Victory! US State Department Temporarily Withholds Funds from Honduran Police Forces

In response to a phone calling campaign started by the SOA Watch and after months of pressure from grassroots organizations, including CRLN, the US State Department is temporarily withholding funds to Honduras' National Police Chief Juan Carlos "El Tigre" Bonilla and any law enforcement working under him while an investigation is completed into alleged human rights violations carried out by Bonilla. It is unclear exactly which police forces will be barred US funds, yet the investigation comes as a victory for those working to realize accountability and justice in the hundreds of cases of extrajudicial killings in Honduras.

In late June, CRLN's Gary Cozette drafted a letter urging investigations into the murders of over 70 LGBT Hondurans, many of which are suspected to have been carried out by police forces. CRLN worked with grassroots organizations within the Honduras Solidarity Network to secure 84 Congressional signatures on this letter delivered to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. In a letter in March calling for an end to the human rights crisis in the Bajo Aguán Region, Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky requested a suspension of US funds to the Honduran police and grassroots organizing secured 94 signatures from other Representatives.

Given the strength of grassroots efforts and the work of organizations like CRLN, this temporary hold on US State Department funds to Bonilla and those police forces under him comes as an amazing victory. Still, this victory is tempered by the fact that the work is not over and impunity still reigns in countless cases of violence in Honduras.

We can continue the solidarity work by calling the Honduras Desk at the State Department (202.647.3482) to thank them for the investigation and urge the continued withholding of funds to Honduras' repressive police forces. You can also sign up to join us in November for the protest on the School of the Americas, at which Juan Carlos Bonilla was a former student. Contact Celeste Larkin at clarkin@crln.org with any questions.