Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Take Action 8/26! International Day of Action on Chabelo's Birthday!

Acción para Chabelo Morales
August 26, Celebrate Chabelo’s Birthday by Demanding His Freedom!

Photo by Greg McCain
On August 26, 2013  please call and/or email the Honduran Supreme Court and Honduran Government to urge them to annul Chavelo’s sentence and free him immediately!  Sample scripts and info for calling and emailing are below.  Please let Greg ( or Brigitte ( know if you take action. Thank you!

El día 26 de Agosto  por favor, llamar y enviar correo electrónico a la Corte Suprema de Honduras y exigir que se anule condena Chavelo y liberarlo de inmediato! Los scripts de ejemplo e información para realizar llamadas y correo electrónico está abajo. Por favor, digale Greg ( o Brigitte ( saber si usted llama. ¡Gracias!

Sample Script for Calls, phone: 011-504- 2202-5124 (Supreme Court)
Hola, soy (your name) y estoy llamando de (your country and organization, if applicable). Estoy muy preocupado por la falta de justicia en el caso de Jose Isabel Morales Lopez . La tardanza de 4 años entre su detención y su sentencia, la falta de evidencia en su contra, y muchos otros irregularidades en el proceso judicial de su caso requieren la anulación de su sentencia y su liberación inmediata. La comunidad internacional va a seguir de cerca la situación de José Isabel Morales y les urge que se anule su sentencia y dejarle en libertad inmediatamente.

Script for E-mails (English translation of the script below)

E-mail to:
Secretario Jose Ramon Cruz Ferrera  and

Porfirio Lobo, Presidente de Honduras
Ana Pineda Hernandez, Secretaria de Estado en los Despachos de Justicia y Derechos Humanos

Subject: Libertad para José Isabel Morales

Estimados Jueces de la Sala de lo Penal de la Corte Suprema,

Le escribo desde los Estados Unidos para expresar mi preocupación por la falta de justicia en el caso de José Isabel Morales López. La tardanza de 4 anos entre su detención y su sentencia es una violación clara del Código Procesal Penal de Honduras que exige la sentencia dentro de los 2 años. También, no se informo a el ni a sus abogados sobre la audiencia de sentencia, una depravación de su derecho a defenderse. La falta de evidencia en su contra y los irregularidades en el proceso judicial requieren la anulación de su sentencia y su liberación inmediata.
José Isabel Morales ya ha sufrido mas que 4 anos preso y la perdida de la vista en un ojo. Les urge anular su sentencia inmediatamente y dejarle en la libertad.
La comunidad internacional va a seguir el caso de José Isabel Morales y espero escuchar pronto de la resolución de su caso y su libertad.
(sign a name, organization, etc. with your city and country location)

English translation of Spanish letter

Liberty for Jose Isabel Morales

Dear Judges for the Supreme Court - Criminal Cases

We are writing to you from the United States to express our deep concern over the lack of justice in the case of Jose Isabel Morales Lopez.

The four year delay between his detention and sentencing is a clear violation of the Penal Code of Honduras which requires a sentence within two years. Also, neither Chavelo or his lawyers were informed of the sentencing hearing, which deprives him of his right to defend himself. The lack of evidence against him and the irregularities in the judicial process require the annulment of his sentence and his immediate freedom.

Jose Isabel Morales has suffered more than 4 years of imprisonment and the loss of vision in one of his eyes. We urge you to annul his sentence immediately and leave free him. The international community continues to follow the case of Jose Isabel Morales and we hope to soon hear of the resolution of his case and his freedom.

Monday, August 12, 2013

La Voz de los de Abajo condemns the murder of CNTC member

August 11, 2013 

La Voz de los de Abajo condemns the murder of CNTC member Felix Corea in Progreso, Yoro on August 10, 2013. We hold equally responsible the Honduran government including the defacto president Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo and his ministers; the president of the congress, Juan Orlando Hernandez and the members of congress; the Honduran security forces; the AZUNOSA Company and the other big landowners as well as the individuals who physically committed the crime.  Furthermore we condemn the U.S. government which continues to aid and train the Honduran military and security forces, and which directly participates in military/police actions. All these forces are responsible for the violence and for the impunity that exists for violent actions against the campesinos and campesinas. 

Unfortunately this murder is not the only crime committed this month so far. The same forces are accountable for the deaths and violence against other members of the resistance and the press in Honduras. 

ADCP/CNTC Land Recuperation at AZUNOSA
Felix was murdered on August 10th when a truck identified as belonging to the sugar company AZUNOSA deliberately ran him down. Felix was part of the land recuperation organized by the National Center for Rural Workers (CNTC) and the Association for Campesino Development of Progreso (ADCP) on lands occupied by AZUNOSA a multinational sugar company. Felix was leaving the recuperation when the truck, which had no license plates, ran him down. Witnesses recognized it as an AZUNOSA vehicle and they also took Felix to the local hospital but he died before he could be seen by doctors.

The La Voz de los de Abajo delegation in July met with the campesinos at AZUNOSA a week after the most recent forced eviction of the campesinos by the company’s private guards and police. At that time we saw the military and private guards patrolling on the company land together. We also met with the campesinos last September when they had also been evicted. We have a long standing solidarity relationship with the CNTC. The CNTC was founded in 1985 and has approximately 400 affiliated campesino communities across Honduras. 

In the most recent eviction at AZUNOSA a number of campesinos and campesinas were arrested and at this time the General Secretary of the Progreso Regional CNTC, Magdalena Morales is under house arrest related to the land recuperation and faces court proceedings on September 21. She reported to Radio Progreso a week ago that the campesinos and campesinas were being followed by trucks with no license plates and heavily tinted windows and were being harassed constantly.  The Sula Valley contains vast land holdings by Honduran and international companies who control sugar and corn production and processing. 

 Besides AZUNOSA there is a land conflict with CAHSA (a Honduran sugar company) in which campesinos organized in the Campesino Movement of San Miguel (MOCSAM) have been attacked and suffered deaths and also has a large number of members under prosecution in the court system. These companies occupy more and than is legally allowable and therefore the excess land should be eligible for distribution to the campesinos.

Information on the attack from Greg McCain, Adrienne Pine at QUOTHA, and the  Convergencia Refundacional (the Refoundational Space). 

Assassination and Attacks on Resistance Youth Leaders 
On August 6th a student leader and resistance member from the National Autonomous University of Honduras in San Pedro Sula, Lennin Dubon was assassinated in that city. Two days later on August 8th the Political Organization Los Necios reported that the General Secretary of the LIBRE Youth, Darwin Barahona was kidnapped by armed men who waved their weapons in his face and threatened another youth leader who was with him. Barahona was released later. Young people and students have been the target of much police and military violence and paramilitary threats. 

Information from Los Necios and LIBRE Youth

LGBT Activist and LIBRE Candidate Assaulted
The LGBT organization APUVIMEH published a denunciation on August 9th that Arely Victoria Gómez Cruz a well known transgender activist and member of the resistance was attacked in Tegucigalpa after leaving an event sponsored by the government’s Secretariat for Justice and Human Rights. Victoria was a pre-candidate in the LIBRE party primaries although she did not win a slot on the final slate of candidates. Apuvimeh reported that Victoria was robbed of her belongings including her shoes, and jewelry and that it was clearly a crime motivated by her sexual identity. It was not reported  if it is known whether it was also motivated by her political activism.  Other members of the community have been threatened, attacked and even murdered including resistance activists Walter Troches and Erik Martinez Avila. 

African Palm Conference: Letters of Protest
On August 6th, the RSPO (Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil) in conjunction with the Honduran Government, the Honduran Palm Producers Association and supported by the World Wildlife Fund, SOLIDARIDAD, ProForest and other NGOs held their 4th Latin American Conference. One of the biggest backers of the conference is big land owner Miguel Facussé. Honduran  and solidarity organizations including Rights Action and La Voz de los de Abajo expressed their concern to the NGOs and  protested their support for the conference (see La Voz’s letter below). Campesino organizations in Honduras represented by the Plataforma Agraria of Aguan issued statements noting that the small campesino producers were forced to attend the conference because they cannot get their productis certified without participating, but that they consider the conference and the RSPO project to be another method by which the big land oligarchs are grabbing more land and power and that furthermore they recognize the problem of a lack of incentives for production of food crops and the problem of a concentration of production of mono-cultivations such as palm and demand an agrarian policy that addresses those problems. Here is a link to an article by John Perry in the London Review of Books 

-------------Letter from La Voz de los de Abajo----------------
August 4, 2013

World Wildlife Fund USA, Washington DC, Roberto Troya, Latin America and Caribbean VP/Regional Director,
Solidaridad Network, Michaelyn Bachhuber Baur, Directora Regional Centroamérica,
SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, Reintje van Haeringen,  Damien van der Heyden,,
ProForest, Oxford, Oxfordshire, South East, England, Ruth Nussbaum,,

To Whom it May Concern:

We are writing to you regarding your organization’s involvement in the 4th International Palm Oil conference being held by RSPO in Honduras on August 6, 2013. We have become aware of this conference only in the last few days.  We urge you to withdraw from this event due to the human rights crises in Honduras since the military coup on June 28, 2009, which is most intense in the palm growing region of the country. 

The region with the highest rates of violent repression in Honduras is the Aguan region.  Over 100 campesinos have been killed since 2009. Small communities have been forcibly evicted from their land and their homes and crops burned to the ground. This situation is well documented and tied directly to the African palm production interests of Honduras’ largest land-owners including Miguel Facussé, owner of the Dinant Company which is one of the sponsors of the conference. 

Mr. Facussé, a prominent supporter of the 2009 military coup,  controls 22, 000 acres of land.
In 2011, DEG, the German development bank, cancelled a $20 million loan to Dinant, when FIAN, an international NGO, presented them with a report documenting “evidence of the involvement of private security forces hired by companies owned by Miguel Facussé in human rights abuses and, in particular, in the murder of peasants in Bajo Aguán.”

In May 2012, a public hearing on the human rights situation in Bajo Aguán concluded that the agrarian conflict is the “most serious situation in terms of violence against peasants in Central America in the last fifteen years.”
Our organization has traveled to Honduras many times as human rights observers and documentarians of the situation in the country. We have interviewed numerous survivors of the violence in the Aguan and the families of many of the murder victims, as well as human rights defenders in the country. Everyone tells us the same thing - that the ongoing impunity for perpetrators of human rights violence is increasing the violence. 

It is both urgent and imperative that international organizations such as yours re-evaluate your work in Honduras, and stop endorsing, even indirectly, those who under the slogan of “green, sustainable” development, are building their empires on the bodies of the smallest producers and landless poor. 

I look forward to your response to this email.
 Vicki Cervantes for La Voz de los de Abajo

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Denunciation about repression in Río Blanco and Criminalization of Honduran social movement

Human Rights observers declare: To halt the bloodshed, stop the financing of the Honduran army and police
La Voz de los de Abajo, an international human rights organization that has been accompanying Latin American social movements for more than 14 years, once again denounces before the international community and the Honduran authorities the persistent harassment, repression and criminalization against the indigenous community of Rio Blanco and the indigenous organization with which it is affiliated, the Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). We repudiate with indignation the indictment made against indigenous members of COPINH for their struggle in defense of the Gualcarque River, the community of Río Blanco and the cultural heritage of the Lenca people in the face of the threat from the transnational hydroelectric project Agua Zarca. This legal action is even more cynical because it comes a week after the people who should be facing legal charges – the soldiers and officials of the Honduran army who are openly collaborating with the companies that want to build the dam – shot down an unarmed indigenous person in cold blood.
Tomás García, murdered by the Honduran army during a
peaceful protest against the Agua Zarca dam project
In July we had already expressed our worry about a possible bloodbath if the Honduran government didn’t immediately stop the militarization of the area and the collaboration between the military, police, the hydroelectric companies and their private guards. Exactly as we warned, one week later there were two people dead, one of whom was Tomás García, the aforementioned indigenous man who was killed by a soldier from the army during a peaceful protest. We hold the Honduran government responsible for this killing and once again call for an end to these crimes against humanity against the Lenca indigenous people. These acts are yet another reason why we are pressuring the U.S. congress to cut off aide to the Honduran military and police.
The Lenca indigenous community of Río Blanco through its Indigenous Council has made clear on many occasions its clear and firm opposition to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project. Many times they have expressed that they do not want to see their territory flooded, destroying natural resources of extreme cultural and spiritual importance to the Lenca people. In the face of the initiation of the project by the Honduran company DESA and the transnational Chinese company SINOHYDRO in clear violation of the rights of indigenous communities as laid out in article 169 of the United Nations International Labor Organization, the community decided to defend their rights to their land and resources with an occupation of over 100 days of one of the access roads to the site along the Gualcarque River where the companies want to put the dam.
We visited the community for two days during the month of July and we have interviewed community members, military, police and representatives of the hydroelectric companies during and after that visit. Our investigations have led us to several conclusions based on clear evidence:
·      Without a doubt there is close collaboration between the police, the army the private security and the DESA and SINOHYDRO companies. The military and police advise the private security, sleep and eat in the facilities of the companies and use their vehicles.
·      There is no concrete evidence for the accusations made against the Río Blanco community and other members of COPINH besides the statements of people with a direct interest in the building of the dam and/or the justification for the presence of the police and army.
·      There is an abundance of evidence and documentation of the abuses against the community. Nobody denies that Tomás García was killed by bullets from the army even though he himself was not carrying a firearm. The army does deny the accusations by kids and elders of Río Blanco who say they have had weapons put in their faces and receive constant threats but there are hundreds of members of the community who have been witness to this behavior.
·      The speeches of the COPINH coordinators and other members of the Río Blanco community have always been calls to peaceful and non-violent action to defend the Gualcarque river for environmental, cultural and spiritual reasons. Our delegation saw with our own eyes one of the assemblies in which the same people now facing political charges conducted a democratic and peaceful meeting, never inciting anybody to violence and on the contrary always emphasizing their strong opposition to violence.
·      The authorities have never investigated the possible involvement of third parties interested in the Gualcarque River such as Freddy Nasser, Miguel Facussé and others with interests in the area.
·      The criminalization of the struggle of the people of Río Blanco and other members of COPINH is clearly political in nature and intended to stop their struggle and wipe out their organization. The fact that the same authorities who recently killed in cold blood are now pressing charges against their victims is cynical, nefarious and reprehensible.
Our organization will work with all of our allies from the Honduras Solidarity Network in the United States and will be in communication with congressmen, representatives from the United Nations and other human rights organizations to spread the truth about what is happening in Río Blanco and demand:
·      That those responsible for the human rights violations be investigated, charged and punished
·      An end to the criminalization of social movements and the political legal attack against COPINH
·      Stop economic support for the Honduran army and police until there is respect for human rights

La Voz de Los de Abajo
Chicago, Illinois, United States

Denuncia sobre Río Blanco y criminalización del movimiento social en Honduras

Cuerpo de un joven de Río Blanco después de ser balaceado
por el ejército hondureño durante una manifestación pacífica
Observadores de derechos humanos declaran: Para que no corra más sangre, que cese el financiamiento al ejército y policía hondureño
La Voz de los de Abajo, una organización internacional de derechos humanos que lleva más de 14 años acompañando a los movimientos sociales de Latinoamérica, nuevamente denuncia ante la comunidad internacional y las autoridades hondureñas el persistente hostigamiento, represión y criminalización en contra de la comunidad indígena de Río Blanco y la organización indígena con la cual está afiliada, el Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH). Repudiamos con indignación el requerimiento fiscal levantado en contra de miembros indígenas del COPINH por su lucha en defensa del Río Gualcarque, de la comunidad de Río Blanco y del patrimonio cultural del pueblo Lenca ante la amenaza del proyecto transnacional hidroeléctrico Agua Zarca. Esta acción legal es aún más cínico porque se da una semana después de que la gente que sí debe de estar denunciado y procesado legalmente – los soldados y oficiales del ejército hondureño que están colaborando abiertamente con las compañías que pretenden construir la represa – mataron a balazos en sangre fría a un indígena quien no traía ningún arma de fuego.
En julio nosotros ya habíamos manifestado nuestra preocupación de un posible baño de sangre si el gobierno hondureño no detuviera de inmediato la militarización de la zona y la colaboración entre militares, policía, las empresas hidroeléctricas y sus guardias privadas. Exactamente como advertimos, una semana después hubieron dos muertos, uno de los cuales fue Tomás García, el antemencionado hombre indígena matado por un soldado del ejército durante una manifestación pacífica. Responsabilizamos al gobierno hondureño por este asesinato y nuevamente hacemos un llamado a que se detengan estas violaciones de lesa humanidad en contra del pueblo indígena Lenca. Estos hechos son aún más razón por la cual estamos presionando al congreso norteamericano a cortar el financiamiento al ejército y policía de Honduras. 
La comunidad indígena Lenca de Río Blanco a través de su Consejo Indígena en muchas ocasiones ha manifestado su oposición clara y contundente al proyecto hidroeléctrico Agua Zarca. Han manifestado muchas veces que no quieren la inundación de su territorio y la destrucción de bienes naturales de significado cultural y espiritual importantísimo para el pueblo Lenca. Ante el inicio del proyecto de parte de la empresa hondureña DESA y la empresa transnacional china SINOHYDRO en plena violación de los derechos de las comunidades indígenas bajo el convenio 169 de la Organización Internacional de Trabajo de las Naciones Unidas, la comunidad ha decidido defender sus derechos a la tierra y los recursos con una toma de más de cien días de uno de las vías de acceso al sitio en el Río Gualcarque donde dichas empresas quieren poner la represa.
Nosotros visitamos la comunidad por dos días durante el mes de julio y hemos entrevistado a miembros de la comunidad, militares, policía, y representantes de las compañías hidroeléctricas durante y después de esa visita. Nuestras investigaciones nos han dejado con varias conclusiones basadas en evidencias claras:
·      Indudablemente hay colaboración de cerca entre la policía, el ejército, las guardias privadas y las compañías DESA y SINOHYDRO. Los militares y policía asesoran a las guardias privadas, duermen y comen en instalaciones de las empresas, y usan sus vehículos.
·      No hay ninguna evidencia concreta por las acusaciones hechas en contra de la comunidad de Río Blanco y otros miembros del COPINH aparte de las declaraciones de personas con un interés directo en realizar la construcción de la represa y/o justificar la presencia del ejército y policía.
·      Hay una abundancia de evidencia y documentación de los abusos en contra de la comunidad. Nadie niega que Tomás García fue matado a balazos por el ejército aunque no traía arma de fuego. El ejército sí niega las acusaciones de los niños y ancianos de Río Blanco de que les han puesto armas en sus caras y les amenazan constantemente pero hay cientos de miembros de la comunidad que han sido testigos de dicho comportamiento.
·      Los discursos de los coordinadores del COPINH y demás miembros de la comunidad de Río Blanco siempre han sido llamados a la acción pacífica y no-violenta en defensa del Río Gualcarque por razones ambientales, culturales y espirituales. Nuestra delegación vio con nuestros propios ojos una de las asambleas en que la misma gente que ahora enfrenta juicios políticos conducía una reunión democrática y pacífica, nunca incitando a nadie a la violencia y al contrario siempre enfatizando su fuerte oposición a la violencia.
·      Las autoridades nunca han investigado el posible involucramiento de otros actores interesados en el Río Gualcarque como Freddy Nasser, Miguel Facussé y otros con intereses en la zona.
·      La criminalización de la lucha del pueblo de Río Blanco y demás miembros del COPINH es claramente de naturaleza política con la intención de detener su lucha y desarticular su organización. El hecho de que las mismas autoridades que recientemente mataron en sangre fría ahora levantan cargos en contra de sus víctimas es cínico, nefasto y reprensible.
Nuestra organización trabajará con todos nuestros aliados de la Red de Solidaridad con Honduras en los Estados Unidos y estaremos en comunicación con congresistas, representantes de las naciones unidos y otras organizaciones de derechos humanos para difundir la verdad sobre lo que está pasando en Río Blanco y exigir:
·      Que los responsables por las violaciones de derechos humanos sean investigados, procesados y castigados
·      Que termine la criminalización de los movimientos sociales y que cesen los juicios políticos en contra del COPINH
·      Que se detenga la ayuda económica al ejército y policía hondureño hasta que haya respeto por los derechos humanos

La Voz de Los de Abajo
Chicago, Illinois, Estados Unidos 
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