Honduras coup summary of January 2014


Honduras coup summary of January 2014

News relating to persecution

An assassination, capture, and threats against indigenous defenders

On 21/1/14 in the afternoon, in Jesús de Otoro, Intibucá, indigenous activist Justo Sorto Sorto was brutally assassinated – with 3 bullet wounds of a high calibre weapon, in the head, chest and right thumb. He is permanently in struggle defending nature, rivers and territories, involved in grassroots organising and working with communities with love. Justo was an active Copinh member for 20 years, he more currently is a founding member of both Movimiento Morazanista del Poder Popular and of the Coordinadora Indigena del Poder Poular de Honduras, and was a member of Libre party and the resistance. He headed the struggle against the Tigre dam, and before and after the 2009 coup had been beaten up by repressive forces and had his journalist equipment destroyed and confiscated a few times when he worked with community radios. He left behind spouse Gladis, mum Mirtala, dad Candido, children, relatives, loved ones, and the Yance community.

On 26/1/14, at midday, in Intibucá, Copinh coordinator Berta Caceres was detained by police for an hour before she was freed. They stopped her when she was driving, at the turnoff to the Utopia social centre of Copinh – which does not usually have checkpoints. They asked to search her car without reason. They showed her a court issued capture order and arrested her, even though on 9/1/13 her and two compañeros who have court processes against them, received news that the cases of the company DESA with Intibucá DPP against them were provisionally dismissed. The three continue to await both written confirmation of this court decision and the complete dismissal of the cases against them. Meanwhile Copinh reports cyberattacks and other harrassment and militarisation.

On 26/1/14, in El Potrero, La Paz, it was reported that there are threats against the physical and emotional integrity of different compañeras and compañeros who since 5 December 2013 began a process to control territory and stopping machinery of Los Encinos hydroelectrical company and Aurora Company. The community is organised as Movimiento Indigena Lenca de la Paz – MILPA (cornfield). Milpa proclaimed that they are not occupying highways, because they are controlling territory which is indigenous territory. They protested the mayor for having allowed the companies, which planned to start work in December. Aurora company is of Gladys Aurora, current Nationalist MP.

On 30/1/14, a group sent by defacto Mayor José Socorro Sanchez Manueles threatening eviction tried to enter the council building which has since 25/1/14 been occupied by hundreds of organised community members of the Opalaca community. The community has been occupying to denounce that the ex mayor had continued in power fraudulently and sworn in his party's members, taking power by buying credentials, blackmail, intimidation and aggression – in the past term Socorro had looked after interests of the hydroelectricity companies (Terra, Enersa, Rios Power, etc) that wanted to privatise rivers, and wanted to facilitate the privatisation of rivers for REDD+ projects, both opening the community to mining threats.

Nueva Esperanza on alert again from mining predators

On 29/1/14, the Nueva Esperanza community became on alert again after a period of rest from being under siege by Mining company La Victoria and Honduran police most of 2013, as a vehicle of Minerales Lempira of businessman Gustavo Urrutia entered the community. When community members interviewed car occupants, they identified as employees of Minerales Honduras Ore Company (that could be either another name of Minerales la Lempira or another company of Gustavo Urrutia). The car occupants gave as their names José Heriberto Rojas Zelaya, Wilson Eulalio Cruz, German Leonel Andino Pinto and Carlos Armando Tosta Cantarero. From the threats in 2013, Inter American Court of Human Rights ordered the Honduran government to provide protection measures for 18 people who are leaders and human rights defenders of or who work a lot with the community who had received grave threats because of their work in opposition to mining projects being developed there.

The judicial and policing system persecuting organised farmers

On 10/1/14, at 8am, 8 armed men with military uniform on a white Nissan Frontier, detained Gregorio Chavez movement leader Sergio Calix, outside his own home at the community Los Leones of Trujillo, Colon. They told Sergio he was under arrest without showing any capture orders, and took him to Trujillo police station where they said they would keep him for 6 hours. More than 7 hours later, he asked why they detained him, they said they had a capture order, for 'land usurpation'.

On 30/1/14, it was the third day of a long trial against organised farmer, Chabelo Isabel Morales, who has been falsely accused of murder and illegally held prisoner now for over 5 years and 4 months. While it would be severely oppressive to be held without sentence for 2 years, that is the limit of the law. The trial progress with judges and prosecution ignoring that the key witness had given a false testimony, as this witness contradicted his own testimony and ended up confirming Chavelo's testimony about what he did after the confrontation with landowner Osorto's guards.

Threat to a journalist

Radio Journalist Marvin Ortiz received threatening twitter messages by current Education Minister Marlon Escoto including on after 27/1/13, that said, 'I will go to look for you so you can comment on why you insult me and if I owe you something', from twitter account @escoto_marlon. This was sent because on his program Marvin had questioned him on topics like free school fees, repression against organised teachers and about the court decision that nullified the legal move made by the education minister that would have been unfavourable to teachers.

Transgender sex worker killed

On 7/1/14, a transgender sex worker was found dead in San Pedro Sula – since the beginning of December 2013, 9 sex workers have been found dead in San Pedro Sula.

Criminalisation of watchdogs

On 31/1/14, Alianza por la Paz y Justicia coordinator Josúe Murillo, for their positiion and report critical of the weak police reform process by the authority responsible DIECP, was faced with an intimidating response showing intolerance by the head of DIECP Eduardo Villanueva, in summoning Josue Murillo to make an official declaration in court on the public statements Murillos made on 28/1/13 in an interview with Radio Cadena Voces about high police officials commissioning crimes.

Other News from January 2014

Anti-people decisions and laws made in people's name this January 2014

Honduran congress approved Ley de Secretos Oficiales and Clasificacion de la Informacion, giving powers to classify and reserve information to the president, the national council of defence and security, the secretaries of state, and heads of state entities. Not only does this violate international human rights conventions, freedom of information rights, and make the department of freedom of information (IAIP) redundant, it also exposes journalists and media outlets to being charged for treason and sedition should they reveal information that is classified.

Reforms to the new teachers pension law Ley del Inprema was approved by the congress in December and is waiting for executive power approval – this reform would appropriate the finance of teachers of around $150 million, violates international union rights, and would be another move to privatise Inprema. Teachers previously had to contribute 8% to their superranuation, with the reform they would have to contribute 12%

Honduran government gave the concession to BG groups to explore for petrol over 35,000km² of the Mosquitia coast: British Gas Risks Fueling Dirty War in Killing Fields of Honduras by Michael Gillard http://www.spinwatch.org/index.php/issues/climate/item/5598-british-gas-..., adjacent to which the EITI department is now negotiating with Chevron to explore 38,000 km² for petrol and natural gas. This ignores the history and reputation of Chevron for grave human rights and environmental violations, that have included assassinating activists http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowoto_v._Chevron_Corp., judicial persecution against activists, email espionage against activists, journalists and lawyers, oil spills and accidents http://brainz.org/15-deadliest-us-corporations/

Security Minister has stopped giving data on incidences and statistics of violence in Honduras to Observatorio de la Violencia, claiming that they will make a website in the future for people to access this information directly – in the meantime, while not giving any information or evidence, he is making claims that violence indices have reduced.

The majority of Mps with none opposing, just a few abstaining, approved the promotion of a high military police.

On the blinkers:

A report of an internal audit by CAO of World Bank/International Finance Corporation had come out showing World Bank's complicity in financing a palm oil company Dinant, that is implicated in grave human rights violations including at least 40 assassinations, plus kidnappings and forced evictions against farmers, violating IFC policies to 'protect local communities'. World Bank has a $30 million loan to Dinant that began 5 years ago, $15 million of which is still to be released. All the human rights violations have remained in impunity, and Dinant has declared no responsibility. Despite the report, the follow up actions announced by IFC seems like a joke – a plan of action that NGOs analysed as one that would not lead to any change – and IFC has said it will continue as it had been in supporting Dinant security guards and their contractor company of security services, and there is no talk of withholding the remaining $15 million. It shows how seriously IFC treats 'protecting local communities'.

Honduras still the worst in violence, according to still rising homocide statistics. Its city San Pedro Sula has the highest homocide rates in 2013, at 187 homocides/100,000 inhabitants (followed by Caracas at 134/100,000 and Acapulco Mexico at 113/100,000). In 2010, San Pedro Sula came third, at 125/100,000. In 2011, it came first at 159/100,000. In 2012, first again, at 174/100,000. Human Rights Watch also highlighted the highest homocide rates, as well as that between 1/2011 and 11/2012, at least 149 civilians died at hands of the police, amongst whom 18 victims were under 19.

Talk of the powerholders
Honduran coup defending Cardenal Rodríguez spoke about the tax increases 'El Paquetazo', saying they were necessarily to deal with the crisis Honduras is getting into, and in a polite way pretty much gave the message of put up and shut up.
Juan Orlando Hernandez, known as JOH, who took possession as fraudulent defacto president of Honduras on 27/1/14, began making a series of statements about the Libre party (electoral arm of the resistance) saying some, without providing any names, are friends of the extorsionists, gangsters, and organised crime members, and that they should either change their behaviour or leave the country because prisones are ready waiting for them.
More controversially, a few Libre leaders, led by Jorge Aldana, with Cesar Romero, Tavo Zelaya and Felix Sabio, went out after 27/1/14 to clean the grafitti of the resistance, made during the mobilisation of 271/14 – blatantly silencing the few spaces left for voices critical of the status quo

A snapshot of the resistance and solidarity in Honduras this January 2014

The resistance mobilised showing widespread opposition to the: paquetazo austerity measures, on 9 January, outside the congress... and on 27 January, when JOH fraudulently took possession as defacto president of Honduras – people filled the streets while the stadium where the ceremony took place was near empty, and all around the stadium was militarised, apparently to avoid attempts against the life of JOH.

Social movements tried to restructure and democratise Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular – that was formed since the 2009 coup. Their proposal prior to an assembly was for social organisation leaders Yony Rivas (MUCA) and Berta Caceres (Copinh) to become the coordinators for the year, and to change the structures to become less hierachical and more collective, and to create the 2014 plan of action, to create a timeline of assemblies towards this plan – at least 15 organisations put together this proposal. It was not to be, but the efforts and philosophy continue there within people who drive the social movements

More indigenous communities are organised in permanent resistance:

In El Potrero, Santa Elena La Paz, a community organised as MILPA (Movimiento Indígena Lenca de La Paz) began stopping machines of hydroelectric dam companies Los Encinos and Aurora from entering their territory. Their motto: 'this is not a highway occupation, ...this is territorial control inside of Indigenous lands...this land is ours.' The river they protect is called Río Chinacla.

In San Francisco de Opalaca, the community held an assembly on 25/1/14, in Monte Verde, and since have been in permanent occupation at the council – 800 people from 35 communities. The council team they voted for does not correspond with who the ex and now continuing mayor José Socorro Sanchez Manueles had decided will be the new team. The 4 years of this council had been too much and the community is saying no more – to being on the side of companies privatising rivers Terra, Enersa, Rios Power, to pushing for privatising forests with REDD+ projects, to opening up to mining.

Gildan Activewear women workers organised in grassroots feminist struggle share about their struggles in this 5 minutes video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XloVNX7grFs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

And in Germany, an NGO coalition protested at the General Assembly of Siemens in Munich, against the particupation of Siemens in Agua Zarca project in Honduras in Rio Blanco, and in Belo Monte in Brazil, both with disturbing violations against human rights of mostly indigenous populations