Honduras coup update May 2013........

Honduras coup update 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. Los Laureles is agrarian reform designated land that today is under dispute between Mocra and Miguel Facussé. 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.

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 Mocsam, killing Valentin 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 shots. Plain clothes men in luxurious cars with guards protection took photos of farmers.

Also, 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 – this 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 Clother 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 threatened with their weapons and insults, forcing these to retrocede.

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 Rigores, a 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). That month, Marvin Arturo was arrested for carrying a handgun that he needed for self-protection, being persecuted. 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 4wheet 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 here. 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 benefiticiaries. 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.

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.