Monday, November 14, 2011

Declaration on the Founding of the Human Rights Observatory in Aguan

(Excerpts from the declaration of November 11, 2011)

We, members of the Honduran Social Movement, the Campesino Organizations of the Aguán, the National Front of Popular Resistance of the Department of Colón and international Human Rights organizations who attended the opening of this Observatory of Human Rights, before the National and International Community declare:

That protected by the fundamental charter of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in international treaties that uphold the fundamental rights of peoples, especially indigenous populations under threat, in the introduction of the Constitution of the Republic and in the Articles 59, 60 and 61 which literally state: that the Constitution guarantees to Hondurans and foreigners residing in the country the right to the inviolability of life, personal security, liberty, equality before the law, and property; the Article 64 also states that the right to life is inviolable; the Article 66 which prohibits the death penalty, and all the other articles relating to claims, rights and individual rights protected by the principle of self-determination and the exercise of popular sovereignty, in the context of permanent violation of human rights of the people of the Department of Colón and the Atlantic Coast of Honduras, especially the climate of terror, murder, persecution of peasant groups in the region and the constant danger that face human rights defenders in front of Court officials, businesspeople and landowners such as Miguel Facussé, Reynaldo Canales and Rene Morales, who are using an army of security guards and murderers to do the work of hired killers.

These landowners, acting under the politic approval of the National Agrarian Institute headed by the Minister Cesar Ham, of the President of the Republic Porfirio Lobo Sosa and his Minister of Security and Defence, are organizing this third militarization of the Lower Aguán, called "Xatruch II ", using conventional war weapons on land as well as helicopters and aircraft armed with destructive weapons that are ready to be used.

In recent months, police, Honduran national army troops, security guards and hired assassins which usually cover their faces with ski masks, carried out drills of massive raids twice on the settlement of the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguán (MUCA), established with the approval of the State and the actual Government in the settlement of Los Marañones, and twice in the settlements of the MUCA of the right bank of the river Aguán, La Confianza, La Aurora and La Lempira; Colonel Espinal, who serves as Commander of Operation "Xatruch II" declared that all the settlements would be intervened to succeed general disarmament.

Against this background which places the human rights of the Aguán population and especially the rural population in a precarious and extremely risky situation, we have decided:

1. To defend the right to life as a fundamental right, to defend human rights of men, women and children living in constant harassment, repression and insecurity.

2. To be present during evictions, raids and military interventions within the framework of the defense of peoples' human rights and of the agrarian conflict.

3. To provide protection of populations and individuals facing threats, suffering persecution and who are permanently the targets of repression.

4. Accompaniment in legal advocacy, medical and legal proceedings related to land conflict.

5. To denounce nationally and internationally the violation of human rights in the region, creating forums and urgent response mechanisms.

6. To bring to trail before national and international legal bodies, those who violate human rights in this region of Honduras.

7. We call upon human rights organizations, the national social movements in Latin America and the world, leading personalities in the defense of human rights and in promoting peace through social and human development, to attend the international gathering of human rights defenders, an event that will take place in this region of Aguán from February 17th to 21st, 2012.

For the right to life, stop the killings of campesinos in Honduras and the Aguán!

Stop human rights violation in the Aguán!

Tocoa, Colón, 11/11/2011.



Thursday, November 3, 2011

Isis Murillo's Family Files Human Rights Case Against Micheletti

November 3, 2011, Houston, TX and New York, NY – Last night, in a human rights case against Honduran coup leader Roberto Micheletti Baín, attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed papers emphasizing that the case is one of the few opportunities for accountability for the wave human rights abuses committed during and in the aftermath of the coup. Micheletti is the former head of the de facto government immediately following the June 28, 2009 military coup that led to systemic attacks on and extrajudicial killings of members of the opposition movement and journalists that continue today. The Center for Constitutional Rights filed the suit on behalf of David Murillo and Silvia Mencías, seeking justice for their son, 19-year-old Isis Obed Murillo, who was shot and killed by Honduran military forces during a peaceful demonstration against the coup.

In last night’s filing, CCR provided extensive documentation illustrating the culture of impunity in Honduras that blocks justice for the violations and that has permitted the attacks to continue under the current government of Porfirio Lobo. An expert report submitted by a Human Rights Watch researcher emphasized that no one has been held criminally liable for the scores of politically motivated killings and other human rights violations that took place under Micheletti and that little to no progress has been made in investigating the violence that has taken place under Lobo since he assumed the role of President in January 2010 after a post-coup election that was widely criticized as illegitimate.

In a statement included in Micheletti’s motion to dismiss the case, the office of the Prosecutor of Honduras asserts that Honduras does not hold Micheletti responsible for Murillo’s death, despite the lack of a full, credible investigation. Yet, even the Honduran Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR), the independence and impartiality of which has been questioned by experts and advocates, found that Micheletti bore responsibility for the killing of Isis Obed Murillo and others. In particular, the CVR found that Micheletti wielded command responsibility and implemented policies and practices that were the driving force behind the excessive use of force by the military and resulting human rights violations. Furthermore, CCR attorneys say the prosecutor’s statement strengthens the Murillo’s claims that the case must be tried in the U.S., because justice is not possible in Honduras given the absolute impunity there for the coup and post-coup abuses.

“Isis was the first victim in what became a systematic and widespread attack on dissent that continues today,” said Center for Constitutional Rights staff attorney Pamela Spees. “The Honduran government’s explicit refusal to hold Micheletti accountable for Murillo’s death – effectively clearing the coup leader’s name without any genuine investigation – highlights the importance of this lawsuit. It is one of very few avenues of accountability left.”

Subsequent to Isis’ killing, the plaintiff and his family were subjected to surveillance and harassment by police and other authorities. This harassment took place in the context of what lawyers describe as intense repression and political persecution that began under Michiletti’s regime that targeted the National Front of Popular Resistance, which formed in opposition to the coup, as well as journalists and other groups standing in opposition.

The filings also make public for the first time a September 11, 2009 U.S. Embassy letter included in an attachment to Micheletti’s motion to dismiss the case that states his visa was revoked due to “the continued resistance of the de facto government to accept the San Jose Agreement and the continuous failure to restore the democratic and constitutional government of Honduras.” Yet the U.S. has since successfully lobbied the Organization of American States to recognize the new government and is reportedly considering reinstating visas for Micheletti and other coup leaders despite any accountability for their illegal actions and the mass repression they presided over. The U.S. also provides funding to the Honduran military and police, who have been implicated in numerous grave human rights abuses, including assassinations, the burning down and bulldozing of nearly the entire town of Rigores, firing live ammunition and other brutal attacks on peaceful protests, and disappearances.

The case was brought under the Alien Tort Statute and is before the Houston Division of Southern District of Texas. To view the motions and for more information on the lawsuit, visit:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

From September 8 - 19, 2011 a delegation of nine people from five states and 7 organizations participated in a human rights accompaniment delegation to Honduras coordinated by Witness for Peace Southwest; La Voz de los de Abajo-Chicago and Task Force on the Americas; all members of the Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN) a national network formed in the U.S. after the June 28, 2009 coup d’état in Honduras. Below is an article by Vicki Cervantes of La Voz de los de Abajo focusing on the situation in the campesino communities the delegation visited.

Three Days in Aguan

Our delegation was in the Lower Aguan River Valley , on the northern coast in the province of Colon , from September 11 - September 14. We visited four campesino communities and in each community we spoke with community members, families of assassinated campesinos, survivors of the violence and with community leaders. We interviewed soldier s and police in the communities, at the road blocks and at the Battalion Headquarters and National Police headquarters in the region about their mission in Aguan. We also visited 3 campesino prisoners being held in the region.

The region of Aguan has long been a center of conflict between organized landless or poor farmers and some of the most powerful wealthy landowners (and coup-plotters) in the country such as the bio-fuel magnate, Miguel Facusse. Since the coup in 2009, there has been an alarming escalation of violence against the campesinos with more than fifty persons murdered in two years. We found communities traumatized by the constant violence and pressure from the land owners’ private armed guards, the national police and the military. The communities are terrorized but also angry at what they call, “open season on campesinos” and frustrated by the continued impunity for violence against their leaders and community members with a complete lack of police investigations or follow-up on any of the deaths of campesinos.

The other theme that dominates discussion is that of the increasing militarization bringing more violence and instability to the region. At the end of our visit to Honduras , the situation was taking an even more ugly turn. On September 16th a soldier and policeman died in what was reported to be an accident with a grenade inside a police vehicle, although the military and police command along with the most conservative pro-coup press prefer the explanation that, “foreign guerrillas have infiltrated the campesino movement and ambushed the military”. While the details of the event remain unpublished, the response of the government has been to suspend constitutional guarantees, give more power to the military and unleash an even bigger military response against civilian agricultural communities in the Aguan.

Aguan Day One - Police Threats

Our first full day in Aguan, we visited the community of Guadalupe Carney but at about 4:30 pm we got an urgent phone call reporting that the national police were threatening the MUCA (Unified Campesino Movement of Aguan) Left Bank community of Los Marañones and asking that the delegation go to that community. {Note: There are two MUCA organizations, one on the left bank of the Aguan River and one on the right bank}. We rushed there and, after an hour’s trip on dirt roads, we arrived at nightfall. The police were gone but community members told us that numerous patrol trucks with soldiers and police in them had arrived at the community gate, threatening to enter. Many families had hidden themselves in the surrounding fields and hills, most had returned when we arrived, but some of the leaders - who are under constant death threats - had gone deeper into hiding. We waited for some time for them to arrive so that we could confirm they were alright. We returned the next day to talk some more and community members explained that the agreement they signed in 2010 with the Lobo government that was to turn over 11,000 hectares of land to the campesinos has never been fulfilled. They have only been given around 3, 000 hectares while Miguel Facusse’s private guards, the national police and the army continually threaten them. According to MUCA members we spoke with there are at least 20 open arrest orders for leaders of MUCA, thy receive constant death threats and the assassinations continue. On August 23, Pedro Delgado, the Vice President of MUCA-Left Bank and his wife were gunned down and then decapitated in their home and on September 2 the body of MUCA member Olvin David Gonzalez Godoy, 24 years old, married and father of an 8-month-old girl was found on the road to Marañones. Since January 2010, 20 or more MUCA members have been killed.* Because of this situation, the MUCA-Left Bank members are very skeptical of the newest negotiations the government is carrying out with the other MUCA-Right Bank communities and another organization, MARCA. The MUCA-Left Bank members told the delegation that the original agreement should be fulfilled by the government and agri-business landowners. The community continues to work to improve the lands that they are on and we saw that the campesinos are building a new cinder block school building for their children despite the threat of further evictions and raids. We were able to spend only a short time with MARCA members; we spoke to the widow and family of the most recent victim of assasinations in Aguan, Secundino Ruiz. Ruiz who was president of one of the MARCA cooperatives, was gunned down in Tocoa while he and the coop’s Treasurer were riding in a car on coop business. The family said that although there were witnesses they were unaware of any follow-up on the case after the initial police interviews.

Guadalupe Carney

Guadalupe Carney is the most established of the communities under attack in Aguan. Their organization the Campesino Movement of Aguan (MCA) has gained legal title to large amount of the land they recuperated in March of 2000 on what used to be the Regional Military Training Center (CREM) but they are still fighting to receive title to the rest of the lands that belong to them. Their longevity and incontrovertible legal claims have not kept them from being attacked by the government’s repressive forces and the private hired guns of the big landowners.

At Guadalupe Carney we met with members of the widow’s group (families of the murdered MCA members). This group includes the widows of the victims of the massacre by Miguel Facusse’s guards on November 15, 2010 which left 5 MCA members dead on their land at a plantation called El Tumbador. We also spoke with survivors of that massacre. The widows, one of whom has 5 small children, receive help from other members of the MCA and the community and do things like cook food to sell in order to survive. The widows and the survivors of the attack told us that the campesinos have returned to work part of the land that belongs to them but that Miguel Facusse has stationed even more private guards on the land that he has taken and that it is very dangerous for the campesinos. They thought that it was so dangerous that they didn’t feel that they could take the delegation to the area. One of the survivors of the massacre, who was shot in the face, told us that the guards opened fire directly at them that day, and as he and some others fled the area they saw as many as 80 more armed gunmen coming down the road towards El Tumbador. The victims said there had not been any serious police investigation and no arrests of any of Facusse’s men for the murders.

We visited the community radio station, Radio Orquedia where a team of mostly young campesinos do their own programming and daily broadcasting. After the Tumbador massacre the first large scale military operation into Aguan, “Operation Xantruch I” brought hundreds of combined military and national police troops into the area. The radio team told us that the troops entered Guadalupe Carney and threatened to destroy the radio station, but the radio was on the air broadcasting the alarm and hundreds of community members came to the station - and the troops withdrew. The army has set up a continuous encampment of soldiers (4-6 at a time) right across from the elementary school in the community. When we asked one of the soldiers why the army was there he told us that it was to protect the community from crime, when he was asked if there was a problem with crime in Guadalupe Carney, he said “no”. At the Battalion Headquarters we were told that the continuous presence at Guadalupe Carney is to “avoid the occurrence of conflicts and to prevent crime”. Community members told us that they don’t believe the soldiers are there to protect the community from anything but see it as an ongoing military occupation. While we were there, soldiers began conducting a class in marching for the older elementary school students getting ready for the official Independence Day school parades. Some of the community members objected and began a heated debate with the school director.

There are close to 30 open arrest orders for members of the MCA and there are currently 3 members being held in jail on spurious charges. During the delegation we met with all three campesino prisoners. While we were at the community we met with the prisoners’ families who asked for continued pressure from human rights groups on the cases for which the police and prosecutors have not been able to present any evidence that can stand up in court. One of the prisoners, Isabel “Chavelo” Morales has been held almost three years without having been convicted of any crime - Honduran law states that two years is the maximum time a person can be held without going to trial. The other two prisoners are young campesinos, Deny Israel Castro (20) and Lelis Lemus Martinez (17) arrested on August 15 - the same day that there were attacks on a nearby community in Los Rigores and a few days after solidarity delegation of women from Guadalupe Carney visited another cooperative in Los Rigores. MCA leaders told us that they feel that the open arrest orders and the arrests are more forms of pressure against the whole community to try to get them to give up and give in to the big landowners.

Los Rigores - Bulldozers, Fire and Helicopters

On June 23 this year the National Police and Army violently evicted 100 families from land they were living on for 10 years, bulldozing and burning homes and churches. Twenty campesinos were detained and released and 13 arrest orders issued and left open. When we arrived in Rigores on September 13th many community members were back on the land and had already begun rebuilding their homes and other buildings. School classes are being held in the part of the school left standing after it was bulldozed in June. Honduran flag bunting was hung around the classroom for Honduran Independence Day decorations on Sept. 15th. Besides the homes, churches and the school, the eviction in June also destroyed most access to potable water. We were shown some small pools of water that the community is using for drinking water to which they have added some “purification powder” that was donated to them. People explained to us that their community and organization, the Campesino Movement of Rigores (MCR), were recognized as having a right to the land under Honduran land law and that the National Agrarian Institute negotiated terms with the family of a now deceased land owner who contested ownership, but that suddenly the man’s heirs want a bigger amount of money. They worry that larger interests are involved.

On September 16th, as the delegation was leaving the Aguan on the way to Tegucigalpa , we received a phone call reporting that a violent raid by troops from Operation Xantruch II was going on in Rigores. The police and army were reported to be smashing belongings, damaging houses and beating the community members. By the end of the evening 21 campesinos were detained at the main police station in Tocoa. Our delegation together with human rights groups in and outside of Honduras began sending out appeals for urgent actions to protect the detainees and making calls to the police station about the safety of the detainees. The campesinos were held for twenty four hours; they were beaten, threatened and told by police that they are going to kill the human rights people “so there is no one to help you”. All 21 were finally released with no charges filed against any of them.

Then, on September 19th, while we were visiting the offices of the Honduran human rights organization, the Committee of the Families of the Disappeared Detainees (COFADEH) a call came in reporting that a helicopter was flying low over Rigores and soldiers were taking pictures. A few hours later, the calls started reporting that police and army troops were attacking the settlement.

I spoke with one of the leaders from Rigores on the phone who described what was going on, “there is a big helicopter with soldiers with heavy caliber rifles hanging out of it; it seems to be landing or trying to land but then it stops and goes up and then comes back down again and again. The soldiers and police came in and took kids and other people and are beating them, dragging them into the palm field s; we don’t know what is happening to them.” Meanwhile the President of the MCR, Rodolfo Cruz reported on another call to a human rights defender that his 16 year son had been grabbed by the soldiers and dragged into the palm fields and when he tried to follow the troops fired their weapons; he didn’t know if his son was being detained or being disappeared.

Later in the evening, human rights representatives arrived at the jail in the town of Tocoa and confirmed that the boy was being held - after hours of pressure, with phone calls coming into the station from international and Honduran human rights groups, he was released at midnight. The next evening he and his father were interviewed on Radio Globo in Tegucigalpa and he confirmed that he had been beaten, tortured, had gasoline thrown on him and been threatened with being set on fire.

As our delegation was ending, the pro-coup newspapers the daily La Prensa (September 17, 20) and La Tribuna (September 20,21,23, 25) had articles with quotes from the Security and Defense Ministries, military command and national police command talking about “armed campesinos”, “foreign guerrillas infiltrating the campesinos” and calling for the suspension of constitutional guarantees for the residents in Aguan, and for a possible extension of judicial powers to the military in the region to issue warrants and court orders to raid communities. The papers tied it to the deaths of the policeman and soldier on the 16th, but there are plenty of indications that a plan an extensive military occupation of Aguan on behalf of the agri-business oligarchy has little to do with that incident. Indeed, when our delegation interviewed a first sergeant who seemed to be in charge of security at the 15th Battalion headquarters and the Officer in charge of the command at the National Police in Aguan, many days prior to the 16th, they spoke of the problem in Aguan being caused by the campesinos, armed groups of campesinos and/or foreigners. Another of the proposals from the government is to use the immigration service to better control foreigners entering the region. This seems more likely to be aimed at human rights observers, international press and accompaniment delegations than at any “armed guerrillas from Nicaragua ”. The need for more accompaniment, delegations and observers is growing as the violence continues - two more campesinos (a woman from COAPALMA in Prieta and a young man from MUCA-Right Bank) were murdered this week and the husband of the woman was seriously wounded -

An important issue is the role of the U.S. government and military in Honduras and specifically in the Aguan. When we talked to Honduran special forces soldiers in the Aguan who are a part of the joint military/police Operation Xantuch II they told us that they are receiving training from the U.S. in Honduras . It has also been confirmed that the U.S. has provided vehicles to the Honduran National Police and Military that have been used in raids against campesino communities. U.S. training and aid to the military and police in the name of “security” is being used against civilian communities on behalf of the landed oligarchy who are themselves implicated in narcotics trade (Wikileaks August 30, 2011 release of 2004 cable from U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa regarding Miguel Facusse’s links to narcotics trafficking ).

The situation in Aguan has its own history and dynamic but is part of the national politics as well. As the FNRP continues to organize and mobilize resistance and the majority of the Frente organizations are moving forward with the formation of a political party for the elections in 2013, the targeted assassinations, threats and legal persecution are being applied in the cities and in the countryside by a desperate oligarchy, supported by U.S. State Department policy.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The following was translated from an original statement in Spanish by COFADEH (below). An article in Spanish on COFADEH's human rights journalism website can be found here.

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras



The Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), with great concern, would like to inform the international community, and the Honduran population in particular, that the practice of forced disappearance is once again being systematically implemented in Honduras, as demonstrated by the following cases.

1. Osmin Obando Cáceres (age 22), son of Eliodoro Cáceres, Coordinator of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) in Tela, department of Atlántida, has been disappeared since Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 4:30 PM when he was driving his taxi and told his family that he couldn't speak to them by phone because he was surrounded by police.

The taxi appeared abandoned that same day around 6:30PM in the community of Los Cedros, in the jurisdiction of Tela.

After his disappearance, the family received false calls, one caller claiming that Osmin was in the hospital in Tela and another that claimed that he was dead in the community of Las Palmas. Relatives went to verify each of the calls and neither was true.

2. Denis Alexander Russel (age 19) was captured in an operation of the Special Anti-Kidnapping Taskforce (GEAS) on July 13, 2010. The operation was commanded by Vice Minister of Security Armando Calidonio and police spokesperson Juan Rochez.

His mother, Carlota Anariva, denounced that the day he was taken away he had been with her buying groceries, and when they returned to the house she left him to park the car and suddenly the neighbours came to tell her that her son had been taken away. He was a student in the Instituto de la Patria in La Lima, Department of Cortés.

3. Luís Alexander Torres Casaleno, detained on July 20, 2010 by police agents while driving his motorcycle, after having passed a police checkpoint on the Corocito highway towards Tocoa, Colón. A few kilometers passed the checkpoint he was detained by four agents of the Preventative Police who were riding in a white unmarked double-cab pick-up truck and crossed in front of him on the highway. Two agents in uniform got out of the truck and put him into the vehicle, leaving his motorcycle behind. The motorcycle was retrieved by the Corocito police shortly afterwards. A habeas corpus was filed in his name and there has been no response to date.

4. Vilmar Edmundo Talavera Avilez, a police officer, was detained by the Border Police (Policía de Frontera y Análisis) on July 15, 2010 when he was riding a bus. He was detained after presenting his identification documents. Before his disappearance he was reportedly threatened by a police officer by the name of Tercero.

5. Samuel Josué Pastrana Molina was kidnapped on February 7, 2011 at 2:30 when armed men with ski masks entered the place he was in the department of El Paraíso, ordered those who were with him to place themselves on the ground and close there eyes, and they took him away.

6. Francisco Pascual López of the Rigores agricultural cooperative in Tocoa, Colón, is disappeared since May 15, 2011.

7. Kelvin Omar Andrade Hernández (age 18), son of political exile Dagoberto Andrade, mysteriously disappeared on June 11, 2011 when he went out to ride his motorcycle in the neighbourhood of Bella Vista in Catacamas, department of Olancho. He has not appeared since.

8. Mauricio Joel Urbino Castro (34), who worked as a taxi driver of taxi number 248 in the city of Ceiba in the department of Atlántida. He was having a problem with the electrical system of the car on August 2, 2011 and at approximately 4:30PM he arrived at a garage that specialized in electrical repairs in the San José neighbourhood of Ceiba to repair the vehicle. At about the same time four men whose faces were covered with ski masks, of large and muscular build, who were carrying long and short barrelled weapons, identified themselves as police and immediately ordered all present inside the garage to get on the ground, shouting “we're the police – hit the floor!” while they kicked the garage owner.

They then proceeded to beat Mauricio Joel Urbina Castro, fastened his hands behind him, and violently removed him from the garage, forcing him into a grey double-cab pick-up truck with heavily tinted windows and without liscence plate which was waiting in the street. He has not been seen since and his cellphone has never been answered since.

9. Oscar Elías López Muñoz (49) was kidnapped by masked men around 5:00 AM on Sunday August 21st in the Suyapa neighbourhood of Chamelecón in the North of Honduras. The men arrived in three cars and broke down the doors of his home, where López Muños was with his wife and ten year-old daughter. They said they were agents of the National Department of Criminal Investigation (DNIC). They were wearing hoods and ski masks.

10. José Reynaldo Cruz Palma, president of the Community Council (Patronato) of Planeta Neighbourhood in San Pedro Sula. According to his family members he was kidnapped on August 30, 2011 by agents of the DNIC and Preventative Police when he was travelling by public transport along with his wife Nubia Carvajal between La Lima, Cortés and their home in the neighbourhood of Planeta.

The bus he was riding in was intercepted by various agents of both police forces who were driving in two vehicles, one was a grey Mazda double-cab pick-up truck with the partial licence plate BP50 and the other was a patrol vehicle of the Preventative Police. The uniformed agents got on the bus, said to his wife that the problem was not with her but with her partner, and took him by force.

In light of these facts COFADEH has filed the corresponding denunciations but to date the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, and state investigative bodies have maintained a conspiratorial silence and have not taken any action in any of these cases.

COFADEH is accompanying these new families who are regrettably suffering this torturous journey and hold the State of Honduras responsible for the re-implementation of this despicable practice, which is a crime against humanity and was carried out in the 1980s against our relatives, who we are still looking for. The people responsible for these crimes continue to benefit from impunity and many are still part of the failed institutions of this country.



Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Militarization and Murder in Aguan

TAKE ACTION NOW: In the United States -

Call and write to the Department of State: Call Benjamin Gedan, Honduras Desk Officer, at (202) 647-3482, or email him at:

Tell him that it is a violation of US law for US-supplied weapons to be used to repress civilian populations and that you demand that the US cut off all military and police aid and training to Honduras’ security forces.

Send a copy of the HSN Statement to your Representative and two Senators and tell them you support the demand to cut off military and police aid and training.

CONGRESS: to contact your member of Congress

SENATE: to contact your Senators, or Call: 202-224-3121 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Honduras Solidarity Network

Condemns the Militarization and Murder in the Aguan Region of Honduras

August 22, 2011

The latest wave of violence and death in the region of Aguan in Honduras underscores the fact that justice and reconciliation in Honduras are not on the agenda of the Lobo regime, the Honduran oligarchy or the U.S. government. Instead the plan in the countryside is for more militarization and violence and more power to the powerful agricultural oligarchy and agro-corporations, and for the destruction of the campesino movement.

Just this week 11 people were killed and numerous others wounded in the lower Aguan River Valley on the northern coast of Honduras. The Lobo government is now sending more than 600 troops to the already militarized region and threatening to send as many as 1,000 which would bring the military force in the region to at least 1500. The new troops include members of the battalions trained by the U.S. and which participated in the invasion of Iraq. While the Honduran army and government officials accuse the campesinos of being part of guerrilla groups and blaming them for the violence, the pattern of death and violence in Aguan clearly shows that the campesino communities are the targets of an official campaign of repression and extermination.

Since the coup d’état on June 28, 2009 more than 44 campesinos and activists have been murdered in the Aguan region by military, police and private security forces. Campesino cooperatives have been attacked, forcibly evicted, homes and co-ops destroyed and their members harassed and arrested. Campesino leaders have received death threats, and have been kidnapped and tortured as well as murdered.

On August 14th a campesino cooperative was attempting to occupy lands on the Paso Aguan estate that they believe qualify for land reform distribution under Honduran law but that are currently occupied by the Dinant Corporation palm oil plantation. Witnesses report that 40 private Dinant security and 120 soldiers from the 15th Army Battalion quickly arrived (army troops are using trucks donated to the military by the U.S. government in 2010) . They surrounded the campesinos and opened fire leaving one 17 year old campesino and 5 private security guards dead. Witnesses also say that all the victims were killed by the same military issued rifles. The campesinos are members of the Campesino Movement Los Rigores. A long time established community of the Los Rigores movement was attacked by the state police and private security guards for the palm oil industry on June 23, 2011. More than 100 homes were burned to the ground, crops and animals were destroyed and close to 100 families were left as landless refugees.

On August 15th a pick-up truck full of people leaving the Institute for Agrarian Reform drove past the Dinant Corporation processing plant gates and were fired on, leaving 5 people dead. The INA offices are most often kept busy by campesinos coming and going in pursuit of land conflict resolutions and there are numbers of campesino families who are living their after being illegally evicted, but the murdered people were actually working to distribute Pepsi promotional materials. The Dinant guards were seen at the plant gates immediately prior to the armed attack on the truck.

On August 17th, guards reported to be employees of the owner of Dinant, Miguel Facusse, opened fire on campesinos working on the Salama Cooperative, seriously wounding 3 of the peasants.

The Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN) condemns the violence against the campesino communities in Honduras and the latest and ongoing militarization of the region of Aguan.

We are deeply concerned about the campaign against the campesino organizations including the media campaign by Honduran officials accusing well known leaders of the Unified Campesino Movement of Aguan (MUCA) and another organization, MARCA of being responsible for the violence on August 14th (although that land recuperation was not even affiliated to the MUCA or MARCA). This media campaign also accuses the MUCA, MARCA and other established and well known organizations such as the Campesino Movement of Aguan (MCA) of being armed guerrillas. We understand that land conflicts in the region can never be resolved without meaningful land reform and economic justice. We understand that the purpose of the Honduran government's accusations is to justify increasing violence against the poor campesinos and their organizations and to support the idea that the United States and other countries should continue and even increase military and security aide to Honduras.

The United States government is one of the principal supporters of the continuation of the coup through the regime of Porfirio Lobo and the principal supplier of military and security equipment, money and training to the Honduran military, national police and other security forces. From the tear gas canisters fired at teachers and students in the cities to the trucks, training programs and even weaponry our tax dollars are being used to violate human rights and perpetuate violence.

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Member organizations of the HSN

8th Day Center for Justice (Chicago, Illinois)

Agricultural Missions

Alliance for Global Justice

Center for Constitutional Rights

Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America – CRLN (Chicago, Illinois)

Collectivo Graciela Garcia (Los Angeles, California)

Comite de Solidaridad Seattle-Honduras (Seattle, Washington)

Friends of Honduras (Seattle, Washington)

Friendship Office of the Americas

Hands off Honduras (Minneapoli/St Paul, Minnesota)

Honduras Accompaniment Project – Friendship Office of the Americas

Hondureños por la Democracia

(Washington, D.C.)

Interfaith Committee on Latin America (St. Louis, Missouri)

International Action Center

International Socialist Organization

La Voz de los de Abajo (Chicago, Illinois)

Latin America Grassroots International

Latin America Solidarity Organization - LASO

Madre Tierra (Florida)

Task Force on the Americas (California)

Milwaukee Latin America Friendship Committee (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

National Lawyers Guild Task Force on the Americas

Portland Central America Solidarity Committee – PCASC (Portland, Oregon)

Proyecto Hondureño (Boston, Massachusetts)

Rhode Island Mobilization Committee to Stop War and Occupation – RIMC (Rhode Island)

Rights Action

School of Americas Watch– SOAW (various regions)

Sister Cities U.S. - El Salvador

(various cities)

SOA Watch South Florida

Tonatierra (Phoenix, Arizona)

US Peace Council

USA Hondureños en Resistencia (New York, New York)

Witness for Peace (various regions

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Another Campesino Murdered: Two more in police custody

Early this morning, Sunday August 14, campesinos from the Movimiento Campesino Colonia Nueva Vida de Rigores, occupied the Empresa Palmera Panama, ten minutes from the community Rigores in Trujillo, Colon. Shortly afterwards palm company security forces and the military launched an attack, opening fire on the campesinos, killing 17 year old Javier Melgar. Authorities in Colon have refused to recover the body and the palm company security forces refuse to allow Melgar's family to recover the body. On Saturday, August 13, palm security forces and military, believed to be the same forces responsible for today's attack, opened fire in the Rigores community. The same day in the nearby community of Guadalupe Carney, home to the Campesino Movement of the Aguan, seventeen year old Lenikin Lemos Martinez and eighteen year old Denis Israel Castro were beaten by police, arrested and charged with murder in what their neighbors claim are false, politically motivated charges. On Tuesday, August 9 the MCA had visited Rigores with a women's brigade from the Via Campesina. The community of Rigores was violently evicted and over 100 homes burned on June 24 by police and irregular security forces that also work for palm plantations. On July 1 the same forces again attacked the community, burning homes that families were attempting to rebuild, but the presence of an international observation delegation deterred further violence. Again, on August 2, police and private security forces perpetrated an armed attack on the community wounding a man from a neighboring community, Ariel Lara. Since the year 2005 Rivera has requested eviction orders but all had been suspended by courts. On May 15, 2011 Francisco Pascual Lopez, a farmer from the neighboring community of Rigores was tending his cattle when, according to an eye witness, security guards working for Miguel Facuse shot Pascual in his land, and then dragged him alive into the Finca Panama. The witness ran for help, and even though community members found a trail of blood police refused to enter the Finca Panama to locate the injured man. The Finca Panama belongs to Honduran palm oil businessman Miguel Facuse who over the past twenty years has acquired enormous extensions of land in the Aguan often through fraudulent, illegal and violent means. Campesino organizations in the region had been immersed for decades in legal and political processes for the recognition of their land rights. Following the June 28, 2009 military coup the political and legal processes hit the wall of impunity created as part of the coup, and communities began occupying lands. From a report by Annie Bird, Co-Director of Rights Action.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Declaration by COPINH:Impunity and Human Rights Violations Reign in Honduras

Versión original en español

The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) makes the following declaration in view of the sistematic repression and human rights violations which have been manifested recently through the following condemnable acts:

1. The assasination of Nery Orellana, community broadcaster, manager of Joconguera Community Radio and correspondent with Radio Progreso, who was killed by multiple bullet wounds on Thursday, July 14th in the municipality of Cadelaria in the department of Lempira.

2. The assasination of our Luis Alonso Ortiz, president of the Marañones peasent cooperative, and Constantino Morales, director of the Isla I peasent cooperative. Both were leaders of the “Left Bank” (Margen Izquierda) of the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan (MUCA), and these assasinations bring the total number of murders by hired criminals believed to be connected with business magnate Miguel Facusse and other large landowners in the region to 45.

3. Faced with constant death threats, citizens connected with the popular resistance movem

ent for the refoundation of Honduras continue to leave the country. This list now includes Father Fausto Milla and his assistant Denia Mejía.

4. The detention of Enrique Flores Lanza, former Minister of the Presidency under the constitutional government led by Manuel Zelaya Rosales, member of the Political Commission of the National Front of Popular Resistence (FNRP), and party to the Cartegena de Indias Accords. This is no less than “judicial work for hire” that reflects the political persecution carried out by t

hose behind the coup, who continue to control the powers of the state.

5. The detention of Carlos Amador, environmentalist and leader of the Siria Valley, who was freed, but along with many other leaders in the region who also oppose mining giant Entre Mares, has charges pending against him for opposing forestry exploitation that will further d

evastate life in that region of Honduras.

6. Impunity and injustice against Edwin Róbelo Espinal, victim of numerous detentions, threats and torture carried out by repressive state forces. Edwin remains in a state of defencelessness before the justice system along with its other victims.

7. New threats of community evictions and legal proceedings against dozens of peasents on the peninsula of Zacate Grande who are struggling to preserve the lands where they were born and continue to live.

8. The repeated deportation of catholic priest Andrés Tamayo, who has struggled for the defense of community forests in the department of Olancho and against the coup d’état.

9. The murder, under suspicious circumstances, of singer and popular movement activist Daniel González, better known as Jeronimo.

10. Concessions of natural resources of various indigenous communities in Honduras in the interest of the construction of hydroelectric dams, mineral exploitation, tourism investments, charter cities, forestry exploitation, privatization of forests for carbon capture (REDD) and the sale of oxygen, and other

capitalist projects. All this has been done without consultation, and with or without decree work is being carried out towards these ends, all in clear violation of Convention 169 of the ILO, the historic rights and autonomy of Indigenous Peoples, and various community and municipal agreements that express the clear rejection of these projects of domination and looting. We denounce that the responses of the community when faced with this have bee

n met with militarization, threats, arbitrary detentions and other persecution.

While the human rights violations and repression persist, those responsible for the coup d’état continue to calmly occupy their positions of power and enjoy the privileges of private security for themselves and their families, security which costs the state of Honduras millions of lempiras and includes designing strategies of persecution against victims.

COPINH denounces these acts and warns that the situation in Honduras is getting worse and there exists very real possibilities for it to culminate in further crimes – the political crisis is already at the point in which the President is denouncing death threats.

COPINH urges the international community to remain alert to the events in Honduras and to demand an end to the repression and human rights violations.

COPINH expresses its solidarity with all brothers and sisters who suffer repression as a result of their struggles and makes a call to the international community to strengthen its solidarity with the Honduran people.

COPINH holds the Organization of American States (OAS) responsible as an accomplice in human rights violations since the state of Honduras was reincorporated into its membership, despite not having demonstrated any advances in the defence of and respect for human rights and, on the contrary, continuing policies of repression.

Finally, COPINH makes a call for unity in the struggle of the Honduran people, so that we do not remain defenseless in the face of brutal repression and human rights violations.

Declared in La Esperanza, Intibucá on the 18th of July, 2011.

¡With the ancestral strength of Lempira, Iselaca, Mota and Etempic

a we raise our voices full of life, justice, liberty, dignity and Peace!

¡Lempira is not just a name, Lempira is an entire people!

Lempira lives and is with us until the end.


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