Honduras is the most dangerous country in the world in which to be an environmental activist and one of the most dangerous to be a journalist, union member, or member of a social movement opposed to the current Honduran administration’s policies. Members of the military and police have been implicated in violence against, including assassinations, of members of these groups. 97% of crimes committed in Honduras are left unsolved, with no consequences for the perpetrators.
In this context, we thank you for your signatures supporting the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act (H.R. 5474). They helped CRLN convince 7 out of 10 Democratic Illinois U.S. Representatives to co-sponsor this important legislation introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson. By the end of 2016, the bill, which would suspend U.S. security aid to Honduras pending compliance with international human rights standards, garnered a total of 52 co-sponsors nationwide.
Because the 114th Congressional session ended January 3 and any legislation that did not come to the House and Senate for a vote ended with it, H.R. 5474 will need to be reintroduced in the 115th Congressional session that runs from now through the end of 2018. Rep. Hank Johnson plans to reintroduce this bill.
As soon as that happens, CRLN will contact U.S. Representatives from Illinois to ask those who signed on (Schakowsky, Gutierrez, Davis, Rush, Quigley, Lipinski) to do so again. We will contact those of you in their districts to contact them, identify yourselves as CRLN members, thank them for their co-sponsorship last year, and ask support them to sign on again.
For those of you in districts whose Representatives did not co-sponsor, we will construct new arguments for why they should co-sponsor and will contact you at the appropriate time for signatures again to show support in your district for this bill. In addition, we have a fresh opportunity to speak with Representatives elected in November (Brad Schneider in the10th District, who replaces Bob Dold; and Raja Krishnamoorthi, who replaces Tammy Duckworth—now one of Illinois’ U.S. Senators—in the 8th District).
It is vitally important to people whose lives are under threat in Honduras that the U.S. stop providing weapons and training to the forces under the authority of the current Honduran President, Juan Orlando Hernandez, whose party illegally used and deprived the public of funds designated for the health care system to support his last election and who has just orchestrated a change to the constitution to allow himself to run again for President in 2017. Under his administration, military and police forces have been unleashed to do violene against those who oppose the corruption and anti-democratic maneuvers of many of those currently in power.
If you would like to take part in a delegation to Honduras to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Berta Caceres’ death and visit other groups struggling to defend their land and human rights, click here for more information.