FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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.

 

 

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail