Two Years of Repression and Mobilizations in Honduras


Original source: Dialogo

The widespread repression and murders of political and labor union leaders and human rights activists has not stopped ongoing demonstrations in Honduras against the coup-driven government of Porfirio Lobo. Now the political and social opposition, united under the banner of the National People’s Resistance Front, is preparing to contest the 2013 elections.

“The power of the oligarchy will be challenged at the ballot box,” declared Juan Barahona, sub-coordinator of the National People’s Resistance Front (FNRP), an umbrella group uniting almost 200 Honduran social organizations (labor unions, political parties, guilds, indigenous people, farm workers, environmentalists, human rights advocates, students, etc.)

Two years after the coup d’état, the resistance has decided to create a political instrument in order to challenge the power of the coup-makers in the upcoming elections in 2013.

After several months of debates, and inspired by the recent return to the country of the deposed president, Manuel Zelaya, grassroots discussions and decisions in municipal, departmental and neighborhood committees have led to national approval of a proposal to create a Broad Front to unite all the individuals and organizations who have fought against the coup during the last two years.

The return of Zelaya

The return of Zelaya and that of almost 200 political exiles was the condition proposed last May by the Organization of American States (OAS) to the Honduran government to allow it to rejoin the OAS.  According to Bertha Oliva, coordinator of the Committee of Family Members of the Arrested and Disappeared of Honduras (Cofadeh), “It would not be ethical at this point to promote the return of Honduras to the OAS. The minimum that could be expected is the final report of the Verification Commission proposed in the OAS plan for Honduras.”

“Verification” refers to the present human rights situation in Honduras, which has clearly worsened since the 2009 coup. Since June of that year state security forces and paramilitaries have been responsible for 220 political assassinations as well as numerous cases of torture, rape, death-threats, kidnapping, arbitrary arrests, disappearances and attacks against the opposition media. These are all examples of the selective repression that has been unleashed against members of the resistance amidst the climate of lawlessness created after the coup.

Even the Truth Commission (CdV) which is investigating human rights violations has suffered four attacks. In spite of this, the members of the Honduran Congress that was organized after the military coup are working on an amnesty law to shelter those responsible for human rights violations. “It is shameless that those who committed the crime are now pardoning themselves,” denounced ex-prosecutor and member of Congress Edmundo Orellana.

U.S. Support

According to the Venezuelan international television channel TeleSur, the U.S. ambassador in Tegucigalpa, Hugo Llorens, described as “positive” the fact that the Honduran congress has opened talks about an eventual political amnesty, and praised “the leadership” of current president Porfirio Lobo. “Everything that president-elect Lobo has done in this sense has the support of the United States,” declared Llorens to local radio station HRN.

For Argentine Nobel Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, a member of the Truth Commission, “reconciliation cannot be based on forgetfulness; reconciliation is based on law, truth, justice and reparations for the harm that has been done.”

Reports by human rights advocacy groups are frequent. According to the 2011 report of Amnesty International, during the last two years there has been “persistent impunity for human rights violations committed by military and police, and there have been few advances in reparations for damages and in protection of the state of law.”  The northern region of El Aguán has particularly suffered. There the Lobo administration has mobilized 5000 troops under the pretext of attacking the drug trade, but in reality to repress rural agricultural workers who are demanding their land rights.

At least 40 of them have been murdered without any investigation being made. Amnesty International also mentions the case of “judges who were fired arbitrarily for having peacefully demonstrated against the coup.”

The Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) also denounced the murder of 34 transsexuals last year, and Human Rights Watch documented 18 cases of journalists, human rights advocates and political activists who have been executed since Lobo assumed the presidency in January, 2010. But in spite of this strong repression which has driven many to give up the struggle out of fear, many others have not been silenced.

The struggle of the teachers

The teachers’ struggle has been an example of resistance. Months ago they massively walked out to demand that the Lobo administration repeal a law which in practice implies the privatization of education, and they publicly denounced the embezzlement during the first six months after Micheletti’s coup of several million dollars belonging to Inprema, the teachers’ pension fund.

After months of demonstrations, more than 300 educators had their jobs and salaries suspended for having participated in the protests, an action that sparked a 40-day hunger strike which recently ended. Connected to this, it has been learned that the government has spoken with soldiers who have had some academic training, seeking to bring them into the schools as substitute teachers.

Justice for Micheletti?

A bit of good news for human rights advocates has been the indictment of Micheletti in the United States for the murder of Isis Obed Murillo during confrontations at the Tegucigalpa airport during the first days of the coup. Murillo’s family sought charges under a law that allows individuals without U.S. citizenship to sue for torture or murders committed in foreign countries if the accused lives or conducts activities in the United States. When Micheletti bought property in Texas in 2010 he did not imagine that this would provide the needed legal loophole through which he could be indicted.

Demonstrations in the streets of Honduras. Photo: Sandra Cuffe / Creative Commons.

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  • I think the section on U.S. support ignores the fact that the U.S. opposed the Micheletti coup very strongly.

    Posted by la rosa, 07/21/2011 12:58pm (11 years ago)

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