image-title



Given Honduras’ human rights situation, CRLN will provide for its members a monthly update on human right issues afflicting the country.


(Español aquí)

  • The Honduran authorities arrested

    another suspect of the assassination of Berta Caceres, Henry Javier Hernandez Rodriguez

    , a former member of the Honduran military, in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Berta’s family demands the arrests of those that planned the murder. However, the Honduran authorities don’t seem to be making any effort to prosecute the real intellectual authors of Berta’s assassination.
  • Gustavo Castro, who survived an assassination attempt when Berta Caceres was murdered,

    filed a formal accusation against the Honduran State for human rights violations.

  • Global Witness released a report that denounces

    , after a two-year investigation, that 120 environmental activists have died since 2010 in Honduras and that at the heart of the conflict are the rich and powerful elites, among them members of the political class. The Guardian analyzed the Global Witness report, focusing on the involvement of politicians and the business elite in the murder of the environmental defenders. Global Witness also denounces that the U.S. continues to provide security aid to Honduras despite the continuous human right violations by the state. Just this week, the U.S. gave

    the first Alliance for Prosperity funds

    ($125 million) to the Honduran government.
  • President Juan Orlando Hernandez is seeking a reform to the Penal Code and introduction of new legislation which would provide more power to the security forces of the country. Also, with this legislation, police, military and security forces who kill or injure civilians in “defense” would be exempt from justice.

    CARITAS Honduras

    said this legislation would bring the country back to the 80’s when the opposition and media were persecuted and practices of forced disappearances occurred regularly.

    Amnesty International, among other international and national organizations, is critical of this reform of the Penal Code.
  • Miriam Miranda and other members of the Afro-Honduran Garifuna cultural group OFRANEH were harassed and threatened by the Honduran Police in early January. The police wanted to illegally detain Miranda and three other human right defenders, during a checkpoint in La Ceiba. Miriam has protective measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH).
  • Journalist Igor Padilla, was assassinated in the Northern part of Honduras. Honduras is one of the most dangerous and deadliest countries in the world to be a journalist. Padilla became the 63rd media worker to be killed since 2003. 50 of the 63 murders took place since 2009 and 24 alone in 2014 and 2015.
  • OFRANEH is fighting against Indura Hilton, which wants to build resorts on their ancestral lands in Northern Honduras, and denounces the role of the Attorney’s General Office in granting access to that land to Indura Hilton
  • Honduras celebrated National Women’s day this past January 25

    th

    , and

    local women right’s defenders and organizations protested the continuous violence and discrimination against women in the country.
  • President Hernandez is actively seeking an illegal re-election, prohibited by the Honduran Constitution, and is harassing the opposition. In the previous election, the National Party stole funds from the Social Security system, leaving sick and economically poor people without medicine and treatments, in order to finance his political campaign.
Read More
image-title

Chile, 1985:


Women soaked by water cannon during a demonstration against Pinochet on International Women’s Day in Santiago. Photograph: Julio Etchart/Julio Etchart

This week, CRLN joins millions of people around the world commemorating the 40th anniversary of Chile’s U.S.-backed military coup, which led to 17 years of dictatorship and tens of thousands of opposition activists murdered, disappeared, tortured, exiled, and imprisoned. Time has healed some, but also brought profound determination for truth and justice.

As more time goes by, the truth of what happened and the full dimension of the violence becomes even clearer, and the country’s institutions are forced to assume their responsibility.

Argentine-Chilean novelist, playwright, essayist, academic, and human rights activist Ariel Dorfman writes in the New York Times about how he survived the bombing of the presidential palace just by trading a shift with a colleague and friend. He also writes about the durable impacts of the coup that have spread throughout the globe:

“The most lasting legacy of Chile’s Sept. 11 were the economic policies implemented by Pinochet. My country became, in effect, a laboratory for a neoliberal experiment, a land of  unrestrained greed where extreme denationalization of public resources and suppression of workers’ rights were imposed on an unwilling populace. Many of these merciless policies were later deployed by leaders across the globe”.

Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman interviews Joan Jara, the widow of Chilean singer Víctor Jara,

who has just filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. court against the former military officer who allegedly killed Jara 40 years ago. Jara’s accused killer, Pedro Barrientos, has lived in the United States for roughly two decades and is now a U.S. citizen.”

Jara’s family is suing him under federal laws that allow U.S. courts to hear about human rights abuses committed abroad.”

 

TAKE ACTION! and join SOAWatch in calling for accountability for Victor Jara’s murder by Pedro Barrientos : “Jara was first held and tortured in the  infamous Estadio Chile (since renamed Estadio Victor Jara), which was turned into a nightmarish detention and torture center after the coup. Survivors and other witnesses claim that military officers broke Jara’s hands with the butts of their rifles before mockingly asking him to play his famous songs. Defiantly, Jara sang part of ‘Venceremos’ (We Will Win). His body was later dumped in the street, found riddled with 44 bullets and signs of extensive torture.”

Read a recounting by Hugh O’Shaughnessy, a prize-winning journalist who has written on Latin America for over 40 years, of the days immediately before and following the coup in Chile, where he was working as a journalist:

“As had already been the case after the military coups in Brazil in 1964 and then in Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina, and as was to be the case latterly in modern Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, the military and police torturers were ready with their electrodes, thumbscrews and waterboarding equipment to defend ‘western Christian civilisation’.”

Many had been brought to a peak of perfection in their
trade in the US itself or in its bases in the Panama canal zone by US instructors.”

Read More
image-title


Dada la situación de derechos humanos en Honduras, CRLN proporcionará a sus miembros una actualización mensual de los problemas de derechos humanos que afligen al país.



  • Las autoridades hondureñas

    arrestaron a otro sospechoso del asesinato de Berta Caceres, Henry Javier Hernández Rodríguez, ex miembro del ejército hondureño,

    en Tamaulipas, México. La familia de Berta exige el arresto de los que planificaron el asesinato. Sin embargo, las autoridades hondureñas no parecen estar haciendo ningún esfuerzo para enjuiciar a los verdaderos autores intelectuales del asesinato de Berta.
  • Gustavo Castro, quien sobrevivió a un intento de asesinato cuando Berta Cáceres fue asesinada,

    presentó una acusación formal contra el Estado hondureño por violaciones a sus derechos humanos.

  • Global Witness publicó un informe que denuncia, tras una investigación de dos años,

    que 120 activistas ambientales han muerto desde el 2010 en Honduras y que en el centro del conflicto están las élites ricas y poderosas, entre ellas miembros de la clase política. Global Witness también denuncia que los Estados Unidos continua proporcionando ayuda de seguridad a Honduras a pesar de las continuas violaciones de derechos humanos cometidas por el estado hondureño . Sólo esta semana, los Estados Unidos dio los primeros fondos de la Alianza para la Prosperidad ($ 125 millones) al gobierno hondureño.
  • El presidente Juan Orlando Hernández está buscando una reforma al Código Penal y la introducción de nueva legislación que proporcionaría más poder a las fuerzas de seguridad del país. Además, con esta legislación, las fuerzas policiales, militares y de seguridad que matan o lesionan a los/las civiles en “defensa” estarían exentos de la justicia.

    CARITAS Honduras

    dijo que esta legislación llevaría al país de regreso a los años 80 cuando la oposición y los medios de comunicación fueron perseguidos y las prácticas de desapariciones forzadas ocurrieron regularmente.

    Amnistía Internacional critico las reformas propuestas al Código Penal.
  • Miriam Miranda y otros miembros del grupo cultural garífuna afro-hondureño OFRANEH fueron hostigados y amenazados por la Policía hondureña a principios de enero. La policía quería detener ilegalmente a Miranda y a otros tres defensores de derechos humanos, durante un puesto de control en La Ceiba. Miriam tiene medidas de protección de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH).
  • El periodista Igor Padilla, fue asesinado en la parte norte de Honduras. Honduras es uno de los países más peligrosos y mortales del mundo para ser periodista. Padilla se convirtió en el 63º trabajador de los medios de comunicación asesinado desde el 2003. 50 de los 63 asesinatos ocurrieron desde el 2009, después del golpe de Estado, y 24 solo en el 2014 y 2015.
  • OFRANEH está luchando contra Indura Hilton, que quiere construir centros turísticos en sus tierras ancestrales en el norte de Honduras, y denuncia el papel de la Procuraduría General en otorgar acceso a esa tierra a Indura Hilton
  • Honduras celebró el Día Nacional de la Mujer el pasado 25 de enero, y las defensoras y organizaciones locales de derechos de las mujeres protestaron contra la continua violencia y discriminación contra las mujeres en el país.
  • El presidente Hernández está buscando activamente una reelección ilegal, prohibida por la Constitución hondureña, y está hostigando a la oposición. En la elección anterior, el Partido Nacional robó fondos del sistema de la Seguridad Social, dejando a los/las enfermos/as y las personas con pocos recursos económicos sin medicinas y tratamientos, para financiar su campaña política.
Read More
image-title

ACTION ALERT!


CRLN and our partner La Voz de Los de Abajo are sending just shy of 30
people to observe the Honduran elections on November 24th.

The current political climate of Honduras has led to the deaths of 18 candidates
from the opposition party as well as dozens of journalists, lawyers and human
rights defenders, of which only a handful of cases have been solved.

As impunity reigns in Honduras and citizens lose faith in their
governmental istitutions,

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia is
circulating a letter to Secretary of State Kerry


demanding that the U.S.

– which has tremendous influence in Honduras –

press the Government of
Honduras to ensure the right of all its citizens to peacefully assemble,
campaign and vote.

Click here to tell your Senator that you want him or her to sign Senator
Kaine’s letter!

Support the Honduran people’s right to a democratic process!
Support the international monitoring efforts!

Click here to make your voice
heard!

You can also call Senator Durbin’s office at 202-224-2152 and ask that
Senator Durbin sign on Tim Kaine’s letter on the Honduran elections. Be sure to
tell them that your friends at CRLN and La Voz de Los de Abajo are going to
Honduras and that you’re looking to your elected officials to support the work
you’ll be doing down there to monitor the November 24th elections.



Read More
image-title


Three CRLN staff and board members traveled to Honduras February 28 – March 8 together with La Voz de los de Abajo, one of CRLN’s partner groups. Below is a reflection by Sharon Hunter-Smith upon visiting two communities engaged in land recuperation as part of the National Center of Rural Workers.

Tegucigalpa and La Paz, Honduras; March 6, 2017




(Español Aqui)


Our group from Chicago stood staring at the rough wooden table, which held 2-dozen or so spent tear gas canisters plus a couple of bullet shells, collected by the 9

th

of July community from the area immediately surrounding the place where we stood. The largest one, designed to be fired from a rifle, was stamped “Made in U.S.A.” The connection between U.S. military and police aid to Honduras and the violent persecution of impoverished Honduran farmers was crystal clear in the objects before us.

The original rural community of 28 families has been tear gassed and evicted from their simple hand-built dwellings and cultivated land 26 times by the Honduran military or police. In the last surprise eviction on January 13, 2017, the police followed the fleeing people, even women and children, across the valley, shooting all the way. One man was shot in the leg and a pregnant woman miscarried after running away, panicked, from the “security” forces. They also tore down and burned houses, stole or burned possessions and tools left in and around the houses, and cut down some of the fruit trees and crops. Since then, the women and children, have moved to a nearby community while the men have re-occupied the land.

“Thanks be to God that we continue to live on this land,” said one man. After each violent eviction, the community’s commitment is to return and resettle on the land within 24 hours of being pushed off, rebuilding houses and restoring crops as they are able. The bravery and endurance that this strategy demands is fed by their hope of land ownership. They experience other threats in the form of arrest warrants against them and death threats from the national or military police. “Every time we receive a group of international people who are in solidarity with us, it gives us the strength to keep going on with our struggle,” said another.

This community of formerly landless people, organized by the Central Nacional de Trabajadores del Campo (CNTC–National Center of Rural Workers), settled this abandoned and desert-like land in 2010. They dug trenches and bought plastic pipes to carry water for irrigation and drinking water from a spring 3 kilometers away. They planted fruit trees and other crops to feed their families. A dry hillside turned green and provided a way to make a living. The CNTC works with 203 other communities, like 9

th

of July, who are reclaiming land and putting it to good use in 14 of the 18 Honduran departments (what in the U.S. would be called states).

The National Agrarian Reform Law provides that idle land fit for farming can be expropriated and awarded to indigent and landless persons by the government, but this does not happen often. To force the issue and obtain the land essential for rural people to support themselves and their families, the CNTC works with landless people to settle and plant on unused, undeveloped or abandoned land. The occupants then file for title to the land under the Agrarian Reform Law with Honduran National Agrarian Institute (INA).


The 9

th

of July community is the most persecuted of all the CNTC communities, but others usually are evicted at least several times in their struggle to obtain land. How long do they have to be on the land before they are granted a title? “We don’t know with this administration. They are not on our side,” answered one man. Some of the CNTC communities have lived and worked on their land for 15-20 years and still do not have title.

Putting this into an even larger context for us, CNTC Director Franklin Almendares explained that 64% of Honduran people are rural, impoverished, and displaced or facing displacement from their land for lack of a title to it. 46% live in extreme poverty. “We are not poor—our land is rich—but we are impoverished, because they throw us off the land on which we live and farm. They want to annihilate those who speak out, who protest, who object to and challenge this system.” At the same time, Almendares pointed out, when large corporate landowners take land without having title to it, the government is complicit with their actions and grant them titles.


Visiting a second land recuperation project, CNTC organizers led us to a piece of land on a plantation that had been abandoned for decades, its owner living in Tegucigalpa.14 young men and boys, most in their teens and early twenties, had arrived on the land 11 days earlier at night.They had made pup tents from pieces of plastic and canvas held up by sticks for shelter, and had begun clearing trees so that they could begin to create fields to plant. The youngest among them appeared to be around 11 years old. They seemed wary and shy,  vulnerable and scared. Most did not talk to us, letting the CNTC organizers explain to us their situation.

All wanted to acquire some land to work on and have something to hope for. They eventually wanted to start a family and needed a way to support them. Without land, they had no hope, and without hope, they had no reason to live.

The CNTC organizers used our visit as a training for these young people—how to receive an international group, how to present themselves. They had coached the leader of the group to introduce himself with a brief description of their objectives in occupying this land. He told us that after arriving, they did not sleep for three nights, worried that the police would find them and evict them. They also had not slept outside before with insects and snakes in the area, and they were getting used to that. With encouraging words, the CNTC organizers told the group that eviction is just a passing misfortune on the way to acquiring land and homes and community. Every group had experienced this, and many had eventually earned their titles. They must work and have hope that they, too, will be successful one day, because this path is the only one that offers them any hope.


What can those of us in the U.S. do to stop the persecution of communities working with the CNTC?

Call your Congressional Representative’s office, ask to speak with or leave a message for the staff responsible for foreign policy, and request that they co-sponsor H.R. 2199, the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act.

This would suspend all U.S. security aid to Honduras, including equipment and training, until they cease their human rights violations. We must stop U.S. funding that enables Honduras to use violence against its own people, people who only want a chance to support their families and contribute to the life of their communities!

Read More
image-title

For several months, activists, campesinos, students, and trade unionists—this time joined by middle-class and business people–have engaged in hunger strikes, marches with torches, protests in front of government buildings, and calls for the resignation of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina. Everyone is fed up with official stealing from the public coffers. Hundreds of millions of dollars from the Social Security Institute have been stolen by officials in Honduras crippling the public health system. CICIG, the UN commission charged with uncovering the connections between organized crime and the government, has issued statements that it has hard evidence that the President and Vice President were at the head of a graft scheme that cheated the state out of tax revenue for social programs and funnelled bribes to multiple Guatemalan officials. Political parties have used pilfered public funds and donations from organized crime to fund the majority of their election campaigns.

While these same states also work to privatize social services, police with their militaries and militarize their police, and commit heinous human rights violations against their own people with impunity, the U.S. turns a blind eye to the devastating corruption and continues to send military and police aid to support those in the upper echelons of power in both countries. In addition, in response to the large numbers of unaccompanied Central American children crossing the US-Mexico border last year, the Obama Administration is requesting an additional $1 billion in aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador under the name “Alliance for Prosperity,” ostensibly to bring about improvements in security, governance, and the economies of these three nations.  However, giving vast sums of money to Honduras and Guatemala begs the question of where, exactly, this money would end up.

As regards El Salvador, evidence was recently marshaled in The Nation magazine that suggests the U.S. is supporting a soft coup in El Salvador to oust its democratically elected and left-leaning government. CRLN will be monitoring the situation with our partners in the region and in the U.S.

Here are some recent articles that provide further updates and background for the situations unfolding in these three countries.

Read More
image-title



Tres miembros del personal y la junta de directores de CRLN viajaron a Honduras del 28 febrero al 8 marzo junto con La Voz de los de Abajo, uno de los grupos asociados de CRLN. A continuación se presenta una reflexión de Sharon Hunter-Smith sobre la visita de dos comunidades dedicadas a la recuperación de tierras como parte del Centro Nacional de Trabajadores Rurales.

Tegucigalpa y La Paz, Honduras; 6 de Marzo del 2017

Nuestro grupo de Chicago se quedó mirando la tosca mesa de madera, en la cual habían dos docenas o más de latas de gas lacrimógeno, además de un par de proyectiles de bala, recogidos por la comunidad del 9 de julio en la zona que rodeaba el lugar donde estábamos. El más grande, diseñado para ser disparado desde un fusil, fue estampado “Hecho en EEUU”. La conexión entre el ejército estadounidense y la ayuda policial a Honduras y la violenta persecución de campesinos empobrecidos hondureños fue clara en los objetos que teníamos ante nosotros.

La comunidad rural original de 28 familias ha sido desgastada por gases lacrimógenos y desalojada de sus sencillas viviendas construidas a mano y tierras cultivadas, 26 veces por el ejército o la policía hondureña. En el último desalojo sorpresivo del 13 de enero de 2017, la policía siguió a los fugitivos, incluso mujeres y niños, a través del valle, disparando hasta el final. Un hombre recibió un disparo en la pierna y una mujer embarazada sufrió un aborto después de salir corriendo, presa del pánico, de las fuerzas de “seguridad”. También derribaron y quemaron casas, robaron o quemaron posesiones y herramientas dejadas en y alrededor de las casas, y cortaron algunos de los árboles frutales y cosechas. Desde entonces, las mujeres y los niños, se han trasladado a una comunidad cercana mientras que los hombres han re-ocupado la tierra.

Esta comunidad, la cual no tenía tierra antes, organizada por el Centro Nacional de Trabajadores del Campo (CNTC), se instaló esta tierra abandonada y desértica en el 2010. Ellos cavaron trincheras y compraron tubos de plástico para llevar agua para riego y agua potable de una fuente a 3 kilómetros de distancia. Plantaron árboles frutales y otros cultivos para alimentar a sus familias. Una ladera seca se volvió verde y proporcionó una manera de ganarse la vida. La CNTC trabaja con otras 203 comunidades, como la 9 de julio, que reclaman tierras y la aprovechan en 14 de los 18 departamentos hondureños (lo que en los Estados Unidos se llamaría estados).

La Ley Nacional de Reforma Agraria dispone que las tierras desocupadas aptas para la agricultura pueden ser expropiadas y otorgadas a personas indigentes y sin tierra por el gobierno, pero esto no ocurre con frecuencia. Para forzar el tema y obtener la tierra esencial para que la gente rural se mantenga a sí misma y a sus familias, la CNTC trabaja con gente sin tierra para asentarse y plantar en tierras no utilizadas, subdesarrolladas o abandonadas. Los ocupantes se declaran a favor del terreno bajo la Ley de Reforma Agraria con el Instituto Nacional Agrario de Honduras (INA).

La comunidad del 9 de julio es la más perseguida de todas las comunidades de la CNTC, pero otras generalmente son desalojadas por lo menos varias veces en su lucha por obtener tierras. ¿Cuánto tiempo tienen que estar en la tierra antes de que se les conceda un título? “No sabemos con esta administración. No están de nuestro lado “, respondió un hombre. Algunas de las comunidades CNTC han vivido y trabajado en sus tierras durante 15-20 años y aún no tienen título.

El director del CNTC, Franklin Almendares, explicó que el 64% de la población hondureña es rural, empobrecida y desplazada o que se encuentra desplazada de sus tierras por falta de un título. El 46% vive en extrema pobreza. “No somos pobres, nuestra tierra es rica, pero estamos empobrecidos, porque nos echan de la tierra donde vivimos y cultivamos. Al mismo tiempo, señaló Almendares, cuando los grandes terratenientes corporativos toman tierra sin tener título, el gobierno es cómplice de sus acciones y les concede títulos.

Visitando un segundo proyecto de recuperación de tierras, los organizadores de la CNTC nos llevaron a un terreno en una plantación que había sido abandonada por décadas, su dueño viviendo en Tegucigalpa. 14 jóvenes y niños, la mayoría en la adolescencia y principios de los veinte, habían llegado 11 días antes por la noche. Habían hecho tiendas a partir de piezas de plástico y lona sostenidas por palos para refugiarse, y habían comenzado a limpiar los árboles para que pudieran comenzar a crear campos para plantar. Los más jóvenes de ellos parecían tener alrededor de 11 años. Parecían cautelosos y tímidos, vulnerables y asustados. La mayoría no nos habló, dejando que los organizadores de la CNTC nos explicaran su situación.

Todos querían adquirir un terreno para trabajar y tener algo que desear. Eventualmente, querían formar una familia y necesitaban una forma de apoyarlos. Sin tierra, no tenían esperanza, y sin esperanza, no tenían razón para vivir.

Los organizadores de la CNTC utilizaron nuestra visita como una capacitación para estos jóvenes- cómo recibir un grupo internacional, cómo presentarse. Habían entrenado al líder del grupo para presentarse con una breve descripción de sus objetivos en la ocupación de esta tierra. Nos dijo que después de llegar, no durmieron tres noches, preocupados porque la policía los encontraría y los desalojaría. También no habían dormido afuera antes con insectos y serpientes en la zona, y se estaban acostumbrando a eso. Con palabras alentadoras, los organizadores de la CNTC dijeron al grupo que el desalojo es sólo una desgracia pasajera en el camino hacia la adquisición de tierras, hogares y comunidad. Cada grupo había experimentado esto, y muchos habían ganado sus títulos. Deben trabajar y tener esperanza de que ellos también tengan éxito un día, porque este camino es el único que les ofrece alguna esperanza.

¿Qué podemos hacer nosotros los de Estados Unidos para detener la persecución de las comunidades que trabajan con la CNTC? Llame a la oficina de su Representante del Congreso, pida hablar con el personal responsable de la política exterior o deje un mensaje y solicite que co-patrocinen la Res. H. 2199, Ley de Derechos Humanos en Honduras de Berta Cáceres. Esto suspendería toda la ayuda de seguridad de los Estados Unidos a Honduras, incluyendo equipo y entrenamiento, hasta que cesen sus violaciones de derechos humanos. Debemos detener la financiación estadounidense que permita a Honduras usar la violencia contra su propio pueblo, personas que sólo quieren una oportunidad para apoyar a sus familias y contribuir a la vida de sus comunidades.

Read More
image-title

The recent arrests of 18 former Guatemalan military officers has set in motion the formal court proceedings of decades-long delay of justice involving countless human rights violations. The violations, during the country’s thirty-six year long civil war, took place between 1960 and 1996, officially “ending” with the signing of the 1996 Peace Accords. The corruption within the country’s infrastructure, however, is much more deeply rooted. So is the vast gulf between rich and poor, racism directed against the majority indigenous population, and the need for land reform, all issues that remain unresolved after the Peace Accords.

In a country of roughly 15 million, there are roughly


6,000 homicides within Guatemala each year, yet only 2% of those go to trial.


Additionally, the success of organized crime in perpetuating this violence–during the civil war and in recent years–has been possible in part because of government and military involvement in it. For example, former president Otto Pérez Molina, formerly a general during the civil war,


was arrested last year


just hours after his resignation from the presidency for accusations of corruption and fraud.

Now, Guatemala, desperate for social and political reform, has a new, democratically-elected President, former comedian and producer Jimmy Morales, a man who proudly boasted about his neophyte status with the campaign slogan, “Neither corrupt, nor a thief.”  However, all of President Morales’ backers are military men. Will the violence lessen under him?  He was elected, many think, on a “protest vote;” in other words, Guatemalans voted their distrust of the corruption of all political candidates who had any experience in what they see as a corrupt political system.

Morales has a full table in front of him with the trials coming up in his first year as president. One case, involving former dictator Efrain Rios Montt, has been delayed several times over allegations that


his physical and mental health are not well enough


for him to appear in court. Montt and former chief of military intelligence, Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, are now facing a retrial


charged with genocide and crimes against humanity


for their roles in relation to the deaths of 1,771 Mayan Ixiles between March 1982 and August 1983. In addition to Rios Montt and Rodriguez Sanchez, former Army Chief of Staff Benedicto Lucas Garcia, brother of former President Romeo Lucas Garcia,


faces charges


for crimes against humanity which took place during Romeo’s dictatorship between 1978 and 1982.  In addition to Perez Molina, Rodriguez Sanchez, Rios Montt and Lucas Garcia, a host of other military officers from the School of the Americas–a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, specializing in counter-insurgency and teaching torture techniques–


were arrested for acts of genocide


, also taking place over 25 years ago.

What is next for the Guatemalan people, who demonstrated in the streets for 5 months last year to force the resignation of Perez Molina and to call for a better system of government? President Morales faces pressure from his military constituents as well as backlash from the anti-corruption, anti-fraud voters who put him in office. The steps he will take in response to the coming trials are nebulous. While the public largely supports prosecuting these criminals to the full extent of the law, his friends in the military have expectations that they will be found innocent and go free, or at the very least, that their trials will be delayed until these octogenarians die. As Jo-Marie Burt, a political science professor at George Mason University and senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America,


explains


, “This series of arrests from last week, some of them go right to the heart of the political allies that he has. I think that it’s kind of a little earthquake within Jimmy Morales’ inner circle.”

The importance of these court cases may be felt most deeply by the relatives of those lost during the thirty six year long war. After such a long time, it would be a huge emotional relief for the families of the victims of  these military officers’ crimes  if these violators were brought to justice.  The government has repeatedly sought to deny that there was a genocide against the Mayan people.  A guilty verdict would make the historical record clear and unequivocal. As Anselmo Roldán of the Association for Justice and Reconciliation said on the Rios Montt verdict, “To deny the sentence is to deny the value of lives lost. Each of those who died needlessly has value. The sentence is a recognition of that which was taken from us all.”

Written by Luke Burrows (CRLN Intern)
Read More
image-title


Rep. Hank Johnson reintroduced the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act in the 115th Congress as House Resolution 1299 (HR 1299) on March 2, the first anniversary of the slain indigenous rights, feminist, and environomental activist. The bill would suspend all U.S. military and police aid to Honduras, including equipment and training, until basic human rights conditions are met. The Honduran police and military have been implicated in hundreds of human rights violations since the 2009 overthrow of the government, and we should not be supporting them with our tax dollars.


We have an amazing opportunity in the two years of the 115th Congress (2017-18) to generate enough support for this bill to get it passed

. Already, Representatives Schakowsky, Lipinski, Gutierrez, Rush, and Davis from Illinois have signed on to co-sponsor. Here are three good reasons you might give us permission to sign your name on a letter to your Representative in support of this resolution, which CRLN staff will deliver when we are in DC for Ecumenical Advocacy Days:


  1. Berta’s family supports this bill

    , and we in CRLN believe in supporting the survivors of human rights abuses. Two of the suspects arrested in connection with Berta’s murder worked in military intelligence and were trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas, and Berta’s family believes the intellectual authors of the crime occupy positions at the highest levels of government. Withdrawing financial support, along with communicating the reasons for doing so, would be a blow to these forces and might weaken their position within Honduras.

2.

The social movements

in Honduras (LGBT, women, Indigenous, Garifuna, labor unions, environmentalists, small farmers), and the          journalists who cover them,

are under constant threat of violence,

and we in CRLN want to do everything in our power to send the message that they have international solidarity in these dangerous times. There have been credible allegations by an army defector of the existence of death squads within the Honduran military who have received U.S. training and who have a hit list of prominent social movement leaders. We need to stop U.S. training that results in assassinations.

3.

The current President, Juan Orlando Hernandez, and his administration and political party are riddled with corruption. He has been named by a drug trafficker leader on trial in New York as receiving bribes from his cartel, with Hernandez’ brother acting as liaison

. His National Party stole hundreds of millions of dollars from the national health insurance system to fund his first campaign. He will run again for President this fall, which violates the Constitution; and he fired four Supreme Court justices who objected and appointed four who were in favor of his re-election bid in order to be able to run again. The U.S. should not reward with funds someone who seems willing to benefit himself at the expense of his country.

For further reading, here are some recent articles on Honduras:

By Berta Caceres’ nephew on the anniversary of her assassination:


“Berta Cáceres court papers show murder suspects’ links to US-trained elite troops”


https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/28/berta-caceres-honduras-military-intelligence-us-trained-special-forces

By Steven Dudley of InSight Crime on Honduran presidents’ link to gangs:

Another Day, Another Damning Testimony of Elites by Honduras Trafficker


“Protesters in DC confront Honduran president over Berta Cáceres murder”:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/21/berta-caceres-murder-honduras-juan-orlando-hernandez-dc

Read More