK47 bullets, at the farmers cooperative San Miguel Arcángel of farmers movement ECARLON in Urraco Pueblo in Progreso Yoro. He was left in a grave state.

 

Judicial persecution against human and land rights defenders

On 8/3/14, lawyer, human rights and land rights defender Marleny Cruz was arrested by police and taken to the Pavana police station, transferred to the San Pedro Sula police station 24 hours later where she was charged with usurpation, aggravated robbery and damages ‘in prejudice of’ CAHSA sugar company and against DNIC state investigative agents José Zacapa, José Rodríguez, Cristhian Alemán, and Edgar Aguilar – the charges are based on having allegedly participated in the lands occupation and of instructing farmers of San Manuel Cortés (MOCSAM) to attack a group of DNIC agents. It was until 2pm, 11/3/14 that she was finally released with the bail conditions, of signing at the court every 15 days and to not to go near the plantations.

 

Who is Marleny and what motivated this detention and charges? She accompanies and gives legal support to MOCSAM farmers’ territorial struggles against the sugar companies CAHSA and Azunosa, and is the legal representative/advisor for MARCA and MUCA. In May 2013, Marleny went to collect testimonies from victims – MOCSAN members began recovering land that the state had granted them since the sugar companies were exploiting the land without permission, but as they reclaimed the land farmers were subject to an armed attack by Azunosa and CAHSA guards. In this attack, farmer Valentín Avelar was killed and Celso Ruíz wounded and died in hospital, and others were wounded. Marleny also worked closely with Antonio Trejo in cases of detention and repression against farmers of Aguan including MARCA, until Antonio was assassinated on 22/9/12 – she followed up on the cases Antonio was working on after he died – for which we were surprised now with a capture order dated June 2013 for her work on these cases. Marleny also works as a primary school teacher in the Buenos Aires neighbourhood in Tegucigalpa, and as a private lawyer, and has worked a lot voluntarily with human rights organisation CODEH as well.

 

Others mentioned to be under judicial persecution:

Human rights defender of farmers Duni Ortiz, Ricardo Domínguez a farmers leader in Valle de Sula, and at least 4000 other farmers around Honduras.

 

Close call – cancelling and uncancelling of legal status of over 5000 NGOs

 

On 7/3/14 civil organisations expressed outrage, as the Honduran Executive Department ordered the cancellation of the legal status and subsequent closure of 5429 NGOs – the list was published in La Gaceta #33367 of 28/8/14 amongst which were many organisations that criticise current and past regimes. It began with the Unit of Registry and Monitoring of Civil Associations URSAC which gave the pretext – proven to be made up – that the listed NGOs did not comply with the provision of financial reports and activities of inscription of the directive committee by the due dates.

It was until 14/3/14 that the human rights and governance minister Chang Castillo apologised publicly, said it was a mistake, that the cancellations will not go ahead, promising to modernise computer equipment and staff training and dismissing URSAC director Jorge Montes. That it was a decision made to close organisations critical of the JOH regime would not be admitted to. Already, there has been a series of such decrees to this policy – Maduro’s decree 700-A-2003 to regulate, control and monitor the funds of civil association that they suspect financed the mobilisations that demanded rights in the context of growing mobilisations, and the 2011 Ley Especial para el Fomento de las Organizaciones No Gubernamentales de Desarrollo, to the same intent.

The almost made illegal organisations include: Centre of Women’s Studies Honduras,

‘Las Hormigas’ Intibucá Women’s Union, C-Libre,, Centre for Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights Defence in Honduras, National Network of Defenders in Honduras, Women’s Network of Colonia Ramón Amaya Amador, Centre of Studies and Action for Development in Honduras, the San Pedro Gay Community, Colonia López Arellano Women’s Movement, Ecumenical Institute of Community Service, Colectivo Color Rosa, and many others…

Two lawyers assassinated on one day, one is son of a MUCA founder, the other a resistance activist

 

On 14/3/14, in Tocoa, Colón, hitmen on a pickup truck assassinated Lenin Casteñeda (32) with at least 6 gunshots, outside the door at Lenin’s home as he was going home from work around 9.30am. As well as the son of Adolfo Castañeda, one of the founders of MUCA farmers movement, he is also a local court judge in the Iriona municipality. Adolfo said over a year ago he received a threat of killing who he loves most. Adolfo holds the landowners of the region responsible, as well as with the complicity of militarisations and the investigation teams and disarmament decree that have allowed the continued impunity.

 

Also on 14/3/14, In San Pedro Sula, hitmen on motorcycles sprayed with bullets and murdered lawyer and resistance activist José Nicolás Bernárdez while he was driving his van in the morning. José is also an ex pre-candidate for the Libre party, and a previous UD party member.

 

Killing and violence/torture by army and police

 

On 12/3/14, student Erland Misael Carías Moncada (24) was supposebly on a motorcycle driving through a military and police checkpoint, when they told him to stop and he didn’t, soldiers shot and killed him. The excuse they gave was that they confused him as a member of the ‘Los Espinoza’ gang – San Luis and Esquias communities are under siege and living in tension and fear without freedom of movement, by both the Los Espinoza, as well as by military and police operations.

 

Another accused of passing a checkpoing and not stopping by police, was priest Bonifacio Alvarado, on 24/3/14, at 10.30am. When he passed a police patrol vehicle, Guarita police suddenly turned around followed him and shot at least 15 shots at him, when he stopped and asked why they were following, they screamed, ‘get off, get off! – then pulled him out of the car, beat him up, had his face hooded for an hour with no justification, and handcuffed and tortured him. His shirt and pants were torn. They asked for the bag of church collection money and told him he will have to answer to prosecutors for it although there were just small coins there. They put the head of the gun in his mouth and said ‘you are a drug trafficker’. Bonifacio is the parish priest of Tomalá, Lempira. Police claims the patrol was a checkpoint and that the police response was justified, for not having stopped.

 

NEWS SHORTS FROM MARCH 2014

 

Rising femicides – women’s bodies…

This International Women’s Day, feminist organisations highlighted that femicides continue to go up in Honduras, 606 in 2012, and 632 in 2013. On the other hand, through feminist advocacy, a bill is currently put to lift the prohibition of the morning after pill.

 

Canadian congress chambers debating Canada Honduras FTA

While this FTA is under debate since the collateral agreement was signed on 5/11/13, advocates highlight that the FTA if not cancelled will increase exploitation, militarisation and repression in Honduras – apart from facilitating notorious Canadian companies like Goldcorp that caused skin diseases in families of Valle de Siria, Gildan that violates workers rights, and investors in tourism that displace communities, that the approved Mining Law that Canadian government provided consultancy to shaping has mining companies paying 2% towards security forces of Honduras, towards the militarisation and repression.

 

JOH militarises municipalities where model cities will be built. The regime is installing security groupings called ‘Fusinas’ to 45 municipalities of Choluteca and Valle, in the name of reducing insecurity, and saying they want to do this everywhere.

 

New national human rights commissioner the ombudsman on the side of transnationals. Roberto Herrera Caceres was the selected candidate in this controversial process to determine the commissioner for 2014-2019, after having coup supporting Ramón Custodio for the last 5 years, having many assassinations remaining in impunity. Roberto Herrera Caceres has a history of supporting mining processes in Honduras without free, dued, prior and informed consultation and consent, including having granted the British Gas petrol concession without consulting the Misquitia indigenous people – thanks to him, British Gas formalised just now in a special ceremony at the Presidential House its incorporation into the Initiative for Transparency of the Extractive Industries of Honduras.

 

Aguan Agrarian Platform calls for eyes on new the investigation process

As the prosecutors team arrive in Aguan, where over 115 farmers have been assassinated, the Aguan Agraian Platform demanded transparency in this investigation process, and highlighted root causes of conditions being concentration of land and land grabbing, monocrop expansion by transnational companies, state criminalisation (and persecution/complicity with) of farmers struggle, and spoke up about intentions of the courts to evict MARCA farmers of Trinidad and Despertar who won their land in court until that was reversed – the courts also in complicity with landowners condemned to 17 years and 6 months in jail, and how 7000 hectares of land still need to be handed over according to the April 2010 agreement with MUCA. Point being there is no trusting the regime in this investigation neither.

 

One of the few police judicially processed for repression are getting away with it. San Pedro Court of Appeals resolved to dismiss the case against police Hector Ivan Mejia Velasquez and Daniel Omar Matamoros Avila who were accused of violating functionaries’ duties, illegal detention, serious damages and injury, against Napoleón Ernesto Bardales, Radio Uno, Ribin Pavel Núñez, the band Café Guancasco and 38 people illegally detained. Police brutally repressed under the command of Mejía and Matamoros, a mobilisation in 2010, including destroying Cafe Guancasco’s music equipment.

 

Some of the dirt on model cities ideologist Klugman. Accusations against Klugman include – promoting assassinations of bus drivers in Guatemala as part of terror campaign to get Pérez Molina elected on iron fist platform. That the just finished Lobo government also used Klugman as advisor for his electoral campaign back in 2009 – reflecting on tone chosen by the party then that if iron fist were not used, insecurity and chaos would result, and also in its campaigns to call opposition candidates ‘communists’. A Guatemalan Paper confirmed that Klugman wrote speeches for Reagon.

 

Pay up, Standard Fruit – Standard Fruit Company Subsidiary ASISA did not pay the $2 million it owed to EACI Empresa Asociativa Campesina de Isletas EACI cooperative. This amount was ordered by the court in March 2014.

 

Snapshot of solidarity and resistance in Honduras this month

 

Radio Progreso and ERIC shared this story – that they were surprised by a group of families from a nearby rural community, who showed up at the community where the broadcasting took place, inviting them, and everyone else around – dozens of people, to share with them a bowl of beans soup,with plantain, cassava, pieces of meat and sausages complete with chile and some cool tamarind juice. It was declicious and energised everyone. They called it a ‘frijolada’, and was organised by some families that met the day before and decided that part of their community harvest would be to make a community meal to share with whoever needs a plate of food instead of selling the surplus, in dissent against market logics – to instead, in spirit of friendship and solidarity, define the richness of life with life and sharing, from these families who live materially simple lives. They did this in memory of Father Romero on the 34th anniversary of his martyrdom, and as a commitment to fight for the freedom of political prisoner and farmer activist Chabelo – they have a photo of him on a banner on the tent they used to give away food.

 

Villagers in Nispero communities in Santa Barbara occupied from 24/3/14 a highway towards the open pit zinc mine near the Santa Cruz Village, demanding the company and the Mayor Leiva to leave. Enough is enough – the pollution is giving people respiratory illnesses, and destroying Quitaganas mountains where coffee, corn, beans and tule used to grow. The mine is also causing the privatisation of a government hydroelectricity plant there that the community is trying to prevent.

 

El Negrito villagers also protested against mining and logging of trees in the natural reserves in their communities that would put their lives at risk.

 

 

February 2014 Honduras coup summary update

Summary of known political assassinations

Justiniano Vázquez, political activist and brother of the should-be-mayor, was killed on 21/2/14

-Pedro Pérez, indigenous organiser, was killed on 18/2/14

Cases of known political persecution in February 2014

At San Francisco de Opalaca: where a community, at the council level, refused to accept nor the electoral fraud, nor the continuation of a council mayor Socorro Manueles and team who had for four years been behind miners and the selling of natural resources. The community said, no more, we did not vote for you, and occupied the council building, and on 15/2/14, held a taking of possession act of the council team the indigenous community knows it voted for.

On 6/2/14, on its 13th day of occupation, the following threats were reported:

Judicial threats in the form of charges, against Entimo Vásquez (legitimate mayor), Oneyda Elizabeth Mendoza (councillor), Albertina Manueles Pérez (indigenous journalist and Radio Progreso correspondent), Damacio Gutiérrez (UTC member), Danilo Gómez Rodriguez (UCIH-Via Campesina member), Santiago Dimas Bautista (councillor and copinh member), Carlos Lorenzo (ADROH secretary general)

Death threats against Pascualita Vásquez (cultural coordinator of Copinh Coordinator and of elders council), Berta Cáceres Flores (general coordinator of Copinh), and against municipal leaders of Copinh in San Francisco Opalaca: Magin Manueles (Zapotillo), Santiago Dimas Bautista (Plan de Barrios), and Juan Vásquez Vásquez (Lagitas)

Eviction threats – against the community on their own ancestral territory for which they hold community land titles under Convention 169.

On 9/2/14 in the midnight hours, Marta Vásquez and her family had their home raided and family belongings taken and burned including clothes, shoes, uniforms, diplomas, stationery. Marta is the daughter of the should-be-mayor Entimo Vásquez. Just 7 days before, Justiniano Vásquez and his family were subject to a similar act. Justiniano is brother of Entimo. This was reported on 10/2/14 by Rene Altamirano of Libre that these acts were carried out by Hugo Sanches, a cousin of the fraudulent mayor who was sworn in by TSE electoral commission – Socorro Manueles.

On 21/2/14, Justiniano Vázquez, whose family home was raided and belongings burnt, was assassinated – his body was found near a small gorge of El Jengibral near the centre of Monte Verde of Opalaca, with stab wounds, signs of having had hands tied. He is a member of Libre party. Someone called Juan Rodríguez was reported to be captured and held as a suspect – he had previously threatened both Justiniano and Entimo. Juan Rodríguez belongs to a group called Mancha Brava Nacionalista. The community points to Socorro Sanchez as the intellectual author of the assassination. Justiniano leaves behind spouse Eladia Lemuz Pérez. Four days before his murder, a commission of human rights, justice, governance and decentralisation departments of Honduras government visited and instead of trying to help resolve complaints, they ‘expressed empty and inconsistent arguments to not undertake an administrative, legal and integral audit and even gave threats of suing community leaders for sedition.

Indigenous Organiser assassinated

On 16/2/14, Pedro Pérez was assassinated – shot in the head with a 9mm weapon by Fausto Chavarría, left in a comma, and died on 18/2/13, in Hospital Escuela. Pedro is a directive member of Las Minitas Lenca community indigenous council, and a member of Coordinadora Indigena del Poder Popular de Honduras. His killer Fausto has for months been sowing terror in the Minitas community where business people plan to build a hydroelectric dam that would privatise the river. Fausto also threatened another activist 3 months ago, against Luis Martinez, coordinator of Las Minitas Indigenous Council. Fausto was often around with the Tegucigalpa police Jorge Chavarría who carried heavy weapons and has complaints filed against him.

Courts standing by sugar company Azunosa of SABMiller to attack/evict farmers

Farmers organised under ADCP and CNTC that began a land recovery process in May 2012 following an agrarian department decision to expropriate Azunosa as illegal occupiers of 3644 hectares – since they are in excess of legal land ownership limits, are now exposed to imminent eviction because of a Supreme Court decision in December 2013 to revoke the expropriation order issued in May 2012. Even before this the families have suffered a lot, including 4 violent evictions, a lot of harrassment, threats, destruction of hundreds of hectares cultivated with basic grains, and 108 farmers charged.

Rio Blanco: a charge dropped, but three others remain. Rio Blanco is the site of a blockade against an unwanted company dam, the blockade began on 1/4/13. Copinh – an indigenous organisation that accompanied (but not led) this struggle has been subject to judicial persecution.

The dropped charge is for supposed ‘illegal possession of firearms in prejudice of the internal security of the Honduran State’ that was made against Copinh coordinator Berta Caceres. The ongoing charges are from the company DESA together with the prosecutors, they are of ‘coercion, usurpation, and continued damages’, they are against Berta Caceres, Aureliano Molina and Tomás Gómez. These are appealed also.

Persecution against defender of Valle de Siria

Valle de Siria has a community that has fought against an open-pit gold mine, and that continues to suffer health and skin conditions caused by the mine

In February, Carlos Amador Alemán has been followed by two vehicles –a white double cabin pick-up and a grey van, that parks in front of the channel and stays there 40-50 minutes, and on four occasions, they were there just minutes before Carlos entered the channel. He observed that nobody gets out of these vehicles. In December 2013, he was followed by a motorcycle driver of a black motorcycle without numberplate, he did not react but this was repeated several times. In 2011, he was unfairly sued together with 17 others for defending the right to drinking water for the people of Valle de Siria. Who is Carlos? He is a human rights defender and community journalist – he is the director of two news spaces on radio and tv – ‘Linea directa con el pueblo’ (Sat and Sun) and ‘Contacto con la Noticia’ (Mon-Fri news program at Porvenir). He is also an environmentalist, primary school teacher and the current secretary of the Valle de Siria Environmentalist Committee, and a member of Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el Modelo Extractivo Minero.

Expulsions against uni students announced at UNAH

On 20/2/14, Ayax Irías – Vice Director of orientation and students affairs of UNAH, announced to the press that processes have begun to expel students of UNAH and especially against members of Movimiento Amplio Universitario MAU and some independent students. This is an act of criminalising protest – the students held an assembly demanding an extension for the date fees have to be paid – because it was changed from 21 to 10 days arbitrarily without informing students. Students mobilised to the director’s building to demand a hearing with the director Julieta Castellano.

Case of political prisoner Chabelo – organised farmers – now ruled ‘guilty’ for murder

Chabelo, José Isabel Morales, was held already for 5 years and two months, when on 7/2/14, he was ruled guilty in court, sentenced to 17.5 years of jail. This is despite the case having relied only on a few testimonies – from witnesses who kept changing the important details of their stories, which should make the evidence unreliable – but the Trujillo Sentencing Court doesn’t think so.

Chabelo is accused of homicide against Carlos Manrique Sorto Castillo in 2008; Carlos died with gunshot wounds. Chabelo is an organised farmer of Movimiento Campesino de Aguan MCA, based in Guadalupe Carney in Trujillo. Carlos Manrique Sorto is a cousin of the influential police subcomissioner and landowner Henry Sorto – who was involved in a land conflict with MCA. Where Carlos was shot, a fire was set, and 11 died, all relatives of Henry Sorto.

Shonky ‘investigation’/’evidence’

Despite being a complex and messy case with lots of participants, the crime scene was only closed off 24 hours after the act, prosecution only arrived on the scene three days after the acts, and only carried out two days of investigation. And they did not start at the crime scene, they went to the Agrarian Department office INA to get a list of committee directives of farmers cooperatives registered in the last year, and took these as names of suspects and then went to look for anything to use as supporting evidence. Their investigation involved having 300 photos of suspects and showing them to a witness who did not have the capacity to recognise anyone, given that he had a bullet through his lung that was filled with blood, that was in turn filling the brain with blood and not oxygen and making him faint. In this state, the witness ‘recognised’ 32 people and attributed each to a particular crime. For killing Carlos Manrique Sorto he first accused Carlos Armando Ruíz who couldn’t have done it because he is from Poncaya mountain in Olancho, that is not only far away, but he hadn’t left it, and had never been to these parts of Aguan. He then accused someone else who couldn’t have because he was in prison for a year at the time. Then he pointed to Chabelo as the person who took the lids of the petrol tanks of some cars to set on fire. Another witness said he was a kilometre away and saw Chabelo – who he described as dark-skinned, short, and solid (when Chabelo is actually tall and gets called ‘chele’ by people for his whiter skin) – and said ‘Chabelo’ left the place with an AK47, when in 2010 he said it was a machete; each time he gave a testimony whether to an investigator or prosecutor, the story changed. Henry Sorto was another who changed his story; initially he declared that when his nephew Manrique was dying, he did not know of the participation of Chabelo. But on the second time, he said that his nephew exclaimed that ‘the one who shot me was José Isabel Morales and he wants you to hear how he kills me’, he also said that he talked on telephone with Chabelo. Prosecutors did no other investigation. It was on this that Chabelo was ruled guilty of causing the death of Carlos Manrique Sorto.

As well as having been locked up for 5 years without sentence when the legal limit is 2 years, he was constantly denied dued process. Chabelo lost an eye, had his tongue broken, lost his teeth, while undertaking cleaning duties at the Porvenir prison. While in prison, his dad and a daughter of his died, and he was not allowed to go to the burials. It has been really hard on the family, hoping and waiting over the five years, and Chabelo never being given a real opportunity to demonstrate his innocence. As the hearing took place, he received threats of harms to his family if he were freed.

There has been support and solidarity from many corners of Honduras and of the world. There is an appeal for the Supreme Court to respond to. And while Chabelo’s brother said, ‘this system does not allow for the defence of farmers and working class people who struggle for land’, Chabelo was the one to reassure his brother, ‘don’t worry brother, we are going to get out of this, the struggle has not finished’, when the guilty verdict was dropped on them.

In Bajo Aguan more than 100 farmers have lost their lives in the last 4 years through the land struggle.

Other news from February 2014

The Climate Change Law : biofuels and REDD projects.

The month before, a market-based Climate Change Law was passed by the Honduran congress alongside lots of other legislations. It was market-based in that:

Article 33 propels the use of direct vegetable oil, comissions the Forest Conservation Department ICF and Council of protected areas CONAP to create strategies towards increasing production of vegetable oil – so this article is about promoting the biofuels industry to have more on market vegetable-based energy than coal-based and ultimately relies on african palm expansion in Aguan and everywhere. Already today, there are 4 hectares of African palm for every hectare of wetlands in Honduras, such palm expansion will put wetlands further at risk and increase Honduras’ vulnerability to climate change, not to mention the human rights violations it has already caused.

Article 12c promotes the ‘national strategy of adaptation and mitigation in climate change’ – which sounds good, but then it outlines only market based mechanisms such as CDM (clean development mechanisms) and REDD+ projects and similar forms of environmental compensations for conserving natural resources in Honduras. They are all false solutions that allow industrialised countries to keep polluting, while changing hands (from communities to companies) of control of tropical forests. Policy is that consent and consultation needs to be prior, informed and free – but this is always policy and rarely practiced by Honduran authorities. There are already lots of damaging CDM projects in place in Honduras promoting palm, hydroelectricity (lots of dam concessions were given out in the last 4 years) and other industries over communities’ lives, livelihood, self-determination and destroying the environment. As for REDD+ Honduras is at a preparation not implementation stage so the impact is still to hit if it is not stopped. There are lots of horror stories where it is implemented, eg Sengwer of Kenya, in the Cherengany mountains, is at a point of being evicted with support of World Bank funding REDD preparation strategy – just now, in end January 2014, over 1000 Sengwer homes were burnt down by Forestal Service officers and military police units in the name of preserving forests. The same World Bank financed and promoted a Property Law in Honduras that waters down community land titles to give way to such projects. The Kenyan REDD+ evictions are likely to be replicated in Honduras given the state of impunity that exists – and is likely to start in these places: Montaña de la Flor, La Moskitia, Lenca forests, etc.

Honduras itself, amongst the most vulnerable to climate change, has just started petrol exploration on Moskitia, that is likely to destroy the Mesoamerican reef system. Other concessions still to be announced.

Korean company POSCO had begun feasibility studies and planning to build the first model city in Choluteca, Honduras

Around the table brewing this neocolonial plan over two hours one day in February, was: the new defacto president of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernandez, the mayors and parliamentarians of the provinces Choluteca and Valle, conservative model cities ideologist Mark Klugman, and the guests – South Korean Ambassador Kim Rai-Hyug, and members of Koica (South Korean Development Agency) and South Korean investors including the company POSCO that has signed in 2011 a memorandum of understanding with the Lobo regime towards the building of model cities in Honduras.

What are model cities again and how it came up in Honduras

There are cities where companies can do what they want, in impunity – so they are deregulated and states are complicit and companies do already everywhere in the world have more say in our parliaments about what laws are passed than the people ever do. Model cities are going the extra step and actually saying, actually, forget pretences, let the companies have and run part of the country officially. It involves carving out boundaries and letting them create for those parts of the country, its own tax and tax collection system, judicial system and law set, budget and planning.

When passed initially, model cities were called Regiones Especiales para el Desarrollo (special development regions), today they are called Zonas de Empleo y Desarrollo Económico (employment and economic development zones). The name change came about when RED was declared unconstitutional by the 4 of 5 judges of the Constitutional Court of Honduras in October 2012, and then soon after, these 4 judges were dismissed, and then in June 2013, ZEDE was passed. Changes beyond name and cosmetics in ZEDE is unlikely (little information is publicly available for examination), it seems to be the same model cities resucitated. ZEDE is questioned including by the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which on 4/2/14 examined the Honduran report and situation and expressed concern, and especially about the state’s intention on submitting Garífuna (afrodescendent) territories to foreign investment, and also about the Honduran state’s appalling track record in disrespecting indigenous communities’ right to consent/consultation that is prior, informed and free. Leaders of social organisations such as indigenous organisation Copinh have, as they had in the past, placed charges of that ZEDEs, like REDs, are unconstitutional, given that they violate sovereignty, and slices Honduras and dishes it out on sale to a wide range of investors and companies.

Who is selling the idea and how

Executive Secretary of Council of Ministers Ebal Diaz said it is about turning Honduras into a pole of national development in Latin America and creating a globally competitive space, to attract investment, selling it as jobs and economic growth, and even daring to say it will not rely on cheap labour, rather, security for companies – as if cheap labour weren’t part of that package. The government said it will create markets for medium, small and even micro companies, help towards fulfiling goals of Plan de Nacion, to making Honduras an investors’ paradise. Within the congress model cities are willingly supported even by Libre (supposed electoral arm of resistance) parliamentarian Bladimir Bonilla. There is a commission that will be a team of people overlooking the model cities process – it is mostly secret at the moment except that it includes the daughter of the now deceased ultraconservative Ronald Regan.

History of POSCO, the company that plans to build the model city

POSCO claims it will take ‘all the environmental precautions’. Daewoo companies – a subsidiary of POSCO – was in Madagascar when the people overthrew the Marc Ravalomanana regime around 2009 – before the overthrow, POSCO obtained from the Ravalomanana regime 1.3 million hectares for free for supposed agricultural use. Accusations of human rights violations are also in its record including as it was about to carry out a metal project in Odisha, India, 8 special rapporteurs of UN sought the project’s suspension due to human rights concerns.

New team to investigate mass assassinations and human rights violations against farmers in Bajo Aguán – a response to pressure from human rights organisations? Or is it really a cover-up plan to whitewash?

A specialised unit’s creation was announced by general prosecutor Oscar Chinchilla to be made up of 4 teams that will include elite police officers, investigation analysts and personal assistants from the prosecutors department to investigate the assassinations and other abuses in Bajo Aguán. Recently Human Rights Watch denounced that Honduran authorities’ inaction there aggravate impunity, highlighting that nobody had been condemned in any case of the homocides, and only one case had made it to court, but was provisionally dismissed pending further evidence, but never restarted. This also came at a time when in October last year, when several prosecutors protested their salary conditions, they got transferred instead of having their demands met – amongst these was Edy Tabora, who was then sent to Bajo Aguán by himself – a highly dangerous job given the level of investment of big landowners getting their way using hitmen, security services and complicity with the authorities. He was sent without any technical or logistical support – not even a computer. He was pressured to accept it, and went, but ended up leaving the prosecutors, with inadequate support to carry out the work meaningfully. In contrast the announced new unit not only is well staffed and supplied, but Oscar Chinchillla promised that if 24 months is not enough, if whatever is assigned is not enough, extensions and increases in funding are available. To date, around 150 organised farmers had lost their lives due to attacks by security guards and paramilitary bodies at service to landowners of area – investigation and justice is overdue but it is uncertain what to expect from this unit.

Billy Joya will train a new team of 90 council police in Roatán. The Liberal Mayor just initiated this new force of 90 council police, to build police station, buy vehicles, weapons, certification, training, GPS system, buy boats, etc and is contracting as advisor/trainer Billy Joya – an ex member of the 3-16 death squad batallón accused of mass human rights violations. He would teach techniques of repression, counterinsurgency and torture methods. His claim is that he will convert the island into a ‘crime free zone’ within 12 months, and will implement the monitoring of exits and entries, camera technology and police response in attending to calls.

If you live or pass near a jail in Honduras, talking on telephone or catching internet around there is about to end. As a measure supposeabily to control crime coordination from inside prisons for which authorities say 40% of kidnapping and hitmenship involve such communications, the areas around 24 prisons around Honduras are about to lose telephone signals – something that will affect more than 500,000 people, and 13,000 inmates. This violates human rights on many levels and the impact for the affected will include econonimc, social and safety considerations.

A commissioner guest to the congress, who is not a parliamentarian sits on parliamentarians’ seats, presses the voting button on this chair and a chair next to that one twice, and when caught, resigned… His name is José Antonio Pineda. His position is as the commissioner of Coalianza – a government commission that promotes public private alliances. He was invited as what was being approved are public private investment projects – to share some words, but not to vote. However he voted, and the security guards, and others who saw him, did not stop him or remove him. All this is captured on video. Now he is sued for usurping parliamentarian functions.

Lots killed and either wrapped up or cut up in 2013. According to a report of UNAH Violence Observatory, in 2013, 181 of many more killed were either wrapped up – 133, in bedsheets or plastic bags, and – 48, were cut up. Most bodies found these ways were in Cortés or Francisco Morazán – the provinces where the biggest cities of Honduras are.

Honduras coup summary of January 2014

News relating to persecution

An assassination, capture, and threats against indigenous defenders

On 21/1/14 in the afternoon, in Jesús de Otoro, Intibucá, indigenous activist Justo Sorto Sorto was brutally assassinated – with 3 bullet wounds of a high calibre weapon, in the head, chest and right thumb. He is permanently in struggle defending nature, rivers and territories, involved in grassroots organising and working with communities with love. Justo was an active Copinh member for 20 years, he more currently is a founding member of both Movimiento Morazanista del Poder Popular and of the Coordinadora Indigena del Poder Poular de Honduras, and was a member of Libre party and the resistance. He headed the struggle against the Tigre dam, and before and after the 2009 coup had been beaten up by repressive forces and had his journalist equipment destroyed and confiscated a few times when he worked with community radios. He left behind spouse Gladis, mum Mirtala, dad Candido, children, relatives, loved ones, and the Yance community.
On 26/1/14, at midday, in Intibucá, Copinh coordinator Berta Caceres was detained by police for an hour before she was freed. They stopped her when she was driving, at the turnoff to the Utopia social centre of Copinh – which does not usually have checkpoints. They asked to search her car without reason. They showed her a court issued capture order and arrested her, even though on 9/1/13 her and two compañeros who have court processes against them, received news that the cases of the company DESA with Intibucá DPP against them were provisionally dismissed. The three continue to await both written confirmation of this court decision and the complete dismissal of the cases against them. Meanwhile Copinh reports cyberattacks and other harrassment and militarisation.

On 26/1/14, in El Potrero, La Paz, it was reported that there are threats against the physical and emotional integrity of different compañeras and compañeros who since 5 December 2013 began a process to control territory and stopping machinery of Los Encinos hydroelectrical company and Aurora Company. The community is organised as Movimiento Indigena Lenca de la Paz – MILPA (cornfield). Milpa proclaimed that they are not occupying highways, because they are controlling territory which is indigenous territory. They protested the mayor for having allowed the companies, which planned to start work in December. Aurora company is of Gladys Aurora, current Nationalist MP.

On 30/1/14, a group sent by defacto Mayor José Socorro Sanchez Manueles threatening eviction tried to enter the council building which has since 25/1/14 been occupied by hundreds of organised community members of the Opalaca community. The community has been occupying to denounce that the ex mayor had continued in power fraudulently and sworn in his party’s members, taking power by buying credentials, blackmail, intimidation and aggression – in the past term Socorro had looked after interests of the hydroelectricity companies (Terra, Enersa, Rios Power, etc) that wanted to privatise rivers, and wanted to facilitate the privatisation of rivers for REDD+ projects, both opening the community to mining threats.

Nueva Esperanza on alert again from mining predators

On 29/1/14, the Nueva Esperanza community became on alert again after a period of rest from being under siege by Mining company La Victoria and Honduran police most of 2013, as a vehicle of Minerales Lempira of businessman Gustavo Urrutia entered the community. When community members interviewed car occupants, they identified as employees of Minerales Honduras Ore Company (that could be either another name of Minerales la Lempira or another company of Gustavo Urrutia). The car occupants gave as their names José Heriberto Rojas Zelaya, Wilson Eulalio Cruz, German Leonel Andino Pinto and Carlos Armando Tosta Cantarero. From the threats in 2013, Inter American Court of Human Rights ordered the Honduran government to provide protection measures for 18 people who are leaders and human rights defenders of or who work a lot with the community who had received grave threats because of their work in opposition to mining projects being developed there.

The judicial and policing system persecuting organised farmers

On 10/1/14, at 8am, 8 armed men with military uniform on a white Nissan Frontier, detained Gregorio Chavez movement leader Sergio Calix, outside his own home at the community Los Leones of Trujillo, Colon. They told Sergio he was under arrest without showing any capture orders, and took him to Trujillo police station where they said they would keep him for 6 hours. More than 7 hours later, he asked why they detained him, they said they had a capture order, for ‘land usurpation’.

On 30/1/14, it was the third day of a long trial against organised farmerChabelo Isabel Morales, who has been falsely accused of murder and illegally held prisoner now for over 5 years and 4 months. While it would be severely oppressive to be held without sentence for 2 years, that is the limit of the law. The trial progress with judges and prosecution ignoring that the key witness had given a false testimony, as this witness contradicted his own testimony and ended up confirming Chavelo’s testimony about what he did after the confrontation with landowner Osorto’s guards.

Threat to a journalist

Radio Journalist Marvin Ortiz received threatening twitter messages by current Education Minister Marlon Escoto including on after 27/1/13, that said, ‘I will go to look for you so you can comment on why you insult me and if I owe you something’, from twitter account @escoto_marlon. This was sent because on his program Marvin had questioned him on topics like free school fees, repression against organised teachers and about the court decision that nullified the legal move made by the education minister that would have been unfavourable to teachers.

Transgender sex worker killed

On 7/1/14, a transgender sex worker was found dead in San Pedro Sula – since the beginning of December 2013, 9 sex workers have been found dead in San Pedro Sula.

Criminalisation of watchdogs

On 31/1/14, Alianza por la Paz y Justicia coordinator Josúe Murillo, for their positiion and report critical of the weak police reform process by the authority responsible DIECP, was faced with an intimidating response showing intolerance by the head of DIECP Eduardo Villanueva, in summoning Josue Murillo to make an official declaration in court on the public statements Murillos made on 28/1/13 in an interview with Radio Cadena Voces about high police officials commissioning crimes.

Other News from January 2014

Anti-people decisions and laws made in people’s name this January 2014

  • Honduran congress approved Ley de Secretos Oficiales and Clasificacion de la Informacion, giving powers to classify and reserve information to the president, the national council of defence and security, the secretaries of state, and heads of state entities. Not only does this violate international human rights conventions, freedom of information rights, and make the department of freedom of information (IAIP) redundant, it also exposes journalists and media outlets to being charged for treason and sedition should they reveal information that is classified.
  • Reforms to the new teachers pension law Ley del Inprema was approved by the congress in December and is waiting for executive power approval – this reform would appropriate the finance of teachers of around $150 million, violates international union rights, and would be another move to privatise Inprema. Teachers previously had to contribute 8% to their superranuation, with the reform they would have to contribute 12%
  • Honduran government gave the concession to BG groups to explore for petrol over 35,000km² of the Mosquitia coast: British Gas Risks Fueling Dirty War in Killing Fields of Honduras by Michael Gillardhttp://www.spinwatch.org/index.php/issues/climate/item/5598-british-gas-risks-fueling-dirty-war-in-killing-fields-of-honduras, adjacent to which the EITI department is now negotiating with Chevron to explore 38,000 km² for petrol and natural gasThis ignores the history and reputation of Chevron for grave human rights and environmental violations, that have included assassinating activists http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowoto_v._Chevron_Corp., judicial persecution against activists, email espionage against activists, journalists and lawyers, oil spills and accidents http://brainz.org/15-deadliest-us-corporations/
  • Security Minister has stopped giving data on incidences and statistics of violence in Honduras to Observatorio de la Violencia, claiming that they will make a website in the future for people to access this information directly – in the meantime, while not giving any information or evidence, he is making claims that violence indices have reduced.
  • The majority of Mps with none opposing, just a few abstaining, approved the promotion of a high military police.

On the blinkers:

  • A report of an internal audit by CAO of World Bank/International Finance Corporation had come out showing World Bank’s complicity in financing a palm oil company Dinant, that is implicated in grave human rights violations including at least 40 assassinations, plus kidnappings and forced evictions against farmers, violating IFC policies to ‘protect local communities’. World Bank has a $30 million loan to Dinant that began 5 years ago, $15 million of which is still to be released. All the human rights violations have remained in impunity, and Dinant has declared no responsibility. Despite the report, the follow up actions announced by IFC seems like a joke – a plan of action that NGOs analysed as one that would not lead to any change – and IFC has said it will continue as it had been in supporting Dinant security guards and their contractor company of security services, and there is no talk of withholding the remaining $15 million. It shows how seriously IFC treats ‘protecting local communities’.
  • Honduras still the worst in violence, according to still rising homocide statistics. Its city San Pedro Sula has the highest homocide rates in 2013, at 187 homocides/100,000 inhabitants (followed by Caracas at 134/100,000 and Acapulco Mexico at 113/100,000). In 2010, San Pedro Sula came third, at 125/100,000. In 2011, it came first at 159/100,000. In 2012, first again, at 174/100,000. Human Rights Watch also highlighted the highest homocide rates, as well as that between 1/2011 and 11/2012, at least 149 civilians died at hands of the police, amongst whom 18 victims were under 19.

Talk of the powerholders

  • Honduran coup defending Cardenal Rodríguez spoke about the tax increases ‘El Paquetazo’, saying they were necessarily to deal with the crisis Honduras is getting into, and in a polite way pretty much gave the message of put up and shut up.
  • Juan Orlando Hernandez, known as JOH, who took possession as fraudulent defacto president of Honduras on 27/1/14, began making a series of statements about the Libre party (electoral arm of the resistance) saying some, without providing any names, are friends of the extorsionists, gangsters, and organised crime members, and that they should either change their behaviour or leave the country because prisones are ready waiting for them.

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More controversially, a few Libre leaders, led by Jorge Aldana, with Cesar Romero, Tavo Zelaya and Felix Sabio, went out after 27/1/14 to clean the grafitti of the resistance, made during the mobilisation of 271/14 – blatantly silencing the few spaces left for voices critical of the status quo

A snapshot of the resistance and solidarity in Honduras this January 2014

The resistance mobilised showing widespread opposition to the: paquetazo austerity measures, on 9 January, outside the congress… and on 27 January, when JOH fraudulently took possession as defacto president of Honduras – people filled the streets while the stadium where the ceremony took place was near empty, and all around the stadium was militarised, apparently to avoid attempts against the life of JOH.

Social movements tried to restructure and democratise Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular – that was formed since the 2009 coup. Their proposal prior to an assembly was for social organisation leaders Yony Rivas (MUCA) and Berta Caceres (Copinh) to become the coordinators for the year, and to change the structures to become less hierachical and more collective, and to create the 2014 plan of action, to create a timeline of assemblies towards this plan – at least 15 organisations put together this proposal. It was not to be, but the efforts and philosophy continue there within people who drive the social movements

More indigenous communities are organised in permanent resistance:

In El Potrero, Santa Elena La Paz, a community organised as MILPA (Movimiento Indígena Lenca de La Paz) began stopping machines of hydroelectric dam companies Los Encinos and Aurora from entering their territory. Their motto: ‘this is not a highway occupation, …this is territorial control inside of Indigenous lands…this land is ours.’ The river they protect is called Río Chinacla.

In San Francisco de Opalaca, the community held an assembly on 25/1/14, in Monte Verde, and since have been in permanent occupation at the council – 800 people from 35 communities. The council team they voted for does not correspond with who the ex and now continuing mayor José Socorro Sanchez Manueles had decided will be the new team. The 4 years of this council had been too much and the community is saying no more – to being on the side of companies privatising rivers Terra, Enersa, Rios Power, to pushing for privatising forests with REDD+ projects, to opening up to mining.

Gildan Activewear women workers organised in grassroots feminist struggle share about their struggles in this 5 minutes video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XloVNX7grFs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

And in Germany, an NGO coalition protested at the General Assembly of Siemens in Munich, against the particupation of Siemens in Agua Zarca project in Honduras in Rio Blanco, and in Belo Monte in Brazil, both with disturbing violations against human rights of mostly indigenous populations

December 2013 – Honduras coup/fraud update – more murders, higher living costs, worsened conditions, to welcome 2014…

Summary of political assassinations in December 2013

an unnamed youth of Anti-JOH ‘black shirts’ (antifraud) was assassinated on 1/12/13

journalist Juan Carlos Argenal was killed by hitmen on 7/12/13

Ex Libre candidate Graciela Suazo Solano was murdered on 7/12/13

Students, murdered and disappeared…

On 1/12/13, in Tegucigalpa, a young member of the Anti-JOH (Juan Orlando Hernandez – president by fraud from January 2014) – ‘black shirts’ – was reported to be assassinated – no more information was available.

On 12/12/13, university student in industrial engineering, Carlos Fernando Posadas Soto (19) was disappeared. He is also son of Dagoberto Posadas, president of the child protection workers union Sitrapani. He disappeared after seeing his father at a protest at the electoral commission TSE at 4.30pm, he was last seen wearing a maroon shirt, blue jeans, black sneakers, and black jumper.

Threats and an assassination against journalists

On 5/12/13, a close relative told Edgardo Castro, director of Globo TV program Latigo contra la Corrupcion and Cortes Libre Party coordinator, that an intelligence officer of the Lobo coup regime said that Edgardo will be killed with bullets and that he should take security measures. Edgardo receives threats daily on his mobile since his number is given out on air on TV on a Monday to Friday nightly program, but he ignores them, but this message worries him especially as the state has not made any protection guarantees for him despite giving that information. He believes this latest threat is related to him revealing that National Party parliamentarian Oscar Alvarez had put $30 million towards buying Libre MPs to vote for him as congress president, and is threatening and offering $8.5 million lempiras each.

On 7/12/13, at 6pm, radio and tv journalist Juan Carlos Argenal (43) was assassinated by a hired hitman with two gunshots in the head, his body left face down, on a big puddle of his own blood, wearing only pants and sandals. He is also the brother of Danli FNRP (resistance) coordinator Mario Argenal. He was a reporter for different radio and tv stations and owner of a local TV channels. He received threats for publishing acts of corruption at a local hospital. He is the 37th murdered journalist in 4 years.

On 11/12/13, in Namasigue, Choluteca, 5 armed men broke into the home of journalist Ariel de D’Vicente, by taking advantage of the moment when the domestic worker opened the gate – taking her by the hair to get inside. They started to yell, ‘where is Ariel?’ and when they did not find her, they beat up and tied up the two people inside by feet and hands. Ariel affirms that the attack was because she revealed on news about a case of the fraud of $2.5 million lempiras against a cooperative, and state investigative agents are implicated in this case.

On 12/12/13, in San Pedro Sula, human rights defender and journalist Yanina Romero of Centro de Derechos de la Mujer received death threats by text messages sent from the web platform of the TIGO Honduras company. The aggressor called himself ‘antifem’ and sent messages alluding to the work defending and promoting women’s rights. One of the messages said, ‘on the inside you are fragile and vulnerable… your self confidence will not stop the big storms that await you’. She finished broadcasting on Radio El Mundo at 7pm, and the messages began at 8.49pm. The same day she had also participated in the TV program of colleague Alfredo Bogran on insecurity and vulnerability of exercising journalism.

On 18/12/13, in Tegucigalpa, Tras la Verdad director of Radio Globo, Luis Galdamez read out a text message death threat against him warning they are going to kill him. The program is 9-10am Monday to Friday. He is an elected parliamentary of Libre party for 2014-2018.

On 31/12/13, in Tocoa, Colon, journalist Hector Antonio Madrid Vallecillo was finishing a new years eve special musical program when unknown persons fired shots at his car that was parked at the carpark in front of the Canal 35 building – they did not hear the gunshots when they were fired, just the bullets left encarved including on the drivers door. 9mm bullets were found. Hector never received threats in his 20 years of working as a journalists and does not know why he was attempted against. He is also a correspondent for Canal 10, and Mas Noticias de Colon, transmitted by Canal 35. This is in the Aguan region.

Libre politician murdered

On 7/12/13, in the night time, in Atlantida, ex Libre Candidate Graciela Suazo Solano was assassinated in colonia los Maestros in La Ceiba – she was a candidate for mayor of Brus Laguna. It was supposeably a robbery.

Political imprisionment, persecution and discrediting campaigns against organised farmers and those who accompany these

On 2/12/13, at the entrance of the Panama community in Trujillo, Carlos Ovidio Monge, Andres Lara and Mario Licona were driving a green car to Panama community to look for a car part sold by a community member there – Anibal Leon, when Xatruch operation members (at least 3 army commandos and police and head Alfaro Escalante detained these without any judicial order. They were accused of illegally carrying weapons, and of a supposed attempt against army officials. The three were held in Trujillo prison without bail. Their relatives demand their immediate release, asserting that they did not do what they were accused of.

On 2/12/13, at the Panama community in Trujillo, in the midnight hours, a Xatruch operation headed by German Alfaro Escalante accompanied by Miguel Facusse’s security guards hunted down Movimiento Campesino Refundacion Gregorio Chavez (that is involved in the recovery of the Paso Aguan farm) leaders – Santos Marcelo Torres and Leodan Cartagena Castillo.

On 3/12/13, in the afternoon, Xatruch operation soldiers detained Alexis Mirinda – another farmers leader, who was psychologically tortured to give information about the whereabouts of the farmers leaders (Santos Marcelo Torres and Leodan Cartagena Castillo).

Coronel German Alfaro made a statement that puts at risk the life of human rights defender Annie Bird who publishes information and articles as part of the organisation Rights Action based in North America. This forms part of his chain of press appearances where he launches attacks against farmers and human rights defenders organisations – amongst which are his persistent attacks against MUCA leaders Johny Rivas, Vitalino Alvarez and Juan Chinchilla.

Murdered lawyer

On 8/12/13, in Rio Blanquito, Choloma, in the midnight hours, lawyer Jose Enrique Reyes Coto (36) was killed by 3 unidentified people with firearms, without saying anything first, inside a business called Salon del Dia where a public party was happening. He was a candidate for a council position of Gustavo Mejia for the Libre Party. Gustavo Mejia said, ‘this guy was a tireless fighter. Two years ago he obtained his university degree and always tried his best. He comes from a humble family…’

Rio Blanco community continues under siege

On 8/12/13, an urgent alert was issued of new threat of armed aggression against Rio Blanco (community in permanent blockade of a highway against the construction of a hydroelectricity dam in their territory, since 1/4/13 that has been under heavy repression) – human rights observers witnessed the continued harrassment and direct police control against those opposed to the dam, following the latest massacre threat and police raid on 1/11/13 against La Tejera community. They also documented the impacts of the state of siege against the physical, emotional and psychological integrity in the children.

Freedom of movement restricted against people mobilising against the electoral fraud

On 1/12/13, in La Barca, a military checkpoint of around 10 police patrols and 100 soldiers stopped hired buses and private cars, retaining people including the journalists Edgardo Castro and Patricia Murillo from Tela, San Pedro Sula and El Progreso who were driving to Tegucigalpa to mobilise against the electoral fraud

December 2013. In whose name? Honduran congress legislates to increase living costs through taxes, to fix minimum increases to the minimum wage for the next three years

The deal with the taxes… The congress approved the Law of Tidying Finances, it legislated for the following tax increases: sales tax ISV by 3%, consumers tax of telecommunication services, mobile phone, cable tv, by 15%, internet tax increased by 12%, and previously energy consumers who consumed up to 150 kw a month received a subsidy – this was changed to be restricted to a subsidy of $6 a month for those who consume up to 75kw a month. Petrol will go up by 5.30 lempiras (more than 25 cents) a galon (vaguely said to be towards social and conservation programs – costs worn by whoever needs to catch a bus for example). There are also new taxes to alcohol.

The taxes are supposed to generate an income of $200 million towards the Honduran regime, another $600 million is supposed to be generated from state spending cuts and by the petrol tax. The industries exempt from these tax increases include the fast food and drinks industry, and beneficiaries of Ley de Incentivos al Turismo, state institutions, and importers of merchandises.

Minimum increases to the Minimum Wage… the increases are fixed to between merely 5 to 8% (depends on the number of employees in a company) a year for 2014, 2015 and 2016, said to be revised only if inflation at the end of 2014 or 2015 is more than 8% or less than 4%, ignoring that people are not coping with living costs.

Mojado and deportations – the story of too many Honduran families. Every 15 minutes, one Honduran travels to US without papers. Only 10% of Honduran who travel to the US manage to arrive. Around 50,000 Hondurans apply for US visas every year, of which, only 10,000 get approved. In 2013, between US and Mexico, over 70,000 Hondurans suffered deportations. Every 15 minutes also, a Honduran gets deported. Around 1.2 million Hondurans live in US with and without papers, but mostly without. Desperation.

More power to president and minister council? Who wants that? The congress does, so does the congress president who is the president elect by fraud, to begin in January 2014. So they approved it, after just one debate. The passed legislation is called ‘Measures to make efficient the public administration, improve services to the citizenry and strengthen the transparency of government’. This reforms the public administration law, contentious administration law, Administrative Proceedings Law, and Public Tendering Law. Under the changes, the president and ministers council can, if they wish, create a mixed government, and even suspend and modify state organs. For economic reasons, the president will be able to create, maintain or cut public services, and ‘take necessary measures’ to restructure, to ‘improve’. The reforms let the president to appoint secretaries without assigning determined offices, to designate authorities to develop special programs, to nominate persons to improve the efficiency of public administration, and to merge or remove a secretary created by law. Decisions of council of ministers will be secret, unless ordered otherwise by the president. In the state companies, staff work contracts could be snatched away, permanently or temporarily, if considered ‘unnecessary’.

Snapshots of resistance in Honduras this month

In Rio Blanco, constantly under grave threats of massacre by police, received several visits from groups of human rights defenders to accompany the community, including to finish the year..

From Atlantida, a fully packed bus left the communities fighting against mines at midnight, arrived in the capital city in the morning to protest the state corruption that had facilitated the persecution against environmental and community activists, and the concessions that are ruining lives of the communities

 

November 2013 – Honduras coup (and now electoral fraud) update

On 24/11/13, the presidential election happened again in Honduras.

Fraud was already written in the May 2011 Cartagena Agreement – a whitewashing instrument facilitated by the Colombian and Venezuelan presidents of that time, that in return for Zelaya’s return, swapped the advances in international relations, cooperation, Organisation of American States recognition – all blocks put in place because of the illegitimate coup regime and human rights violations and impunity – none of which ever got addressed and continue to be worse everyday. Fraud – announcing as the winner preferred by the elite rather than the voted for winner – was easier to pull of as a whitewash option.

Elections were sold as the only available exit from the crisis – the media made out presidential candidates as national heros who will fix everything, using discourse of dialogue, peace, and voice of church and referring to international validation.

Counting was never part of the plan in deciding the winner. TSE electoral commission announced it would give results just 1 hour and 40 minutes after the voting centres close.

Initially the counts were in favour of Libre candidate Xiomara Castro – Libre being the electoral arm of FNRP. Within an hour of Radio Globo announced that Xiomara Castro was winning at 7.44pm (by 6 points, 30.6% Libre, 25% National), TSE then announced at 8.35pm that JOH was winning. Channel 11 ended up announcing JOH won by 6 points. TSE prepared the ground to ensure monopoly and control on announcing results and winner, by trying to impose a pact on medias critical of the coup to not announce count progress before 7pm, though that were not to apply to TSE. TSE also called on international observers to not ‘divulge any results, or take sides…or watch at the tables’. In the end, TSE announced winner after counting 54% of votes. Final official announcements were: 34.19% (1,131,516 votes) for JOH, 28.83% (885,260 votes) for Castro

More signs of fraud:

  • Some of the dead voted, and some who were alive were recordedly dead and not given the right to vote – it had been known for sometime that this would repeat, but the electoral roll was not cleaned up – CESPAD documented at least 310 cases of dead persons on the roll.
  • Armed forces contracted (paying about $2 million to) Latin Com to interfere and hack transmissions of electoral results in favour of National Party. The two weeks job including calls interception, interference of radio and tv chains, alternation of submarine cable to influence communications, as the counting happens and in preparation for it. The same Latincom (US company) was contracted by Micheletti’s armed forces to obstaculise medias opposed to the coup in 2009.
  • Irregularities with ID cards and table representative credentials were detected including the National Party giving ID cards to salvadoreans living in border communities to vote for JOH, evidence of markets of table representative credentials and of lending of IDS
  • Votes were bought. The most blatant is the use by National Party of Bono 10,000 through its giving out of the cachureco prepaid discount card just before the election – it is a government program created and financed (loan) by international development banks in 2010, for women in extreme poverty to send their children to school everyday. The cards were given out with the presumption that cardholders vote for JOH – the back of the card identifies cardholders as National Party Sympathisers. There have also been reports of offers of employment in exchange for votes, and door-to-door vote buying offer – in Zacate Grande for example.
  • More than 800,000 – 12% of votes have been manipulated according to evidence and investigations by Libre members. They showed that of 14,593 counting documents (acts) representing 214,575 votes, 82,301 were falsely counted in favour of National, and others 55,720 that were meant to be fore Libre, 34,184 meant for PAC, 29,063 meant for Liberal, didn’t. Many acts transmitted by TSE did not match up with originals table representatives received in the numbers and signatures. Voting turnout average was 61%, but the sites where JOH won, there is an inflated ‘turnout’ of 70-85%. Of 14,583 acts, at least 2805 were not transmitted to parties nor published by TSE on website. 2134 other acts representing 883,140 votes went blank – they were sent for ‘special scrutiny’ and the ‘results summary’ appeared to be zero and could not be evaluated.
  • There are 3061 farmers of CNTC who could not vote because of pending legal actions/charges against them related to their participation in land struggle
  • Not to forget the context of 229 political assassinations recorded during the Lobo regime, 39 murders and 6 attempts against party political opposition – mostly of Libre, and the assassinations of Maria Pineda and Julio Araujo the night before the election.

Militarised election. To persecute, raid, intimidate, sow terror, and as part of his electoral campaign to provide ‘security’, JOH implemented Public Order Military Police in the major cities of Honduras. The military also occupied alternative medias critical of the coup and fraud in the midnight hours before the election.

Consequences of having Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) as the defacto president are increased militarisation and privatisation, accroding to expert Leticia Salomon, and promises of JOH himself and his track record. He promised to extend Public Order Military Police which has so far been active in raiding homes of activists, repressing protests and sowing terror in the cities. He also proposes to further privatise national goods and resources, in the name of supposeably generating 800,000 new jobs during his term. His track record as congress president? Propelling foundamental law of education (privatisation), law of promotion of development and reconversion of public debt (concessioning natural resources), and temporary and casualisation labour laws. He also promoted public private alliances, new mining law, antiterrorism law, communications intervention law, and when his model cities law was blocked by 4 judges because the law was unconstitutional, his party fired the judges and passed the law

While human rights organisations condemned the fraud, states and states’ organisations have pulled out white paintbrushes to say this 2013 election was all good. Reports that raised concerns and grave condemnations about the irregularities and violations in this election came from FIDH international human rights mission, International Union Mission of Electoral Observers and from observers of various grassroots organisations and networks.

OAS, EU reported the election was transparent – an Austrian observer complained that EU report did not reflect what EU observers presented. Even Nicaraguan President hurried to congratulate the ‘elected president of Honduras’ the next day.

And USA? US Embassy told everyone to recognise and accept TSE report – US Ambassador in Honduras Kubiske said US government financed 600,000 ID cards and ‘voters education’ (on how best to exercise one’s vote, weeks before the elections), in addition, TSE government officials have declared that they would ‘collate their data with the US Embassy before ‘giving definite results’. A visitor also came for this election from the US who was amongst the intellectual actors of the 2009 coup, Roberto Carmona – he directs ‘Fundacion Arcadia’, an office of CIA, which dedicates itself to preventing or bringing down more progressive governments of Latin America.

As predicted, under coup regime, the poor gets poorer, the gap gets bigger. A report was just released by Centre for Economic And Politics Research, showing that between 2006 and 2009, poverty in Honduras reduced by 7.7%, but since the coup, poverty increased by 13.2% and extreme poverty by 26.3%. The GINI index for inequality increased from 50% in 2009 to 59% in 2011 – the biggest increase in inequality relative to the region Honduras is in.

International Penal Court does not recognise Crimes Against Humanity in Honduras. It appears the end of impunity, and justice, would not be found in this channel, for the mass human rights violations that continue and gets worse, in Honduras, as the preliminary report given by International Penal Court was not in this direction.

POLITICAL PERSECUTION FROM NOVEMBER 2013

Tallies – death toll of political persecution under Lobo regime

Under Lobo, 229 political assassinations have been carried out, mostly by state security forces or death squads that are linked to the state or to Honduran elite, facilitated by the coup (source: Rights Action)

In the same period, at least 69 lawyers have been killed, Victor Rivera Garias being the 69th, killed on 21/11/13 (source: MADJ)

Summary of political murders this month of November 2013:

Organised farmers Maria Amparo Pineda Duarte – pictured below – and Julio Araujo of El Carbon and CNTC were murdered by hitmen on 23/11/13.

Organised farmer Gilberto Lara was assassinated and decapitated on 27/11/13.

Motorcyclists in resistance Antonio Ardon – pictured below –  and Eugenio Melgar Zavala were assassinated on 30/11/13

Against organised farmers, three assassinations and one continues to be held political prisoner

On 23/11/13, at 7.45pm, two men behind masks ambushed and blasted high caliber weapons, assassinated Cooperativa El Carbon president Maria Amparo Pineda Duarte and member Julio Araujo when they were walking home with Julio’s son Wilmer from polling training. The killers fled without stealing anything other than their lives. Maria had before made repeated complaints to Cantarranas and Talanga authorities that Fermin Portillo, a local large landowner and head of Cantarranas National Party – who had been in conflict with Carbon Cooperative for 16 years, was making death threats against her. The death threats escalated over them and he had threatened her with ‘eliminating them one by one’.

The MCA farmer and political prisoner since 5 years and 2 months ago, Chavelo Isabel Morales, was supposed to be released now having been held for a crime he did not commit, – the court has sent the case back to the lower court in Trujillo and ordered for Chavelo to be released during the trial, but it is delayed due to bureaucratic delays – the longer he waits inside prison the greater the risk to his life, because Henry Osorto, who used his influence and police connections to get the false conviction – has made attempts on Chavelo’s life in the past and has wanted him dead.

on 27/11/13, Gilberto Lara of the farmers group La Laguna was assassinated and decapitated in Santa Barbara – since the 2009 coup, over 103 compas belonging to the farmers federation CNTC have been assassinated.

Heavy repression against students mobilised against the electoral fraude – under Anti-Juan-Orlando-Hernandez (Anti JOH)

Anti JOH mobilised on campus in the cities. In Tegucigalpa:

On 26/11/13, at 1.50pm, antiriot police and even paramilitary hooded agents arrived on campus to evict with tanks, gases and batons, at 2.25pm, they repressed and gassed UNAH students together with Bessy Marin – Radio Globo and Globo TV journalist. They beat students savagely with sticks and kickings. Tanks entered in the uni disrespecting the autonomy of the university in which state security forces are not welcome. From this repression, 25 were injured and 18 were detained and their whereabouts were not known at time of the report. UNAH buildings were completely teargas (made in US) comtaminated. Injuries included student teacher Percy Garcia who has a right leg fracture from teargas bullet wound, Darcy Manuel Mejia whose leg break from beating with sticks of antiriot cops. Journalists of Globo TV and La Tribuna fainted. Another had a fractured knee.

On 27/11/13, a contingent of around 50 arrived but about 2pm an official ordered them to evict the students that were blocking the way. The conflict started when cops started to launch teargas bombs at the protesters making them move back, and also provoking stones to be thrown at the cops, with the confrontation lasting 2 hours after 2 hours of protest. Teargas smoke was so strong that even the police were affected and some had to move away to breathe. Water tank then arrived spraying students with chemical water. And police kept launching bombs and students throwing stones, up to 4pm. One student was wounded in the head. Others were hurt but didn’t need to go to hospital. Some police complained of being hurt from stones thrown at their legs, etc.

Assassinations of motorcyclists in resistance

On 30/11/13, Antonio Ardon was assassinated with 4 gunshots a block from his home in colonia Altos de Santa Rosa in Tegucigalpa. Antonio is a Libre activist and was part of the motorcyclists group that ride in the resistance mobilisations since 2009 – he is known as ‘Emo dos’ as his appearance is similar to well known and previously assassinated resistance activist known as Emo. He is described as pleasant and friendly. The same day, another member of the same motorcyclists in resistance group, Eugenio Melgar Zavala, was also assassinated.

Massacre threats by police, followings by death squad, etc against Rio Blanco community and organisers

– Rio Blanco has been blocking a road since 1/4/13 to prevent the installation of the imposing Agua Zarca hydroelectricity company opposed by the communities

On 1/11/13, armed police – some hooded – violently raided the Tejera indigenous community in Rio Blanco, when most of this community was in the cemetary burying the daughter of an elders council member. They forced open doors of homes of Francisco Sanchez Garcia, Marcelino Gonzalez, Ceferina Sanchez Garcia and Irene Gonzalez Gutierrez, in search for the indigenous council president, threatened to shoot at children and the elderly. They showed no order of invasion but announced that they have an order to kill, and warned that a Tegucigalpa contingent will come and carry out a massacre in the community. Video with English subtitle here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iis4kr54IJo&feature=youtu.be

On 6/11/13, Victor Fernandez, the lawyer following up on legal cases of Rio Blanco/Copinh for Berta Caceres, Aureliano Molina and Tomas Membreno, was driving home accompanied, when they were followed on the highway towards San Pedro Sula, up until Villanueva Cortes – a three hours journey, by a white double cabin 3.0 Toyota Hi-Lux without numberplates, which stayed behind them the whole time, and when they were passing through Santa Cruz, they used highbeams to ensure Victor and his companion knew they were being followed. Victor was coming home from a meeting on the Copinh cases. He is also victims to threats and charges for following up on charges on behalf of Locomapa and Atlantida communities struggling that have faced persecution for their struggles against mining companies, and in his capacity as coordinator of Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia.

On 8/11/13, Copinh activist under judicial persecution, Copinh activist Aureliano Molina Villanueva, was followed since Siguatepeque turnoff, while driving from Tegucigalpa towards La Esperanza. His followers were individuals in two cars without numberplates, both toyota hi-lux, 3.0, with tinted windows. One was white and another grey. They followed for 10 minutes and intermitently put on highbeams. Aureliano travelled to fulfil his bail condition of signing at the court every 15 days. This adds to the repeated death threats against Aureliano as well as other occasions of being followed in car but armed men, judicial persecution, and intimidation. He suspects his followers belong to the Agua Zarca hydroelectricity project.

Bertha Caceres reported death threats by national police also. She told Radio del Sur, ‘we reiterate our dignified position of self-determination and sovereignty, of what happens, whatever happens, whatever the costs, we keep standing as the people and do do that because we are not going to delegitimise the struggle of the communities organised in the struggles of Copinh, we are firmly in the struggle. She said they know of a plan that the foreign company and politicians have, to after the elections, remove copinh members alive or dead from Rio Blanco. She herself continues to face charges.

On 19/11/13, DESA employee and mayors’ relatives acted as paramilitary imposing an added checkpoint at Santa Ana village of Zacapa, Santa Barbara, to impede the movement of community members who need to go out to the hospital and for other basic needs, and to impede those who visit them including human rights delegations.

A beaten up journalist and militarisation and censorship against anticoup antifraud medias

On 4/11/13, Nicaraguan photographer and correspondent in Honduras for Reuter, Jorge Salvador Cabrera Alfaro was beaten up by Hospital Escuela security guards at the parking lot, they first told him he can’t park where he regularly parks, then as he left his car they hit the car and when he confronted them about it, six guards beat him, grabbed and dragged him on the ground, and when he tried to get ready to defend himself, they beat him on the head and back with sticks, causing him grave injuries with a swollen arm that he could barely move, a lot of pain, and damages to the camera too

On 21/11/13, as the election was approaching, Radio Globo, TV Globo and Cholusat Sur – alternative media critical of the coup regimes, spoke up about censorship against them, – having been called by the electoral commission TSE to sign a ‘moral protocol’ prior to the elections to commit to not transmitting information on the day of the election – they did not sign. Radio Globo also raised that there has been interventions and cutting offs to their signals in Lempira, Colon, El Paraiso, La Paz, Santa Barbara, according to reports from listeners.

In the midnight hours just before the election began on 24/11/13, heavily armed military hidden behind balaclavas occupied the antennas of Radio and TV Globo in Cantagallo, Francisco Morazan, as well as of Canal 11, Canal 13 (Hondured), Canal 36 (Cholusat Sur) – medias critical of the coup and fraude. Head of army General Osorio Canales said on telephone to David Romero of Radio Globo that the militarisation is in response to an order from electoral commission TSE to ‘provide protection to media transmission plants. Romero said, ‘We have not requested this (military) presence. They want to use this to pressure us and shut us up, but Radio Globo will be on the air, whatever it takes’

On 29/11/13 it was reported that there has been massive blackouts that have been uninterrupted since 24/11/13, with suspension of transmissions of cable and internet to Globo and Cholusat Sur and the radios, UNO, Progreso and others that denounce electoral fraud.

Threats against human rights defenders

On 5/11/13, a leaked alleged diplomatic cable, of a communication from the Honduran Ambassador in US to Lobo, showed government’s negative attitude towards the human rights defenders who participated in Inter American Human Rights Commission meetings and made press comments on human rights violations, corruption, impunity and persecution against political opposition of the Honduran regime. The cable said, ‘with the participation of Bertha Oliva and Victor Fernandez, it leaves proof of conspiration of NGOs and Hondurans against the electoral process in Honduras’. Oliva is coordinator of human rights organisation Cofadeh, and Fernandez the General Coordinator of Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia. Cofadeh staff have suffered from 5/11/13 verbal aggression and suspicious vehicles watching Cofadeh offices and following Bertha Oliva and other staff members.

On 13/11/13, at 5.30pm, after the vigil in memory of human rights defender Walter Trochez politically assassinated in 2009, unidentified men followed the youths of Apuvimeh (lgbti/HIV organisation) Frank Ortiz and Oscar Ortiz and hit and snatched their phones, the attackers told them it is because of their protest actions that they were attacked.

Electoral repression and persecution this November 2013

This is not a comprehensive report, but lists some of the more violent and intimidating cases. There were many other reports of bribery, militarisation, military impeding the work of observers, of blackouts, of voting centres closing early

Context – at least 16 libre activists murdered in the life of its campaign.

On 31/10/13, Libre candidate Beatriz Valle, met with general prosecutor Oscar Chinchilla and human rights organisations, on death threats from unknown sources she is receiving, and she was recommended by the group to leave the country for her safety. – she was a vice chanchellor in the Zelaya Rosales government before the coup.

On 6/11/13, 6.30pm, 15 people wearing DGIC (CIA/ASIO of Honduras) vests arrived running with small weapons in their hands, balaclavas over their faces, ambushed the campaign tent of the Libre party in Colonia La Fraternidad of Tegucigalpa – making the Libre committee members Dalia Pino, Yesenia Macoto, Yoselin Macoto, Nesly Maradiaga, Douglas Garcia and Josue David Elvir to put their hands in the air and put their backs against the wall of the home where the tent was set up, giving them death threats and taking their mobile phones, searching especially the phone of the collective president Josue David Elvir (31) – without explaining why, they deleted everything on his phone including the music. When Josue protested what they were doing, he was threatened by the woman of the group with a 9mm pistol, who told him to shut up unless he wanted to be shot by them. They continued going through the phones until they saw others were coming to see what was happening, at which point they returned the phones and left quickly, hopping onto a microbus. Then on 11/11/13, a woman parked and came out of a grey Toyota Corolla without numberplate and began to take photos of members of the tent and when confronted she began to yell.

On 8/11/13 in the afternoon, on the road, hitmen gave death threat against Bayron Martinez – coordinator of the Comision de Transporte of Colectivo No 1 of Colonia Lomas Las Minitas in Tegucigalpa, when he was dropping children home. Other Libre members are receiving death threats on mobiles.

About a week before the election, groups of military (army and plain clothes hooded men) arrived to the neighbourhoods of the homes of the women who are part of Las Chonas women’s movement and who have been participating in the electoral process and were going to be observers and representatives on electoral tables. The military were reported to have gone around collecting information about who and how many live in the houses. The women expressed that they always feel watched in their communities, by groups of hooded men in suspicious vehicles who take photos, watch the houses, in daytime and at night time.

Libre table representatives started receiving death threats early in the week. Many chose not to be table representatives after being threatened and libre table reprentatives had to be brought in from SPS.

On 22/11/13, at 7pm, four immigration agents of Yoro aggressively raided the halls of La Fragua Training Centre inside the buildings of a Jesuit radio team ERIC, saying they received a complaint that there were ‘Salvadoreans and gringos’ on site, demanding the electoral commission TSE accreditations for about 166 members of different organisations and countries who had come to Honduras as elections observers, including of La Voz de los de Abajo from Chicago US, Sister Cities from El Salvador, and others from Guatemala, Canada and Germany. A TSE workshop had ended just before for the international delegations. They also gave a summons for the delegations to appear to the Immigration Office.

It was reported by Mesa de Analisis sobre Violacion a Derechos Humanos en el Proceso Electoral Hondureno that different degrees of harrassment occurred against international observers in 9 hotels in Choluteca, 2 hotels in capital city, and in Intibuca and Rio Blanco.

On 22/11/13, at 10pm 3 patrols of military police (about 36 all up), all wearing balaclavas, tried to raid/break into the Libre office of Colonia Kennedy – they surrounded the building and two tried to open the door, they intimidated the 4 people who were there and were about to leave. They left as other party members and Radio Globo were told and began to arrive. In the meeting Libre members were putting together lists of people who would do shifts on the electoral tables.

On 22/11/13, at night heavily armed men went to Lempira communities of Quiscamote and Chintal to sow terror, and at the same time the armed presence was felt in San Bartolo and Gualcira, and witnesses said one of the two cars then went at 2.45am on 23/11/13 to drop the men in La Union at a home of a known leader of a coffee rancher who is very close to the presidential candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez – heavily armed men this night also went to surround the house of the Libre candidate Noah Alvarado.

On 23/11/13, about 10.45am, 6 hooded and armed plainclothes agents accompanied by three people wearing immigration T-shirts arrived in Hotel Suites Aurora in Tegucigalpa, demanding credentials of international electoral observers and accompaniers, and went to the reception asking about the people in the lobby and then asked for all international observers (who came from different Latin American countries) to go to the lobby where they were interrogated including about if they belonged to political parties and of any political affiliation and had about 20 of their passports checked. They took passports of two Brazilian international observers, and when questioned, they said, ‘because yes we can’, and threatened people saying that they could turn up to their rooms any time. Later, they returned the passports they stold to Karen Spring of Rights Action. One observer asked a soldier to identify himself, to which he said he was under the command of Manuel Escobar Mejia.

On 23/11/13, at 1.30am, 14 metro city police agents raided searched customers’ wallets in the restaurant of Libre activist Luis Alberto Cruz Rodas, separating men and women, and photographed two visitors from other countries – Suizos and Carlos Diaz – artist and social activist. The police came in a white double cabin pickup truck, no IDs, and 2 patrols, one was registered as MI-32. The police asked for the business permit, confiscated it and came back to return it hours later.

On 23/11/11 in night time, Libre party table delegates were b while driving in the El Carbon village in Cantarranas, Francisco Morazan. From the attack 2 people were bullet wounded who have not been identified at the time of the report – they returned from receiving their accreditations and are activists of the Cantarranas mayor Luis Alonso Reyes.

On 23/11/13,in El Paraiso, Copan, 100 armed men threatened 50 people who were to be representatives on electoral tables forcing them to stay inside a hotel, threatening these with burning if they leave to go to the tables. Another group heading to 10 voting centres initially were able to go but on the way there the road was blocked by two Prado SUVs with heavily armed men who went to stab the cars’ tyres with knives and threatened to kill anyone who tried to go to the voting centres.

On 24/11/13, Libre activist Yovany Reyes received threats from military police who were called in by national party activists there, and the El Chile neighbourhood was on this day completely militarised by military police and police.

On 24/11/13 heavy militarisation was reported in Bajo Aguan, Santa Barbara including of Nispero hydroelectricity dam, in the Cuiscamote and Chintal communities of Lempira, and in San Bartolo and Gualcira, at the Jesus Aguilar Paz institute in Tegucigalpa, at the El Reparto Escuela Republica de Chile voting centre…

On 24/11/13, employees of Morolica Mayor (national party, candidate for re-election) who owns the Okramor company – of okra plantation, who refused to go vote for him when he mobilised 120 to do just that, were forcefully rostered on a long day to stop them from voting – when the workers reacted by occupying company lands to prevent harvesting of okra by scab workers, the workers were dismissed. They demanded reinstatement and continued occupation but feared likely repression.

On 24/11/13, in the neighbourhood Nueva Esperanza in Tegucigalpa, young Denis Aguilar was attacked, kicked and spat on by twenty national party activists, when Denis asked the table delegates on table 9357 of the Tomas Alvarez Dolmo school to ‘sing out the votes’. When he asked the b there for help, they took him to the police station, where they threw him onto the floor grabbing and kicking him in front of the police head. ‘This is not fair what you are doing to me’ Denis said, and then they threatened to incriminate him, and Denis said they are not lawyers or judges and that the detention was illegal. They tried to take his papers but he refused. When he asked for names to the police head of the agents who attaked him, another group of police officers gave him apologies, he was freed after midnight when his relatives arrived. When he was released but he was warned against speaking up about this, and he anwered ‘you have violated a right of mine and I cannot keep quiet about this, I dont want this to happen again not to a countrymate or any foreigners’.

On 24/11/13, military gave death threat to a youth called Abil Caballero Juarez.

On 24/11/13, outside the Mercado San Pablo voting centre, hooded soldiers parked in front of the national party tent and hopped out of 3 of 4 vehicles – the other one had black tinted windows, and they posed in a ready to attack position, leaving after staying for a minute and apparently checking something.

On 24/11/13 five people were assassinated in Mosquitia at 6.30am by gunshots of armed persons who arrived in the Juan Francisco Bulnes community, 20 metres from voting centres. National party MP Maylo Wood announced this as an isolated event (despite famous massacres that have taken place in Mosquitia involving including DEA of US, and announced suspension of voting, but claiming that none of the killed persons were members of a political party, even though none of the victims were actually identified at that point while police waited for forensic medicine to arrive. Police said they are investigating to see if there are any relations with the 5/8/13 massacre in which at least another 5 died there

Snapshot of actions and solidarity in Honduras in November 2013

Weeks before the election, networks of social and grassroots movement met – amongst their proprosals was to work towards a self-convoked, original, grassroots and inclusive National Constituent Assembly. They are also working on alternative economic proposals to replace the capitalist neoliberal system to one based on solidarity and cooperation and respect for life and nature, on reclaiming public spaces, on popular education, on communitarian territorial defence, etc.

University students were fast to organise non-party-affiliated mobilisation against the electoral fraud – calling themselves Anti-JOH and ‘black shirts’ and defended themselves with stones as they faced severe repression from the military and police http://losangelescaminan.blogspot.com/2013/11/honduras-universitarios-protestan.html

 October 2013 Honduras military coup update

Now that we are reaching the end of Lobo’s coup regime, its election time again in November 2013. In these four years the elite have constantly held onto hegemony and whitewashed the coup using language of ‘peace, tranquility, and reconcilitation’. The election is equally their game, and their rules, their chance to further consolidate, and has a demobilising effect to their favour.

Sowing terror just before the election, the elite Public Order Military Police, legislated earlier this year, were on the streets from 14 October 2013. They are in the major cities of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula now. People report feeling terror from the militarisation, commenting on seeing these agents with their faces covered. The political persecution the military police undertakes has been immediately apparent with terrorising raids by their contingent into homes of leaders of the resistance and of LIBRE party. Congress president Juan Hernández announced his plans to reform the constitution to institutionalise the military police – to increase their powers, expand them so other city mayors who request them can have them, and to make them permanent, in the name of fighting insecurity.

Selling out the underground for crumbs, the Lobo regime gives to British Gas company, 35,000 square kms of La Mosquitia to explore over 4 to 6 years before a 20 years exploitation period for a mere $2.5 million without the required public tendering – Honduran Engineers Association Cimeqh assserted that through public tendering the contract would have been at least $100 million. Documents about the process are not publicly available and in meting out the contract, the regime has yet again violated indigenous right to prior, free and informed consent required by the signed ILO convention 169. The exploration region overlaps with SAM – a protected region of mesoamerican coral reef extending from Mexico to Honduras, yet the environmentalists who normally defend this area including against Garifuna people who fish there, had been silent on the concession. The risks are high with the vulnerability to climate change, to oil spill accidents (like with BP in Mexico) – given BG has had accidents too – in Elgin Platform. BG is also known for corruption (ref Kazakhstan), and environmental damages (refs Tarija Bolivia and Queensland Australia). Ofraneh’s call for a moratorium on gas exploration and exploitation was ignored last year. Now suddenly, there is talk of the regime giving the same exploitation concession to Chevron http://chevrontoxico.com/that they are negotiating 38,000 square kms.

There is a coup process against human rights and anticorruption prosecution departments through arbitrary transfers and remotions in the name of restructure – just months after having unconstitutionally elected the current General Prosecutor and AdjuntoProsecutors being remoted are five prosecutors who have been reopening investigations on cases of violations against human rights defenders, journalists, hospital medicine supplies and preparing charges against officials for corruption.

The regime failing to pay doctors but blames them for strikingAfter 8 days of doctors strikes, the regime ruled illegal the doctors strikes of over 600 specialists. The regime is behind by almost $4 million in the payment of 672 temp doctors who haven’t been paid since January, and, 111 retired doctors have not received their retirement payment – totalling around $10 million, at the same time that doctors are demanding a 6% increase that will cost about $7 million. Other professions of the health sector (eg nurses and other workers) are demanding the payment of occupational risk allowance, and unpaid salaries, and for the hospitals to have adequate medicine supplies to respond to needs and for overtime payment in the psychiatric centres.

The pre-election political persecution has been heavy also with assassinations by hitmen, raids and attacks by the new public order military police, death threats…

Summary of political assassinations in October 2013

Terensio Paz, a community activist towards community control and communication and in environmental defence, and subcoordinator of the local LIBRE (electoral arm of the resistance) campaign was assassinated by hitmen on 2/10

Manuel Murillo (32), camerapersn of Globo TV and Zelaya government’s official media cameraperson including capturing the execution of the coup, and MP LIBRE candidate, was assassinated by hitmen and his body found on 24/10

Eulalio Martínez (43), MUCA organised farmer and cooperative shop coordinator, was killed by hitmen on 17/10/13

Manuel Ochoa (48), MUCA organised farmer, was killed by hitmen on 21/10/13

Elvin Hernández, standby Libre MP candidate, was assassinated by hitmen, on 15/10/13

Continued repression against the Rio Blanco resistance against the dam

The indigenous Lenca struggle against Agua Zarca dam includes a highway blockade on Rio Blanco that started on 1/4/13. The repression suffered had been immense with state’s direct complicity with the company DESA – in July Tomás García was killed by soldiers firing gunshots as the protest arrived at the blockade, his son Allan wounded by the same gunshots. Weeks later, three Copinh leaders – Berta Caceres, Aureliano Molina, and Tomás Membreño – were meted a series of false charges and Berta has recently been refused bail and may be captured and imprisoned at any moment. Military and police operations in the territory continue as has permanent harrassment by DESA employees.

  • On 3/10/13, Copinh leader and human rights defender Aureliano Molina Villanueva was falsely accused of breaching his bail condition and threatened with imprisonment after he accompanied Nora Cortiñas – founder of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in Argentina – in going to Rio Blanco to a community ceremony. His bail condition was not going to ‘the scene of the crime’ – the false charges against him are illegal land seizure, coercion, and damages to the dam company. When the court recognised that he had not breached his bail condition, the bail was modified by judge Knight at the company’s request to include his prohibition to go to the surrounding communities of Rio Blanco – an unconstitutional prohibition, imposing an indigenous person to stay away from his own ancestral lands..
  • During the hearing at Santa Barbara Appeals Court against Berta of one of the false charges – illegal possession of arms – the judge shamelessly showed it is giving all the privilege and credibility to the testimonies of the Battalón de Ingeniero soldiers, and gave no chance to investigate who is the real owner of the planted weapon in the Copinh car, that is used as evidence to incriminate her without evidence. In addition, the court eviction order against the Rio Blanco protest continues to be current.

  • On 16/10/13, a massive Cobras squad was mobilised to the Rio Blanco community to evict the farmers. It was reported on 28/10/13 that they were still there and had been carrying out vehicle searches, harrassing national and international delegations, journalists and members of communities organised with Copinh. There are reports of death threats and interrogation about the trio withdished out at checkpoints.
  • To end the month, Honduran Business Council president Aline Flores made a press statement saying groups led by Bertha Caceres are impeding renewable energy development projects.

Killing and long intense persecution against resistance activists

  • On 2/10/13, heavily armed men firing gunshots assassinated Terensio Paz (38)resistance and community activist and subcoordinator of the LIBRE electoral campaign in Lempira. On 26/9/13, two men with their faces covered by motorcycle helmets with shields (supposeably tinted) on motorcycle waited for Terensio near the crematorium – a place that his attackers would have known he had to go past this day, but Terensio managed to escape on this occasion. Terensio was the Secretary of the Committee of Common Goods in Iguala, Lempira, that began an initiative of starting Taragual community radio, for which he was also the secretary. Terensio was also involved in those campacities struggles to protect rivers locally – with many local rivers concessioned for hydroelectricity dam projects. He leaves behind five children aged between 8 and 21, and his partner Ruth.
  • On 23/10/13, a contingent of dozens of the new military police together with undercover inspectors, a judge executor and sniffer dogs, raided the family home of resistance activist Edwin Espinal in the pretext of ‘looking for weapons and drugs’ under a order from judge Claudio Daniel Aguilar Elvir. The contingent forced the door open, ruined it, messed up the house completely in their search in which nothing was found, and were going to launch a grenade in there. Prior to that, the family had already abandoned the house, due to threats and persecution:
  • On 9/10/13, about 9am, a taxi driver arrived at Edwin’s home and passed a phone to mother – Edwin’s nephew and sister took the phone, to hear someone on the phone self identify as Cholo, as of a gang, with number 88297008, asking insistently for Edwin, claiming he sold drugs and has problems with Edwin. The family initially refused and the caller threatened to come and throw a grenade. He made many threats, and eventually the family gave Edwin’s number and returned the phone to the driver who said he had nothing to do with it, that another taxi drivver gave him the phone and asked him to take it there. Immediately, 88297008 buzzed Edwin’s phone. Edwin’s family decided to abandon the house, and sought assistance from the military that was occupying the soccerfield – from which, Coronel Hernández came with police and soldiers talking with them, they searched the family’s belongings, and then escorted them out of the area. Hernández also answered Edwin’s call from Cholo pretending to be Edwin. Edwin has been constantly persecutedsince the 2009 coup, apart from illegal captures, tortures, being followed and watched constantly, he lost his spouse Wendy Ávila in September 2009 to a teargas attack, and one of his friends was murdered in 2010 when he borrowed his motorcycle and was shot at by hitmen.

Human rights defenders

Hacking against the website of the human rights organisation Cofadeh, Defensores en Linea, was reported on 10/10/13.

A murder, and silencing, death threats, attempts, a raid, exile and immigration detention against journalists

  • On 10/10/13 in the morning, outside the Radio Globo radio station, 2 traffic police agents beat up José Luis Galdamez, Director of Radio Globo TV program ‘Tras la Verdad’ and LIBRE MP candidate, on the pretext of a traffic parking offence, and confiscated a pistol that was legally carried for personal safety. He was coming to work, and they approached him, confiscated his gun and his suitcase with personal papers and his mobile – they tried to capture him forcing him into the vehicle but he was freed thanks to the intervention of his colleagues. He has been subject to death threats and attempts since the coup.
  • On 16/10/13, in Choloma Cortés, police impeded journalists Rogelio Trejo (Choloma TV) and Alex Sabillón (Multicanal) – snatching at the camera of Rogelio who were covering a violent eviction against farmers of the cooperative ‘Altos de la Gloria’ in Choloma, police in under an hour destroyed the crops and make shift homes of the farmers, and dispersed the farmers and journalists with teargas.
  • On 24/10/13, cameraperson Manuel Murillo (32)‘s body was found, murdered, with 3 gunshots in the head, in a secluded location in a gated community in the capital city of Honduras. He worked for Globo TV, and was also a MP candidate for Libre. He was constantly under very serious threats and persecution, by police and military. The most serious was in February 2010, when he and another cameraperson were kidnapped and tortured by two police while working for Globo TV, in which the police demanded he handed over videos he recorded on the protests, and that if he didn’t, his family would be assassinated and he was also given death threats himself repeatedlyHe had told Cofadeh, ‘I fear for my life, this people keep looking for me, and my daughters and my mum are at risk, sometimes I can’t even sleep because there are too many cars and motorcycles driving pass in the midnight hours around my house that stay at the corner, sometimes I think that they are going to come in and harm us.’ He is the 36th journalist killed between 2003-2013, majority of whom since the coup in 2009. He was an exployee of Canal 8, who at the time of the coup, captured the assault of the army against Zelaya’s home. He always worked bravely, despite threats and torture. He leaves behind two children aged 9 and 7.

  • Sometimes during 14-21/10/13, the first week of the military police being on the street, the home of Dassaev Aguilar, ex correspondent of Telesur, was raided for unknown reason by military police.

  • On 25/10/13, exiling Honduran journalist Joel Durón Coca who travelled through Guatemala and Mexico and tried to crossed into the US via Tijuana, seeking asylum US after having attempted to in Guatemala but feeling unsafe therewas detained in San Diego US prison – he was freed on 31/10/13 and is now staying with family in the US, through pressure and support from Honduran journalist Selvin Martinez and local and international human rights organisations. On 17/7/13, Joel Coca suffered an attempt by 2 men – one armed with a pistol another with a whip, as he left his workplace, being a correspondent of Canal 11 and coordinator of the program ‘Más Noticias’ of Multi Cable in Puerto Cortés – he was beaten with the whip. From the attack, his arm, rib and two fingers were broken – and he was screamed at and told that they were going to kill him but that they were sent this time only to beat him up – but he heard the person who had the gun and did not shoot ended up dead later – Joel left Honduras in fear of his life and that of his family.

  • It was reported that Dina Meza, Fidelina Sandoval, amongst other community journalists, because of censorship and persecution, have chosen to exile from Honduras

  • On 29/10/13, the TV program ‘No se deje’ of journalist Adolfo Hernández that has been trasmitting for 6 years through Telered 21 was taken off air arbitrarily by the TV channel that is now owned by the mexican transnational Alba Visión – Adolfo exposed on this program corrupt politicians who made million dollar deals of pharmaceutical supplies companies with the state. He has lately received death threats, for the first time in his 30 years working as a journalist..

  • On 31/10/13, in the afternoon, journalist and press coordinator of Hable Como Hable (HCH) Ariela Cáceres, when she was participating in the TV program, she received death threats by text message that she chose to ignore, having gotten used to that being part of her journalist job, but when she left her house and found strangers in her car, not knowing if it was a robbery or had something to do with the threats, she became more worried about the death threats. She noticed other suspicious events in the last month that lead her to believe she could be in danger. HCH director Eduardo Maldonado is requesting that authorities provide her with protection as they had for her once before. Other HCH journalists have also been victims of attempts in the past.

Assassinations, violent evictions involving gunshots, and discrediting against organised farmers

  • On 17/10/13, about 9am, Santa Cruz de Yojoa police with Chineses company Monty brutally evicted, chasing the hundreds of farmers families out, including using live gunshots as they fled behing chased like animals into the mountain, the contingent destroyed 178 hectares of crops (of corn, beans, malanga, etc). The evicted farmers group which had worked on these lands since 2008 was organised as Unión y Esfuerzo, their spokes person said the police received bribes from the company, and that there was no court order for the eviction which was illegal.
  • On 17/10/13, in the morning, farmer Eulalio Martínez (43) of MUCA was assassinated by unidentified persons with two gunshots in the head when he was travelling to the Salamá community – he is the administrator of the MUCA corner shop of La Chile farmers cooperative. He also works on the land, and looked after his family, now leaving behind 5 children and his partner.

  • On 21/10/13, at 6.30pm, heavily armed hitmen on a motorcycle surprised and assassinated immediately with repeated gunshots MUCA farmer Manuel Ochoa (48), who was riding on a bicycle, in an area controlled by security guards of palm giant Miguel Facussé, in a region under complete vigilance by Xatruch Operation. He is the 112th organised farmer murdered in 4 years. Manuel belongs to the Los Laureles cooperative of the La Concepcion settlement in Tocoa. He was a farmer that got up every morning to work the land, he leaves behind 4 children and his spouse.

  • On 28/10/13, farmers organisations MUCA, MARCA, MCA, Mcrgc, Mocra, Aexbanh publicly complained the months-long campaign of Coronel German Alfaro Escalante of Xatruch operation to discredit and criminalise the leadership of MUCA, and also condemning actions Alfaro Escalante has taken including making bribes and economic proposals to farmers leaders, threats through phone calls, and false proposals of protection and development

Killing and disappearances by army in indigenous La Mosquitia, where getting there and away is only by air or on the water (can take days)

On 30/10/13 at 8am, in Belén La Mosquitia community, Brus Laguna, Gracias a Dios, a contingent of more than 70 from Xatruch Operation Army, under order of Coronel German Alfaro Escalante, suddenly arrived in a family home and without any words begun to fire repetitively live gunshots at Osbin Nahúm Caballero Santamaría who is currently disappeared together with his spouse Rosa Florinda Alvarenga Lara (20) and two little daughters Keylin Noeli Caballero Pérez (6) and Mesly Rosibel (2)Javier Castillo and Justo Castillo were there too and are disappeared also. Osbin’s mother María Digna Santamaría (45) received a call from Rosa Florinda at 8.30am telling her that the army came in helicopter and boats and that they shot against Osbin, and had forced him onto the military helicopter. She said that Rosa told her that Rosa and the daughters are being watched by the army and don’t know where they would be taken to, but affirmed that Osbin had been assassinated. She had not heard from Rosa again and she went to investigate going to the Trujillo Naval base, and to the commissioner of the Lempira Port Prison, but neither gave her any information. 24 hours after the disappearance, she went to the Human Rights Watch and Human Rights Commissioner of Colón and accused Coronel German Alfaro Escalante of the kidnapping and possible assassination and the disappearances. She said Osbin had on 25/10/13 received public threats through the media

Assassination against LIBRE candidate, and the detention by a suspicious checkpoint against a prominent LIBRE member

  • On 15/10/13, just before 6pm, Yoro Libre MP standby candidate (to candidate Mercedes Emilia Avila Panchamé) Elvin Hernández was assassinated inside his home business – pawn shop and car tyres shop. In the same place, some time ago, he had suffered an attempt but excaped unharmed without knowing the motives of the attack.
  • On 31/10/13, at 9.30am, Bishop Luis Alfonso Santos was driving when he was stopped and detained for two and a half hours by a police ghost operation (headed by an agent with the surname of Lara, no accessible official records mention the operationtogether with the army – supposeably for not consenting to the searching of his car – 5 agents opened the car door, peopletried to intervene but it was hard because they made people leave/move on and they did not allow people to take photos and confiscated phones and deleted images before returning them where people have taken photos with their phones. As well as being a liberation theologist he is also a member of the Libre party. Seventeen minutes after they let him go, the checkpoint/operation dispersed, and it is not a highway there there was ever a checkpoint before, at the exit of Los Flores towards Lepaera..

Persecution against different organised workers fighting for their rights

  • On 10/10/13, during the midnight hours, the home of vicepresident of the sitrapani (child protection workers) union and social activist Marco Antonio Rodríguez, was illegally raided by military and police forces with complicity of a DPP prosecutor who ordered it without a legal process. His family including two underage children were at home – the whole family were forced and held onto the floor with their faces down and told that the security forces were searching for weapons – nothing was found.

  • On 11/10/13, armed men in a vehicle followed Pedro Elvir -Sitrapani member/leader, who was also driving on the capital city highway that surrounds the city. They suddenly crossed in front of him and gave him a death threat.

  • On 14/10/13, after 8 days of doctors’ strike, the regime declared the strike illegal, instead of addressing the reasons for the strike like temp doctors having worked without pay for many months or retiring doctors not being pay, let alone that the demand for 6% increase has not been responded to.

  • On 27/10/13, Education Minister Escoto made a resolution to arbitrarily and illegally dismiss Roberto Odoñez – principal of Instituto Vicente Cáceres high school, who belongs to the Copemh teachers union. He resolved not to pay his October salary, all this without letting him exercise his right to defence and appeal to disagree with what he is accused of. The school was also militarised with around 100 police and soldiers – see picture.

Quick snapshot of some of the organising happening in Honduras

Movimiento Morazanista Popular, a horizontalist political network mostly of young people managed to start renting a space they called ‘Casa morazanista del pueblo’ with voluntary monthly support by young people who are part of MMP, though collectively they are unable to sustain the place and are seeking donations to helpf furnish the house. They made a callout for old unwanted furnitures, kitchen utensils, mattresses, blankets, broomsticks and mops, books for the library, pencils, journals, etc – the address for someone who wants to visit is Bo El Centro, frente Parque López, La Esperanza, open 8.30-5, and phone number 97981267

At the end of the Indigenous and Black Peoples of Honduras Human Rights Watch workshop they held on Prior, Free and Informed Consent and Consultation this month, as well as making a number of demands for criminalisation against indigenous activists to stop, demanding for the CPLI (prior, free and informed consent) law that be written and driven by the peoples’ decision making processes to be approved, for investigation and justice for assassinations against indigenous peoples and for a number of laws and contracts passed to be annulled since they do not have CPLI of indigenous peoples, they self-convoked to develop a Summit of Territorial Uprisings.

September 2013 Honduras coup update – ‘SHUT UP OR BE LOCKED UP’

This month of September 2013 has been especially tainted by the growing threats of political imprisonment of social activists and human rights defenders

A summary (further info downwards) of some of those under this particular threat right now:

Bertha Caceres of Copinh – indigenous leader, has been active in the Rio Blanco hydroelectricity dam blockade that began 1/4/13, on the court mentions of 20/9/13 she was refused bail. The false charges against her: damages to company, carrying arms.

Lawyers Victor and Martín Fernández of MADJ – and Florida Tela regional community council leaders. The charges against the newly accused: damages to mining company La Victoria. Victor Fernández has also been representing the Copinh leaders defending them.

Magdalena Morales, of CNTC, supporter of the Agua Blanca Sur farmers occupation against sugar company Azunosa – has been charged since 27/7/13, her next hearing is on 26/10/13, a date in which the court may also refuse her bail and force her to be imprisoned before a judgement is made on her case. The false charges against her: land usurpation.

Continued blatantness – against the Rio Blanco dam blockade, more police gunshots, raid, capture..

A highway blockade of Rio Blanco that started 1 April 2013 against the companies DESA and Sinohydro that still keeps going despite severe repression, this month:

The state and company contingent played a different tactic to break down the resistance against the commercial dam – they created a ghost network of supposed indigenous regional community councils within Intibucá and Santa Bárbara, presided by José Héctor García Mejía, that each signed and consented to the dam and to militarisation, claiming to have had meetings on 3/9/13. They also mobilised a group that this month that gave death threats to Copinh members and their families.

On 5/9/13, at 3am, police, without a capture order, broke the sleep of the La Tejera community in Rio Blanco, arriving, firing gunshotsinvaded Encarnación Méndez’s home and threatened the 14 family members including 6 children. Police turned the house upside down searching it, and stole mobile phones and hand torches. Then, police kidnapped and took to an unknown direction Desiderio Méndez, whom they threatened with torture in attempt to force words out of him. Desidero is someone who was shot at and who is amongst the witnesses on 15/7/13, when army assassinated Tomás Garcia and wounded his son.

On 12/9/13, a state security contingent surrounded people doing court solidarity at a two day hearing (including on bail) for falsely and baselessly charged Copinh activists and leaders – Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gomez and Aureliano Molina. During the lunch break, police arrested another Copinh member William Jacobo Rodríguez (who lives in Rio Blanco) and kept him in prison overnightand then released on bail and accused the following day by DESA and Sinohydro for threatening a DESA employee. When human rights defender Karen Mejía of Foro de Mujeres Por la Vida questioned them where Jacobo was kept, Officer Cárcomo and other police beat her up.

On 13/9/13, the bail hearing sentence for the Bertha Cáceres was adjourned for 20/9/13, while Tomás and Aureliano were given bail conditions of staying away from the supposed ‘crime scene’, to go to court every 15 days, and their lawyer to make sure they behave.

On 20/9/13, the court ruled to imprison Bertha Caceres while her court case continues  she was represented but absent this day and a capture order is expected to be carried out soon. An order was also made to evict the protest at Rio Blanco. If having capture hanging over her head is not bad enough, she has also been receiving death threats.

Death threats against one persecuted indigenous community opposing mining, and prison threats against leaders of another community opposing mining

In Locomapa, Yoro,

on 2/9/13, after the massacre and forced displacement against indigenous Tolupán leaders some days before (25/8) at a community stopping a mine, threats intensified.

Amongst those who fled because those who committed the massacre were looking and asking for him, José Maria Pineda and his family, found a note of threat at the gate of his mother’s home. The message said, ‘message for chepito and family: now you better prepare yourselves because the fire has been lit, since you have been not watched your mouth, we know where you are, but we are going to give it to you where it hurts most. You don’t know who you have messed with, so better prepare yourselves. We are warning you, giving you time, we don’t think before re go ahead and eliminate someone, you are worse than rats, good for nothing fuckers. Attentively, your enemies!’.

Another Locomapa Tolupán leader who had to flee and live in clandestinity and in fear, Consuelo Soto (woman, 44), spoke with digital news site Conexihon about life on the run away from her land. ‘it is not easy, ..I haven’t felt okay, it is not the same to be at your land as to be far from it, because, imagine, I can’t go to work. My home is closed up and my things are going missing. I would love to go home to my land, but at the same time I think that if I do, I would be going directly to die because those who committed the crime against the compas, they wander around in the indigenous communities…its not fair having to flee your own land, and that those who committed the crime, wander around freely.’

At La Nueva Esperanza, Tela,

On 13/9/13, while lawyer and coordinator of Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia Victor Fernández was away representing Bertha Cáceres and Tomás and Aureliano of Copinh, he learned that he himself and others now face similar charges for their activism against mining company La Victoria. The others charged are: his brother Martín Fernández, and the Florida Tela regional community council leaders. They are accused of intellectual authorship of a roadblock in the farmers community La Nueva Esperanza, for causing damages to La Victoria mining company. Victor and Martín are the community’s legal representatives and have placed charges against the company for acts of violence to intimidate residents to sell lands so the mining can take place. The charged persons are at risk, of imprisonment, and of violence by the directions of company and state actors in complicity.

Mass evictions, charges and court processes against farmers communities and their supporters

On 3/9/13, at San Isidro farm in Bajo Aguan, over 500 members of Xatruche operation and police converged from early in the morning and at 9.30am, evicted 160 families – MARCA farming families occupied and reclaimed land. It was a court ordered eviction in favour of Dinant palm oil company, in the context of a legal rollercoaster – MARCA lawyer Antonio Trejo won in the courts on 29/6/12 these and other lands showing the MARCA farmers were the legitimate owners of these lands, before Trejo was illegally arrested on 21/8/12 with 25 other farmers at a protest that demanded that this court decision be respected, and before Trejo was then assassinated on 22/9/12. Dinant denied responsibility. Days after Trejo’s murder the court ruled in favour of Dinant. Trejo’s brother also killed months later.

On 19/9/13, in Santa Cruz de Yojoa, army, police, and plain-clothes investigative agents arriving in two buses – AAL1425, violently evicted using teargases 102 families, and farmers Zoila Mejia (70) and Yovany López (60) were disappeared in the one-way teargas skirmish. The contingent also destroyed around 260 acres of corn crops, 175 of beans, 105 of cassava and 35 of malanga. The evicted farmers are of Movimiento Campesino Unión y Esfuerza, in las casitas community. The movement occupies land on 800 hetares of land since 2008. They were violently evicted previously on 25/6/10 with 227 acres of crops destroyed and 53 farmers charged for their land struggle who are still on bail signing at the court one day every week.

On 30/9/13, in El Progreso, Magdalena Morales had court, her hearing is adjourned to 26/10/13, there is a request to not allow her to have bail while her hearings continue. Magdalena was captured on 27/7/13 in the Central Nacional de Trabajadores del Campo office – a farmers federation where she is the General Secretary, charged with land usurpation, because she supports the land recovery movement of Agua Blanca Sur of 1200 families against the sugar company Azunosa and the multinationals Cervecería Hondureña and Sabmiller – companies that have contracts with the Honduran state that expired in 2005. Risk of imprisonment during the hearing process continues.

On 11//9/13, it was raised that 36 community activists involved in land disputes in Zacate Grande – south of Honduras, continue to face invented judicial charges. Amongst these, Faustino and Santo Hernández of Playa Blanca, charged with land usurpation by supposed landowner Edilberto Cruz, were summoned by Relleno police on 1/9/13 to appear on 4/9/13 in Nacaome prosecution for a hearing. Another, Juan Ángel, Adepza member charged with robbery, has been in jail since 22/1/13 while the hearings continue, with bail offers that went up from $1,500 to $3,250, each time refused, with judge Miguel Funes Canales justifying the refusal pointing to the recent Crimes Act reform that names robbery as one of 19 gravest crimes. Over 800 families are at risk of eviction from their lands, without any guarantees from the state.

More death threats and a killing against lawyers

Lawyer and ex supreme court judge Ibis Discua Barillas received increasing death threats and had to exile, in the context of having spoken up against the illegality of the selection of prosecutors including of the new general prosecutor, with the election of new prosecution authorities.

On 17/9/13, at 5.30pm in San Pedro Sula, criminal lawyer Dinia Mercedes Acosta (43) was intercepted and assassinated by at least 3 hitmen, who came out, fired gunshots at her, and checked that she was dead before fleeing. When her family was asked if she had received death threats, they did not want to give more information. She is the 67th lawyer killed since 2010.

Labour and union rights violations and death threat

Banana workers of Las Tres Hermanas company, that supplies to Chiquita, complained that they faced sanctions, unjustified transfers and suspensions of up to 8 days, for their affiliation with the banana industry workers’ union SITRAINBA. Las Tres Hermanas refused to recognise SITRAINBA, refuses to enter into collective bargaining, and created a paralel union to divide workers and isolate SITRAINBA. As well as labour and union rights violations the undue use of agrotoxics during aerial fumigation is also reported. Despite violations of norms of sustainable agriculture, it receives certification from the Rainforest Alliance.

Death threats (annonymous) have faced Victor Crespogeneral secretary of Sindicato Gremialle de Trabajadores del Muelle (SGTM) – dock workers union – since SGTM has requested a collective bargaining agreement with the new operations of the Cortes port, ICTSI – international Container Terminal Services.

SNAPSHOT OF SOLIDARITY AND RESISTANCE THIS MONTH

Court solidarity and local, national and international solidarity especially against the imprisonment of Bertha Cáceres – increasingly also others in the same situation – has been massive and continues. A link for one of several international campaigns is here: http://action.foei.org/page/speakout/libertad-para-berta-c-ceres?js=false – this one being of Friends of the Earth International. Amnesty International confirmed that if Bertha, Tomás or Aureliano are jailed, they would be prisoners of conscience.

Strike! Like in El Salvador and Panamá, Honduran doctors, nurses and health care workers are taking industrial action. Those demanding simply to be paid, with Honduras not paying its public employees on time at all – 350 workers of Ministerio de Salud have not been paid since last October. 700 temp doctors are owed over $3.5 million altogether. The Honduran doctors union CMH has threatened to stop work in all hospitals nationally. Combative nurses of ANEEAH union on 17/9/13 stopped the hospitals Leonardo Martínez and Mario Rivas, with demands for agreements to be fulfilled, empty positions to be filled, pensions and health insurance to be paid, and for new nursing appointments to be recognised as technicians and not assistants.

News Shorts From September 2013

Whitewash information sessions by BG Group and Honduran authorities. Information sessions were held with MASTA ethnic group representatives and government authorities, as signing looms close for 4 years of petrol exploration at the Mosquitia coast. BG Group spokesperson Hepburn claimed that at this stage as explorations will involve planes and boats and not drilling, environmental damages will be minimal. There are also apparent agreements of social projects funded by the company during the exploration stage.

New fishing law approved by congress – Garífuna fishers have not seen the final version. Apart from violating indigenous communities consultation obligations under ILO Convention 169, article 52 of this reformed law opens up 3 coastal miles to industrial fishing in an area that was a needed sanctuary for subsistence and small fishers, and that is part of the water territory of the Garífuna communities. Article 12 of the new law distorts rights to consultation, by limiting consultation to organisations listed in the National Register of Fishers and Aquaculture (RNPA), leaving most fishers in the dark.

And, US journalist Jeremy Bigwood links coups in Latin America with Miami coup network:

http://www.andes.info.ec/es/node/23187http://www.andes.info.ec/es/node/23187

COUP SUMMARY August 2013 – the struggles in Honduras continue despite the massive-as-always repression

A summary of political murders in August 2013:

From the indigenous Tolupan community, Montaña de la Flor, that holds an occupation against a mining company in defence of the forests, hitmen assassinated Maria Enriqueta Matute, Armando Funez Medina and Ricardo Soto Funez, on 25/8/13.

In Bajo Aguan, organised MUCA farmer Melvin Amaya was kidnapped and assassinated by hitmen on 6/8/13.

Farmer occupier at Agua Blanca Sur against Azunosa, Felix Corea, was deliberated run over and killed by Azunosa truck, on 10/8/13

Student activist Lenin Bladimir Dubon was assassinated by supposed robbers on 6/8/13.

Attacks against indigenous communities…

New charges and continued threats against anti-dam activists

At Rio Blanco, where highway occupations have continued against Agua Zarca hydroelectricity dam project since 1 April 2013 despite heavy repression including murder, attempt, charges and violente evictions, new charges have been placed against indigenous Copinh leaders Berta Caceres, Aureliano Molina and Tomás Membreño for inciting communities and provoking damages against DESA hydroelectricity company, of $3,359,263. There have also been knowledge of meetings between high state powers with high military commands with owners and executives of the companies, strategising to dismantle Copinh and the blockade.

A massacre…

Little is known, except that in the remote Mosquitia region, on 6/8/13, 17 people, including some foreigners, were killed. Some sources say these also included women and children.

Murders and continued threats, against indigenous communities fighting mine companies

On 5/8/13, in la Nueva Esperanza, Tela, Atlántida, threats and harrassment continued against small landowners, by a group of hitmen led by Wilfredo Fúnez – representative of mining company of Lenir Peréz, forcing Concepción and her family to leave. Other human rights defenders who received threats previously reported further threats this month.

On 25/8/13, in an indigenous Tolupan community called Montaña de la Flor, in Yoro, Locomapa, supposed mining company hitmen assassinated participants of a peaceful occupation against the installation of the mine – Maria Enriqueta Matute (about 60) (San Francisco Campos community), Armando Funez Medina (Las Brisas community) and Ricardo Soto Fúnez (of Cabeza de Vaca N.1 community). Other activists in the community – Ramón Santiago Matute, Consuelo Soto and José Maria Pineda are in grave danger and have been obligated to leave the region. The mining companies are pushing ahead ignoring and literally shooting down community opposition. No environmental impact studies have been carried out. Just days before the murders, 8 members of these communities have been accused and charged for defending the forest over 4 years against the illegal mining. The community has complained of harrassment previously many times, and they point to Selvin Fúnez Matute and Carlos Matute as responsible for the crime – who continue to roam around in impunity, intimidating everyone and searching for all the other indigenous leaders.

Assassinations against organised farmers, and death threat and house arrest

On 6/8/13, at 8.30pm, organised MUCA farmer Melvin Amaya (23) was out doing personal errands in nearby communities when he was kidnapped by hitmen, taken to the Salamá community near Tocoa in Bajo Aguan (palm plantations) where he was assassinated with 3 gunshots in the face. He belongs to Nueva Confianza MUCA cooperative.

On 10/8/13, in El Progreso, Felix Corea was deliberately run over by a truck without numberplates – that according to witnesses was a truck of the sugar company Azunosa. The same truck took him to hospital, but he died before he could be seen by doctors. Felix belongs to CNTC farmers organisation and an occupation against Azunosa, at Agua Blanca Sur. From the same occupation, it was recently known that Felix Torres has been under house arrest and continues to be, since 30/6/13.

Recent death threatagainst La Via Campesina leader Rafael Alegría have been reported.

Eviction against community near the city

On 23/8/13, at 5am, a contingent of police, and prosecutor arrived at the El Manzanal Comayaguela community, evicting a community with around 300 children, elderly persons, 80 women, some pregnant and others who recently gave birth. The contingent demolished homes and wounded and hospitalised women and men. The community has occupied for over 20 years and is in a legalisation process, and a commitment was signed by Lobo, despite of which, the eviction took place. The evicted community take refuge in make-shift tents of plastic sheets in the rainy weather.

Murder, kidnap and threats against student activists and youths

On 6/8/13, in the afternoon at a bus stop, student activist Lenin Bladimir Dubon (21) had his bag grapped and was assassinated in San Pedro Sula at night, he died in emergency, possibly due to hospital negligence as the hospital ran out of rehydration salts and his dad was sent to get some to stabilise him, and he died while his father was outside buying the salts. Lenin organised students to struggle for freedom and justice and as part of the resistance and towards participative democracy. He was a computers teacher, studied systems engineering at UNAH VS. When in high school, JTR, he was involved in a students occupation of the school more than a year ago and they were taken photos and videos of.

On 8/8/13, LIBRE (political party of resistance) youth general secretary Darwin Barahona was kidnapped by armed men who waved their weapons in his face and threatened another youth leader who was with him. Darwin was released later.

Attack against leader of transgender community

On 8/9/13, Arely Victoria Gómez Cruz – transgender activist and resistance member, was attacked – robbed of her belongings including her shoes and jewellery, after leaving an event sponsored by the government’s Secretariat for Justice and Human Rights – a hate crime motivated by her sexual identity, and possibly for her political activism. She was a precandidate in the Libre party primaries who did not win a slot in the final round.

Factory workers dismissed

11 workers (women) were dismissed from maquila Hanes Choloma HBI. They had medical certificates of IHSS for occupational injuries, and were subsequently inhumanely dismissed

Members of the ‘justice system’ assassinated and attempted against

On 12/8/13, Luis Javier Santos was attempted against, currently in his new role as the Coordinator of Prosecution against Corruption, 5 years ago he was attempted against and threatened and exiled

On 19/8/13, the special forces police Ruben Rolando Mendez Montenegro in charge of investigating attempts against the jousnalist Jose Luis Galdamez Alvarez and his family, was assassinated with gunshots by unknown persons in the capital city. The journalist is anti-coup and exposes businessmen critically. He said he met the police on different occassions on which the police filled him in on the progress of the investigations. Ruben is a police delegate to the granted cautionary measures by IACHR to protect Galdamez and family.

Gunshot at a resistance protest

On 15/8/13, in the afternoon, during a resistance mobilisation, an unknown person opened the window from inside a toyota van PCV7836, pointed and fired a gunshot in the direction of protesters in the mobilisation. Despite this, no deaths or wounds were reported, and the authoriities have not identified the attacker. The resistance protest was against a law to concession natural resources to pay public debt.

NEWS BRIEFS August 2013

Dodgy international organisations supporting companies in Honduras that give death threats

to and sometimes kill those who oppose the projects

  • Different farming and indigenous communities opposing mining and dam companies and living with death threats, asked World Bank, which funds the industry, to stop the funding – but World Bank said the mining projects will not be stopped. The people who attended including members of MADJ, Copinh, MUCA, Proah, a priest, and Nueva Esperanza community members. World Bank only promised to bring to their superiors the complaints.
  • RSPO, Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil, a group of organisations rubberstamping and whitewashing, giving many palm oil industries the ‘sustainable palm oil’ stamp, held its 4th conference in Honduras. Friends of the Earth International criticised RSPO certification as a whitewashing act for these industries, that promotes palm oil expansion, and is detrimental to tropical forests and people who looked after the forests. Amongst the organisations of RSPO, perhaps shockingly, is WWF (also, Funderm, SNW and Solidaridad). Amongst the sponsors of the conference in Honduras is Dinant company of Miguel Facussé – who is the richest in Honduras, supported and benefited from the 2009 coup, linked to drug trafficking, and accused of the targetted killing of over 88 members since the coup, of members of farmers organisations in Bajo Aguan – one of the main palm producing regions in Honduras. In Honduras over 300,000 farming families have no access to land.Nationally, over 1081 organised farmers face legal processes against them for ‘land usurpation’

Watching the acts of the Honduran congress this month:

  • Congress unconstitutionally reformed the law on replacing the General Prosecutor and second-in-charge and the replacements decided on, despite protests about this being manipulation of keeping control by current party-in-power. The holders of these positions were suspended in April, and they subsequently resigned and did not finish their four year term that was due to finish in March 2014. The Prosecutors Department Law article 18 says the process is for the prosecutors director to fill in until the end of the current term, and normal appointment procedures would follow with the new congress-in-power. Instead, the congress has nominated an intervention junta that decided on full term appointments (instead of until the end of the current term), naming Oscar Chinchilla – president of constitutional court, who, voted in favour of the neocolonialist model cities law, as the new general prosecutor, and as his second-in-charge, Rigoberto Cuellar – Environmental and Natural resources minister – who signed off on countless mining and dam concessions without environmental impact studies or consent by indigenous communities, to the detriment of both.
  • Further regressive reforms by congress, this time to the Criminal Process Code, now no corruption crimes can carry jail terms. Curruption crimes examples – appropriation of public funds, fraud, abuse of authority and violation of official’s duties. In contrast, crimes like illicit association and terrorism, cannot even get bail.
  • Municipalisation of water is 3 months from being completed. Information and process is not transparent. In Honduras, municipalisation is not about autonomy for communities but a process to privatise. Frente Ciudadano por el Agua call for the decree and process to be abolished.

Snapshot of solidarity and activism in Honduras this August 2013

Thousands took the streets and marched, on 14th, in the 2 major cities Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, they went from their jobs to the congress, protesting against the law being passed, to pay public debt by concessioning out natural resources. This law is named Ley de Promocion del Desarrollo y de reconversion de Honduras. The same thousands were also there to protest the criminalisation of protest, and to protest the persecution and of threats against social and political leaders. The sell-out law was actually subsequently not ratified by the Lobo regime, although primarily out of fear of implications for the National Party’s re-election chances, with the next election around the corner.

Over 200 people from different communities in the municipality of San Isidro, Intibucá, of Movimiento Morazanista del Poder Popular, met up and formed grassroots collectives, on 24/8. They analysed the situation of the world, and of Honduras and of the region, and decided having a long term perspective was important for them, as is the building of participative and democratic processes. Decisions they made included to have popular education processes to nurture democratic leadership and collectives, amongst many others related to actions around gender equity, solidarity with sister communities, strategy, and environmental defence

The communities of La Nueva Esperanza and Rio Blanco both continued their struggles despite continued threats and persecution by the companies (mining and hydroelectricity) and by the police and military and the courts. Despite the severe repression causing including a death by soldier, the Rio Blanco blockade has faced, new communities around Rio Negro have declared they are organising to defend their rivers, inspired by the struggles of Rio Blanco.

A femininst and women’s summit was held, with over 200 women from 30 womens organisations and groups from around Honduras participating. They made a declaration that starts like this: we met here to read poetry, to debate, to question, to dance, to sing and laugh, to defy the fear that they impose on us as a life control policy, to propose new ideas and reinforce those we already practise around struggles, worries, hopes and common projects that nourish our diverse political questions as women and feminists… 

JULY 2013 – HONDURAS COUP UPDATE – INTENSIFIED POLITICAL PERSECUTION, ESPECIALLY AGAINST COMMUNITIES OPPOSING DAMS, MINES AND LIKE BUSINESSES..

Summary of political killings in July 2013:

Tomás Garcia of Copinh, participant of highway blockade against Agua Zarca dam, having had death threats, was assassinated by gunfire shots of the Honduran army, on 15/7.

Brother of MUCA farmer activist, Abel Israel Hernandez (26) was found killed, on 17/7.

Mireya Mendoza, judge who is Pro-Secretary of Association of Judges for Democracy, was assassinated on 24/7

Erwin Alexis Chamorro Ramírez, activist and garífuna youth of ODECO, was killed on 21/7

Journalist of Canal 13, Oscar Omar Cardona, was found dead on 13/7

Military gunfire assassination, militarisation, and public-private alliance in repression against the blockade opposing the installation of a hydroelectricity dam Agua Zarca at Rio Blanco

Repression has been ongoing since the blockade began on 1/4/13

On 15/7/13, in the morning, as community members were arriving at the blockade (day 106) at DESA and Sinohydro meeting, soldiers approached the gates and without saying anything and opened fire – many shots – assassinating Tomás Garcia of Copinh and gravely wounding his son (17) Allan Garcia Dominguez. The police present watched and did nothing. Tomás was amongst the persons known to have received death threats, he also was offered bribes of thousands of lempiras by the companies but he never sold out and always stood by his community. Allan was with his dad when his dad was killed and with the same army bullets, his chest was perforated and his lung affected. That night new military contingents moved towards the region from Zacapa, and more use of gunfire by these are feared, despite which, the community, under terror and grief, resolved to maintain the blockade.

Before the assassination, on the build up:

On 3/7/13, police made accusations against already judicially persecuted indigenous leader Berta Caceres of having incited violence, stating they heard gunshots at the cafeteria and company office the night before, that day two trucks full of heavily armed police and warned that more were coming.

On 4/7/13 further discrediting reports against the community appeared in Honduran medias, accusing the blockading community of burning infrastructure of the dam site (despite the impossiblity of such), using the term ‘terrorism’ in the reports.

On 5/7/13, the international delegation present reported militarisation, home invasions, harrassment, and death threats against including Tomás Garcia, Berta Caceres, Aureliano Molina, Francisco Javier Sanchez, and Lucio Sanchez. They saw Berta Caceres and other Copinh members ordered out of the car, searched and yelled at. They also witnessed police and army being fed and housed by dam companies and used the company cars.

On 12/7/13, it was known that one of the main engineers of Agua Zarca and other men (including employees of both DESA and Sinohydro) went to La Unión community in DESA company cars to meet with two known hitmen in the region to follow through with death threats they made.

On 14/7/13, 34 soldiers in addition to police arrived and militarised the blockade. Soldiers are from the First Battallion of Engineers – headed by a School of the Americas (Latin American mercenary school of the US) graduate. Prior to the blockade, there were no police or soldiers present in the area.

After the assassination: Further discrediting media reports continued, to frame that soldiers opened fire in ‘self-defence’ – falsely claiming they were attacked by protesters with weapons and machetes, and further made false accusations that Copinh members opposed to the project shot and killed the youth Cristian Anael Madrid Muñoz – a relative of a company employee, whose body was found hours after the military’s shooting.

Community leaders demand the immediate withdrawal of Sinohydro machinery, and the stopping of mliitary and judicial persecution against leaders and communities. The hydroelectricity dam project, facing sustained community protest and opposition, is still moving ahead in the name of clean energy! It is amongst projects that came from approval of General Law of Waters in December 2009, and concession of 47 rivers in September 2010, and 24 other such projects in July 2012.

Escalated threats, bribery, and now kidnapping of international human rights observers by mining company Alutech, with state complicity, at La Nueva Esperanza

On 20/7/13 at 5.30pm, Nueva Esperanza community villagers and El Zapote community were threatened and harrassed by Wilfredo Funez – an employee sent by Lenir Perez (son-in-law of infamous palm giant Miguel Facussé) accompanied by 2 armed men – to sell their properties because the mine wants to open there. This is in addition to constant phone calls by unknown persons, and fear that the company are calling on the dozen armed men who have for a month maintained a state of siege in the community. Many families had to flee and refuge in the mountains or elsewhere.

On 25/7/13 at Nueva Esperanza, human rights observers/volunteers Orlane Vidal (26) of France and Daniel Logmeier (25) of Switzerland of PROAH (Honduras Accompaniment Project, Friendship Office of the Americas) have for less than 24 hours been accompanying 42 families who have been under threat, intimidation and pressure to sell their properties to Alutech, when Alutech guards surrounded the family home Orlane and Daniel were inside. Orlane and Daniel came out to talk to the guards and saw that there were over 40 men armed with guns and machetes. Orlane and Daniel passed an hour trying to talk with these but the guards kidnapped /obligated Orlane and Daniel to go with them with pointed guns and walk half an hour, where they were then obligated at gunpoint to go inside a company car – inside was the Alutech employee Wilfredo Funes who harrassed the community, a likely company engineer, and some armed men in the backseat. They were taken to the Florida community bus station and released there 2 hours later, before which Orlane and Daniel were asked if they were communists, told they had no reason to be there and that they were disrupting the work of the mining company. Some men made sexual threats to Orlane. The men also went through Orlane’s and Daniel’s cameras and phones and deleted from these photos of mining company cars. Orlane and Daniel were warned not to complain, and that if they come back, the armed men will ‘disappear us in the forest and nobody will ever see us again’. While kidnapped, they sought information about who sent the armed men, from which the indirect but implicit response was that it was Lenir Perez.

When they got home, they answered a call from Wilfredo Funes saying, ‘the mere boss wants to talk to you’ to which they asked, ‘who? Lenir Perez?’ in response to which Wilfredo hung up. It was reported that in the region, journalists or human rights defenders get stopped and searched on checkpoints on the highways. In solidarity with those at la Nueva Esperanza – lives of families opposing the mines and remaining there are in danger – 250 human rights defenders from around Honduras and around the world are converging there, where 80 private guards are waiting.

Killing, Evictions, detentions and more on the contested palm plantations of Bajo Aguán

On 16/7/13, at 7.30am, a contingent of 180 of Xatruche Operation and police teargassed and evicted 98 farmers families of 28 de mayo occupying the San Martin community of Trujillo. The contingent beat and detained for over 12 hours the farmers Armando Sagastume (60), José Ángel Sagastume (54), and Derían Galingo (17), Rony Javier Ártica Ávila (18) and Orlando Andino Muñoz, who were freed at 9.30pm, with the bail condition of not going near the fields from which they have been evicted. 5 children aged 2 to 5 were teargas affected.

On 17/7/13, at 7.30pm, Abel Israel Hernández (26) was found assassinated (likely the night before) with two bullet wounds on his face, in the Salamá community. He is the brother of a MUCA farmers movement member who is part of La Aurora settlement.

On 23/7/13, at 3.30pm, at Panamá community, Xatruch operation members and police violently and forcefully home invaded without a judicial order, against Elda Yamileth Erazo and her 2 year old daughter Claudia Yamileth Leon, threatening them with detention if they did not cooperate. The destroyed their home belongings and stole $500 of their hard earned savings. Elda’s spouse, who was out at the time, is Francis Aníbal León, a leader of the Gregorio Chavez farmers movement. The Xatruch and police members were sneaky and entered through the Paso Aguan farms into the community to avoid detection by community members.

Militarisation, eviction, and capturing of a farmers leader, on sugar plantationsv Azunosa/SABMiller @El Progreso

On 2/7/13, at 6.30am, in Agua Blanca Sur, a contingent of over 400 heavily armed military, police and Azunosa sugar company guards evicted over 1000 families of the farmers movements ADCP and CNTC, for the 4th time this year. The contingent arrived with company machinery and destroyed homes, over 420 hectares of maiz, and another 280 hectares of cassava, plaintain, beans and vegetables, to replace with sugarcanes. 3644 hectares of land held by Azunosa was declared by state department INA state agrarian land, in 2012, on which farmers legally began occupation. Over 1000 set up camp at Agua Blanca Sur after the eviction despite continued presence of soldiers.

On 26/7/13, at midday, when CNTC leader Magdalena Morales (50) was facilitating a meeting at the CNTC office with at least 10 CNTC members, state investigative agents who arrived in a double cabin vehicle without numberplates driven by an Azunosa employee, captured Magdalena without showing any orders. She was charged with land usurpation, damages and prejudices to the state, and was kept overnight at Yoro police station and released the next day with bail conditions including to stay away from the land occupation site, and to sign at the courts every 15 days. This is not her first experience of persecution, for example, Magdalena was amongst farmers arrested on 15/8/12 at an Azunosa eviction.

Death threats, yet another killing, and a kidnap and beating against journalists speaking up

On 4/7/13, journalist Mario Castro of the program El Látigo Contra la Corrupción received several text messages from 99926688, that threatened him with, ‘the same will happen to you as what happened to your dear colleague…’ (Aníbal Barrow, Mario’s friend and colleague, was kidnapped and killed)

On 9/7/13, the same date that the body of the journalist Aníbal Barrow was found, journalist Eduardo Maldonado, owner of HCH channel, received a text threat from 9567 2668: ‘for this they kill these pendejos for sticking their noses in things that are none of their business’,

On 13/7/13, the body of Óscar Omar Cardona was found having been killed by gunshots, on the street in Miraflores, La Entrada Copán. Oscar worked as a producer for Canal 13, and his dad worked for the same, for the news programs

On 18/7/13, journalist Joel Coca of Canal 11 at Puerto Cortes was intercepted by unknown persons as he was leaving the channel where he works, and beaten with a wooden bat until he was left semiconscious, after he spoke up on air on topics that he believes affects the interests of his attackers. As they pushed him into the car he felt a beating in the back and heard the bat hit the car’s roof (instead of his head which he believes they aimed for).

Journalist of human rights media defensoresenlinea, Marvin Palacios reported receiving continued threats.

Judge of Association of Judges for Democracy assassinated, human rights prosecutor detained and threatened

On 10/7/13, Edy Tabora who works in human rights special prosecutorswas illegally and arbitrarily detained by police of Santa Rosa de Copán. Threats against him were also reported.

On 24/7/13, Mireya Mendoza Peña – member of the committee of Association of Judges for Democracy (and judge of El Progreso Sentencing Court), was assassinated. Mireya was an enthusiastic member of the AJD collective, as the Pro-Secretary.

Attempt against Libre (‘electoral arm’ of resistance) politicians

On 14/7/13, in Olancho, Santa Maria del Real, the Libre party building with a full meeting inside had shots fired at from a passing car – gravely wounding youth leader José Orlando Palacios Mayen (17), also inside were the mayor candidate, the MP candidate Miguel Navarro and understudy of Zelaya, Carlos Muñoz..

Repression against uni students

At 1pm on 23/7/13, students of the main UNAH (autonomous university of Honduras) campus in Tegucigalpa who occupied the road in front of the university, were repressed by police and army with indiscriminate and excessively fired tear gas bombs – so much that the police and military left when they ran out of teargas bombs. Students have been injured by having been hit by the bombs in their bodies and heads. One suffered an epilepsy attack amidst the skirmish and was forced onto a police patrol and deprived of needed medical attention by having been taken into custody. The protest was against the congress approval of Law of Higher Education (that privatises education).

Illegal forced displacement against villagers of Zacate Grande, by building a wall

On 9/7/13, villagers of Zacate Grande placed a formal complaint that a self-proclaimed landowner Heriberto Cruz is building a wall in the communities of Puerto Sierra and Playa Blanca, with arrangements with the judges, prosecutors and police already made, to force over 100 families to abandon their lands and crops.

Killing, terror and landgrabbing against Indigneous communities

On 21/7/13, the garífuna youth Erwin Alexis Chamorro Ramírez was assassinated in La Ceiba. Erwin is an activist and member of the Garífuna dance square of the ethnic development organisation ODECO

A general statement was made, that the Moskitia people organised in MASTA have continued to receive threats, resisting landgrabbing of untitled land, deforestation, etc, in relative isolation, living in areas reachable from other parts either through several days on boat, or quicker by helicopter.

NEWS from Honduran Congress

Neoliberal laws congress passed this July:

  • New Law of Municipalities: while decentralisation could be to democratising and towards self governing autonomous communities with participative structures, in Honduras, whenever municipalisation is used it has meant transferring state responsibilities to an authority without then also trasnferring needed resources. Under this law the mayor is empowered to make decisions without other council members about contracts with other entities including the selling out/privatisation of its functions – for which it is not given adequate resources to carry out. The law also facilitates alliances and contracts with the council, to provide another mechanism to facilitate model cities. It also abolishes legislation for open meetings.
  • Law of reconversation of public debt with unused natural resources: this involves creating mechanisms for concessions that endure 20 years to be made, quantifying the submitting and exploitation of common goods such as forests, rivers, etc, over 20 years – the titles of which to be converted into/sold as bonds, sold to the highest bidder, towards paying public debt and interests charged to the state. Finance Minister Cerrato said he has met already with Canadian, Peruvian and Chinese investors interested in investing in hydro and thermic energy and mining exploitation.

Neoliberal bill in discussion in congress this July:

Bill: New Law of Higher Education: the public autonomous university always had exclusivity in organising, directing and developing higher and professional education and the funding for the same – if approved, both the funding and decision making will be opened up to private universities, leading including to privatisation, and UNAH medical science students will finish as graduates rather than doctors. This bill presented by UNAH is almost the same as the one drafted by the National Association of Private Universities in 2011, and UNAH privatisation is amongst the IMF demands.

Human rights in Honduras?

Honduran human rights expert Bertha Oliva warned that what happened in Rio Blanco – an attack by army with firearms against a peaceful protest that killed at least one protester – is no incidental but part of a strategy to implement what is left of social movements, as the November elections are approaching. Meanwhile, representing the army, General Osorio Canales tries to make everyone believe that the officer shot his gun out of self-defence because his victim had a machete in his hand.

Moving to the Bajo Aguán region, head of the Xatruch military operation there dared declare that from November 2012 to date, that there has been no bloodshed in the Colón province, when in fact, 16 have been killed, and are in impunity.

The defacto president Lobo, on the other hand, is quoted to have said on his facebook that human rights defenders are making his job of fighting violence difficult, for opposing his bills to create harsher penalties in the criminal code.

And for something that looks like a joke, but isn’t, over 1000 religious tourists came from US to Honduras, to ‘pray, so in Honduras, the violence stops’. One of the Honduran protest songs goes, ‘no, no no, no basta rezar, falta muchas cosas para conseguir la paz!’.

A GLIMPSE AT SOLIDARITY, IN, WITH, AND FROM HONDURAS…… THIS JULY

The Rio Blanco highway blockade against the dam has gone for 4 months, and still remains, despite an assassination now by the army..

Resistance against the mine of Lenir Perez, son-in-law of palm giant/murderer Miguel Facussé, also keeps going despite really serious threats to everyone involved in La Nueva Esperanza

Farmers land occupations continue against palm and sugar giants.

Over 600 teachers are re-mobilising and re-organising after a long break from the streets. School and uni students putting up fights too.

So much, and even, a solidarity letter from Honduran comrades, with Sydney Uni arrestees this year, see the beautiful letter here and in Honi Soit:

http://indymedia.org.au/2013/07/15/letter-from-honduras-of-demandsolidarity-against-repression-at-syd-uni

4 years is too long of this bloody military coup, – a crew in Sydney said. Check out this crew’s solidarity action – article and video here:

http://indymedia.org.au/2013/07/19/honduras-in-australia-without-borders-honduras-en-australia-sin-fronteras

The struggles to re-make this world has no borders.

June 2013, with now 4 years of military coup regime in Honduras…..

News Shorts from June 2013 – the mining bomb / model cities becoming more for real / etc

Mining – a bomb waiting to explode. Mining law and environmental destruction including of protected areas

A report from Forest Conservation Department has just been released affirming that the new mining law opens protected areas and national parks to mass mining concessions of iron oxide, with growing business interest to export iron oxide to China and Central America and 10 such projects about to start soon. The mining law is a bomb waiting to explode in the sense that it was approved in January, and has been on hold waiting for regulations to be created, before releasing 300 new mining concessions. Even the USAID director Seeley contradictorily expressed concerns about potential disasters that can be caused by allowing mining in protected areas and parks – this is not to say Seeley/USAID has good politics – he shamelessly advocates the commodification of protected areas and parks, suggesting capitalising these using carbon trading schemes or marketing these as touristic destinations. Meanwhile, in Atlántida, with current mining and hydroelectricity projects, a new earthquake of 5.3 magnitude was felt. Social organisations allege the construction of those mining and dam projects as the cause.

Regulations approved to progress ‘model cities’, plebiscites announced for two model cities concessions

Before, model cities were speculations. In January, it was made law. Today, there are regulations in place to make them happen, as Congress approved ‘Organic Law of Employment and Development Zones’ (zede). In this same time, congress approved decrees to hold two plebiscites to coincide with and use infrastructure of the November elections, in the proposed cites of Peña Blanca Cortés, and Suyapa Tegucigalpa, to ask residents to vote on if they agree for their cities to turn into model cities. The proposal for Peña Blanca is to convert into a municipality and an agricultural touristic economic development and employment area/concession, and the proposal for Suyapa is to convert itself into a religious touristic concessioned city.

With the new regulation, 45 articles were approved by 2/3 of the congress chambers, and is said to be in place to achieve the neoliberal Plan de Nacion goals (the 28 years plan for 2010-2038), to be competitive in the world markets. Model cities are an open slate for plunder and can focus on commodifying almost anything. They are cities concessioned, the buyer can organise their own budget, tax system, have contracts including long ones with other entities, and have own legal and economic systems. Populated areas to be concessioned have to go through a plebiscite process for the residents to decide, whereas lower populated areas only need a ruling by the Statistics Departments to rubberstamp that not many people live there, leaving rural populations open to displacement and their environment to plunder, without any consultation.

A bill and another step to privatise higher education

A bill is put, named the New Law of Higher Education. The implications, once approved, is that previously the autonomous public university UNAH had the power to regulate higher education in Honduras – this will be lost, with for profit universities being included in this process as well as in becoming part of the state education budget and use of the techical assistance resources. This will be a step towards dismantling of UNAH and public education.

US State Department warns its citizens again that Honduras is dangerous

US State Dpt issued alert on dangers in travelling to Honduras, highlighting that of 18 assassinations against US citizens since January 2011, Honduran police has not brought any to justice. It pointed to Honduras having the highest homocide rate in the world, saying that the Honduran state does not have enough resources to deal with these problems, this leads to its justification of ‘aid’.

Aid from US questioned, aid only goes up and up, fueling violations

In a letter to US secretary of state, 21 US senators questioned US AID to Honduras by Obama administration with reports of flagrant human rights violations and impunity, with four years of coup. Department of state has kept increasing such ‘aid’ budgets. It sought for 2014 an increase of $26 million to $162 million to the CARSI budget for war against drugs in Central America. Recently, the Honduran congress approved the creation of 1000 new positions for soldiers and elite intelligence group. In 2011, pentagon increased military spending by 71%, up from the year before. In March 2013, subsecretary adjunto of state of antidrugs office William Brownfield announced the approval of $16.3 million to create a special police force to combat graver crimes. Keeping Honduras in news as most violent country world and failed state is part of its strategy to justify a possible intervention against it (which will only increase the violence). US uses this double discourse, with increased presence and military bases, and to confuse, with social projects and cooperation.

Continuation of grave political persecution in Honduras in June 2013

Summary of political assassinations in June 2013 – journalists and party activist

On 12/6/13, Nilson Zuniga was supposably ‘collaterally’ killed in an attempt against Radio Globo journalist Tony Quintero

On 24/6/13, Radio Globo journalist Annibal Barrow was kidnapped and disappeared by hitmen, his body was found buried and decomposed on 9/7/13

On 15/6/13, young Libre party activist Marvin José Rivera was attempted against and died in hospital.

On 26/6/13, Libre Party leader Silvia Aguiriano, and her sister Teresa Matute and their bodyguard were riddled with bullets and assassinated by hitmen.

Deaths in attempts and kidnappings against Radio Globo journalists this month

Radio Globo is an alternative but for profit media that is famous for its journalists reporting critically about the coup.

  • On 12/6/13, hitmen in another car sprayed with bullets attempting against Radio Globo journalist Tony Quintero, leaving him gravely hospitalised – operated and moved to intensive care. technician who was in the car with him to install a radio into the car, Nilson Zuniga Andino, also shot, was taken to hospital and died there. Tony works without censoring, exposing the chaos, crisis and violence that Hondurans live in. 30 journalists have been killed in last 10 years, 25 of which since the coup in 2009.
  • On 24/6/13, in San Pedro Sula, Radio Global journalist Anibal Barrow was kidnapped by heavily armed men who got in his car and forced his two relatives and driver off, and was taken to an unknown direction. From this time he was declareddisappeared. Anibal’s empty vehicle was found near a sugar field on the city’s outskirts, on it, authorities have reported a bullet hole on the right front window, and traces of blood were found inside and a piece of brain mass was found. Anibal works for Globo TV, and on this program, on the day before he was abducted he interviewed 3 Libre party candidates and also talked about the 4thanniversary of the military coupHis body was found buried on 9/7/13 in a decomposed state with indications of having been burnt and mutilated, a few metres near where part of his body (brain mass) was found and in clothes that matches what he was wearing that day

More threats, evictions, and shootings against organised farmers

  • On 4/6/13, the Panamá community that occupies the Paso Aguan farm reported threats by Dinant palm company security guards and members of Xatruch operation headed by Coronel Germán Alfaro Escalante. The community denounced the complicity of prosecutors, judges and of Xatruch soldiers which are seen on trucks and cars of Dinant.
  • On 12/6/13, at El Coowle, in San Manuel Cortes, a heavy state security contingent of 500 arrived at 5am in 5 buses, 2 military trucks and vehicles without numberplates, and at 8.30am, violently evicted 1000 families of MOCSAM farmers movement, launched lots of teargases onto people’s backyards, fired at least 5 live shots as farmers were fleeing. Chasing and attacks lasted almost an hour, and older farmers unable to escape were harassed by agents who told farmers they should get jobs from the sugar companies. There were also complaints from women of insults from agents. Several children from ages of 20 months to 11 years were suffocated by the gases and needed care. CAHSA employees took photos and attended to police with soft drinks and water. The eviction was illegal as protection measures have been applied for at the SPS appeal courts. MOCSAM has been occupying land since 17/4/12, international day of campesina struggle; land that has been expropriated by the state from CAHSA sugar company. In this time MOCSAM suffered 8 violent eviction, in the last one 2 farmers were assassinated and MOCSAM reoccupied on 17/5/13.
  • On 14/6/13, a condemnation was made by human rights organisations in Aguan, knowing of the assassination plan against political prisoner of 5 years (condemned for 20 for a crime he did not commit) and farmer Chavelo – José Isabel Morales, of the community Guadalupe Carney. Similarly, a condemnation was made against the plan to criminalise the MARCA leaders and Via Campesina coordinator Rafael Alegría in plans to maliciously link them with the criminal attempt against the Aguan large landowners’ lawyers – Walter Diaz Padilla who has been assassinted with gunshots, and Omar Garay who was gravely wounded in an attempt. With these having taken place in a region completely militarised and controlled by Operation Xatruch.
  • This month, the head of Tocoa police affirmed on video that Dinant guards assassinated 3 villagers in October 2012

Repression during June 2013 against the Rio Blanco highway occupation that began 1 April 2013 against Agua Zarca hydro-dam project

  • On 11/6/13, at Rio Blanco, the police/military contingent accompanying DESA and Sinohydro employees and site technicians threatened women and children of an attack against them. The contingent tore their flag and the cables that are part of the physical structure of the highway occupation.
  • At an initial hearing of Berta Caceres, Copinh indigenous leader falsely accused of carrying illegal arms, the case was temporarily suspended due to insufficient evidence, but on 13/6/13, the prosecutors department lodged an appeal against the suspension.
  • On 26/6/13, La Tejera has been militarisedwith the military surrounding ‘el roblón’ occupation. Agents chased community members and invaded people’s homes without authorisation. This is in addition to harassment, constant vigilance and capturing of photos and videos against community members, and threats of new arrests and evictions. State agents gave security to company buildings.
  • On 29/6/13, at 6pm, active Copinh member of Unión Río Blanco Roque Domíneguez was attacked with machete stabs in his face and left arm by four individuals who are part of a group in favour of Agua Zarca Hydroelectricity project. Roque was hospitalised in a delicate state. A new judicial and political persecution process was reported, against the Indigenous Council’s president Francisco Javier Sánchez and vicepresident Lucio Sánchez with capture orders against these, criminalising indigenous land struggle defending territory and rivers.

The implicated companies in this project are: DESA, Sinohydro and Ficohsa. Also implicated are World Bank and CABEI.

Killing of Libre political party activists

  • On 15/6/13, Marvin José Rivera, young activist of Libre party was attempted against as he left on motorcycle the National Engineers Amphitheatre, he was taken the hospital and died there. Outside the hospital, friends, family and alternative media who tried to go see Marvin were refused entry and exposed to violence, to the degree that another youth was wounded by stabbing by a hospital security guard. This was the day before the launch of the Libre candidate Xiomara Castro.
  • On 26/6/13 in Juticalpa, Silvia Aguiriano Libre Party leader, her sister Teresa Matute and their bodyguard were riddled with bullets and assassinated. Silvia’s spouse said that some men waited for her after she left a Libre meeting and shot at them.

Threats and intensification of siege upon La Nueva Esperanza community in their opposition against mining company

As La Nueva Esperanza community continues its resistance against the mine installation of Lenir Perez’s La Victoria (Lenir Perez is son-in-law of infamous palm giant Miguel Facusse), the repression this community is suffering is but an example of what will come with Mining Law having been passed, which is only awaiting regulations before 300 new mining concessions are facilitated.

  • On 3/6/13, a group of police entered Nueva Esperanza shooting – Agent Marcio Castillo fired two shots at community leader Enrique Castillo (79) without wounding him. Another unidentified agent fired three more shots at other community members. More shots were heard that night. In addition, people complained of aggression and death threats by police.
  • On 5/6/13, police accompanied and facilitated entry into the community for a group of 20 plain clothed heavily armed unidentified men. These men terrorised people with repeated death threats. From this time these men with police support maintained a state of siege, and the teacher Henry Yanes Torres and some El Carmen teachers had to suspend classes for security reasons.
  • Previous complaints about police led to accused police being transferred elsewhere this day, and confirmations were made by authorities that none of the ‘police activities’ complained about were recorded, showing the ‘police’ are actually private agents of mining companies.

In this time people who received death threats include:

Priest Cesar Espinoza, who already received a death threat previously on 28/1/13 with text messages from supposed mine workers. More recent messages have included, ‘if the mines come with machetes, we are coming for you and the sisters to chop you all up.’ Cesar confirms that the threats come from Lenir Perez, owner of La Victoria company and his workers and Gustavo Urrutia.

Omar Orellana, Atlántida coordinator for MADJ, who reports also that his telephone became under intervention. MADJ is a social organisation accompanying La Nueva Esperanza in its struggle against the mining company.

Melvin Reyes, of MADJ.

Henry Yanes Torres (teacher) who suspended the classes because of death threats, and who was then on 14/6/13 about 6.30pm attempted against – he received a call informing him that several armed people were comingwhen he realised they were headed for the house, he, Melvin Adonis Romero and José Marti Lemus decided to leave. They were chased and when the hitmen realised they were not going to be able to physically capture them, they began to fire shots towards the three. Henry, Melvin and José hid, and the attackers continued to the highway but were reported to afterwards return to where this occurred.

  • Telephone intervention was also reported by the president of the community.
  • On 30/6/13, hitmen threatened 4 others in the community and disarmed these to leave them defenceless.

Meanwhile, more company machines kept entering la Nueva Esperanza and chopped down more trees

Human rights violations against Human rights defenders

  • On 5/6/13, Mario Zavala, human rights defender of CPTRT, when he was going to work, suffered military intimidation
  • On 15/6/13, around 10pm, an anonymous human rights defender of Ciprodeh in Tegucigalpa was followed to his home where they invaded his home illegally to brutally drag him out, beat his body with gun, and without reason threatened him with being detained until he identified himself as a human rights defender. He was persecuted because a soldier noticed he changed paths when he was driving to avoid the search checkpoint where he had observed abuses by soldiers – who picked on, thrown to the ground, beaten, arbitrarily detained a group of young people who were just there chatting and leaving. He changed paths because he felt unsafe. The soldiers were not carrying ID. This was in La Era neighbourhood and he was out with a group of friends.

4 years of resistance and solidarity against this bloody coup. Snapshot of this June 2013..

Mass mobilisations were held screaming out 4 years of military coup in Honduras, in different cities around Honduras. Solidarity actions were held in several US cities , screenings of Honduran farmers struggles continued from Germany this month in Italy with International Food Workers Union along with other groups and organisations

The Rio Blanco blockade continued past its 3rd month despite continued evictions, threats, attempts, and judicial persecution. Court solidarity was organised demanding for false charges against Indigenous leader Berta Caceres to be dropped.

A new land occupation/recovery of hundreds of hectares began in La Canaan in Naco Santa Barbara by 600 families, with food sovereignty as amongst its objectives

The youth of Movimiento Morazanista de Poder Popular, made a statement declaring their enthusiasm in strengthening its space as a democratic, horizontal, participative and coherent one, reaffirmed their efforts in creating grassroots strategic nuclears as a way of organising that builds direct democracy, that the importance like in basketball is playing and struggling collectively, in team. They expressed their commitment to fight with love to defend mother earth and humanity and all life threatened by the predator and exploitative capitalist system. They did that during a form where local youth organised food and lodging for 400 youths participating from different parts of Honduras.

In Spanish Television, a documentary was screened about the martyrs of Astillero, and how their blood feeds into the struggle against mining today in Arizona, Atlantida. http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/pueblo-de-dios/pueblo-dios-honduras-martires-tierra/1905688/

 

 

Honduras coup update for May 2013……..

Almost 4 years into the coup, Honduras’ war against farmers continue, with at least seven organised farmers assassinated in May 2013..

Political persecution in May 2013

Summary of known political killings this May 2013 in Honduras:

2 farmers in El Achiote, Aguan, Humberto Martínez and Celín Ochoa were murdered by hitmen on 5/5/13

Los Laureles farmers coop president of MUCA, José Omar Pérez Menjivar, was assassinated by palm oil hitmen on 11/5/13

2 farmers of MOCSAM Valentín Avelar and Celso Victorino Ruíz Martínez were murdered by CAHSA sugar company guards in police presence on 17/5/13

MOCSAM farmer, Marilú Miranda Orellana was assassinated by hitmen who followed her on 20/5/13.

Rigores/MCRN movement farmer Marvin Arturo and his son Darwin Alexander Trochez was assassinated having been persecuted at least since August 2012, on 30/5/13

Members of farmers movement murdered, attacked, evicted and threatened this month

  • On 1/5/13, at 9.30am, at Los Laureles, Tocoa, Mocra farmers movement members Wilmer Daniel Maldonado, Ricardo Gustavo Rosado Santos, and Roman Gonzales, were attempted against and wounded by Miguel Facussé’s security guards firing firearms. Police came straight away but the guards left confidently and easily feeling protected by the police. After the shooting, over 300 families took possession of the lands. At 2.30pm, a Xatruch contingent of army and police under Coronel German Álfaro Escalante violently evicted these with high calibre arms like M60s, M16s and R15s, teargas bombs, and chased and persecuted people in nearby neighbourhoods. Several were beaten, including Aron Montenegro. Los Laureles is agrarian reform designated land that today is under dispute between Mocra and Miguel Facussé.
  • On 5/5/13, in El Achiote, Sabá, Colón, in Northern Honduras, Humberto Martínez and Celín Ochoa were sprayed with bullets, assassinated, and found dead inside a white double cabin vehicle. These assassinations happened around the time that farmers and human rights defenders of Aguan found a clandestine cemetery presumably of farmers by large landowners security guards.
  • On 11/5/13, at 9.30pm, 3 heavily armed men firing gunshots assassinated José Omar Pérez Menjivar (37), the president of the Los Laureles cooperative, Concepcion settlement, which is part of MUCA farmers movement. José was with his spouse and on his way home from her mother-in-law’s house. He is the 99th farmer killed by palm giant guards and paramilitaries in Aguan.
  • Xatruch III head German Alfaro Escalante had been running a discrediting and misinformation media campaign against Yoni Rivas, Vitalino Alvarez, Juan Chinchilla and Celio Rodriguez, and using false witnesses in courts, in making up stories that it is the farmers leaders who are killing the farmers, as part of a plan to imprison and criminalise farmers leaders.
  • On 17/5/13, in the afternoon, in San Manuel Cortés, 30 guards of the CAHSA sugar company arrived, and without saying anything, fired shots with shotguns, AK47s, AR15s and different calibre pistols, at families of the farmers movement MocsamkillingValentin Avelar (55) and Celso Victorino Ruiz Martinez (75). They did this with police around, who, instead of preventing the assassinations, dedicated themselves to harrassing and threatening farmers. Police also failed to detain any assassins, claiming they had no proof, although farmers pointed for them at who fired the shotsPlain clothes men in luxurious cars with guards protection took photos of farmersAlso, Santos Anibal Melgar Vargas (19) with a hole in the muscle, and Adolfo Melgar, were gravely sounded. Valentín left behind 6 children and was with 3 siblings at the time of the killing – here is a conmemorative video of Valentín: http://youtu.be/tl4cRxA-Ax0. Celso leaves behind his spouse and 3 daughters. This occurred the day 700 families affiliated with MOCSAM took possession, but with confidence, because they carried a court appeals certificate that established that the February evictions against MOCSAM were illegal. This land was expropriated by the Agrarian department from CAHSA in 2012 but CAHSA refused to return the land. Farmers said César Cloter and Gabino are 2 heads of the guards, and that Cloter had announced in previous evictions that ‘here there will be a massacre, I am made for this.’ Despite the massacre, the farmers stayed on the land and went to the shelter of the guards, who respondedthreatening with their weapons and insults.
  • On 20/5/13, at 7am, also an organised farmer of MOCSAM farmers movement, Marilú Miranda Orellana (48) was assassinated when she was leaving the MOCSAM El Coowle settlement and heading to her home in El Progreso, Yoro; four men followed her from when she left the settlement. Marilú leaves behind spouse José Luís Cordón and 5 children.
  • On 22/5/13, at 9am, at Parque Ramón Rosas in El Progreso, MOCSAM spokesperson Nahum Dominguez was buying a flour tortilla for breakfast near the park when he noticed he was followed by three heavily armed men of CAHSA including Cesar Cloter, who travelled in a car without numberplate. When he saw one approach him take out his weapon, he left running to a shop to save himself. He was on his way to the 72 hours solidarity campaign with farmers in San Pedro Sula. Nahum has been speaking out to the press about the assassination against 2 MOCSAM comrades and 3 wounded, on 17/5/13, at the hands of CAHSA security guards as farmers began recovering the land.
  • On 21/5/13, at 5am, Xatruch Operation (contingent of 300) headed by Coronel Alfaro entered and evicted the occupying La Panamá community (600 families) from the Paso Aguan farm. It stayed there and on 22/5/13 300 families the community tried to reoccupy at 2.30pm, when they were met with Facussé’s guards, who without saying any words, fired repeatedly with heavy arms at farmers, who escaped unharmed – some bullets remained in the catholic church walls. Occupation began by this community over 9 months ago when the body of independent farmer and community member Gregorio Chavez was found dead inside the plantation on 6/4/12.
  • On 26/5/13, early morning, a contingent of 400 police and soldiers under Xatruch head Alfaro, accompanied by Facussé’s security guards, invaded the Panamá community and invaded and searched homes, and detained without judicial orders Omar de Jesús Maldonado, Lucio Rivera (43), Margarito López Guerra (38), Mayorín Adalid Gómez Garcia (23), José Tulio Cruz Alvarado (26), Gelzin Jovanis Torres Nataren (26) and an anonymous underage person. The community did not know where the farmers were being taken to. During the operation, soldiers stole from the bicycle parts shop of Miguel Quitanilla $600 and threatened him during the operation. They also took a car that later re-appeared in Tocoa. The Panamá community is a few kms from the entrance of the Paso Aguan farm. The operation is to intimidate and stop the community investigative work from finding new clandestine graves.
  • On 28/5/13, Supreme Court passed a judgement anulling a resolution that favoured MARCA farmers on 15/2/13, and which had originally won possession of the land on 29/6/13, with the support of MARCA lawyer Antonio Trejo who was assassinated early this year. The new judgement in favour of the businesspeople who put in the appeal opens the land to evictions and persecution. Marca farmers announced that they are disposed to put their lives on the line defending the land and that they have licensed arms for self-defence.
  • On 30/5/13, at 7.15am in La Ceiba, hitmen on motorcycle sprayed with bullets and assassinated Marvin Arturo Troches Zuñiga together with his son Darwin Alexander Trochez, and left Darwin’s mother/Marvin’s spouse gravely wounded. Marvin and Darwin were having coffee at the corridor of their home made by Marvin’s spouse. Marvin Arturo was a leader of farmers movement MCRN – of the Rigoresa landrights movement that used to occupy Paso Aguan in Trujillo. Precedents: On 9/8/12, unknown men assassinated his son named Marvin Daneri Trochez, forcing the family to for their safety, distance itself from the Aguan land struggle and move to La Ceiba; a move made in February 2013. On 11/2012, Marvin Arturo was arrested by police under the regional disarmament law for carrying a handgun that he needed for self-protection, being persecuted. He was made to report bi-weekly to the police to demonstrate his presence in the area. Links were made to the police including one named Marvin Noe Garcia Santos for the assassination of Marvin Daneri and of 3 MCRN members murdered on 3/11/12 (bullets were shown from a gun assigned to him – the police was arrested but it was unclear if he remained in custody). In 12/2012, Marvin Arturo heard of a plan to assassinate him next time he complained to the police. Discrediting campaigns continued after that – Xatruch Operation head Coronel Alfaro made a statement on 10/3/13 claiming that there were 6 armed groups in Aguan, and named Marvin Arturo as amongst the leaders of these. Marvin Arturo and Darwin are the 103rd and 104th farmers movement members killed since the coup according to Rights Action.
  • On 30/5/13, plain clothes police attempted against – opened fire on the car within which MUCA leader Yoni Rivas and his children and mother were travelling.

Threats and pressures against a community’s opposition to a mine

On 25/5/13, in Nueva Esperanza, Tela, Atlántida, police arrived to ensure the passage of trucks of Lenir Perez’s mining company. Community members went there to stop the trucks, Lenir Perez made death threats by phone calls to residents. The residents and neighbouring communities and the social movements members of MADJ and Movimiento Ambientalista de Atlántida in this struggle are heavily threatened.

Persecution against organisers, supporters and occupiers of the Rio Blanco highway blockade that began 1/4/13 to stop a hydroelectrical dam installation

  • On 7/5/13, at night time, a police contingent that travelled in DESA and Sinohydro company cars plus 6 other police patrols provided security for members of the companies and threatened the community, carrying teargas bombs, shields, etc, ready to carry out a 5th eviction. The community bravely blocked their entry.
  • On 17/5/13, Batallón de Ingenieros, state investigative agents and police arrived threatening to evict the community in the morning – the community has international court ordered protection measures for repressive forces not to enter their territory. At 2.30pm, 2 commandos of the same Batallón headed by Coronel Amaya illegally evicted the occupying communities for the 5th time,from the highway illegally built by the company on community land. Soldiers set themselves in large quantities at each blockade point saying they will stay indefinitely to prevent reoccupation.
  • On 18/5/13, the contingent fired shots to intimidate people, and Zacapa Mayor Nery Hernández mobilised 7 patrols of heavily armed police and army, at San Francisco de Ojuera, together threatening the community, in protection of DESA, Sinohydro and other big capital interests. Troops accompanied employees and company engineers in visiting, coercing and convincing Agua Caliente citizens in Zacapa, selling supposed benefits of the project and offering bribes and projects.
  • On 19/5/13, the Batallón de Ingenieros militarised Zacapa, Agua Caliente, and Rio Blanco communities with machine guns, shields, teargas bombs, guns, and military vans.
  • On 24/5/13, at 6.30pm, a military command headed by Commissioner Alvarenga ambushed against and detained indigenous leaders Berta Caceres (Copinh coordinator) and Tomás Gomez (spokesperson of Copinh community radios) when they were travelling in a 4wheel drive that was then confiscated. While held, they were not allowed contact with lawyers. Tomás was isolated and released at 11pm and Berta was held overnight but no note was made of her detention at the police register. She was apparently held in a room (instead of a cell) with 2 women police. They were both in custody and incomunicado. Those differences were used to claim that they were not ‘detaining’ them – something police have often tried to do since the coup. Berta was freed the next day, with charges of carrying a weapon – a 3.57 pistol was found in the vehicle (it is believed that it was planted and she was set up, because although she is under siege and being followed by hitmen for two weeks before that, she does not use self defence weapons). She was also given bail conditions of not leaving Honduras and signing at the police station every 8 days.

Arrests and repression in relation to other land struggles

  • On 30/5/13, in Zacate Grande, at the Playa Blanca community, a group arrived including businessperson ‘Don Betto’, two state criminal investigation agents (Nacaome) and two police (Relleno), two companies employees and a son. This group gave out leaflets and told people to go to a negotiation session the next day with Don Betto, as they did so, they approached the home of José Moreno Lorenzo and waited around until he got home, at which point the police grabbed, handcuffed and detained José Moreno without any explanations or showing any capture order, and only told him to not talk and just walk, as they put him in a car of Mr Betto. Police also detained Santo Hernández they same way. Community members protested these being taken away in private cars, but were ignored. They were taken to Nacaome police station (that has no jurisdiction over Zacate Grande), where they were asked for ID, kept over 4 hours, never having been given reason for their detention. The same day in ‘El Veranero’, Huatales, of Zacate Grande, two employees of state institution of property together with a nephew of the supposed landowners arrived and proceeded to measure the land until the community realised what they were doing and questioned and stopped these.
  • On 23/5/13, in Santa Bárbara, police violently evicted a community reclaiming their territory in San Antonio Chuchuitepeque (Lenca Indigenous land), and illegally detained and injured Manuel Bardales, Gonzalo Muños, Leonarda Cruz, Gustavo Adolfo Barahona, and Isaias Hernández García. The area for which they have centuries of ancestral land title that the community proceeded to recover is Las Vegas of the Ulua river; land invaded by the San Francisco de Ojuera council. The Gualcarque river is an important stream of the Ulua river and both are threatened by the hydroelectricity projects Agua Zarca (where there is a blockade at Rio Blanco to stop the dam), and Los Llanitos. The same mayor Pineda who had been at service to business interests against this community had done the same in relation to the Rio Blanco and San Francisco de Opalaca communities, violating communities self determination and indigenous sovereignty.

Gunshot attempt against journalist and photographer

On 20/5/13, in La Ceiba, hitmen fired several gunshots attempting against journalist Ramón Maldonado (52) and his photographer Daniel Sánchez, and fled in a motorcycle, when the journalist pair were leaving the channel ‘Litoral Atlántidco’ and got in the car and drove only around 100 metres. Their car was hit by 9 bullets, but both escaped unharmed. Litoral Atlántico has been registered and operating for 50 days, and has been covering irregularities linking local authorities.

Mass detentions against liberation theologists

In La Campa, where a liberationist priest has been presssured to leave,

  • On 14/5/13, right wing bishop Darwin Andino, national party activists and 3 armed police patrols broke into the parrish to attempt to evict environmentalist and liberationist priest father Cándido. On this occasion they could not carry out the eviction because of the hundreds of church people who happened to be there doing workshops.
  • On 17/5/13 at 3.30am, a group was present in a solidarity vigil with the priest when a contingent of 4 police patrols headed by Constantino Zavala, with an order from Bishop Darwin Andino and not from the courts, arrived and arrested Father Cándido and 22 other people (including a woman and a 13 years old) who are affiliated with both the church and the resistance. Some were captured at the church – and others later after many escaped through the back of the church and fled towards the mountains and some fled to their homes – those who fled to their homes were found and persecuted by the police invading their homes and capturing them there without orders to do so. Amongst the detained is teacher Arnaldo Gómez who managed to contact FNRP spokesperson and human rights defender Armando Manzanares to inform him before they confiscated his mobile. Bishop Darwin Andino is one of the coup supporting spokespersons of Cardenal Oscar Rodriguez substituted from a year ago from Monseñor Luis Santos who retired with authorisation from the Vatican. From the time Darwin Andino took office, he has been persecuting all the fathers of the diocese that has accompanied the resistance against the coup.

Musician of resistence under threat (again)

On 21/5/13, Pavel Nunez of Cafe Guancasco and his family received death threats by telephone – part of which have been recorded. The threat includes the person saying ‘Carachimba’ – a typical Colombian expression though it could be from soapies influence. This is not the first time Cafe Guancasco, a band of the resistance, has been threatened and repressed, see this video where Pavel Nuñez sings and talks (with English subtitles) earlier in the coup http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnlsM18KLEM.

Snapshot of inspiring actions in Honduras

Copinh communities have continued their occupation of the Rio Blanco highway that started on 1/4/13 in opposition to the Agua Zarca hydroelectricity dam project, under numerous evictions and eviction threats. They reiterated the community decision made in assemblies to continue occupying the highway and mobilise indefinitely, and not accept to negotiate with the companies and continue demanding the projects of death to completely leave because they privatise life, rivers, and territories.

On May Day, massive marches were in each city. Neighbourhoods shined with collectives with names of Martyrs, like Territorio Pedro Magdiel, Colectivo Roger Vallejo, Colectivo Colonía 21 de octubre, Colectivo los Girasoles. New groups emerged, like colectivo Colonia Miraflores and of Calpules, colectivo Buenos Aires, of church Cristiana Agape, and of high school and uni students, they marked 1414 days of coup. (Photo of cofadeh)

News Watch

News shorts on impunity and ‘justice’ institutions from May 2013

  • Report: an unnamed police high official pockets $200,000 a month from extorsion against citizens, and buses have been burnt in relation to this war tax, and judges and prosecutors are amongst the beneficiaries. Source: Ex Head of Police Internal Affairs Maria Borjas.
  • Eye on Impunity: a new Coalition Against Impunity criticised congress driven police reform, and the role of congress, security institutions, courts, prosecutors etc in maintaining impunity. It emphasised the need for independent and impartial people not driven by party political affiliations to be driving the transformation of the institutions in addressing impunity that does not only involve having officials swap positions, but for this process to facilitate and be driven by active grassroots participation. It also requested international accompaniment. The groups and organisations of the coalition include ones focussing on civil rights, freedom of expression, women’s rights, human rights, queer rights, alternative communication, foreign debt, environment and social justice, etc.
  • In the prosecutors department, many prosecutors have supposeably been removed from their positions, few have officially pressures to resign, but mostly they have simply been given another position.
  • Another let off: one of few police – subcommissioner Harold Andara Bonilla – who faced judicial proceedings for human rights violations – illegal detention against human rights defender Leonel Casco, was not sentenced.

News on Honduras state plunder

  • IHSS social security department throws away $2.5 million in high demand medicines, maternal milk and insulin that have expired. When doctors send their prescriptions to the pharmacy, the answer they get is and has always been, ‘there isn’t any’.
  • With the Trans 400 millions project, $20 million is spent on a speedy and modern transport alternative for capital city transmuters, claiming to reduce travel time from 80 to 18 minutes, with the mayor saying, when people save time, they can make more money. This will be set up with an Inter American Development Bank loan and ultimately paid for by the people. This is another result of decisions made without the grassroots about the poor majority’s needs and priorities.

Other news shorts

  • Complaints are made that congress is trying to reform electoral laws to favour the party in power, with the election fast approaching. Complaints say the reforms are being pushed without consultations.
  • Alarms are raised that Honduran state postal service Honducor with complicity with its administration is being used to traffic weapons from Tegucigalpa to San Pedro Sula in the guise of delivering common packages, in state postal service (Honducor) vehicles.
  • In neighbouring Guatemala – an appeal put and accepted had the Guatemala Constitutional Court release dictator Rios Montt. Rios Montt was originally condemned to 80 years in prison by a Guatemalan court on 11 May 2013 for genocide against the Ixil people in 1982-1983 and crimes against humanity. He was put in prison but not for very long at all. There can be no real justice in the system without real transformative changes to power structures.
  • Contradictions from Canada. In pretense of concern on the human rights violations in Honduras, the Canadian Sub Committee on International Human Rights House of Commons held hearings on the Honduran situation, between February and April 2013, hearing from different witnesses on this. This is just prior to the anticipated future hearings to negotiate the Canada – Honduras free trade agreement. In August 2011, PM Stephen Harper travelled to Honduras to sign the free trade agreement, with interests in mining, tourism, textile, apparel, and sweatshop. These interests have all benefitted from policies approved by the Honduran congress since the coup and from its repression (human rights violations). A major highlight today is the Mining Law and Model Cities law passed early this year. The mining sector is causing massive human rights violations today

Honduras Coup Update, April 2013

News of Political Persecution in April 2013

Summary of Political Assassinations in April 2013 – 4 farmers and a human rights volunteer

Three farmers of Dos Bocas community in Santa Rosa de Aguan: Wilfredo Cartagena Castillo (28), Edwin Geovanni Rivera Castillo (18) and Wilmer Rivera Castillo (15) were murdered by hitmen in their own home on 3/4/13.

Also at Dos Bocas, hitmen murdered farmers’ leader Alfronzo Vasquez Bonilla in his home on 21/4/13.

Human rights volunteer Ronald Jovel Mirand Ávila was assassinated, with little traces as to who or why.

Assassinations, kidnappings and media campaigns against organised farmers

  • On 3/4/13, with information from palm company Dinant guards, farmers of Paso Aguan – land they reclaim and occupy – located a clandestine grave, in which they found the remaining parts of a farmer disappeared more than a year ago.
  • On 3/4/13 at 11am, 4 heavily armed men – two of whom were hooded, kidnapped the youth Zulema Villatoro Mejía and interrogated her exhaustively on who and where are leaders of the MUCA farmers movement, before she was released and abandoned. Zulema belongs to the La Lempira MUCA cooperative, and administers MUCA’s poultry and fishery projects. The kidnappers rode a wine-red car.
  • On 3/4/13, hitmen kidnapped Villatoro Mejía from the La Confianza turnoff at Tocoa, where he was taken to Trujillo and interrogated repeatedly about who and where MUCA leaders are. They searched his wallet for information and pulled his phone apart, but they didn’t take his belongings. After that they threatened him with that if he spoke up about what happened he would be the next to be assassinated, before they abandoned him at 1pm at the Aguan Amarilla community. Villatoro was returning after doing some personal errands.
  • Also on 3/4/13, the Aguan Agrarian Platform was in Tegucigalpa denouncing the negative media campaign by Xatruch III operation headed by Germán Alfaro Escalante (a SOAW graduate 1984) against farmers of Bajo Aguan. This negative media campaign was reinforced later in the month with the use of two ex MUCA members as ‘protected witnesses’.
  • On the night of 3/4/13, at the dos Bocas community in Santa Rosa de Aguan, Colon, heavily armed men from a black van fired shots at and assassinated Wilfredo Cartagena Castillo (28), Edwin Geovanni Rivera Castillo (18), and Wilmer Rivera Castillo (15) in their own family home. After that, the hitmen left two women of the family, Maria Agustina Castillo Sánchez (52) and Tania Carolina Cartagena (14) tied up by the feet and hands, inside the home. This took place during a heavy Xatruch III operation by a contingent of 250 at the turn-off of the dos Bocas community in Trujillo, with the paramilitary squads preparing the conditions to provoke massacres inside the farmers’ settlements.
  • On 21/4/13, at 3pm, also at the Dos Bocas community, armed men driving in a grey pickup truck arrived and entered the home of farmers’ leader Alfonzo Vásquez Bonilla (48) and assassinated him in front of his spouse and children with 30 shots fired using AK47 and 2.23mm guns. Alfonso belongs to the Via Hermosa community of Santa Rosa de Aguan in Colón, Alfonzo is also directive leader of ANACH (Honduran farmers national association) in Colon, and of the cooperative Esfuerzos Unidos and was also an active member of the national resistance front. Alfonzo was a farmer who worked the land early every morning to feed his family of 6 children


The April diary of persecution against communities fighting the Agua Zarca hydro-dam project

highway occupation began on 1/4/13 and went for all of April and continues, with communities demanding the withdrawal of the Agua Zarca hydroelectricity dam project that has gone ahead illegally with a 20 years concession awarded despite clear community opposition. The community demands that the companies (DESA, Ficohsa bank, Sinohydro, Copreca) and their staff and machinery and accompanying security forces leave. The community faces political persecution and harassment every day and there were specific incidents as well. Regular occurrences include presence of police and company spies, harassment and surveillance against communities and copinh leaders, including the taking of photos and videos by representatives of the companies, offers of bribes (money and foods like Maseca) by the companies, companies representatives asking the communities to stop protesting, sexual abuse, detention threats, blocking the organisation’s vehicle, and death threats.

Specific incidents:

  • On 3/4/13, there was pressure to accept the project and stop protesting – intimidation, racial abuse and threats reported to be coming from a staff commission of the companies, headed by David Castillo and Francisco Rivas of DESA and Christian Toledo of Sinohydro, accompanied by state investigative and police agents. Christian Toledo threatened protesters with riot cops. José Humberto Madrid Muñoz made threatening gestures against Copinh (council of grassroots and indigenous organisations of Honduras) coordinator Berta Caceres, and another employee Aquilino Madrid Muñoz pounced at Berta too to attack her. Copinh members accompanied by two international observers reported being followed by cars without numberplates and watched with still and video cameras.
  • On 6/4/13, reports were made of men dressed in military uniform, with handkerchiefs covering their face, moving on motorcycles, carrying long weapons in intimidation and threat.
  • On 7/4/13, reports were made of police arriving in a company vehicle to come to the occupation with company representatives and the mayor, to intimidate.
  • On 9/4/13 Salvador Zuniga, who was a Copinh leader until very recentlyand remains committed to the causes of Copinh, reported being watched and followed by a security guard located opposite Salvador’s rented home. The guard was seen to pick up the phone to make a call as Salvador left his home, and as he passed in front of his sister’s home, a man from inside a black tourist van with dark windows and no numberplate watched Salvador and also picked up his phone to call as Salvador passed through. This is in the context of the Rio Blanco highway occupation. Salvador fears for the safety of his daughter Olivia Zuniga and grandson Camilo Espinoza, as they live with him.
  • On 12/4/13, at 7.30am, seven riot patrols (about 50 police and investigative agents), under the command of Comayagua regional police chief Fredy Lagos and Intibucá police chief Miguel Ponce Sorto, forcefully evicted the communities without citing any eviction order, according to Copinh activists and international observers. Police violently snatched international observers’ cameras and took Copinh’s media equipment to limit evidence and coverage of the operation. The patrols destroyed tents, snatched supplies, threw away drinking water, and made lists of people who were part of the occupation. The police arrived at 6am, first searching suitcases and backpacks, saying they were looking for weapons – they confiscated machetes and cameras. Police asserted that dam projects bring development to the community. The community quickly re-occupied and was joined in by other communities in Intibucá, Zacapa and Agua Caliente in solidarity.
  • On 20/4/13, communities reported having had to stop a tank that transports the military (Primer Batallón de Ingenieros de Siguatepeque) together with other machinery that were attempting to enter in complicity with the companies DESA and Sinohydro.

Intimidation and bribes against communities fighting mining companies

  • On 5/4/13, police used gunfire to threaten the communities of Valle de Lean at Nueva Esperanza, who are defending their territory. The communities put up a strong opposition against the mining company – Empresa Lempira / Honduras Or Company / Empresa Constructora S de RL – which has again entered the hill it wants to exploit. The first two applied for a concession of 2000 hectares, and Empresa Constructora for 11,000 hectares – this last company is owned by Lenir Perez who is a son-in-law of the infamous palm giant Miguel Facussé, accused of many of around 100 murders of farmers in Bajo Aguan.
  • El Negrito community, who are showing strong opposition against four mining companies, reported offers of bribes by the companies

Threats and a murder against human rights defenders

  • On 9/4/13, Human Rights Minister Ana Pineda received messages that if she wants to live she must resign from her position, apparently for supporting an initiative to democratise the frequencies of broadcasters that are being controlled by powerful groups.
  • On 25/4/13, human rights defender Ronald Jovel Miranda Ávila, who volunteers at Ciprodeh human rights organisation, was assassinated.Ronald had focussed on working with youths linked with gangs, especially with the organisation JHA JA Honduran Youths, Adelante, (together we go forward). Ronald was very committed. It is unknown who killed him and why.

Attempts, threats and surveillance against alternative journalists and media

  • On 8/4/13, at around 8.25am, TV Globo journalist Fidelina Sandoval was about to cross to go to the Globo building when a gun was shot towards her from a moving grey van with at least two men in the front. Fidelina escaped unharmed. Hearing the deafening sound of the gunshot, she touched herself over to check if she was wounded, and looked to check if anyone else was, when she realised that it was an attempt against her because some guards and a taxi driver approached her saying, ‘do you have any enemies, miss? Because those guys were shooting at you’. Fidelina is young and dynamic and has been covering the topics of police reform and the killing of farmers in Bajo Aguan. During that week she received two strange calls from unknown persons who sought personal information from her with the pretext of talking to another person. When that happened she had just finished having breakfast with a colleague from the media Conexihon, and it was her birthday. Colleagues helped her place a complaint at Cofadeh.
  • On 20/4/13, C-Libre journalist and executive director Hector Longino Becerra was given death threats first via a phone call at 9.42pm by an unknown number 97375471 in which someone could not be understood and Hector said it must be wrong number and hung up. The phone rang again, and again Hector could not understand but the person insisted and Hector recorded the conversation. On the third call, a man left a message saying, ‘I have a campaign to kill you, your mum, your dad, your grandparents, your friends and the friends of your friends. If they are dead I will revive them and kill them again, you hear me?’, with a woman’s voice in the background. C-Libre is Comité Por la Libre Expresión.
  • C-Libre has also been warned by people with technical knowledge in criminal investigation that the mobiles of the digital daily news www.conexihon.infomight be tapped. The journalists are receiving calls of unknown mobile numbers that when they answer either nobody answers or they immediately hang up. One of the conexihon.info journalists had their email accounts hacked into. Conexihon is alternative media currently investigating cases of corruption, agrarian and mining conflict and the situation of journalists and other news. C-Libre is investigating media laws aimed at democratising media

Political party office under attack

On 2/4/13, members of the FAPER (Frente Amplio Politico Electoral en Resistencia) political party were surprised as they entered their building to find that it was forcefully opened and entered and that all the belongings in the office had been stolen.

Dismissals of teacher union leaders

Within the last 4 weeks, Education Minister Escoto has dismissed four leaders of a teachers’ union Pricphma, and on 23/4/13 was reported to have made a threat to dismiss Edwin Oliva, president of teachers union Colprosumah. As Escoto made the threat he announced, ‘we want to highlight that now it is the state that controls the education system and not the teachers’ union leaders which had been the case in the past’. There are government and IMF directions to cut education staff and end teachers unions.

Snapshot of actions of resistance and solidarity in Honduras in April 2013

300 people from five Copinh communities, accompanied by international observers, began a highway occupation at Rio Blanco on 1 April 2013 and lasted the whole month and beyond, despite repression, threats and an eviction. They occupied demanding a hydroelectricity project Agua Zarca (its companies Sinohydro and DESA, staff, machinery and accompanying state and private security) to leave, in firm opposition to the privatisation of water, river, territory and energy. After eviction, a community assembly was held which decided to re-occupy, and Zacapa and Agua Caliente communities decided to join in. They also re-affirmed that they were not there to negotiate.

An international Solidarity Conference for the Recognition of the Garífuna territory in Vallecito – land reclaimed by community – which is under permanent threat and harassment – was held over April 26-30.

The Negrito community is showing strong and united opposition to four mining companies that want to move in. They held a public meeting that was community-driven and supported also by church representatives and the council mayor. They realised that for just a little revenue, they would be allowing grave environmental damage. Council representatives resisted bribes from companies.

Exhumations were carried out by an expert team from Guatemala weeks after further body remains were found by the MUCA farmers movement in a clandestine grave on the Paso Aguan farm in Bajo Aguan. This time the remains were of Jose Antonio Lopez Lara. The team came in response to a request from the human rights organisation Cofadeh, relatives of disappeared farmers, from MUCA and the human rights prosecutor. At the same time, hundreds of organised farmers mobilised to accompany the family of Jose Antonio, holding up placards and banners demanding justice. EU Ambassadors were also there, following up on Bajo Aguan’s human rights situation.

http://nicaraguaymasespanol.blogspot.com/2013/04/fotos-honduras-proceso-de-exhumacion-de.html

News briefs from April 2013

‘Bad things coming soon’ – monitoring the Honduran Congress

  • Mining law moves in … on 2/4/13, the Mining law was published to come into force on 23/4/13, having been approved in January 2013. A suspension order came from the presidential office to the mining and geology department to delay approval of any mining concession – but not to stop the mining concessions that will facilitate the mass destruction of natural resources by mining transnationals, steal water, evict people, destroy communities and violate freedom of information to protect ‘confidentiality’ of companies. The Mining Law facilitates the establishment of public-private alliances in the mining sector.
  • Communicating about the new Communications Law bill…. the bill is presented as making the media more democratic, in the distribution of frequencies, setting percentages for commercial, community and religious media, to allow a greater percentage of community media to hold frequencies than they have held in the past. However, there is also a provision for forced expropriation of media in the law that can easily be used as a censorship tool by the state. The bill also ignores the uneven playing field between community media and commercial media, in relation to financial, technical and administrative resources.
  • Bill for privatising fishing… Congress is now discussing a bill that would allow ‘leases’ and ‘concessions’ to become property of renters, introducing ‘transferable fishing quotas’ that facilitates fishers to sell the agrarian reform rights granted to them. This is comparable to the agricultural modernisation law in the 90s that moved large amounts of land from the hands of small farmers’ collectives to large landowners, who forced small holders to sell the land under economic pressure, and by using violence against those who resisted. By having quotas, the bill appears to be conservationist, but the transferability that it introduces is towards privatising fishing rights. This are promoted by USAID and the World Bank.
  • Petrol concession approval looms… Concession for the British BG Group for massive petrol exploration and exploitation in Mosquitia was awaiting signature by the General Prosecutor, Ethel Deras. Her institution has already made a favourable ruling for the contract, after which the concession goes to the Congress for approval.
  • Equipment to intercept 1000 telephone lines simultaneously under military control… a while ago, a law of private communication interception was introduced (as part of an ‘anti terrorism’ package), and there is now equipment capable of tapping 1000 telephone lines simultaneously, which operates in a state military building. This was revealed to the media by ex-member of the Central American Parliament, Raul Pineda Alvarado.
  • Bill ‘747’ to tackle crime rates presented by ex-police official and 80s death squad member Billy Joya… Billy Joya said he is available to manage a district police to show it can lower crime rates. The plan involves the approval of a security budget. He proposed for police to be at bus stops and bus stations in morning hours when people go to work, and the for police to be at markets before midday, and then for police to go onto sporting grounds, and in the afternoon for police to go to the bus stops again in the peak hour, and for police to patrol the universities at night. He said it will establish ‘special services’ where agents stay in schools and universities. Bill 747, involves seven measures to be executed by four state institutions that would be promoted to be approved in Congress in seven months. Amongst the measures are one of strengthening council / district police, and one of increasing benefits such as guarantees and insurance for cops, soldiers, judges and prosecutors. Billy Joya spoke of going into politics. Billy Joya is close to the aspiring presidential candidate and military head under coup president Micheletti, Romeo Vasquez Velasquez. He is deciding in coming days whether to join Partido del Alianza Patriotica.
  • More monopolisation of power by Congress? Head of Congress, Juan Orlando Hernández, announced that it will be dismissing some high officials of justice and security departments for being inefficient in dealing with violence. Soon after that, Congress swore in a DPP intervention commission that will have the power to dismiss the general prosecutor, Luis Rubi, and his Assistant, Roy Urtecho, and restructure the institution. This is in the context of Congress having dismissed High Court judges who declared the model cities law unconstitutional, and then almost immediately pass the model cities law again, early in 2013. And to be clear, Luis Rubi was at no point a defender of social movements. Transformation is needed to end impunity, which is shown by many different human rights reports to be very grave – just this month a prosecutor against organised crime Orlando Arturo Chavez, who focusses on prosecuting money laundering, was shot dead by unknown persons. But social organisations such as Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia point out that the Congress should not be trusted in this task. Consider the notorious case captured by video of hitmen killing youth,http://www.elheraldo.hn/Secciones-Principales/Sucesos/Repudio-e-indignacion-por-crimen-de-sicarios-en-capital-de-Honduras. According to many observers, some of these hitmen could only be part of a government operation, due to the professional way they had carried out the killings. This is a death squad government in which the buyers of the Congress literally call the shots, in which there is less separation of powers every day, and that has US president Obama arming and funding Honduran police, in violation of US laws.

Bad things have happened

  • Educators under fire… the university workers’ pension Inpreunah has been subject to frequent audits by the Comision Nacional de Bancos y Seguros despite never having any irregularities detected. The frequent audits forces Inpreunah to spend its reserves and so it had to suspend pension payments because of this unnecessary financial pressure. The Education Minister Escoto has also been busy attacking education workers’ unions, having dismissed four Pricphma (one of the unions) leaders in recent weeks, and having been reported to have made a threat on 23/4/13 to dismiss Edwin Oliva, the president of the Colprosumah teachers’ union. Escoto, who is visibly at the service of the regime and the IMF, announced that, ‘we want to highlight that now it is the state that controls the education system and not the teachers union leaders which had been the case in the past’.
  • Inter-American Commission on Human Rights made a media statement confirming its involvement because of the Honduran regime’s lack of compliance with its obligations to the Triunfo de la Cruz community… of not issuing the deed of community land title, not consulting with the community, and the courts’ lack of parameters for defining indigenous territories to international standards IACHR said this had exposed the community to occupation and land-grabbing by businesspersons. The community as a result lives in permanent conflict and struggles to maintain its traditional mode of living. This case 12548, was heard 21/2/13.
  • 700 nurses of Hospital Escuela were unpaid in February… these include assistant nurses, and they were organising assemblies to plan industrial action.
  • Report of a Micheletti (coup president 2009) official, Pineda Ponce, squandering state monies… the official audit was for the period of 1/7/09-31/1/10, for this period Pineda Ponce was assigned a $2 million budget for a program of cleaning, construction, repairs, reforestation and decoration in six major cities in Honduras. The budget approval decree was published on 1/10/10. The report shows irregularities include several non-executed projects for which money was transferred, of major contracts without a tendering process, of receipts of payments not signed by supposed recipients, and of lack of job allocation paperwork.
  • Latest stats on journalists and lawyers killed since the coup… Under Lobo’s 35 months, at least 53 lawyers, judges, prosecutors and judicial advisors died violent deaths so far, 10 of whom are women, and 95% are in impunity. In the same period, 27 journalists were assassinated, making up 79% of assassinations in the 2010-2013 period. Only one of the 27 cases saw someone punished for the crime.

Reports of some limited pressure against coup forces

  • Rare case – police sentenced to 5 years for torturing journalist… the then Globo TV cameraperson Uriel Gudiel was tortured in May 2011 while covering police repression against the resistance near the San Pedro Sula campus of UNAH university. Police Hortencio Lopez facing the evidence, pleaded guilty.
  • Police head Juan Carlos Bonilla under investigation, under pressure… Juan Carlos El Tigre Bonilla is accused of human rights violations including by Washington, and is accused of more recent murders – business person Reginaldo Panting in 2003; the son of ex-head of police Ricardo Ramirez del Cid this February, and Bonilla was recently shown in a video planning with others to capture Zelaya in July 2009 shortly after the military coup. He is under investigation, not for these, but, according to human rights prosecutor German Enamorado, to see if there have been irregularities in his nomination of officials, for having promoted officers to high positions who failed lie detector tests.
  • Mission for EU to follow up on human rights violations in Bajo Aguan… A mission including the Ambassadors of Spain, Germany, France and Italy re-visited Bajo Aguan over two days from 24/4/13, meeting with different sectors and sides, discussing the violent deaths of around 100 farmers and a smaller number of security guards of the palm oil giants. The visit coincides with Honduran human rights organisation Cofadeh being in the region collaborating with a team of Guatemalan forensic exports carrying out an exhumation of a clandestine grave at Paso Aguan. The body of José Antonio Lopez Lara was found in this clandestine grave on 3/4/13. José’s daughter confirms that José was threatened repeatedly with being disappeared if they saw him around there anymore, and he was disappeared when he went there to go fishing for food for his family, by private guards of palm oil plantations.

Honduras coup update for March 2013

Political persecution in March 2013 …

In March 2013, two political activists were assassinated. Such assassinations take place every month. This month they are:

Eduardo Mord Rivera (37), the spokesperson for Mocra farmers’ movement and a leader of the Regional Agrarian Platform of Aguan Valley, assassinated by hitmen;

Roberto Weddle Calderón, Choluteca resistance leader and Libre political party activist, who was found dead.

Farmers shot at, killed, gassed, evicted, and under threat …

On 5/3/13, at 9am, around 400 farmers, organised in Movimiento Campesino Refundacion Gregorio Chavez and stopping the Xatruch Military Operation from building a bridge for the Dinant palm company, were evicted by soldiers, police and security guards. The eviction was carried out with gunshots and teargas bombs. This took place at Paso Aguán, Panamá community, in Trujillo. Xatruch checkpoints with soldiers armed with M16s were installed at exit and entry points waiting for to capture the farmers. This state of terror also meant farmers did not answer their phones, leaving them incomunicado. Six people including three minors needed medical care after the teargas attack.

On 20/3/13, at 6.30am, a contingent of 15 patrols, 2 army commandos, 6 cars with heavily armed men, 3 buses of soldiers and a tank with peppergas illegally evicted 1,500 families of the farmers movements ADCP and CNTC in El Progreso from land they re-occupied on 16/2/13 at Agua Blanca Sur. Farmers left without engaging in a confrontation. The court-ordered eviction was illegal because the land – 3,644 hectares – was officially expropriated from the Azunosa sugar company (of SABmiller, which has a franchise to produce coca cola) for owning above the legal limit. It is state agrarian reform land since the first half of 2012, and there is a protection measure in the courts suspending any evictions. The contingent destroyed 50 makeshift homes and burnt belongings that were not removed in time. At 11am the farmers decided to re-enter and re-occupy when they saw Azunosa machinery that would destroy their corn, beans and vegetable crops move in. After that hundreds of police arrived to unleash repression, saved only by a court order to suspend the eviction. Farmers complain that since the eviction, guards are always around to intimidate, sometimes accompanied by cops, and company representatives take photos of the farmers, sometimes using hidden cameras.

On 21/3/13, Feliz Torres, leader of Renacer 1 de Mayo coop of ACDP received information about plans to kill him. He spoke with his daughter that afternoon who told him that a friend of hers knew of a meeting that took place in Azunosa, and told her to tell him to be careful, because he is amongst the people they want to assassinate. He holds Azunosa responsible for anything that happens to him.

On 23/3/13, on Saturday, Mocra spokesperson and a leader of the Plataforma Agraria Regional del Valle de Aguan, Eduardo Mord Rivera (37), was murdered by heavily armed men in a black van who fired at least 10 shots into his body, when he was moving around Tocoa doing a few errands. He has 3 children.

Community attacked for opposing dam project

The Copinh indigenous communities of La Tejera, Valle de Angeles, La Union and San Bartolo has been under attack – militarisation, harassment, threats, and with ongoing political judicial processes against Tejera community members Felipe Gómez and Domingo Sánchez. This all arose from the imposition of the Agua Zarca hydroelectricity dam project, with approval from the Congress and Environment Department, that the indigenous communities opposed in an open meeting because it violated indigenous rights granted under Convention 169.

Threats and persecution against alternative and community-based journalists

Julio Ernesto Alvarado (60), of anticoup TV and Radio Globo who runs the news programs Mi Nacion and Medianoche, has been subject to increasing and more severe threats this month. On 1/3/13, when Julio was broadcasting videos showing General Juan Carlos Bonilla strategising with others to capture ex president Zelaya back in July 2009, suspicious vehicles with people who looked like hitmen entered the Globo parking lot in an act of intimidation. On 5/3/13, a man went up the building – security guards believe it was to scout the place to plot an attack against Julio. After that a suspicious vehicle parked again in the parking lot as he was transmitting. On the days that followed similar events occurred with suspicious vehicles, some without numberplates, near Globo offices and suspicious individuals who asked where Julio Alvarado was. On 14/3/13, the day he criticised the slowness of the investigation on the Comayagua prison fire – 365 dead on 14/2/12 – his car was broken into but nothing was taken except a micro-filmer. Julio was also followed several times by people on motorcycles. Julio suspended the Medianoche program that is critical of police and army and had run 5 days a week since 2/1/11, because of the escalated threats. Julio has received threats regularly since a year ago. He is also a parliamentary candidate for Central American Parliament (Parlacen) of Partido Libre, and the vice president of Organisation of Iberoamerican Journalists. Threats are likely to be from police, according to Julio.

On 12/3/13, Pedro Canales, journalist of community radio La Voz de Zacate Grande was subject to persecution and death threats because he speaks up about the land conflict and struggle. Miguel Facusse, businessperson and the largest landholder in Honduras, allegedly contracted assassins. There were vehicles with dark windows and no number plates circulating regularly and suspiciously the area.

Threats against a human rights defender and his family

On 24/3/13, in San Pedro Sula, Hugo Ramón Maldonaldo together with his 3 underage children and their grandmother were followed and had their Santa Marta home surrounded by Brigada 105, and at 6.30pm. The army appeared to want to take him out from his home. Their lives are in danger. Hugo is a human rights defender of CODEH, a human rights organisation.

Resistance and political party activist found dead

On 26/3/13, in the afternoon, the coordinator of Choluteca National Popular Resistance Frontand activist of the Libre party since the beginning of 2013, Roberto Weddle Calderón, was found dead with his head beaten, in a putrified state.

Unionist dismissed

On 4/3/13, unionist of Sitraihnfa Juan Angel Nunez Espinal was dismissed from his job by current IHNFA (Families and Children Department) director Felipe Arturo Morales, violating union rights. Juan worked at the Centro de Integracion de Atencion a la Ninez in Nacaome, Valle. There are ongoing appeals that make the dismissal illegal, and he has been under threat for 2 years, for which he had been making complaints. He is an active union member.


Reports of 
general mililtarisation

On 4/3/13, near the El Chimbo post, 4 armed police went into a bus for Santa Lucia and talked with a youth at the back of the bus and took him away without anyone knowing why.

During this Easter week the roads were militarised, access roads to the capital city were occupied only by military with 30-50mm machine guns.

Snapshot of Solidarity and Resistance in Honduras and beyond …

The Caminata por la Dignidad y la Soberanía arrived at the Congress in Tegucigalpa on 6 March 2013. It had begun on 25 February 2013 in El Progreso (200kms away) and La Esperanza. The demands were abolishing the mining law and cancelling mine and dam concessions, and abolition of the neocolonial model cities law and freedom for political prisoner José Isabel Morales of Bajo Aguán farmers movement MCA, who is locked up for a murder he did not commit. Those from the walk held a sit-in outside the Congress that afternoon, and occupied and slept there at night in the cold, many with the flu and sore feet. At this point they did not ‘win’ in terms of their demands, yet the bonds and connections formed are seeds planted for an ongoing struggle.

On 8 March 2013, Friday, the International Women’s March in Tegucigalpa was massive. Women met and chanted outside the Teachers College, then arriving at the Congress buildings. Chanting, ‘the people, they ask themselves, and these ones who are they? We are feminists, of the revolution!’, and other chants were strong and included references to burning the parliament. Women’s day activities were held nationally.

The La Nueva Esperanza community, which participated in the caminata, returned to their community in Atlántida (near but further than El Progreso), and organised to keep watch and respond to intrusions by the mining company La Victoria (and maybe others) that they are fighting to stop. They climbed the mountain en-masse to document and witness the damage the company has done already and where the company is intervening, including points where rivers begin. The community of 200 has normally not seen a police presence. They bravely face constant confrontation, intimidation and harassment by newly installed police placed to protect mining interests.

At Aguan Blanca Sur, 1500 families of two farmers movements ACDP and CNTC reoccupied, were evicted, and reoccupied again four hours later. It is a land reclaim movement with strong objectives of food sovereignty, burning company sugar fields and preparing land for corn, beans and vegetables.

In Tegucigalpa, a photographic exhibition was organised called ‘Because the resistance continues’, showing images of 25 women fighters who in this historical time of crisis believe deeply in refoundation, as a process of construction, counter-hegemonic, anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal, and a process of struggle against political sovereignty.

Save the Forests ran a petition signing campaign against the World Bank for giving a $15 million credit to Dinant in 2009, despite Dinant’s implication in the assassinations and violent land conflicts. While the World Bank investigates the case, they are about to give a second credit of the same amount to Dinant. The petition demands that the finance stop. http://www.salvalaselva.org/mailalert/909?ref=nl&mt=1543

Newsflashes from March 2013

Activists including from Copinh warn that the US has plans to open a third US military base in Honduras that could be the biggest in Latin America, but that it is a secret. The first was in the 80s, Palmerola in Comayagua. The second was in 2010, in Mosquitia, installed in the name of fighting against drugs, and its operations have caused deaths in 2012 and have affected the fishing and hunting livelihoods of the indigenous communities, with the noise of helicopters breaking the jungle silence.

A law about communication medias is under discussion. There are debates as to the implications of the bill.

A public apology was made by police head Juan Carlos Bonilla for the accusation he made against the Libre Party, the accusation being that the party doctored the video that shows him strategising with others to capture Zelaya in July 2009 at the beginning of the coup, at the Nicaraguan border.

An audit report showed abnormalities in tax exemptions and mining licences that the Defomin department gave to the mining company Caridad S de RL, of around $2 million. The audit was carried out for the period 2006 to end of 2010, and the tax exemption in question was granted using an article in the mining law that had been abolished. Eyes are on the department, but no mention was made of criminal proceedings against the company for fraud.

Honduran government intends to reform the financial situation by selling government bonds. This plan to sell bonds of $500 million to pay back over a 100 years term, is still to be approved by the Congress, but the basic idea is that the government feels pressured to sell something to pay its bills (internal debt), to medicine suppliers, etc. The interest rate that the government will pay is 12%, which Honduras plans to pay for through the devaluation of currency (something that will increase costs of living of people). This was based on an announcement of Finance Minister Wilfredo Cerrato. The bonds were accepted by a British bank. Cerrato tried to sell the deal as something good because otherwise he says they would need to sell other public assets like pension and insurance funds. But none of these reform measures have good long term outcomes for Hondurans.

February 2013 Honduras Coup Summary (this month 2 versions were made)

Hondurans walk the walk to talk the talk

Hundreds of Hondurans have begun a 12 day walk to protest against land-grabbing and the continuing militirisation of the country. The Hondurans started their long walk on 25th February in El Progreso in the north and others started from La Esperanza in the west. The walk, called Caminata for Dignity and Sovereignty, planned to arrive in Tegucigalpa for International Women´s Day on 8th March. The walkers are uniquivocal in their demands: They say NO to Model Cities, No to the Mining Law and call for the liberation of Chavelo, a political prisoner.

Palm oil: the sleight of the government hand means more lost land

Globally, the temperature is rising and with it an increased demand for palm oil. The renewable energy goals of the US and the EU have seen production of palm oil triple from 2 million to 8 million tonnes. Unfortunately, to feed this addiction between 50 and 227 million hectares have been taken from farmers around the world. Here in Honduras, the situation worsens under the pressure of Honduran elites who, assisted by the 2009 coup, have used favourable mining laws and increased militirisation to enforce the seizure of land, especially of Afro-Indigenous communities´ ancestral lands, for palm oil, and for model cities.

In a complimentary move, government MPs have approved the creation of model cities moving Honduras beyond being a refuge for these Honduran elites who perpetuate the acquisition of pastoral land, to open up the landgrabbing to transnational companies. A seditionary move has been made by concerned Honduran residents, which launched the charge of abuse of authority against MPs who recently approved the creation of these model cities. Sadly, however, Antonio Trejo, a member of the Associación de Abogados Justicia en Acción, who placed the charge in September 2011, was killed a year later. The charge brought a ruling of unconstitutional to model cities initially, but the congress sacked the judges who made this ruling and got model cities passed again as a decree.

US gives a greater shot in the arm for their military in Honduras

The Honduran environment cannot camouflage the growing national and international military presence within Honduras. Since the 2009 coup, funding from the US has jumped 3 times in size than what it was 10 years ago. This has resulted in 5 US military bases being renovated, whilst extra funding has been directed to the Honduran police and military. Furthermore, according to the Associated press, Washington authorised $1300 million for military electronics in 2011 alone.

There are claims that drugs are easily moving through Honduras, but US History Professor Dana Frank (Professor where?)says, the US is using the War against drugs as pretext to deepen its military alliance with Honduras. In fact, the Honduran government has been widely implicated in drug trafficking in the country. US antidrug operations, with the help of Honduran police, were recently involved in the massacre of indigenous Miskitias in Ahuas. 

´(the) US needs to stop arming killers of Honduras and allow those in opposition the space to define their own future, free of US intervention, Dana Frank adds.

An image conscious Coronel calls enough!

Coronel German Alfaro Escalante, who leads the Aguán military operation Xatruch III, is concerned that farmers and human rights defender are damaging the international image of Honduras by producing biased conclusions and accusations about the work of the Xatruch III Operation that militarises the Aguan region.

The Coronel, in a recent press conference, expressed his intentions to charge the farmers´ spokespersons Vitalino Álvarez, Yoni Rivas and Will Paz and published a list of organisations whose work, he claims, has been denigrating the Xatruch III operation. The coronel defended the work of Xatruch III denying that it had harrassed, tortured and murdered people in Aguán. The unhappy Operation leader likewise denied executing forced evictions and illegally detaining farmers and opposition organisers along with their families.

To Read more, visit here:

http://www.foodfirst.org/en/War+on+Honduran+peasants

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-frank-honduras-drug-war-20130212,0,1104889.story

Carbon trading is betraying! Copinh reiterates its rejection of REDD +

Another form of carbon trading, the REDD+ forest offsets program, is closer to becoming implemented in Hondruas after Conpah, a confederation of indigenous organisations of Honduras, signed a letter with the World Bank FCPF to formalise their participation in the REDD Readiness Preparation process. However, the REDD process has been slammed by the Indigenous organisation Copinh as a new trap for indigenous peoples. The organisation claims the process is a means for outside agencies to put forests on the speculative market at the expense of the people who look after them. Copinh, which represents 2000 indigenous Lenca communities in 4 provinces, has raised its protest against REDD and against having been misrepresented (a report falsely indicated Copinh as a participant of the process) in a letter to the FCPF coordinator Benoit Bosquet.

Copinh cites the lack of transparency and representation as reasons why other organisations, such as Ofraneh, are not part of Conpah and will not participate in the REDD process. Copinh reiterates that the REDD process is fraudulent because it neglects to address issues of deforestation by large logging companies nor does it address climate issues. Rather, the organsation criticizes the process as another stepping stone towards further landgrabbing, monocrop expansion and a greater militarisation of the community.

Who keeps an eye on the security? A UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries reports security under threat due to too many security guards in Honduras

A report released by the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries claims that the high number of private security agencies facilitate human rights violations in Honduras. The investigation, represented by Patricia Arias, claims that of key concern is the insufficient regulation performed by the Security Secretary to manage both registered and illegal security agencies.

Honduras currently has 706 private security companies which employ between 60,000 to 70,000 guards. Stunningly, this doubles the amount of all police and army personel in the country. The report reminds that while 70 farmers have been killed in the last 3 years, human rights violations by private security companies continue without investigation.

This February, 6 organised farmers were killed in Aguán including the brother of the assassinated farmers lawyer Antonio Trejo, back in September 2012.

(see the next section, under persecution)

News shorts

  • Anticorruption prosecutor Henry Salgado has been exposed for corruption in a recent report by Revistazo. The Truth Commission has Salgado has been named for violating public duties and for not having shown serious efforts to bring about justice in known cases of corruption. The report affirms in many cases Salgado dropped cases after receiving bribes.
  • General Prosecutor Luis Rubí has been accuse of squandering $441,113 of public funds and for falsifying documents provied to OABI, the Office Administering Confiscating Goods. An investigation, launched by the US embassy upon the request of Rubí, has highlighted that only 14 out of 285 complaints were investigated in 2011 and that the DPP failed to follow up on 186,024 complaints made to police bodies.
  • The Education Minister Escoto is clamping down on the right of teachers to take leave from teaching for indefinite periods after threatening to suspend the licenses of 15 teachers if they take further leave. The minister states any extra leave will be considered as an abandonment of their teaching position.
  • The government has expressed intentions to merge the Child and Family Department IHNFA with the Human Rights Justice Department. The merger, which has been mandated by the IMF, aims to privatise government responsibilities, reduce salary payments and eliminate union organisations.
  • The IHNFA has already had $107 million lempiras withheld by the government and has been forced to cut its staff from 2000 to 1200 employees. The reduced body of staff is charged with providing assistance to 3.2 million Honduran children.
  • A video was leaked onto social media on 22 February showing the Police Director Juan Carlos Bonilla planning to the capture of the deposed president Zelaya. The video, made in July 2009, entitled, operation to assassinate the president Mel Zelaya 2008, details a plan to capture Zelaya on his second attempt to enter Honduras.
  • 100 ex security guards of Orion Security began their own occupation of a Boleros farm after they were dismissed by René Morales´ security company. Some of the guards, who were dismissed after striking for more pay, have also begun an occupation of the farm Guanchias No.2´.

Persecution in February 2013

Summary of political killings in February 2013

Juan Perez, organised farmer of MOCRA, was killed on 2/2/13.

Williams Alvarado, organised farmer of MUCA, was killed on 2/2/13.

José Trejo, organised farmer of MARCA and brother of Antonio Trejo (assassinated MARCA lawyer, 9/12), was killed on 16/2/13.

Santos Jacobo Cartagena, organised farmer of MUCA, was killed on 16/2/13.

Yoni Adolfo Cruz, organised farmer of MUCA, and Manuel Ezequiel Guillen Garcia, organised farmer of MOCRA, were kidnapped on 21/2/13 and found dead on 23/2/13.

Feliciana Eligia Suazo, community leader in San Juan Tela, died as she left the court, on 5/2/13. She was denied accompaniment requested on health grounds several times.

José Andres Andrade Soto, lawyer of Tocoa Colón, was killed on 21/2/13.

Killings, evictions, detentions and charges against organised farmers

  • On 2/2/13, Juan Perez (41), member of MOCRA, was killed on his way home with at least 5 gunshots in the face, by large landholders’ armed groups, in front of the El Tigre community. His body was left in the middle of the highway. Juan is a farmer who worked the land in the hours before sunrise to feed his family. He has 9 children.

  • On 2/2/13, Williams Alvarado (23) was murdered in the Taojica community. Williams belonged to the Flor del Aguan cooperative, Aurora settlement of MUCA.

  • On 8/2/13, the president of the farmers’ movement MUCA’s Directive Committee, Juan Ramón Chinchilla was going home from a meeting, when he was intercepted, surrounded, detained and charged by a heavily armed Xatruch III military and police contingent of at least 30, at the central park of Tocoa. He was initially taken to the Tocoa police station, where he was told of the charge and arrest warrant for land usurpation and sedition that was applied for by the Dinant company of palm oil giant Facussé. He was transferred at 10.30pm to Trujillo 60 kms away and put before a judges hearing for over 2 hours, after which he was freed at 1am on 9/2/13 with bail conditions while his hearing continues.

  • On 16/2/13, José Trejo (55) was assassinated with gunshots by several men on a motorcycle, at Barrio Manga Seca of Tocoa. José a member of the San Isidro farmers cooperative of MARCA farmers movement, and is the brother of MARCA lawyer Antonio Trejo who was murdered in September. Jose had reported to the press many times the assassination of his brother, without imagining that 6 months later the assassins would kill him too. José, or Joche as his sister Gloria called him, was with Gloria just days ago in Tegucigalpa following up on Antonio’s death on which the authorities had made no progress. Now Gloria also has to put pressure for justice for Joche’s death.

  • On 16/2/13, heavily armed men in a vehicle assassinated Santos Jacobo Cartagena (42) with several gunshots to different parts of his body, while he was waiting for a bus to Tocoa, at the La Confianza turnoff. Santos was member of MUCA San Esteban cooperative.

  • On 18/2/13, Xatruch III head Colonel German Alfaro Escalante held a press conference, stating his plans to judicially persecute Aguan farmers organisations spokespersons Yoni Rivas, Vitalino Álvarez and Wilfredo Paz, who constantly speak up against the assassinations of Bajo Aguan farmers.

  • On 21/2/13, Yoni Adolfo Cruz of Lempira cooperative, MUCA, and Manuel Ezequiel Guillen Garcia of MOCRA, were kidnapped by unknown men as they finished their work on the farm for the day at the La Lempira settlement. They were found dead on 23/2/13 in the morning, in a putrefied state with signs of torture, with burns, hands tied up, and having been executed with firearms on the edges of the Concepcion finca.
  • On 22/2/13, an eviction order was issued against 1,500 families of MOCSAM who also belong to the farmers development organisation ADCP and the farm workers union CNTC, by the El Progreso courts. The land conflict is with the sugar company AZUNOS. The land was expropriated from the company by the state agrarian department in May 2012, and farmers have been recovering this land. On 25/2/13, at least 40 heavily armed guards of CAHSA sugar company approached with the intention of evicting.

  • On 27/2/13, Xatruch III operation, led by Colonel Germán Alfaro, and police together with security guards executed a violent eviction, firing live gunshots and teargas against farmers of the Gregorio Chávez refoundation movement at the finca Paso Aguan, in the Panamá community in Trujillo. They left 6 people with respiratory problems including a newborn girl, Iván Castillo (2) and Fabricio Castillo (3). During the eviction, the military threatened Glenda Chávez, the daughter of Gregorio Chávez. Gregorio was kidnapped 2/7/12 and found assassinated on 6/7/12, in a mass grave in Paso Aguan that was under the control of Facusse’s private guards.

Persecution against community activists

  • On 5/2/13, Feliciana Eligia Suazo (69), a well known community leader, dearly referred to as Doña Mena, suddenly died as she left the Tela court buildings, where she was questioned and accused of land usurption by people outside her community. She has authorisation from her community board Durugubuti (San Juan Tela) to use a field adjoined to a restaurant/hotel that belong to her, that is apparently being claimed as property of a foreigner who charged Feliciana. Judge Maria Elena Guzman Mejia opposed Feliciana’s request to be accompanied by members of her community and her legal representative. Oscar Garcia, coordinator of Comite de Defensa de Tierras of the San Juan community, had told the judge that Feliciana was in a poor state of health and cannot attend the hearing alone. Again as Mrs Suaza left the hearing hall, Oscar repeated to the judge about Mrs Suazos grave health state, to which the official Hernan Murillo said, ‘I don’t care’. Durugubuti has IACHR cautionary measures due to a history of abuse against the community. The Tela Court kept secret the name of the supposed landowner, calling him ‘usurped’. The community land and displacement became more at risk over time, with pressures from the tourism sector in the 80s, the 2009 coup, and now neo-colonial model cities.

  • On 13/2/13, police arrived firing shots to try to evict with inadequate equipment, against the Tela Atlántida communities of Nueva Esperanza where the community, fighting to stop mining companies there, installed a chain to watch the passing of vehicles. At times business cars without numberplates have entered there. On 18/2/13, at 3am, the police again threatened the community firing shots and proceeding to arrange posts and remove the access chain. The communities belong to the social and community justice movement Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia. The main business people harassing the community are Lenir Peréz (son-in-law of Miguel Facussé), owner of Alutech company. MADJ issues alerts of likely bloodshed against the community.

Lawyer murdered

On 21/2/13, lawyer José Andrés andrade Soto (62) was assassinated in Tocoa, Colon, shot by two individuals who waited for him as he left the National Registry of Persons RNP.

Student Organiser

On 26/2/13, National Sub-Secretary General of the Students in Resistance Front FAER Jorge Fernando Jimenez (known as JJ) was violently forced onto a taxi, inside which there were three youths (1 female) who began to empty his wallet After driving him a few streets they threw him out near the office of Central de Cooperativas Cafetaleras de Honduras, the workers of which came to his aid. JJ coordinates the presidential campaign. JJ is also a voluntary human rights defender. He has been detained by police more than 18 times during the coup. JJ has protective measures granted that have never been implemented.

Profiling of cyber activists by military

On 27/2/13, it was reported that General Germán Alfaro of Xatruch III began listing profiles of Honduras based cyber activists against the Honduran regime, in a closed doors meeting. Those profiled are likely to be persecuted by this group, called ‘state intelligence’, formed by soldiers, police, paramilitaries, and ex death squad members.

Highlights of Actions, and more resources

February 25, 2013 was the start of 12 days of mobilisation, Caminata Nacional Por la Dignidad y la Soberania Paso a Paso (National Walk for Dignity and Sovereignty – Step by Step), from El Progreso in the north and La Esperanza in the west, walking towards Tegucigalpa, to arrive by 8 March – international women’s day. The long walk is armed with joy – drums, dance, ancestral forces of Indigenous and black peoples. Their demands include the abolition of the mining law and the model cities law and the immediate release of political prisoner and farmer Chavelo Morales. There is not a step back… only forwards… step by step we are going to recover what is ours.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLEn0LRnnFk

Action alert

There is an online campaign (also demanded on the streets of Honduras in social movements), to demand the freedom of political prisoner and farmer Chavel. See his video here and find a link under the video for the petition.
http://www.soaw.org/presente/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=382&Itemid=81

Multilingual resources

Bajo Aguan, Grito por la tierra is now subtitled in several languages

English: Lower Aguan river valley, the clamor for land <http://blip.tv/play/AYOMvEsA.html?p=1>
French: Clameur pour la terre dans le Bas-Aguán <
http://blip.tv/play/AYOPgTMA.html?p=1>
Italian: Bajo Aguán: Grido per la terra <
http://blip.tv/play/AYOO72UA.html?p=1>
Portugues: Baixo Aguán, grito pela Terra <
http://blip.tv/play/AYOO6lgA.html?p=1>
Spanish: Bajo Aguán: Grito por la Tierra <
http://www.albasud.org/noticia/es/348/bajo-agu-n-grito-por-la-tierra>

 

 

Honduras Coup Update – February 2013 (this month 2 different versions were made..)

The coup and dictatorship evolved with the recent Congress approval of model cities and mining laws, and carbon trading agreements progress, with increased militarisation facilitating international landgrabbing against Hondurans, putting them at the whims of global markets. Hondurans are not taking it lying down, hundreds began a twelve-day walk from El Progreso (north) and La Esperanza (west).

http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/expanded-part-of-email-summary/as-the-coup-and-dictatorship-further-develops-

Another form of carbon trading – REDD+ advances, Copinh reiterates its rejection of REDD+

http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/expanded-part-of-email-summary/another-form-of-carbon-trading-

Dictatorships come with bloodshed, intimidation and military imposition. The force used involves a mixture of private and state militarisation. The UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries reported this month that there are too many security guards in Honduras

http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/expanded-part-of-email-summary/un-too-many-security-guards

This February, six organised farmers were killed in Aguán including the brother of the farmers lawyer Antonio Trejo, assassinated back in September 2012.

Other news showing plunder and neo-liberalism, corruption and impunity, and dictatorship under the ongoing coup regime:

  • A report by Revistazo exposed the supposed Anticorruption Prosecutor Henry Salgado, for corruption, ‘inside theft’, receiving bribes. Amongst the recommendations, the Truth Commission of the regime called for the dismissal and investigation against Salgado. Revistazo accessed a report that is not public of the Comisión de la Reforma a la Seguridad Pública, that concluded that Salgado violated public duties, abused authority and committed irregularities, and that the prosecutor’s department had not shown serious or consistent efforts to bring to justice known cases of corruption, eg by not following up cases for which bribes were paid.
  • General Prosecutor Luís Rubí is also accused of squandering $441,113, not having justified its use, and providing falsified paperwork when asked by the OABI (Office Administering Confiscated Goods). The same Luís Rubí requested the US Embassy to fund experts to evaluate the deficiency of the DPP department that he leads. The report highlighted that only 14 complaints of organised crime were investigated in 2011 out of the 285 received, and that the DPP failed to follow up on 186,024 complaints made to police bodies. The US funded experts made recommendations (that should not be taken as independent and apolitical) for the DPP and police to work better together, and to create a new unit of investigations in homicides and to strengthen the fight against drugtrafficking.
  • Teachers have a right to have leave from teaching for indefinite periods for teacher union organising. This is outlined in Estatuto del Docente, Article 13, 6. Education Minister Escoto, in Oficio Circular No 0019-SE-2013, identified 15 teachers on such leave, saying their licences are being suspended if they take further leave, saying such leave is illegal, and that such teachers will be considered to have abandoned their positions.
  • In order to comply withan IMF mandate, the Lobo regime has said it will merge the Child and Family Department IHNFA, with the Human Rights and Justice Department, with goals of reducing salary payments, privatising, and get rid of union organisations.
  • On 22 February 2013, a video entitled ‘operation to assassinate president Mel Zelaya 2008 disguised as a capture plan’ was published on social media including Facebook and Youtube. It is a video leaked from July 2009, showing the Police Director Juan Carlos Bonilla carrying an M16 together with other police/military personnel including Major Romero Palacios (labelled as field assistant of Juan Orlando Hernández) planning the capture of the deposed president Zelaya, detailing their operational plan for when he was going to cross the Nicaraguan Border in his second attempt to re-enter the country. The video also includes a recording of police security cameras where an armed commando assassinates two youths without apparent reason.
  • In a strange event, 100 ex security guards of Orion Security took after the farmers and began to occupy the Boleros farm when they were dismissed by René Morales’s security company. They had a strike demanding their pay, having worked many unpaid hours. In their new position they face their previous allies, having been partially disarmed by the 15th battalion, and expecting repression by the Navy, and by Xatruch units. Some also occupied the farm ‘Guanchias No. 2’

Persecution in February 2013

Summary of political killings in February 2013

Juan Perez, organised farmer of MOCRA, was killed on 2/2/13.

Williams Alvarado, organised farmer of MUCA, was killed on 2/2/13.

José Trejo, organised farmer of MARCA and brother of Antonio Trejo (assassinated MARCA lawyer, 9/12), was killed on 16/2/13.

Santos Jacobo Cartagena, organised farmer of MUCA, was killed on 16/2/13.

Yoni Adolfo Cruz, organised farmer of MUCA, and Manuel Ezequiel Guillen Garcia, organised farmer of MOCRA, were kidnapped on 21/2/13 and found dead on 23/2/13.

Feliciana Eligia Suazo, community leader in San Juan Tela, died as she left the court, on 5/2/13. She was denied accompaniment requested on health grounds several times.

José Andres Andrade Soto, lawyer of Tocoa Colón, was killed on 21/2/13.

Killings, evictions, detentions and charges against organised farmers

  • On 2/2/13, Juan Perez (41), member of MOCRA, was killed on his way home with at least 5 gunshots in the face, by large landholders’ armed groups, in front of the El Tigre community. His body was left in the middle of the highway. Juan is a farmer who worked the land in the hours before sunrise to feed his family. He has 9 children.

  • On 2/2/13, Williams Alvarado (23) was murdered in the Taojica community. Williams belonged to the Flor del Aguan cooperative, Aurora settlement of MUCA.

  • On 8/2/13, the president of the farmers’ movement MUCA’s Directive Committee, Juan Ramón Chinchilla was going home from a meeting, when he was intercepted, surrounded, detained and charged by a heavily armed Xatruch III military and police contingent of at least 30, at the central park of Tocoa. He was initially taken to the Tocoa police station, where he was told of the charge and arrest warrant for land usurpation and sedition that was applied for by the Dinant company of palm oil giant Facussé. He was transferred at 10.30pm to Trujillo 60 kms away and put before a judges hearing for over 2 hours, after which he was freed at 1am on 9/2/13 with bail conditions while his hearing continues.

  • On 16/2/13, José Trejo (55) was assassinated with gunshots by several men on a motorcycle, at Barrio Manga Seca of Tocoa. José a member of the San Isidro farmers cooperative of MARCA farmers movement, and is the brother of MARCA lawyer Antonio Trejo who was murdered in September. Jose had reported to the press many times the assassination of his brother, without imagining that 6 months later the assassins would kill him too. José, or Joche as his sister Gloria called him, was with Gloria just days ago in Tegucigalpa following up on Antonio’s death on which the authorities had made no progress. Now Gloria also has to put pressure for justice for Joche’s death.

  • On 16/2/13, heavily armed men in a vehicle assassinated Santos Jacobo Cartagena (42) with several gunshots to different parts of his body, while he was waiting for a bus to Tocoa, at the La Confianza turnoff. Santos was member of MUCA San Esteban cooperative.

  • On 18/2/13, Xatruch III head Colonel German Alfaro Escalante held a press conference, stating his plans to judicially persecute Aguan farmers organisations spokespersons Yoni Rivas, Vitalino Álvarez and Wilfredo Paz, who constantly speak up against the assassinations of Bajo Aguan farmers.

  • On 21/2/13, Yoni Adolfo Cruz of Lempira cooperative, MUCA, and Manuel Ezequiel Guillen Garcia of MOCRA, were kidnapped by unknown men as they finished their work on the farm for the day at the La Lempira settlement. They were found dead on 23/2/13 in the morning, in a putrefied state with signs of torture, with burns, hands tied up, and having been executed with firearms on the edges of the Concepcion finca.
  • On 22/2/13, an eviction order was issued against 1,500 families of MOCSAM who also belong to the farmers development organisation ADCP and the farm workers union CNTC, by the El Progreso courts. The land conflict is with the sugar company AZUNOS. The land was expropriated from the company by the state agrarian department in May 2012, and farmers have been recovering this land. On 25/2/13, at least 40 heavily armed guards of CAHSA sugar company approached with the intention of evicting.

  • On 27/2/13, Xatruch III operation, led by Colonel Germán Alfaro, and police together with security guards executed a violent eviction, firing live gunshots and teargas against farmers of the Gregorio Chávez refoundation movement at the finca Paso Aguan, in the Panamá community in Trujillo. They left 6 people with respiratory problems including a newborn girl, Iván Castillo (2) and Fabricio Castillo (3). During the eviction, the military threatened Glenda Chávez, the daughter of Gregorio Chávez. Gregorio was kidnapped 2/7/12 and found assassinated on 6/7/12, in a mass grave in Paso Aguan that was under the control of Facusse’s private guards.

Persecution against community activists

  • On 5/2/13, Feliciana Eligia Suazo (69), a well known community leader, dearly referred to as Doña Mena, suddenly died as she left the Tela court buildings, where she was questioned and accused of land usurption by people outside her community. She has authorisation from her community board Durugubuti (San Juan Tela) to use a field adjoined to a restaurant/hotel that belong to her, that is apparently being claimed as property of a foreigner who charged Feliciana. Judge Maria Elena Guzman Mejia opposed Feliciana’s request to be accompanied by members of her community and her legal representative. Oscar Garcia, coordinator of Comite de Defensa de Tierras of the San Juan community, had told the judge that Feliciana was in a poor state of health and cannot attend the hearing alone. Again as Mrs Suaza left the hearing hall, Oscar repeated to the judge about Mrs Suazos grave health state, to which the official Hernan Murillo said, ‘I don’t care’. Durugubuti has IACHR cautionary measures due to a history of abuse against the community. The Tela Court kept secret the name of the supposed landowner, calling him ‘usurped’. The community land and displacement became more at risk over time, with pressures from the tourism sector in the 80s, the 2009 coup, and now neo-colonial model cities.

  • On 13/2/13, police arrived firing shots to try to evict with inadequate equipment, against the Tela Atlántida communities of Nueva Esperanza where the community, fighting to stop mining companies there, installed a chain to watch the passing of vehicles. At times business cars without numberplates have entered there. On 18/2/13, at 3am, the police again threatened the community firing shots and proceeding to arrange posts and remove the access chain. The communities belong to the social and community justice movement Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia. The main business people harassing the community are Lenir Peréz (son-in-law of Miguel Facussé), owner of Alutech company. MADJ issues alerts of likely bloodshed against the community.

Lawyer murdered

On 21/2/13, lawyer José Andrés andrade Soto (62) was assassinated in Tocoa, Colon, shot by two individuals who waited for him as he left the National Registry of Persons RNP.

Student Organiser

On 26/2/13, National Sub-Secretary General of the Students in Resistance Front FAER Jorge Fernando Jimenez (known as JJ) was violently forced onto a taxi, inside which there were three youths (1 female) who began to empty his wallet After driving him a few streets they threw him out near the office of Central de Cooperativas Cafetaleras de Honduras, the workers of which came to his aid. JJ coordinates the presidential campaign. JJ is also a voluntary human rights defender. He has been detained by police more than 18 times during the coup. JJ has protective measures granted that have never been implemented.

Profiling of cyber activists by military

On 27/2/13, it was reported that General Germán Alfaro of Xatruch III began listing profiles of Honduras based cyber activists against the Honduran regime, in a closed doors meeting. Those profiled are likely to be persecuted by this group, called ‘state intelligence’, formed by soldiers, police, paramilitaries, and ex death squad members.

Highlights of Actions, and more resources

February 25, 2013 was the start of 12 days of mobilisation, Caminata Nacional Por la Dignidad y la Soberania Paso a Paso (National Walk for Dignity and Sovereignty – Step by Step), from El Progreso in the north and La Esperanza in the west, walking towards Tegucigalpa, to arrive by 8 March – international women’s day. The long walk is armed with joy – drums, dance, ancestral forces of Indigenous and black peoples. Their demands include the abolition of the mining law and the model cities law and the immediate release of political prisoner and farmer Chavelo Morales. There is not a step back… only forwards… step by step we are going to recover what is ours.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLEn0LRnnFk

Action alert

There is an online campaign (also demanded on the streets of Honduras in social movements), to demand the freedom of political prisoner and farmer Chavel. See his video here and find a link under the video for the petition.
http://www.soaw.org/presente/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=382&Itemid=81

Multilingual resources

Bajo Aguan, Grito por la tierra is now subtitled in several languages

English: Lower Aguan river valley, the clamor for land <http://blip.tv/play/AYOMvEsA.html?p=1>
French: Clameur pour la terre dans le Bas-Aguán <
http://blip.tv/play/AYOPgTMA.html?p=1>
Italian: Bajo Aguán: Grido per la terra <
http://blip.tv/play/AYOO72UA.html?p=1>
Portugues: Baixo Aguán, grito pela Terra <
http://blip.tv/play/AYOO6lgA.html?p=1>

Spanish: Bajo Aguán: Grito por la Tierra <http://www.albasud.org/noticia/es/348/bajo-agu-n-grito-por-la-tierra>

January 2013 Honduras coup update

Selling out and giving away fast and without limits … model cities and mining

Fast as lightning and in the night, the Honduran Congress approved both a new model cities law – a neocolonial project – and the mining law. This came after the Congress dismissed key judges who had been impeding the neocolonial project of model cities but were dismissed on other pretexts last month. Both laws have been broadly opposed by social movements, and the approval of both is seen as a sign of the further collapse of the nation-state. Shortly before this, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with British company BG for petroleum exploration and exploitation on the Moskitia Platform.

Approval of ‘model cities’ meant changing the Constitution to enable the creation of model cities, grant successful investors legal personalities, and a right to create their own judicial, tax and government system in a territory signed over to them. There are no limits on how much territory or where it is located, although it is easier to get less populated territories, being able to skip a plebiscite process. Approval of the mining law opened the door to around 200 new mining concessions, and legislation that implicitly allows open pit mining, facilitates mining companies’ access to water, and threatens the continued access of communities to the same water, lack of genuine community consultation. This law was written only by ignoring the input of social organisations. Both laws are selling out…

read more here on the approval of model cities law: http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/expanded-part-of-email-summary/model-cities-sudden-reapproval

read more here about how model cities have been part of a grand plan: http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/expanded-part-of-email-summary/model-cities-as-grand-plan-that-dates-back

read more here about the approval of the mining law: http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/expanded-part-of-email-summary/sudden-approval-to-plunder-underground

The United Nations special rapporteur on judicial independence denounced the judges’ dismissal as an unacceptable move against democracy. These dismissals mean that the Congress, allied with local and international capital interests, has consolidated a monopoly of power, a dictatorship with less diverse and contradictory alliances within the state than before. As part of a grand plan, the coup in 2009 plotted to eliminate the participation of possible forces opposed to the plunder of resources, and to consequently submit the national territory to unelected forces with enormous financial capital and finally to undermine any residual justice administration – through eliminating last traces of judicial independence.

Read more here about judges being still dismissed: http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/expanded-part-of-email-summary/judges-still-fired

This happened at a time when much of the public sector was on strike protesting at not having been paid, – IHNFA children and family department, teachers, psychiatric hospital.

Details here on strikes http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/expanded-part-of-email-summary/public-sectors-on-strike

Other news…..

  • A visit from the the new head of US Southern Command John Kelly to defacto president Lobo and the US Embassy in Honduras took place on 8/1/13. Little details were offered by the US embassy spokesperson as to details to be discussed. John Kelly replaced Douglas Fraser in November 2012. In August, Fraser met with Lobo to talk about CARSI, bilateral security aid between US and Honduras.
  • A loan of $34 million from the Finland government was approved by Congress President Juan Orlando Hernández, for projects to introduce electricity to 700 villages, to be carried out by ENEE, Honduran state electricity company.
  • The head of army under the 2009 defacto Micheletti coup regime, Romeo Vasquez, declared himself as a presidential candidate for the November elections with the party Alianza Patriotica. “We will fight hard to put order and security in this country, combat corruption and impunity, so that investment and employment can come. We have to fight against common delinquency and organised crime in a big way.” Other candidates are Xiomara Castro for Libre, Juan Hernández for National, and Mauricio Villeda for Liberal.
  • The Multinational Commission of Support for the Reform of Public Security asserted that there is a lack of political will, leadership and integrated plan to reform the police force, with fragmented and contradictory efforts that makes the process rocky. The Commission is made up of international public officials, justice officials, business people, academics, journalists, civil society and international community.
  • A decree by MP Waldina Paz just awarded a $25,000 a month lifetime pension to the ex president (1982-1986) Roberto Suazo Cordova, who caused almost 200 people to disappear, and hundreds of political assassinations. He also was responsible for giving territory to the US military, to Contras and the Salvadoran army, to selling nationality with a passport package, selling sovereignty, and fostering corruption.
  • Over 500 women were killed in Honduras in 2012, according to Centre for Women’s Rights CDM. The final number is pending on official data being compiled. CDM highlighted that half the news the media publishes in Honduras are of homicide and there is a lot of sexual violence. From 2005 to 2011, femicides increased by 300%.
  • A book was published revealing how Grupo PRISA, a media group, was involved in and linked to the coup. Amongst the shareholders of PRISA are Silvio Berlusconi, Carlos Slim and Deutsche Bank. Author: Gonzalo Sánchez. Chapter of book, Honduras, el sueño liberador convertido en pesadilla opresora’
  • The Caribbean coast of Honduras is eroding but there is not much being done to counter climate change in Honduras. The only focus by the state and corporations had been on false solutions like REDD and CDMs (the latter named ‘River Destruction Mechanisms’ by Ofraneh, being mostly funding for hydroelectricity dam projects). Beaches are being lost increasingly and quickly, due to coastal erosion and climate change, with coconuts that form barriers from erosion on the coast fast disappearing due to a virus known as coconut lethal yellowing. Coconuts were imported from West Africa and were part of the Garífuna informal economy. Their disappearance began with Hurracane Mitch, but came from decades of deforestation, sedimentation of rivers and lack of action and restoration to address these. Garífuna communities proposed a plan to recover 6000 hectares of coconut in Honduras but this was not supported by the state. Ofraneh tries projects of icacos and sea grape nurseries as a fast response to the loss of beaches to create natural protection in a minimal way. With the barrier ceding, the lagoons Tocamacho, Bacalar, Micos and Alvarado are in grave danger.

Political Persecution in January 2013

Summary of political murders

MOCRA organised farmers Luis Antonio Ramos Reyes and Manuel Antonio Perez were shot dead by hitmen on 11/1/13.

Neighbourhood and grassroots resistance organiser and Libre party activist Ángel Francisco Durón Raudales was killed with others by hitmen on 17/1/13.

Killings and detentions against organised farmers this January

  • On 11/1/13, farmers Luis Antonio Ramos Reyes (24) and Manuel Antonio Perez (27) of movement MOCRA were shot dead instantly by people in a vehicle, when the two were leaving a two months old land recovery occupation at the buildings of CURLA (a regional university centre at the Altantic coast in Aguan) on land occupied by CURLA but that has been abandoned for many years. Luis came from another province, Yoro, and Manuel from Remolino on the left bank of the Aguán river, and is the father of 2 children. Both Luis and Manuel fought for equitable land distribution. MOCRA is made up of 600 families and began land occupations on 20 July 2012.

  • On 21/1/12, an army unit of the 15th battalion of Colón headed by Captain Oliva, detained a farmers truck carrying African palm fruit on the pretext that although the truck contained a note authorising the fruit’s transport to the La Trinidad cooperative, that they needed the original not the photocopy. When the farmers, on human rights organisation Codeh’s advice, obtained and showed the original note, they were then told by the army unit that there was new information from another company of the same region that they were stealing their fruit. Fifteen days before, a similar patrol detained them and let them go to deliver their fruit to the processing plant that buys their fruit after they gave the patrol around $400 (war tax).
  • On 24/1/13, farmer Florinda Rodríguez was detained by police and taken to the police station, in Tocoa’s commercial area. Florinda is of the La Aurora settlement of MUCA.
  • On 25/1/13, farmer Tiburcio Díaz (57) was detained by police when he was driving to the grazing area of the La Lempira settlement of MUCA to which he belongs. Tiburcio was arrested just for carrying a low calibre revolver 38, used in his work with cattle, when landowners’ guards freely circulate and assassinate, carrying around high calibre arms.

Assassination of community organiser and party activist

On 17/1/13, Ángel Francisco Durón Raudales was assassinated together with 5 others near his home, by hooded men armed with pistols who immediately fled after the crime. Ángel was an exceptional activist in the grassroots resistance and the neighbourhoods organiser of the same and founder of Libre party collectives in the north of Tegucigalpa.

Threats against indigenous organiser

On 4/1/12, Berta Cáceres reported that during December, she and her family received death threats. She is a leader of Copinh – indigneous organisation opposing violations against sovereignty of Honduras, defending natural resources and human rights.

Evictions and militarisation against teachers protests

  • On 3/1/13, at midday in San Pedro Sula, teachers at a sit-in that started at 7am in front of Inprema (pension institution) were evicted, repressed and beaten by police who were guarding the council building.
  • On 4/1/13 in Tegucigalpa, teachers protesting unpaid salaries had their access to the government house blocked and militarised.

Threats, detentions and harassment against critical journalists, human rights defenders and writers

  • From 1/1/13, journalist Selvin Martinez of Puerto Cortes had been receiving text messages from phone number 32410727 warning they will kill him. On 6/1/13, at night, two men on a motorcycle parked for minutes in front of his home to terrorise his spouse and children. Selvin has protection measures under the security department having suffered two attempts on his life with firearms during 2012.

  • On 6/1/12, journalist and human rights defender Itsmania Pineda received a threat via mobile call at 6pm in which a man said to her, ‘bitch, we are going to kill you!’ and later the same night she picked up another call in which she heard voices of men and someone loading a gun. On 8/1/12 at 12.27pm she received a text message from number 88144796 warning her not to play with fire, saying that not even her bodyguards will save her, although she does not have body guards anymore, ´el que escupe para arriba en la cara le cae. ¡No juegues con fuego, que ni tus guarda espaldas te van a salvar, caminas botadita, cuídate´. Then on 9/1/12 at 8.26am she received yet another message saying, ‘at any moment we are going to throw you into the crematorium, we are going to be your nightmare’. She already has a history of receiving death threats and e-attacks. Itsmania is a founder of Xibalba, an organisation that works with youths to leave gangs, and helps youths to remove tattoos to stop them from being targets for police. Because of her precarious situation she has been granted protection measures, but two senior police Somoza and Suazo sent to protect her were removed as part of the process to clean up the force. They were replaced by Commissioner Navas who was murdered soon after. Then an officer Victoriano López Centeno against whom she has made allegations of criminal activities and whom she has given evidence against was assigned to protect her. Itsmania has to distance herself from her loved ones to protect them.
  • Co-founder of Xibalba, Maria Isabel Barahona Morales also received death threats. She tried to leave Honduras but her surname was altered in the civil registry preventing her from leaving the country.
  • On 15/1/12, writer, young historian and founder of Artists in Resistance (a political organisation created after the 2009 coup) Edgar Soriano was unjustly detained at 10.30pm at Barrio Abajo in Tegucigalpa by a police patrol, for making a facial expression to his friend in front of the police patrol for which he was told to get into the police van and was, without explanation, taken to the Manchen police station. The human rights defender Leonel Casco who came to intervene advocating Edgar’s release was detained as well, both were released after 6.30am.

  • On 16/1/12, human rights defender Leonel Casco, answering the call of a friend of Edgar Soriano’s to intervene for Edgar’s release, arrived at CORE7 offices at midnight and spoke with various officers and with Edgar. At 1.30am the head of Metropolitan Uno Bonilla Andara arrived as he was leaving, and Leonel identified himself and explained that he was seeking Edgar’s release. Bonilla Andara questioning Leonel about what evidence he had, and when Leonel spoke about the case and what he knew and how he believed the inspector committed an illegal detention and abuse of authority for which he could proceed against. This made Bonilla Andara angry and he then instructed the police to detain Leonel saying he was disrespecting him. At 2am Leonel was enclosed in a 4mx4m cell with 30 others in which he had to stand up the whole time as the guard Sierra had earlier thrown water on the cell floor. At 6.30am everyone was taken out to have their case verified by Sub Inspector Zepeda and other agents. Everyone was then moved to a bigger cell with prisoners to have an evangelical pastor preach for 15 minutes calling everyone sinners and saying they must be grateful to God for having the opportunity to be detained by police and that even though it may not be pleasing that it was a blessing because the police were just finding a way of protecting them as there are people dying violent deaths all the time. He called on the prisoners to reflect on the experience as an opportunity to change the kind of life they have lived to now. Leonel was released after the lecture. Bonilla Andara who ordered Leonel’s detention was also responsible for having the human rights defender Trejo detained in September 2012, days before Trejo was then killed by hitmen.

  • On 16/1/12, at 1am, police arrived at a gay disco in Tegucigalpa making insults against lgbti community members and saying the disco should close early according to a council order. Erick Martínez began documenting the police abuse. Erick left but returned to check on the situation and took photos when he saw they were arresting several people and beating and humiliating them for their sexual orientation. A group of police then pounced on and attacked Erick physically and confiscated his mobile phone and deleted information and photos on it. They said derogatory words to him relating to his sexual orientation, and detained him from 2.30am with two others at El Manchen police station.

Repression of a feminist protest

On 25/1/12, feminist and women’s organisations protested in front of the Supreme Court demanding that justice be brought quickly in the cases of femicides in the courts. They were met by antiriot cops who closed the streets, blocking their way to the Congress through orders of the Congress President, violating the people’s right to freedom of movement. The women, who included old and pregnant women and children, who tried to go through, were beaten by police, some had bruises and beatings on their stomachs.

Snapshot of resistence in Resistance and solidarity in and with Honduras in January 2013

Teachers protesting not having been paid in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula held sit-ins and marches on the days building up to return-to-school.

Also for not having been paid, workers of Mario Mendoza psychiatric hospital, and of Child and Family Department IHNFA, went on strike too.

Farmers of Aguán mobilised in hundreds on 14th January, defending land, and calling for an integral agrarian transformation, and punishment for over 100 assassinations against farmers.

People were massively on the streets on the rainy afternoon of 24th January, from different collectives and neighbourhoods, blasting protest music from teacher union vehicles megaphones, burning tyres, and young people painted on the walls openly about the lack of honest media. The night before the Congress had approved the neocolonial model cities and mining laws.

Another protest outside the Congress against the approval of model cities and mining law was held on the morning of 29th January 2013, with many members of Indigenous Lenca, Afro-descendent Garífunas, arriving with banners and chants that their homeland ‘is not for sale, not for lease…but for defending’, with drums, incense in a bucket, with maracas, with dance, defending their ancestral land. Photos: http://nicaraguaymasespanol.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/honduras-organizaciones-se-movilizan.html video:
http://video.latam.msn.com/watch/video/centenares-de-hondurenos-en-pie-de-lucha-contra-ciudades-modelo/1gje2u8i1?cpkey=6c50ae05-c4c0-4934-9d85-cffabcb13c93%257c%257c%257c%257c

Women chained themselves in front of the Supreme Court on 25/1/13, as a demonstration of the oppression that Honduran women live, to demand that the courts process effectively the cases of femicides. They then marched towards the Congress, but their path was blocked with streets closed by police checkpoints. Some women tried to pass through and were met with beatings. They also demanded the ratification of the CEDAW protocol, abolition of the decree that prohibits the sale, distribution and promotion of morning-after pills, and condemned the continuous aggressions and violations against indigenous and farming women who struggle in defence of their communities, cultures, and territories.

The Anonymous ´hackers´ collective continued its attack of the Honduran Government’s web pages, a campaign launched in protest at model cities. At least 28 government pages were attacked. They leave the mark ´hashtag´ #CMEnHondurasNo (Ciudades Modelos En Honduras No). An arm of Honduran Anonymous collective – @LegionHonduras, put on twitter, ´the protest will continue until the government hears the voice of the people, we don´t want our country to be sold´. They also warned of more important attacks on the same day, to make their messages known.

A guide was published in English and Spanish for activists and communities working to protect against mining companies, http://www.movimientom4.org/wp-content/docs/guide-for-communities-lowres.pdf

Update on Honduras coup December 2012

December 2012 – Honduras Coup Summary

Human rights organisations fear a worse and more absolute dictatorship than that in place already, because of the tensions between the legislative and judicial arms of the state demonstrated in the Congress´s coup against the Honduran Supreme Court, dismissing four key judges.

http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/expanded-part-of-email-summary/human-rights-organisations-fear-a-worse-and-more-absolute-dictatorship-than-that-in-place-already

 

A new $160 million carbon trading deal claimed to be the first private one in Latin America was announced in the media, with a Chinese company intending to buy credits from a Honduran company.

http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/expanded-part-of-email-summary/a-new-160-million-carbon-trading-deal-claimed-to-be-the-first-private-one-in-latin-america-was-announced-in-the-media-with-a-chinese-company-intending-to-buy-credits-from

 

Petroleum exploration by the British company BG Group is about to begin, to last 4 years, over 300 square kms in la Mosquitia region of Honduras.

http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/expanded-part-of-email-summary/petroleum-exploration-by-the-british-company-bg-group-is-about-to-begin-to-last-4-years-over-300-square-kms-in-la-mosquitia-region-of-honduras-

 

Feminist organisations exposed plans for the Family Department to merge and disappear several departments including the Women´s Department INAM, which was created as a result of feminist struggle.

http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/expanded-part-of-email-summary/feminist-organisations-exposed-plans-for-the-family-department-to-merge-and-disappear-several-departments-including-the-women%C2%B4s-department-inam-which-was-created-as-a-res

 

Some end of the year statistics on murders and political persecution from different sources

·         Honduras continues to be the country with the highest homocides per capita in the world, at 91.6 per 100,000,according to the Organisation of American States.  The most attacked professions were journalists, lawyers (26 in 2012), taxi drivers and assistants, and minibus fare collectors.

·         Assassination of women increased by 30% from last year (512), according to Visitación Padilla Women for Peace Committee.

·         Nine journalists were killed in 2012 in Honduras, out of 45 in Latin America, according to CIAP-FELAP.

·         Honduras, Brazil and Colombia were listed by Amnesty International for violations against human rights defendersin connection with land conflict and megaprojects.

·         149 people (6 per month) were killed by Honduran police between January 2011 and November 2012, according to UNAH director Julieta CAstellanos.

Itsmania Pineda Platero of www.xibalbahonduras.blogspot.com reported that assassinations ince the coup included:

·         34 journalists and media owners

·         74 lawyers

·         7,896 children and youths

·         489 women

·         78 farmers of Bajo Aguán

·         111 police

·         54 lgbti community members

She also mentioned 400 human rights defenders under threat (herself amongst these), 60 journalists who have protection orders because of the threats against them, and killings of teachers, workers and unionists

Political persecution in December 2012

Detentions against organised farmers of Bajo Aguán

·         On 2/12/12, MUCA farmers  Celio Rodríguez, Hernry Peréz and Daniel Munguía were arrested at a police checkpoint at the Pinos community of La Ceiba and detained for 2 hours at the police chief office of Los Pinos. They were at Los Pinos buying supplies for the small shop in the farmers’ settlement La Confianza in Tocoa. The police hurt the wrists of Daniel Munguía when they put on the handcuffs.

·         On 1/12/12, at 4pm, a farmer of the Gregorio Chávez Refoundation Movement, Santos Maldonado, was arrested at a Xatruch III military checkpoint, when he was on a Sonaguera bus (from which he was forced off) near the Braulio turnoff in Tocoa Colón. He was accused of land usurpation. Santos lives in the Remolinos community on the left bank of the Aguan river. In les than four years, at least 3100 farmers had been charged because of their participation in land struggles.

Death threat against journalist, human rights and environmental defender

On 27/11/12, Juana Dolores Valenzuela received a death threat by email, saying, ‘for your tongue we are going to kill you one of these days, when you are going to learn to respect (…) old hag you never learned (…) you got to be old, daughter of the big bitch with the tongue, they are not going to be able to close the coffin with such a big tongue.’ The email was sent at 2.30pm, and opened at 4pm. That morning, Juana appeared on a state TV program on Channel 8 talking with the president of the mining commission of the Congress about open pit mining, illegal logging exploitation and hydroelectric dams. On the program she mentioned the names of people who are responsible for environmental destruction. She is a journalist at Revistazo.com and periodicoecovida.com (environment news site) who reports on the issues she presented on TV.

Community on alert

On 26/12/12, Indigenous organisation issued an alert when a Copinh community, Montaña Verde, was invaded by landowner Neptaly Arnaldo Toledo.  Montaña Verde has been in a struggle for land title for over 15 years. The agrarian department INA has shown no will to resolve the situation, violating the convention on rights of Indigenous Peoples 169. As Montaña Verde is rich in natural resources with water, cloud forests and wildlife, it faces threats of REDD+, mines, privatisation of rivers, etc. It has the history of its community activists, Marcelino and Leonardo Miranda, being captured, tortured and held as political prisoners. The community decided to hold the invader until INA resolved the land title.

Young political leader murdered

In the morning of 7/12/12, a leader of Pinuistas Socialdemocratas en Resistencia movement, Eduardo Alejandro Coello Chávez, was assassinated and his body was found with a gunshot in the head, near El Trapiche in Tegucigalpa. He is the son of Dr Carlos Sosa Coello – the national coordinator of the same movement and an ex pre-candidate for PINU, and an ex-Honduran ambassador to the Organisation of American States. Eduardo leaves behind a 6 months old daughter and a young spouse. The family were heading to France soon.

Threats against dismissed judges

The dismissed high judges of the Supreme Court reported threats:

·         On 17/12/12, José Antonio judge Gutiérrez Navas left Honduras as an asylum seeker and seeks protection for his life, in Spain where his spouse is from

·         Another dismissed judge José Francisco Ruiz Gaekel reported interference with his email account, and that judges are being followed.  Eg after a meeting with some judges a few left together and they were looked at and photographed.

Eviction of a plaza occupation

On 18/12/12 at about 6.30am, a heavy contingent of national, council, tourism and migration police carried out an eviction (likely ordered by council Mayor Dr Juan Carlos Zuniga) against the Plaza La Libertad occupation in San Pedro Sula. Police arrested and detained Julian Yesteni Mejía, a volunteer doctor from Cuba. The plaza has been occupied by FNRP resistance activists since the 28/6/09 coup and has been used frequently for protests against repressive and anti-people measures of the coup regime. Threats of evictions have been made before by the current mayor, but until this time none were carried out. On this occasion the only people present was the Cuban doctor passing through, a humble elderly vendor of sweets, and a Christmas art display built by the Colectivo La Libertad that was completely destroyed in the eviction.

A new video out….to watch/share/screen – Lower Bajo Aguán Valley: Clamour for the Land (English subtitles)

This 30 minutes documentary on the land struggle in Bajo Aguán has just been subtitled to English

http://www.albasud.org/video/en/22/bajo-aguan-grito-por-la-tierra-english-version. It has been shown in screenings around Honduras, and in a film festival in Italy.

Update on Honduras Coup for November 2012

Terrible wave of assassinations

Primary elections were held in Honduras on 18 November, preceding general elections in November 2013. There were reports that the primary elections were fraudulent and expensive, having cost over $300 million – 8% of its general budget, and with numbers having been manipulated during counting, reporting, distribution of ID cards by candidates to voters, and buying of votes. Despite fraud, the resistance´s electoral arm LIBRE reported having received over 600,000 votes, that if repeated in the general elections, would mean 40 MPs and 100 mayors. More about the election: http://hondurasresists.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/re-founding-honduras-from-below.html andhttp://www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/20/honduras-post-coup-elections/

The threat to fire teachers who went on strike on August 22, 30 and 31, 2012, was implemented by the executive approving a decree to dismiss over 1000 teachers nationally for having missed class these days. http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/expanded-part-of-email-summary/threats-of-firing-teachers-who-went-on-strike-22-30-and-31-august-2012-were-followed-through-as-the-executive-now-approved-a-decree-to-dismiss-over-1000-teachers-national

Big business is propelling a campaign for the Congress to extend the decree of ‘employment by hours’ program. The program violates job security. Since its initiation fast food companies, shopping centres, factories and state institutions have dismissed 40-80% of their permanent staff only to reemploy these on casual and temporary contracts

IFEX-ALC reported that between  2010-2012, 49 journalists have been killed in Honduras (25) and Mexico (24), amongst the 74 journalists killed in Latin America. Other countries in which journalists were also killed are (in order): Brazil, Ecuador, Perú, Colombia, Guatemala and Argentina.

US Department of State issued warnings to its citizens saying it is dangerous to travel to Honduras. It referred to the high crime and homicide rates, and how 24 US citizens have been killed since January 2010 and all cases remain open. It does not refer to the coup in this warning, rather, it says that the Honduran government has insufficient resources, and to drug trafficking.

Political persecution in November 201

Summary of killings

Three farmers were assassinated at Paso Aguán on 5/11/12.

MARCA farmer José Cecilio Peréz Martínez was found dead and tortured on 10/11/12, having been kidnapped and disappeared by hitmen the day before.

MARCA farmer Adelmo Leiva was killed by hitmen on 25/11/12.

El Libertador reported that 3 farm labourers were assassinated by hitmen at the El Coco turnoff in Tocoa on25/11/12.

MOCRA farmer of Los Laureles, Wesler Santos Avila, was assassinated by hitmen on 29/11/12

LIBRE mayor pre-candidate Edgardo Adalid Motiño was assassinated by hitmen on 3/11/12.

The mother of David Díaz, an artist in resistance, Trinidad Girón Valladares, was killed on 21/11/12.

Evangelical journalist Ángel Edgardo López Fiallos was killed by hitmen on 8/11/12

Killings, attempts and judicial persecution against farmers

  • On 9/11/12, at 6am until 11am, at least 300 army soldiers entered and terrorised the Panamá community (350 families) occupying the Paso Aguán settlement. They intimidated the community, invaded at least three homes without judicial orders and detained farmer Elmer Hernández after invading his home. It was reported also that on 5/11/12 three farmers were assassinated while doing personal affairs in this settlement. The community decided to recover the farm after farmer Gregorio Chávez was kidnapped by palm giant Facussé´s security guards and found dead there in July.
  • On 10/11/12, farmer of MARCA movement and La Despertar cooperative president José Cecilio Peréz Martínez was found dead with signs of torture and more than 3 gunshots on his body and head after he was kidnapped on 9/11/12 at 4pm in Tocoa, together with the MARCA pick-up by three heavily armed men. José was with two other MARCA comrades including the treasurer, who was beaten, but both companions were freed. He was found by farmers searching for him at El Tigre village 3 kms from Tocoa, inside an abandoned car. José had cautionary measures from IACHR. They also took $16,000 he had just withdrawn from the bank and was carrying to distribute to families of the Despertar cooperative, but it was clearly not only to rob him because of the torture evidence and history of killings against MARCA farmers and defenders.
  • On, 10/11/12, a group of hitmen ambushed farmer leaders Yoni Rivas and Vitalino Álvarez – they managed to escape the attempt having heard the loud explosions of the high calibre arms and having reacted quickly. They were at the turn off, having just returned to La Confianza settlement from an agro markets expo at Cortés. They also reported that their telephone lines had been silenced to impede their report of the persecution that occurs.
  • On 25/11/12, farmer Adelmo Leiva (41) was waiting for a bus at the Trujillo bus terminal, with his partner and daughter to go to his community, when he was assassinated by hitmen on motorcycles with automatic 9mm firearms. Adelmo is a member of the MARCA cooperative El Despertar in Aguán. This happened at the same time that a grassroots agrarian platform complained to the EU about the wave of violence and assassinations in Bajo Aguan.
  • El Libertador reported that on 25/11/12, 3 farm workers were assassinated by heavily armed men in a moving car, part of the land conflict in Aguán, when they were waiting for a ride at El Coco desvío in Tocoa.
  • On 29/11/12, MOCRA (Movimiento Campesino Recuperación Aguán) of Los Laureles settlement Wesler Santos Avila (26) was travelling to Tocoa on a motorcycle to the Taojica community when he was intercepted by a car at the La Confianza turnoff. Hitmen in the car riddled him with over 10 bullets in the throat and head, killing him and then fled. Wesler was previously a member of the MCA Brisas de Edén cooperative, and the secretary of ACAN – National Farmers Association.
  • On 30/11/12 , investigative and police agents detained 5 MUCA members Orlando Romero (MUCA president), Celio Rodríguez, José García, Alejandro Sorto and Iván Dubón, for over two hours, in San Pedro Sula, only because they were carrying cash  to stock a small shop and another community business of homeware and bicycle parts in La Confianza. They were interrogated about the money´s origins and freed at 5pm when they proved that the money and car they were in were legal.

Authorities´ persecution against Indigenous activists and organisations

  • On 2/11/12, 15 police illegally detained Lenca indigenous and Copinh (indigenous grassroots organisations council)members and activists Felipe Gómez, Gerardo Sánchez and Domingo Sánchez, of the Tejera Río Blanco community, without showing these an arrest order or explaining where they were being taken to. The three campaign against the hydroelectricity dam project Agua Zarca that would privatise the Gualcarque River, which was approved despite an open meeting where everyone in the community expressed opposition to the project. They were freed with substitutive measures while the court process continues.
  • On 13/11/12, National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) staff arrived at the Copinh offices where two community radio stations operate. They threatened to confiscate equipment, and ordered Radio Guarajambala FM to reduce its broadcast strength and switch to another frequency. The radio began in 2002 and was assigned frequencies already used by evangelical and commercial radio stations, causing saturation and interference. When Conatel was unresponsive, it began to broadcast on other frequencies on its own initiative. In 2007, despite rejection by Conatel´s own legal department, Conatel accused Copinh of broadcasting on a frequency that interferes with Radio Metropolis – a radio of a different province – Comayagua. The order now is for Copinh to carry out the changes within 10 days or their broadcast material would be confiscated and they would be fined at least $50,000. Their radios had been under siege many times before by armed groups.

Killings and attempts against political candidates

  • On 2/11/12, a van with 3 hooded individuals in black and bullet-proof vests, who identified as police, abruptly stopped. The three came out and loaded the guns they carried and ambushed a woman accompanied by children – she had her driver´s window open and the attacker closest to her saw her face and realised she was not who they were looking for and made signals to his colleagues and they got back into the van and left leaving the victims terrified. The woman is the daughter of María Luisa Borja´s friend, who happened to drive a car that looks the same as María´s and she was taking the same route María normally takes. María Borjas is a lawyer, pre-candidate for Tegucigalpa mayor, ex-police commissioner and ex-head of internal affairs of the security secretary. She has received many threats without being given any kind of protection.
  • On 3/11/12 unknown persons assassinated with several shots LIBRE Morazán Yoro mayor pre-candidate and activistEdgardo Adalid Motiño at the building of the Movimiento Resistencia Progresista of the LIBRE party. Edgardo had just arrived at the office after being part of a Libre caravan headed by Xiomara Castro (spouse of deposed president and Libre presidential candidate), when he was killed.

Intimidation and massive dismissals against activist teachers and students

  • On 1/11/12, in Comayagua, a hooded and cobras police and investigative agents´ contingent of 40 to 60 broke into the home of Coprumh teachers unionist (and Libre party mayor candidate) Abelardo Suazo without an entry warrant – they violently broke the front gate, went into the yard and frightened youths who were playing football, even grabbing one by the neck and pointed their guns. The police saw a desktop and a laptop computer inside and took the data and serial numbers of these. Abelardo questioned what the police were doing but presumes it is related to the Education Minister Escoto´s statements accusing the teachers unions of stealing over 100 computers and in which Escoto complained that teachers were ´sabotaging and boycotting the activities of the education department´ with reference to the ´computer for every child project´. Abelardo said Escoto has been asking for provincial and district department information to select teachers to check and denigrate.
  • An executive decree 155-75-SE-2012, introduced by Escoto, dismissed over 1000 teachers nationally following previous announcements that teachers who were not in class on 22, 30 and 31 August 2012 (days of strike action) would be dismissed. Lists had been issued of dismissals in Tegucigalpa, with the school most affected being Instituto Central Vicente Cáceres with large numbers of teachers being dismissed including its school principal.
  • On 20/11/12 UPNFM teachers college in San Pedro Sula summoned a number of students to appear at the advisory centre of the university for disciplinary hearings, as the latest of its acts of persecution of activist students.

Killing of a journalist

On 8/11/12, in the capital city, at about 11.30am, Ángel Edgardo López Fiallos (35) left his home in Colonia San Miguel to go to work at Bible Societies Group (SBH) at Bulevar La Hacienda when at the height of Barrio La Hoya, men on a motorcycle attacked. When Ángel resisted, they fired shots at and assassinated him, and also wounded a youth, Gerardo Enrique Mejía. Ángel works as a journalist at HRCV, La Voz Evangélica de Honduras, studied journalism at UNAH and has worked for 8 years as a radio journalist and presenter at the evangelical radio station Stereo Luz 103-7fm. He worked also as a community development worker at the SBH. He was carrying in his backpack his laptop and some personal things and police claimed it was a robbery.

 

Threats against environmental defenders

On 30/11/12, the National Coalition of Environmental Networks reported that environmental defender and journalist Juana ´Lolita´ Dolores Valenzuela has received death threats. They also expressed concerns for other environmental defenders under threat: Pedro Landa, Carlos Amador, and other members of the Valle de Siria Environmental Committee, Bajo Aguán MUCA members, MADJ members and other defenders nationally.

 

Labour rights violations against human rights defenders

Employees of the Justice and Human Rights Department, lawyers José Martínez, Sergio Barh, Tania G, and journalists Leonel Palma, Fredy Tejada, Roberto Reyes and others complained of dismissals and forced resignations by the department – 12 were affected but most appeared collectively on Hondured Channel 21 on 9/11 to demand that the department minister protect their jobs, after they had made a statement complaining of labour rights violations.

 

Mother of an artist killed

On 21/11/12, in Comayagüela, in the afternoon, Trinidad Girón Valladares died a violent death, the circumstances of her death are unknown. Trinidad is the mother of David Díaz of Venas Abiertas Collective. Venas Abiertas designed many of the posters calling out for people to participate in mobilisations, solidarity concerts, for solidarity with various struggles etc.

 

Snapshot of actions in and in solidarity with Honduras

 

As the primary elections took place, grassroots organisations of the resistance organised and participated in a National Summit of Struggle and developed a common agenda to continue their struggle against the neoliberal model of the regime at a time when grassroots struggles are distracted by electoral ones.

 

Following the summit, and as decided at the summit, a massive grassroots mobilisation took place on 27/11/12 to defend rivers, natural resources, communities´ right to land titling of their territories, in defence of indigenous radios and public education and teachers´ rights, protesting against Congress´ intentions to approve the mining bill, against the constant violation of basic rights and high cost of living and privatisations.

 

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) made a submission of evidence (expert testimony, periodic compilations of crime against humanity committed in the last year, and evidence of lack of accountability so far for crimes committed in Honduras since the 2009 coup, to the International Criminal Court, calling on the ICC to take up the case.  http://ccrjustice.org/files/Honduras%20ICC%20Final%20thursday.pdf

 

A letter writing campaign began by Honduras Resists, to send letters to World Bank (President Jim Yong Kim, The World Bank Group, 1818 H Street NW, Washington DC 2043) demanding its cutting off of the funds it sends to Miguel Facussé and Dinanthttp://hondurasresists.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/family-fleeing-persecution-struggle.html

Update on Honduras coup – October 2012

The Truth Commission report headed by prominent human rights defenders (as opposed to the official one) is now complete and public. It analyses the context for the military coup and the gross human rights violations, highlights the role of the USA, verifies human rights violations and concludes with recommendations for justice to be made. Further or alternative reading on this: http://upsidedownworld.org/main/honduras-archives-46/3941-honduras-truth-commission-releases-report-about-coup-related-violence-and-repression

The model cities legislation was officially voted down in the Supreme Court, with 13 of 15 judges agreeing that the legislation is unconstitutional, one against, one abstaining. This was after a full-on campaign by social organisations, and threats for the Congress to re-introduce something similar continues. Meanwhile the ruling on the charges placed against 125 of 128 MPs continued unresolved – if they are ruled guilty the congress would dissolve.

The threats to reintroduce the legislation come from Congress President Hernández and Legislative Advisor Diaz. New York Times reports revealed that amongst the ideological advisors for model cities is Mark Klugmann, who was an advisor to Lobo in his first presidential campaign where he proposed the outsourcing of justice application services. Klugmann is well-known in Latin America for his participation in state privatisations. He has also been accused in Guatemala of having induced assassinations of urban bus drivers there to create a state of terror, to get a military candidate elected (Otto Peréz Molina, with his iron fist policies). Klugmann is also in Honduras the intellectual author of iron fist policies and advocates the implementation of the death penalty in Honduras.

Environmentalists said that the Mining Bill is expected to be approved in December, that community consultations are only a show, and that this would open up many new concessions to which communities are opposed – over 400 mining concessions including 64 concessions in Santa Bárbara. Along with these there is also an MOU expected to be signed with British Gas for exploration and exploitation of petroleum over 2500 sq km on the Mosquitia coast where oil is known to exist. BG has asked for 3.5 million hectares for petroleum exploration, Chevron has expressed interest in it too. ´Information sessions´ were held on the Bill between June and August but tactics were used to exclude social organisations and prevent citizen participation, by changing dates and places without notice or in the last hour for example. It was also reported that inputs which communities have tried to make were ignored. The Environmental and Natural Resources Minister said inside the Technical Commission that the Mining Bill, ‘will be approved, because it will be´,  no later than December 2012. The processes were so fraudulent that the National Coalition of Environmental Networks formally withdrew from the process. Communities are also excluded from the consultation process about the plans for petroleum exploration and exploitation on the Mosquitia coast, in addition to the intention not to have a public tendering process.

Congress also approved without public tender and behind closed doors the purchase of 8 high tech speedboats for the navy. costing $62 million

Pressures to privatise state sectors continued, as did violation against state workers´ rights.

  • Electricity workers union Stenee reported that Head of Hondutel and coup proponent General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez may proceed to sell 49% of the shares of this state institution to recover financially. This would lead to job losses.
  • The regime decreed that the school year will extend from 30/11/12 to finish instead on 21/12/12, because of stop work days and strikes. The Copemh high school teachers union opposes this.
  • Further, the Education Minister Escoto tried to discredit the teachers union by accusing it of stealing 100 computers and 2 cars. But the union said they were just talking about boycotting activities of the Education Department, in this case the one computer per child project which Copemh has denounced as non- existent.
  • After the success with the unconstitutional charges over model cities, Copemh placed charges of unconstitutionality against the Fundamental Law of Education, for attacking teachers´ work stability, and its use as an instrument of control and persecution.
  • At the IHNFA child protection department, workers went on indefinite strike for over a week with ongoing issues of unpaid salaries, systematic persecution against union leaders by IHNFA human resources including discharge hearings, intimidation and forced transfers and pressures for workers to resign. IHNFA has also been inadequate in attending to children and families and is trying to declare itself as destroyed rather than to strengthen itself, as attempts continue to replace IHNFA with Defensoría de la Niñez, which would, if approved, privatise the institution.

Reports about femicides and environmental damage that are ´collaterals´ to neoliberal rules and imminent social and environmental impact.

Femicides: in 2012 so far, with 2 more months until the year finishes, 269 femicides have been reported according to the Special Women´s Prosecutor Grisel Amaya.

Reports of environmental damage: At the Los Micos and Mico Quemado lakes in Tela, millions of fish appeared dead, presumably killed by chemicals used to fumigate palm oil plantations.

Another report about impacts of palm plantations mentioned the alteration of flora and fauna in the region, the industry’s high water needs causing soil to dry, pesticides and artificial fertilizers poisoning the underground water and rivers, plantations destroying ecosystems of affected areas, monocrop destroying biodiversity, and the release of CO2 into the atmosphere with chopping.

 

Meanwhile, Colombia committed to increase military aid to Honduras in the name of ‘war against drugs and organised crime’ and ´modernisation´ of Honduran armed forces. Arms used in the US operation Fast and Furious have been smuggled into Mexico from US and also made it into Honduras (and Puerto Rico and Colombia) organised crime networks.

 

In the courts, lack of justice continued in the case of high police official Héctor Iván Mejía, on trial for having ordered a violent eviction against hundreds protesting in Central Park on 15/9/10. Charges were for the crime of violating the duties of officials, illegal detention, and injury. In the hearing on 18/10/12, the charges of illegal detention and injury were dismissed by the court, leaving only the charge of violating the duties of officials. He managed to obtain from the court substitutive measures to prison while the hearing process continues, as he lodged an appeal on the remaining charge

 

Persecution in October 2012

Summary of political killings in October 2012

  • Douglas Madrid Peña was in a highway blockade opposing model cities and mining concessions when he was killed by hitmen on 4/10
  • 2 farmers were killed in a confrontation with guards and security forces as a land occupation began in Santa Ana, Atlántida
  • Garífuna farmers Óscar Daniel Sánchez Batista, José Olivera Nolasco and Marco Hernández Gonzales were killed in Farallones by palm company Dinant guards when they were going fishing.

 

Killings and threats against environmental and justice defenders

  • On 4/10/12, at the 6 de Mayo community in Macuelizao, Santa Bárbara, 4 armed men got off a pickup and fired shots at a group that were part of a highway blockade and fled, killing with 4 bullets Douglas Madrid Peña (about 20 years old). Douglas was about half a km from the large group, being one of 15 youths who were stopping non-authorised vehicles from passing through when they were attacked. The highway occupation was organised by the community council Patronato Regional de Occidente (PRO), protesting against unfulfilled promises by government, against mining concessions and against model cities.
  • On 5/10/12, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights ordered protection/cautionary measures for environmentalists and MADJ (Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia) members César Adán Alvarenga Amador and Roberto García Fúnes, noting increasing threats and harassment against both in the last months, in written and phone threats, due to their work in human rights and environmental defence in Atlántida.

Killings, judicial persecution, and threats against farmers, land occupiers and their advocates

  • On the night of 4/10/12, during a land reclaim occupation that MOCRA (Movimiento Campesino Recuperación Atlántida) was starting at Santa Ana, Atlántida, on land held by CAISESA-Frisco, of an Aguán palm giant René Morales, a confrontation between 60 soldiers and 60 farmers took place and the death toll reported included two farmers (including German Emilio Castillo), and a soldier Luis Alfredo Varela. 18 farmers were detained (including 2 women and 2 minors) and taken to an unknown place. A dozen farmers were reported disappeared. 2 soldiers and 5 guards were reported wounded.
  • On 6/10/12, at Farallones, Colón, garífuna (Afrodescendent) farmers Óscar Daniel Sánchez Batista (26), José Olivera Nolasco (30) and Marco Hernández Gonzales (28) went out to fish prawns; their bodies were found the next day in Farallones. All with bullet wounds and hands and feet tied up. It was claimed that Dinant security guards shot at them when they entered to ´steal tepezcuintles´ (animals) within a supposed reserve area that the palm giant Facussé had imposed on the area. Police said the guards then captured and held the workers for several hours before assassinating them and burying them in a mass grave in the night. Investigative agents found the bodies, the trailer and the arms used (6 shot guns, a 9mm pistol), and also mobile phones and a Toyota 2.8 with provisional plate PP01979 that has traces of blood in the cabin. The area was originally belonged to the Limón Garífuna community before being usurped by Facussé in 1994.
  • On 6/10/12, hearings began for 24 farmers arrested on 21/8/12 protesting outside the Supreme Court. In the hearing charges of illegal carrying of arms and damages were dismissed for lack of evidence, but they continued to accuse the farmers of ´illicit protests´. The farmers were given substitutive measures to prison while their hearings continue.
  • On 8/10/12, leader of Vía Campesina, lawyer, and Libre MP candidate Rafael Alegría revealed to the public that death threats had been made against him. He was warned, including by Honduran authorities, about knowledge by state intelligence authorities of a plan to assassinate him. Notifications came from defacto president Lobo, Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla, and police director Juan Carlos Bonilla. Sources say that the attempt is planned for after the internal elections in November. He believes the plan can be from the large landowners responsible for the grave agrarian conflict, and or in relation to his leadership position in FNRP and Libre.
  • In La Paz, Los Laureles Indigenous community members protested at being persecuted by security guards and hitmen of José David Morales, having had eviction threats by José David Morales for a month. Morales is a self-proclaimed owner of land which the community of at least 100 families have been occupying for over 6 months, living in makeshift plastic and cardboard homes. When the community approached the Agrarian Department seeking resolution they were simply told they may be evicted by police/army at any time. The farmers said that Morales was detained 1.5 months ago with 4 hitmen in possession of 25 weapons in Gualazara, but was freed hours later because of the influence he has.

 

Attacks against journalists

  • On 2/10/12, journalist Elizabeth Zuniga was forced to go into hiding for 3 days because of an arrest warrant the court issued against her for charges of defamation – for saying on air in 2007 that there are public officials who are thieves who bought goods for themselves with state funds, naming Choluteca Council Alderman Dr Luis Alonzo Naravaez. Naravaez then placed the charges against her from 2007 – for which on 16/11/09 she was sentenced to 2 years and 8 months jail. She successfully appealed that ruling, but on 16/8/12 the Supreme Court criminal hall voted unanimously to condemn her to 1 year 4 months of jail for the same charge, and the arrest warrant stemmed from that, until she voluntarily appeared in court to appeal the prison term and fine. Elizabeth is the radio director of ´Facts and News´.
  • On 17/10/12, JBN journalist Selvin Martinez and his family continued to receive death threats from his attacker Joaquin Molina Andrade, who is now in prison. Joaquín attempted to kill Selvin on 11/6/12. Joaquín has been calling Selvin saying ´We are going to give it to you where it hurts most; your children, your mother, and your woman´.
  • On 23/10/12, MUCA farmers movement journalist Karla Yadira Zelaya was at a bus stop going to uni when 3 hooded men with police/military build kidnapped and tortured her for about 3 hours. They forced her into a van, saying to her in a low voice, ´shut up and walk´ and blindfolded her and said, ´you are Karla…collaborate, we won´t do anything to you, we just want the names of the MUCA leaders, is it true that Jhony is the head of MUCA?´ and, ´only by killing those heading the movement we can put an end to the movement´, as they hurt her breasts and stomach with a sharp object. They said to each other that she does not want to collaborate, and one asked another if they should kill her. ´It´s because you keep opening your mouth too much, and we have warned you by messages and you haven´t wanted to listen, and so today is your day. We won´t kill you or anything because you are worth more to us alive than dead´. They let her go telling her she was lucky this time, but warned her she would not have the same luck next time and that they know where she and all her family live and all of MUCA´s movements and that ´at any moment we are going to find you and you give us the information that we need.´ Previously, Karla was amongst the 28 farmers detained on 21/9/12 and was beaten and photographed by police, and she received death threats after that, which renewed on 21/10/12 after she uploaded photos about the repression on 20 and 21/9/12 and on the murder of Trejo. She received messages on 21 and 23/10/12 saying, ‘you are tiring me, don’t you fear to die bitch I´m going to kill you´ and ´look, don’t get into what does not concern you because you already know what happens to people who get involved, bitch with your brat kids they are going to find you´.
  • On 24/10/12, within 100 metres of a police checkpoint with 4 police at Los Llanos, journalists Nery Arteaga and Ninfa Gallo were intercepted by 6 men with police ID who got off a van with weapons yelling, ´we are national police´ and began to beat, insult and rob them. They robbed the journalists´ vehicle and equipment (a professional video camera, 2 laptops, 2 mobiles, 2 cameras, papers and documents, and belongings of value inside). The robbers fled in the direction of the police checkpoint. The journalists had just finished transmitting their program ´Noticias y Debates 51´. Some taxi drivers saw the robbery and took the journalists to the police, whose response was ´the patrol is in a bad state.´

Harrassment against human rights defenders

On 31/10/12 palm giant Miguel Facussé and Irene Castro (private secretary of Dinant) sued Andrés Pavón, president of CODEH (Honduras Human Rights Committee), for slander and defamation, for having made a statement pointing to Facussé as responsible for the killing of Antonio Trejo (22/9/12) and human rights defender Carlos Escalares (2005).

 

Complaints of persecution against ministers and deposed president

  • On 5/10/12, Agrarian Minister Cesar Ham stated publicly that palm giant Miguel Facussé has sent someone to kill him, referring to when Facussé warned Ham through the media that ´everything that he (Ham) did he is going to pay´. Ham said the threats started because ´we don´t accept bribes´. Ham said that even Lobo advised Ham personally that there are intelligence reports that there is an attempt being prepared against him, with hitmen who are paid in advance, and told him to be careful in his movements. Ham is a supposed leftist leader inside the government. Miguel Facussé denied Ham´s accusations.
  • There have been death threats also against Human Rights and Justice Minister Ana Pineda.  She has received threats since the beginning of her term but it has reached a point where she has to make the threats public.
  • On 25/10/12, journalists of Globonoticias (César Omar Silva) and Tras la verdad (José Luis Galdamez) denounced that there were hitmen following all the caravans in a party political demonstration headed by deposed president Zelaya and his spouse, and Libre presidential candidate Castro, to assassinate Zelaya. The security of ex-president Zelaya have detected armed persons who try to infiltrate the caravans of these demonstrations around Honduras.

Snapshot of some resistance actions undertaken in Honduras this October 2012

 

Workers of the child protection workers union Sitraihnfa held an indefinite occupation for at least a week at different offices nation-wide fighting for their rights and against the privatisation of IHNFA.

 

Protestors rallied outside a hotel where Michael Strong, who wanted to build the first model city, was staying, screaming, ´Michael Strong, go home!´

 

PRO – a coalition of community organisations in Western Honduras occupied the western highway opposing the mining bill, dam concessions, and unfulfilled promises of infrastructure.

 

A sit-in was held outside the Dinant (palm company) office highlighting its repression against Bajo Aguán farmers, and a callout was made to mark this date of Mesoamerica Solidarity Action with Honduras, for simultaneous actions at Honduran embassies in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Mexico.

 

Honduras coup – summary September 2012

While secret agreements were being signed to start building model cities, positions changed – a grassroots campaign was mounted on the streets and in the courts and finally, in the beginning of October, the Honduran Supreme Court declared model cities unconstitutional in a majority vote.

Is it over? Have the people won? Time will tell. Supreme Court President Áviles said a plenary will be called in 10 days to decide on proceeding to build model cities or not, and the Honduran congress president Hernández said he does not ´share the court´s version´…

The concept of model cities is seen by many as privatisation of entire cities, and creation of one state inside another. UN Rapporteur for Liberty of Expression Frank la Rue considers model cities a violation against national sovereignty and human rights that would displace peoples. They are also called Charter Cities by the idea´s instigator Paul Romer – ‘charter’ literally means for hire cheaply for private use.

Model cities can become spaces for legislatively unhindered experiments with nanotechnology, GMOs, money laundering, etc. Romer has been looking for somewhere to turn his ´dream´ into reality for years after an initial failed sovereignty-destroying experiment in Madagascar. It was after the military coup in Honduras that Xavier Arguello, the son-in-law of Panamanian ex-Honduran President Maduro, called Romer offering Honduras for his political economical experiments, and negotiations and talks began from there. The idea´s proponents include Patri Friedman, grandson of Milton Friedman, Peter Thiel (owner of paypal and expert in coverage funds), and Free Cities Groups owned by Michael Strong and Kevin Lyons – they call themselves libertarians. Its proponents inside Honduras include the infamous palm oil giant Miguel Facussé.

Promises of jobs and ´development´ are what its proponents use to sell and push model cities, with the basic elitist theory that developing countries are stunted by poor regulations, but if wealthier countries came along and took control and made its laws for them, wealth and jobs can be generated for the benefit of people there. Friedman argues that democracy would hinder this. This is alongside the injection of capital and technological and skills transfers. The projection for jobs to be created was 5000 in October, when building was presumed to start, 15,000 jobs in 2013, 30,000 jobs in 2014, etc… For one thing the number of jobs do not match up with confirmed investment ($14 million from Michael Strong´s company), and such promises are not legislated or contracted. On the other hand, the jobs persuasion is within the capitalist paradigm, where the individual’s wellbeing and greatest good can only be attained through more available jobs at whatever costs (but never enough for everyone, or the capitalist system collapses) by allowing a freer flow and greater control by capital. Model cities legislate for colonisation – control and domination by a body with capital over a territory and its people.

Honduran institutions and stops-and-starts in the development of model cities

In January 2011 the Congress approved legislation for building model cities with 126 votes in favour and only one against.

On 4 September 2012 it was announced that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed towards building the first model city, between a Honduran state body Coalianza (Commission for Promotion of Public Private Alliances) and a consortium NKG or MKG (different sources quote different name) headed by Michael Strong, and witnessed by Congress President and model cities advocate Juan Orlando Hernández. There is no more information available about finances, financers, or type of industry(s) intended, except for the $14 million commitment. With investigations by El Heraldo, doubts are raised about if the company exists and if it has the capacity to fulfil the contract. Strong is the founder of http://www.flowidealism.org (Freedom Lights Our World) and the author of book, be the solution; how businessmen and aware capitalists can resolve all the problems of the world.

Around the same time, three possible sites were announced – Valle de Sula, Puerto Castilla (including Aguán, Vallecito…, areas of existing land conflict where persecution is rife), and the southern region (including Zacate Grande) – all regions that include ports and existing infrastructure.

As legislated, a ´transparency committee´ – a body to oversee and control the implementation of model cities – was nominated with five members, headed by Paul Romer as a ´guarantor´, which was never officially ratified by being published in La Gaceta, and was forming until the idea was applied differently than originally understood. Romer protested about lack of information the ´transparency committee´ had access to relating to the MOU signed with NGK. Romer withdrew from this model cities project. The secrecy around the MOU is problematic to democracy because of the lack of access for Honduran people who will be affected, but what Romer protested was that the committee does not have access. His objective is not to have information available democratically.

As well as the change to locations there were changes in relation to the implementation process with many protests about lack of sovereignty. The Congress had been taking action to give less power to Romer, as if reforms can be made addressing the model cities sovereignty issues although loss of sovereignty was the primary idea behind the model cities idea. Romer was simply to provide legitimatisation, but the idea that model cities could be democratised is at best misleading.

But even before the withdrawal of Romer, over 24 charges were made to have the model cities legislation ruled unconstitutional. First charges were made in October 2011, and then a number of new charges with the more recent campaigns. Ruling had not been made on any of these charges until October 2012. Charges included one of treason against MPs who promoted the legislation. Individuals and organisation involved in placing charges include the now murdered Antonio Trejo, Copinh, Jurists Association, Fausto Milla, Ofraneh coordinator, feminists, artists, and journalists.

There was also a campaign challenging the participation of judge Oscar Chinchilla in the Supreme Court decision over conflict of interest, given he participated in the delegation that travelled in February 2011 to South Korea, Singapore and Kuwait on the Charter Cities promotion tour and for close relationships he has with Congress Representatives with interests in the project. The challenge was rejected and Chinchilla turned out to be the only one voting not to rule model cities unconstitutional.

Some MPs began to get cold feet too, and expressed concerns that the announced locations were not uninhabited, that there were charges of unconstitutionality against model cities legislation and against MPs, and the contents of the letter Romer sent. In relation to the location, questions were raised about the implications of model cities of jurisdiction over municipalities that have historically involved people electing persons to run the council. Rafael Padilla of Barra de Abogados Anticorrupcion said the municipalities would disappear with model cities and the resources of councils would also go to model cities, and the ports, where model cities want to go, would also go to the hands of model cities so would the income they generate.

Whatever happens next, monitoring and preventing model cities continue to be pertinent; the Charter Cities website says they will be ´practically an autonomous country inside another country with the explicit mission of creating economic profits in the name of development for under developed countries, as poverty alleviation´.

Criminalisation of social movements, militarisation, austerity and US intervention continue

  • Accusations of persons in Aguán stealing fruits in order to purchase weapons, were made including by Xatruch III Police Commissioner Daniel Molina and Agrarian Minister Cesar Ham.
  • Lobo asks UN for help to stop teachers striking and to help end drug trafficking.
  • Emergency security decree got extended for 6 months, applying to Xatruche, Relámpago, and Jaguar military operations
  • IMF rejected the signing of a standby agreement in 2012, because fiscal and reserves conditions had not been met. To fulfil conditions for April 2013 negotiations, defacto president Lobo undertook to implement austerity measures including freezing public spending, cutting it by $60.79 million, reducing internal debt and signing agreements with international organisations. A fiscal plan was approved freezing positions in state institutions. Implementation has been visible under the Lobo regime in salary freezes, dismissals/redundancies, and department mergers such as in IHNFA and hospitals.
  • The Lobo regime dismissed its airforce chief, General Pastor Landa, after the head of US Southern Command, Douglas Fraser, met Lobo over the decision made to bring down a drug plane which caused a crash in which a US undercover agent died.
  • A new airport not being built in Comayagua where the US military base is, despite dangers at Tegucigalpa airport.

When the MARCA farmers human rights defender Antonio Trejo was assassinated this month, international actors had no choice but to condemn the death. But the US and Spain continue being hypocritical in their actions. Trejo was also among the spokespersons and lawyers working on the campaign against model cities. As Cofadeh pointed out, the US State Department would condemn such a murder on the one hand but then report that there has been ´advances in justice and human rights´, and contribute to worsening impunity by contributing to militarisation, and including as part of the ´solution´ actors who are complicit with the impunity. The Spanish government condemned Trejo´s killing yet ´reiterated its disposition to continue collaborating with the Honduran government in its efforts to achieve a better climate of security.´

Updates on the 14 February 2012 prison fire killing 361

New evidence revealed that at least two prisoners, Elmer Ivan Velasquez Silva (28) and Eldel Eliel Ramírez Amaya, died by gunshots and not by suffocation and burning as the authorities had claimed. Relatives of these defied orders of forensic doctors and opened the graves and took photos of their loved ones´ bodies showing the gunshot wounds.

Public sector update

Hospitals Escuela and Materno Infantil dismissed 133 administrative staff. Education Minister Escoto continued his anti-teachers discourse. The state electricity entity continued to be in crisis and vulnerable to privatisation, partly from uncollected debts of large companies. Farmers signed finance agreements although much of the April 2010 agreement remains unfulfilled.

Persecution in September 2012 – two human rights defenders and two farmers killed

Assassination of two activist lawyers/human rights defenders in September 2012

On 22/9/12, at 9.10pm, near the Toncontín airport, MARCA lawyer and human rights defender Antonio Trejo Cabrera (41) was assassinated by hitmen with 5 gunshots (his car was also hit at least 4 times) when as a pastor he was marrying a couple at a church and went outside, where he was attacked. He died an hour later in hospital. Trejo had denounced death threats against him to the media many times, and said that palm giant Miguel Facussé would be responsible for any attempts against himself or his family. He was detained on 21/8/12 and charged with illegal protest etc with more than 20 other farmers who were at a protest outside the Supreme Court in Tegucigalpa. On 18/7/12 he participated in a media conference to expose that landowners paid and influenced the courts to reverse a ruling made to return land to farmers of MARCA. Trejo was born in the San Isidro cooperative (one of the MARCA cooperatives). His brother said Antonio was ´another farmer´ who played football barefoot but whose father worked hard to send him to study in the capital city and he became a lawyer and began MARCA´s legal struggle in 1998, after the land was fraudulently sold in 1993 to Facussé and Morales. His work led to a court resolution returning the land to farmers on 29/6/12. He was also in solidarity with and assisted other farmers’ movements – Agua Blanca, MOCSAM and MUCA.

The Anonymous Hackers group linked his killing to model cities, highlighting that only 24 hours before being killed he was in a Channel 12 Honduran TV debate in which he accused Congress leaders of using model cities projects to get funds for their party political campaigns, and said he was going to work to make sure that ´Ali Baba and the 40 burglars of the Honduran government end up in a prison’. MGK director Michael Strong (who signed MOU to build the first model city) said he was ‘ horrified’  by the assassination of the lawyer and said he believed that ´if Trejo had lived long enough to get to know us, he would have concluded that our focus is beneficial for Honduras. ‘

His friends describe him as humble and honest and dedicated to the church and his family. His brother Rigoberto (35) said as Trejo´s 10 siblings were approached by police and US advisors for interviews, that the investigation arrived too late, that when he asked for protection, he was ignored and nobody cared. Even the UN Rapporteur Sekaggya Heynas had met with him and was told by him about the death threats in February, and a protection application with the Inter American Commission of Human Rights was in process. Trejo also complained to the Honduran Lawyers Union a month before that his life and another farmers lawyer Marlene Cruz´, were at risk. A week before being killed Trejo contacted Washington-based Rights Action asking for preparation for protection application for him and for other farmers.

Facussé publicly denied ´the direct participation of me or the staff of my companies´ in assassinating Trejo; ´even though the lawyer Trejo had executed fraudulent actions against the companies, the orders that I gave were that we go to the country’s courts.’ A number of farmers leaders have been receiving threats along with Trejo.

  • On 25/9/12, about 11.40am Human Rights Prosecutor Manuel Eduardo Diaz Mazariego was assassinated by two unknown hitmen on a motorcycle with 6 gunshots, as he was about to go inside the DPP office in Choluteca, an office he has joined recently. Eduardo participated with eight other prosecutors/colleagues in 2008 in an extended 29 days hunger strike against corruption and lack of transparency in the DPP, and is a founder of the Movimiento Amplio por la Democracia y la Justicia MADJ.

Killings, attempts, evictions, persecution against farmers struggling for land rights

  • On 3/9/12 in Trujillo, armed men in a landowners´ security guard vehicles fired over 50 shots at the car of independent farmer activist Luís Antonio Urbina of the Panamá community on the left bank of the Aguán river. Luís managed to flee into the bush, with gunshot wounds in his arm and leg, leaving the car behind. Hours later, hooded men towed the car, with gunshots all over it, to in front of his house.
  • On 6/9/12, a contingent of hundreds of army and police officers and a helicopter carried out a forced violent eviction against farmers (600 families) of the Los Laureles Settlement in Aguán.  The contingent surrounded the farmers over 540 hectares, and destroyed the simple homes built by farmers. This is state land that changed hands to large landholders in the ‘90s after the Agricultural Modernisation Law was illegally approved in 1992.
  • On 7/9/12, in La Paz, army and police ambushed and carried out a brutal eviction against at least 80 families of the farmers´ cooperative 26 de septiembre. The officers destroyed and burnt cornfields, and plundered and burnt the farmers´ homes. Police loaded their guns threatening to kill any farmers who resisted. They captured and detained for 28 hours 15 people including 2 primary school aged children, youths and elderly people, and when released they had to sign weekly at the courts.
  • On 8/9/12, Xatruche Operation police and soldiers shot at two farmers on security duties, Santos Mejía and Juan Ramon Fuentes. They tried to turn around on their motorcycles when they saw the mounted operation. The officials assassinated Santos who tried to flee into the bushes, and they intercepted and detained Juan. When people approaching saw that Santos was killed the military forces did not allow even his family to go near his body, even when the body was in the morgue.
  • On 9/9/12, Xatruch force with Colón police support and Dinant security guards carried out a violent eviction against 300 farmers reoccupying Laureles, launched teargas bombs and fired live ammunition at people, with the violence causing some pregnant women to lose their babies. A large group was forced to throw themselves onto the ground, face down. Hector Navarro (69) was killed, 40 were detained (including pregnant women and children) for over 28 hours and freed with conditions on 10/9/12 at 5.30pm. Five were gravely wounded and refused medical attention while detained. At least four home searches and invasions were carried out without warrants, some had teargas bombs launched inside the homes. The operation also confiscated 2 motorcycles, 16 bicycles and 16 machetes.
  • After the eviction on 9/9/12, and before the military left, Miguel Facussé´s guards settled in. These guards kidnapped and retained 30 farmers including women inside the palm plantations, in fear for their lives. At 5.30pm Otoniel Sánchez (24), member of Mocra farmers movement, called his brother telling him he was kidnapped with 29 other members of Mocra  – complaints were placed of habeas corpus and at the DGIC. According to http://proceso.hn/2012/09/09/Nacionales/Violencia.imparable.en/57153.html at least three deaths were caused in this eviction. This was denied by police spokesperson Mejía.
  • MUCA leaders Juan Chinchilla, Yoni Rivas, Vitalinos Álvarez, Rafael Bautista and lawyers and journalists who support the farmers struggle received regular direct threats. There is also knowledge of a list with photos of farmer leaders who could be killed any time.
  • On 12/9/12, 6 Garífuna cooperatives of Vallecito issued an alert, as remeasuring of the land finally took place towards restoring possession to the communities. The communities in land reclaim struggle have suffered persecution and intimidation since occupying weeks ago. State protection was finally provided for three days of measuring after IACHR ordered the Honduran state to provide it. However the state stopped short of providing protection before and after the measuring process, when the communities continued under threat.
  • On 13/9/12, in Aguán, five hooded security guards of palm giant Miguel Facussé gravely threatened 9 US human rights activists on a delegation with La Voz de los de Abajo when they were waiting to interview local activists. The five hooded guards approached with pointed guns, made threats and then fired a shot of warning, saying ‘this is the last warning’. The delegation was there to investigate the human rights violations and social and political conditions of the country. In this incident they were investigating an attack and violent eviction at Laureles on 9th September, from land claimed by Facussé. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbOgsm8qQE4&feature=youtu.be
  • On 19/9/12, at the initial hearing against Aguan farmers including Antonio Trejo (murdered 22/9/12), the DPP sent witnesses who gave false testimonies, saying there was no repression; not even tear gas smoke. Trejo was going to press charges for abuse of authority, false testimony and false accusation.
  • On 23/9/12, at the Los Laureles farm, Miguel Facussé´s guards shot and wounded Aguan farmers Dimas Cordova, Jose David Menjivar and Juan Angel Zelaya, who are members of the 4 de marzo cooperative of Maranones farm on the left bank of the Aguan river, when they were driving towards their homes.

Repression against activists opposing model cities

On 5/9/12 at the Supreme Court, officers detained social activists who went to court to formally begin proceedings to rule model cities as unconstitutional. Those detained included Melisa Cardoza, Sara Tome, Lorena Zelaya, Sandra Maribel Sánchez, Gilda Rivera, Divina Alvarenga, Carlos H Reyes, Jari Dixon and others. Dozens came to protest against model cities and support this lawyers´ initiative – those inside were not allowed to leave and those outside not allowed entry.

Threats and intimidation against journalists

  • On 6/9/12, an unidentified person tried to intimidate Radio Uno journalist Eduardo Coto Barnica, with an object hidden under his shirt, presumably a pistol. Eduardo had been outspoken and critical of the 2009 coup in his work, and has an 11am program with critical political social and economical discussion – he was subject to persecution as a Canal 6 reporter by 3-16 death squad back in 1992, when he was riddled with bullets and forced into exile. A watch person was murdered by a state investigative agent, instead of Eduardo, due to confusion from wearing similar clothes on the day. A year ago Eduardo was also followed by two armed men on a motorcycle.
  • On 20/9/12, death threats by text messages resumed against farmers movement MUCA journalist Karla Zelaya, saying, ´aha bitch it was enough to think that you had rid yourselves of me but here I am and I continue being near´, ´ bitch you are going to die, you really got scared´, and ´you and your friends are going to die and I am going to start with you´, sent from two different phones. Karla was beaten on 21/8/12 at the Belén police station when farmers were detained and beaten, and received threats on 27/8/12, ´this is how all those that talk of what happens will end up, the way that this bitch goes around opening her mouth, watch your backs’ and on 28/8/12, ‘good day, watch your backs very soon I will give you all a surprise and you will regret it’
  • On 28/9/12 journalist ‘ El Wacho’ Edgardo Antonio Escoto Amador announced he resigned from the TV company Hondured for security reasons. General producer Cesar Romero intimidated Edgardo, saying ´only assassinations go to journalists´, and had also been sabotaging Edgardo´s work by disrupting transmissions. Edgardo said all Hondured journalists consider Romero a dangerous person who follows through his threats, that Romero is proud of his friendship with ex-captain of 3-16 death squad Billy Joya, and ex-officials of police and army.

Eviction against local protest

On 13/9/12, at midday police carried out a brutal eviction with teargas bombs and force against a protest in Copán where from 9am, hundreds from Santa Rita, Cabañas and San Jerónimo blocked a highway that goes to the El Florido border to go to Guatemala, protesting electricity cuts (the longest one was 20 hours) against them without explanation.

Assault against political candidate

On 27/9/12, in Cortés, Silvia Ayala, an MP candidate of POR, Libre, was assaulted in her home. They took important documents and computers that are her work tools. She also received death threats.

Examples of solidarity and resistance actions in or with Honduras

Twenty-six women and men of Espacio Refundacional travelled 26 hours on a bus to Vallecito in Colon (from different parts of Honduras as well as international delegations) visiting and meeting in solidarity with a Garifuna community in a land reclaim struggle there. This community under threat had at that point occupied for over a week. They passed the evening hours with drumming and dance and conversation about the neo-colonial cities and dispossession that Garifuna siblings are fighting. On 13/9/12, the five cooperatives reclaiming land at Vallecito had the authorities accompany them to break the door blocking the communities from accessing their own land, and thereby allowing the land surveying process to begin.

A campaign against model cities was in full swing, including a legal battle, protests, protests on ´independence day´ at this project that is the last straw of sale of sovereignty, and with the international Anonymous collective hacking and twittering in support. One of the campaigners Antonio Trejo was killed 22 September 2012.

Anonymous on 15/9/12 attacked the website of the Presidential House of Honduras and other state institutions (including of special investigation services DNSEI, and attacking government servers to reveal confidential data and diplomatic cables), after announcing a cyber-attack operation against the Honduran state and others celebrating independence day, managing to take the websites offline a number of hours. In a video `Honduras – Estado Fallido`, Anonymous announced `the hour has arrived to raise our arms, scream, everyone together with one voice like a people united, until the cloak that covers the games is made to fall, they are used to hold the political, economic, social and educative power. But… what arms are we talking about? Simple and simply of power of knowledge, and the eagerness to abolish what keeps us cowards before the power of the governors`.

A US delegation of human rights defenders of Voz de los de Abajo de Chicago wrote a letter urging the US government to suspend military and police aid to Honduras, after their visit to Bajo Aguan accompanied by Honduran farmers leaders, in which they themselves received death threats by landowners guards including a firearm shot.

At the Regional Conference on Extractive Industries and Climatic Politics in Indigenous Territories of Mesoamerica held on 17 August in San Salvador, Central American environmentalists and Indigenous organisations sent letters to the World Bank demanding the rejection of the applications of their governments for carbon credits through the REDD – Reducing Emissions of Deforestation and Degradation scheme, given the irregularities, the negative impact they will have for the environment and peoples. This carbon credit market is worth $215 million. Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama are all in preparatory stages towards having an agreement. REDD is a form of CDM, a forest offset, through which polluting countries can continue polluting, and consuming, while poorer countries do the pollution reduction for the wealthier countries, and may lead to displacement of peoples, and impact on livelihoods. The Honduran Autoctonos Peoples Confederation denounced in February that Honduras is disposed to carry out the process to participate in REDD without consulting with the Indigenous and Afrohonduran communities.

 

 

Update on Honduras coup, August 2012

Political murders of farmers in Honduras continued at an intense rate in August 2012, even as a law on ‘general disarmament’ was passed. Farmers are being discredited and criminalised, with the defacto Honduran Agrarian Minister Ham daring to state that the murders are not related to the land conflict, and even accusing farmers of killing one another. Meanwhile, tens of farmers protesting different aspects of the land conflict were arrested and charged including with illegal protest and association.

Near Aguán, in Vallecito, Colón, six Garífuna (afro-descendent) cooperatives with land titles since 1997 but who had not had access to these lands, began reoccupation this month with agrarian authorities assisting the survey the land. However, the process is stalled because the cooperatives are locked out and face dangerous security guards and paramilitaries and massacre threats. The Honduran state is not providing security for the entry of their agrarian technicians and for the communities.

Despite education (defacto) minister Escoto being  ‘of the resistance’, a crisis in education continues with:

  • as many unpaid teachers and problems with teachers´ pension funds as before,
  • processes and laws towards privatisation under way, and now
  • some schools with unpaid electricity bills had their electricity cut off.

Escoto further attacked teachers’ protest rights by threatening to dismiss those who miss more than 3 days through strikes. To further criminalise protest, defacto president Lobo announced that a bill will be sent to the congress to prohibit closures of schools and health centres caused by occupations. He argued that teachers should march on Saturdays and be ‘heard’ this way.

Scandals of plunder and privatisation continue under this neoliberal program:

  • A $330 million hydroelectricity project, Los Chorros, in Colón, is awaiting approval
  • A bill is about to be introduced to dismiss 1200 staff of the Child Protection Department Ihnfa, and start tendering its centres to NGOs, to fulfil conditions for the International Monetary Fund standby agreement
  • State electricity body ENEE commited to paying ludicrous prices to thermal energy company, and pursued privatisation through tendering out eg measurement and billing components
  • Defacto congress president announced he anticipates ‘model cities’ will begin in Honduras from 2/11/12

US interventions continue:

  • Under pressure, the US retains some funds destined for Honduran police – holding back any aid that would be under the supervision of  Honduran police director Juan Carlos ´Tigre´ Bonilla until accusations of his leading a death squad a decade ago are investigated.
  • In the Moskitia region where the Ahuas massacre from US helicopters took place in May, US troops are freely deployed and trying to install the largest military base in Latin America there. The US could invest $1,300 million, may find oil there, and the base could be a platform to attack nearby countries (source: Copinh).
  • US Ambassador in Honduras Lisa Kubiske recommended that the Honduran government pay necessary attention to public spending and taxation, warning that if there is no control, the Honduran economy will go in a bad direction.
  • The head of US Comando Sur General Douglas Fraser paid Honduras a surprise visi, meeting with defacto president, foreign secretary, Defence Secretary and the head of Honduran army to discuss ongoing bilateral cooperation in security between US and Honduras (through CARSI – Central America Regional Security Initiative). Fraser assumed his position just before the Honduran coup, on 25/6/09, and his last visit was in June 2009 for a ceremony at the US military base.
  • The agreement for InterAirports to convert the US military base at Palmerola, Comayagua, into a commercial airport became stalled. Its approval was stopped when Lobo suddenly claimed there were last minute changes by someone in the Transport department, but the US also objected, saying the agreement is not in line with the Central America Free Trade Agreement. Coalianza (private public partnerships) commissioners raised questions concerning the inclusion of passenger transport rather than just cargo, in relation to the US military base. The US base started at Palmerola in 1993, on the basis of being a ‘guest’.

Known political persecution cases in August 2012

Summary of political killings in August 2012

Red Cross announced that at least 3 farmers were killed by an unidentified armed group on 9/8/12 in Panamá village, Bajo Aguán.

MCRA farmer Isrrael Mejía, occupying Laureles farm, was assassinated on 21/8/12

MUCA farmer Jóse Braulio Díaz was assassinated by armed men from a guard´s vehicle on 27/8/12

Journalist José Noel Canales Lagos was assassinated by hitmen on 10/8/12

President of the executive committee of the higher education union Sitraunah, Juan de Dios Sánez ,was found dead on 21/8/12.

Volunteer human rights defender José Marcos Avila Maradiaga was killed by hitmen on 13/8/12

Killings, evictions and mass detentions against organised farmers

  • On 1/8/12, a contingent of police and army carried out another (4thviolent eviction against the San Manuel MOCSAN occupation. They detained 20-25 including women, and used tractors to destroy vast fields of corn and beans ready for harvest, causing $250,000 loss of crops to farmers. Soldiers entered some homes and stole money and goods. Police also confiscated motorcycles that escaping farmers left behind. MOCSAN occupies state lands which are illegally used by companies for sugar plantations.
  • On 9/8/12, radios and Red Cross announced that at least 3 farmers were assassinated by an unidentified armed group in the Panamá village in Bajo Aguan, at a time when a group of MUCA farmers began occupying the ´Paso Aguán´ farm. Red Cross spokesperson Aníbal Flores declared to HRN radio that Red Cross was called to attend to people inside the farm, but at the point of interview had not yet been able to enter to give the needed attention. One of these victims is Danery Tróchez according to La Prensa.
  • On 15/8/12, a contingent of 400 police, soldiers and private guards carried out a second violent eviction against farmers occupying at the Agua Blanca Sur settlement in El Progreso. 150 farmers were captured, 41 of whom were detained for more than 24 hours under inhumane conditions (there were 14 minors including 3 little children with their mother) and accused of land usurpation – they were ordered to sign at the courts every 15 days and not go near the land in conflict. The farmers occupy land that was ruled as agrarian reform land on 26/3/12, because the sugar company Azunosa (of transnational SabMiller) owns above the limit of 250 hectares. But an eviction order against the farmers was illegally made by courts saying the expropriation is on hold because the company lodged an appeal to the original decision.
  • On 20/8/12, outside the Supreme Court, army and police carried out a violent eviction against 350 Aguán farmers using teargas and batons, wounding at least 5 adults and 6 minors. They demanded the immediate abolition of the law of agricultural modernisation that contradict articles 344 – 350 of the Constitution, and the law of arms control – which protects the armed groups linked with security companies of the landowners. The farmers also protested that the landowners were paying the judges.
  • On 21/8/12, outside the Supreme Court again, police carried out a brutal attack and eviction against farmers who maintained a sit-in, detaining for over 24 hours 26 persons including 2 women, with charges of illegal protest, association, and damages – including leaders MUCA spokesperson Vitalino Álvarez, MUCA negotiator Jhony Rivas, MARCA farmers´ lawyer Antonio Trejo, and Carlos Ramón Navarro (ANACH president). Four riot police under command of officials Bonilla and Montoya beat with excessive force CODEH human rights defender lawyer Marlene Cruz. Three were wounded and hospitalisedKevin Chacón (16)Antonio Ramírez, and Daniel Santos (61)As people left the protest, riot police followed dozens of children and women who sought refuge in Stibys union building and invaded the building, attacking people inside with batons and teargas bombs and proceeded to arrest people there. The police were stopped only by the intervention of some Stibys members who locked the building´s doors and only allowed the police to leave once they released their captured comrades. This protest was by the farmers’ movement MARCA against judges acting in the interest of palm giants Facussé and Morales. While detained, they were threatened, including with forced disappearance, if they continued their protests.
  • On 21/8/12, Isrrael Mejía was assassinated. He is of the Movimiento Campesino Recuperación Nacional del Aguán occupying Laureles farm.
  • On 22/8/12, at Planes Sonaguera in Bajo Aguán where farmers blocked a highway to protest the detentions at the Supreme Court the day before, the army and police under the command of commissioner Mejía and of the Xatruch III and Relampago Operations brutally evicted 1000 families of different organisations with teargas, batons, rocks, and shooting. It was reported that three disappeared, one wounded – Evaristo Avila (77) was hospitalised with 6 stitches in the head, and 18 were detained (including 5 minors). Farmers who ran into the mountains to hide were chased and followed. All but two (over 70s) were detained overnight, and these were accused of sedition, damage to private property, aggression to police and illegal protest. They were freed with ongoing judicial processes against them.
  • On 26/8/12, shots were fired at Leonel Acosta Avilés of MUCA when he was driving on the Tocoa highway towards Sinaloa in Colón. He was slightly wounded and managed to call his comrades who came and took him to hospital. He is from the La Nueva Confianza settlement and is one of 27 detained on 21/8/12 in Tegucigalpa and has court orders restraining his actions.
  • On 26/8/12, MUCA spokesperson Vitalino Álvarez was pulled out of a taxi and arrested by Xatruch III and police for not carrying ID, accused of being a foreigner. He was freed at 9.30am the next morning and was not allowed food or water while detained. He also was attacked while participating in the Supreme Court actions on 19-21/8/12, being amongst those arrested and left with court restraining orders. He had been hit by a stone when he was filming the farmers´ occupation of the court on 20/8, and had been beaten on the hands by police who were trying to break the camera he using to film the police beating his comrades, on 19/8.
  • On 26/8/12, at Vallecito, Limón, Colón, paramilitaries heavily armed and on motorcycles and 4 wheel drives laid siege to afro-descendent Garífuna communities where 200 garífunas from six cooperatives are reclaiming their ancestral lands. They obtained land titles for the 1200 hectares in 1997 but have not had access as the land has been invaded by Reynaldo Villalobos and foreign companies with help from palm giant Facussé. A massacre against the communities is feared. The Agrarian department sent technicians to survey the cooperative lands, but the government did not provide them with security to gain access past the big door/gate and provide needed protection from paramilitaries. On 27/8/12, 4 heavily armed men of Reynaldo Villalobo arrived on motorcycles to reinforce those of Facussé, and at 11.30pm, 8 heavily armed men invaded and went to where a group of youths were drumming, and in the night shots of heavy arms could be heard every two hours. On 28/8/12, as agrarian technician and the community began to survey the Ruguma cooperative land, heavily armed guards of Reynaldo Villalobos kept loitering around in cars and motorcycles.
  • On 27/8/12, in Tocoa, Bajo Aguán, MUCA member José Braulio Díaz López (58), was assassinated, shot by heavily armed men from a moving vehicle that belongs to a guard of Facussé.  José got out of his car to fix his dead car battery on his way home. José died minutes after arriving at a clinic. Farmer Mario Puerto who was trying to help him with his car was wounded and hospitalised. Police arrived on the scene and confiscated belongings of José´s including paperwork he was carrying of the yet to be signed land finance agreement with Banhprovi, farmers are demanding these papers back from the police. José is the secretary of Tranvío farmers cooperative, of La Confianza settlement.
  • On 28/8/12 the Aguán Permanent Human Rights Observatory reported that courts were rushing through eviction orders against farmers and all the authorities were getting ready for these, and that there is a sustained persecution of farmers’ leaders Jhony Rivas, Juán Chinchila, Vitalino Alvares and Wilfredo Paz – that they are followed by cars without numberplates and subject to a permanent media campaign to discredit them.

Killings and threats against journalists

  • On 2/8/12, journalist and owner of Channel 21 of Choluteca, Ariel D´Vicente expressed fear for his life after publicly revealing a corruption scandal where the spouse of ex finance minister Héctor Guillen was caught and detained carrying an excessive sum on money on 31/7/12. On 10/8/12, Ariel reported new threats that are related to having reported on the case of the transport businessperson José Natividad ‘Chepe’ Pereira Luna who is accused of organised crimes and corruption. He reported to the DPP that an aspiring MP of the Congress President´s party bribed him, offering money to leave the country until the congress president finishes his term, saying the messenger also used the National Commission of Telecommunications to take his TV channel signals off air.
  • On 3/8/12, in El Progreso, two individuals on a motorcycle shot repeatedly at the home of José Encarnación Chinchilla (51), and his son José Alberto Chinchilla Bardales (24) was gravely wounded with 9mm bullets. Threats continue. José is correspondent of the national private radio station Radio Cadena Voces. He has been reporting in recent months on the evictions of local farmers. José has suffered a number of previous and very grave attempts and threats on his life since the coup and is contemplating asylum to the US.
  • On 4/8/12, police arrived abruptly in several patrol vehicles and surrounded Radio Progreso for over 2 hours, asking journalists where the farmers were. It was just before a discussion was to be transmitted about the Bajo Aguán conflict involving MUCA and MOCSAN farmers, and just a few hours after the OAS freedom of expression rapporteur arrived, saying it was a ´routine operation´ ordered by new head of police Juan Carlos ´El Tigre´ Bonilla. Radio Progreso was the first independent media to be attacked during the coup, being taken off air and militarised just minutes after the coup began. Recently they have been subject to similar intimidating actions around a monthly ‘national reality forum’ where they facilitate discussions that irritate the police.
  • On 9/8/12, when journalists tried to interview capital mayor Ricardo Álvarez (National Party) outside the council building very near the DPP, National Party activists (Santos Cruz and another known as Juan ´cara de vaina´) who had Álvarez´s body guards with them, physically and verbally attacked journalists Lidieth Díaz of Channel 36 and Fidelina Sandoval of Globo TV and cameraperson Cesar Maldonado. This happened in front of police, who did nothing. One of the attackers brusquely covered Cesar´s lens, threatening to teach him a lesson, calling him ‘penis face’.
  • On 10/8/12, in Comayagüela, journalist José Noel Canales Lagos (34) was assassinated with gunshots to the head from individuals in a taxi, when he was driving to work. José worked for 12 years for the Hondudiario website and Seproc. Following the assassination, Hondudiario stated that its company and staff had been subject to regular threats, attempts and intimidations since 2009, and that José was an exemplary dignified and honest employee/journalist.
  • On 17/8/12, in Atlántida, anonymous death threats in a manuscript were handed by two men to Natural Resources defender of Florida and small business owner (buses) César Alvarenga, and to Radio Progreso correspondent Roberto García, demanding that they silence their protests against the mine. This happened at César’s bus terminal. ‘This message is for you, Cesar Alvarenga, for your own good stop going around ajotando people and stop going around protesting, live your life peacefully and let everyone else live in peace,´ and to Roberto, ´we now know where you live and we go to all your bus stops. Also we can go pay you a little visit to your home too, ala de Roberto, this message for you two are from the Cartel, very soon we will get to meet face to face´. Carrying weapons, they asked around for them at the bus station, and also arrived at Cesar´s home at night and finding it empty, took only a cigarettes pack. Roberto is an environmental defender of Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia (MADJ) and delegate of the Word church. He broadcast a program Destapando la Olla of MADJ on Radio Progreso. On 27/7/11, C-Libre posted an alert about threats against Roberto because of his reports on irregularities in the granting of concessions for natural resources projects in the area.
  • On 24/8/12, TV reporter Alex Roberto Sabillón Chávez of Choloma, Cortés, reported intimidation, aggression and death threats against him by unknown person sent by the head of the Aguas de Choloma company, Alexis García. Alex had been exposing irregularities and corruption. He is charged with sedition by the company, with a summon by investigative agents to appear on 27/8/12. Unknown persons have been sending him messages everyday in the last 6 months, like, ´Alex they are going to kill you or they will charge you now´. Alex placed charges including against council police, alderman Alexander Mejía, and the company, for threats and aggression against him, but these were never investigated or brought to a court. On 28/8/12, Alex took refuge at the Choloma police station, fearing assassination after the hearing, and after having been told the day before by a man on a bicycle that they were going to kill him.
  • On 28/8/12 Julio Cesar Guifarro Casaleno (30) – journalist, police sub-inspector and a spokesperson for the traffic department, was killed by gunshot when he was going to the corner shop metres from his home to buy a fish for dinner with his spouse, in Comayagüela. The day before, Julio publicly revealed statistics about detention and confiscation of cars and motorcycles nationally.

Unionist found murdered

On 21/8/12, Juan de Dios Sánez president of directive committee of Sitraunah – workers union of the Autonomous University of Honduras (since July 2011, and before that Sitraunah section 7 president in Juticalpa) was found dead in a well, with evidence of heavy weapons used against him. He was meters from his home in Juticalpa. Juan was spending the weekend away home with his family. Sitraunah accused repressive bodies linked to the state for his murder by hitmen. This ex-lecturer and active resistance member of FNRP and Libre, and advocate for a participative constituent assembly, had participated actively in many social movements from defending forests to students struggles.

Human rights defenders

  • On 13/8/12, in Comayaüela, hitmen waited near the house of José Marcos Avila Maradiaga (51), and as he came out to go to the corner shop to buy food with his 3 year old nephew, they shot him dead and fled the scene. 9mm bullets were found on the site. José was a volunteer activist of the Tegucigalpa municipal committee CODEH, he has been working in human rights, including during the most difficult days of the coup that have claimed so many victims. He is also a member of the political party Frente Amplio Popular en Resistencia (Faper). He was affectionately known as ´piña´ (pineapple) – because in his childhood he sold pieces of fruit on the highway with his dad, and he was someone well-loved in the community.
  • On 22/8/12 Gladys Lanza was followed by a man dressed in black with black helmet, on a black motorcycle without numberplates, stopping by her side and asked her for direction. Gladys walked quickly into a nearby shop, when a black van with tinted windows and no numberplates appeared. When Gladys thought she was safe and left the shop the motorcycle appeared again, so she stopped and the motorcycle left. Gladys is a women´s human rights defender, and threats against her have escalated recently after she participated in a Cofadeh radio program speaking about the resurgence of militarism in Honduras and Latin America, transmitted on Radio Globo. Gladys has IACHR cautionary measures.
  • Around 9/8/12, lawyer Gloria Vasquez Peréz got into a taxi after work but when she got in, they took her wallet, went through her papers, and told her, ´we know where you work and where you live now, don´t look us in the face because I´ll kill you.’ They drove her around for 1.5 hours slowly going through her documents and repeated, ´behave well, don´t look at us in the face because I´ll kill you or we will send someone to kill you!´ They then grabbed her lawyers union ID and dropped her near the National Register of Persons (RNP) office where they had picked her up. Gloria is the founding member of the Juridical Commission of Lawyers against the Coup in Honduras and member of the juridical commission of the RNP.  She suffered attempts in May and June, and acts of intimidation.

Reports of persecution against lgbti persons and defenders

  • On 5/7/12, lgbti human rights defender Donny Reyes was leaving his home to go to work and he saw that he was followed by a man on a motorcycle.
  • On 2/8/12, in Colonia San Martín, San Pedro Sula, the body of Barbarita (Marlon Javier Jiménez Alemán), a 21 year old trans woman, was found with a series of bullet wounds to her face and head, with marks that her hands would have been tied behind her head. Four people who identified as investigative agents of DNIC had come to the family home the day before and arrested her. IACHR condemned this.

Persecution against political prisoners

  • On 30/8/12, Humberto Castillo, ex political prisoner, was captured by unknown persons, and his whereabouts is now unknown. He was a political prisoner for 2.5 years and was released on 8/6/12 while hearings continued. Humberto is in grave danger. While in prison he received threats to his mobile. He was arrested at election time 29/11/09 accused of illegal carrying of arms, terrorism, and illegal association.
  • On 24/7/12, Chavelo Morales – political prisoner since 2008 and farmers activist of Guadalupe Carney (MCA) in Aguan – was sentenced to 20 years in prison without him or his lawyers being notified that sentencing was scheduled. He was convicted despite lack of evidence against him of homicide related to a confrontation following an attack by private guards against the Guadalupe community in August 2008.

Snapshot of solidarity and resistance in Honduras this month

Union members: cops can leave our building, but not with our comrade farmers: After a farmers´ protest outside the Honduran Supreme Court was violently evicted by cops, the cops followed dozens of women and children into the Stibys (soft drinks workers) union building where they sought refuge from cops brutality but the riot cops invaded and began to attack people inside with batons and teargas bombs, and proceeded to detain people there. The arrests were stopped by Stibys union members who intervened, locking the Stibys building doors and only allowed the cops to leave once they released their captured comrades.

Teachers went on strike fighting for payment to unpaid teachers, for their work conditions including pension payments, and for public education, despite threats by the education minister of pay deductions, and of being dismissed if they miss more than 3 days of class. Child protection workers also protested planned dismissal of 1200 workers and closing of existing institution towards privatisation by tendering off to NGOs. Electricity workers protested defending their institution, against plunder and privatisation by tendering off functions. Farmers held multiple protests – sit-ins and highway blocks and occupations.

 

 

Update on Honduras Coup – July 2012

In July there were yet newer farmers´ occupations of land in Aguán and escalated assassinations and violence against organised farmers in existing and new areas of contested land. But instead of addressing the land conflict and distribution and the assassination and violence against farmers and demilitarisation, the Lobo regime first threatened a State of Siege in the region, and failing that, it is now on the verge of  approving a ‘general disarmament’ including against people who have permits for their weapons which a number of farmers do for self-defence. There is also a discrediting campaign by the regime, media, and powerful interests against organised farmers, dubbing them as de-stabilisers, foreigners, guerrillas, and drug traffickers.

MRA, Movimiento de Recuperación del Aguán, is a new farmers movement that began occupying farms on the Atlantic Coast – Caisesa and Los Laureles. The regime’s attitude towards MRA is aggressive, e.g. Agrarian Department advisor Marco Lobo said the regime will not negotiate with new movements that occupy farms in the region, saying there are groups with arms that are not ‘necessarily farmers’. De facto president Lobo similarly said it is not a land problem but one of national security, saying they are always dealing with the same people, accusing these of having AK47s.

The movement MARCA is also the target of aggression this month, after 18 years of land struggle through the courts following the illegal land grabbing by palm oil giants Facussé and Morales. Since the coup, through occupation, they just had their land recognised and on 29/6/12, the possession of land returned to them with police evicting Facussé´s guards. However, the executed ruling in favour of farmers was just part of a game to make the international community believe that the guards and companies are law abiding and the justice system ‘unbiased’. Days after this eviction the court of appeals, under influence by the palm oil giants illegally reversed the decision and a contingent of 300 heavily armed police and soldiers arrived, headed by Facussé´s guard, Danilo Rivera Aguilar, as the executor judge to evict the farmers. Farmers protested this and temporarily held off the eviction.

This month: 5 farmers were assassinated in separate incidents, 3 from MUCA, 1 MARCA, and one from the new MCRA. There were serious attempts, threats, and evictions against many more. Clandestine cemeteries that may hold disappeared farmers and guards were found in Panamá farm.

In this climate, talks begin towards imposing on farmers a National Security/Special Zone in Bajo Aguán, to implement a regional state-of-siege, including curfews with greater militarisation, suspension of individual guarantees and general disarmament. While analysing this, a meeting was held in Washington between the Agrarian Minister, state-picked ‘representatives’ of MUCA and MARCA (not authorised by farmers) and US officials about the ‘negotiation process’, including the message that ‘new land invasions have political motives’. At the same time the US wants to give $57 million towards the security and land protection of the palm oil giants of Aguán. The land conflict could be resolved with $40 million, but $50 million is budgeted towards a state of emergency.

While for now the regime had to agree that a regional state-of-siege is ‘unnecessary’, a bill is about to be approved called ‘the Law of Control of Fire Arms, Munitions, Explosives and Supplies’ to carry out a general disarmament, which will involve suspension of permits to carry arms, and confiscation of legal and illegal arms by police and soldiers. Disarmament is supposed to be for ‘all citizens’ but Alegría of Vía Campesina complained that it will be farmers, not the army, landowners or security companies who would be disarmed. The regime will also send migration agents to the area to check for foreigners. The regime keeps referring to land invasions and armed farmers as problems and said the measures are ‘to bring tranquillity and peace.’

To justify its approach, discrediting campaigns are being undertaken against farmers. Defence minister Pascua claims that arms are located in farms, and the DPP is holding confiscated arms including M16 AK47s and AR15s (though these are either exclusively used by army or security guards), without giving information on what farms and how many arms.

In the name of fighting drugs, crime, and even humanitarian disaster and contributing towards providing security in mining deals, the USA, Canada and Chile expanded their role in militarising Honduras and Central America.

  • Analysts affirm that for the first time since the cold war the US increased its interest in fighting drug trafficking in Central America. Since 2008 Washington increased its financial aid to the region by 75% (through CARSI – Plan Merida/Colombia in Central America, and Association of Citizen Security of Central America) and under secretary of state on drug trafficking Brownfield said Central America is the ‘main threat’ to security for the Western hemisphere.
  • US anti-drugs agency DEA admitted for the first time that its agents killed two people in Central America while on anti-drugs missions on Operation Yunque in Honduras as advisors under CARSI funding: on 6/7/12 in Catacama, two pilots were found in an alleged drug plane that crash after DEA chased it. When one refused to surrender a DEA agent shot him dead. On 25/6/12 in Brus Laguna a man unloading cocaine allegedly tried to use his weapon when found by DEA and was killed by DEA agents. As well, there are cases where the DEA hasn´t admitted it had a hand in killing – on 23/6/12 DEA chased an alleged drug plane which crashed, killing two pilots inside, and on 11/5/12 a DEA helicopter fired shots killing four Indigenous people on a boat and wounding at least five others at Brús Laguna, but the DEA claimed it only accompanied and advised and did not shoot.
  • The Honduran Army also announced a new military base in Honduras for regional training for humanitarian rescue that will have technical and logistical support from the US that could be built in El Paraíso, and will have support from three other Central American armies.
  • As ´trust tests´ are rolled out slowly for all Honduran police to go through as part of the police reform package, lie detector and polygraph tests were applied in the US Embassy in Honduras. So far 69 police have submitted to the tests that are 5 hours long and also include psychological and toxicological testing. No high level police have submitted yet.
  • The Canadian government advocated for Honduran mining laws to be friendly to mining companies and for the law to include a 2% security tax on sales and exports to contribute towards the Honduran security forces. It provides advisors and experts to the Honduran government to examine the drafting of the new mining bill for petroleum and gas and is participating in the Honduran police reform commission. The Canadian member is Adam Blackwell, an ex-diplomat to the Dominican Republic during free trade negotiations, where he defended a mining bill favourable to Canadian companies. Similarly, the Chilean government participated in the development of the new mining bill, and retired Chilean general Blue Rodríguez of the Carabineros is the other international member of the Honduran police reform commission. There are mining companies from Canada and Chile in Honduras. A study from 2008 by Centro de Documentación en Honduras found that 52% of all conflicts in Honduras were about natural resources. Repression, including killing of land rights and environmental activists, have been by Honduran security forces or with their complicity.

News on security forces in Honduras

  • Police reform was focussed on increasing resources to it and a bill to create an elite police force is being prepared. This force would be a special force with military discipline, technology, greater capacity to deal with greater conflict …
  • On the Patuca massacre of 11/5/12, prominent human rights rep Bertha Oliva of Cofadeh reported that the Honduran Foreign Minister shamefully lied in saying that the US/Honduras operation was shooting in self-defence. She asserted that they should admit they made a mistake and attacked a defenceless Misquitia community. Cofadeh was further denied access to the file on the Mosquitia massacre, which had been classified by the DPP. While this case becomes forgotten, the orphans and families of victims and those disabled from wounds are left to live with the consequences, and the calls of this Indigenous community for Honduran and US military forces to leave their territory remains ignored.

News on environment, climate change, mining and carbon trading

  • False solutions to climate change – negotiations to sell oxygen in process. Regime representatives, international aid and private sector representatives met with leaders of indigenous organisations to progress negotiations to impose green capitalism projects under the REDD program (Reducing Emissions of Deforestation and Degradation) – a way of concessioning/privatising nature´s goods in the interest of transnationals and private sectors – putting a dollar value on the absorption capacity of CO2 that the forests have.
  • The new mining bill was rejected by the National Coalition of Environmental and Social Networks. The mining law on the table comes with ‘consultations’ but with bodies friendly to the bill not those critical of mining, similarly it does not ensure citizen participation and consultation in approving and closing of mines. It does not prohibit open pit mining or use of toxic substances like cyanide and mercury. It violates sovereignty and does not obligate mining companies to respect human and environmental rights or protected areas. It does not separate out application processes on environmental impact evaluations and environmental licences. It does not have safeguards about protecting communal lands and indigenous and black territories. It leaves it open for other states to obtain mining concessions on national territories. It does not guarantee water supplies for communities´ human consumption and crops. It allows for tax exemptions.
  • The religious organisation Caritas said it would support and back the new mining law if it adequately taxes concessions and eliminates all exemption and fiscal benefit for mines and directs the tax towards development for the people, and if it allows only mining with techniques and mechanisms that are environmentally friendly. But such techniques in mining do not exist commercially – there is no sustainable mining.

This month much of the public sector in Honduras was in upheaval, including a strike when labour rights were violated, and steps are likely to be made towards privatisation

  • Autonomous University UNAH sacked 43 internal security staff, and there was information that the rest would be sacked in a week. Context: privatising the security services of the uni.
  • Protests over unpaid salaries and work conditions across sectors: health workers, nurses, teachers, child protection workers, soptravi department workers. Some sectors went on strike with their demands, others threatened to. In the case of the nurses´ strike, the regime responded by militarising the hospitals and hiring scab staff.
  • Honduran telecom Hondutel declared a financial emergency with a $25 million déficit for the year and its head and ex-head of army in the 2009 coup, Vasquez Velásquez, was dismissed. The entity employs 5,000 when it can operate with 2000 staff, because it hires people on high salaries after each election according to political party affiliation. The union Sitratel states that this needs to be addressed, debts by companies need to be collected and privatisation needs to be prevented. Whereas Vasquez Velásquez advocates new investments in technology – US $500 million for networks, equipment and services, and has identified four international companies interested in providing the service – Italia Móvil, LR Group, Datan Móvil and Rhino (US). Hondutel used to bring in US$150 million annually.
  • A new privatisation scandal with the State electricity company ENEE: just before its ex-head Martínez Lozano was dismissed, he signed a 25 years contract worth US$345 million with the Colombian company Gensa with the concession to provide public lighting. The lucrative contract awaits final approvals from the minister, president and congress. Experts say it is cheaper for ENEE staff to carry out the job and does not put public finances at risk ($18,750,000 capital at risk).
  • Hospital Escuela is now to be administered by UNAH university authorities as the health sector undergoes crisis. The UNAH for at least 15 years has the power over Hospital Escuela to create a junta to remove staff, as part of a reform process to improve health sector efficiency. The hospital´s workers union president José Girón called this a health sector coup. There are mentions of sector de-centralisation (this often means privatise).

Femicides still going up in Honduras: from 26 a month in 2008, 36.5 a month in 2010, 42.66 a month in 2011, and 46.3 a month so far this year (report from Human Rights Commissioner in Honduras)

Political persecution in July 2012 in Honduras under more than 3 years of coup

Summary of killings this month

Gregorio Chávez Aranda, disappeared 2/7/12, found 6/7/12 – independent supporter of MUCA farmers´ movement, delegate of Word of God.

Jacobo Erazo López, assassinated on 7/7/12 – MUCA member

José Luis Dubón Díaz (22), assassinated on 8/7/12 – MUCA member

Irrael García (36), assassinated on 26/7/12 – MCRA member, Los Laureles

Evaristo López Cerrano (52), killed in hit and run on 29/7/12 – MARCA member of San Isidro

Adonis Felipe Bueso Gutiérrez (24), assassinated on 8/7/12, a radio reporter at a Christian station

Vidal Cacho, Jimmy Colón Centeno, and Pablo Castillo, summarily executed by assassins in elite police uniforms on 19/7/12, Garífunas of the Triunfo de la Cruz community, an Afro-descendent community in land defence and resistance against plunder and coup.

Killings, attempts, evictions, etc, against farmers and land rights activists

  • In the last days of June 2012 dozens of farming families of Santa Elena Quimistán Santa Bárbara were evicted from their land. They have been settled for months.
  • On 2/7/12 gunshots were heard on the plot where Gregorio Chávez Aranda (69) was working next to Facussé´s Paso Aguán finca and when workmates went there to find him they could not. His decomposing body with head in plastic bag, watch in hand, and wallet and documents still in his pockets, was found on 6/7/12 in Paso Aguán by the search squad led by the Panamá community who occupied the access of Paso Aguán protesting and demanding his body.  There were indications that his body was dragged to Paso Aguán, and of bullets. Gregorio was an independent supporter of the MUCA´s land struggle and was described by resistance leader Will Paz as very committed and in solidarity, who shared food with farmers and joined the mobilisations. He was also a Jesuit celebrant of Word of God.
  • At the Paso Aguán farm (of Facussé) roadblock by farmers of the neighbouring Panamá community, on 7/7/12, soldiers armed with M60s of the 15th battalion arrived to ensure the trucks´ passage, and again on 8/7/12 over 50 heavily armed soldiers of the 15th battalion arrived in intimidation. The road block on the publicly built road that started on 3/7/12 was carried out demanding disappeared farmer Gregorio Chávez´s body, blocking the passage of trucks carrying fruits, forcing security guards to leave and demanding an end to the presence there of Facussé and his guards, and for justice for Gregorio.
  • In the first week of July a new prisoner allegedly sent to kill attempted against farmer and political prisoner Isabel Morales of farmers´ movement MCA, at the La Ceiba prison. Relative of Isabel Morales are receiving death threats also.
  • On 7/7/12 MUCA farmer Jacobo Erazo López (28) was brutally assassinated by hitmen´s gunshot at the Quebrada de Arena community, when he was getting into the car. Jacobo belonged to the La Tranvio cooperative of La Confianza settlement.
  • On 8/7/12, in La Ceibita near La Lempira, when the farmer and resistance activist José Luis Dubón Díaz (22) of Lempira was looking for other comrades to travel with to an El Progreso meeting with Agrarian Department minister Ham, he was shot and killed by 3 hitmen. On 25/6/12, José was amongst 3 other MUCA farmers leaders detained by police at La Ceiba and had their weapons that were legal, registered and for personal security confiscated.
  • On 8/7/12, also in La Ceibita, hitmen fired at Francis Bueso of La Lempira wounding him. His son Carlos Roberto Bueso´s foot was wounded by a cattle ranger near Lempira settlement and this was reported during the 10/12/10 human rights mission
  • On 9/7/12, it was reported that leaders of the farmers’ cooperative Luxón Palmeras in Savá who are occupying land are under threat by the land´s supposed owner.
  • On 11/7/12, at least 60 heavily armed soldiers set up to permanently militarise and harass villagers of the Panamá community (400 families) to obligate farmers to leave. The community is under eviction threats.
  • On 16/7/12, Denys Vinicio Torres Fuentes (20) and Diles Esaú Torres Romero (25), and an underage person, all of Movimiento Campesino de San Manuel (MOCSAN), were sent to prison following a court decision. They were accused of robbery and illegal carrying of arms – the land struggle was strong at the time of the hearing. The three were acting as watch persons in this El Coowle community land occupation, when they were detained by police at 1.30am of 2/7/12. The minor was freed hours later. It was informed that the authorities are holding a weapon that was used to look after the place that they held since 17/4/12.
  • On 18/7/12, a contingent of Facussé´s guards, 300 police and soldiers arrived with balaclavas and M60 machine guns to evict MARCA farmers from the San Isidro farm – despite the danger and tension, the farmers resisted the eviction as just on 29/6/12 after 18 years of land struggle the authorities had declared the land was MARCA´s and evicted the guards. Police suspended the eviction at the last minute, having been told that the Dinant security head was the executor judge, saying they did not know, but threatened to return. There was another eviction attempt against this farm on 22/7/12, using again the security guard of Dinant, Danilo Omar Riera, as the judge executor.
  • On 18/7/12 at 1pm Dina Lili Orellana (25) of MARCA and La Trinidad was kidnapped from the Despertar farm lot no. 8 by a hooded person who took her by force to René Morales´ finca. They were joined by two more hooded armed persons who wore Orion uniforms. They tortured Dina bashing her in the head and abdomen, and said they were going to kill her because she did not answer questions. They tried to rape her and then she escaped, running away at 5.30pm.
  • On 20/7/12 in Tegucigalpa, three commandos of 150 heavily armed police and army, with tractors and accompanied by Red Cross ambulances, executed a violent eviction against 76 families of Altos de la Merriam, threatening and beating any unarmed family members who resisted the eviction, even one year old Isis López, and the pregnant youth Ambar Lagos who almost had to have an abortion. They destroyed homes with tractors. They were unable to show a court eviction order that villagers asked for. The community lived there for 8 years on land found abandoned and which is titled to the children and family department IHNFA. Zúniga, a powerful politician, has claimed the land since 2008 and ordered evictions carried out in October and December 2011, but families with nowhere to go returned to rebuild.
  • On 20/7/12, there were huge police deployments in Aguán also to execute forced evictions.
  • On 22/7/12 farmers of La Panamá and Rigores reported that lot no. 9 of Paso Aguán appears to host clandestine graves, where they believe that the disappeared farmers Francisco Pascual López and José Antonio Lópes of Rigores are buried.
  • On 23/7/12 tension was felt in the communities as evictions were scheduled that day at Paso Aguan (Panamá community blockade) and Los Laureles, on its third day of occupation.
  • On 23/7/12, Xatruch II Operation soldiers surrounded La Lempira cooperative, and shot at farmers working on the palm plantation, maintaining a state-of-siege for over four hours.
  • On 24/7/12 a contingent of 400 police and soldiers, including with M60s, from the 4th and 15th battalions accompanied by security guards of Facussé, Canales and Morales carried out a violent eviction against the new MCR farmers movement that recently began an occupation at Los Laureles, using teargas bombs and shooting live bullets to disperse the farmers. The same contingent was scheduled to carry out evictions against MARCA on this date.
  • On 26/7/12 in the afternoon, 200 private guards of the three palm giants evicted farmers newly occupying Finca El Mochito on left bank of the Aguan River. From this day the farmers Juán Carlos Hernandez (25), and Leonel Padilla (19) of the cooperative 6 de Junio of the Ocotes Altos of Trujillo disappeared. Farmers of El Mochito said they found two covered graves, and three open graves. Farmer/occupier Secundina Turcios(42) was wounded by a bullet.
  • On 26/7/12 police shot at farmers who occupied at the Panamá community.
  • On 26/7/12 at 9pm Facussé´s security guards invaded and ambushed using heavy weapons, firing live rounds at the group of farmers occupying at Los Laureles, and assassinated Irrael García (36) while others ran away in different directions to regroup later. Realising only the next day that Irrael was not with them, they found his body with a high calibre gunshot at the back of the thorax and an ear torn off, at 5am. During the attack two helicopters flew over the palm plantation. Irrael belonged to the cooperative Gracias a Dios and the new farmers’ movement Movimiento Campesino Recuperación Del Aguán. Irrael was doing a shift to guard the farm. He leaves behind a spouse Mirian Enríquez and four children ages 12, 8, 5 and 6 months. Three other farmers were reported disappeared from the ambush.
  • On 28/7/12, more than three men carrying 9mm pistols in Miguel Facussé´s security guards´ car (white Toyota 3.0 van without numberplates) intercepted and attacked, firing shots at a MARCA double cabin pickup car wounding and gravely hospitalising Eldin Noel Ortiz (20), Jimmy Burgos Tobias (33), Santos Eliseo Pavón (50), Giberto López, and Jorge Nájera. All five are of the San Isidro cooperative, and of MARCA. They were entering the cooperative, just 5 blocks from the police station.
  • On 29/7/12 Evaristo López Cerrano (52) of San Isidro cooperative, MARCA, was riding his motorcycle when he left the road and was ran over by a truck which also left the road and killed him and fled. Farmers allege the truck was used by the business of Miguel Facussé.
  • On 29/7/12, at Agua Blanca, Yoro, army, police and guards of the AZUNOSA sugar company repressed and gave death threats to 3000 farmers occupying land expropriated by the Agrarian Department.
  • On 29/7/12 a contingent of plain clothes police arrived to MARCA’s farms. The lawyers of MARCA also reported death threats.
  • On 31/7/12, Omar Palacios was detained at La Ballena police station in San Pedro Sula, accused by police of promoting the land invasions where the sugar company Azunosa had usurped land. Omar had been active in denouncing the coup and was an Agrarian Department advisor. He has a role in communications of FNRP/Libre at Puerto Cortés.
  • On 31/7/12, Gerson Fajardo was detained, similarly accused of usurping land, in this case in Yoro. He is a member of Libre party.
  • In the Aguán region, multinational projects for open pit mining and struggles against them have started. So far death threats have been reported against those fighting this: Tocoa Parish priest Juan José Colato, journalists David Corea Artea (CNC TV) and Wilfredo Paz.

Threats, attempts, violations and the killing of a journalist

  • On 6/7/12, journalist David Corea (coordinator of news program La Verdad of Radio Stero Linda, and reporter of Centro de Noticias de Colón CNC in Tocoa) indirectly received a death threat being told by a trusted person to, ‘be careful with what you say, they are following you closely, the mayor said that whatever happens the mining project is going ahead even if there had to be bloodshed’, and that there are orders from the mayor (Héctor Rolando Hernández) to build a profile on him collecting recordings on his radio and tv programs. David carried out investigative journalism and exposed the risks and irregularities behind the multimillion dollar mining project in Colón and the close relationship between the mayor and the two mining companies under the name of RDD. As the company promises jobs, development and social projects, David highlighted the risks and effects the mining will have. David also accompanied, reported, bore witness with his recorder and broadcasts images on the agrarian conflict of Bajo Aguán and gave farmers a voice.
  • On 6/7/12 German Ambassador Karl Henz denounced that a delegation of eight Austrian and German journalists became victims of threats. The journalists came under a program where as a delegation they accompanied Honduran journalists including of community radios who are under threat. On arrival they bought new sim cards (chips), they started receiving suspicious calls with voices saying ´they are over there´.
  • On 8/7/12, reporter Adonis Felipe Bueso Gutiérrez (24) of Radio Stereo Naranja (Christian station in Sonaguera Colón) was assassinated, riddled with bullets, by unknown persons together with two of his cousins. The local radio´s administrator where Adonis worked, Orlin Coto, said Adonís was on leave and assured Orlin he would come back in time to help prepare for the radio´s anniversary event.
  • On 11/7/12, at Puerto Cortés, an attacker fired 12 shots at JBN TV news journalist Selvin Martínez, when Selvin was taking his spouse and daughter to school on his motorcycle. Three bullets hit his tyre and they escaped unharmed. Selvin pressed charges knowing who carried out the attack – the attacker had approached him saying he did not like the couple and will smash them both. Joaquin Molina was imprisoned for this homicide attempt while the hearing proceeds. This is the third attempt the family has suffered. He continues to fear for his family´s lives as the intellectual author of the crime is still free.
  • On 20/7/12 Judge Carmen Canales put a gag on journalist Luis Ortiz of Channel 36 in his own oral public hearing, prohibiting Luis Ortiz and his lawyers from revealing information about the hearing against Catholic Church Chancellor Carlos Magno Nuñez, who is accused of violent aggression against Luis Ortiz.

Repression using teargases, gunshots, detentions and threats against teachers and students

  • On 20/7/12, at Gracias Lempira, police repressed 1000 protesting teachers, who were accompanied by a students´ marching band. The police used teargases and beatings, wounding 10 teachers (hospitalising four) and beating some children. Protesters responded by throwing stones. On this Day of Lempira, teachers protested and interrupted MPs and the Congress President´s hypocritical civic act commemorating national identity and the birth of a national indigenous hero, and the regime not backpaying unpaid salaries of 1000s of teachers since the coup
  • At the same protest Copemh teachers union leader Javier Castillo was beaten by police and soldiers. He arrived at the city centre and was followed by a suspicious vehicle.
  • On 30/7/12, police arrived in motorcycle at a protest outside high School Instituto Técnico Honduras, launching teargas and firing live bullets and detaining 25 students (mostly minors, 3 female), when the youths protested demanding better infrastructure, and an end to the repression and to begin dialogue to abolish the Fundamental Law of Education. One student was pointed at with a rifle and told if they moved, they´d be killed. Students were chased by cops who loaded their guns as they chased. Affected youths said an official named Dilma Salgado said she worked for the Secretary of Justice and Human Rights and she practically pressured for students to be charged and sent to the DPP, and also obstructed the entry of a COFADEH delegation telling the police that the delegation has entered too many times and that this was dangerous. At least four detainees were beaten. Some students were not released until 7am the next morning.

Attempts against people associated with the Libre party

  • On 1/7/12 at the launch of Xiomara Castro as the presidential candidate at Galeras Santa Bárbara, a channel 6 employee Alejandro (surname not provided) was wounded, shot by the attacker after Alejandro had a discussion with him. Alejandro is a sympathiser of Libre party from Choluteca.
  • On 12/7/12 in Colomacagua, hooded men riddled the car of Raúl Varela´s with bullets in an attempt against him, a mayor precandidate for FRP of Libre party. He escaped unharmed.

Summary execution against Afro-descendent community members

On 19/7/12 in the Triunfo de la Cruz community, the Garifunas Vidal Cacho, Jimmy Colón Centeno and Pablo Castillo were summarily executed by brutal assassins in elite police uniforms who fired their high calibre arms at point blank range – one of the bodies were left with more than 25 bullet wounds. The Garifuna Triunfo de la Cruz community has been in struggle against the coup and against plunder. This community has been persistently in land struggle but with a pacifist tendency.

Snapshots of solidarity and resistance in Honduras and internationally

Actions in Honduras

Panama farmers sustained for weeks a roadblock outside the Paso Aguán farm held by Miguel Facussé – a high risk activity – to disrupt business, and protest the killing of farmer Gregorio Chávez.

As violence against farmers in Bajo Aguán escalated, MARCA farmers bravely took action to defend with their lives and conviction their land title and possession, recently won after 18 years of struggle. New farmers land occupation movements continue to spring up that immediately face serious repression, including the MCR movement occupying including Los Laureles, and another new movement occupying El Mochito. Farmers of Aguán have also taken to protesting the installation of a transnational iron mining company there called BDR.

A number of public sector strikes were held demanding salary payment and better working conditions, and against dismissals and privatisation by child protection workers, autonomous university workers, nurses, and teachers…

Internationally

A two months delegation of German and Austrian journalists under the ´Journalist Accompaniment Project in Honduras 2012´, propelled by the Ecumenical Office for peace and justice based in Munich, Germany, stayed with community radios to analyse and expose the situation of human rights and freedom of expression, with a focus on community radios.

A health tribunal with audio and video transmission over the net broadcast testimonies of those whose health is affected because of Goldcorp´s mines and cyanide and heavy metal contamination in Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala. It was organised between the San Miguel Ixtahuacán (SMI) catholic parish, the SMI defence front, the solidarity network against injustice of Toronto Canada, and the Mesoamerican Movement Against Extractive Mining Model.

Honduran feminist and Indigenous leader of Copinh Berta Caceres, went on tour in Europe at the invitation of social movements and grassroots organisations (environmental, solidarity groups, women´s organisations, peoples in resistance against US military base, and with politicians) to give talks about the indigenous struggles against dams and other exploitation projects, militarisation, and human rights situation in Honduras since the coup, and against false solutions to climate change under green capitalism projects like REDD.

 

Honduras Coup Update June 2012

 

On June 28, Honduras had been under three years of military coup. The regime´s own Truth Commission follow up report shows only 13 of 84 of its recommendations have been implemented. The European Union rubs the wound by signing, in Honduras, the EU-Central America Free Trade Agreement one day after the coup anniversary date – this has been denounced by Central American and European civil society organisations as symbolic of EU prioritising economic interests above respect of human rights. And the IMF tried to impose an accelerated devaluation of the Honduran currency Lempira, as a condition for a new ´stand by´ agreement.

As organising begins for the next election, due in 2013, it is evident that there are no conditions for the election already, with seven killings so far against candidates.

Days before this third anniversary of the Honduras coup, Paraguay had a ´parliamentary coup´ – see here more details:http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/3710-video-paraguay-impeachment-or-political-coup

In the context of the recent killings on the Patuca River, not far from a new US military base, involving US anti-drug agency helicopters, the US progressed its talks with Honduras on CARSI (Central America Regional Security Initiative) for which it also signed aid of $1.3 million for criminal investigations as part of the 2011-2012 CARSI package. The US also just announced a further 15 Honduran coup officials can have their US visas back, and appointed the grandson of a Honduran dictator as its Latin America Advisor.

Within Honduras, an international Bajo Aguán region human rights report by nine international organisations and networks stated that the main issues are landgrabbing, monocrop expansion, concentration of land in few hands, militarisation, grave human rights violations including killings, rape and forced evictions, impunity and criminalisation of social protest. It also recommended that the Central America – Europe Free Trade Agreement not be signed under these circumstances. MUCA, one of the farmers´ movements in Bajo Aguán, was pressured to again sign an agreement against their own interests and subjected to re-militarisation by a number of national and international state and private armed forces.

On militarisation, nationally, ministers have just requested to extend the endorsement for the military to continue police duties by another 180 days.

The Education minister of the resistance, Escoto, dismissed provincial education directors that obtained their positions illegally through political affiliations, but the judicial and executive branches illegally endorsed their reinstatements.

For more on the above: go to http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/expanded-part-of-email-summary.php

 

Persecution in June 2012

 

Summary of political killings in June 2012

  • On 7/6/12, the Vice-principal and lecturer of INTAE business school, active FNRP and teachers union member Miguel Ángel Ramos, was assassinated by hitmen when walking to work.
  • On 12/6/12 active resistance member, FNRP political commission member and Bo El Estadio Collective coordinator, Joel Orellana, was riddled with bullets.
  • On 24/6/12, shots were fired at a family in a car, killing Jenny Izaguirre, gravely wounding Arturo Ramírez and a bullet grazed Jenny´s son. Jenny is a teacher, her spouse Arturo is a FNRP/Libre activist.
  • On 25/6/12, high school student, and active member of FNRP and Libre party Carlos Jese Portillo Yanes (20) was found dead inside a plastic bag. He was last seen transporting people to a Libre event.

Persecution against farmers this June

  • The Bajo Aguan International Human Rights Watch reported an escalated repression, and denounced reactivated eviction orders (against Marañones and right bank settlements La Confianza, La Aurora, La Lempira, and La Concepción). It also condemned the regime for forcing farmers to sign an agreement against their interests under threat of imminent bloodshed, as a demonstration of the lack of political will by regime heads Lobo/Ham (Agrarian Minister). It also denounced the re-militarisation in the last 15 days of June by Honduran, US, Colombian, and Israelí missions, with movements of arms into the Bajo Aguán region.
  • On 12/6/12, a contingent of six patrols (including the four buses and other cars contracted by sugar company CAHSA, three heavy machines and a tractor), hundreds of police, cobra and investigative agents, carried out a brutal eviction with a DPP order against hundreds of farmers of MOCSAM Movimiento Campesino de San Manuel Cortés at El Coowle. On this occasion – the third eviction in under two months – they detained 21 including 17 women, with hooded paramilitaries returning three hours later to try to capture more. The contingent illegally destroyed homes together with household goods and foods, their community shop was destroyed, and the police ate and drank from it. A small plane sprayed poison on around 100 hectares of maíz, and other crops were destroyed.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zsSJVMZRDo&feature=youtu.be. Those detained have to sign at the courts regularly, having been charged with land usurpation.
  • On 21/6/12, Danlí court issued an eviction order against 40 Danlí farmers accused of usurpation of land from the Alfaro family in the Jamastrán Valley of Ruano. The farmers have possessed the land for 15 months and have received Agrarian Department´s written confirmation that the lands are national lands. One of the farmers was murdered four months before, and no authorities came.
  • On 25/6/12, Aguán MUCA leaders José Luíz Dubon Díaz, Juan Angel Rodríguez, Timoteo Mendoz Zuazo, Justo Leonel Cruz Padilla had their weapons that they carry legally for personal protection confiscated by an operation by Patrol 42 at the exit of La Ceiba to Colón.
  • On 28/6/12, police arrived to evict the hundreds who occupied the La Democracia Bridge in El Progreso for 5 hours.
  • On 29/6/12 MARCA farmer Julián Hernández was victim to persecution by four hooded men who look like soldiers, circulating around his home several times. Julián is the president of La Trinidad, and this occurred as the military evicted private guards of the usurping landowners after the farmers won their case at the tribunals.

Persecution, including killings, against teachers and students

  • Luis Agurcia – teachers unions leader (Teachers Federation Secretary) and FNRP leader of Trujillo, who with others occupied the Colón provincial area education office, was charged with sedition – the Bajo Aguán Human Rights Watched warned there is likely to be an arrest warrant against him.
  • On 3/6/12, military and police evicted teachers occupying the provincial area education office in Colón, where teachers protested irregular acts by the provincial director in relation to appointment of teachers, and the director also has been politically persecuting unionised teacher leaders there – eg Luis´s case above, and teacher/FNRP leader Will Paz receives constant death threatsby text message.
  • On 7/6/12, in San Pedro Sula, vice principal/lecturer of INTAE (business administration of companies institute) and active FNRP and Copemh member Miguel Ángel Ramos (47) was assassinated with 9mm gunshots to the head by hitmen jumping out of a van when he was walking to work and passing by the Teachers College UPNFM, accompanied by his 12 years old son. They had been followed for a time. Nothing was stolen. Apart from participating in marches against the coup, teachers and court actions, Miguel has been supporting a fair trade project at INTAE and teaches social science in the afternoons and was a student advice coordinator.
  • On 11/6/12, Education Minister Marlon Escoto received a texted death threat, ´We are going to burn you alive h… don´t mess with the cachureco teachers of Cortés, dog. On feet or dead, never on knees, son of a b…´ from number 33919608. Marlon had announced he was suspending 14 of the 18 provincial education directors (who are affiliated with the national party) because their appointments were illegal.
  • On 15/6/12, Provincial Director Fredy Díaz sued the secretary of the teachers selective committee of Copán and FNRP coordinator there Dilsia Cantarero for defamation, for having denounced him for irregularities and corruption.
  • On 20/6/12, student activist Pedro Joaquín Amador, who was arrested in a student solidarity protest supporting students suspended for their political organising, had his first hearing – he continues to be charged for damages against police, although the baseless charge of ‘attempt against police’ had been dropped and despite the damages charge also not having enough elements, according to human rights organisation Cofadeh.

Persecution including killing against artists and their families

  • On 12/6/12, a kidnap attempt against Bessy Duarte was made as she left a bank and was intercepted by a black van without numberplates. She was pushed and under threat and the money she took out was taken off her, but she managed to escape. Bessy is themother of a well known resistance member and singer of Café Guancasco, Pavel Nuñez, whose family has been in the last weeks subject to extortion and telephone threats because of which they had to move home.
  • On 19/6/12 the Honduran theatrical community made a statement condemning the assassination of Walter David González Contreras (31), an active member of the La Fragua Theatre. He was shot by unknown persons on his way home from a party.

Persecution against indigenous activists

  • On 13/6/12, individuals attempted to kill Copinh leaders (executive commission members) Juan Vásquez and Sotero Chavarría, shooting at them at least twice, hitting their Copinh car and causing a car accident, as Juan and Sotero were driving back from a Copinh activity. Copinh has been denouncing threats and intimidation against them by armed persons of the state, who are paid by companies to develop megaprojects on indigenous territories.
  • On 17/6/12 the Tribu de San Francisco de Locomapa Tolupán indigenous community in Yoro, who belong to Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia denounced repeated death threats which their members have received as they organise to block the entry of woodchopping machines. These are owned by businessman Kenton Landa Uclés. The context is that the Indigenous community´s right to determination on their land has been violated and the authorities have always taken the company´s side.
  • On 28/6/12, active member of the Cuchilla community of Ceguaca, Bonifacio Muñoz Troches, was shot at in the back by Pablo Hernández when Bonifacio was working in the cornfield. Bonifacio was in a land struggle, having occupied the land since 15/4/12. Hernández has been denounced by members of this community for trying to illegally take the land. There has been no justice against the perpetrator.

Persecution and killings against resistance members who are also Party activists/candidates

  • On 12/6/12, active resistance member and FNRP political commission member and Bo El Estadio Collective coordinator, Joel Orellana, was riddled with bullets and assassinated. He was someone very enthusiastic and always said after protests, ´resistimos y venceremos hasta la victoria´.
  • On 23/6/12, at an activity collecting signatures of the group 5 de Julio of the Libre Party at the Central Park, four police chased and beat an underage youth who rode in a scooter and unfairly detained him. The police also then dismantled an electricity connection the 5 de Julio had to make announcements.
  • On 24/6/12, in the capital city, unknown persons who travelled in a vehicle with tinted windows without numberplates intercepted and attacked with gunshots a family travelling home in a vehicle – Jenny Izaguirre died in this attack. Arturo Ramírez was gravely wounded in the abdomen damaging his liver and pancreas. Jenny´s son had a bullet graze on his cheek. Jenny is a teacher and her spouse Arturo is an FNRP/Libre resistance activist in charge of logistics in one of the movements inside Libre. There was no kidnapping or robbery.
  • Also on 24/6, Comayagua leader Juan Ramón Flores´s home was raided – the assailants took only documents and a Libre party computer, even though 50,000 lempiras were visible, and every corner was obviously searched – the family reported another raid at the office in which the same information taken away from the home was taken away there. The family has dispersed and is terrorised/traumatised and has applied for cautionary measures. A year ago Juan had been kidnapped and managed miraculously to escape.
  • On 25/6/12, high school student and active FNRP and Libre member Carlos Jese Portillo Yanes (20) was found dead with hands and feet tied with shoelaces and bruises in the head, inside a black plastic bag in San Pedro Sula. He was last seen helping transport people on the Sunday to an FNRP activity in preparation for the next internal elections. Some witnesses say he was intercepted by 3 people in a pick-up, who forced him into it and took him to an unknown destination. Carlos´s father, Carlos Portillo, is one of the FNRP leaders in Villanueva.
  • On 30/6/12, police under directions from police spokesperson Hernán Mejia, were taking ID cards from passengers to block the arrival of the caravan of buses that were going to Santa Barbara for the launching of the presidential candidate Xiomara Castro of Libre – the resistance´s political party – in Santa Barbara.

Persecution of journalists

  • On 12/6/12, at the MOCSAM farmers eviction by police and army, a presumed employee of the sugar company CAHSA filmed and photographed repeatedly journalists Leonardo Aguilar and Gerardo Chevez of Radio Progreso, and Bartolo Fuentes of Vida Laboral, who were there to cover the eviction. When Bartolo asked him why he was photographing them, the person moved to hide behind the military and police, before slipping away from the scene. Gerardo recognises the man who has been seen in three eviction operations in the region, and so it is assumed that he is from the sugar company. Gerardo said at the second eviction, he was riding on motorcycle when followed for 2 km by unknown persons who signalled for him to stop.
  • On 28/6/12, police detained and kidnapped for 2.5 hours the photographer Edwin Murillo of TV channel Hable como Habla, who was arriving to film the discovery of a body inside a cardboard box in Comayagüela. Police attacked and handcuffed him and took him to an unknown destination and spent the first minutes beating him. Edwin was with journalist Alejandra Vásquez – when they arrived at the crime scene Edwin was attacked and handcuffed and taken by patrol M1-08 and taken to an unknown destination. The Hable como Hable director and owner Eduardo Maldonado searched for Edwin in different police stations and called on the police head on TV and via social networks to demand the physical safety of the young photographer. Edwin appeared 2.5 hours after the capture – the police patrol M1-08 claimed that he was taken places but never to a police station.

A snapshot of actions in Honduras and solidarity actions internationally

In Honduras

On June 1, thousands of farmers with social and grassroots organisations and unions of the Aguán region mobilised at Tocoa city, demanding their land rights. They blocked traffic on the Tocoa bridge.

Compas from indigenous organisations Copinh, ONIHL and Garifuna, and of the Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Vida began a walk (in cases, in intense rain and sun) to Tegucigalpa from different parts of Honduras for a continental mobilisation of June 5 to defend natural resources from commercial exploitation. They arrived at the Natural Resources Department where they chanted that as a community they knew that ´green economy´ is a farce. They stood firm to the police who tried to say they were violating people´s right of movement, and the community proclaimed that they were defending everyone´s right to land and water, that it is for defending, not for selling. They played drums, marched onto the DPP, occupied streets and used a powerful megaphone. They shared food, speeches, and inaugurated a people´s café with a big pot of coffee on some firewood and rocks, outside the government offices.

FNRP organised on 23/6/12 at the Stibys union to form a committee of solidarity with the Paraguayan people resisting a coup, they organised protests and shared news.

On June 28, masses of people mobilised in different parts of Honduras as the resistance against the coup. The FNRP commemorated 3 years of resistance. http://nicaraguaymasespanol.blogspot.com/2012/06/fotos-honduras-tres-anos-de-resistencia.html and denounced the coup in Paraguay.

On June 29, Central American activists gathered in protest against the signing of the ADA – Central America – EU Free Trade Agreement, outside the place of its signing (Plaza San Martín hotel district), one day after the third anniversary of the military coup in Honduras. A delegation of FNRP, Mesoamericans in Resistance, Vía Campesina, Mesoamerican Forum, Social Continental Alliance CA, Refoundational Space, delivered a public letter to the presidents of SICA gathered for the signing http://nicaraguaymasespanol.blogspot.com/2012/06/fotos-honduras-movimientos-sociales.html. , highlighting the impact of militarisation and neoliberalisation on the communities. They denounced the creation of tax exempt areas in Central American countries that the FTA brings, against the health and education of the peoples, as well as against food sovereignty through promoting expansion of monocrop export, including for biofuels.

The MARCA farmers began land occupations in December 2009 (they were part of MUCA then) and in April 2010 decided not to negotiate with the government (MUCA negotiated) and continued their struggles in the tribunals and continued the occupations of the land, in conflict with Miguel Facussé (occupied for 16 years) and René Morales (occupied for 2 years). They won their cases finally on June 29, 2012, and judges and police arrived on their lands, San Isidro, Despertar and Trinidad, to evict the security guards of Miguel Facussé and René Morales. This is a victory for the farmers, but there is still persecution against the farmers of MARCA, plus the large landholders have expressed they will appeal the decision and action. In the 18 years of judicial struggle so far, the farmers have suffered persecution, arrests, tortures, human and material losses – nine MARCA farmers have been killed to date, but it is the only agrarian conflict so far resolved in favour of farmers in Bajo Aguán today.

Internationally….

In Sydney on 23 June 2012, an action was held to mark three years of coup and coup resistance in Honduras and to remember those whose lives have been killed in resistance – the committee organised street theatre, singers, and speakers from Friends of the Earth Sydney, Colectivo Mujer, Teachers Federation, and CFMEU. See

article and video link here http://indymedia.org.au/2012/06/27/solidarity-gathering-for-the-honduran-resistance

Other actions held for International Day of Solidarity with Honduras included efforts

from a number of cities in the US including in LA where a vigil was organised by immigrant and lgbti groups http://youtu.be/t2XK2WAXKlc. In Chelsea, a Freedom Songs and Poetry night was organised with a recently returned guest who spoke about the killings against La Mosquitia people, and in Argentina sit-ins were organised protesting three years of military coup,  at the Honduran Embassy at noon, and then at the Paraguayan Embassy at 2pm.

Hondurans Copinh indigenous and feminist leader Berta Caceres toured and gave talks in Italy, Austria and Germany, and Cofadeh human rights leader Bertha Oliva was invited to give talks by the Agrupación de Familiares de Ejecutados Políticos in Chile, about human rights violations in Honduras.

Honduras Coup Update – May 2012

 

There was a sudden surge of political killings during May. There were at least nine political assassinations.

In addition, there was a massacre on 11 May against indigenous Miskito people on a boat. A U.S. State Department helicopter that the US government confirms carried U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents and security contractors opened fire. Four people were killed – two pregnant women, a 14-year-old boy and a 21-year-old man – while at least four more were seriously injured. This is in the context of the new Caratasca US military base, installed after the coup in the name of fighting drugs and terrorism, in this isolated region, where the 400kms long Patuca River is the only transport route other than by air. It is a zone full of natural resources – petroleum, forests, and rivers. Witnesses said when the helicopters landed, those who came out to check the boat were tall, Anglo-Saxon, with clear skin, spoke little Spanish, in military-wear and seemed to be US military staff. US and Honduran authorities have not interviewed witnesses. Community leaders of MASTA affirmed in a statement that those who were on the canoe are fishers not drug traffickers.

 

Under threat from Dinant palm giant Miguel Facussé, thousands of farmer families in Bajo Aguan MUCA (Movimiento Unificado de Campesinos de Aguán) on the right bank now face imminent eviction and bloodshed due to lack of political will by the state to enforce the signed agreement of April 2010. The regime is simply pressuring farmers to immediately sign a payment plan, which is against their interests.

MUCA Right Bank essentially decided to hold off signing the payment plan (Left Bank has signed it) until the agreement signed in April 2010 is fully complied with – it means not just 4,000 hectares but an additional 7,000, and state spending on education, health, and infrastructure for the communities.

As the month ended Dinant applied to the Security Department to reactivate a 1.5 year-old eviction order against the settlements of MUCA Right Bank, and against Marañones (left). Lobo´s response is to blame the farmers, “MUCA´s  stubbornness can provoke the militarisation of Bajo Aguán by not signing.” There are also reports that near the settlements, in the last 2 weeks of May, there had been a re-militarisation, with heavy arms and checkpoints, including military personnel from the USA, Colombia, and Israel.

 

Although Prosecutors announced they will be charging police, military and civilians involved in human rights violations in Bajo Aguán, including on 50 assassinations, farmers do not have faith in the process / do not believe actions to end impunity will be taken.

 

As murderous scandals involving the police pile up, supposed reforms to the Honduran justice systems proceed, and create a state intelligence body to investigate crimes. The reforms continue to be shaped by dismissing some high heads of police and replacing them with police accused of grave human rights crimes. For example, the newly appointed police director Juan Carlos ´El Tigre’ Bonilla has been accused of starting death squads and been linked to at least 3 assassinations and forced disappearances between 1998 and 2002, although one case was absolved in 2004. The newly appointed Commissioner of Dirección Nacional de Servicios Especiales de Investigación Santos Armando Rodríguez Flores, was accused by a father of assassination of two youths in Bajo Aguan on 28 October 2011 that remain unresolved.

At the same time, a repressive reform was passed by two-thirds of congress to increase the time police can detain crime suspects from 24 hours to up to 48 hours.

 

A crackdown on civil society groups was announced as interior and population secretary Áfrico Madrid requested CNBS (National Banks and Insurance Commission) not to process financial transactions where civil organisations have not complied with reporting requirements – he said 3,500 of 8,000 have not and are illegal.

 

Under the neoliberal government, transport fares were increased and there are moves to introduce modern transport services by private interests that would further increase transport costs. Citibank fired 180 Honduran employees for trying to organise a workers´ union, and Hospital Atlántida told 274 employees not to come to work anymore, saying it has no capacity to pay them, after not having paid them for 5 months already. Sitraunah (autonomous university workers union) ignored unionists´ demands and a hunger strike, indifferent to the conditions of people having been on hunger strike for a month.

 

False climate solutions: International Finance Corporation and Banco Atlántida announced $50 million in loans to feed the biofuels and hydroelectricity industries.

Major human rights reports and stats this May:

·         Several European Union Ambassadors condemned threats against human rights defenders and journalists in Honduras, expressing concern at threats against international (including one French) volunteers and Cofadeh.

·         Amnesty International demanded re their last months´ campaign with Honduras, ´Not one more death, attack or threat against journalists and human rights defenders.´

·         Homicide statistics for 2011 in Honduras: 7,104 / 86.5 every 100,000

·         Inter-American Press Society condemned recent kidnappings of journalists in Mexico, Honduras and Colombia.

 

Shameless and contradictory acts patting the coup regime and its military on the back: an article depicted Honduran military students in San Pedro Sula in a reforestation project, Honduras Verde, carrying pro-environment placards as they took the streets, and Lobo decorated and sent off 8 select army officials to participate in war games – Olimpiadas Fuerzas Comando Colombia 2012.

 

Persecution – surge in political assassinations in May 2012

 

Summary of killings this month:

 

1 May: A young Lenca Indigenous man, Santos Rodríguez, was killed in his home.

2 May: Singer and unionist, Sitraunah, Rigoberto Matute, was run over and killed.

3 May: University lecturer, Sitraunah, Miguel Barahona, assassinated by hitmen.

5 May: LGBTI human rights activist, journalist and aspiring candidate, Erick Martínez (32), went missing on 5 May and was found dead on a highway kerb 2 days later.

8 May: Community leader, Choloma Cortés, and sympathiser of the resistance party, Edilberto Solano, were assassinated by hitmen on a motorcycle.

16 May: An organised farmer, Juan José Peralta (60), of the Marañones MUCA settlement was riddled with bullets by palm oil giant Facussé´s (and known oligarchy) security guards.

18 May: An organised farmer, José Del Cid (41), also of the Marañones MUCA settlement was shot and killed by unidentified persons.

20 May: Resistance activist who was involved with leftist parties, ´el Pollito´ (dear little chicken) Jesús Pineda (55) was shot by unknown hitmen.

31 May: An organised farmer Erick Rivera (40), previously of Marañones, was shot dead by unknown persons despite being with a bodyguard.

 

Assassinations, captures, threats and militarisation against Bajo Aguan farmers this month

·         On 16/5/12 MUCA Marañones farmer Juan José Peralta (60) was chased and assassinated by Miguel Facussé´s security guards, whose shots also critically wounded his son Juan Peralta (28) of the Rigores movement, and his son-in-law Antonio Vélez of Marañones, when they were driving and carrying corn and wood towards the National Agrarian Department office and the La Confianza farm. He leaves behind a spouse Virginia Barrera.

·         On 17/5/12 at 3pm, DNIC (investigative agents), police and army members (of the Xatruch operation) detained 8 farmers and freed them at 5pm, without showing an arrest warrant.

·         On 18/5/2012, Jose Efraín Del Cid (41) was assassinated by shots in his face, by unidentified persons, when travelling in Sonaguera with another farmer Marcos Días Licona who managed to jump out and escape death. Both farmers belong to the Nueva Panamá farmers cooperative of MUCA Marañones in the left bank of Aguán river.

·         On 24/5/12, in Tocoa, a police patrol captured farmer Sangenaro Reyes Martínez (68), of the ´Guadalupe Carney´ community (Movimiento Campesinos Aguán). Police claimed to have a capture order. He had just left the Salamá community looking for Agrarian Department staff, after the sudden militarisation of Tocoa by Facussé´s guards. It is expected that he will get substitutive measures to prison for being elderly. He has been judicially persecuted for some time as one of several farmers accused in a past confrontation in which one MCA farmer and several investigative ex agents and relatives of the police Henry Osorto died, though the farmers do not have the capacity nor the weapons used.

·         On 24/5/12, at the Tocoa, police detained José Luis Dubon and Marlen Hernandez of La Lempira farmers settlement of MUCA 

·         On 24/5/12, in El Progreso, 17 MUCA leaders travelling back from negotiations with INA Minister César Ham were detained for 2 hours without any judicial orders or having committed any crimes. This is the third time this happened. Police held a checkpoint near the ranch of Micheletti. DNIC agents tried to take the car keys of the captured farmers without a judicial order for this. Previous detentions were on 2 February 2012 against 13 leaders at Arizona, and on 11 February 2012 against 12 leaders at Tela.

·         On 28/5/12, 10 police were chasing unknown persons on a motorcycle, when they stopped and intercepted Doni Obed Diaz Vasquez (29) La Confianza farmer, giving him death threats and accusing Doni of carrying weapons when he simply worked on the land. They tried to force him into a vehicle using death threats but other farmers´ presence impeded the kidnap.

·         On 31/5/12, ex farmers leader of Marañones Erick Federico Rivera Ochoa (40) was shot dead despite being with a bodyguard, by unknown persons who waited for him as he left a supermarket in San Juan Pueblo, Atlántida.

·         Death threats by Miguel Facussé´s guards against MUCA leaders Vitalino Álvarez, Juan Ramón Chinchilla, Adolfo Castañeda, and Ramon Sánchez have been reported.

·         The Marañones settlement is at risk of military intervention, with heavily armed contingent stationed nearby.

Assassination, detentions and attacks against Indigenous activists

·         On 1/5/12, in Intibucá, 3 police invaded Mrs María de Los Santos Domínguez Benítez´s home and humiliated her. They searched for her son, and when they could not find him, and her other son Santos Alberto Rodríguez protested the invasion, police shot him in the head killing him instantly. Santos is a human rights defender, active Copinh member (Council of Grassroots Indigenous Organisations Honduras – as is his brother) and anti-dam anti-privatisation activist (against Proyecto Hidroeléctrico Agua Blanca) for which they have been under threat by landowners who have been making a land invasion. His community – San Bartolo – is applying for its Indigenous community land title (unlikely to be granted because of transnational interests). There are reports that the police responsible, Benedicto Galo Peña, has not been arrested.

·         On 15/5/12 police indiscriminately chased Copinh members of the Lenca communities of Cuchilla, Ceguaca, Santa Bárbara, and captured Copinh members Presentación Casteñanos Muñoz, Bonifacio Tróchez and Nelson Gómez, who have maintained for a month an ancestral recovery of their land. Also: Honduran police and woodchoppers attacked the Tolupan Indigenous people of the Lavanderos community in the Montaña de la Flor.

·         On 19/5/12, member of land grabber family Luis Crespo arrived threatening and wounding with gunshots  Julio Lino of the Garifuna Cristales community in Trujillo. Julio was shot in the chest during an occupation to reclaim the Garifuna community land and territory. The community has had ancestral community titles since 1901 but that have been invaded and usurped. Due to community pressure, Julio Crespo the son, who was detained, was freed that afternoon without explanations by the authorities.

·         On 24/5/12, La Paz police unfairly detained 16 labourers including 3 Copinh members relatives of Copinh executive member Sotero Chaverría – his brothers Isabel and Jorge, and his son Allan (17), and two other underage persons Ángel River (13) and Seljin López (14), on their way to their workplaces which are under a Buenos Aires community title. When questioned, subcommission Jesús Rodriguez said, ´it´s just that they were inside an area where operations were undertaken, and they didn´t carry documents and this is a crime’. There were no antecedents, and they were in their own community territory. Everyone was freed except Cristian David Aguilar Rivera, accused of usurpation of lands and left in a cell full of human faeces.

 

Killings against unionists of sitraunah – Autonomous University Workers´ Union

·         On 2/5/12 Rigoberto Matute was killed, run over by unidentified driver and vehicle, when taken to hospital he was not attended by emergency within an hour and most likely died from medical negligence. Rigoberto was a singer, a friend of the resistance, a sitraunah leader. He used to sing at the meetings ´and in the end life continues the same´

·         On 3/5/12 university lecturer Miguel Angel Barahona Fiallos was assassinated outside his home by hitmen, in Colonia San Miguel, El Progreso. Miguel was member of Sitraunah. Miguel was a lecturer in pedagogy, and coordinator of masters program in UNAH-VS and had worked 35 years there.

 

Persecution against others opposing being exploited

·         Final year Medical students on internship have been on strike and university authorities announced that these will be individually penalised by having their internships re-started from zero hours, to the suspension of between 45-60 days from the internship

·         On 4/5/12, workers of Sinohydro (transnational hydroelectricity company) who made demands on their workers´ rights and were forming a union, were forced off the buses that were taking them to their worksites and repressed with beatings and kicks in the arms and head by the army in the Patuca III region.

 

Threats, and a killing, against journalists

·         On 1/5/12, journalist Edgardo Castro, director of the program ´El Látigo Contra la Corrupción´ of Globo TV, received 800 text messages of which 100 were death threats – he received precautionary measures with UN and OAS. He had suffered threats since the coup and had also been beaten. He alleges oligarchy people have paid children of farmers and workers to send the threats. In his work he speaks in favour of farmers, of the minimum wage, of defence of workers and against citizens´ insecurity.

·         On 4/5/12, police officer Ávila verbally threatened 12 journalists who tried to cover and photograph the finding of three bodies in Cortés, saying they will be assassinated because of their work. Then JBN National TV correspondent journalist Selvin Martínez proceeded to photograph and video the police, whose response was to photograph Selvin and stare at him. Selvin and his family have suffered attempts before and after this – on 26/4/12 gunshots were fired at his family home, and on 17/5/12, there was a kidnap attempt against his spouse, Dilcia Moreno, when a young man got off a tourist van, carrying two others, asking her for directions and for the time. When she said she had no watch they followed her and they told her to get into the car, saying her spouse is further up waiting for her. She questioned him how he knew his spouse, he said get in the vehicle. She got scared and quickly went into a shop.

·         On 9/5/12 in the midnight hours HRN news director Alfredo Villatoro was kidnapped on his way to work by unknown persons, his vehicle appeared abandoned. On 15/5/12 he was found dead in a residential area Las Uvas in Tegucigalpa

·         On 28/5/12 Radio Globo News Director David Romero and Canal 36 owner Esdras Amado López , who are critical of the coup, expressed concerns about an indirect death threat in which David Romero learned from a source he trusts. This was that an ex-head of military intelligence and current strategic information of Hondutel, Guillermo Pinél Cálix, had said in a discreet meeting while analysing the national reality, that if Alfredo Villatoro had been killed for being a liar, that then the same could not happen to the journalists Esdras Amado and David Romero. Esdras said, ´we know about his role in the coup…that he was close to Micheletti and practically these affirmations put us on a list and that the same that happened to Alfredo Villatoro can happen to us.´

·         On 28/5/12, journalist Antonio Cabrera of news of Radio Frescura 90.9 in Tela said he was receiving death threats by text message from unknown persons, generally during his morning news. ´Your days for keeping talking are numbered´; ´you are going to be the last journalist to have their tongue cut´ – he received amongst other messages. Antonio feels the threats may be related to his reporting about the illegal logging at the Parque Nacional Lancetilla, by the Escuela Nacional Forestal authorities. He has also reported critically on the local government, on the quality of drinking water services, of electricity, and discovery of a clandestine cemetery and how the authorities hide the identities of the bodies found there.

 

Persecution against students

·         On 7/5/12, Socialist Student Front student leaders Erlin Gutiérrez and Kelyn Nuñez were suspended by the teachers college UPNFM university authorities for 2 academic periods (until September), accused of inciting protests in favour of public education in March 2012, saying they are very grave crimes. They were told that when they return from their suspension they will return on the condition of not participating in protests or politically associating and expressing themselves on the university campus.

·         On 21/5/12, dozens of anti-riot police repressed a protest by hundreds of high school (Normal Mixta) and teachers college students in solidarity with 2 teachers college students suspended for protesting and 2 other students penalised for the same. 17 were detained and one charged, police initially arrested two women students, hurting one of the students´ forearms, and when students reacted to this police brutality the police detained 15 more, beating three severely, including Pedro Joaquín Amador who remained imprisoned and charged – he was one of the students who had been penalised for protesting.

 

Killings and threats against LIBRE party members who have other roles in the community too – such as, as community leaders, lgbti defenders, journalists

·         On 5/5/12, Erick Martínez Avila (32) was reported missing. He was found dead on 7/5/12 (by strangling) on the kerb of a highway from Tegucigalpa towards Olancho. Erick is an lgbti human rights defender, journalist, resistance leader – a member of the Sexual Diversity Table of FNRP, he worked in Monitoring, Evaluation, and PR for the lgbti group Kukulcán, founded Movimiento de Diversidad en Resistencia, is an MP pre-candidate for LIBRE (announced 3 weeks before) and is a member of Los Necios political organisation.

·         On 8/5/12, in Choloma Cortés, Edilberto Solano, was assassinated by two unknown persons on a motorcycle who ambushed and  repeatedly shot at this community leader and sympathiser of LIBRE. He is secretary general of the Socialist Morazánico Party.

·         On 10/5, the youth Fanny Gevawer in the last two days had received strange calls and threatening messages on her phone, with insults that are politically and ideologically tinted – for supporting and defending lgbti rights, rights to therapeutic abortion, to the morning-after pill and to women´s struggle. Fanny is OPLN/LIBRE MP candidate – four faces depicted in the Necios publication article about Necios candidates were of Erick Martínez, Fanny Gevawer, Mario Zepeda and Ana Rivera. Erick was assassinated 7/5/12. Fanny is a graduate in marketing, secretary of Necios, and has worked on increasing the participation of women in the different spaces.

·         On 20/5/12 Jesús Pineda ´Pollito´ (dear little chicken, 55) was assassinated by unknown hitmen with five gunshots in the head. He was shot from a white car near his home in the Satélite area. He is of FNRP Colectivo Plaza la Libertad in San Pedro Sula, and is part of a motorcycle contingent that goes to the protests. He had been involved in various party political campaigns from UD before the coup, to supporting the independent candidate Carlos H Reyes in 2009 who withdrew because of the coup, and recently he joined the Fuerza de Refundación Popular of the Libre party. He leaves behind two daughters and two sons, and had a small furniture workshop for which he personally made deliveries.

 

Threats against International Human rights defenders

·         A French woman representing an NGO, a young volunteer, suffered death threats in Tegucigalpa according to the French Ambassador in Tegucigalpa Philippe Ardanaz .

·         Two European volunteers (English, and French) of an international Project of protection based in Tegucigalpa were threatened in April.

 

Snapshot of solidarity actions within and outside of Honduras, with Honduras

In Honduras

•                    Despite a rainy morning, hundreds of thousands mobilised nationally on May Day, protesting labour conditions, against corruption, and injustice. On hearing news of the police killing against the Copinh youth Santos Benítez the same day, they also protested this killing and demanded justice. For example, in El Progreso, a 10 minutes video if you want to watch: http://youtu.be/5N5dZh2zkxs

·                     On 23/5/12, 1500 women and men of Movimiento Campesino de San Manuel MOCSAM re-occupied 3000 manzanas of land usurped by sugar companies Azucarera del Norte ´Azunosa´ and Compañia Azucarera Hondureña from which they were evicted on 26/4/12. Over 100 farmers were arrested by military and police on the 26th. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xul4-1gdkUQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player

•                    Roger Ivan Bados Popular Education School held workshops: grassroots power , grassroots cinema as a means of consciousness raising, and held a grassroots cinema showing Quien Dijo Miedo.

•                    Villagers whose community/family members were killed by shots fired from the US anti-drugs helicopter began to form self-defence groups to confront police repression and repression from others allied to the police, and publicly condemned the US military occupation.

•                    Copinh held an Encuentro in Defence of the Nature´s Goods and in Solidarity with Copinh, represented by a number of communities, organised cultural, spiritual and festive activities, where people exchanged corn, pumpkins, pacayas, malangas, bananas, chinapopos and café of the highlands. There was cultural and artistic exchange including of music, poetry, juggling. There were children there and people hiked to get there and camped there for the Encuentro, in the bush. They discussed ideas and had political debates towards building grassroots and Indigenous power from the communities´ perspectives and historic struggles. They made a declaration pointing to the grave problem and threats of hydroelectric, mining concessions and the privatisation of forests with REDD and other such false solutions to climate change. They said these are new forms of colonialisation. They denounced threats, harassment and attacks.

 

Separate protests:

Medical students went on strike, demanding an allowance increase. Hospital admin employees went on strike, demanding to be paid the agreed increase.

Sitraunah held a sit-in protesting anti-union persecution and violation of the university workers´ rights, denouncing the authorities´ indifference about the condition of the people on hunger strike.

Farmers near El Salvador travelled to the city to have a hunger strike demanding basic services.

Women, feminist and young feminist organisations in Honduras gathered to publicly protest the Congress prohibiting and criminalising the use of the morning after pill.

Teachers took to the streets nationally, demanding that the teachers’ pension institution be under teachers´ control, for the plunder to end.

100s of high school and teacher students protested and were repressed, in solidarity with suspended student activists.

Journalists held a vigil in the rain, demanded an end to impunity in crimes against journalists.

 

Outside Honduras

•                    On 2 May 2012 a Canadian documentary maker showed on Telesur (South America leftist TV channel) a report ´Informar y Resistir en Honduras´.

•                    In Washington, a protest was held outside an award ceremony of an extreme right wing Latin American organisation (CHLI), where coup president Lobo was decorated

•                    A two-day human rights delegation from the US, organised by Rights Action and Alliance for Global Justice, visited the community of Ahuás in the Moskitia region of Honduras where they suffered the massacre executed from US DEA helicopters. The delegation demanded a formal and genuine investigation, the withdrawal of US forces, and the suspension of US military aid in Central America.

•                    An International Public Hearing was held to make preliminary conclusions, hearing the testimonies from victims of repression in Aguan, an area of conflict from structural violence under neoliberal policy. The hearing reflected on topics related to agrarian reform, as current policies had allowed land grabbing to take place; and on the grave human rights situation that farmers families live with there. Twenty-six experts from international organisations and networks participated, from 12 countries of the Americas and from Europe. It was also attended by representatives of Inter American Human Rights Commission, UNHCHR, European Parliament, amongst others. The Honduran regime was absent.

•                    In London, an award ceremony was held giving awards to journalists under threat. It was attended by over 100. There was support for Honduran journalist Dina Meza.

 

Honduras Coup Update – April 2012

As urgency to address the landlessness of small farmers dramatically increased, with more than 3000 farming families coordinating new mass land occupations nationally. The coup regime was forced to appear to respond but calls the occupations ‘invasions’ and decided that permanent militarisation coupled with a ´lands bank´ and farmers´ patience is what is needed.

Bajo Aguán land conflict

On one hand, the Bajo Aguán land conflict in which over 50 farmers have been killed since the coup continues unresolved: from the 2010 agreement with MUCA (Movimiento Unificado de Campesinos de Aguán), only 4,000 of the 11,000 hectares of agreed land has been distributed , and while MUCA left bank accepted the finance plan with Banhprovi, MUCA right bank spokespersons assert that even with Banhprovi (state not private bank) the plan is not payable and would lead to farmers losing the land. They say that paying will mean farmer families living on $4-5 a day instead of $6-$7.50 a day. MUCA right bank also announced that they will not pay the Dinant palm company until all 11,000 hectares are distributed.

While the DPP tries to clean its image by announcing judicial processes to begin against police, military and civilians involved in human rights violations in Bajo Aguán, Dinant´s executive Pineda twisted it around saying it should have been done a long time ago, alleging the deaths occured because of the ´invasions´. Security Minister Pompeyo announced that patrols will increase, Defence Minister Pascua announced the installation of a permanent contingent of soldiers in the Marañones settlement, even claiming that this is with the community´s agreement.

On the other hand new occupations by 3500 families on 12,000 hectares of land in 8 of 18 provinces of Honduras, on land that farmers have been claiming for years, faced evictions and eviction threats without orders from the tribunals. Agrarian Minister Ham called the occupations ´unjustifiable´ mentioning the 30-45 years long waiting list for land, whereas farmers of this new movement have waited for just 15 years. While admitting landlessness is a problem, Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla went so far as to use the farmers´ assertion that ´the land should be at the hands of who works on it´ but added the contradicting qualification of ´but nor should we be killing centres of productions, if there is a big production´. The regime´s policy has not changed over the decades: it remains that the only land up for discussion in the Congress for redistribution is unused land, painting the new occupations as ´invasions´ into lands used by sugar companies for example.

Public Security Reform in Honduras Commission

In a step in the new police reform to address killings and crimes by police, a Chilean retired ex general, Aquiles Blu was made the first international member of the Public Security Reform in Honduras Commission. Aquiles Blu has a dark past, with links to crimes of the Chilean military dictatorship including the kidnapping and killing of 6 year old Rodrigo Anfruns in 1979, and to drug trafficking. Honduran foreign minister Corrales said Chile ´sent one of its best men.´

More contextual news:

  • The Honduran Child and Family Department is in the process of privatising its security services by moving jobs – indirect dismissals.
  • Honduran hospitals use hundreds of medical student interns as cheap labour, replacing the contracting of medical staff
  • UNAH (Autonomous University of Honduras) is transferring all its editorial staff to other offices as a move to privatise the editorial.
  • A report revealed that illegal logging has drastically increased partly as a consequence of the coup, with Honduras losing more than 1% in forests per year and millions of dollars. Refer to: http://www.lapress.org/articles.asp?art=6601
  • Contributing to reinforcing impunity: Honduran Supreme Court annulled the Prosecutor´s corruption charges against Rosario Bonano, an ex-minister under Zelaya and Micheletti) following an appeal that the case should be heard by a civil not a criminal court.
  • First accusation against 4 police and army officers have just been formalised by Human Rights Prosecutor in relation to a violent eviction against a protest in Aguan at Los Planes highway on 30/8/10 involving gunshots disabling one farmer for life and wounding six others. The charges are against Julio Roberto Benítez Zelaya, Osman Fabiel Díaz Santos, Orlando Díaz Gutiérrez and José Miguel Hernández. The case remains to be opened and determined.
  • Indigneous council Copinh raised that in the name of ´green energy´ (false climate solutions) the regime has been imposing exploitation of natural resources in many ways. For example, the Natural Resources Department Serna stated at an international presentation that open pit mining is a form of ´sustainable exploitation´, Congress has been approving hydroelectricity projects and pushing mining laws without consent of the Lenca peoples, communities in resistance against concessions have been punished by being excluded from public projects (eg by San Marcos de la Sierra mayor Bautista against the El Amate, El Salitre and El Hondable communities). In this context many communities such as San Francisco de Opalaca are having to organise resistance against multiple projects – more than four dams, individual over community titles, REDD projects, nature parks and mountain hotels that use ´ecological´ discourse to privatise and plunder.

Human rights reports this April 2012

  • Inter American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) dedicated a chapter to Honduras in its 2011 report on the Americas, focussing on Bajo Aguán, where it confirms that death threats and intimidation against farmers increased after the coup, referring to the International Human Rights Mission on Bajo Aguán report, and highlighted criminalisation of social protest in general. IACHR´s special relator for rights of persons deprived of liberty Gil made a press statement also about the overpopulated conditions of the San Pedro Sula prison fire.
  • National Human Rights Commission Conadeh made a report that of 10,449 complaints it received of human rights violations, 2,837 were against police, of the 4,904 against state authorities (police, judges, prosecutors, education and health officials, prisons, councils, etc)
  • Current homicide rate in Honduras is 85.6 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants, 9.83 times the average world rate, one violent death every 74 minutes; 19 a day.
  • A statement by the President of the Permanent Forum of Indigenous Affairs of UN highlighted the trade in girls and teenage girls of Miskita ethnicity at the Honduran border, these humans commoditised at $2000 each, under conditions of capitalism at its worst.

International Intervention

Aid from EU despite human rights concerns: Although the European Union expressed concern about the level of violence in Aguán, it assured its support for the Honduran authorities in carrying out UN recommendations and has committed around 223 million Euros for Honduras to be used between 2007 and 2013 (on security, justice and natural resources), and they are working on the 2014-2020 aid program and commit to reach 0.7% GPD in aid to Honduras. This was expressed by the first advisor of EU cooperation section at an international seminar in Tegucigalpa ´Aid in the Agreements of Association between Latin America and EU’.

Similarly, the Pentagon (US) increased its military spending in Honduras by 71% on the previous year to $53 million in the 2011 tax year, and Obama proposes to increase the military aid to Honduras in its foreign aid budget of the Department of State. In 2011, around $24 million of this military spending went to the Palmerola US base in Honduras as published in www.usaspending.gov. This is despite persistent reports on corruption and human rights violations by state forces.

In Honduras electoral surveys show an increased percentage of citizens not belonging to political parties: 35% unaffiliated, 33% National, declined Liberal, Other parties 11% including 7% Libre.

Cases of political persecution in April 2012

Killings, evictions, persecution farmers and their supporters

  • Late on 29/3/12, farmer Edilberto Flores (26) was assassinated in an ambush by a heavily armed group of 30 in Nueva Marañones settlement in Trujillo when workers were going home from work in several vehicles. An El Jazeera report referred to the same incident stating 4 farmers assassinated (with reference to Washington Post), this report referred to the context of regional land conflict and that 11 others were wounded in the same ambush.
  • On 11/4/12, the Agrarian Department ordered the removal of ´degrading messages´ (complaining of injustices and things they are outraged about) from a mural that belongs to the department´s workers´ union Sitraina in Copán. When employees were sent to remove the mural, a confrontation broke out and investigative police intervened. One worker was beaten under instructions from the regional head. The department requested for negative and confronting messages to be removed, replaced with ´positive publicity´.
  • On 11/4/12, organised MUCA farmer of the Camarones cooperative Doninely López Alvarado (46) was assassinated with at least 6 high calibre gunshots in an ambush by at least two hooded unknown persons who were hiding near the Salamá extraction plant while Doninely was driving his motorcycle towards the La Confianza palm plantationAn underage youth who was riding with Doninely (anonymous for security reasons) was bruised from falling from the motorcycle. Doninely was married with Lidia Rivera with 5 children.
  • On 12/4/12, at 6pm, a violent eviction was carried out against the farmers’ settlement El Coroso in Catacamas Olancho, leaving 40 families homeless and angry, and their homes completely destroyed. The community is organised with CNTC.
  • On 13/4/12 farmers Obeniel Cáceres and Juan Angel López of Marañones settlement of Trujillo, which was militarised, were captured by state officers. Juan was freed but Obeniel was accused of having 2 loaders of unspecified automatic missile arms and remained detained. Military commandos were deployed in Marañones and Monte Abajo.
  • On 17/4/12, 80 farmers families in La Lima Yoro were evicted by 30 armed guards who worked for Jaime Rosenthal; the first eviction of the massive coordinated land recoveries that started this International Day of the Campesino.
  • On 17/4/12, San Manuel Cortes farmers´ movement MOCSAN, the biggest of the massive occupations of this day – 3,200 hectares by 1,500 families, was militarised, and on 18/4/12, 300 army and police agents accompanied by security guards carried out an eviction without eviction orders from the tribunals. They detained MOCSAN members for some minutes and took their fingerprints and made them take photos with cardboards with their names and ID number, and to sign a document with the Security Secretary logo. Some agents chased farmers to the inside of the Coowle community and tried to enter the base camp – this was prevented by the farmers but the site of dispute was militarised until 6pm.
  • On 23/4/12 at about 3am, shortly after MOCSAN´s reoccupation, 1,500 marched and Neftalí Zuniga of MOCSAN was wounded by firearm in the abdomen from hidden snipers using high calibre firearms, allegedly by guards of Empresas Azucareras.
  • On 23/4/12 San Pedro Sula Prosecutor (SPS) spokesperson announced requirements to evict MOCSAN farmers who were evicted on 18/4/12 and occupied a trail towards SPS to pressure the regime to negotiate after Lobo cancelled a meeting unilaterally. MOCSAN has a state (INA Catastro) inspection report showing that the 4,725 hectares are state land, although the media tries to portray the land as private property.
  • On 26/4/12, 136 (including 1 woman, 4 underage and 6 elderly) farmers were detained by 700 anti-riot police and army agents from 10am for 30 hours in a violent eviction including beatings against the MOCSAN community that re-occupied the sugar plantation midnight of 23/4/12. The armed contingent deployed in trucks and buses of the sugar companies and began by surrounding the camp for 2 hours, before invading the base camp of MOCSAN and searching farmers door-to-door with 15 arrest warrants for ´usurpation´. Security guards of the companies quickly took possession of the lands, burnt the makeshift homes and belongings of MOCSAN farmers, and some police focussed on identifying journalists with their cameras and mobile phones. The detained were forced onto the military trucks and detained persons including one having multiple epilepsy attacks were refused medical attention, kept alive by only comrades´ resuscitation. After 30 hours of being kept at ´Ballena´ police cells, the detained were freed with bail conditions of signing weekly at the court, and prohibition from returning to the land they were evicted from. An anonymous farmer said, ´they took some of our comrades by force, threw them onto a bus and on the way beat these and forced them to stick their heads under the seats.´ Farmers were also accused of burning a patrol vehicle of the sugar company´s security – farmers had 4 vehicles and a motorcycle confiscated. DPP claims that the land expropriation is illegal because the land is cultivated and not idle. Land is illegally held by the companies, most of the occupied land nationally are state land for agrarian reform, although corporate medias present farmers as ´land invaders´.

Threats and intimidation against Indigenous/community resistance eg against dams

  • On 8/4/12, 3 private guards accompanying Cesar Luna (representing interest in selling the community´s rivers) heavily armed, invaded the Los Laureles community in La Másica, Altántida, where the GENERA company wants to carry out a hydroelectric project, with state/council authorities as allies.
  • On 31/3/12, Magdaleno Argueta, Copinh (Indigenous council) coordinator of Las Lajitas, Colomoncagua Intibucá, received death threats from someone yelling insults and screaming, ´you Copinh activists, you talk shit on these radios, one must cut your tongue, the dam goes ahead because it will, we will ask for you people to be killed.´
  • A press conference revealed that many other Copinh activists reported death threats this month: José Saldivar Gámez received mobile calls by an unknown person, ´stop hanging around with Copinh, if you keep doing it we are going to kill you´. Copinh leaders Sotero Chavarría, Juan Vásquez, Rolando Gutiérrez, Berta Cáceres (including against her children and other relatives) also receive phone calls and messages of threat. Another leader Salvador Zúniga received death threats on many occasions including against his family and visitors – invasions and shots at his humble home, being followed by cars with and without numberplates, being permanently watched. Salvador has been offered dirty millionaire bribes by messengers of the hydro companies, but because Salvador refused, hitmen have been sent to make threats. San Francisco Opalaca, a community resisting plans to build at least 4 dams, reported threats. The Santa Elena community also reported threats and harassment: Copinh leaders Juan Bautista, Asunción Martínez and Julio German were threatened with judicial processes and groups allied with Gladys Aurora – the Congress Secretary and shareholder of hydroelectricity companies – have said: ´something will happen to you people of Copinh.´

Threats against human rights defenders

  • On 14/12/12, journalist and human rights defender Dina Meza of COFADEH received new death threats, receiving calls to her mobile at 10.44am, 11.05am, 17.29pm where the caller hung up before Dina answered. At 17.29pm the phone rang again and when Dina picked up, she heard, ´what´s new?´ and Dina said there isn´t anything and the caller hung up. Dina redialled the number and asked the caller to self-identify, he said he is Miguel and that it was wrong number, but then told her to ´watch your ass´ using a vulgar term for female genitals. Previous threats: on 6/3/12 unidentified men took photos of her children when she was walking them near her home, on 24/2/12 before 6am, Dina´s neighbour told her he saw what appeared to be a dead man in a body bag near her front door, that was gone when he left the apartment again. On 22/2/12 at 9.35am Dina received a message supposably from a paramilitary group called Comando Álvarez Martinez (CAM) saying ´we are going to burn your ass with lime until your scream and then the whole gang will enjoy it but talk and talk to God and the homeland´, followed by a 9.38am message said: ´we know what you are up to arming and forming insurgents, you will end up like those dead in the Aguán, there is nothing better than screwing some bitches.´
  • On 11/4/12 Roger Ordoñez, human rights defender and advisor of the Consultation for a National Mechanism Against Torture, was driving near his home when he was approached by two people. One, who showed Roger a DPP badge, ordered him to get out of the car, pointed a weapon at him and asked if Roger was a lawyer. When Roger said yes and took out his ID, the DPP agent grabbed and showed his colleague saying, ´this is him´ and ordered the colleague to grab, handcuff and take Roger. Then both agents had their weapons out and one played with his. Roger tried to call a friend on his phone, but one agent snatched it. Roger resisted being taken and one agent took Roger´s car keys and beat and fractured his nose with the gun, before the two ran away. Roger is obliged to move and sleep in different places and has not been able to work since, living in fear.
  • On 19/4/12, at 8am Noemí Perez, human rights defender and founder of Cofadeh, was attacked by someone of military build waiting for her in a parked car at Cofadeh´s entrance. This person yelled insults at her, ´you will see, daughter of a bitch! You are gonna see!´, then he took out a wooden stick and hit her right leg with it, before hurrying off in the car. Noemí has been a human rights defender from age 15 for over 22 years, her brother Samuel Pérez was disappeared by death squads in 1982.
  • On 26/4/12, anonymous international human rights observers of the Honduras Accompaniment Project (PROAH) received a death threat via text message sent through a telephone company website saying ´cam: you shits. Until we stick a bullet in your head you´re going to keep quiet´. On 22/4/12 at 4.14pm another PROAH team member received a text also from a phone company website to her mobile phone, naming members of a Honduran human rights organisation that PROAH accompanies, who already received threats, saying ´From: CAM 14/88: who do we begin with. …, …, or…(names – left out in public statements to protect the identities of the threatened)..in the end, the result will be the same´

Murders and threats against journalists and alternative media

  • On 12/4/12, indigenous council Copinh reported that two unknown individuals entered the Copinh offices saying, ´enough criticism by these radios´, and proceeded to cut the electricity to the indigenous community radios La Voz Lenca and Radio Guarajambala. The radios have been an important part of the local communities´ struggle, especially in campaigning against the building of a dam to produce privatised electricity. Such electricity cuts on occasions have made the radios go off air for days. This is in the context of increasing death threats and intimidation.
  • On 20/4/12 police and soldiers saying they were following orders of Congress president Juan Hernandez, refused entry to the Congress by a group of about 20 journalists and 8 camerapersons of the independent press who came to cover the meeting between ex-president Zelaya and social leaders of different sectors, who after a public protest, entered the Congress to give a written statement about problems of increasing living costs and high levels of insecurity. Journalist Estrada said those stopped were ones sympathetic to the resistance.
  • On 23/4/12 TV presenter Noel Alexander Valladares and two (unknown, also killed) companions were riddled with bullets in Tegucigalpa when they were leaving local TV channel Maya TV where they were recording. When driving away together they were intercepted by hooded men on a Toyota Prado. Noel´s spouse and co-presenter Nelly Yorleny Pavón survived but was hospitalised with gunshot wounds in the legs requiring surgery to remove the bullets. Noel tried to cover his spouse with his body.
  • On 26/4/12, Channel 6 journalist Santiago Cerna received death threats – he called friends who called the police when he realised several men were following him in several cars without numberplates in a suspicious manner. Santiago also received death threats by text messages in the last days from unknown numbers. The Thursday before, close friends told him that they received all forms of threats by phone and text with references to him and with insults.
  • On 26/4/12, the home of journalist Selvin Hércules Martínez was shot at, at least 20 times, by armed men in a red van. Selvin is a correspondent for JBN International in Omoa city, he arrived home 5 minutes after the attack – his spouse and two children were at home during the attack – they were not hurt but their dog was shot dead and the front of the house was riddled with bullet holes.
  • On 27/4/12, in the evening, unidentified armed men with AK-47s repeatedly (at least 14 times) shot at the car of the Channel 6 journalist Elder Joel Aguila on a highway in Copán. Elder tried to escape and smashed his car against a barrier of a nearby petrol station. Elder and his partner escaped unharmed.

Harassment against students, teachers and other resistance activists in struggle

  • On 12/4/12, student leaders of the teachers´ college Kelly Nuñez and Erlin Gutiérrez lodged complaints that they have been threatened with expulsion for being organisers of protests. They are under investigation by the investigative authorities.
  • On 18/4/12, 12 high school marketing students of Instituto Jesús Aguilar Paz in Comayagüela presented human rights complaints to the principal’s office. Students have been refused entry to the school by security guards for up to 3 hours for wearing their uniforms incorrectly – eg too tightly, and the students most affected have participated in occupations and protests.
  • On 19/4/12, several police forced resistance and teachers union leaders Arnold Leiva, Manuel Toro, Roger Leiva and Alex Paz into their patrol vehicle and detained them without justification for over an hour in a police cell in Santa Barbara – when they stopped to buy something to eat on their way to a colleague´s funeral together after a massive protest, a police patrol suddenly came past and ordered them into it saying they were violating a citizens´ law. Their phones with numbers and a camera with photos were confiscated. Arnold is the protest coordinator of FNRP and leads a FNRP radio program ´Resistencia´ on Saturdays. Roger and Manuel are members of Colprosumah teachers union and Alex is of the Directive Committee of this teachers union.

Inspiring Actions in Honduras this month

On 17/4/12, to mark the international day of campesinos (named to commemorate the massacre of 19 farmers in a mobilisation for agrarian reform in Brazil on 17/4/1996), in Honduras, over 15,000 (3,000 families) farmers organised mass and coordinated land occupation of about 12,000 hectares (mostly state land that is or should be for agrarian reform)  in 8 of 18 provinces of Honduras.

On 19/4/12, massive mobilisations were in the capital city, at El Progreso, in La Ceiba, in Bajo Aguán and in the east, south, and west parts of Honduras, protesting constant petrol and food price and living cost increases, in solidarity with farmers occupying land, etc. They blocked traffic at their various sites.

 

Update on Honduras Coup – March 2012

Assassinations, bashings, and death threats continued in Honduras in March 2012 as the Lobo regime continued heavy repression of farmers, students, unions, women, media workers, and the GLBTI community.

Honduran Congress actions

The Congress came close to approving a bill to criminalise the morning-after pill and send users, doctors, distributors and sellers to jail, but were stalled by global campaigns against it. But at the same time, it approved a motion to ask mobile phone companies to intensify their publicity campaigns to pressure people to register their personal ID info by 14 May to enable profiling of citizens.

Under Lobo so far 20 ´emergency´ decrees with more than $400 million worth of contracts have been passed including the 16 years energy contract, but only 5 have something to do with natural disasters. Under emergency contracts no public tendering process is held before contracts are signed. Congress tried just before the Easter holidays to push through another ´emergency´ project (estimated at $35 million) to produce ID cards for 5 million potential voters for the upcoming election. It was stopped this time but will be discussed again. On the more positive side MPs also approved the Law of 60 degrees F (15.5 C) which is an international norm to regulate the temperature that petrol should be sold to prevent loss by heat and ensure what is paid for goes to the consumers. However private companies are lobbying for this to be vetoed. Congress also ruled that the practice of forced disappearance of persons is a crime.

Police ‘purification’ process

The case of the escape of police suspected for murdering university students was being re-opened when Security Minister Pompeyo said the police ´can go´. While sub-commissioner Barralaga was investigated for allowing the police to escape, ex-human rights prosecutor Ponce revealed that the direct intellectual author for the escape was ex-head of DNIC Marco Palma Rivera. The regime announced a Commission of Public Security Reform to investigate inside the departments with three representatives (Jorge Omar Casco, Matías Funes and Victor Meza) chosen by Lobo who will be accompanied by two internationals. 60 police are supposedly suspended but only 18 low ranking officers have their files handed over by Pompeyo for investigation so far.

Further militarisation

An emergency decree of public security was extended for 90 days more by the Council of Ministers to allow soldiers to continue in the Lightning Operation (with funds from Central American Region Security Initiative – Plan Colombia equivalent), justified by its supposed success. Meanwhile, in La Ceiba, ex Head of Investigative Department Oscar Ardón and 14 police under investigation were simply reassigned. 100 police were sent by the Security Department to begin operations in ´high risk zones´. The La Ceiba council also announced $510,000 for over 100 security cameras for main streets, stemming from an emergency decree about the alarming indices of insecurity. They are to be installed by the company Navega with OK Security, and the council will also hire 40 new council police to execute the project.

Update on Comayagua Prison Fire and ANOTHER Prison Fire in San Pedro Sula

Because US Ambassador Kubiske could not get away with just calling the fire an accident, given that the changes ordered by Inter American Commission for Human Rights to prevent more prison deaths were not implemented after the 2003 and 2004 massacres. Kubiske now says there were massive human rights violations in this case, with state responsibility for not having prevented it and for keeping so many people not sentenced in the jails. The treatment of families of the prison massacre victims is also no accident, those camped together waiting for their families´ bodies were teargassed en masse in the process. Their representatives asserted that they do not accept forensic medicine´s claims that none of their relatives died from firearms shot by guards, or that it was an accident, when they have evidence otherwise. On 29 March, another prison fire in another overpopulated prison occurred, this time in San Pedro Sula, killing over 20 prisoners according to one report. There were reports of escape attempts and of gunshots being heard, and people wounded. Lots of police surrounded the scene.

Inter-American Commission of Human Rights hearings

At the hearings this month IACHR named Honduras as amongst the most dangerous for human rights defenders, next to Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela. At hearings about judicial independence, the Honduran regime representatives shamelessly continued to assert  ´what they call a military coup, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission said it was something else´. They also tried to stigmatise the judge Guillermo López for participating in a 2009 protest they called a ´biased political protest´.

Honduran public international relations

The regime focuses its efforts on image. Its Foreign Minister Arturo Corrales met with Secretary General of Organisation of American States towards sealing a cooperation agreement with OAS supporting the newly created Commission of Public Security Reform. A Honduran regime delegation also visited the US following the petition by US congresspersons to stop military aid to Honduras because of human rights violations. The delegation said that those petitioning don´t have the full picture and that the US should continue to send aid to Honduras. The US agreed. The regime also shamelessly asked UNESCO to correct their version of the context of the journalists´ murders in the last two years, claiming that the actual context is drug trafficking rather than internal state policy and political persecution.

US Intervention

Honduras received sudden visits from US Vice President Mr Biden and the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Mr Brownfield. The US is in the process of taking advantage of the ´failed state´ discourse and under the name of ‘war against drugs’ for funding complete occupation, militarisation and economic and political control of Honduras and Central America (with Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua allied to US, while Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama wanting change towards decriminalising drugs) . Biden praised Lobo for his work towards ´national reconciliation, democratic and constitutional order’ and promised an extra $107 million towards the war against drugs in 2012. New US military bases are being installed in Karatasca in the Mosquito Coast and Guanaja of Bay Islands, the latter being confirmed by conservative paper El Heraldo reporting the development of such plans after a meeting between US Head of Southern Command Douglas Fraser and the Honduran Defence Minister.

94 US Congresspersons petitioned Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to suspend military and police aid to Honduras. Clinton chose to instead continue supporting Honduran police and army, and at the same time, aid projects continue, eg USAID (´humanitarian arm of CIA´) with support including from World Bank, held an event called ´Building Safe Communities´ to ´share´ with Central Americans lessons learned in crime prevention.

To throw in some confusion, US Defence Subsecretary of the Americas Paul Stockton spoke at an event raising the concern that ´there will always be the risk of human rights violations´ for example in the involvement of army in fighting organised crimes and drug trafficking and in carrying out police duties.

A Honduran politician who wrote articles critical of the coup and intervention by other countries into affairs of Honduras, Aníbal Delgado Fiallos, had his US visa revoked for being a ´terrorist´ with reference to the 1980s.

Intervention, trade and interests by other bodies of the ´North´

  • The first public discussion took place of the Europe-Central America Commercial Agreement ADA
  • Mining exports in Honduras reached $200 million in 2011, up from $50 million in 2010.
  • Processes of UN REDD – Reducing Emissions of Deforestation and Degradation (which has World Bank as a financing and market promoting body) are accelerating in Honduras, and Indigenous Peoples Confederation of Honduras raised concerns about exclusion from the consultation processes. World Bank´s response was partly that consultation with Indigenous communities in the earlier stages is not required.

Some of the political persecution in March 2012

Statistics on gender-related killings

  • From 9/2008 to 2/2012 there had been 71 assassinations against the lgbti community in Honduras, 42 under the Lobo coup continuation regime (since late January 2010) so far, and 22 in those months under the Micheletti coup regime. The latest known case and 6th murder in 2012 is against trans youth Castro Zuniga who was violently, brutally and inhumanely assassinated (source: Apuvimeh)
  • In March 2012 alone, 66 women have been murdered in Hondruas.

Persecution including an assassination against farmers and Indigenous communities

The context for continued persecution against farmers in Bajo Aguan

In February 2012, the Honduran Congress ruled that the Aguan Valley will be converted into one of the most important ´development poles´ of the country, showing that the focus is on Aguán´s economic potential for foreign investment instead of agrarian reform – which explains the militarisation of the relatively small region, with over 1000 agents of army, police and navy accompanying over 450 guards of Standard Fruit Company and over 800 of hired armed groups of large landowners (mostly palm oil giants), set to destroy farmers and grassroots movement.

  • On 3/3/12 police detained overnight Miguel Angel Cruz and Juana Cruz of a farmers company affiliated with farmers federation CNTC in San Pedro Sula, for ´land usurpation´. Officials refused to allow Juana access to an important medication she needed.
  • On 6-7/3/12 Honduran state human rights representatives supposably sent to propel aid projects visited farmers´ settlements asking questions about human rights violations – this puts the families at risk; while the state tries to locate every family of the over 50 killed saying they will help them, it is the same state that granted permission for the armed groups of private security and paramilitary who killed these farmers to operate.
  • On 10/3/12 (reported to Radio Globo on 14/3 by anonymous friends and families), three farmers disappeared. They belong to the La Aurora settlement of La Confianza, Tocoa (left bank of Bajo Aguan). According to Tocoa head firefighter Benítez, search teams had gone out, but their bodies have not been found, although there are traces of signs that they could have been tortured (traces of blood and a type of plastic bag that state investigative body DNI used to use to stop people from breathing were alleged to Radio 105.5 and Superior Stereo).
  • On 12/3/12 farmer Marvin José Andrade was found assassinated near Tocoa centre in a highway turnoff towards Trujillo. Signs of torture were visible and his body was 50% burnt. He lived near the Cayo Campo community next to the La Lempira settlement. Community members say Marvin received death threats before from security guards of the nearby large landholders.
  • On 13/3/12, Yoro police and prosecutors violently evicted the Piedra Gorda Indigenous Tolupan community who have been occupying to prevent the use of Kenton Landa Uclés machine from carrying out illegal woodchopping. This occurred in the presence of the clearly allied Kenton Landa Uclés who has already logged 5000 sq mtrs of forests without the grassroots Indigenous communities´ consent and are pursuing to chop another 2500 sq mtrs through his negotiation with FETRIXY (Tribus Xicaques de Yoro Federation).
  • New death threats are given using unknown third persons to the spokesperson of the Permanent International Human Rights Watch, expressing that they already have lists of people who will be in charge of shooting him.
  • On 15/3/12 in Comayagua, near the Siguatepeque exit, around 20 heavily armed men hired by General López Arellano´s spouse violently shot at farmers from close range. The farmers have been in possession of the land they farm on since 8 years ago. The armed men shot and wounded 2 women, beat another woman and gave a death threat to a human rights defender.
  • On 16/3/12 a watchperson in a Tocoa central neighbourhood was threatened about an eviction in the Nueva Vida farmers company. This occurred hours after the visit by the Agrarian Minister Ham to the Rigores land reclaim community (a community that has remained strong despite having been hit by military intervention). The land conflict remains unresolved due to lack of political will and was followed by the posting of over 300 soldiers in front of the Rigores community.
  • Also on 16/3/12, Agrarian Department staff directly and personally threatened Rigores Movement President Rodolfo Cruz saying it was necessary for him to withdraw from the settlement before they assassinate him.
  • On 18/3/12, guards in Honduran army uniforms chased a farmers group with strong bursts of heavy arms and mounted a highway security operation, abusing people who crossed there, hours after Rigores began the land recovery of a palm plantation called Las Brisas in Bonito Oriental which was in the possession of palm oil giant Miguel Facussé.
  • From 20/3/12 to date there has been groups of armed hooded men around in the afternoons where the Marañones settlement is set up, and on 28/3/12 a group of farmers who were looking after the watermelon crop and travelling from there were attacked – three were wounded.
  • At La Lempira MUCA right bank, hooded men have been stationed 10 minutes from the settlement waiting for a child (daughter of MUCA leader and Coordinator of the human rights watch´s victims committee, and student at the Centro Básico de La Ceibita), and who has been under persecution by the guards of Miguel Facussé for months.
  • On 27/3/12, there was an attack against patrols and army commandos on the left bank of the Aguan river, and the 4th Battallion commandant from Ceiba publicly blamed the attack on organised farmers of the Marañones settlement, and threatened the farmers community to get ready because in the next days they will ´clean out´ the area (implying persecution and assassination of farmers).
  • On 30/3/12, 7 commandos and 4 cars with soldiers wanted to penetrate the Marañones land, stationing first at the right bank of Aguan river ready to move to the road to enter this settlement, accompanied by a military ambulance and armed with M60 and M45 machineguns, and grenade launchers.

Repression against students and protests defending education

  • On 7/3/12, hundreds of Teachers College students marching to defend public education and to protest the rise of petrol prices were violently evicted by police repeatedly using teargas bombs and water tank against students who only have stones, two hours after the protest begun. From the teargas bombs a lecturer´s parked car was lit on fire and burnt completely. Some students´ eyes and skin were affected by the gas. Student Sarahí Sánchez testified to having had a police throw a teargas bomb at her feet ´I almost died´, she said, tired, and with red eyes and skin from the gas.
  • On 17/3/12, members of fascist right wing students organisation FUUD of UNAH shot firearms and beat students of other organisations who protested at the stealing of voting boxes and student electoral material that were to be used in upcoming student SRC elections. After this the police proceeded to evict the university. Ten 9mm bullets were found that were shot by FUUD activists for intimidation. FUUD in the 1980s was in power in UNAH at a time of assassinations and disappearances by paramilitaries.
  • On 27/3/12 hundreds of high school students occupied the Institito Central Vicente Cáceres in solidarity with unpaid teachers and a simultaneous students protest at the Fuerzas Armadas Boulevarde against rising transport costs and reduced student allowances from the government. They were violently repressed with teargas, water tank, police beatings by batons. Three students were hurt. Heliven Iliana Sánchez (17) and Wiemy Nuñez Baca (21) were detained for ´disrespecting authority´ – Heliven for yelling insults after they grabbed her by the arm and dragged her, and Wiemy for trying to intervene and abruptly moving his arm to the chest (a gesture the police said was violent). They were released later but treated like delinquents.
  • On 28/3/12, Instituto Técnico Honduras students´ protest at El Manchén demanding better conditions and funding of their public education and transport. Police motorcycles tried to break the students´ lines accusing them of obstructing public ways and threatening to stop them from continuing the march. Police began threatening (with disappearance), chasing and beating students, 5 students were detained and beaten (almost breaking an arm of one) and threatened with 24-48 hours of detention.

Persecution and killing against journalists

  • On 10/3/12, about 10.30am journalist Fausto Evelio Hernández (50s) was assassinated with machete stabbings in his arm and head in Standar, Sabá in Colón, by an unknown man in his early 20s, when he was riding home on his bicycle. He ran the program ´La voz de la noticia´ in Radio Alegre and has reported on the agrarian conflicts in Bajo Aguan, the massive Comayagua prison fire and about state and council corruption. None of Fausto´s belongings were taken, not even the bicycle. He is the 19th journalist killed under Lobo regime.
  • On 13/3/12, journalist Alex Roberto Sabillón Gómez, received death threats against him by telephone between 7-8pm, during the transmission of the program he runs on Multicanal TV channel in Choloma. This night he was talking about the increase of water charges by Aguas de Choloma company and the human rights violations against street and market venders, about the security tax, rising taxes, and corruption. He had also given coverage on events, marches, sit-ins, maquila workers´ activities, villagers, teachers and the resistance.
  • General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez (coup actor, ex-head of army and current head of state telephone company) threatened and bribed a journalistwhen Globo TV/radio was on air and revealed that Vásquez is paying up to $10,000 a month just for one advisor for his fascist political project. He called Globo and expressed that he will sue David Romero Ellner and insinuated that they would resolve it in ´another way´.

Repression against families of Comayagua prison fire victims in camp

On 21/3/12, 200 armed men including police and soldiers surrounded and beat families of victims of the massive prison fire in Comayagua with sticks and guns, and throwing everything about at the INFOP (National Institute of Professional Learning) building, where 100s of family members were gathered/camped there waiting still for the bodies of their families who burnt and died in the prison almost 40 days before. They beat and detained Ricardo Pineda (without documentation at the police station, he was freed after 9pm)and beat women (including directive member of the families committee Gloria Marina Reconco) and a three year old child Antony. Some who had already buried their family members stayed in the camp in solidarity with other families.

Likely persecution against company in resistance

On 3/3/12 at 4am an unknown person broke into Tierra Libre (a venue where solidarity events are often held), stealing only the laptop of one of the owners, Fabricio Herrera, without taking the charger, mouse or ventilator (fan). Fabricio reported possible links of this to the threats that the council police judge made against Fabricio and his spouse on 15/2/12, saying that they could be assaulted and that one of them could be assassinated in this assault.

Attacks against unionists and workers

  • 20 affiliates of the Agrarian Department Workers Union Sitraina were dismissed in a week during the process of negotiating its collective agreement.
  • On 10/3/12 Child Protection Workers´ Union President Pedro Vicente Elvir and members Dagoberto Pasadas and Ana Julia Lobo, were dismissed as ordered by executive director.

Snapshot of solidarity and resistance in Honduras in March 2012

Student protests: despite repression, on 7/3/12, hundreds of student teachers took the streets and caused traffic jams protesting the approval of neoliberal Fundamental Law of Education, and on 28-29/3/12 high school students did the same in solidarity with teachers not having been paid, demanding the abolition of this law and protesting high living costs.

AVAAZ held a petition campaign against a law the Honduran congress is trying to bring in to criminalise and imprison women (including rape victims) for using the morning-after pill and also others (eg doctors, pharmacists, etc who facilitate their access) http://www.avaaz.org/en/no_prison_for_contraception/?tta

An eyewitness reportback was organised by solidarity and human rights networks in LA, in which returned members of a recent delegation of US-based observers gave reports about the ongoing human rights violations committed at the service of billionaire capitalist Miguel Facussé.ounted a highway security operation, abusing people who crossed th

Honduras Coup Update February 2012
 
On Valentines Day: The Honduras Supreme Court ruled that the criminalisation of the use and distribution of morning-after pills is constitutional, in favour of the Congress which approved the prohibition immediately after the coup, making Honduras the only country to penalise the morning-after pill. Meanwhile, Congress vice-president Marvin Ponce warned the Supreme Court against ruling the ‘model cities’ and ‘security tax’ passed by the coup Congress unconstitutional. This is  a case which Prosecutors processed and brought to the court now. Ponce said to do so would cause confrontation between the powers of the state.
 
On the night of Valentines Day: over 360 died in a prison fire in Comayagua Honduras where more than half the inmates have not been convicted and were awaiting trial, many for being suspected gang members, some for simply having tattoos. Comayagua has a capacity to hold 500 prisoners but holds 800 instead. In the same town as the prison is a US military base. This is the third major prison fire in Honduran history and all coincide with being at night, and when the government is from the National Party. When the fire broke, rather than the prison guards opening cells and evacuating prisoners, prisoners who could broke the roof and climbed to survive while they observed others scream and die, and prisoners who ran were shot at with guns and teargas. Firefighters´ action were delayed, some said by police, others said by the chaos. Similarly there are many different versions of the cause of the fire, ranging from different kinds of accidents to being set up by prisoners or police for different reasons, including as an application of shock doctrine to numb social and political movements and distract from the major human rights event organised shortly after in Bajo Aguan. It may also be motivated by an attempt to say the state is ‘decomposed’ in order to further militarisation and funding for this, including considering offers by private companies who claim they would address the poor conditions that they say caused the fire. Unsurprisingly, the US Embassy International Response Team visited and reported that ´it was an accident´. Just four days later, fires burnt down markets in Comayaguela in the capital city. The US Embassy also ´assisted´ in this investigation and said this was an accident too.
 
As Bajo Aguan farmers hosted an International Human Rights convergence attended by over 1000 delegates, the Lobo regime negotiated with farmers organised in MUCA and MARCA a finance plan to pay for the land to the illegitimate large landowners, to pay 6% interest over 15 years with a 3 year grace period. However, in the meetings, almost every aspect except impunity and justice (with over 52 organised farmers killed in a bit over 2 years) were discussed, the regime having arrived with promises on housing, education, and administration, as well as imposing their models of security. At the same time the company Dinant is also making accusations that there are ´new invasions´.  Meanwhile many land struggles are left unresolved, for example, the Unicos Venceremos and Rigores Campesino movements have been occupying for more than 10 years and continued to be met with unfulfilled state promises.
 
Some major scandals of irregular contracts with the regime have been uncovered, involving Lobo officials facilitating the importing of 4,000 tonnes of rice without the company BACHOSA paying the required taxes. BACHOSA claimed that the rice was for schools´ morning tea. Another case is the head of the state electricity company ENEE Roberto Martinez pushing a ´16 years emergency decree´ to the Congress to approve the contract for 100 mega dams with the Westport Company, when the quorum had not been met at the ENEE meeting where the contract was signed. Congress then approved a motion unanimously to demand that ENEE cancel the contract, and such cancellation can expose the state to compensation claims from the company.
 
The regime took some steps like changing its cabinet, saying it will restructure the police service and annulling controversial decrees contrived to appear to redress problems that receive bad press, but without any real transformation. In the case of the police department announcing it was dismissing 9 officials and 43 basic rank staff without giving names, it was exposed that police had simply been rotated and no restructuring took place. Similarly, departments where social scandals have caused bad press such as the case of the rice and energy scandals, or prolonged disasters in the education system, were whitewashed through cabinet changes. Head of State Electricity Company Roberto Martínez Lozano, and Secretary of Agriculture and Livestock Subdirector Juan Angel Artica, and the Secretary of Industry and Commerce José Francisco Zelaya resigned. They were replaced by people who have held other positions. One interesting replacement is Marlon Escoto, as he participated in anti-coup protests, but to believe that he would fix the education system and teachers pensions and salaries, and reverse the privatisation process, is likely to be naïve.
 
More real is that discourse of the corporations, media and regime are reinforcing continued plunder and persecution. This month, for example, some Honduran business people expressed support for Canadian companies to exploit mines in Honduras and for the mining law to be approved in the name of ´employment and social responsibility and investment´. The media (La Prensa) is propagandising that Hondutel (Honduran Telecom) is spending too high a percentage of its expenditure on staff. The DPP and a Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala exhumed the body of teacher Ilse Ivania Velásquez, killed a year ago in a teachers  protest after being knocked over by a teargas can shot by state forces and then ran over by a car, but the state defence simply repeated that she was run over by private individuals and that if she had been in class instead of on strike she would not have died (!).
 
A New Wikileaks report revealed more info on Hugo Llorens, the then US Ambassador´s collaboration in the 2009 Honduran coup: Llorens met with Zelaya´s oppositional leaders and businesspeople who endorsed the coup, and before the coup Llorens told Washington about ´the conditions that the Latin American country was in´, and afterwards he met with the Tegucigalpa mayor Álvarez and the Honduran ex-president Maduro. On the day of the coup, Llorens had a personal meeting and video conferences with the directors of three important companies in Honduras – Antonio Travel, Emilio Larah and Emin Barjum, and reported that all three considered the coup illegal but ´accepted that there was no other remedy but to accept the current government and wait for the November elections’.
 
Summary of political persecution this February 2012
 
Persecution against farmers
·         On February 1, Vitalino Álvarez, spokesperson of MUCA farmers movement, was detained ´for investigation´ by the police without a judicial order. He was finding transport home when they searched him and verified his papers, and took and held him in the police station for an hour. When Vicky Cervantes representing US-based Honduras Solidarity Network called Tocoa police, asking if Vitalino was being detained and why, police said that Vitalino ´disrespected the police´ when they tried to interrogate him about the supposed crime.  He reported that the police ordered him to take off his shoelaces from one shoe.
·         On February 2, Juan Angel Rodríguez (Lempira, MUCA) was captured by hooded police with cars without numberplates at a checkpoint. They said they had an arrest warrant but never showed him. He was travelling to Aguan after a capital city meeting with defacto president Lobo with other farmers leaders, so he was accompanied by 12 leaders when he was detained. When released the next day, police said they arrested the wrong person of the same name accused of rape in 2008.
·         On February 6, a convoy or army commandos, with tanks and M60 and M40 machine guns, were deployed in the Rigores community. The contingent militarised Panamá on February 8 and was seen in Tocoa streets with machine guns and balaclavas on those days.
·         On February 6 police captured and almost detained Pedro Cerrano (junior) for carrying a commercial use weapon. Pedro belongs to the same farmers company as the recently assassinated Matías Valle. Human rights defenders quickly intervened to prevent his detention.
·         On February 8, unidentified persons in a white car fired at and wounded the young farmer Dionis Mártines with several shots, in front of the Buenos Aires farmers´ movement landDionis is the nephew of a Marañones farmers company, Juan Galindo.
·         On February 9, unknown persons on a motorcycle fired shots at another young farmer Ilier Romero, the bullets going just ovr his head. Ilier is the son of another Marañones farmers leader Tito Rodrigues.
·         On February 9, a vehicle with heavily armed military officers and 2 police patrols went to the Buenos Aires settlement hamlet asking about different people who belong to the Marañones farmers companies and said they will definitely arrest them.
·         On February 9, officers of the La Ceiba 4th battalion and Standard Fruit Company security guards dressed in Honduran army uniforms, evicted 6 of 8 farmers companies of the Liz-Liz farming movement in Balfate of Colon, following a 24 hours military operation around there.
·         On February 9, the same day farmers leader Matías Valle was killed by two hooded persons on a motorcycle with a 9mm weapon, Santos Julio Rivera Sandres (36) and Elvin Francisco Castro Juáres (24), two security guards of Miguel Facussé were assassinated near Tocoa – such crimes are said to be done to justify the attempts against farmers, for which the Bajo Aguan human rights watch demands a thorough investigation of these murders.
·         Death threats were reported against farmers’ leader Consuelo Castillo and her 14 years old daughter Dunia Maricela Alvarado – in their community Corocito of Bonito Oriental. The security guards of Miguel Facussé have made death threats on many occasions.
·         On February 10, Oliver Soler Romero was imprisoned in a Tela police cell, accused of desserting the army. Oliver is part of a delegation of 11 MUCA leaders returning from going to a meeting in Tegucigalpa negotiating with the regime
·         On February 19, a delegation of 6 vehicles, with 50 people including 20 international journalists on their way to activities of the International Human Rights Encuentro in Bajo Aguan, was stopped and the people forced to get out by 13 Honduran army officers armed with M16s. They searched everyone, making each put their arms up against the vehicle, checked everyone´s documents and threatened to take the journalists´ equipment and cameras if they continued to take photos. They also forced the driver Gerardo Argueta out of the vehicle and confiscated his ID accusing him of being a delinquent – Gerardo is the coordinator of the Marañones and of MUCA left bank and was already heavily under threat. Army officers responded to questions by touching their weapons. Twenty-five minutes later a soldier in charge arrived and when journalists asked he refused to give his name, and admitted that telling journalists they will take away their work equipment without justification was illegal.
·         On February 20, cars without numberplates followed the delegations that had stayed longer, on their way home.
·         During the International Meeting of Human Rights in Bajo Aguan, harassment has been reported including against MST Brazil, Rights Action, La Voz de los de Abajo Chicago, and International Food Workers Union. A car was following a group of Garifunas (African descendents of Honduras) of Ofraneh and Copinh (Indigenous council) as they left the concert in Tocoa. Presence of military intelligence at the Meeting was also exposed.
·         On February 22, just after the International Meeting of Human Rights in Bajo Aguan finished, Wilfredo Paz received text messages saying, ´Juan Chinchilla, your name is on the list, we are looking for your head, you are doing things that you shouldn´t be doing, but we are going to look for you the way you search for socialism pinche puto – death to the socialism of Aguan´. Wilfredo is member of the permanent human rights watch of Aguan, leader of Colon FNRP, teachers union and a journalist. He reported being followed home from work at night by vehicles without numberplates with guards inside, and sometimes motorcycles, in the last month, and sometimes in the midnight hours shots of heavy arms are heard.  His son in Tegucigalpa reported being followed by a car and being a constant victim of assaults, and his spouse reported the permanent presence of armed men watching at her house.
·         On February 23, Esly Banegas said she had information of a plan to assassinate about 25 Aguan leaders, which has been temporarily suspended because of possible international repercussions with the current focus of solidarity on the region, but that the plan and rewards for killings are current and could be executed at any moment. Esly is from COPA (Aguan Grassroots Organisations Coordinating Committee), Colón Resistance, and is president of Sitraina (Agrarian Department Workers´ Union) and she herself is at more risk everyday.
·         On February 25 a threatening text message was sent to the mobile of Jeremías Martínez Junior saying he will earn $7,500 just for dobbing when Juan Chinchilla leaves, saying Juan is doing a lot of projects and because they are going to kill Juan. Jeremías lives in the same settlement as Juan, in La Concepcion of MUCA. Jeremías and his father have received death threats. Juan is a young MUCA leader and spokesperson who has been persecuted and tortured.
·         On February 28 at 7.30pm, Rudy Hernández was captured by police and investigative agents, who did not identify themselves or show an arrest warrant. He was freed about an hour later. Rudy is a member of the Aguan Permanent Human Rights Watch. He is being investigated for rape on February 27 at 1am. Human rights demand that the case and charge be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted but that he be treated as innocent until proven guilty.
·         On February 29, Nueva Esperanza women farmers´ cooperative in Comayagua complained of eviction threats, and hindering of land titling processes by the land owner Wilfredo Bustillo who is now a nationalist MP. Nueva Esperanza has been on the land for 29 years.
       Death from teargas more than two years later. On February 23, resistance member Santos Barahona died from an illness he acquired in 2009 from being beaten and gassed for participating in the resistance protests in Durazno. He was in the resistance from before the coup and was permanently on the streets after the coup, until he got sick, but he still kept working after that.
 
Persecution against journalists, alternative media and freedom of speech violations
·         On February 9 Nestor Alemán reported death threats when he appeared on a TV program ´Politics and Society´ on JBN Channel 51 of San Pedro Sula, talking about the teachers struggle, and criticising the Congress education bill and the situation of the teachers’ pension fund. Messages were sent to him live though a journalist who was receiving questions and comments, ´death to Néstor Alemán, we know where you live already, son of many´ or ´stop touching on these topics´. He is the coordinator of the human rights secretary and the Teachers Federations of Central America, and recently became the Vice President of Copemh – Honduras High School Teachers Union.
·         On February 14,  Channel 36 (anti coup media) journalist Luis Ortiz was violently attacked by the Honduran catholic chancellor Carlo Magno when he questioned him about the dismissal of priest Roberto Paiz from the church. On March 2, when Luis went to the place of his hearing (in the Tegucigalpa Archbishop office rather than a court because of the special diplomatic privilege that the chancellor has), the judge said he was not allowed in with mobile phones or video cameras. He expressed fear of entering the Archbishop’s office without a camera inside while there are armed men protecting his aggressor.
·         On February 23, Globo journalist Ivis Alvarado denounced on air the theft of two computers from his home (other items of value were left untouched), and of having his vehicle searched afterwards by unknown persons who went asking around businesses near his work about which car was his. ´My car was forced open and they only took paperwork from inside´.  He has received threats many times in the past for opposing the coup.
·         On February 26 at 1am, 8 investigative police with balaclavas and carrying heavy arms invaded Astor Aguilar´s home and intimidated him, his spouse and his children. Astor co-runs a radio program Voces del Pueblo, with another FNRP 5 de Julio movement activist Hector Nuñez, which began on 13/2/12, 7-8pm at Radio Gualcho www.radiogualcho.hn
·         On February 22, channel 32 journalist & vice-president of the Committee for Freedom of Expression, Danilo Osmaro Castellanos, was on air after he made criticism on his news program about a high official of Copán, when he received messages and calls like, ´we know you already journalist … you have half an hour from this moment…we know about your family´. Danilo previously suffered threats in late 2011 after he criticised mining in the area.
·         Journalists of local channel ´Catedral TV´ who reported on the Comayagua prison fire, Luis Rodríguez, cameraperson Javier Villalobos, and owner Juan Ramón Flores, are receiving death threats by calls and messages, to ´stop talking about the topic or they will kill them´, and ´stop talking about the fire or they will burn them´ and have been followed. They have recorded videos and interviews showing prison cells were locked 90 mins into the fire, and that live gunshots were used against escapees, and a fugitive´s account about a deal to release some prisoners and how the guards decided to light a fire instead. At a wake some nights after the fire, Javier was attacked by unknown persons who broke his video camera, and there is a discrediting campaign against Juan Flores to say he is linked to drug trafficking.
·         On February 29, council police and staff confiscated the mobile phone of Luis Antonio Henríquez, cartoonist of the paper El Libertador, when he was videorecording with the phone as six council police harassed a pregnant women who sells fruits at the entrance of La Isla market. A council staff asked him for his journalist ID. When he said no but that he worked for El Libertador paper, the police then in a hostile manner snatched his mobile and told him to reclaim it in the council offices. When he collected it the police had deleted the video from his phone, violating freedom of expression.
·         On February 29, the bodies of journalism student Saira Fabiola Almendares Borjas (22), together with an underage youth José Ramón Orellana Castellanosin Merilú, Rio Blanquito, Cortés were found riddled with gunshots. Saira had begun work as a journalist on a Channel 8 university program, and on Radio Cadena Voces and Channel 30 as a sports journalist.
·         On February 29, Radio Libertad journalist Mavis Ethel Cruz received a death threat by telephone, from a woman who asked for Mavis but refused to identify herself, and who said, ´tell Don Mavis that we are going to break her, but that first we are going to start with her son, because ´tira riata ahi´´. Mavis also said she maintained strong opposition against the 2009 coup, and topics that are touched on often include corruption scandals.
Persecution against community leaders and organisations, and militarisation of a community
·         On February 5, Otilio Jiménez (51), president of the community of Colonia Brisas del Rosario in Villanueva, was murdered by unknown persons at his workplace (soldering workshop) in Nueva Chamelocón. Authorities say they don´t know why (El Tiempo, La Tribuna).
·         As part of the Relámpago operation, over 300 soldiers of the 105 Infantry Brigade militarised El Ocotillo Village in San Pedro Sula for over 13 days, with police checkpoints. They made public transport passengers get down and searched them – sometimes including women and elderly people. They detained youths and applied physical torture such as bending people´s fingers backwards – to confess that they are gang members. 11,000 live in El Ocotillo. On the 13th day hundreds protested, but the police spokespersons said they are there to stay indefinitely.
·         On February 12, at 9pm, six supposed council police officers not carrying IDs arrived in a vehicle without numberplate at Tierra Libre, a company in resistance, where a solidarity concert was about to be held to collect goods to send to farmers in Aguan. The police did not identify themselves and intimidatingly showed their weapons. The police tried to use the pretext that the company refused to sign a subpoena, but it never asked them to sign anything.
·         On February 17, the Garifuna Triunfo de la Cruz community council Patronato pro-mejoramiento (a community in land defence), was surprised by a ´Punta Hisopo Resort´ representative who arrived to do an environmental impact study with the Natural Resources Minister´s authorisation, in relation to a mega tourism project that would be built inside the community. The community has been kept in the dark about the project. On February 22, council, MASERICA and IDETRISA (companies) representatives closed the two streets of ancestral access to the beach, closing the beach off from the community, and by building concrete walls and highways and putting up warning signs, blocked passage to the beach.
Student activist killed
On February 17, about 7.40pm, student activist Marlon Eugenio Villeda Izaguirre (19) was riddled with bullets in a drive-by shooting, in San Pedro Sula. Marlon was a member of the JTR 2011 student government, and activist of the José Trinidad Reyes Revolutionary Socialist Student Front (posted by cerramos77 to FIAN HN googlegroups list on 19/2/12). In the mainstream media, La Prensa, it said he was killed along with Gabriela Lizeth Cádenas (19), and Paxi Yamileth Escobar (34) in Colonia La Pradera, when the three were talking on the street. An 8 year old girl was also wounded and taken to hospital. Police think Marlon belongs to a gang and tried to blame the killings on this (actions of another gang Los Olanchanos). Marlon was dating one of the women. Police apparently tried to investigate and could not find anything.
Persecution against lawyers/judges
·         Lawyer Joel Barahona denounced threats against him, with unknown men posted for over 20 days outside his office for hours at a time, watching him, and sending him messages that somehow if he doesn´t withdraw the charges that they would attack him. He began proceedings against police commissioner Salvador Velásquez with charges of illegal detention against himself on December 23, 2011. He was detained for two hours before he was freed. He reports hearing an echo and interference when he receives phone calls.
·         On February 27, unknown persons stopped and shot (with 40mm gunshots, in the shoulder and chin) Erick Euceda Ortez (36), a current court judge and journalist student, when he was driving in San Pedro Sula and ignored their order to wind down the windows. He believes it was related to his work as a judge, with possible links to his studies.
Some slightly positive news:
On February 18, in San Pedro Sula: for the first time a police officer (Delmy Yamileth Martinez) was sentenced  to 8 years in jail and over $2,500 fine by the court, for torture and illegal detention of resistance member Antonia Damiris Coello on August 12, 2009. Credit for this goes to Lawyers in Resistance of SPS. But, who gave the orders? Who are those primarily responsible who are enjoying official immunity, as many cases remain in impunity at all levels?
 
Solidarity and resistance in February 2012 … a snapshot
 
NGOs and communities, in solidarity with the 12 year-old Rigores land occupation community that was violently destroyed by state forces´ tractors and evicted June last year, just rebuilt and inaugurated a school, 120 homes, a children´s garden and a community centre.
 
The International Meeting for Human Rights in Honduras was organised by the Permanent Aguan Human Rights Watch. Over 1200 delegates met. Homage was paid to the martyrs and testimonies were made by family members who held up the photos of their loved ones and other survivors of human rights violations. A number of workshops were organised including: ´Bodies, Struggles and Hopes of Women´, ´Seed of dreams, infancy struggling for peace and justice´, and a community radios convergence and production workshop. There were also Cuban medical 
bridgades running various clinics and a campaign to free political prison of the region Chavelo Morales, and a concert.
 
This Meeting made a declaration including to make 28 June the International Day of Solidarity with Honduran people, and for participants to form solidarity committees in their countries, cities or communities, to create an international network of community radios to denounce human rights violations
 
Social and feminist organisations/individuals made statements condemning all human rights violations against women in response to an accusation of sexual violation against Rudy Hernández, a social leader in Bajo Aguan, demanding the due process and presumption of innocence until proven guilty, while affirming their position against patriarchy and patriarchal violence including within social struggles. They demanded respect for the victim and made a call out to break the silence on this.
 
A trailer is now available for a video documentary called Resistencia that Canadian Film maker Jesse Freeston who reports for The Real News has been making to raise awareness about the situation of the 3000 farming families occupying palm oil plantations held by the richest man in Honduras Miguel Facussé in Bajo Aguan www.resistenciathefilm.com Donations are sought to help finish the production to be made available far and wide.
 
Guatemalan Journalists Association announced a delegation of Guatemalan journalists are being sent to Honduras to show solidarity, denouncing 17 killings of colleagues there, with impunity.
 
International organisations (95 in 31 countries) http://www.box.com/s/v0tg5uaid6qzcd3kq6hh sent a letter expressing deep concern about the approval of a Clean Development Mechanism project that favours palm giant and murderer of farmers Miguel Facussé. Earlier campaigns had precipitated the pulling out of the buyer of the carbon credits, EDF Trading and the German Development Bank DEG, from the deal. See this article just published for more info about carbon trading and Honduras: http://www.fpif.org/articles/carbon_blood_money_in_honduras
 
Messages and mini events were organised globally including in Sydney in solidarity with the International Meeting of Human Rights in Aguan. See messages including from Sydney here: http://mioaguan.blogspot.com.au/p/mensajes-al-encuentro.html
 

Update on Honduras coup for January 2012

This January 2012 many problems with what the Honduran congress did and how they did it have been highlighted. The Congress approved behind closed doors laws permitting Hondurans to be extradited to US and permitting ex-presidents to import cars without taxes. It tried to pass a bill for international passengers to pay $34 in taxes to fund a new lucrative private airport security system with Securiport company. It is trying to pass unpopula policy changes on mining (including allowing open pit mining and fast tracking concessions). It half approved a ´fundamental law of education´ and is trying to pass a Law of Superior Education towards removing the role of the state in regulating and leading higher education. The congress president also announced that a police unit modelled on the Carabineros in Chile will be installed – a step likely to increase repression and include the permanent presence of US intelligence bodies.

Influence of Milton Friedman´s neoliberal politics is flourishing in Honduras through experimental dreams of two US firms – Future Cities Development Corporation and Free Cities Group  – for building model cities, and the application of the Shock Doctrine. The shock is a high homocide rate, a crisis requiring increased Honduran police intervention, and this being used as an opportunity to implement CARSI (Central American Regional Security Initiative – Plan Colombia equivalent) and coup-actors-led police reform. The Inter-American Development Bank just announced a $60 million loan for police aid, and with CARSI the US will pass $300 million to Central America with another $700 million to be sourced elsewhere. This is seen as an opportunity to militarise, to impose neoliberal policies and to engage private security forces – of the $1.3 billion which the US gives Plan Colombia, 55% is spent on private security contracts. http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/3347-feeding-the-monster-militarization-and-privatized-security-in-central-america

Some statistics and reports that came out: in 2011, 41 journalists were killed in 13 Latin American countries, making the region the most dangerous for journalists, 7 were in Honduras (Argenpress).

San Pedro Sula of Honduras was named the most violent city in the world (Civil Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice in Mexico), and the Human Rights Watch annual report highlighted that impunity continues despite the creation of a Truth Commission in May 2010, naming 20 cases where antic-coup activists have been killed, and concluding that 12 of these died because of excessive force by police or army, and 8 from deliberate assassination by state agents.

In Bajo Aguan, through unilateral deals by the regime excluding the farmers movement MUCA, a payment plan (difference sources: 7 – 15 years) was presented to MUCA for the 4075 hectares. The MUCA spokespersons say they have no way of paying this plan, that it was a deal so farmers can´t pay and so will get evicted. The plan involves ludicrous levels of interest (14%pa) and in commissions and capital bonds: http://hondurasculturepolitics.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/aguan-agreement-endangered.html. An agreement was made between the regime and MUCA in October 2011 to work out a finance plan together. From the April 2010 agreement, 11,000 hectares were promised, and many promises remain empty in health, education and housing. Projections of mass palm oil expansion in Honduras have also been reported. Currently Honduras is the 3rd biggest producer of palm oil with 150,000 hectares of palm; Honduran palm industry president Castro said, it will respond to increasing market demands, ´we have conditions to grow in half a million hectares more.’

In relation to the police reforms, 52 police have been dismissed this month, but they were not brought to justice and their identities remain protected.

More details: http://www.sydney-says-no2honduras-coup.net/expanded-part-of-email-summary/general-news-expanded-in-january-2012

Some of the political persecution in January 2012

Persecution against organised farmers and land rights activists, in Bajo Aguan and nationally

  • On 3/1/12, police detained and took to the police station Celso Cabrera, Oscar Amado Cabrera and José María Pineda, indigenous forest defenders against logging in Locomapa, Yoro. The mother of Celso and Oscar also boarded the police patrol, protesting the capture of her sons. Similar processes have faced many anti-logging activists in the past.
  • On 6/1/12, police, prosecutor and businessman Mr Kenton Landa Uclés arrived to intimidate/give eviction threat to the Piedra Gorda community, which isoccupying indefinitely to prevent the entry of wood chopping machinery. This indigenous Tolupan community has a right to be consulted about the logging, but never was.
  • On 15/1/12, unknown armed men with Colombian accent watched, intercepted, grabbed and violently forced Florinda Rodríguez (MUCA and Aurora farmer organiser) into a dark green double cabin vehicle, in front of her house of Tocoa, Florinda La Confianza settlement. They drove her towards INA and before arriving, the car stopped and they beat her and gave her death threats while interrogating her about farmers’ leaders of La Aurora, telling her that there is someone in a bodybag tied up at the back, and that it is her son. When they released her half an hour later because several vehicles came close, they threatened to come back to kill her if she spoke about what happened.
  • On 20/1/11, 7am, in Bajo Aguan, Matias Valle (51) – organised farming leader – founder of MUCA, directive member of El Chile Company of La Confianza settlement, was killed with 2 gunshots in the chest, by 2 hitmen on a motorcycle. Matias was waiting at a bus stop at Quebrada de Arena in Tocoa to go to La Confianza. Matias had received death threats for years like other Aguan farmers leaders. Matias leaves behind 6 children and his spouse. His family in organising his burial had to re-arrange the burial tomb and location 3 times, with his spouse receiving calls of threats saying they knew where he was getting buried and were going to go take his head to trade in for their payment, apparently of $100,000. Matia´s family continue to receive threats
  • On 20/1/12, 10 men with balaclavas on 5 motorcycles with large and small heavy calibre arms arrived to face the Rigores farmers settlement and moved around there for half an hour
  • On 26/1/12, armed men with balaclavas sent by a large landholder of Marañones and who have support of the police, attacked two anonymous MUCA farmers at Marañones who were going to their base, following and shooting at them with AK47 and 9mm pistols. The farmers left their motorcycle to hide in the mountains. The hitmen had the support of 4 police patrols as they took the farmers´ motorcycle. Similarly, an hour later, the landowner travelling to Tocoa who ´called the shots´ was also guarded by police patrols and 2 Xatruche military commandos.
  • In the last two weeks of January, a Xatruche checkpoint was installed, carrying out daily searches and taking photos, against 60 MARCA farmers who have to pass there work.
  • Groups of armed men have been sieging weekly upon members of the farmers settlement Buenos Aires which is reclaiming land.
  • On 28/1/12, in Bonito Oriento, Standard Fruit Company dismissed 6 employees accused of being organisers trying to form a bananas workers union in the municipality. They are threatening to dismiss others who want to organise similarly.
  • On 31/1/12 Vitalino Álvarez, MUCA spokesperson, denounced receiving many and daily death threats from the guards of agro-industrial businessman Miguel Facussé – he predicts attempts against him are planned and would be manipulated to link to gangsters (due to his previous contribution to detaining some youths in San Pedro Sula) when the motivation to kill him is of his involvement in the land struggle. He has information that the gangsters, some who frequent Tocoa, have been called by Facussé´s guards. Vitalino escaped a kidnap attempt in August 2011, and his family was victim to a home invasion in November 2011. Facussé´s guards occasionally yell things like ´we are going to peel (kill) you´ to him.
  • Other MUCA leaders denouncing death threats against them: Jhony Rivas (MUCA Spokesperson), and Orlando Romero, (MUCA President).
  • On 24/1/12, at La Flor, Zacate Grande, an armed guard fired his gun at the dog ´Hallado´ of Dionisio Canales, who is the brother of Pedro Canales, president of ADEPZA Association for Development of Zacate Grande, when walking near a property of Miguel Facussé. Lately in the community, 5 dogs have been similarly murdered, as a threat and intimidation to the farmers in the land defence struggle. During the year, paramilitary visits have been reported at the community beach Los Hornos, next to La Flor community.
  • On 26/1/11, without a court order, a police and military contingent violently evicted the occupying farmers groups 9 de Julio and 16 de Octubre, in La Paz. They physically attacked the farmers and destroyed their crops and housing, and held 11 members of the 16 de Octubre group.

Threats against journalists this month

  • On 6/1/12, Itsmania Pineda received a call at 6pm on her mobile from a man, saying ´Bitch, We are going to kill you!´ and again at 10pm they called her and when she answered she heard voices of men and the sound of a gun cocking. On 8/1/12 at midnight she received a text message from 8814 4796, saying, ´whoever spits at the face…don´t play with fire! Nor your bodyguards will save you, walk carefully!´, although Itsmania has never had bodyguards. On 9/1/12, at 8.26am, she received another message, ´at any moment we will throw you into the crematorium, we are going to be your nightmare´. Itsmania participated in the protest of ´Journalists for Life and Freedom of Expression Collective´ holding up a symbolic coffin with another colleague on 13/12/11 in which the state guards attacked them with gases and beatings. She is also one of the complainants against the state on this case. Itsmania is the director of Xilbalba, which works with youths and children to leave gangs. She maintains a blog on freedom of expression, organised crime, and youth.
  • Another journalist active member of the ´Journalists for Life and Freedom of Expression Collective´ and complainant against the state for the same case, Gilda Silvestrucci, on 23/1/12, at 9.30am, received a mobile call first asking if she was the mobile´s owner, then said, ´we already know you have 3 children, that the oldest is 15, that right now you are on the street with your 7 year old son, and that your eldest is at home, looking after the one year old baby daughter, and we are going to kill you.´ Gilda hung up then but in seconds received another call also from 94834203, a colleague journalist answered asking who they are and asked them to show their face. Gilda called home and the older daughter told her a man called to ask what time does Gilda normally came home, saying he had to give her some papers. On 20/1/12, Gilda´s mum received a call asking about the places she goes to, her mobile number and exact hours that she arrives home. On the day she received the threats she received guests to the program about mining in Siria Valley and MPs´ manuevers in approving the mining law. On 3/1/12 Gilda was in a taxi when the taxi driver alerted her that she was being followed and made some tricky turns to lose the follower.
  • On 26/1/12, Globo TV reporter Dazaev Aguilar gave a death threat to journalist Carlos Zelaya Herrera who works at the RRPP office of the Agrarian Department. Dazaev came and asked to use the phone, and spoke with a soldier or police getting some information, ending the call saying, ´thankyou my coronel´. When he hung up, Carlos asked him why being a Globo TV reporter would he use the military style to say goodbye, and Dazaev reacted annoyed and aggressively accusing Carlos of being disrespectful, saying that despite working for Globo TV, he has the freedom to think and act as he wants. As mentions of families were made this escalated to Dazaev threatening Carlos.

Lawyer murdered                  

On 17/1/12, lawyer José Ricardo Rosales was riddled with bullets near his home by 3 hooded men in Tela, who then fled the crime scene. A short time before, he and another lawyer Elvin Varela complained to the El Tiempo paper that police were torturing detainees in Tela, and of how they went on operations committing abuses and human rights violations (beating, torturing, sleazily handling young women). He is the 74th lawyer killed in Honduras since the June 2009 coup.

Violations against other resistance activists

  • On 22/1/11 Ian Diaz (resistance, Libre party and Necios member) was leaving a football tournament when the police captured and brutally beat him and robbed his $26 tournament prize money. Ian was freed after people called demanding his freedom.
  • On 26/1/12, Humberto Bustillo – political prisoner, continues to be in prison after over 25 months as the tribunal adjourned about the hearing to annul charges against him. This is the third consecutive week this occurred and this time the judge said he found that his spouse – another judge – sent Castillo to prison, so he had to leave the case to another. Humberto was arrested with charges of ´state terrorism´ on 28/11/09, the date of the fraudulent illegitimate and militarised elections. He was working as a watchperson for Selcom company, a small computer stall, in Alameda, Tegucigalpa. Humberto has an amputated arm and holds a machete in his work, and does not have ability to use ´war weapons´ as he is accused (for carrying arms and association with the resistance). Before this election a letter was sent to all the mayors asking for names and addresses of resistance members.

Snapshot of resistance and solidarity with Honduras in January 2011

Indigenous organisation Copinh announced different projects of the communities towards autonomy for Indigenous Communities. It recognised the solidarity of Cuban medical brigades for the San Francisco community in response their request, contributing to this autonomy. Other grassroots works towards self-governing include organising grassroots assemblies, community radio, etc.

The popular organisations that are members of the resistance met at the Stibys union and made a statement reiterating commitments with the social and human and environmental rights struggles and with building bottom up grassroots power.

A first Conference of the Mesoamerican Movement Against Extractive Mining Model was held in Valle de Siria Honduras over 4 days, including delegations from Panamá, Costa Rica, Honduras, Salvador, Guatemala, México and also US and Canada (in solidarity), establishing linked struggles against the extractive mining model in Mesoamerica. They made a declaration committing to coordinate struggle to demand the cancellation of mining concessions imposed without the peoples´ consent.

Update on Honduras Coup – December 2011

The spotlight is on police killings and crimes, but instead of taking definite action to end impunity, this focus is used by militarisation advocates to try to increase the military budget, make military service compulsory, scapegoat the police as the only problematic ´justice operator´ institution, and in calling for ´international intervention´. Similarly the US government joined in criticising the police and symbolically and partially withheld some aid. It also suddenly withdraws Peace Corps volunteers. Concerns have been raised about US plans to use claims of Honduras being a ´failed state´ to introduce international military intervention similar to what they imposed in Haiti.

The regime´s attitude has been to blame protesters for everything, with Lobo saying that the journalist women protesting the journalists´ killings deserved the repression they got, and education minister Ventura blaming teachers´ strikes for many students not passing in 2011.

Honduran Congress approved legislation to facilitate surveillance of communications and legislation to increase the retirement age of teachers, and is also discussing cancelling electricity debts when only large companies have been allowed to accumulate debts and millions are owed.

Government employees from some hospitals and child and family departments, and teachers protested unpaid salaries, and Agrarian Department employees complained of dismissals and transfers based on political affiliations.

While some pressure continues to end impunity and human rights violations, this month from Ecuador, IACHR, and a German parliamentary delegation, ambiguous news also came, of plans of Venezuelan and ALBA president Hugo Chávez to pay the illegitimate and assassin large landholder Miguel Facussé, for a portion of the land in conflict in Bajo Aguán.

A focus on police, towards further militarisation

A preliminary and incomplete list of 26 high level police known to be involved in mercenary activity, drug trafficking, organised crime, etc, was distributed this month. Most had received awards for their participation in repressing anti-coup activists. These police hitmen began to send messages of ´don´t mess with us´. Alfredo Landaverde, an ex governmental advisor on combating drug trafficking, made media statements on the need to intervene against the police, DPP and Supreme Court. Days later, Landaverde was murdered. At the same time, the widow of General Arístides Gonzales (ex National Head of Antidrugtrafficking unit) gave testimony about how it was police who killed Arístides in December 2009, one day after Arístides gave media statements which led to operations.

In this climate, instead of taking measures to end impunity at every level, there are fears and evidence that different actors are taking advantage of the situation to advocate for further militarisation:

  • Requests to increase military budget. After having had the army authorised to carry out certain police duties, and having implemented the ´Relámpago´ militarisation operation, the Army now proposed to the Congress an increase in the security budget by about $15 million.
  • Towards making military service compulsory. The Human Rights Alliance said that assigning police functions to the military is a strategy towards calling for compulsory military service as more soldiers would be needed.
  • Concentrating only on the police being corrupt, making invisible the role of other institutions in maintaining impunity. For example, human rights organisation Cofadeh told Radio Globo that the main obstacle to fighting impunity is actually in the functioning of the prosecutors, who claim it has no capacity to investigate but the institution works in a politicised manner and focusses on prosecuting activists.
  • Focussing on drugs. For eg, Lobo dismisses criticism from Zelaya that Honduras is a ´failed state´, saying drug use in US is the main cause of violence and defends his approach to addressing the violence. In fact, drugs have a role in the violence, but this stance ignores political human rights violations and is normally used for furthering militarisation.
  • To call for international ´intervention´. National Party President Ricardo Álvarez is calling for international ´forces´ to intervene. USA also cut aid of $70 million per year and withheld 20% of the estimated $1.8 million of police/military aid, demanding that Lobo demonstrate that he is undertaking measurable steps to prevent human rights abuses. The USA also suddenly withdrew its Peace Corps from Honduras at the same time that there is speculation that another coup is being planned. Cofadeh analysed that this could be a ploy to say Honduras is a ´failed state´ to implement ´international intervention´ similar to what the US imposed in Haiti.

Regime blames protesters…

Honduras had 7 journalists killed and with impunity in 2011. Women journalists protested these killings and were brutally repressed by the Lobo regime and the women reacted and bravely snatched the sticks of the presidential guards and tried to return what the guards did. For this Lobo declared that the protesters disrespected the ´defenceless´ guards and deserved the repression they got, saying the state is too ´permissive´. Similarly, Education Minister Ventura commented that many students failed in 2011 because ´teachers spent more time on the streets than in the classrooms.´

Honduran Congress – more regressive legislating

  • Lobo approved the Law of Calls Interception in the name of fighting crime waves – it authorises interception (intelligence collecting) by judicial orders sought by DPP or private accusers against letters, calls and messages, bills from public services, credit cards, email and internet usage. The law requires these service providers to keep data on all its clients for 5 years, including lists of IP addresses, place and duration of connections, email addresses, data inside emails, etc, with sanctions being fines and licence cancellation.
  • Despite protests, congress approved the law raising the retirement age for teachers.
  • bill was Introduced in the Congress to exempt payment of interest by people in debt with the state electricity company – some business people and politicians are seeking for the over 1000 million lempiras to be forgiven completely. These large debts are from big companies – companies have either been allowed to accumulate large debts or have been manipulating their electricity meters to evade payments.

Government employees unpaid and politically discriminated

  • 6000 teachers had not been paid in 2011, many more were unpaid in November 2011
  • Many Hospital School Employees unpaid in November, and temps unpaid for over 4 months
  • Child & Family Dept temps and centre bills unpaid for months, collective contract negotiations and award conditions not complied with. Agreement made but would it be kept?
  • The Agrarian Dept has been dismissing and transferring workers not belonging to the Agrarian Minister´s party (UD) and the union Sitraina warned organised farmers movements that INA´s agrarian policy aims at the individual titles, planning to issue over 23,000 individual titles and only 200 agrarian reform titles and 10 indigenous ones.

Some international pressures to end impunity

  • President Correa announced that Ecuador will not re-establish diplomatic relations with Honduras, conditioning re-establishment of punishment for human rights violators.
  • Inter American Commission on Human Rights secretary said Honduras is one of the most concerning countries and its situation was aggravated by the 2009 military coup
  • German parliamentary delegation reported that the police and military are part of the problem in Honduras. They recommended for farmers´ access to land to grow food to be facilitated, and for police reform, though they did not suspend aid saying reform needs aid.

Venezuela´s ALBA offering to buy lands of Bajo Aguán?

Venezuela´s ALBA Petrol has proposed to Honduran defacto president Lobo to buy Aguan lands, to pay 546 million lempiras to Miguel Facussé, in the context of Bajo Aguan militarisation. Agrarian Department legal advisor Marco Ramiro Lobo confirmed that the finance is ready and awaiting only the final decision of Lobo, and that the finance is for 5,700 hectares of land. Alba also intends to build a palm oil extractor plant so MUCA and MARCA farmers can complete the product cycle, and to market and bring the product to Venezuela. This is supposed to halt the agrarian conflict but raises many questions – the agreement with MUCA was for 11,000 hectares of land, so payment is for a portion only, Venezuela negotiated only with Lobo and not with MUCA or MARCA, the focus is on palm oil production for consumption by Venezuela with no mentions of food sovereignty, and the purchase would be from an illegitimate owner who killed many farmers. Further to that Petrocaribe and ALBA funds received under Zelaya disappeared after the coup without the implementation of the planned social projects. In the context of continued coup in Honduras, palm oil export increased 20% in 2011 with 135,000 hectares of land cultivated with the monocrop, further expansion of 10,000 hectares is expected in 2012, at a time when farmers struggle for land to grow food, and a state of terror is implemented by landholders´ security guards with support by military and police on both sides of Aguán river this Christmas.

Summary of known political persecution in December 2011
Attacks including killings against journalists and media outlets

  • On 5/12/11, about 1.30am, armed men in a vehicle shot at the La Tribuna daily paper building, wounding a security guard José Manuel Izaguirre in the abdomen. The attack was aimed at the offices of publicity and newspaper printing (when the work had finished and staff gone home). La Tribuna has been publishing about the assassination of the director´s son.
  • On 6/12/11, in the morning, 2 unknown persons on a motorcycle followed, intercepted and riddled with bullets the journalist Luz Marina Paz Villalobos (38) and her young photographer Delmer Canales in Comayagüela in Tegucigalpa when the two were travelling. She was working since six months ago for CHN Cadena Hondureña de Noticias which is directed by Eduardo Maldonado who had a son kidnapped in 2010. Before that she worked for 8 years for Radio Globo directing the program ´Tres en la Noticia´. She declared herself anticoup from the beginning. She is a single mother, with 2 daughters aged 9 and 18. Luz Marina is the first woman journalist killed in Honduras.
  • On 8/12/11 at 5am, the body of young radio presenter of Radio HRN/91.7 Josue Torres was found, hanged, in El Porvenir, Talanga, 64kms north of the capital.
  • On 13/12/11 the protest of 60 of Journalists for Life and the Freedom of Expression headed by women journalists, against assassinations and impunity of many journalists killed since the coup, including Luz Marina, were repressed – they were beaten as they tried to enter the Presidential House when some were allowed in and others were blocked. Journalists tried to fight back and the presidential guards began to fire  teargas bombs at them. Many reported respiratory effects and beatings. Lobo said any protesters that behave how these did will be treated with repression and head of army René Osorio similarly said the guards were ´benevolent´ in launching teargas bombs since the women attacked the guards. He said they will ´see if anyone broke any laws, to prosecute´. Journalist Sandra Maribel said she takes what the general said as a threat and declaration of war against journalists.
  • On 23/12/11 9.35pm, journalist of Cadena NTN-21 of Colombia and uni lecturer Leonel Espinoza was violently stopped at gunpoint and detained for over an hour by 2 cops on a motorcycle in a scary and dark spot. Leonel was in fear for his life and called for help and a woman tried to make 2 calls he requested but neither contacts picked up. They handcuffed him tightly on both wrists and humiliated him, saying that he was arrested for driving without      numberplates – but he had special state permission for this because of previous persecution by police where he was searched by the police and had keys and wallet taken from him and he ran away. He never saw his car again.
  • On 24/12/11, 9pm, cameraperson Uriel Gudiel Rodríguez was walking home in Jutiapa, Danlí, when DGIC state investigative agent Elmer Ardón threatened him, ´look, I swear that if they find you in the sugarcane fields, watch out, you hear me´ and then grabbed his firearm. Elmer´s father Arturo also sent a threat to Uriel through Uriel´s friend. Months ago, the police Reidi Arturo Ardón (family of Elmer Ardón), the principal suspect of the murder of resistance activist ´Emo´, was found present at Emo´s wake and captured, questioned, and released only in his underwear. The Ardóns believe that Uriel while employed at Globo TV had recorded this embarrassing footage. Uriel had suffered previous police repression where he was almost killed in May.

Attack and evictions against farmers and lands rights defenders

  • On 7/12/11, Noel Antonio Sanchez (17) of Bajo Aguán was arbitrarily detained in Tocoa. Human Rights Watch demanded that his physical and emotional integrity be respected and that he be released immediately.
  • On 8/12/12, an eviction threat was given against Mr Nilfo Ivan Flores Amaya of the Garifuna community of Travesia Cortes, in the interests of CAFIA Investments, bought by Mr Mejia Sabillon, current alderman of Puerto Cortes council. The Garifuna land was recognised in 1912, occupied since 1887, but the Agrarian Department issued in 1997 a council title where land had been titled to the Garifuna community, placing the community at the mercy of the Puerto Cortés council.
  • On 14/12/11, in Naco, investigative agents detained 50 farmers of cooperative CANAAN forcing them into police custody without showing any judicial orders
  • On 14/12/11 police and army evicted 80 Chortís families of Copán Ruinas, from land in La Estanzuela where they lived for 20 years, using a court order. A property sale began this conflict. The new owners have been asking for 5 months for the community to leave, and the National Maya Chortí Indigenous Council asked the government for support to buy the land. The government committed on 12/10/11 to give 8 million lempiras – but they never did nor intended to, the promise was a trick to get the families to disperse as they were occupying the Copan archaeological site with their contemporary lives, poverty, etc.
  • Just before Christmas at least 5 farmers of different organisations have been detained although they demonstrated that they struggled legally. Eg On 22/12/11, organised farmer Feliciano Castellanos was detained, and on 24/12/11, Juan José Peralta the president of Rigores Cooperative Luz y Esperanza was also detained – before that he survived a recent attempt on his life when a car smashed into his to try to knock him and his family into the Rigores river
  • International Human Rights Watch on Bajo Aguan reported that military operations continued uninterrupted against the Rigores community and the Marañones settlements on the left bank.
  • The Nueva Vida community of the Rigores campesino movement received persistent threats of eviction.

Repression against teachers demanding their rights

  • On 6/12/11, the teachers´march (1000) was repressed; the water tank shot its chemically coloured water and the soldiers began to chase people everywhere. The teachers sought refuge in Copemh, which was surrounded by soldiers for 2 hours after the repression began.
  • On 6/12/11 at midday, Sócrates Coello Ardón, the organised teacher and active FNRP member, died in a road ´accident´ in San Pedro Sula.
  • On 20/12/11, police and military violently evicted hundreds of teachers who occupied the street. Within around an hour of occupation, a tank and dozens of heavily armed army and police officials launched tear gas. The watertank also shot its contaminated water into the crowd and shot again at a teachers union vehicle which returned to re-occupy the street.

Persecution against human rights defenders

  • On 5/12/11, Andrés Pavón Murillo and his work team (8) of CODEH (Human Rights Defence Committee) were threatened when they went to an ATM near the presidential house – a blue pickup followed the CODEH car and an unknown person from it got out and threatened the CODEH team, also threatening Cesar Adin Barraza of CODEH saying they knew him and that wherever they find him they will lynch him.
  • On 26/12/11, at a highway in Intibucá, 8 police brutally beat, tortured and almost killed the progressive priest Marco Aurelio Lorenzo and his 2 brothers when they were travelling in his vehicle from San Miguelito to Yamaranguila and got out to fix the car. Marco, who defends the Merendón mountain ranges against mining, is a recognised  human and environmental rights defender. As Marco´s brother got out of the car the national police patrol arrived with siren and lights and this brother said to the police, ´good evening sirs, what can we do for you?´ and the police said nothing and began to beat and torture him and his other brother. Marco came out and 2 different police stood on his two arms and the others kicked, beat and tortured him making him unconscious and cracking his head (which needed 16 stitches). Their car and documents were taken to the police station. Marco´s sister went to collect the wallet and phone but these were returned without the sim card, battery and money. $250 was stolen from the wallet and $550 from the car. The next day Marco went to the police station to claim his car and asked if he had some fine to pay and they said he committed no crimes and could leave.

Persecution against general resistance members

On 29/11/11, Pedro Joaquín Amador FNRP activist as well as active member of the University Action Front of the Teachers College, was hospitalised with a head injury from a ´car accident´ on the highway which is likely to have been set up. As Pedro was driving on a curve, a motorcycle started to do stunts, which caused the taxi Pedro was driving to crash with another car while trying not to hit the motorcycle. His brother saw he was hurt in the accident and took Pedro to another taxi to go to the closest hospital. Pedro had received repeated death threats and reported being followed by unknown persons on different occasions. Pedro´s mother Esperanza Escalante (80) has 2 sons (Guillermo and René) in exile. René is an actor on ´Quien Dijo Miedo´ and Guillermo was a member of the security and discipline commission of FNRP.

Persecution and killings for criticising the Honduran police institution

  • On 7/12/11 the ex-advisor (1992-2010) to the Security Minister and ex secretary of anti‑drug‑trafficking commission, Alfredo Landaverde, was assassinated with 5 gunshots. He was driving with his spouse Hilda Caldera and another person, who were both gravely wounded. He made many public criticisms shortly before being killed. He called for intervention against the police institution as well as the army and the Department of Public Prosecutors with all involved persons dismissed. He said the fusion of army and police is useless for combating drug trafficking and organised crimes. He told the press that the Relámpago Operation was useless for capturing delinquents.
  • During December, Ex Police Commissioner María Luisa Borjas denounced death threats against her that say she will be ´the next´ one, receiving at least 45 calls telling her to watch out, after she advocated for intervention against police.
  • On 31/12/11, at the southern exit of the capital city, different puppets made to depict police corruption, to burn to end the year at midnight, were confiscated by the police. Police said these violated their dignity. The head of national police José Ricardo Ramírez del Cid made a call disauthorising the confiscations.

Violence against organised market vendors

  • On 2/12/11, capital city council employees who were hooded, driving 2 governmental pick-up trucks without numberplates, raided market stall venders at Boulevard del Norte, pointed high calibre arms at 3 stall owners´ heads who stayed looking after their merchandise, telling these, ´If you move or jump us we will kill you!! So be quiet.´ They robbed merchandise, 30 others destroyed 13 stalls.
  • On 6 /12/11 around midday in Comayaguela market venders were confronting police on the Fifth Avenue, and police surrounded the venders, confiscated their belongings, detained and beat people. The police closed shops and acted violently and the people reacted.
  • On Saturday evening 17/12/11 Milvia Yamileth Ochoa, the Minutes Secretary of the Free Venders Union of Honduras SIVELIH was victim of an attempt on her life, as she was leaving a union meeting near Hospital Escuela. Milvia was in a taxi when she was shot twice, the taxi driver who is the son of a Sivelih leader, was wounded too.

Snapshot of actions in Honduras in December 2011

On 13/12/11, around 60 mostly independent women journalists, ´Journalists for Life and for Freedom of Expression´, marched to the Presidential House dressed in black, carrying banners, with photos of assassinated persons stuck to their shirts, carrying a cardboard coffin, and holding candles, to protest the killings and constant threats that journalists are submitted to in Honduras. When they tried to enter the Presidential House, some were let through but then soldiers surrounding the others, blocking the way, and started pushing and beating. Spontaneously in reaction, some women managed to snatch the anti-riot guards´ sticks to show the riot guards what it is like to be attacked with their sticks, as the guards hid behind their shields. The guards shot teargas bombs, but the women re-grouped outside to read the statement to complete the symbolic act they had prepared.

Villagers at the south exit of Tegucigalpa at Loarque every year before New Year’s Eve decide on a theme that is most relevant of the year, and then make artistic paper puppets to represent the issue to burn as they say goodbye to the year. They decided this year to portray police corruption – the extortions, execution and acts of corruption they are involved in.

Update on Honduras coup for November 2011

At the same time that Honduran police is under the international scrutiny following the police killing of the son of the university director, the military has been authorised to carry out police duties. This formalises the increasing militarisation of Honduran society. The human rights prosecutor Sandra Ponce resigned saying it is impossible to carry out her role independently of the police. And to add to the militarisation, US soldiers leave Iraq for Honduras. As well the role of international banks in plundering Honduras is more exposed. This is in the context of continued reports of massive human rights violations.

Amidst worsening social conditions, the Congress makes teachers´ conditions worse, and approves 16-year energy contracts without a tendering process. There are more reports of companies evading electricity bills. The Freedom of Information Department confirms that the Congress disappeared files related to subsidies given to organisations aligned with the coup.

Police under scrutiny, army authorised for police duties

With the recent police killing of the UNAH university director´s son, her campaign to denounce and transform the police force continues. In response Police Commissioner Orellano declared to journalists that the ´focus on the negatives´ on the police is unfair, implying that the population is ungrateful and forgetting that the police ´defended democracy two years ago and because of this people are living better lives (referring to the mass repression he led)´.

In this context, the Congress and Executive approved unanimously the giving of police powers (invasions and arrests) to the army. While society is already militarised and the army already participates in police repression against Hondurans, this action legitimises this militarisation, justifies further repression, and shows lack of interest by the regime in democratising society. Special Forces immediately began training soldiers in police functions and police have been given a temporary break from these jobs as the army takes these over, while the police attend to ´emergencies´.  Further abuse of force by the army is feared.

Truth Commission president Elsy Monge told Tiempo that an urgent restructure of all justice agencies in Honduras is needed, with the alarming level of impunity for the coup, but that how this is to be done must come from the people. Honduras has the highest homicide rate in the world; the regime capitalises on the fear and sensationalism that helps the arms trade prosper.

Human Rights Prosecutor Sandra Ponce resigned saying ´there is no way of working independently´ (from the police), saying it was better to ´step aside´ with 90% of the complaints received being against the police. She said, ´the human rights situation has exacerbated with the coup, with generalised restriction of liberties, and repression against those persons who opposed the coup.´

Role of US, Israel and international banks in militarisation and plunder of Honduras

  • 550 US troops just arrived to Honduras from Iraq, more coming by the end of the year. They are staying at the Soto Cano US Base doing operations together with Honduran Army. CBS reports more coming by the end of the year.
  • DEA Agents (US anti-drugs administration) have been participating in operations in five Central American and Caribbean countries, including Honduras.
  • Honduras will buy arms from US and Israel, announced Honduran Army Chief Osorio. He refused to give details on the quantity of arms being bought, and said they would like M-16s.
  • World Bank & Inter-American Development Bank are spending $30 million of the Investment in Climate Fund on a strategy that destroys Honduran rivers and wetlands. The fund takes advantage of renewable energy sources in low income countries and excludes any financing of mitigation and climate change adaptation. Its hydroelectricity and REDD projects will increase vulnerability of Honduras displacing people, causing deforestation, salinization, etc.

Under questioning from a journalist in relation to US cooperation with Honduras, given that its Embassy officials appear to have met with ´a wealthy occupier…also known to be involved in drugs trade´ who is responsible for mass violence against farmers, and authorities´ complicity in human rights violations, the US Department of State was pushed to demand that the Honduran authorities take measures to end violence and impunity, especially in Bajo Aguán.

Context of continued reports of massive human rights violations

  • The Inter American Commission of Human Rights issued a press statement mentioning regional human rights concerns, including of its deep concern for the situation in Bajo Aguán, mentioning more than 42 assassinations against members of farmers organisations.
  • A five-person delegation from the European Parliament to investigate and report on human rights in Honduras confirmed that judicial and police systems reinforce impunity. This delegation came because the EU had to vote soon about a trade agreement between EU and Central America. They asked, ´How can foreign companies invest in this country?´

Honduras adhered to three continental conventions in relation to social, economic and cultural rights, elimination of discrimination against disabled persons, and abolition of death penalty. Given the lack of any true commitment to human rights, such acts are meaningless.

Reports of worsening social and economic conditions: according to the National Statistics Department, unemployment increased from 1,600,000 in 2010 to 1,854,000 in 2011 and current poverty rate is 67.6%, the Cepal Social Panorama Report for Latin America stated that Honduras and Mexico were the only Latin American countries where poverty increased in 2011, and the Latino Barometer study shows that Honduras rated second lowest with only 12% answering ‘yes’ if one thought the country´s distribution of wealth is just.

Other actions and inactions by Honduran authorities to make conditions worse

  • Congress began debates on the new General Law of Education to reform the teachers pensions institute as dictated by the IMF, and measures include raising the voluntary retirement age from 50 to 65, changing the retirement payment calculation formula from being based on the salary of the last 3 years, to last 10 years, and increasing the teachers retirement contribution from 7% to 10% of their total salary, and increasing the interest rates of mortgages and personal loans. The funds were also moved from the teachers´ credit union to a      private bank.
  • Congress approved 16-years thermal energy contracts with private companies including Westport, without a public tendering process, after declaring an ´energy emergency´ to justify skipping the tendering process. Thermal energy has a history of being expensive.
  • More reports were made of 25 companies not paying electricity bills to the state by superglueing metres, including Pizza Hut, KFC, Aguazul, and business person Adolfo Facussé.
  • The Freedom of Information Department (IAIP) confirms that the Congress disappeared files from 2008 and 2009 related to massive subsidies it gave to NGOs, churches, foundations, communal committees, etc, aligned with Micheletti (first defacto president).

Other news: FNRP (National Popular Resistance Front) assembly voted unanimously to have Xiomara de Zelaya (spouse of Manuel Zelaya, deposed president) as the Libre (party political arm of FNRP) presidential candidate.

Summary of political persecution in November 2011

Political Assassinations in November 2011

  • On 1/11/11, at midday, Catarino Efraín López (50), an organised farmer of MARCA was travelling with two others in a van, near El Despertar, when the guards of large landholders Morales and Canales stopped them and immediately began shooting. The three jumped out and ran in different directions to try to escape, all were shot but Catarino died immediately. The guards have for days been trying to kidnap farmers, to repress this recently installed MARCA settlement. This was the date that Operation Relámpago (lightning) was launched to ´diminish the wave of assassinations and kidnappings´. When Xatruch soldiers and police arrived, they accompanied the security guards. The farmers were leaving the cemetery after cleaning the graves in a communities´ working bee for the day of the dead, and visiting families and organised farmers who were killed in the struggle.
  • On 5/11/11, José Luis Lemus, another MARCA farmer hit by gunshots while travelling with Catarino on 1/11 died in hospital. He leaves two children aged 4 and 7.
  • On 26/11/11 at 8.30pm, Antonio Isau Acosta Turcios (33), Olancho resistance leader, was assassinated by unknown hitmen from a motorcycle at Juticalpa. In 2009 he spent a month accompanying the deposed president Mel Zelaya in the beseiged Brazilian Embassy. Antonio was also a friend of another assassinated FNRP activist Mario Efrén Padilla.
  • On 29/11/11, resistance leader and independent farmer in land struggle Regino Zuñiga Pineda was assassinated.

Other persecution against farmers this month

  • On 1/11/11, when Catarino López and José Lemus were fatally shot by guards travelling near El Despertar. Nilda Funez (19), also of MARCA, was also wounded by gunshot – her arm was fractured and the skin of one breast was razedNilda is in charge of the human rights commission of FNRP Trujillo. They have previously during an eviction grabbed, torn, kicked and burnt her human rights vest and said if she did not disappear from the eviction, what happened to her vest and to two human rights defenders will happen to her.
  • On 3/11/11 and on 13/11/11 at midnight, there were violent eviction attempts including live gunshots to intimidate mostly women who are part of the ´Canaan Group´ (84 families) farmers community in a land recovery struggle and growing maize on land in Naco Santa Barbara, associated with the national farmers´ association ANACH. The evictions were headed by officer Valladares and a DGIC (state investigative) agent with numberplate 5126. These were the third and fourth eviction attempts and there is constant presence and intimidation by 20 armed paramilitary men who travel in cars without numberplates. They had threatened some women with rape and with being removed from the land dead or alive. The land is under negotiation with the Agrarian Department.

Threats and attempts against journalists in November 2011

  • On 3/11/11, three anonymous Honduran journalists reported that they had been harassed and threatened by police because they have been investigating about the police murder of the two university students, and had exposed a network of police linked to organised crimes. ´They told us we were pure show and that when they killed a police we don´t make so much scandal, that we should take a lot of care of what we write´. The three journalists said they have information that these police are making a list of journalists, and have taken their photos and videos.
  • On 11/11/11, it was reported that Arnulfo Aguilar, director of Radio Uno of San Pedro Sula has been receiving death threats against him and his family despite the protective measures granted by the Inter American Commission of Human Rights to Radio Uno. Messages included: ´You and your daughter are going to die! And all who are close to you, maybe this way you will stop talking sh…´
  • On 11/11/11, it was reported that Luis Galdamez, director of Radio Globo news program ´Tras la Verdad´, has been receiving death threats – while transmitting live, he received a call from a supposed official saying, ´stop speaking, it is better if you come over here to Colonia Miramontes, we are waiting for you here … you keep talking shit about the military and police … come here and see if you are such a man.´ Luis also has protective measures.
  • On 11/11/11 it was reported that the son of TV news journalist Renato Álvarez has been victim to intimidation by unknown persons who pointed guns at each side of his head, following the journalist´s investigation of the police after the killing of the university director´s son. He was intercepted by two hitmen who hid in a car without numberplates when he was returning from uni. As neighbours noticed and came out, the attackers left.
  • On 24/11/11, it was reported that three journalists Danilo Osmaro Castellanos (prev Radios HRN and Globo), Carolina Hernández and Mauricio Arévalo, of Multivisión Canal 32 of Santa Rosa de Copán, received a series of verbal and text threats from a representative of Minerales de Occidente Wendy Guerra. They had done journalistic work on the topic of mineral exploitation in the region. They were warned to stop broadcasting about mining or face ´serious problems´. A threat Carolina received said, ´as the mining company wanted to send someone to kill you and your ridiculous comrades, I will demonstrate to you who I am, and to send to kill I don´t need many threats. You are a little thing and this news program ATN is going to disappear, of this I am in charge´. The company also just tried to silence the media by offering a juicy advertising contract to which ATN Director Danilo made a dignified rejection.

Persecution against human rights defenders

  • On 15/11/11, Leonel Casco Gutiérrez, director of Ecumenical Human Rights Watch in Honduras, reported that he received death threats against him and his spouse and family on his mobile from unknown persons at night, saying that he would be assassinated at any moment. He had revealed that the police (including ex-head of DNIC investigative dpt Francisco Murillo López) has been collaborating with gangs and have lists of 27 Hondurans (leaders of social movement, university lecturers, public and religious persons, government officials, journalists) to attempt against, extort and kidnap.
  • On 20/11/11, it was reported that Honduran writer, academic professor and member of the Truth Commission to investigate the coup, Helen Umaña, had gone into exile because of repeated death threats. The death threats came in text messages and warned her to take care and to stop participating in investigations. Unknown persons kept going to look for her at the university.
  • On 25/11/11, when comrades of the Women Human Rights Defenders Network of Santa Ana commemorated International Day of No Violence Against Women, council security head Martin Sandres – brother of the Santa Ana mayor, abused his authority and organised anti-riot action, and a council employee Blas took photos of and threatened the compañeras with taking away all their projects.

Harassment and concerns for ex-ministers and secretaries this month

  • On 22/11/11, ex-presidential minister Enrique Flores Lanza was released from house arrest after five months being held as a political prisoner. His relatives are worried for his life. Enrique has protective measures, but there had been constant vigilance by unknown persons at the house, and several resistance activists had crimes committed against them shortly after leaving Enrique´s house or attending a court solidarity activity for him; eg Emo who was murdered on 3/9/11. A car without numberplates had gone to and remained in a corner watching since 17/11/11 when hearings against Flores Lanza were suspended.
  • This month, ex Secretary of State for Culture Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle was told by the TSC department that Rodolfo had to pay his own return flight from a work trip he undertook shortly before the coup, although he had evidence of the work and travel. The reporting and reimbursement process was interrupted by the coup.

Persecutions and violations against unionists this November 2011

  • Agrarian Department unionised (Sitraina) employees Carlos Urbina (32 years of service), Ronis Suazo (6 years of service), and José Soto (5 years of service) were unfairly dismissed by Agrarian Minister Ham, Subhead of HR Aguilar, and Vice-president of Employees Association of INA Fino. This was part of a campaign to fire workers who refuse to support the Employees Association – parallel to the workers union Sitraina – promoted by Cesar Ham. José also received physical threats. There are indusrial threats generally against members of Sitraina Section 7.

Snapshot of Solidarity and resistance for Honduras in November 2011

Uni students organised a series of creative protests, movement building, and awareness raising cultural activities against militarisation of society and against police over several days. Boards were placed where students painted colourful messages on artwork to questions like ´what do we have soldiers for?´ ‘And police?’ ‘And prosecutors?’ On another day they placed different shoes symbolising persons who were assassinated between January and June 2011, each shoe with a name of the assassinated person who is aged 16-28 and with a flower. A colourful and musical convergence was held that moved around the campus giving out anti-cops culture leaflets and stickers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY6veDdihYs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jum1XgPNup4&feature=share

A declaration was made at the founding of the Human Rights Observatory in Aguan:

  • to defend the people of Aguan,
  • to be present at evictions, raids and military interventions,
  • to provide protection for people facing persecution and repression,
  • to provide accompaniment in legal advocacy and medical and legal proceedings related to the land conflict,
  • to denounce nationally and internationally the violation of human rights in the region,
  • to bring human rights violations to national and international legal bodies, and
  • to call on human rights organisations and social movements everywhere to attend an international gathering of human rights defenders in Aguan on 17-21 February 2012

http://www.friendshipamericas.org/declaration-permanent-international-observatory-agu%C3%A1n

Update on Honduras coup, October 2011

Sparked by outrage over recent police murders of university students including the son of the UNAH Director, Julieta Castellanos, the Lobo regime dismissed police department heads to give the impression that impunity is being addressed. Castellano, who was previously in favour of using police force against student protests, now calls for countries to stop economic aid to the Honduran police.

Meanwhile, evidence of political persecution and impunity continues and intensifies, as have reports of increased cost of living, funding cuts, exploitation, deals and corruption, and further militarisation in all the cities now with ´Operation Lightning’.

The US façade of ever increasing military and police aid to ´fight drugs and crime´ is dispelled as a Wikileaks report shows that the US Embassy recognised that the powerful landholder Miguel Facussé, whose security operations it supports, is a cocaine importer. Investigations found that officers of the recently inaugurated Xatruch Operation against organised farmers have received training at US bases.

Honduras is also being highlighted as an example of why the carbon trading market is inherently dismissive of human rights. Clean Development Board members say that under the current rules they could not withdraw the registration of Facussé´s palm oil project carbon credits despite reports of his company´s implication in mass human rights violations.

Dismissals over police murder of students

The case of the police murders of students Rafael Vargas and Carlos Pineda is not spectacular in that many murders occur in Honduras, but because Rafael is the son of Julieta Castellanos, the director of the national university UNAH, this became one of the most notorious cases, making it impossible for the regime not to respond at least superficially. The police suspects were arrested but released after being detained for 3 days and none returned. In this instance Lobo replaced several heads of police, and also appointed Coralia Rivera as the Security Vice Minister. Julieta Castellanos now say the police force is a ´monster´, calling on countries to stop giving economic aid to the Honduran police, and questions the credibility of the new appointees. Simply moving officials from one position to another will not change the system.

Intensification of political persecution and impunity

  • Ex presidential minister Enrique Flores Lanza continues under home arrest as a political prisoner – his court hearing adjourned again to 17 November
  • The Armed Forces Junta was freed from the charges of abuse of authority and expatriation of Manuel Zelaya Rosales in a majority vote of judges by the Honduran Supreme Court.
  • The UN Freedom of Expression Relator Frank la Rue announced that he will seek for the UN to send an official visitor to investigate the assassination of (16) journalists in Honduras as well as of 130 lgbti persons and 40 social leaders, murdered after the military coup.
  • The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights Commissioner María Guillén told the press that the current conditions for victims and of impunity obligate the IACHR to directly receive cases in Honduras, skipping Honduran institutions.

Journalist Karla Rivas highlighted, that in Honduras, for a few hundred dollars, someone can contract an assassin – so it is more important to find out why the assassination took place than who did it.

Reports of increased living costs, funding cuts, exploitation, deals and corruption

  • The number of oil companies is reduced to only three, allowing transnationals to monopolise and decide market price of petrol; electricity bills increased by 7% for those consuming 200-300kws/month; price of eggs, meats, coffee and nuts went up; and the minimum wage negotiations that are legally due to begin are expected to be stalled by the coup regime
  • The Special Unit for the Investigation of Women´s Deaths was closed, another retrograde move showing lack of political will to address femicides.
  • A public-private partnership involving $123 million is expected to be approved by the end of the year to build a commercial airport, city toll road and highway and hospital projects using public funds and private companies.
  • The Finance Secretary skipped the law requiring projects over 150,000 lempiras to be submitted  to a public tendering process, directly passing 3 million lempiras to coup-supporting Channel 10 owner Wong Arévalo to ´promote new forms of energy generation´
  • Disaster capitalism shows as the south of Honduras floods. Congress approved an emergency decree ´for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the affected areas nationally by natural phenomena during 2011´ ordering the government to borrow 600 million lempiras from private banks to spend on the floods for which interest will be charged. Three banks quickly announced they are ready to lend. The state also organised collections of donations which they received from many thousands of Honduran citizens. But before distribution the donations get stickers put on them for eg saying ´Anduray Presidente 2014´ or in promotion of other organisations and campaigns, taking credit for donations made by citizens.

Further militarisation in all the cities in the name of fighting crime

´Operation Lightning’ has been announced to saturate Honduran cities with police and military hitmen in the name of fighting criminal acts (of ´delinquents´, ´gangs´, and ´drug cartels´) and of addressing Honduras having become one of the most violent countries in the world. Lobo also begins talks to reform and legislate to merge together the police and military ministers / departments, which would further militarisation. In addition, a bill was presented to the Congress to broaden the powers of the armed forces to be able to carry out arrests and invasions and searches.

US providing increasing military aid to the Honduran regime including the Xatruch Operation against organised farmers in the name of fighting drugs and crimes

Major contradictions are visible in US relations with Honduras in its words (for human rights and against drug and crimes) and actions (against human rights and in support of known drug dealer and powerful landholder). The Honduran regime president Lobo met with Obama and agreements made included US helping with human rights violations investigations, and for the US Security Secretary to help with security technology for Port Cortés. In these meetings Lobo also requested assistance in investigative processes. US Embassy said it was happy to look into having FBI accompany investigations. US financing of Honduran military and police have increased drastically since the coup. US assigned $45 million of new funds for military construction including for the expansion of the US military base Palmerola and in opening three new US bases. $200 million is assigned to Honduras for the Central American Regional initiative to ´combat drug trafficking´.

But to the contrary, the US is militarily supporting drug trafficking, and human rights violations. For eg human rights delegation La Voz de Los de Abajo confirmed that Xatruch Operations officials received counterinsurgency, sniper and antiterrorism training (´Special Operations´) at the US Soto Cano Military base. It was also confirmed that 70 members of the 15th Battalion received 33 days training from US ´rangers´ in 2011. The Xatruch Operation with Miguel Facussé´s private army attacks organised farmers struggling for land and human rights. Facussé is a powerful palm oil giant and coup supporter and a recent Wikileaks report shows that the US Embassy knew of his trafficking of cocaine since 2004.  US also supplied vehicles to the Honduran National Police and Military, used in raids against farmers. A representative of the 15th Battalion made a statement blaming ´farmers, armed groups of farmers and foreigners´ for the conflict in the region, showing its allegiance with Miguel Facussé. In relation to foreigners, Lobo proposes to use immigration to better control foreigners entering the region – likely targets being human rights observers.

Palm oil blood: Honduras Bajo Aguán example shows why a carbon trading market is inherently dismissive of human rights

Under ETS, UN credits were accredited by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Board to the Dinant palm oil plantations where reports show that between January 2010 and March 2011 alone 23 organised farmers have been murdered as part of the land conflict. CDM members expressed regret and distress, but said that under CDM rules, because the stakeholder consultations had been finished, it was beyond their power to block this project registration. Beyond a question of timing, a European Commission Directorate General for Energy official said that putting human rights in the criteria for assessing CDM projects would be ´very difficult´. So business as usual continues in Aguán and in the world´s carbon markets, disregarding systemic and grave human rights violations.

Other news:

  • In the Texas Federal Court, proceedings began against Roberto Micheletti, who headed the 2009 coup, for crimes against humanity, and extrajudicial executions against over 200 Hondurans killed by state organisms and paramilitary.
  • Deposed president Zelaya sent a letter to defacto president Lobo in reconciliatory tones when conditions for reconciliation does not exist. Amongst other things, he wrote, ´Mr President… I am sure of your goodwill towards the process of national reconciliation … we are ready for dialogue … you have our support.´
  • Zelaya, as coordinator of FNRP, delivered the 85,000 signatures to the Electoral Commission of Honduras to register LIBRE (Freedom and Refoundation Party).

Summary of political persecution in October 2011

Summary of political killings in October 2011

Miriam Emelda Fiallo  resistance member, farm worker of COAPALMA plantation cooperative in Prieto, Tocoa, killed 1/10/11

Carlos Humberto Rosa Martínez (24), MUCA farmer and land rights activist, killed 2/10/11

Santos Seferino Zelaya (35), organised MUCA farmer of Aurora, killed 11/10/11

Segundo, organised farmer and FNRP member, killed 15/10/11

Felix Vasquez Morena (55), San Pedro Sula leader and Colective Plaza La Libertad, killed 23/10/11.

Persecution against organised farmers this month

  • On 1/10/11, Miriam Emelda Fiallo was gunned down and died and her husband German Castro was hospitalised with grave wounds, when the couple was driving. Both are resistance members. Miriam was a farmer on the COAPALMA plantation and German is the president of Prieta – one of about 15 cooperatives of COAPALMA. In February the then Prieta President Rigoberto Funez was assassinated together with the then treasurer Fredy – German´s brother. Prieta cooperative has achieved a dignified standard of living for its members who run it collectively and independently without need of capital investment and Prieta has been very supportive of the farmers´ movement since the coup.
  • Early on 2/10/11, Carlos Humberto Rosa Martínez (24) was assassinated with 7 gunshots by security guards of Miguel Facussé. ´They keep killing us´, said his sister. He is a MUCA farmer and land rights activist of the Lempira Cooperative. He has a 4 yr old son. The day before he left to see his family in Tocoa and he was going to work in the cornfield.
  • On 3/10/11, Mario Paredes suffered a kidnap attempt by a contingent of 35 security guards in three vehicles, of Facussé and Canales, when Mario was visiting his mother in the Agua Maria community. Mario managed to escape to a nearby house and fled the village.
  • On 4/10/11, a violent eviction was carried out against la Consentidacommunity (organised farmers land recovery movement near Rigores) by a contingent of police, military and guards of Miguel Facussé and several helicopters. During the operation, they burned wooden houses, arbitrarily detained Antonio Quintanilla who was released soon after. They dragged children from their homes, and kidnapped a leader of the Cooperative 21 de Junio.
  • On 5/10/11, unidentified guards of Miguel Facussé riddled with bullets and gravely wounded MUCA organised farming leaders Pedro Alfredo Matamoros Bonilla (45) and Heder Jael Sánchez Cruz of ´La Aurora´, in front of the San Isidro Finca and the Sinaloa Agrarian Dpt building. Alfredo was shot through the mouth and head and Heder in his legs and abdomen. They have land assigned to them by the Agrarian Department to build homes for La Aurora and La Confianza farmers. Pedro is the treasurer, and Heder the secretary.
  • On 6/10/11, at 5.30am, farmer Walter Nelin Sabillón Yanes (25) was captured near Rigores and tortured by Operation Xatruch II members. He was thrown into an investigative police vehicle without numberplates and beaten, kicked, and interrogated throughout about names of his comrades and ´where the arms are´. He was taken to the Tocoa police station handcuffed. Walter said he didn´t know anyone´s names and just arrived to the group. They grabbed his mobile and warned, ´someone will call you here and you will fall.´ They put the hood on him 5 times and gave him 3 electric shocks to the hands, abdomen and mouth. One agent told him they were going to cut his fingers. 5-6 soldiers guarded him with pointed rifles. Walter was freed at 7.30pm, they took his photos and full name and said, ´promise us not to go back to these groups because we are going to come back to capture you, we will tie a stone on your neck and throw you into the Aguán river.´
  • Between 7-11/10/11, the Xatruch operation maintained Rigores and Marañones under a state of siege with checkpoints and extracting large payments to enter and leave, and did the same at La Lempira on 14/10/11
  • On 11/10/11, 8am, 6 of Miguel Facussé´s hooded guards arrived at La Aurora MUCA settlement surrounding the workers asking for the cooperative president and when nobody answered, they shot at and killed Santos Seferino Zelaya (35), and others fled. Santos has 2 children aged 8 and 10. 15 women of La Aurora and men were chased by guards and police on the settlement fields. La Aurora lands are under dispute with Facussé and farmers have info that landholders are spending 3 million lempiras for hitmen to kill organised farmers.
  • On 15/10/11, guards returned to La Consentida and fired shots at farmers wounding Santiago Iván Gonzales and Deby Mancía. The farmers saw 2 body bags in a guards´ vehicle. Police claims they don´t know who killed them (one was of Segundo, an organised farmer and FNRP member) but that they were ´fruit thieves´ (criminalising land struggle), despite the police having participated in the operation. Segundo´s body was found on 17/10 in a judicial morgue in La Ceiba 60km from the settlement covered in gunshot wounds.
  • Early on 16/10/11, Miguel Facussé´s guards and Xatruche police and military executed a new armed attack against the Rigores land recovery movement. They arrived to the Paso Aguán finca and began to shoot at men, women and children, disappearing Segundo Mendoz (26) whose whereabouts were unknown. They wounded Arling Adolfo Torres (20) fracturing his arm.
  • On 29/10/11, Operation Xatruch returned to militarise the Rigores community,      and on 30/10/11, Facussé´s guards fired shots against several farmers who were going past at night.
  • On 30/10/11 a group of police not of Xatruch arrested the security head of Miguel Facussé and charged him with carrying prohibited arms, but released him within 24 hours arguing, that the confiscated arms belonged to a Honduran army colonel.

In Bajo Aguan, at least 45 organised farmers have been assassinated by armed groups defending interests of large landholders since November 2009, and over 500 face judicial persecution.

Persecution against journalists this month

  • On 2/10/11 journalist Lenin Alfaro of Ojo Critico was detained after a car accident while returning from a FNRP assembly. He and his brother transmit the 10pm Globo TV program.
  • On 30/10/11 TV news presenter Isaac Hernandez of Colon News Centre received a threatening call from 31900236, after he questioned on air how police found prohibited arms carried by Facussé´s guards but not from the farmers´ side. During the week he also

reported that 300 bullets have gone missing in the police warehouses.

  • On 31/10/11 at 8.30pm, journalist Edy Andino was shot with heavy arms in his left leg and his car received at least 20 shots from a black tourist van, after he reported from a police source for Channel 6 night time news and was going home. To survive he said he had to scream that he is from Channel 6 (mainstream) so they did not kill him.

Persecution against human rights defenders in October 2011

  • On 9/10/11, Italian youth human rights defender Alessandro Bellini was given a death threat by a neighbour, who had been drinking, from the Zacate Grande community. Alessandro belongs to the Italian Central American Collective, and is at Zacate Grande on a Human Rights Observers Camp. He has already been threatened on different occasions by people against the land struggles of the Zacate Grande villagers.
  • On 30/10/11, soon after the human rights defenders Wilfredo Paz and Rudy Hernándes gave testimony at the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights about the situation in Aguán and during their presentation about the installation of a human rights watch in Aguán at the restaurant Tierra Libre, a car with dark windows without numberplates kept passing by every 10 minutes. As Wilfredo and Rudy finished and left about 8.45pm, the same car sped and parked abruptly 20 metres from them. Wilfredo and Rudy returned to seek safety and someone who helped them leave told them these kinds of cars are used by the army. At 11.30am on 1/11/11 as they prepared their complaints, they heard AK47s fired.

Repression of other protests

  • On 11/10/11, a police and army contingent brutally repressed a protest in Comayagua, wounding many, beating people and teargassing them. They chased protesters through the neighbouring mountains and hills – even gunshots were reported.

Against youths and students

  • On 8/10/11, a large object was thrown at high speed at the windscreen of the car Sara Tome and Aureliano Molina were in. They were in charge of organising the Self-Convoked First Assembly of Youths for the Refoundation of Honduras held at Zacate Grande. Sara is from the Centre of Women´s Studies, and Aureliano of indigenous organisation Copinh.
  • On 22/10/11, the bodies of the uni students Carlos Pineda Rodríguez (23) and Rafael Alejandro Vargas Castellanos (22) were found. There is video evidence that implicates the police in the murders. Carlos and Rafael recently visited Enrique Flores Lanza who has been under political house arrest. Rafael is also the son of UNAH Director Julieta Castellanos and so this case is heavily investigated and gets media attention. Carlos´s father worked in one of Miguel Facussé´s companies and may be a MUCA farmer organiser.  Rafael participated in COFADEH´s youth human rights program when aged 15.

Other resistance activists persecuted in October

  • On 23/10/11 about 10.30pm, Felix Vasquez Moreno (55) was assassinated in his own vehicle by unknown persons as he was leaving his modest food business. Felix was also a member of Colectivo Plaza La Libertad and San Pedro Sula FNRP leader. Felix´s body was found savagely beaten, with bruising and 6 gunshot wounds in the head and throat.
  • On 23/10/11 in the night, Jesús Zepeda, another FNRP member, was attacked by individuals with machetes, who set his home on fire, as he returned home from church.

Other Evictions

  • On 27/10/11, at 7am, 140 police evicted over 100 families of Estiquirín Hill in Comayaguela. They destroyed 45 homes built by marginalised families who lived on those fields for 7 years without access to public services. The land is under judicial dispute between large landholder Oscar Siri Zúniga, the Honduran Children and Family Department and others. The judge made eviction order without regards for international human rights laws.
  • On 8/10/11, in the night, vendors were attacked and had their stalls damaged in an illegal eviction carried out by council employees under the Council Mayor´s order.

Some statistics and data from Honduras that came this month

  • 54 women have made reports of  sexual assault as repression for protesting against the coup
  • 62 university students have been murdered in 2011 alone (14 in July 2011 alone)
  • The recently signed agreement with MUCA from June 2011 eliminates the April 2010 commitment to return 11,000 hectares of land to the people. Also no solutions for MARCA and MCA.

Snapshot of solidarity and resistance in Honduras this October 2011 – Occupy!!

As Occupy movements spread and grow around the world, similar actions in Honduras continue against a small elite controlling and exploiting the 99%

Examples: 3000 teachers stopped traffic at the Finance Secretary’s office, demanding backpay of unpaid salaries. Hundreds of community board affiliates, 2000 taxi drivers, and other activists occupied the city centre protesting against a million dollar rubbish collection contract about to be signed that will increase citizens´ rubbish collection bills, and to protest increasing petrol prices. Similar workers’ protest took place in the capital against increasing living costs and privatisations; indigenous people marched to protest 519 years of invasion and colonisation; National Maya Chortí Council members occupied the Copán Ruins park demanding the cancelling of an eviction order against a community occupying Nueva Estanzuela village for which a land title application is in process. Small and medium company owners, under ´Honor and National Dignity´, went on hunger strike to protest the signing of expensive thermal energy contracts that will increase electricity costs for everyone.

A Human Rights Observation camp is being set up in Bajo Aguan that will have a provisional office opening on 11 November 2011.

Update on Honduras Coup – September 2011

As the people of Honduras continue to suffer under the military coup regime, Honduras has achieved the dubious record as the country with the highest homicide rate in the world, following a steep increase in reported murders. Meanwhile de facto president Lobo dismissed and replaced a number of ministers and high officials, and simultaneously attended the UN General Assembly to give the impression to the world that there is or will be improvement. But the evidence is otherwise more news of militarisation and death squads, corruption, and a state policy of repression when faced with social demands, and of increased exploitation in all spheres.

Highest homicide/murder rate in the world

In 2010, Honduras became the country with the highest murder rate in the world at 77.5 per 100,000 people. Prior to the coup the rate was around 50. Human rights organisations say in 2011 the rate will go up to around 86/100,000.

Lobo firing and replacing ministers to distract from real picture

Lobo unexpectedly replaced many ministers and high officials – these changes are to hide human rights violations and cover up the crisis. While those being dismissed have been responsible for major human rights violations and crimes against humanity, the replacements will be no different – they think and do the same, that’s why they were promoted.

At the ministerial level, Security Minister Óscar was replaced.  His uncle Gustavo Álvarez Martínez was head of the Honduran Armed Forces and led the Battalion 3-16 death squad in the 1980s,  responsible for at least 184 disappearances with the support of the US Embassy – the exact number of executed in this era is unknown. He was replaced by Pompeyo Bonillo (a La Paz parliamentarian). Minister Mario Canahuati was replaced by Arturo Corrales, who was a negotiator for the Micheletti regime and Minister of Cooperation under Lobo.

In explaining the dismissals, Lobo made no reference to the coup or human rights violations. Some who were dismissed were offered other positions within the government. Lobo said the reasons were diverse.

Lies at the UN General Assembly

Lobo admitted to the UN General Assembly that with the 2009 coup the human rights situation deteriorated gravely. He said human rights violation is not a state policy of his administration – which is about to lose between $200-400 million of the Millennium Funds because of impunity. He claimed they work every day to promote a culture of respect for human rights.

Evidence of continued coup regime: militarisation and death squads, corruption, state policy of repression when faced with social demands, and increased exploitation in all spheres

  • A bill was passed supposably to end the agrarian crisis in Bajo Aguán – enabling the ´sale´ from large landholder Miguel Facussé of 4,045 hectares using private bank financing loans to farmers worth 700 million lempiras. But organised farmers of MUCA complain that they were not consulted and the agreement was not in their interests.
  • The permanent Xatruch military operation continues in Bajo Aguán. The regime justifies it with allegations of arms being there and accusations that there are guerrillas, ´subversives´ and that farmers are involved in the recent killings of public and private security staff – a police and soldier were killed in crossfire this month when an aggressive operation was carried out by the state to violently detain over 50 farmers and search their farms for arms. An emergency strategy meeting was held between different Honduran institutions and the US Embassy where the use of national rather than regional judges was discussed as a means to facilitate invasion orders being issued without fear of threats to judges from the alleged armed guerrillas. No evidence was found of farmers´ involvement, or of arms, not even a knife was found. They had to release the captured farmers.
  • Human rights organisation Cofadeh confirmed that the 3-16 death squad has been reactivated and there is collusion between the death squad and state security agents.
  • The deposed Zelaya government approved in 2009 a National Compensation Program as demanded by human rights organisations to compensate victims of human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed 1980-1993. This has been shelved ever since.
  • Transparency problems about spending state funds arose with the Minister of Culture, Art and Sports when he declared that the use of 12.7 million lempiras from international funds is a secret. He pointed out a provision in the contract for disclosure of information at his own discretion. Concurrently, the congress refused to give Revistazo information on NGOs that received money during the crisis of the coup, saying ´We don´t have the information from the years 2008 and 2009´ without explaining why. The Association for a More Just Society found that some churches, including Evangelical Cofraternity and Fundación Luz, received millions of lempiras from the congress. FOI applications are in progress.
  • The Honduran state made an expensive deal to buy 50 megawatts of thermal energy capacity for $100 million after the emergency decree was approved to make purchases like this without a full tendering process, although this was meant not to apply to thermal energy contracts.

Meanwhile, Romeo Vasquez Velásquez, head of army at the time of the coup and current head of Hondutel, launched his presidential campaign – under the political party name Alianza Patriótica Hondureña. He is about to resign from the Hondutel position to dedicate himself to electoral campaigning.

Summary of political assassinations in September 2011:

Teachers Juan de Dios Mejía, and Dunia Suyapa Sánchez Zapata

High school student and resistance activist Ramón Antonio Cruz Lara

Organised farmer Olvin David González

Well known resistance member ´Emo´ Mahadeo Roopchano Sadloo

Political and sporting leader Dennis Montoya

Journalist and resistance activist Medardo Flores

Environmental defender Juan de Jesús Figueroa

Some of the political persecution in September 2011

Persecution including killings against students and teachers

  • On 1/9/11 in San Pedro Sula at the protests defending public education, the police and military detained 12 underage students and 3 adults for over 24 hours in terrible and unhygienic conditions and treated them with violence. Members of human rights organisations, relatives of the detained and students who came in solidarity were beaten and threatened by police. Security forces repressed protesters with teargas and pepper gas bombs, gravely wounding and hospitalising four students – Caroline Dumas, Edwin Ricardo Mejía Mejía, Ada Josselyn Luna Reyes and Emil Giovanni.
  • On 1/9/11 one student of Normal, Pedro Nufio (Tegucigalpa), was disappeared.
  • On 1/9/11 in La Esperanza police detained and beat 12 students occupying the Escuela Normal accused of provoking damage to police cars and of sedition. Most were freed the same day. Police launched tear gas bombs, live gunshots, and beat and detained students. Student leaders were followed by cars which took photos of them and asked for them. Student Kevin Noel Ramos Godoy (18) was captured – brutally beaten and forced into a car without numberplates and taken to an unknown place. He returned bruised, with skin peeled off different body parts. Investigative agents without official orders tried to capture students, pointing fire arms to heads of students in the process.
  • On 1/9 in Catacamas, a couple, both teachers of the school Instituto 18 de Noviembre, – Juan de Dios Palencia Mejía (55) who is also a pastor, and Dunia Suyapa Sánchez Zapata were killed by gunshots by unknown persons while driving. They tried to escape and kept driving until they fainted. They were taken to emergency but died on the way.
  • On 2/9/11, when COFADEH and student leaders went to an appointment with the UNICEF representative to give a report, they were watched and harassed by the police, with plain clothes police and cars without numberplates.
  • On 3/9/11, there are arrest warrants against students of Yoro with the intention of stopping the student struggle
  • On Sunday 4/9/11, in the context of students occupying a school having negotiated with politician Ricardo Álvarez allowing him to use the school that day to host an electoral political campaign event, as the event took place, Álvarez´ guards, accompanied by two police, pointed guns at and searched several students. When the students resisted the search, saying they were collaborating with the organisers, a guard, Martínez Madrid, beat the youth in the head with the gun saying ´we have you identified already and we know you are from the resistance!´ and proceeded to immediately illegally detain five underage youths before they were released after some people talked with the event coordinator who talked with the police. When the event finished, Álvarez quietly offered students $150 to keep quiet, the students refused and made the human rights complaints.
  • On the evening of 10/9/11, unknown persons assassinated student Ramón Antonio Cruz Lara (17) with gunshots. Ramón was a resistance activist and son of the teacher Héctor Cruz, member of Copemh and FNRP of La Lima. The youth had no problems.

Persecution, militarisation and killings against organised farmers of Bajo Aguán

  • On 1/9/11, Vitalino Alvares, an organised farmer of the right river bank, complained that a hitman called Ecceohman Nazar Osorto has been asking for his name around the communities – Ecceohman goes around with two armed men in a double cabin vehicle without numberplates. Vitalino has a photo of Ecceohman.
  • On 2/9/11 at 5am, organised farmer Olvin David González (24) was found dead – he was an affiliate of farmers´ movement MUCA Left Bank. The day before MUCA MI sent a public statement expressing that they were excluded from the discussions at the congress and that they did not endorse the negotiation. Olvin was married and a father to an 8 months old baby.
  • On 3/9/11 over 600 heavily armed soldiers and guards and paramilitaries surrounded the Marañones settlement, with tanks, and helicopters that flew over.
  • On 4/9/11, the ´Panamá´ farmers´ community were evicted and abandoned the farm due to fear of assassination by private guards, police and military, in the context of the crossfire of 14/8/11 in which 6 security guards and one young farmer were killed having occurred on their land and malicious media campaigns have named five MUCA MI farmers leaders as responsible – MUCA farmers have declared they had nothing to do with the crossfire.
  • On 5/9/11 MARCA farmer leader Julian Lopez reported he has been receiving death threats, that armed men have been going around his home. He was subsequently attempted against on 11/9/11 by guards while riding on the bus, the bus driver instead was assassinated.
  • On 6/9/11 unknown persons attacked and beat the organised farmer Neptaly Mendes at the entrance of Marañones . He was left only because the attackers thought they had killed him, and was later hospitalised.
  • Organised farmer Jeremías Martines and his older son from the La Concepcion settlement of MUCA right bank were receiving very serious death threats from the same landowners who just days before assassinated farmers leader Pedro Salgado and his spouse.
  • On 6/9/11 around 800 heavily armed officers were deployed at the entrance of cooperative Marañones. Concurrently security officials and Facussé´s security guards closed in on the farms Paso Aguán and La Consentida in Rigores, from which they captured two youths of which only one was freed only after he paid 500 lempiras for his liberty. A helicopter flew over the Rigores and Marañones communities, and ended up evicting farmers of La Consentida that day.
  • Since 7/9/11, farmers’ leaders of La Lempira of the right bank of Aguán river have been receiving death threats by telephone, and shots of heavy arms have been fired in the direction of the farmers´ settlement.
  • On 16/9/11, at the same time that La Consentida farmers returned to their land after their eviction days before, Xatruch II polic, who were called by the security guards, arrived.  A grenade exploded inside one of the police cars killing two officers following which police raided the Rigores community, searching homes and rounding up at least 40 farmers and arresting and hunting down others, violently detaining 22 farmers occupying La Consentida. Tying the hands and feet of farmers, and torture during detention was reported. Farmers were interrogated about who was involved in the confrontation and the farmers declared that farmers were not involved. The detained were freed on 17/9/11 because there were no evidence linking them to the crimes, but they were threatened not to return to Rigores or the officers would return to kill the women and children. The security forces also threatened to kill human rights defenders who advocated for the farmers. There is a media smear campaign saying Aguán farmers were behind the attack.
  • On 19/9/11 around 11.30am-2.45pm, Honduran forces helicopters flew low over the Nueva Vida community, destroying homes of farmers, and officers pointed guns at Rigores farmers as they flew over their roofs. Hundreds of police and army officers entered and surrounded the Panamá area, entered homes, beating residents and demolishing and burning ten humble homes over two days. At 4.50pm they captured two children of the community: Santos Bernabé Cruz Aldana (16) – son of farmers leader Rodolfo Cruz, and Darwin Leonel Cartagena (15), who were dragged to the palm fields and made to pose with weapons for photos. When Rodolfo reached to intervene, they shot towards him and forced him to leave. The next day, Bernabé was allowed to go. He said they put a plastic bag over his head, kicked him, threatened to throw him in the river to die, asked him where the guerrillas were, sprayed petrol on both and put gun barrels in their mouths. The whereabouts of Leonel remains unknown.
  • On 30/9/11, the Xatruche II intensified its patrol in the Aguán region with more officers and heavy arms including 60mm machine guns, armoured cars, helicopters, and fast boats to navigate the Aguán river. Xatruch spokesperson Jorge Martínez said that these are the types of arms the army uses for these exercises and that they are authorised to use the arms.

Persecution and murder against primarily anticoup resistance activists

  • On 2/9/11, as Vanessa Maradiaga took a taxi at 8pm when she left her radio program, unidentified men got onto the taxi too and pointed a gun at, threatened, and kidnapped her for a few minutes, taking her belongings, beating and attacking her. Vanessa is the Secretary of the International Affairs of Los Necios, an active resistance member particularly involving women, FNRP coordinator of relations with the Mesoamerican peoples, and the radio program is a weekly space of Los Necios for political talks.
  • On 7/9/11, ´Emo´ Mahadeo Roopchano Sadloo (55), a well known resistance member against the coup who was on the streets protesting everyday, was assassinated with 5 bullets in the throat and back at a mechanical workshop. He was shot by unknown persons who shot him without saying anything. Earlier that day Emo was at a protest in solidarity with Enrique Flores Lanza. Emo showed solidarity with farmers, teachers and students. He was a volunteer for FNRP´s political party. Emo came over 35 years ago to Honduras, from Suriname, married twice and had ten children in Honduras. There had been a ferocious malicious media campaign against him by coup media pressing for his deportation, with headlines about ´foreigners´ participating and ´infiltrating´ in marches. Emo accompanied President Zelaya in the Brazilian Embassy when Zelaya was there for over four months.
  • At Emo´s wake a police spy, Reydi Arturo Ardón Sánchez (19), was found – Reydi admitted he was sent by police to collect intelligence. His face was described as probably identical to the pictures showing in the media of the portrait of the supposed killer. Cofadeh said that police spokesperson Panchamé’s distribution of the portrait, offering 100,000 lempiras reward for information and the sending in of an intelligence police looking like the portrait, may be an attempt to set up resistance members to kill him to incriminate the resistance – Cofadeh advocated for protection of Reyde from his police colleagues.
  • On 15/9/11 political and sporting leader Dennis Montoya was assassinated in front of his mother´s Choloma home. Dennis is father of Dennis Muñoz Bonilla of Agents of Change.

Persecution and killings of journalists and against free media

  • On 1/9/11, at a media conference held where Enrique Lanza lives under house arrest, a colleague of independent journalist Alejandro Casco witnessed a police officer (with strong build, 1.75-1.8 metres tall, without name tag) telling another soldier while pointing at Alejandro that he will kill Alejandro at any time. Alejandro has been subject to physical and verbal aggression by security forces since September 2009.
  • On 8/9/11, hitmen assassinated Medardo Flores (62) with bullets while driving. Medardo belonged to the Radio Uno collective on which they analysed different topics on the Honduran socio-political and cultural situation and was also a volunteer reporter of the radio, was a Bloque Popular and FNRP activist and on the FARP finance committee. He was an ex-comrade of the martyr Rigoberto Padilla from the 80s (Medardo was attacked when Padilla was killed). Conservative media tried to dub it as a passion crime saying he was having an affair.
  • Since 8/9/11, journalist Mario Castro Rodríguez has received over 60 death threats and insults by text messages. Mario is the director of the Globo TV program ´Latigo Contra la Corrupción´. He and his brother Edgardo Castro, who began the program together making critical commentaries, were granted IACHR cautionary measures since May 2010, having been watched and persecuted. Mario has been followed 3 times by a white double cabin vehicle with no numberplates and dark windows – on one occasion they wound down the windows and he could see four people inside with balaclavas and someone in the passenger seat making gestures of threat with the finger, and showing their weapons.
  • On 22/9/11 journalist Edgardo Antonio Escoto Amador (Washo) who co-runs the program ´El Latigo contra la corrupción´ with Mario Castro, was working at 5.30am at the Toncontín Airport when two unknown persons pointed a gun at him, asked for the computer which contains confidential material about the military coup, snatched the bag in which he carried it, gave him back the radio documents and mobile and left. He reported the information months ago from which he received angry messages from the retired general and coup executor Miguel Angel Garcia Padget for his having published the letters. Edgardo has also received over 100 death threats and been followed by masked persons.

Repression of other protests this month

  • On 14/9/11, police and anti-riot commandos were deployed against the protests of the families of the disappeared. A woman in police uniform proposed that the Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla would receive the families´ representatives, but was actually just trying to note down the names of everyone who participated in the sit-in.
  • On 15/9/11 on ´Independence Day´, resistance protests at Tocoa faced an intimidating heavy police contingent which tried to detain three protesters without any specific reasons or orders. When social leaders tried intervening, police responded with teargas bombs and beat with sticks anyone who approached them and chased protesters all around the city centres, and even invaded private properties where many took shelter. Organised MUCA farmers Arnulfo Alvarado and Carlos Martínez were gravely wounded. Police detained Angel Villeda Andrade (underage) and Gregorio Godoy Caballero (taxi driver).

Killing and persecution of environmental defenders

  • On 15/9/11, MADJ (Broad Movement for Democracy and Justice) member Juan de Jesús Figueroa was assassinated in Matarras Arizona. Jesús was a community board president of Matarras and loyal vigilant and auditor of the administrative behaviour of different authorities of the area, and energetic defender of the natural resources of the province.
  • 18/9/11, MADJ denounced threats and violence against members of MADJ Atlántida for defending natural resources. The threats came from council officials, police, and people hired by companies promoting the exploitation and destruction of the natural wealth of the province.

Persecution against human rights defender

On 19/9/11, the son, daughter-in-law and grandson of human rights defender Hedme Castro were surrounded by 20 police agents who pointed guns at them, and forced them out of the car they were driving, after a police motorcycle crashed into their car. The police insisted on detaining Hedme but as their car stopped working the police left an order for him to attend a meeting the next day instead. This was not the first incident of police harassment against Hedme´s relatives or Hedme. Hedme is a school principal. The school has been under persecution and watch by police, undercover agents and national party activists since the coup.

Snapshot of resistance within Honduras in September 2011

Families of 13 persons disappeared since June 2010 held a protest accusing the police of forcefully disappearing their loved ones.

On 1/9/11 there were marches, despite repression, of teachers, students and resistance members to defend public, free, and compulsory education, condemn the assassination of student Nahúm Guerra, and assassinations of Bajo Aguan farmers, and  in defence of social gains.

Thousands of resistance members marched in San Pedro Sula on Independence day, screaming ´we are not celebrating, we are protesting´. Similarly in Tegucigalpa, about 10,000 participated in the resistance´s protest, and 600 in Tocoa.

The Summit Against militarisation in Aguán began on 30/9/11 amidst the repression attended by Honduran organisations, and by European, North American and Central American human rights delegations. This summit begins with talks and workshop. An Interdisciplinary Artistic Festival was planned for 2nd October 2011 as part of the summit ´AGUANTA Vida Festival, and, on 3rd October field visits and human rights observation and solidarity camps will begin.

 
 

Honduras coup update August 2011

When high school and university students protested steps to privatise education, the regime responded with massive repression and one high school student was assassinated. Persecution against farmers intensified as the regime found excuses to permanently heavily militarise Bajo Aguán. Also in this month, new community radio stations were prohibited, various policing measures were taken, and Canada signed a Free Trade Agreement with Honduras aimed at securing ultimate plunder through model cities.

High school student assassinated during anti-privatisation protest movement

As the Congress discussed a bill towards privatising education, massive protests and student occupation of school buildings were held by high school students. The regime responded with repeated and threats and acts of extreme repression, and to close schools and to cut teachers´ pay for participating in the protests and to suspend these without pay for up to a year. The regime denied that the bill privatises education, arguing they are reforms to ‘strengthen’ education. In mid-August the regime announced that the Law of Education Bill will be withdrawn due to pressure from the education ector, privatisation risks, protests and repression continue and one student was assassinated while protesting.

At the same time, university students protested a bill introduced in the congress for a New Law of Higher Education, to create a national council of education where the private universities would have direct involvement in the formation of education policy and receive part of the 6% of the national budget assigned for UNAH (the public university).

Persecution against farmers intensified with permanent heavily militarisation in Bajo Aguán

If regular killings against organised farmers have not been bad enough, on 14/8/11 an armed confrontation – that organised farmers were not part of – gave way to further militarisation of the Bajo Aguán region under the name of ´Operation Xatruch´. This intensified savage repression against organised farmers. It sent in an additional 600 army and police officers to complement the existing 400 in Bajo Aguán.  Almost immediately after the operation began two farmers’ movement leaders and the spouse of one were assassinated.  The Xatruch battalion includes soldiers trained by the US Army to kill. It is also assisted by Colombian paramilitaries (Colombian style kidnappings where people´s bodies are cut into pieces as a torture technique to obtain information have been reported by farmers). The National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) has information that 40 paramilitary members of Los Zetas from Mexico have been brought by landowners to also join efforts with it. As well as ´disarmament´, head of Operation Xatruch, Julio Espinal, announced they will be imposing evictions against farmers. Highway checkpoints are installed everywhere and there are 300 arrest warrants against organised farmers.

An armed confrontation between an unidentified group of armed individuals and Dinant Security Guards where four guards and one young farmer – Wilmer Melgar – were killed and eleven guards wounded was used to justify the Xatruche Operation, under pressure from the Dinant Company owned by palm oil plantation giant Miguel Facussé. In contrast, the regime never took action to protect the lives of organised farmers – of the 50 people killed in Bajo Aguán since the coup, 40 have been organised farmers.

The President of the National Association of Industries and the Security Secretary accused the farmers of participating in the crossfire. The media launched a malicious disinformation campaign saying there are infiltrated Nicaraguans and Venezuelans in Bajo  Aguán arming and training farmers and accusing organised farmers and their leaders of involvement, defaming and singling these out as targets of selective repression. On the other hand, people and groups that confirmed the organised farmers were not involved in the armed confrontation include the Agrarian Department, Dinant employees, and the spokesperson of MUCA (organised farmers movement)

At the end of August Operation Xatruch appeared to be permanent, and a bill was being debated to finalise details about the land sales and finance (loan of 540 million lempiras or $7000 per hectare to farmers by the regime to pay Facussé and Morales). The bill includes having Operation Xatruch permanently.

New Community Radio stations prohibited from this month

The National Telecommunications Commission now prohibits the granting of licences for new community radio stations (radios of frequency range 88-108mhz ). Currently within this range there are about 40 community and alternative radio stations around the country)

Other general policing measures in August 2011

  • Police showed who they protect when more than 200 heavily armed police gathered around businesses (fast food companies, banks, telecommunications, etc) as less than a hundred youths were in the area to take part in a protest ´to rebel is to learn´, on 12/8.
  • Security Secretary Álvarez announced rewards of $1000 for citizens that give specific information that leads to the capture of gangsters who commit ´illicit acts´ in San Pedro Sula. This measure is likely to aid political persecution.
  • The extension of time people can be detained without a court order from 24 to 48 hours applicable for ´complex crimes´ (which would include crimes for which they accuse the resistance, like sedition) is now official and only waiting for the next legislature to be ratified.
  • Honduras signed an agreement ´Advanced Passenger Information System´ to share private data with US of the aerial passengers that travel from Honduras to US, signed by the security secretaries of the two countries. This shared information can include addresses they will be staying in US, the itinerary, country contacts, medical and banking information and even eating habits, information about racial origin, political opinion and sex life, which can be used for ´any additional objective´ to fighting ´terrorism´.

Water privatisation in the capital city

The congress is discussing a plan to ´municipalise´ water from 2013 in Tegucigalpa and Comayaguela. It is said to address the shortage of access to potable water and to improve water quality and service at ´fair prices´. This plan, driven by business people, mayors and state officials, is following the example in San Pedro Sula where residents say their water has been privatised and tap water became undrinkable and water costs went up a lot.

Canada signed Free Trade Agreement with Honduran coup continuation regime

Canadian PM Harper visited Honduras to sign a Free Trade Agreement with Honduras. Amongst the beneficiaries are Canadian companies that grossly exploit the Honduran environment and people. These include gold mining companies Entremares of Goldcorp and clothing factories. The previous month Canadian Senator Jermain accompanied by Canadian investors participated in the Congress session, in which ‘model cities’ were approved. The FTA helps further open the door to Canadian investors to appropriate the Garífuna region of Trujillo with the ´Banana Coast´ model city project.

Summary of Persecution and attacks this month

Persecution against students protesting privatisation including one assassination

  • On 22/8/11, a student, Nahum Alexander Guerra (17), was killed at 7pm at the door of his school (Pompilio Ortega Agricultural School in Santa Barbara). He and other students were occupying in protest against privatisation of education. Namum was taking a turn with others at the door where they hung a flag and guarded a bonfire, when an unknown person passed by the school, screamed ´strikers´ at them and proceeded to shoot, killing Nahum with a shot in the chest and another in an arm.
  • Early August, Lobo ordered the eviction of all schools occupied by students protesting privatisation and threatened to close the schools for up to a year. Students of ´José Trinidad Reyes´ reported having received death threats for which they are fearful.
  • On 4/8/11 police detained 9 students from Instituo Jesús Aguilar Paz in Tegucigalpa, and some other students were reportedly forced off the bus by police and detained, but then freed.
  • On 5/8/11 students of Intibucá received death threats via anonymous messages.
  • On 7/8/11, the San Pedro Sula College Aleman was militarised, and officers threw gas canisters into the Franklin Delano Roosevelt School in Puerto Cortés and beat students there.
  • On 8/8/11 evictions against students´school occupations began in Ocotepeque, and police were in place to carry out evictions in Tegucigalpa. They also cut off electricity to the Technical Institute Honduras at 9pm and students reported death threats from police.
  • On 9/8/11 according to different versions 50-70 youth