April 2013 Honduras Coup Update


April 2013 Honduras coup update

Political persecution cases in April 2013

A journalist killed, others arrested, followed, threatened and impeded in their work..

On 11/4/13, in the midnight hours, Carlos Mejía Orellana was murdered with 4 stabs in the thorax, inside his home. He is a lawyer and has worked for many years as the head in the marketing and sales of Jesuit radio Radio Progreso and recently of ERIC, and of the printer San Ignacio in El Progreso. Due to serious ongoing threats, the Inter American Commission of Human Rights had ordered the Honduran state to protect his life many times – on 2/7/09, 26/4/10, 3/5/10, 2/6/10 and 27/5/11 but no measures had been taken.

On 1/4/14 at 9am, near Parque Central, Catacamas Olancho police agents temporarily arrested journalist and Canal 45 TV reporter Cesar Rosales and confiscated his work equipment, deleting all the images on his video camera.

On 3/4/14, Canal 6 correspondent Dennis Menjivar, who reports on the police in the Choloma city of Cortés – is being followed by vehicles everyday since he began news coverage about the capture of accused drug trafficker 'Negro Lobo' – each day as he leaves his home, cars follow him until a certain point and then disappear as if by magic – it was first a Ford Ranger and now 2 tourist vans that have dark windows and no numberplates, all going the same route. Dennis was the victim of an attempt 2 years ago from shots fired from a vehicle without numberplates as he was leaving home after he reported on a Villa Nuria massacre where he questioned the work of the security minister and an official told him to watch his words – an attempt that remained in impunity.

On 22/4/14, despite 'El Negro' Lobo's legal representative Raúl Suazo Barillas having expressed that El Negro wanted to be interviewed by journalists, soldiers of Primer Batallón de Infantería refused entry to journalists Lidieth Díaz and Wendy Funes of En Exclusiva program of Globo TV Honduras. El Negro was to be the first Honduran to be extradited in response to a request from the US government, accused of drug trafficking.

On 28/4/14, 'Fuera del Camino' news director on www.laradiopopular.net José Onorio Cruz spoke up about being victim to being watched and followed near where he lives. He is in fear for his family. Recently, when inside a shopping centre in Choluteca, 'a man came up to me and told me that journalists of the Libre Party had bee well identified so be careful' and then threatened him not to 'andar con papadas con nosotros'. A neighbour also confirmed that someone on a black motorcycle stopped at his home's gate and stayed watching the inside of his home, weeks before. In December 2013, as he left the El Observador forum, two me on motorcycle told him to stop talking about the National Party, that 'journalists of the resistance like me had to be disappeared. José also collaborates with covering news in Choluteca for Radio Progreso and Radio Uno. José describes his work as analysing the reality from a people's rights based perspective, criticising the ultraright Honduran, speaking up against corruption, and militarisation of society and state.

Liberation theologist under fire from the right

On 2/4/14, in Lepaera, Lempira, over 100 national party activists accompanying nationalist mayor Edgar Murillo occupied into the night the parrish home of Esteban Guzmán putting up messages against him. There are national party agitators (including mayor Edgar Murillo, and German Péres, Marcio Lara, Juan José Bautista) who are pressuring for actions of violence to be taken against Lepaera villagers who came to support their religious leader Esteban Guzmán who practised liberation theology – he holds a position of preferential for the poor and against the coup. Police and military police were present, and of course they did nothing to prevent bloodbath that may come still. There were cars without numberplates around, who may have been profiling supporters of father Esteban. The pressures to force father Esteban out began when Darwin Andino arrived to the Copán Diocese whose agenda is to remove all liberation theologists from these Western parts of Honduras. Some months ago a high power bomb was launched at the gates of the priest's home and no investigation had been carried out.

Under siege and under threat: territorial and environmental defenders

On 21/4/14, a comunique came out denouncing eviction threats against MARCA coming from Xatruch operation headed by Coronel René Jovel Martínez, in favor of landowner René Morales who is the executive president of Oleopalma palm company – the threat is including against 3 hundred families of Trinidad Farm of Truillo who could be evicted after 21/4/14 based on an eviction order dated February 2014. About 12 months before MARCA received a court judgement favourable to them, only for it to be reversed almost immediately and their lawyer Antonio Trejo murdered months later. In the same region, Ariel Padilla (20) was kidnapped and tortured by Xatruch Operation when he was on security duties at Cooperativa San Esteban, where he was forcefully kidnapped and taken to Balastera where he was beaten in different part of the body, had his weapon stolen from him, and was given death threat for if he spoke up about what happened.

On 23/4/14, a land registry commission – Daniel España, Manuel Valladares, José Marín, and Saúl Figueroa – arrived in Nahuaterique (population 14,000) of La Paz, telling villagers there that the Honduran government is dividing Nahuaterique territory into 4 parts, into municipalities of Santa Elena, Yarula, Cabañas and Marcala, with support by the mayor of each. 300 villagers gathered in opposition to this territorial intervention – they expressed fears also of military intervention.

The Honduran state has not complied with IACHR orders dated December 2013 to protect lives of over 50 MADJ (Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia) members who are at risk as human and environmental rights defenders involved in struggles of Nueva Esperanza and Locomapa against mines and logging companies. Those granted the protection measures said that they are the ones who had to achievely engage with the state to assume responsibility and that they contiue to be at risk and in some cases are at more risk than before. And that those who give them threats are state officials and businesspeople who feel their profit interests threatened by the struggles of MADJ and the communities in protection of the nature and environment. The conflicts are fueled by the current government's policy to submit territories to national and transnational business.

News briefs from April 2013

Work towards having the International Penal Court to qualify what happened in Honduras as crimes against humanity continues: a delegation of Spanish parliamentarians accomaied by human rights specialist Enrique Santiago visited Honduras to bear witness to human rights violations and work on providing the necessary data to International Penal Court, for this to eventually investigate and judicialise individuals whom in their positions within the state promoted or contributed to systematic human rights violations.

Enrique Santiago and other mission members at the Spanish embassy looked at the Billy Joya case – where Billy Joya, a state agent applying national security doctrine, was responsible for grave human rights violations – he belongs to 3-16 death squad, and was responsible for kidnappings, tortures, forced disappearances in this 'lost decade' – he was sued in 90s, with a detention order in Honduras – but he refuged in Spain and was sheltered by a religious centre linked to Opus Dei in Sevilla city where he was hidden for months with a false identity, working including as a catechist for young people. When he was detected by torture victims of Honduras, human rights defenders sued him and he appeared in the courts asking to be extradited back to Honduras. He was freed on arrival to Honduras, the case was filed away in Honduras and then in Spain too.

Impunity persists with killing of women and journalists and human rights defenders. And others, but these were highlighted this month. Femicides have an impunity rate of 94%, 636 women were assassinated in 2013, thats one every 14 hours. At the same time, UN human rights experts Frank Le Rue and Margaret Sekaggya are asking the Honduran government to end impunity in cases of attacks to journalists and human rights defenders through rapid and exhaustive investigations, and pressuring for protection measures to be given to those for whom such measures had been requested by the Inter America Commission of Human Rights, as well as for UN recommendations to be adopted.

Prosecution not surprisingly shamelessly defends model cities as constitutional, when organisations charged that model cities aren't constitutional in relation to articles 294, 303 and 329 – related to national sovereignty, form of government, and internationally recognised basic rights. The prosecution's position was published in a brief in El Heraldo. Related to model cities, some of the pressures experienced since the coup include threats of forced expropriation in Trujillo against the afrodescendent Garífuna Rio Negro community by Canadian investor Randy Jurgenson. Model cities laws were approved in February 2010, charged as unconstitution immediately, declared unconstitutional on 18/10/12 – and within two months the judges who passed this judgement were fired by the congress under other pretexts. In 2013, ZEDE – that is almost the same as the law made unconstitutional with a little more wordplay, was passed. The main discourse used is attracting foreign investment.

Snapshot of resistance of Hondurans

In the north, centre and southern regions of Honduras, a network is formed of youth within farmers' movements to take on the role of being journalists – with training on popular communications, on using new technologies, and on being spokespersons – each delegated youth is given a computer, internet modem and usb memory for this work. The youths are from different farmers organisations and this was an initiative of the Campesina Articulation Alliance and La Vía Campesina.

Similarly, in Bajo Aguan region, RAPCOS was formed of over 45 journalists of a network of alerts ad protection for journalists. They have plans including to speak in high schools about the right to freedom of expression.

In Tegucigalpa, women organised a protest in front of the Presidential House, placing a large number of coffins, and of black body bags tied up, for everyone to see. They demanded an end to femicides, with 636 cases in 2013, all in impunity.

A group of 16 Hondurans aged 29-50 from El Progreso, Yoro, visited Guatemala City – the are all part of the Association of Returned Migrants with Disabilities AMIREDIS – this is the start of a journey to visit different groups in Central America to share their stories about the dangerous conditions they were under in search of employment and better life conditions. They all had accidents in Mexico on their attempts to go to the US, only to return to Honduras with legs or arms amputed on the dangerous journey. They tell their stories, contextualise their lives, pressures and dreams. The journey they are making now means for many of them to 'confront the places and memories of their encounter with the Beast – the train in Mexico. This group began in 2006, at which time, was motivated by a movement of women with disappeared relatives in Mexico. Their demands to the Honduran authorities are for immigrants to be protected, for the persecution to stop, and for possibilities to have employment and salary – so partly the tour is to show how they are neglected and excluded.