FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Seems Like Old Times in Honduras

by BILL QUIGLEY And PAM SPEES

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.

 

 

Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and can be reached at quigley77@gmail.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 26, 2017
Richard Moser
Empire Abroad, Empire At Home
Stan Cox
For Climate Justice, It’s the 33 Percent Who’ll Have to Pick Up the Tab
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Machine Called Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
The Dilemma for Intelligence Agencies
Christy Rodgers
Remaining Animal
Joseph Natoli
Facts, Opinions, Tweets, Words
Mel Gurtov
No Exit? The NY Times and North Korea
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Women on the Move: Can Three Women and a Truck Quell the Tide of Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse?
Michael J. Sainato
Trump’s Wikileaks Flip-Flop
Manuel E. Yepe
North Korea’s Antidote to the US
Kim C. Domenico
‘Courting Failure:’ the Key to Resistance is Ending Animacide
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Legacy of Lynne Stewart, the People’s Lawyer
Andrew Stewart
The People vs. Bernie Sanders
Daniel Warner
“Vive La France, Vive La République” vs. “God Bless America”
April 25, 2017
Russell Mokhiber
It’s Impossible to Support Single-Payer and Defend Obamacare
Nozomi Hayase
Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech
Robert Fisk
The Madder Trump Gets, the More Seriously the World Takes Him
Giles Longley-Cook
Trump the Gardener
Bill Quigley
Major Challenges of New Orleans Charter Schools Exposed at NAACP Hearing
Jack Random
Little Fingers and Big Egos
Stanley L. Cohen
Dissent on the Lower East Side: the Post-Political Condition
Stephen Cooper
Conscientious Justice-Loving Alabamians, Speak Up!
Michael J. Sainato
Did the NRA Play a Role in the Forcing the Resignation of Surgeon General?
David Swanson
The F-35 and the Incinerating Ski Slope
Binoy Kampmark
Mike Pence in Oz
Peter Paul Catterall
Green Nationalism? How the Far Right Could Learn to Love the Environment
George Wuerthner
Range Riders: Making Tom Sawyer Proud
Clancy Sigal
It’s the Pits: the Miner’s Blues
Robert K. Tan
Abe is Taking Japan Back to the Bad Old Fascism
April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
Robert Hunziker
America’s Tale of Two Cities, Redux
David Jaffe
The Republican Party and the ‘Lunatic Right’
John Davis
No Tomorrow or Fashion-Forward
Patrick Cockburn
Treating Mental Health Patients as Criminals
Jack Dresser
An Accelerating Palestine Rights Movement Faces Uncertain Direction
George Wuerthner
Diet for a Warming Planet
Lawrence Wittner
Why Is There So Little Popular Protest Against Today’s Threats of Nuclear War?
Colin Todhunter
From Earth Day to the Monsanto Tribunal, Capitalism on Trial
Paul Bentley
Teacher’s Out in Front
Franklin Lamb
A Post-Christian Middle East With or Without ISIS?
Kevin Martin
We Just Paid our Taxes — are They Making the U.S. and the World Safer?
Erik Mears
Education Reformers Lowered Teachers’ Salaries, While Promising to Raise Them
Binoy Kampmark
Fleeing the Ratpac: James Packer, Gambling and Hollywood
Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail