US Human Rights Delegation in Honduras Denounces Repression and Impunity Calls for an End to US Military and Police Funding

Our press conference outside of the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, July 5, 2016. See below for the full video of the press conference.

Our press conference outside of the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, July 5, 2016. See below for the full video of the press conference.

Tegucigalpa, July 5, 2016

A delegation of US human rights observers and activists that has been Honduras from June 27-July 6, organized by Alliance for Global Justice and Honduras Solidarity Network, will report on their findings. The delegation includes participants associated with CODEPINK, the Marin Interfaith Task Force, SEIU Local 521, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Marquette University Center for Peacemaking, San Jose Peace and Justice Center, and Global Exchange.

Delegation visiting Tolupan community San Francisco de Locomapa, Yoro, and accompanying the Broad Movement for Justice and Dignity (MADJ by Spanish acronym).

Delegation visiting Tolupan community San Francisco de Locomapa, Yoro, and accompanying the Broad Movement for Justice and Dignity (MADJ by Spanish acronym).

Visiting the Wednesday evening protests at the international-financed tollroad in San Manuel, Cortes.

Visiting the Wednesday evening protests at the international-financed tollroad in San Manuel, Cortes.

The delegation visited a Tolupan community in San Francisco de Locomapa, a San Manuel Cortez toll road protest outside Progreso and the student occupation at the UNAH-VS campus at San Pedro Sula. Also in San Pedro Sula they met with CODEMUH, the women’s collective supporting workers in factories producing apparel for well-known US brands, factories where workers have no job protection and are frequently injured and then fired. The group traveled to Azacualpa to examine the conflict surrounding the Canadian-owned San Andres mine in La Union, Copan and spoke to the mayor of La Union. They went to La Esperanza to meet with COPINH (the Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras) and the family of Berta Caceres, participated in a vigil marking the 4th month since her murder, then traveled to Rio Blanco, where communities are fighting the Agua Zarca dam. They talked to a Vitalino Alvarez, a representative from MUCA (the United Campesino Movement of the Aguan) about the struggles in the Bajo Aguan. Alvarez has survived four assassination attempts and says that he is now number one on the Honduran death squad hit list.

The group also met with US military representatives of Joint Task Force Bravo at Palmerola and representatives of the US Embassy, as well as Honduran public prosecutors in San Pedro Sula who were part of the recent Operation “Cacique” alongside the elite police unit TIGRES and the Police Investigative Unit (DPI).

In front of the house of the mayor of La Unión, Copan with community members and environmentalists from the community of Azacualpa that are fighting to protect their 200-year old cemetery under threat by the expansion of Canadian mining company, Aura Minerals. Sign reads: "Mr. Mayor. The community of Azacualpa demands: no to the closure of their cemetery."

In front of the house of the mayor of La Unión, Copan with community members and environmentalists from the community of Azacualpa that are fighting to protect their 200-year old cemetery under threat by the expansion of Canadian mining company, Aura Minerals. Sign reads: "Mr. Mayor. The community of Azacualpa demands: no to the closure of their cemetery."

Visiting Berta Caceres' mother, Doña Austra Berta Flores and family at her house in La Esperanza.

Visiting Berta Caceres' mother, Doña Austra Berta Flores and family at her house in La Esperanza.

The delegation was struck by the ongoing negative consequences of the 2009 coup, which the US government supported by continuing US military and development assistance. The coup opened the way for the granting of hundreds of concessions for mines, dams, energy-generation and other infrastructure projects that have taken land and resources from local communities. It has also led to the privatization of Honduran highways, public institutions and natural resources, actions that have been strongly condemned by large sectors of the Honduran public.

The delegation’s major concerns include:

  • ongoing human rights abuses against indigenous activists, campesinos, members of the LGBTQ community, maquiladora women, students and journalists.
  • high levels of impunity and corruption rampant in state judicial and security institutions.
  • the strong US involvement in military and police institutions known for ongoing human rights violations.
  • abusive conditions in apparel factories making goods for export to the United States.
  • the inadequate investigation into the murder of Honduran indigenous activist, Berta Cáceres, including the refusal by the authorities to release the case file to the family as required by Honduran law and the government’s refusal to comply with the demand for an independent, international investigation.
  • the criminalization of university students who are defending their right to public education.
  • the noncompliance of the Honduran government in providing protective measures (“medidas cautulares”) granted by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights defenders at risk.
  • the threatened forced displacement of the Azacualpa community, including the destruction of their 200-year-old ancestral cemetery.

We support:

  • the Honduran students in their a call for no fee hikes, elected student representatives on the Governing Board, and an immediate dialogue with University Rector Julieta Casteñeda.
  • the indigenous communities in their fight to defend their land, water and forests, and their right to free, prior and informed consent as granted under the International Labor Organization Convention Number 169.
  • the right of campesinos to organize without fear of harassment, threats and bodily harm.
  • the cancellation of the dam concession and financing to Desarrollos Energeticos (DESA) for building the Agua Zarca dam.
  • the immediate closure of the San Andres mine in Copan, as well as the suspension of mining and energy concessions that communities have not consented to.

We are concerned that the US Congress approved $750 million under the Alliance for Prosperity for development and police/military aid in the region at a time when gross human rights abuses and impunity in Honduras were well documented and reported. We feel this money has further exacerbated the crisis.

The US 2016 budget allocates approximately $18,000,000 to the Honduran police and military, and President Obama’s funding request for fiscal year 2017 calls for an increase in security funding for Honduras.This money, which is supposed to reduce human rights violations, is actually giving the Honduran government more resources to increase repression.

We therefore call on the US government to cut all military and police funding, as stipulated in the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, HR5474, which is now before Congress. This delegation will return home to pressure Congress and the State Department to stop the flow of our tax dollars to these repressive Honduran institutions.

On July 2, the 4th anniversary of the assassination of Berta Caceres, we joined the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) outside of the Public Prosecutor's office in La Esperanza. They were demanding justice for Berta's death. 

On July 2, the 4th anniversary of the assassination of Berta Caceres, we joined the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) outside of the Public Prosecutor's office in La Esperanza. They were demanding justice for Berta's death. 

At COPINH's training centre, UTOPIA in La Esperanza. The mural in the back was painted shortly after Berta was killed. We went to various places throughout the day to take pictures and join in the International Twitter campaign organized by Berta's family and COPINH to demand justice for Berta and an International independent Commission of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights to join the investigation. July 4, 2016.

At COPINH's training centre, UTOPIA in La Esperanza. The mural in the back was painted shortly after Berta was killed. We went to various places throughout the day to take pictures and join in the International Twitter campaign organized by Berta's family and COPINH to demand justice for Berta and an International independent Commission of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights to join the investigation. July 4, 2016.

ESPANOL (La versión mas pequeña y leida durante la conferencia de prensa)

Comunicado de Prensa: Delegación Estadounidense de Derechos Humanos en Honduras Denuncia Represión e Impunidad y Llama al Cese del Financiamiento Militar y Policial

Tegucigalpa, 5 de Julio 2016

La delegación estadounidense de observadores y activistas que visitó Honduras del junio 27 al 6 de julio organizado por la Alianza por la Justicia Global y la Red de Solidaridad de Honduras, reportará sobre sus descubrimientos.

Esta delegación está compuesta por participantes asociados de CODEPINK, el Grupo de Trabajo Interreligioso Marin, SEIU Local 521, la Liga Internacional de las Mujeres por la Paz y la Libertad, el Centro por el Establecimientos de la Paz de la Universidad de Marquette en Wisconsin, el Centro de Paz y Justicia de San José y Global Exchange.

La delegación visitó la comunidad Tolupán en San Francisco de Locomapa en Yoro, una protesta en contra del peaje en la carreta de San Manuel, Cortés, la toma estudiantil del campus de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH) en San Pedro Sula, las organizaciones CODEMUH, COPINH, y la comunidad de Azacualpa para examinar el conflicto alrededor de la mina canadiense "San Andrés" en Copán. El grupo también habló con representantes de la Fuerza Especial Conjunta Bravo en Palmerola y con la Embajada de los Estados Unidos.

La delegación está impresionada por las consecuencias negativas del golpe del 2009, el cual fue apoyado por el gobierno de Estados Unidos al continuar su ayuda militar y para el sector de desarrollo. Observaron cómo el golpe ha llevado a la privatización de las autopistas hondureñas, instituciones públicas y recursos naturales, así como al incremento de la corrupción e impunidad en el sistema judicial e instituciones de defensa.

Estamos en asombro ante los abusos contra los derechos humanos de activistas indígenas, campesinos, mujeres que trabajan en la industria maquiladora y estudiantes.

Apoyamos:

  • A los estudiantes en su llamado en contra del plan de arbitrios, una universidad libre de armas, retiro de requerimientos fiscales y acusaciones contra estudiantes y demandando representación estudiantil en el Consejo Universitario, y un diálogo inmediato con la Rectora de la Universidad Julieta Castellaños.
  • A las comunidades indígenas en su lucha por defender la tierra, el agua y los bosques, y su derecho a una consulta libre, abierta e informada como les concede el Convenio 169 de la Organización Internacional del Trabajo.
  • El derecho a los campesinos a organizarse sin miedo a amenazas, acoso y daños a su integridad.
  • La cancelación de la concesión y financiamiento a Desarrollos Energéticos (DESA) por construir la represa Agua Zarca, la creación de una Comisión Independiente que investigue el caso de la lidereza Bertha Cáceres y se de acceso a su familia a la investigación.
  • El cierre inmediato de la mina San Andrés en Copán, así como la suspensión de la minería y concesiones energéticas en comunidades que no han dado su consentimiento.

Nos preocupa gravemente el nivel de involucramiento de los Estados Unidos con las fuerzas militares y policiales. El dinero y entrenamiento estadounidense que se supone debe detener las violaciones a derechos humanos está al contrario brindándole al gobierno de Honduras más recursos para incrementar la represión.

También nos preocupa la aprobación de 750 millones de dólares bajo el Plan de la Alianza para la Prosperidad dirigida al desarrollo y ayuda militar y policial en la región en un momento cuando graves abusos a los derechos e impunidad en Honduras son ampliamente reportados y documentados. Sentimos que este dinero ha exacerbado la crisis aún más.

Con el horrible nivel de violencia e impunidad en Honduras hoy, el gobierno de los Estados Unidos debería cortar toda ayuda militar y policial, como lo propone la Legislación de Derechos Humanos Berta Cáceres en Honduras, HR5474. Esta delegación regresará a su país a presionar al Congreso y al Departamento de Estado para un cese al flujo de dólares de nuestros impuestos a estas instituciones represivas.