Monday, July 5, 2010

Military official in unmarked vehicle follows human rights observers during visit to sites of land conflicts with Honduran oligarch Miguel Facussé

Human Rights delegation followed by vehicle, harassed by police

After visiting Peasant Movement of Aguán political prisoner Jose Isabel Morales just outside Ceiba, the La Voz de los de Abajo human rights solidarity delegation was stopped at a police checkpoint and asked to turn over everyone's passports so the police could make a list of everybody in the van. The delegation was stopped again shortly at another checkpoint where the police officers already had the license plate number of the van the delegation was traveling in written down.

After leaving that checkpoint the driver noticed a grey Toyota pickup with license plate PBJ3441 following the delegation. The truck continued following the delegation's van even after the driver pulled over to test if the truck was indeed following. The truck followed all the way to the hotel the delegation stayed at in Trujillo, which it circled three times while the delegation unloaded its luggage.

The same truck continued to follow the next day as the delegation made its way to resistance community Guadalupe Carney and then on towards the land occupations of the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguán (MUCA).

When the delegation saw the truck waiting at the turnoff towards the MUCA land occupation, its van pulled over, unloaded and took pictures of the truck and the person who had been seen driving it (who did not answer when asked if anyone knew who the driver was). The photos of the driver later revealed an insignia on his uniform for the “School of Application for Officials,” a tactical training school of the Honduran army.

In the decade since the establishment of the Guadalupe Carney community on the former site of a U.S. military base famous as the site for torture, detention and killing of Honduran activists in the 1980's, there has been ongoing threats, intimidation and repression against the campesinos who live there by both the hired guns of Honduran oligarch and land-owner Miguel Facussé as well as by the Honduran army and police. This situation has been made even worse in the aftermath of the June 28th, 2009 military coup d'etat, carried out by U.S.-trained general Romeo Vásquez Velásquez at the behest of oligarchs such as Facussé and their allies in the U.S. government and amongst transnational corporations. Facussé is also facing land conflicts at the nearby land occupation of the United Peasant Movement of Aguán (MUCA) as well as from the Garífuna people who have re-taken ancestral lands he had usurped in the region of Vallecito, Aguán. All three were sites visited by the La Voz de los de Abajo Human Rights delegation. The fact that a military officer in an un-marked car was sent to follow and intimidate the delegation during its visits to areas where Facussé's people have been killing and intimidating campesinos is clear evidence of the complicity between the Honduran military, police and large land-owners such as Facussé in the ongoing Human Rights violations in Honduras. It is further worth pointing out that Facussé is a long-time friend of many U.S. officials and that the Honduran army has received and continues to receive extensive training and aid from the U.S. government.

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