Seems Like Old Times in Honduras


In recent  remarks on U.S.-Latin American relations made at the Brookings Institute, Arturo Valenzuela, a State Department official with responsibility for the region, commented that  Honduras, two years removed from a coup that U.S. officials on the ground called illegal, had “made significant progress in strengthening democratic governance…[and] promoting national reconciliation…”

Viewing the situation on the ground here in Honduras, one can only wonder where the Assistant Secretary is getting his information. In fact, as President Porfirio Lobo Sosa approaches the anniversary of his first year in office, the reverse is true. Gross violations of human rights directed against activists, opposition leaders and journalists reveal a government that is far removed from democracy and a nation that is far from reconciling.

Only two days after Valenzuela’s remarks, a resistance leader named Juan Chinchilla was abducted at gunpoint by masked men in police and military uniforms.  After suffering two days of being burned, beaten and interrogated he was able to escape in the night.  In an interview after his kidnapping, Chinchilla stated that his interrogators had numerous surveillance photos of himself and other resistance leaders.

Indeed, reports of political murders, kidnappings and torture are common here and resistance leaders report constant surveillance. While there are no official counts, we have learned of 36 activists and leaders murdered since Lobo took office.  At least 50 other people were killed in political violence for simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  In addition, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reports it received information that the children of anti-coup forces were being kidnapped, attacked and threatened as a strategy to silence the resistance.

Unprecedented violence against journalists is not an indicator of democratic governance and reconciliation.  According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), eight journalists were killed in the first half of Lobo’s first year in office, prompting Reporters Without Borders to name Honduras the most dangerous country in the world for journalists.

Another disturbing development in the wake of the coup has been an increase of violence directed against LGBT activists, many of whom are associated with the opposition to the coup and have played a vital organizing role in the resistance. The pattern is continuing in 2011.  The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reported that since the beginning of January three transgendered people were murdered. Since Pam has been in Honduras two more murders of members of the LGBT community have been reported.

In the midst of this escalating political violence, Assistant Secretary Valenzuela’s blithe comment is disturbingly dissonant.  Rather than provide cover for the regime the State Department should use its influence to consistently and publically denounce politically motivated violence and the systematic violation of human rights and, as thirty members of Congress requested of the administration last October, they must cut off U.S. assistance to Honduran authorities, particularly the police and military.  Then, maybe, we can talk about “progress” in Honduras.

Bill Quigley is Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. You can contact Bill at quigley77@gmail.com

Pam Spees is a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights and is currently on a fact-finding mission in Honduras.



December 01, 2015
John Wight
From Iraq to Syria: Repeating a Debacle
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: the Left Takes Charge
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Revenge? The Fight for the Border
Sami Al-Arian
My Ordeal: One of America’s Many Political Trials Since 9/11
Steffen Böhm
Why the Paris Climate Talks Will Fail, Just Like All the Others
Gilbert Mercier
Will Turkey Be Kicked Out of NATO?
Bilal El-Amine
The Hard Truth About Daesh and How to Fight It
Pete Dolack
Solidarity Instead of Hierarchy as “Common Sense”
Dan Glazebrook
Rhodes Must Fall: Decolonizing Education
Colin Todhunter
Big Oil, TTIP and the Scramble for Europe
Eric Draitser
Terror in Mali: An Attack on China and Russia?
Linn Washington Jr.
Torture and Other Abuses Make Turkey as American as Apple Pie
Randy Shaw
Krugman is Wrong on Gentrification
Raouf Halaby
Time to Speak Out Against Censorship
Jesse Jackson
It’s Time for Answers in Laquan McDonald Case
Patrick Walker
Wake Up Zombie, Kick Up a Big Stink!
November 30, 2015
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Embrace of Totalitarianism is America’s Dirty Little Secret
Omur Sahin Keyif
An Assassination in Turkey: the Killing of Tahir Elci
Uri Avnery
There is No Such Thing as International Terrorism
Robert Fisk
70,000 Kalashnikovs: Cameron’s “Moderate” Rebels
Jamie Davidson
Distortion, Revisionism & the Liberal Media
Patrick Cockburn
Nasty Surprises: the Problem With Bombing ISIS
Robert Hunziker
The Looming Transnational Battlefield
Ahmed Gaya
Breaking the Climate Mold: Fighting for the Planet and Justice
Matt Peppe
Alan Gross’s Improbable Tales on 60 Minutes
Norman Pollack
Israel and ISIS: Needed, a Thorough Accounting
Colin Todhunter
India – Procession of the Dead: Shopping Malls and Shit
Roger Annis
Canada’s New Climate-Denying National Government
Binoy Kampmark
Straining the Republic: France’s State of Emergency
Bill Blunden
Glenn Greenwald Stands by the Official Narrative
Jack Rasmus
Japan’s 5th Recession in 7 Years
Karen Lee Wald
Inside the Colombia Peace Deal
Geoff Dutton
War in Our Time
Charles R. Larson
Twofers for Carly Fiorina
John Dear
An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind
Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism