Friday, February 7, 2014

Chabelo Morales Privado de Justicia - Justice Denied for Chabelo Morales

En Español abajo

Chabelo Morales Justice Denied
Declaration by La Voz de los de Abajo, Chicago

We reject and condemn the guilty verdict issued today by the judges in court in La Ceiba,
Honduras against the compañero, member of the Campesino Movement of the Aguan (MCA), Jose Isabel “Chabelo” Morales Lopez.

As close observers of Chabelo’s case and of this trial, we recognize
that the so-called evidence presented against him was based on
distortions and outright fabrications. Witnesses for the prosecution
changed their testimony dramatically from previous statements in
order to implicate Chabelo, and the prosecution put all campesinos and
the campesino movement on trial.

The verdict reflects the power of landowner and National Police official
Henry Vicente Osorto and of the most powerful landowners in
Honduras who lead the campaign to characterize campesinos as
“criminals” and “terrorists”; it is not based on any concrete proof of
Chabelo’s involvement in the death of Carlos Manrique Osorto that
occurred on August 3, 2008 in Silin, Honduras.

Chabelo, his family and his supporters have been repeatedly
threatened during the entire 5 years in which this injustice has
persisted. We hold the Honduran authorities responsible for their
safety and security. We also recognize that the agrarian conflicts
causing so much violence and suffering will only be resolved through a
just, integral agrarian reform based on inclusion of the poorest and
most unprotected campesinos, and for that also we hold the Honduran
authorities responsible.

We call on human rights defenders, solidarity activists, and all those
who seek real justice and inclusion to speak out now and to support
the continuing struggle for “Liberty for Chabelo”.

La Voz de los de Abajo
February 7, 2014 17:40
Chicago, Il, USA

Chabelo Morales Privado de Justicia

Declaración de La Voz de los de Abajo, Chicago

Rechazamos y condenamos el veredicto de culpabilidad
emitido por los jueces de la corte en La Ceiba, Honduras, en
contra del compañero, miembro del Movimiento Campesino de
Aguan (MCA), José Isabel “Chabelo” Morales López.

Como observadores cercanos del caso de Chabelo, y de el juicio en su contra,
reconocemos que la pretendida evidencia presentada en su contra esta basada
en distorsiones y declaraciones inventadas. Los testigos de la fiscalía
cambiaron sus testimonios dramáticamente de los que presentaron
anteriormente con el fin de implicar a Chabelo y la fiscalía puso en juicio a la vez
a todos los campesinos y su movimiento.

El veredicto refleja el poder del terrateniente y oficial de la Policía Nacional
Henry Vicente Osorto y de los terratenientes mas poderosos de Honduras que
encabezan la campana para caracterizar a los campesinos como “criminales” y
“terroristas” y no esta basado en ninguna prueba concreta de la participación
de Chabelo en la muerte de Carlos Manrique Osorto que ocurrió en 3 de agosto
del 2008 en Silin, Honduras.

Chabelo, su familia y todos los que lo apoyamos hemos sido amenazados
durante los 5 anos durante los cuales esta injusticia ha perdurado. Hacemos
responsables a las autoridades de su seguridad y protección. También
reconocemos que los conflictos agrarios que causan tanta violencia y
sufrimientos solo se resolverán a través de una reforma agraria justa e integral,
basada en la inclusión de los mas pobres y mas desprotegidos campesinos, y
de ello también responsabilizamos a las autoridades en Honduras.

Hacemos un llamado a los defensores de derechos humanos, a los activistas de
la solidaridad, y a todos aquellos que buscan una justicia e inclusión verdaderas
a pronunciarse ahora y a apoyar la lucha que continua por la “Libertad para

La Voz de los de Abajo
Febrero 7, 2014 a las 17:40
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Perjury, Prejudice and Influence = Injustice

February 5th Chabelo’s Trial 
Campesinos of the Aguan - Seminario FIDES 2012

I arrived back in Chicago yesterday; this report is based on information from notes and reports by Dunia Perez of ERICSJ and Greg McCain, a human rights observer in the Aguan as well as a phone interview with Chabelo’s family today. Today the defense and prosecution  present their closing arguments- a verdict may come as early as tomorrow -- V. Cervantes

Yesterday (February 5) the landowner who started violence in the land dispute with the campesinos of Guadalupe Carney, Police Subcommander Henry Vicente Osorto testified. According to those present in the courtroom the prosecution created major theatrical effect -- previously they complained that he was not answering the orders to appear---  while everyone (except the judges) was in the courtroom for a supposed 8:30 am start, nothing happened until 9:30 am. The judges entered at that time and the prosecution introduced Osorto as the next witness. The defense team was not notified that Osorto was going to show up. 

Most shocking was Osorto’s testimony - he blatantly contradicted his testimony and statements made for the 2010 trial. He was not present at the confrontation but has testified that he had phone conversations with family members who were there including Carlos Manrique Osorto the man that Chabelo is accused of killing. The 2010 testimony by Henry Osorto was only that Carlos Manrique said there were campesinos surrounding the house , noise, etc. without mentioning any names at all.  But in Wednesday’s testimony he claimed that he asked Carlos Manrique if he recognized anyone and was told that “Jose Isabel Morales” was the one who shot him and furthermore Henry claims now that Chabelo took the phone from Carlos Manrique while talking to Henry and told Henry “ see what we have done to your family, you think you are so big”.  The defense team moved to declare the testimony invalid but despite the clear the contradictions. The judges ruled against the defense.  

Chabelo's mother shares family photos
with La Voz delegation - 2010
There were other inconsistencies between Wednesday’s testimony and 2010. In 2010 Osorto testified that in general the campesinos were peaceful neighbors but this time he made long statements about how the campesinos are terrorists; he verbally attacked the campesino organization MUCA (who are not at Guadalupe Carney) as having terrorist cells and accused Chabelo of having brought in others from outside to carry out a massacre. This “new testimony” comes straight out off the pages of the propaganda campaigns waged against MUCA, the MCA and other campesinos since the 2009 coup by the giant land owners in the Aguan such as Miguel Facusse and the Honduran military command in the Aguan (most recently, Coronel German Alfaro). It is worth remembering at this point that the conflict between Osorto and the Campesino Movement of the Aguan (MCA) arises from illegal sales/purchases by ex-military and police official s such as Osorto and later landowners like Miguel Facusse of the land that was part of a military base run by the U.S. for training and operations for the Honduran and Salvadoran military and the Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980's. The base was closed in 1985 and the land became Honduran government (public) ruled as eligible for land reform distribution to the poor and landless campesinos. 

During Wednesday's session Chabelo's defense lawyers also objected to the fact that this testimony by Henry Osorto as well as the changed testimony by the prosecution’s other witnesses and other “evidence” was a surprise to them as the prosecution had not informed them of this “new evidence” as required. 

Ceremony for campesinos murdered in the Aguan Valley
 since the coup - at least 120 to date.
As I write this, I remember a meeting with the organization “Lawyers in Resistance” in 2011 in San Pedro Sula in which a young lawyer told us that he and other lawyers formed that organization to figure out "how to practice law in a country in which there is no rule of law".

We can only hope that justice will prevail tomorrow when the verdict is expected. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Reports from Honduras - February 3-4

Report from Honduras - Chabelo’s Trial  Day 5-6
February 3-4   Many thanks to Dunia Aracely Pèrez for use of her notes
text and photos by V. Cervantes

Both the defense and prosecution are continuing to present evidence (supposed evidence in the case of the prosecution); more prosecution witnesses have also appeared, mainly policemen and forensic experts. As has been the case from the beginning the prosecution has continued to present evidence that proves  that there was a confrontation with many weapons resulting in the deaths of 11 people - unrelated to the specific charges against Chabelo. 

The courthouse in La Ceiba
However it was notable that on February 3rd, a policeman from the investigatory unit of the National Police out of Tegucigalpa (DGIC) gave testimony that was different from his testimony at the earlier trial and hearing in 2010 and different from the written affidavit that he signed. In 2010 he stated that the witness he interviewed (the protected witness A2 that I mentioned in an earlier blog) told him that Chabelo was the one who opened the gas cans to start the fire and said nothing about Chabelo being related to the death for which he is charged (Carlos Manrique Sorto Castillo). But this time, he testified that the witness told him that Chabelo also killed Pedro -- which is the same change in testimony made by the protected witness A2 at this trial - also different from his testimony at the 2010 trial. When the defense asked the police officer why the information sworn to now is not in the affidavits and testimony of 2010, he said he didn’t know. As I reported in earlier blogs, other witnesses have testified that Chabelo went to the scene after 4pm, was not close to the house, and only went to find the body of his friend Arnulfo Guevara who was killed in the confrontation. I can only speculate that someone decided that the original dubious testimony didn’t implicate Chabelo enough so they changed it. The defense lawyers were finally able to state for the record that there were serious inconsistencies and contradictions in the testimonies.  

Today (February 4th) the defense presented a video that was taken the day after the confrontation when police were supposed to be investigating the crime scene and removing bodies. The video shows all kinds of policemen, press, and other individuals coming and going all over the property and surrounding area, walking around even where crime technicians were working etc. The defense introduced the video to show the massive contamination of a crime scene, noting that there were also objects seen in the video that were not on the inventory list of items found (a big blue container for example) and that there was a pile of burnt weapons (they looked like  AK47s) just laying out in the open and that the bodies were not being examined and removed by forensic or other medical personnel as required. The response from the prosecution was that “all crime scenes are contaminated” and that “humans aren’t perfect”.

The landowner and police official who began the war with the campesinos, Henry Vicente Osorto was supposed to testify since last week but has not shown up despite being ordered to do so by the court and despite many messages being sent to the National Police in Juticalpa, Olancho where he is the departmental chief. He is again expected tomorrow along with some additional forensic doctors. 

Once the witness and evidence presentations are through the procedure will be for Chabelo to speak on his own behalf and then the concluding arguments of the defense and prosecution. The 3 judge panel supposedly has to decide the case in 2 days but the  defense expects that the decision will come down on Friday. 
Interview with Magdalena Morales, Regional Secretary of the CNTC in Yoro 
February 4, 2014

“In this country only the powerful have justice, not the poor” 

I spoke with Magdalena via telephone to get an update on her case.  She is charged with usurption of land, inciting protest and inciting the land occupation, and with "destruction of property" - all of this based on the fact that the CNTC is supporting the struggle of its members and members of the Association Pro-Development for the Campesinos of Progreso (ADCP) in Progreso, Yoro against the multinational sugar company, AZUNOSA, which occupies land that was declared to be eligible for land reform. She is one of more than 3,000 members of the CNTC facing criminal charges related to the land struggles. 

Magdalena in November 2013 
Magdalena told me that despite the fact that  the sugar company AZUNOSA has agreed to negotiate with the campesino organizations, she is still facing charges. Her next scheduled  court date in February 11th and she has been told that she may have to pay 12, 000 lempira (about 600 US Dollars) even if a solution is reached and she is no longer charged. She also told me that during the negotiations AZUNOSA keeps saying that a solution  is near but they have not made any concrete proposals. Meanwhile the campesinos continue living under tarps and in shacks on government land next to the land that should be theirs but remains heavily guarded by private guards, police and military. Just yesterday there was another attempt against one of the campesinos - he was walking to the highway to catch a bus near the land recuperation when a car tried to run over him. Luckily he escaped; another member of the campesino group was killed in a similar incident in 2013. 

Magdalena expressed her thanks for the international support and the publicity given to her case and the  CNTC and ADCP campesinos. She denounced the fact that the politicians pay no attention to the social problems of poverty and land reform and that in the justice system only the powerful and rich find justice. 
Related Posts with Thumbnails