May 2014 Honduras Coup summary - more murders, more extremities

May 2014 Honduras coup update

as published here:

Summary of political killings from May 2014

Rigoberto López Hernández, community defender against mining company, was assassinated on 3/5/14

William Jacobo Rodríguez, community defender against hydroelectricity dam company, was assassinated on 24/5/14

Irene Meza, resistance activist and autonomous council activist and spouse of councillor in Opalaca, was assassinated on 25/5/14

Hernán Cruz, community radio journalist and resistance leader in Copán, was assassinated on 28/5/14

Territorial struggles – mining – assassination, threats, intimidation

On 3/5/14, Rigoberto López Hernández (36) was tortured and assassinated – his body was found with his tongue cut out – as a threat for those who were going to report on this; Rigoberto is a community movement leader of the Santa Cruz community in Níspero, Santa Bárbara, that have opposed the cast and iron oxide Quita Ganas mine. Rigoberto and his neighbours organised protests and blocked off the access road to the mine in the mountain. The mountain is the water source for this and other communities. This blockade was evicted by police and military. Rigoberto then participated in a community asssembly that the mayor Leiva and a mining representative came to – Rigoberto demanded the mining company to leave, asserting that they do not accept false promises and that there is no negotiating that. He always encouraged people to see that the promises of development are false, but the destruction the mine will bring are real and to oppose the mine's continuation. The mayor's position had been that the mine was legal because it has permission for the authorities SERNA and INFOMIN, and called people's saying that the mine destroys the environment and their livelihoods 'myths'. In the 6 months since the mine began, it has destroyed over 2000km² of mountains there that before gave water, basic grains, coffee and wood, where this is now replaced with water scarcity, violence, respiratory and skin diseases and contamination.

On 18/5/14, the Tránsito community spoke up about threats and intimidation – physical, emotional and judicial, from politicians, police, military as well as from prosecutors and state officials. The community has since 24/2/14 blockaded indefinitely the entrance to a hill of the mine, to impede the companieis' continuation in exploiting and stealing resources.

Territorial struggles - Zacate Grande – illegal detention, beating and threats

On 29/5/14, at 7.30am, Puerto Grande police station sargeant García turned up at La Voz de Zacate Grande community radio station to call two activists Ethels Corea and Miguel Vásquez – who work on the radio and have been granted protection measures for being at risk – to go meet with the police head and the human rights officer when they are supposed to correspond with the lawyers and Cofadeh human rights organisation to arrange such a meeting.

On 30/5/14 about midday, Inspector Duarte and Sargeant Garía and Nacaome Human Rights Officer Lilí arbitrarily entered the radio's buildings without permission, interrupted a meeting of community organisation ADEPZA, so Miguel and others asked for respect and to not interrupt, Duarte then was about to take photos 'for his report', and Miguel left to not be in the photos and that seemed to annoy them. Police stayed for half an hour.

On 31/5/14, Miguel Vasquez was travelling to San Lorenzo, he noticed Sargeant García were in a car and followed but stayed at the las Pilas turnoff. When Miguel got off and crossed the street and went towards the market, a patrol with 4 police and 4 soldiers drove slowly behind him. One asked him for ID so he kept walking but gave his ID and protection measures papers, but a police then jumped off, pushed him and ordered him to walk behind the truck. Miguel ran to the market to try to find someone who is of the community to contact family and comrades about his arrest, but was stopped by people from a warehouse there who helped the police capture him. Police beat him and detained him from 9am. Miguel tried calling from his phone but had no credit and police took it. He tried to ask politely to make a phone call but they kept refusing, they even said they lost his papers. The state agents threatened to his ear, 'you dog, if we don't finish you off today', 'you lot are digging your own grave', and 'who would believe it's you here who believes nothing can be done to you?' Duarte then appeared and pretended not to have met Miguel and told him he was accused of illegal use of weapons despite Miguel repeating that he is a beneficiary of protection measures. Then Duarte said he reminded him of a kid who had no manners from the day before at the radio and fell silent for a bit. Duarte then started saying things like, 'why do you not want the police to patrol the radio? What do you do on this radio? What are you hiding that you don't want us to know? If we are good, why are you scared of us? What are the real reasons they granted you protection measures? Two and a half hours later, Miguel's aunt came to look for him and ask him why he was arrested and Duarte told her that there was a search on the bus he was on and he got nervous and ran away so the police got suspicious of him and captured him. Cofadeh called and was given the same version. As ordered, the officers opened the cell and looked for his papers, and once outside the cell, a soldier walked in front of him and threatened, 'you are going to pay for this!' His comrades came from the radio after this. It was negotiated to release him without charge if Miguel did not place complaints against the beatings and threats made against him.

Inspector Duarte claimed that the operation was carried out because there was a complaint about an armed youth who was supposeably a dangerous gangster, with description of what colour and types of clothes and shoes he was wearing exactly. Shamelessly pretending that it weren't completely premeditated. Miguel is also the General Secretary of the farmers cooperative Empresa Asociativa Campesina de Producción Puerto Grande.

Territorial struggles - Rio Blanco indigenous community defending against hydroelectricity dam company – killing, torture, illegal detentions and threats

In Rio Blanco on 24/5/14 at midnight, William Jacobo Rodríguez was assassinated when he was on his way home. William is an activist in defence of the Gualcarque river, against the dam project.

On 25/5/14, as persecution has no limits, despite that someone had confessed to the having killed William, police stationed at the DESA dam site, on a special operation against the indigenous Lenca people, proceeded to invade homes and arbitrarily and violently captured two Copinh activists Lindolfo Benítez and Salvador Sánchez – physically and emotionally torturing both following their capture, and gave death threats to the minors who were in their homes. They were released early in the day. In the process, police also threatened and verbally attacked Francisco Javier Sánchez, president of the Rio Blanco indigenous council.

Territorial struggles - Puerto Castilla – repression against protest

In the Garífuna community Puerto Castilla, in the process of reclaiming land that is ancestrally their community land to address overcrowding, was attacked by a large contingent with hundreds of teargas bombs as well as rubber bullets. The bombs exploded including in the community kindergarten and inside people's homes. Six children were hospitalised because of the teargases. The land conflict is with the state port company Empresa Nacional Portuaria (ENP) – that used threat of violence by General Alvarez to force the community to sign over the lands in 1974. Apart from which ENP also promised a number of jobs for locals that they did not fulfil, and is known for acts of corruption and of racism by staff. The community originally received land title in 1889 that was conceded to Truxillo Railroad Company in 1921 and returned to the community in 1942. The community had also been shoved to make space for an US military base that is now an US-Honduran military base with helicopter ports and piers being built. The commuity is moving on a plot of land that Japanese company Intermares Mauricio Weizemblut Oliva, that tried to establish itself in the 90s, assumes, and is selling the land.

Territorial struggles -Bajo Aguán farmers – violent evictions, intimidation, militarisation, persecution, gunshots...

Inter-American Court of Human Rights demanded the Honduran state to provide protection measures for 123 farmer activists in the Bajo Aguán region (concrete measures to be determined with each according to their needs and situation), considering these threatened, persecuted, in urgent situations and people at risk. The main actors of human rights violations are reported to be Miguel Facussé (Dinant), and René Morales (Oleopalma). The farmers considered in danger are part of Movimiento Campesino Gregorio Chávez (5), MOCRA (3), MARCA (32), and MUCA (83).

On 8/5/14, in finca Paso Agúan where Empresas Asociativas Campesinas de Producción of Movimiento Campesino Gregorio Chávez are recovering 1200 hectares of land, farmers reported that guards and military have been using infrared lights and reflectors on the property in intimidation. This, as well as ongoing harrassment by Xatruch Operation and Dinant security and an eviction order that needs to be suspended have been noted by a special commission of officials of different state departments – Lucy Tovar (ombudsperson), Erleny Elencof, and Remberto Zavala that are 'in support' in words.

On 11/5/14, at 6am, security guards in a green Nissan Frontier attempted against five Movimiento Campesino Gregorio Chávez farmers and a watermelon seller who was there, with verbal aggressions and threats to their physical security and intimidating shots fired to the air of 12mm, 9mm and 22mm guns.

On 14/5/14, La Consentida that began recovering land on 11/5/14 were evicted.
On 19/5/14, Movimiento Campesino Gregorio Chávez denounced that authorities have installed military to surround the community and block their sales of palm and justify repression against farmers, when families' occupation and palm sales are based on addressing their needs for food and medicine.

On 19/5/14, 'El Mochito's community in protest was evicted by army. Gunshots from guards and army against people have been reported. Oleopalma security guards under orders from landowner Reinaldo Canales surrounded 'El Mochito' community in intimidation. Two commandos of Xatruch and an ambulance are also mobilised to carry out an eviction that has already been threatened by Oleopalma representative Carlos Moncada.. 'El Mochito' are being recovered by 130 families who named themselves, Movimiento Reivindicado Segundo Gómez, after a compa who was killed in this struggle in El Mochito demanding justice for farmers in the Aguan Region. The movement organised a protest demanding clear answers of what happened to two farmers forcefully disappeared, and another two assassinated in the region, and hold the state as responsible by complicity. They announced in a communique that even if they are evicted, they will come back again.

On 21/5/14, at 6am, hundreds of families of MARCA farmers movement were violently evicted from La Trinidad and El Despertar farms by a contingent headed by Coronel Jovel Martínez and ordered by Germán Alfaro Escalante using an expired eviction order. The contingent of at least 80 arrived in four military commandos and four police patrols - Xatruch Operation, Trujillo police, and private guards of René Morales. As the executor judge spoke with leaders and looked at papers, police launched teargas bombs, beat children, youth and old people's bodies with batons, chased people and fired gunshots at people as they ran – some may have disappeared. Human rights defenders were not permitted to take photos Witnesses saw police pull and tear off bags farmers were carrying with their belongings and threw their food everywhere. Police arrested 15, including 4 minors and 8 women, and wounded two – fracturing the arm of Glenda Xiomara Hernández (36) who was pregnant, and Ada Marina Velásquez (58) and refused arrestees medical attention. The arrestees included Mirna Yadira Pineda (14), Nolvia Berrios (35), Berta Ramos (40), Omar Espinoza (20), José Luis Chávez (28), Walter Cárcamo (MARCA president), Jaime Adalid Cabrera (35, president of Regional Agrarian Platform), Ana Maryuri Maradiaga (15), Jervin Giovanni Rodríguez (17), Silverio Orellana (53), Seida Xiomara Alemán (14), Elder Nahúm Meza (14), Wilmer Alexis Antúnez (17), and Antonio Rodríguez – a number of whom have protection orders from IACHR. After the eviction, militarisation continued and military and police stopped people from going in to check if anyone was left wounded or dead there or from getting their things. After the eviction, Dinant representative Pineda told press that Dinant security guards would be disarmed, but that 'they would support the building of a military cuartel there'. MARCA's lawyer Antonio Trejo was assassinated in August 2011, and the last land reclaim by occupation started on 12/7/12.

On 22/5/14, in confrontations of land conflict at La Consentida, Marvin Molina (29) who was found by the security guards was shot 3 times and wounded.

Human rights defenders – persecution including by police

Rosalinda Cruz Sequeira, one of four supreme court judges dismissed in a judicial coup in 2012 for ruling model cities unconstitutional and against human rights, denounced that they continue to be persecuted and virtually given death threats.

On 8/5/14, at 11.30pm, children's human rights defender Casa Alianza director Guadalupe Ruela was leaving a social event of human rights defenders in Tegucigalpa and as he was in his car parked near the presidential house, 2 police on a motorcycle drove into his car crashing onto the passenger door of the car in a supposed accident and then military police grabbed him kicking, dragging and kicking him in the face, chest, back and other body parts and a soldier dragged him by feet face down on the pavement as they kept kicking his body and verbally abusing him. An officer took from his wallet his ID and $200 worth cash and confiscated his car and things inside including a Casa Alianza computer. He was taken and held at the Kennedy police station. At 1.10am Cofadeh coordinator Bertha Oliva came and saw the state he was in with hurt ribs and nose bleeding and asked for him to be taken for medical attention immediately. Initially they argued they had to do an alcohol test first and did that 6 times, before reading him his rights, transferring him to Metropolitan 1 police station, to then be taken to private hospital Viera from there where he received x-rays and was under observation. At the emergency room, a police watched over him, supposeably ordered by a prosecutor to be there, and a police patrol5-65 were at the entrance, arguing to journalists asking about Ruelas saying he was 'retained' not detained, and Officer Rodríguez in an act of intimdation pointed at journalist Nelso Flores and said, 'take down the name and the media that this one is from.' Police claimed it was an accident, denied knowledge of police violence claiming that any injuries Ruelas sustained was from the 'accident', and said traffic police were doing alcohol tests and that it came up positive despite that it was negative when done in the hospital. As Director of Casa Alianza he reports to the press about systematic assassinations of children in Honduras. On 5/5/14 Ruelas gave press statements critising the army program Guardianes de la Patria – as something not to address insecurity, but to militarise. On 23/4/14, he reported that there has been an average of 90 youths under 23 a month assassinated. He knows this was a premeditated abuse that happens to people linked to human rights defence in honduras and holds responsible JOH for anything that happens to him or his family. Since this, the media have been publishing stories in efforts to discredit him.

Cuban doctors in Honduras attending to patients solidarity - assaulted

On 10/5/14, at midday, El Progreso, Yoro, a group of heavily armed men assaulted the home of the Cuban medical brigade, tying up the hands of doctors, beating them up and giving death threats. They took all of the doctors' belongings. The brigade is in Honduras attending to patients as an international solidarity act attending to people who cannot afford health services.

Politicians and their supporters

On 12/5/14, around 9.10pm individuals driving a toursim van drove in front of the car Rafael Barahona – councillor of Libre party – hitting the right side of the car, in el Country barrio in Comayagúela. The armed persons jumped out firing at least 10 shots at his car, a shot hit his hand and left arm that he used these to block the shots. He fled and went to the La Granja police station and was assisted by Red Cross and went to a hospital in La Granja. They had to surgically remove a bullet from his hand that could affect his nerves.

On 7/5/14, parliamentarians of the Libre party protested with placards and black ribbons at the main table 100 days of Juan Orlando Hernández as the fraudulent president, they sang the national anthem and highlighted unfulfilled promises, and increasing violent deaths etc, and Libre MPs having been denied rights to speak inside the congress. Threats reported to suppress the protest included the actual cutting of the electricity, and that the military and police sent by the president had arrived. Journalist Esdras Amado López denounced that there are snipers planted in the buildings adjacent to the congress.

On 13/5/14, riot police repressed with masses of teargases both inside and outside the congress. From 3pm, outside the congress about 250 protested repression in the congress and the attempt against Rafael Barahona, as well as in solidarity with farmers' demand for a transformative agrarian reform. This protest met a heavy contingent of riot cops. At 4pm police began spraying peppergas at people, who ran in different directions chased by police while some responded to the gas with stones. A group returned to occupy the central park, and military closed roads near the congress. Police repeated massive teargas bombs eviction against people at 4.26pm and at 4.36-5pm, and at 5.40pm (activists kept fighting back and re-occupying). Meanwhile, inside the congress, at 5.29pm, after a group of Libre and resistance activists made their way inside the congress while it was in session, in occupation and protest, a heavy contingent of riot cops smashed the doors and entered congress by force evicting all 200 people inside launching teargas bombs inside, and beat people with baton and shields and trembled on them, notably, against Libre party parliamentarians (37 were present). Libre parliamentarian Claudia Garmendia fainted with the teargas and beating, and Audelia Rodríguez was also beaten. Within minutes, MPs were pushed downstairs by the military. Outside, Carlos Andino was beaten savagely by soldiers, until MP José Adalberto intervened. Mirian Yamileth Zerón was beaten in the face, both Carlos and Mirian were taken away in ambulance. MP Rafael Alegría had his right arm fractured, bronchial tube obstructed due to gas and abdominal trauma from kicking, in addition, congress president Mauricio Olivia also threatened to judicially persecute Rafael Alegría, Esdras Amado López and Manuel Zelaya Rosales. Libre MPs María Argentina Valle, and Beatriz Valle, Jari Dixon and Wilfredo Paz were beaten as well. Dozens of activists had grave bruisings from riot cops and military police brutality. See video of what happened inside congress: or Last repression inside the congress was on 12/8/09 when over 20 were tortured savagely after repressive bodies ambushed a protest against the coup there.

Another murder in the ongoing struggle for an autonomous council in Opalaca

On 25/5/14, in Opalaca, just after an indigenous assembly where the autonomus municipality celebrating the taking the possession, and the findings of an audit the community demanded was shared and a decision making process about the building of an indigenous governance facilitated, a group of people linked with ex nationalist candidate Socorro Sánchez arrived in a car, and
Hugo Sánchez, without saying anything, pulled out a pistol and began shooting villagers with firearms – and shot against Opalaca activists Irene Meza and Plutarco Bonilla – Irene is a resistance activist and the spouse of Libre Councillor Ada Elizabeth Méndez and was shot in the abdomen and chest, and Plutarco an exceptional activist against the coup, who was shot in the hand. As Irene's spouse and driver drove him to the hospital by the Zarco river, they were attacked again by a group of heavily armed employees of Socorro forcing the car to have an accident before then firing six shots, killing Irene. Irene is not the first to be killed in this struggle, the brother of the autonomous council's mayor Entimo, Justiniano, was tortured and killed in February.

Attacks against journalists – an assassination, programs cancelled..

On 28/5/14, Hernán Cruz (52) who runs a program 'Otro Nivel' 5-6pm on community radio 'La Voz de la esperanza' in the buildings of Institute of Ecumenical Services for the Community coordinated by Fausto Milla since July 2013, was kidnapped in Santa Rosa de Copán, taken towards Dulce Nombre where he was assassinated with gunshots and his body found in a taxi. His program focussed on analysis and reflection. Hernán also founded the social movement los Chuñas de San Juan de Opoa, is the coordinator of the Opoa resistance, and a Libre party activist. He was well loved and his solidarity with others are well felt and he was a role model for young people. He was someone who used to lend his projector. He also had a position as a disputes resolutions mediator at the community justice centre there.

On 26/5/14, journalist Jorge Burgos, denounced that Canal 6 management cancelled the program of his and his colleague Emy Padilla, 'Suelte la Lengua', which was transmitted nationally 1.30-2.30pm five days a week since 10 monhts ago. Jorge recalled that the manager Paul Misselem called and cancelled the program without giving any explanations, but Jorge knew it was because the program always denounced corruption and this upset shareholders; he criticizes defacto president Juan Hernández on his program as well as against some banks that do business with the state and some fast food companies that receive state subsidies, which are clients of the commercial radio. Some of their recent guests were José Guadalupe Ruelas, the human rights defender accusing the regime of assassinating youths in Honduras, other human rights defenders, as well as ex-president Zelaya. Emy recounted being once passed a note from the production team of a list of topics that are prohibited.

There is a generalised direction towards this type of censorship. Another example of a journalist who notices this is Ricardo Guerra of program Actualidad Porteña of private regional channel Teleport Cortés. He said journalists always get told, 'we don't cover that topic here', Ricardo is one of many journalists victim to threats and telephone insults because of the information he gives in his work.

News shorts from May 2014
- how the academic, and NGO worlds collide to reproduce rather than critique oppressive geopolitics

University making model cities in Honduras an exciting experiment to play with

In its PR article for Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala commodifying careers in playing with ideas of controlling and ruling over entire cities, images were shown of white elite or middle class young adults being equipped with an environment to gain skills towards careers in manipulating model cities – something 'legal' in Honduras. The university proudly announced that Startup Cities Institute is now launched with the Lean City Lab, towards creating decision making tools, strategic planning, - by strategic planning, it refers to deciding where, structuring land auctioning, and learn what institutions and markets would best suit their interests. While it mentions that this is to advise 'communities' that are interested in creating model cities, it did else where outline honestly that their 'public' are reformers of public police, business people and 'political activists', and not the 'community'. It allures students with computer labs in which people can play with experimental economy, to simulate markets and economic structures, turning this concept into a game, a stock exchange, obviously as far removed as possible from people's realities. It also alludes to field studies where trial and error can be used. Alert!

Kansas University partner with Honduran teachers' university UPNFM to recruit students as professional informants, against indigenous communities the students are from

This disturbing public recruitment callout for a job was noticed by an indigenous professor, with the criteria including being an UPNFM student in first or second year, belonging to an indigenous community of Honduras and speaking the language, having recognised leadership within the community, and having knowledge in computing and data collection. Applications were being received 24-31 October 2013 at the humanities faculty at the university. There was no information as to the sources of funding, the objectives or proposals, and there was no consultation with indigenous people. Some indigenous leaders have been invited the year before to Kansas university – the offer of paid work and signing collaborative agreements in the local universities made them attractive offers of what is in reality contracting informants towards destroying indigenous organising and taking over their territories. Another source found that this was a research project nationally with the title 'Indigenous Municipalities – landuse and conflicts, to digitally map all indigenous communities – a recurrent topic of counterinsurgent geographers. This is supervised by Peter Herlihy who is accused of being paid by US Department of Defence and Office of Foreign Military Studies based in Kansas, and of having carried out research in Honduras and Mexico that are considered geopiracy and to aid counterinsurgenies and corporations. There are also two unnamed geographers and a social anthropologist involved. This is being done similar to Bowman Expeditions

NGO – Human Rights Watch links with CIA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquival and Mairead Maguire and about 100 US and Canadian academics sought Human Rights Watch to take concrete measures to be independent, - given that its main directives have links with the Democrats Party, US government, and even CIA – in the case of Miguel Díaz, who is a functionary of the Department of State, was a CIA analyst in the 90s, and he was on the council of advisors of HRW from 2003-2011. Other 3 members of HRW linked with US government are Tom Malinowki, Miles Frecheette and Michael Shifter.

A snapshot of resistance in Honduras

The Puerto Castilla community – an Afro-descendent Garífuna community undertook to reclaim ancestral territory historically snatched from them, as the community suffers from overcrowding – see their blockade of the highway to Puerto Castilla. They faced massive teargas repression from the state this month.

Social work students at UNAH who belong to the social work students association held an assembly and decided to occupy the social science building. They are angry at authorities for not consulting and deciding to give the building over to juridical sciences, disregarding the countless unfulfilled needs there are already for social work students including the lack of classrooms, oversized classes, insecurity in transport, commodification of education, excluding students from decision making, intimidating students from protesting, etc. Sociology students joined in in solidarity, other associations are starting to talk about it.

A number of other newer land occupations/recoveries of territories have been mentioned this month:
El Tránsito, Nacaome, in south of Honduras, has since 24/2/14 occupied indefinitely a road to a mining site in the community to shut down the company.
In Bajo Aguán, 130 families decided to enter to recover the farm 'El Mochito' since they have been snatched by landowner Reinaldo Canales with state complicity in his support. They announced in a communique that they will continue recovering the land, and even if and when evicted, they will come back again.