More repression. August 2013 Honduras coup update

COUP SUMMARY August 2013 – the struggles in Honduras continue despite the massive-as-always repression

A summary of political murders in August 2013:

From the indigenous Tolupan community, Montaña de la Flor, that holds an occupation against a mining company in defence of the forests, hitmen assassinated Maria Enriqueta Matute, Armando Funez Medina and Ricardo Soto Funez, on 25/8/13.

In Bajo Aguan, organised MUCA farmer Melvin Amaya was kidnapped and assassinated by hitmen on 6/8/13.

Farmer occupier at Agua Blanca Sur against Azunosa, Felix Corea, was deliberated run over and killed by Azunosa truck, on 10/8/13

Student activist Lenin Bladimir Dubon was assassinated by supposed robbers on 6/8/13.
Attacks against indigenous communities...

New charges and continued threats against anti-dam activists

At Rio Blanco, where highway occupations have continued against Agua Zarca hydroelectricity dam project since 1 April 2013 despite heavy repression including murder, attempt, charges and violente evictions, new charges have been placed against indigenous Copinh leaders Berta Caceres, Aureliano Molina and Tomás Membreño for inciting communities and provoking damages against DESA hydroelectricity company, of $3,359,263. There have also been knowledge of meetings between high state powers with high military commands with owners and executives of the companies, strategising to dismantle Copinh and the blockade.

A massacre...

Little is known, except that in the remote Mosquitia region, on 6/8/13, 17 people, including some foreigners, were killed. Some sources say these also included women and children.

Murders and continued threats, against indigenous communities fighting mine companies
On 5/8/13, in la Nueva Esperanza, Tela, Atlántida, threats and harrassment continued against small landowners, by a group of hitmen led by Wilfredo Fúnez – representative of mining company of Lenir Peréz, forcing Concepción and her family to leave. Other human rights defenders who received threats previously reported further threats this month.

On 25/8/13, in an indigenous Tolupan community called Montaña de la Flor, in Yoro, Locomapa, supposed mining company hitmen assassinated participants of a peaceful occupation against the installation of the mine – Maria Enriqueta Matute (about 60) (San Francisco Campos community), Armando Funez Medina (Las Brisas community) and Ricardo Soto Fúnez (of Cabeza de Vaca N.1 community). Other activists in the community – Ramón Santiago Matute, Consuelo Soto and José Maria Pineda are in grave danger and have been obligated to leave the region. The mining companies are pushing ahead ignoring and literally shooting down community opposition. No environmental impact studies have been carried out. Just days before the murders, 8 members of these communities have been accused and charged for defending the forest over 4 years against the illegal mining. The community has complained of harrassment previously many times, and they point to Selvin Fúnez Matute and Carlos Matute as responsible for the crime – who continue to roam around in impunity, intimidating everyone and searching for all the other indigenous leaders.

Assassinations against organised farmers, and death threat and house arrest

On 6/8/13, at 8.30pm, organised MUCA farmer Melvin Amaya (23) was out doing personal errands in nearby communities when he was kidnapped by hitmen, taken to the Salamá community near Tocoa in Bajo Aguan (palm plantations) where he was assassinated with 3 gunshots in the face. He belongs to Nueva Confianza MUCA cooperative.
On 10/8/13, in El Progreso, Felix Corea was deliberately run over by a truck without numberplates – that according to witnesses was a truck of the sugar company Azunosa. The same truck took him to hospital, but he died before he could be seen by doctors. Felix belongs to CNTC farmers organisation and an occupation against Azunosa, at Agua Blanca Sur. From the same occupation, it was recently known that Felix Torres has been under house arrest and continues to be, since 30/6/13.
Recent death threats against La Via Campesina leader Rafael Alegría have been reported.

Eviction against community near the city

On 23/8/13, at 5am, a contingent of police, and prosecutor arrived at the El Manzanal Comayaguela community, evicting a community with around 300 children, elderly persons, 80 women, some pregnant and others who recently gave birth. The contingent demolished homes and wounded and hospitalised women and men. The community has occupied for over 20 years and is in a legalisation process, and a commitment was signed by Lobo, despite of which, the eviction took place. The evicted community take refuge in make-shift tents of plastic sheets in the rainy weather.

Murder, kidnap and threats against student activists and youths

On 6/8/13, in the afternoon at a bus stop, student activist Lenin Bladimir Dubon (21) had his bag grapped and was assassinated in San Pedro Sula at night, he died in emergency, possibly due to hospital negligence as the hospital ran out of rehydration salts and his dad was sent to get some to stabilise him, and he died while his father was outside buying the salts. Lenin organised students to struggle for freedom and justice and as part of the resistance and towards participative democracy. He was a computers teacher, studied systems engineering at UNAH VS. When in high school, JTR, he was involved in a students occupation of the school more than a year ago and they were taken photos and videos of.

On 8/8/13, LIBRE (political party of resistance) youth general secretary Darwin Barahona was kidnapped by armed men who waved their weapons in his face and threatened another youth leader who was with him. Darwin was released later.
Attack against leader of transgender community

On 8/9/13, Arely Victoria Gómez Cruz – transgender activist and resistance member, was attacked – robbed of her belongings including her shoes and jewellery, after leaving an event sponsored by the government's Secretariat for Justice and Human Rights – a hate crime motivated by her sexual identity, and possibly for her political activism. She was a precandidate in the Libre party primaries who did not win a slot in the final round.

Factory workers dismissed

11 workers (women) were dismissed from maquila Hanes Choloma HBI. They had medical certificates of IHSS for occupational injuries, and were subsequently inhumanely dismissed

Members of the 'justice system' assassinated and attempted against

On 12/8/13, Luis Javier Santos was attempted against, currently in his new role as the Coordinator of Prosecution against Corruption, 5 years ago he was attempted against and threatened and exiled

On 19/8/13, the special forces police Ruben Rolando Mendez Montenegro in charge of investigating attempts against the jousnalist Jose Luis Galdamez Alvarez and his family, was assassinated with gunshots by unknown persons in the capital city. The journalist is anti-coup and exposes businessmen critically. He said he met the police on different occassions on which the police filled him in on the progress of the investigations. Ruben is a police delegate to the granted cautionary measures by IACHR to protect Galdamez and family.

Gunshot at a resistance protest

On 15/8/13, in the afternoon, during a resistance mobilisation, an unknown person opened the window from inside a toyota van PCV7836, pointed and fired a gunshot in the direction of protesters in the mobilisation. Despite this, no deaths or wounds were reported, and the authoriities have not identified the attacker. The resistance protest was against a law to concession natural resources to pay public debt.

NEWS BRIEFS August 2013

Dodgy international organisations supporting companies in Honduras that give death threats to and sometimes kill those who oppose the projects

Different farming and indigenous communities opposing mining and dam companies and living with death threats, asked World Bank, which funds the industry, to stop the funding - but World Bank said the mining projects will not be stopped. The people who attended including members of MADJ, Copinh, MUCA, Proah, a priest, and Nueva Esperanza community members. World Bank only promised to bring to their superiors the complaints.

RSPO, Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil, a group of organisations rubberstamping and whitewashing, giving many palm oil industries the 'sustainable palm oil' stamp, held its 4th conference in Honduras. Friends of the Earth International criticised RSPO certification as a whitewashing act for these industries, that promotes palm oil expansion, and is detrimental to tropical forests and people who looked after the forests. Amongst the organisations of RSPO, perhaps shockingly, is WWF (also, Funderm, SNW and Solidaridad). Amongst the sponsors of the conference in Honduras is Dinant company of Miguel Facussé – who is the richest in Honduras, supported and benefited from the 2009 coup, linked to drug trafficking, and accused of the targetted killing of over 88 members since the coup, of members of farmers organisations in Bajo Aguan – one of the main palm producing regions in Honduras. In Honduras over 300,000 farming families have no access to land. Nationally, over 1081 organised farmers face legal processes against them for 'land usurpation'

Watching the acts of the Honduran congress this month:

Congress unconstitutionally reformed the law on replacing the General Prosecutor and second-in-charge and the replacements decided on, despite protests about this being manipulation of keeping control by current party-in-power. The holders of these positions were suspended in April, and they subsequently resigned and did not finish their four year term that was due to finish in March 2014. The Prosecutors Department Law article 18 says the process is for the prosecutors director to fill in until the end of the current term, and normal appointment procedures would follow with the new congress-in-power. Instead, the congress has nominated an intervention junta that decided on full term appointments (instead of until the end of the current term), naming Oscar Chinchilla – president of constitutional court, who, voted in favour of the neocolonialist model cities law, as the new general prosecutor, and as his second-in-charge, Rigoberto Cuellar – Environmental and Natural resources minister – who signed off on countless mining and dam concessions without environmental impact studies or consent by indigenous communities, to the detriment of both.

Further regressive reforms by congress, this time to the Criminal Process Code, now no corruption crimes can carry jail terms. Curruption crimes examples – appropriation of public funds, fraud, abuse of authority and violation of official's duties. In contrast, crimes like illicit association and terrorism, cannot even get bail.

Municipalisation of water is 3 months from being completed. Information and process is not transparent. In Honduras, municipalisation is not about autonomy for communities but a process to privatise. Frente Ciudadano por el Agua call for the decree and process to be abolished.

Snapshot of solidarity and activism in Honduras this August 2013

Thousands took the streets and marched, on 14th, in the 2 major cities Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, they went from their jobs to the congress, protesting against the law being passed, to pay public debt by concessioning out natural resources. This law is named Ley de Promocion del Desarrollo y de reconversion de Honduras. The same thousands were also there to protest the criminalisation of protest, and to protest the persecution and of threats against social and political leaders. The sell-out law was actually subsequently not ratified by the Lobo regime, although primarily out of fear of implications for the National Party's re-election chances, with the next election around the corner.

Over 200 people from different communities in the municipality of San Isidro, Intibucá, of Movimiento Morazanista del Poder Popular, met up and formed grassroots collectives, on 24/8. They analysed the situation of the world, and of Honduras and of the region, and decided having a long term perspective was important for them, as is the building of participative and democratic processes. Decisions they made included to have popular education processes to nurture democratic leadership and collectives, amongst many others related to actions around gender equity, solidarity with sister communities, strategy, and environmental defence

The communities of La Nueva Esperanza and Rio Blanco both continued their struggles despite continued threats and persecution by the companies (mining and hydroelectricity) and by the police and military and the courts. Despite the severe repression causing including a death by soldier, the Rio Blanco blockade has faced, new communities around Rio Negro have declared they are organising to defend their rivers, inspired by the struggles of Rio Blanco.

A femininst and women's summit was held, with over 200 women from 30 womens organisations and groups from around Honduras participating. They made a declaration that starts like this: we met here to read poetry, to debate, to question, to dance, to sing and laugh, to defy the fear that they impose on us as a life control policy, to propose new ideas and reinforce those we already practise around struggles, worries, hopes and common projects that nourish our diverse political questions as women and feminists...

Alert: Rio Blanco, blockade since 1/4/13 against hydroelectricity dam company imposition, has continued despite - murder, gunshots, charges, - indigenous leader Berta Caceres has court on 20/9/13 and there are heavy concerns that the courts have the intention of making her a political prisoner. Please follow for actions that could be taken