From the Boston Review, July 24, 2017
Central America: Open for Business, Not Human Rights
At last month’s Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America, held in Miami, the United States and Mexico met with Central American government and business leaders to discuss enhancing their countries’ security and stability. The goal was to promote prosperity through security, defined as cracking down on transnational criminal networks, combatting drug trafficking, and fostering conditions for economic growth. The conference organizers claim that, taken together, these strategies will stem the flow of desperate migrants seeking to escape poverty and violence by fleeing across the U.S. southern border.
From Truthout, July 22, 2017
How the US Imposes the Worst of Its Prison Paradigm Abroad
The new federal penitentiary in Santa Barbara, Honduras, occupies a strip of land between a highway and cloudy, forested hills. "El Pozo," or The Pit, as it's known, is surrounded by barbed wire and has two additional checkpoints beyond the first gate. It's a maximum-security facility, one of three that have popped up since 2009. Before these were built, Honduras had no maximum-security prisons. El Pozo is one of the products of a United States international prison management program that infuses Latin American penitentiary cultures with some of the most inhumane aspects of US prison systems, and provides no benefit in terms of real security.
From TeleSUR English, July 20, 2017
Honduran Students March to Protest Education Budget Crisis
University students were attacked by a group of private security guards during a protest Wednesday.
Hundreds of students from the National Autonomous University of Honduras marched to the country's congress in Tegucigalpa to deliver a law project to protect public education and resolve the internal budget crisis. Three students from the University Student Movement delivered the request to legislative members demanding an end to budget cuts affecting education.
From many academics, July 19, 2017
132 Academics and Researchers Call for a Dialogue Between Authorities at the Autonomous University of Honduras-UNAH Campuses and Protesting Students
WASHINGTON - 132 academics and researchers, specialists in Latin American Studies and Latino/a Studies, signed on to a letter in support of the 27 students who are currently facing charges for student activism at the Autonomous University of Honduras-UNAH campuses. Three of those students have been convicted and await sentencing for non-violent protest. Academics are asking for University to drop charges against all students, especially 3 of the students already convicted: Moisés David Cáceres Velásquez, Sergio Luis Ulloa Rivera, and Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla.
From the Globe and Mail, July 10, 2017
Honduran video journalist fatally shot in Mexico
Authorities in the Mexican state of Veracruz said Monday that they were investigating the killing of a Honduran video journalist who had sought refugee status in Mexico.
In a statement, the state prosecutor’s office said Edwin Rivera Paz was shot to death Sunday in the town of Acayucan. It said the body was identified by a relative.
From ABC News, July 7, 2017
Two European development banks financing construction of a controversial dam project in Honduras have pulled out following the murders of local activists including Berta Caceres, a 2015 winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.
The Netherlands Development Finance Institution and the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation said in a joint statement Thursday that the decision to halt their involvement in the Agua Zarca dam was reached after extensive local and international consultations.
From Democracy Now, July 6, 2017
Berta Cáceres's Daughter on Surviving Attempted Attack in Honduras
In Honduras, 26-year-old Bertita Zúñiga Cáceres, the daughter of the murdered Honduran indigenous and environmental leader Berta Cáceres, has survived an attempted attack by a group of unknown assailants wielding machetes. The attack comes just weeks after Cáceres was named the new leader of COPINH, the group formerly led by her mother. Cáceres is also campaigning in support of pending U.S. legislation to suspend all U.S. military aid to Honduras. We speak with Bertita Zúñiga Cáceres about the attempt on her life. We also speak with Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle, longtime friend of Cáceres and her mother. He is a member of La Voz de los de Abajo, one of the founding groups of the Honduras Solidarity Network.
From TeleSUR English, July 6, 2017
Central American Refugees Opt for Mexico Instead of US
Mexican authorities granted refugee status to about one in every three applicants from the Northern Triangle in 2016
Immigrants from Central American countries are increasingly choosing to resettle in Mexico instead of the United States, as President Donald Trump’s administration tightens its Immigration policies.
From TeleSUR English, July 5, 2017
'Red Alert' Issued Over Femicides in Honduras After 140 Women Killed So Far in 2017
Statistics show that every 14 hours a woman is killed in the Central American nation.
Social organizations in Honduras working to protect women have declared a "red alert" due to femicides in the country, a situation the United Nations described as worrying.
Fifty women from 20 non-governmental organizations in Honduras organized a protest outside the Public Ministry in the capital city of Tegucigalpa on Tuesday to denounce gender violence and impunity.
From The Guardian, July 4, 2017
Daughter of murdered Honduran activist survives armed attack
The daughter of the murdered Honduran environmentalist Berta Cáceres has survived an armed attack, just weeks after being named leader of the indigenous rights organisation formerly led by her mother.
Bertha Zuñiga, 25, was attacked along with two other members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (Copinh) as they drove back from a community visit in central Honduras on Friday.
From New York Times Opinion Pages, July 2, 2017
The Deadly Results of a D.E.A.-Backed Raid in Honduras
WASHINGTON — It was a dark, moonless night. A small passenger boat had nearly reached the end of its six-hour journey upriver when helicopters appeared overhead and another boat came into view. Shots were fired, hitting several passengers. As terrified men, women and children leapt into the water, they were fired on again by a machine-gunner perched in a helicopter. Four people were killed, two of them women, another a 14-year-old boy. Several more were injured.
From the Daily Beast, July 1, 2017
Inside Trump’s Disastrous ‘Secret’ Drug War Plans for Central America
Nothing really puts you in your place quite like getting shot at in another country. All gringo arrogance vaporized in an instant. Choking from teargas. Lungs aflame. Reeling blind through unknown streets just ahead of the death squads. Abandoned by your fellow correspondents, who were all shrewd enough to have put on their gas masks and taken cover before the soldiers launched shock grenades and opened fire on the crowd.
From the Center for Constitutional Rights, June 28, 2017
Eight Years After the Coup in Honduras, The Struggle Continues
Today marks the eighth anniversary of the coup d’etat in Honduras. On June 28, 2009, former President Manuel Zelaya, who was democratically elected and later embarked on a platform of progressive reform, was kidnapped by the Honduran army and flown out of the country in the middle of the night from an air field controlled by the U.S. military. Given the shrinking 21st century attention span and selective political memory loss plaguing these times, it bears repeating that long before the coup, which the U.S. government helped to solidify, Honduras served as a base from which U.S. Cold War-era operations were conducted in the region.
From TeleSUR English, June 28, 2017
Honduran Resistance, LGBT Liberation Are One Struggle: Activist
Honduran LGBT activist Erick Vidal Martinez Salgado is one of many social leaders organizing protests commemorating the 2009 military coup.
Honduras’ LGBT community is participating in nationwide demonstrations on Wednesday commemorating the eighth anniversary of the 2009 U.S.-backed military coup that ousted former leftist President Manuel Zelaya.
From TeleSUR, June 27, 2017
Exiled Daughter of Slain Honduran Activist Exposes Coup Legacy
By the time she saw her mother lying dead on the ground, Margarita Montserrat Salinas Murillo knew she had to take action.
She was 27, staring down at the body of the 54-year-old woman whom she also considered to be one of her best friends. Montserrat, as everyone calls her, saw her mother, renowned leftist Honduran activist Margarita Murillo, riddled with bullets on August 27, 2014.
From World Politics Review, June 27, 2017
Development Takes a Back Seat in Trump’s Central America Policy
Over two days in Miami earlier this month, the leaders of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador met with officials from the United States and Mexico to discuss the longstanding challenges of combating transnational crime, narcotrafficking and corruption in Central America. Any discussion of migration policy, however, was explicitly off the table at the Conference on Prosperity and Security, which included U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Despite brutal conditions in the region that have driven a spike in migration north in recent years, the Trump administration’s narrow priorities in Central America became clear in Miami, if they weren’t already.
From The Guardian, June 4, 2017
Backers of Honduran dam opposed by murdered activist withdraw funding
The international funders behind the hydroelectric dam opposed by murdered Honduran environmentalist Berta Cáceres are withdrawing from the project, the Guardian can reveal.
Three financial institutions had pledged loans worth $44m for the Agua Zarca dam on the Gualcarque river, which is considered sacred by the Lenca people and which Caceres campaigned against before her death.
From Amnesty International, April 25, 2017
Honduras: Historic opportunity to decriminalize abortion
Ahead of a debate in the Honduran congress today over the country’s criminalization of abortion, Amnesty International’s Americas Director Erika Guevara-Rosas said:
“By criminalizing abortion, the Honduran Penal Code is incompatible with human rights standards and must be modified without delay.” “Preventing women from exercising their human rights by stopping them from being able to make decisions over their own bodies only puts their health and lives in danger.”
From TeleSUR English, April 21, 2017
Honduras Must Do More to Protect Indigenous Rights: UN
Amid systematic violence against Indigenous and environmental activists in Honduras, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz met with affected communities and urged the Honduran government to increase dialogue with Indigenous peoples and to respect their land and cultural rights.
Honduras was named the most dangerous country in the world for land and environmental defenders this year by NGO Global Witness. Tauli-Corpuz noted that the government has taken some steps in improving its consultation with local communities and in particular noted the importance of a newly submitted bill which would require the government to first consult with affected communities before projects such as mining and infrastructure projects are given approval.
From Solidarity Center, April 19, 2017
Honduran Worker Rights Activists Face Rising Violence
A brutal attack against a union leader and his brother in Honduras is the latest in escalating violence directed at worker rights activists there, according to the Honduran National Network for Violence Against Trade Unionists and other Solidarity Center partners in the country.
Moisés Sánchez, secretary general of the melon export branch of the Honduran agricultural workers’ union, Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares (STAS), and his brother, union member Misael Sánchez, say they were attacked late last week by six men wielding machetes as they left the union office in the southern town of Choluteca, an area where agricultural workers harvest melons and other export produce
From Common Dreams, April 19, 2017
Sowing the Seeds of Berta Cáceres
Two Honduran cultural workers, feminists, and close friends of Berta Cáceres will tour 20 US cities between April 20 and May 23, 2017 to “sow the seeds of Berta.” Singer-songwriter Karla Lara and writer Melissa Cardoza will use music, writing, story, and discussion to grow the international movement for justice and grassroots feminism. Their tour’s goal is not to impart answers, but to spark collective ideas and engagement through creativity and dialogue.
The tour will also promote Cardoza’s book, 13 Colors of the Honduran Resistance, recently published in English with translation by Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle. Black Lives Matter Network co-creator Alicia Garza says the book “is rooted in a love of freedom that will grip your heart. Cardoza… ensures that, in memory of our sister Berta Cáceres, feminisms are three-dimensional and span multiple experiences.”
From the National Catholic Reporter, March 30, 2017
One year after Caceres murder, US ties to Honduras endure, killings continue
It's been a year this March since a death squad broke into the home of Honduras' most prominent environmental activist and shot her to death in the middle of the night.
Berta Cáceres had worked to stop the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam from being built on the Gualcarque River, a revered water source for indigenous Lenca people in western Honduras.
She fully knew the danger of her work, having learned she was on a hit list of U.S.-trained Honduran special forces and having received more than three dozen death threats, none of which were investigated by any government authorities.
From Alternet, March 28, 2017
How Trump Is Riding On The Shoulders Of Obama’s Interventions In Central America
As the Trump administration continues to criminalize immigrants and refugees, using executive orders to ramp up deportations, conducting large-scale raids that terrorize immigrant communities, and ordering the completion of the wall on the US-Mexico border, it simultaneously builds on the repressive US foreign policy that creates immigrants and refugees in the first place.
From The Guardian, March 21, 2017
Protesters in DC confront Honduran president over Berta Cáceres murder
Supporters and family members of Berta Cáceres, the Honduran environmental and indigenous rights activist who was assassinated last year, have confronted the country’s president in Washington to demand an independent investigation of her murder.
President Juan Orlando Hernández traveled to Washington to meet with lawmakers on Tuesday and was greeted by protesters carrying signs with photographs of murdered activists and chants of “asesino” – Spanish for murderer.
From AFP, March 21, 2017
Honduras probes cartel links to public contracts
Tegucigalpa (AFP) - Honduras on Monday launched a probe into allegations a drug cartel took on public contracts to launder money, made by one of the gang's ex-leaders in testimony to a New York court.
The country's public ministry said it has tasked four anti-corruption prosecution teams to examine documents relating to government tenders awarded between 2010 and 2014, to see what ties there were to the Cachiros cartel.
From the AP, March 16, 2017
Trafficker Says He Met With the Honduran President's Brother
NEW YORK (AP) — A convicted drug trafficker testified in a New York courtroom on Thursday that he met with the brother of current Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez to get the Central American country's government to pay its debts with a company that the trafficker's cartel used to launder money.
Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, ex-leader of the cartel known the Cachiros, testified about Antonio "Tony" Hernandez in a pre-sentencing hearing for the son of retired Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa
From the Kansas City Star, March 16, 2017
Activists call on Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas to support bill to improve human rights in Honduras
A protest outside of U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder’s Overland Park office on Thursday was aimed at helping the case of an Honduran woman and her children as they seek asylum.
Cross Border Network, a nonprofit organization that advocates for working people around the world, organized the protest. The group focuses on human rights in Honduras.
Judy Ancel, Cross Border president, said Honduran Mercedes Zelaya Mendoza and her four children fled the country in August because the Honduran government couldn’t provide protection from death threats.
From The Washington Blade, March 16, 2017
Activist loses bid to become first LGBT member of Honduras congress
A prominent Honduran activist has lost his bid to become the first openly LGBT person elected to the country’s congress.
Diversity Movement in Resistance’s Human Rights Committee Coordinator Erick Martínez finished 71st out of the 207 candidates from the Francisco Morazán Department in primary elections that took place on March 12.
From TeleSUR English, March 11, 2017
Honduran President Seeks Contentious 2nd Term in Primaries
Honduras is set to go to the polls for its primary elections on Sunday, where current President Juan Orlando Hernandez will controversially seek to become the candidate for his party to run for a second term as president, a move previously banned and used to justify the 2009 U.S.-backed coup.
In Sunday's vote, Hondurans will select their candidates for president, three vice presidents, 298 mayors and 128 members of Congress. The presidential vote is then set to take place in November.
From The Guardian, March 8, 2017
Farmers sue World Bank lending arm over alleged violence in Honduras
Peasants in Honduras have sued a branch of the World Bank over its financing of the corporation Dinant, which has vast palm oil plantations in Bajo Aguán valley in the country’s north. Lawyers for the farmers say they are seeking compensation for alleged attacks and killings, including actions by the company’s private security forces.
Attorneys for the NGO EarthRights International (ERI) filed the suit on the farmers’ behalf on Tuesday, at a US federal court in Washington DC, where the World Bank is headquartered
From the Huffington Post, March 8, 2017
Honduran Farmers to the World Bank Group: “See You in Court”
I’ll never forget the day over 20 years ago that a refugee from Myanmar (Burma) explained law to me better than any of my professors or the experts ever did. The young woman, a survivor of rape and other unspeakable human rights abuses, was talking about an American oil company’s decision to contract with and finance the notorious Burmese military to secure its investment there. Her statement was simple: “When you shake hands with someone whose hands are covered with blood, then your hands are going to get blood on them too.”
Today, when EarthRights International (ERI) and residents of the Bajo Aguán region of Honduras filed a lawsuit against the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), those words rang loud and clear in my ears. In their case, our brave clients who are being terrorized by the recipient of the IFC’s loan, the Dinant Corporation, basically said this: “When you pass money to a company that has blood on its hands in one of the most violent places on earth, then your hands will have blood on them too.”
From News Wire, March 7, 2017
Honduran Drug Cartel Kingpin Head of the “Cachiros” Testifies in NY Court that he Bribed Ex-President Porfirio Lobo Sosa and his Son
One of the leaders of Honduran drug trafficking network the Cachiros has testified in court that he repeatedly bribed former President Porfirio Lobo, adding to the evidence suggesting drug traffickers corrupted Honduras’ state institutions at the highest levels.
Testifying in the drug trafficking case of Lobo’s son Fabio, Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga told a New York court that he made his first payment of between $250,000 and $300,000 to Lobo when the politician was running for president in 2009, reported La Prensa. This was followed by at least two more bribes delivered directly to the president, Rivera said.
From Irish Independent, March 6, 2017
Natives pay price for defence of environment against industry
In Honduras, those who oppose the state and companies intent on exploiting the country's natural resources face arrest and death. The Tolupan indigenous community, who live high in the mountains above the city of El Progreso, knows this better than most.
Over the past 20 years, more than 100 members have been killed. It's not surprising Honduras has been described by the Global Witness charity as among the deadliest country in the world in which to be a defender of environmental rights with conflict over mining, logging and hydropower.
From Upside Down World, March 4, 2017
Honduras: To Honor Berta Cáceres’ Memory, Carry on Her Struggle
Today was her birthday. Berta Cáceres would have turned 46 years old today, but instead of gathering to celebrate her birthday, people have been gathering to mark the anniversary of her death.
A lifelong organizer and activist, Cáceres was the co-founder and general coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). She was shot to death in her home the night of March 2, 2016. Eight suspects, including members of the Honduran armed forces and employees of a hydroelectric dam company, have since been arrested in connection with her murder.
From Irish Independent, March 4, 2017
The village that's disappearing into the sea
A PIPE protrudes from the beach, spurting drinking water into the oncoming surf. It once fed a house, since washed away by the sea, one of 23 lost to rising sea levels in Cuyamel sandbar in Omoa, Honduras.
This community of more than 500 people has existed for more than a century, its inhabitants sustained by agriculture and fishing.
But palm trees buffeted by the Caribbean sea, their roots barely clinging to what remains of the soil below, now mark the spot where homes once stood.
From Thomas Reuters Foundation, March 3, 2017
"Berta is not dead": A year after Honduran activist's killing, her legacy grows
TEGUCIGALPA, March 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The killing of land rights campaigner Berta Caceres has unleashed a wave of activism in support of women and the environment, said friends, colleagues, and family commemorating the first anniversary of the Honduran's death.
The indigenous activist has become a figurehead for protests in her home country since she was shot and killed on March 3, 2016, after receiving death threats over her opposition to a hydroelectric dam project.
From CNN, March 3, 2017
Berta Cáceres' family seeks justice on anniversary of fearless activist's death
(CNN) - In one of the most dangerous countries in the world, one woman paid the ultimate price for her cause.
One day before her 45th birthday on March 3, 2016, Berta Cáceres was shot dead in her home after years of threats to her life for her work as a fearless human rights activist.
The mother of four, herself a member of the indigenous Lenca group, was a hero to rural indigenous populations in Honduras, who have been under constant threat in recent years from groups wanting to build mega-projects such dams and mines and carry out logging on their land.
From NACLA, March 2, 2017
A Year Without Berta
March 2 marks the first anniversary of the assassination of Berta Cáceres, the world-renowned Honduran environmental and indigenous rights activist. Gustavo Castro Soto was the only witness to the murder, and in the days following was subjected to mistreatment by the Honduran authorities and threats against his life. Last year, Gustavo shared this experience with NACLA.
From the New York Times Opinion Pages, March 2, 2017
An Idealist’s Martyrdom Fails to Move Honduras
LA ESPERANZA, Honduras — Precisely a year ago, I awoke to a garbled text message from my mother. She was too distraught to write clearly, but I understood her immediately, and my heart dropped. Murderers had finally gotten to my aunt Berta Cáceres, who, as a child, had been young enough to be my playmate Bertita, and later, as a woman, was courageous enough to stand up to evil in Honduras.
As we mark this sad anniversary in the town where Berta died, there is no solace for my family. Neither Honduras nor the United States seems to have learned anything from this loss.
From The Hill, March 2, 2017
A year after Cáceres assassination, US policy on Honduras yet to change
This week, hundreds of people are gathered in the small town of La Esperanza in Honduras to remember the extraordinary life of Berta Cáceres, brutally cut short one year ago by a death squad that included U.S.-trained security agents.
During her short time on Earth, Cáceres was a powerful leader involved in many struggles. She led protests against corporate-driven regional trade agreements. She was a key figure in the broad-based movement of peaceful resistance to the 2009 military coup that deposed Honduras's democratically elected president. Later, she was an outspoken critic of the U.S.-backed militarization of Honduras that rapidly expanded after the coup.
From Yale Environment 360, March 1, 2017
In Honduras, Defending Nature Is a Deadly Business
They came for her late one evening last March, as Berta Cáceres prepared for bed. A heavy boot broke the back door of the safe house she had just moved into. Her colleague and family friend, Gustavo Castro, heard her shout, “Who’s there?” Then came a series of shots. He survived. But the most famous and fearless social and environmental activist in Honduras died instantly. She was 44 years old. It was a cold-blooded political assassination.
From The Guardian, February 28, 2017
Berta Cáceres court papers show murder suspects' links to US-trained elite troops
Leaked court documents raise concerns that the murder of the Honduran environmentalist Berta Cáceres was an extrajudicial killing planned by military intelligence specialists linked to the country’s US–trained special forces, a Guardian investigation can reveal.
Cáceres was shot dead a year ago while supposedly under state protection after receiving death threats over her opposition to a hydroelectric dam.
The murder of Cáceres, winner of the prestigious Goldman environmental prize in 2015, prompted international outcry and calls for the US to revoke military aid to Honduras, a key ally in its war on drugs.
From TeleSUR English, February 21, 2017
Changes to Penal Code in Honduras Raise Human Rights Concerns
The Honduran National Congress meets Tuesday to vote on controversial changes to the country’s penal code that human rights advocates fear will criminalize protests and give immunity to police and the military, instead of carrying out their intended purpose of battling criminal networks and extortion
Reforms will see that state authorities, including police and the military, will be given increased immunity that will protect them from prosecution for use of firearms in the line of duty. The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights said that the change could open the door for impunity of the arbitrary use of force, including extrajudicial killings and torture by authorities.
From Truth Out, February 21, 2017
Is Berta Cáceres' Assassination a Tipping Point for Change in Honduras?
"We are not satisfied because they have only captured those that executed her. The intellectual authors -- those who ordered it, those who paid for it -- are enjoying complete impunity," said Austra Flores, mother of slain Honduran activist Berta Cáceres, from her home in La Esperanza, before the latest arrest of a suspected hitman.
From Democracy Now, February 21, 2017
Honduras: Indigenous Leader José Santos Sevilla Assassinated
In Honduras, indigenous leader José Santos Sevilla has been assassinated by armed gunmen in his home in Montaña de la Flor, north of the capital. Santos Sevilla was the leader of the indigenous Tolupan people, who are fighting to protect their ancestral lands from industrial mining and logging projects. In 2015, the United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples warned of rampant violence against Tolupan organizers, including assassinations, as well as state impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes.
From Washington Blade, February 20, 2017
René Martínez was president of Comunidad Gay Sampedrana, an LGBT advocacy group in San Pedro Sula, a city in northwest Honduras, in June 2016. He was also running an outreach center in the city’s Chamelecón neighborhood through Youth Alliance Honduras, an organization that is part of an anti-violence program the U.S. Agency for International Development helped to develop.
From Witness for Peace, February 15 2017
Global Witness Report on Honduras Vindicates Berta Cáceres Act: We Urge Refining Recommendations for US
A new report from the human rights NGO Global Witness outlines the role of US foreign policy and commercial investment in widespread and systematic abuses of human rights in Honduras. The report, entitled Honduras: The Deadliest Place to Defend the Planet, is the result of two years of on-the-ground research by the team at Global Witness. It documents the threats, intimidation, criminalization, and murder faced by environmental and land rights activists in Honduras. In the wake of its publication, Global Witness staff and the Hondurans who have publicly supported the report have been targeted with defamation campaigns and threats from leaders of Honduran government and industry.
From TODAY, February 9, 2017
Mexico, Central America to discuss migration under Trump: ambassador
MEXICO CITY - The foreign ministers of Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala will meet in Mexico next week to discuss immigration policy responses to Donald Trump's U.S. presidency, the Honduran ambassador to Mexico said on Wednesday.
Central American ministers want to open lines of communication with Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray to discuss problems with migration and the flow of Central Americans, Alden Rivera said in an interview.
From Mongabay, February 1, 2017
Honduran politicians, U.S. aid implicated in killings of environmentalists
Global Witness, a London-based NGO, published a report yesterday examining the involvement of government officials and foreign aid in violent conflicts over mining, hydroelectric, tourism, and palm oil projects in Honduras. The result of a two-year investigation, the report includes several case studies and a series of recommendations for the Honduran and U.S. governments.
From AFP, January 31, 2017
US gives $125 mn to Honduras to stem emigration
The United States on Tuesday gave Honduras the first $125 million from a regional scheme aimed at curbing emigration from Central America to its borders, according to officials.
The aid transfer was signed by the US ambassador, James Nealon, and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, with the latter saying: "Our goal is to attack the root of the problem of irregular migration" to the United States.
The money comes from a $750 million Alliance for Prosperity Plan authorized by former US president Barack Obama.
From The Guardian, January 31, 2017
Honduras elites blamed for violence against environmental activists
High-ranking politicians and business tycoons are implicated in a wave of violence against environmental activists in Honduras, according to an investigation by the anti-corruption group Global Witness, which says the country’s elites are using criminal methods to terrorize communities with impunity.
From Global Witness, January 31, 2017
REPORT - Honduras: the deadliest country in the world for environmental activism
Nowhere are you more likely to be killed for standing up to companies that grab land and trash the environment than in Honduras.
More than 120 people have died since 2010, according to Global Witness research. The victims were ordinary people who took a stand against dams, mines, logging or agriculture on their land –murdered by state forces, security guards or hired assassins. Countless others have been threatened, attacked or imprisoned.
From TeleSUR English, January 30, 2017
Irish Firm Exploiting Plantation Workers in Honduras: Observers
An international delegation on melon plantations owned by the Irish company Fyffes in Honduras found an open and systematic violation of the most basic labor and trade union rights, often with the complicity of public officials, according to a statement issued Monday.
From TeleSUR English, January 18, 2017
Journalist Shot Dead in Honduras
Honduran journalist Igor Padilla was shot dead Tuesday in San Pedro Sula, authorities said, making him the 69th member of the media killed in the violence-plagued Central American country since 2003.
From TruthOut, January 17, 2017
How Washington Created a Honduran Nightmare on Its Doorstep
Armed men wearing ski masks suddenly appeared in the distance. On a dirt road in northern Honduras, between the city of Tocoa and the small village of Punta de Piedra, a massive drug raid was underway. Dozens of men in bulletproof vests with high-calibre weapons swarmed the area: members of the Honduran military and police as well as US-trained Tigres and Cobra forces. They burst forcefully into this area where drug trafficking was rampant.
From TeleSUR English, January 17, 2017
Witness to Berta Caceres Murder Sues Honduras for Detention
Mexican environmentalist Gustavo Castro, the only witness to Berta Caceres' murder, launched an international criminal complaint against Honduras on Monday for detaining him in the country for weeks after the killing of a fellow activist.
From El Pais, January 16, 2017
Eighth arrest made in hunt for killer of environmentalist Berta Cáceres
*** Note: Only 7 individuals have been arrested in Caceres' murder case ***
The investigation into the murder of Honduran environmental campaigner Berta Cáceres has taken a new turn. Mexican Federal Police officers have arrested one of the suspects in Reynosa (Tamaulipas). The detainee is Henry Javier Hernández Rodríguez, a 26-year-old former member of the military, who was working in a barber shop at the time of his arrest. A total of eight people have been detained so far in the investigation.
From the Huffington Post, January 16, 2017
Land Grabs Are Partly To Blame For Skyrocketing Violence In Central America
In 2013, San Pedro Sula in Honduras was the world’s murder capital, with a murder rate of 187 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, driven by a surge in gang and drug trafficking violence. Nationwide, the year before, Honduras’s murder rate was 90 murders per 100,000 people ― the highest in the world.
From Frontline Defenders, January 12, 2017
Miriam Miranda and members of OFRANEH Harassed by Police Officers
On 11 January 2017, members of the National Police attempted to detain human rights defender Ms. Miriam Miranda while she was passing through a checkpoint in La Ceiba, on the Northern coast of Honduras, with fellow human rights defenders Mr. Luis Gutierrez, Mr. Oscar Gaboa and Mr. Luis Miranda.
From WPR, January 6, 2017
Why Honduras Remains Latin America’s Most Unequal Country
Honduras is the most unequal country in Latin America and the sixth most unequal country in the world, according to World Bank statistics. The poverty rate currently stands at 64.5 percent, while 42.6 percent of Hondurans live in extreme poverty. In an email interview, Jake Johnston, a research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, discusses income inequality in Honduras.
WPR: What is the rate of income inequality in Honduras, what are the latest trends in terms of widening or lessening inequality, and what are the main factors driving income inequality?
Jake Johnston: Inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient—a ratio of income distribution within a country where 0 represents perfect equality and 1 perfect inequality—had been experiencing a steady decline when, in 2009, President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a military coup. In the years that followed, those gains were quickly erased. By 2013, that trend appeared to have turned around, and the Gini coefficient began decreasing, but more recent information suggests another reversal. While the most recent data on the Gini coefficient is only from 2014, household per capita income data from Honduras shows big gains for the richest segment of the country in 2016. The top 20 percent saw their incomes increase by more than 8 percent, while those in the bottom 20 percent saw a decrease of 7.4 percent. There are myriad factors that drive inequality, but there is little question that the government’s austerity efforts over the past years have contributed to the problem. As part of an economic reform program supported by the International Monetary Fund, the Honduran government significantly cut spending in 2014 and 2015. Though the program does call for a floor on social spending, at just 1.6 percent of gross domestic product, it’s far too low given the immense needs of the population. Further, a regressive tax reform implemented in late 2013 certainly impacted those on the bottom end of the income spectrum.
WPR: What are the political and socio-economic implications of income inequality in Honduras?
Johnston: Honduras remains one of the poorest and most unequal countries in Latin America, and also one of the most violent. With economic doors closed, many of the poorest and most excluded in society have turned to crime, while many more have simply left the country, seeking opportunity elsewhere. This vicious cycle of poverty, exclusion, violence and migration will no doubt have political implications. Hondurans are likely to demand a government more responsive to their needs that will begin to address the deep economic inequalities that have plagued the country for decades.
WPR: What policy measures are in place to address inequality and poverty, how have they evolved recently, and how important of an issue is income inequality to politicians and the general public?
Johnston: In theory, there are conditional cash transfer programs and a basic social safety net; however, in practice these programs have done little to alleviate suffering at the bottom end of the income spectrum. In fact, under President Juan Orlando Hernandez, fiscal austerity has actually led to cuts in other key social spending categories. While the government has spent lavishly on military and police forces embroiled in human rights abuse allegations, the poorest appear to largely have been forgotten. Zelaya, who was one of the few presidents who took concrete measures to lift up the most vulnerable and oversaw a massive increase in the minimum wage, was overthrown by the military with the support of the country's political and economic elite in 2009. Widespread repression of human rights activists, environmental and indigenous rights leaders, and others who represent the most excluded and poorest segments of society indicates the level of interest the current Honduran government has shown toward addressing the country’s fundamental economic inequities. Unfortunately, internationally backed development initiatives such as the Alliance for Prosperity appear to simply reinforce the economic model that has produced such profound inequality.
From The Nation, January 5, 2017
Will the Trump Administration Approve a Military Deal Between Honduras and Israel?
If you want to know how Donald Trump’s Latin American policy will play—and how he might deputize Israel to conduct a good bit of it—keep an eye on Honduras.
Honduras is both the coal mine (a country on the front lines of intensified energy extraction, mostly in the form of highly destructive and violent biofuel production) and the canary (the place where democratic activists, including those fighting deforestation, are killed at accelerating rates) of US foreign policy. In 2009, as Nation readers know, a decent, democratically elected, president, Manuel Zelaya, was ousted in a coup that was quickly legitimated by then–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
From Refinery 29, January 3, 2017
What It’s Like To Be A Human Rights Defender In One Of The Deadliest Countries On Earth
Pull back the label on a T-shirt or a pair of trainers and you might see “Made in Honduras”. Fish your favourite long-lasting lipstick out of your makeup bag and it may contain palm oil, another of the tiny Central American country’s major exports.
But although Honduras is one of the smallest countries in the world, it boasts one of the highest murder rates per capita. Human rights defenders, many of them women, pushing for better conditions in these industries and beyond, often find themselves in the crosshairs of the violence.
From The Nation, December 21, 2016
The Alliance for Prosperity Will Intensify the Central American Refugee Crisis
It took a few tries before the taxi driver taking me to meet Lorena Cabnal found his way to her address. We drove up and down streets along the outskirts of Guatemala City, directions made confusing by the profusion of closed-off neighborhoods. Here, residents simply block streets and put up barriers to prevent cars from circulating, paying a guard to monitor who goes in and out. These aren’t the private gated communities of the rich, but rather survival strategies of the poor and working class in Central America’s largest metropolis.
From TruthOut, December 13, 2016
Native Waters, Native Warriors: From Standing Rock to Honduras
Around the globe, land has become gold-standard currency. As a result, Indigenous and other land-based peoples face threats to the natural commons on which they live, produce food and sustain community, culture and cosmovision.
In some places, organized Indigenous movements have stood up and fought off extraction and corporate development, winning protection of waters, forests, territories and more. In most places, the resistance has been met with assassination and violent repression by state security forces and corporate-financed hit squads.
From Jacobin, December 7, 2016
The Fate of Honduras
t’s rare for Honduras to make headlines during a US national election. But after Honduran human rights activist Berta Cáceres was murdered in her home in the early hours of March 3, observers raised the connection between her assassination and Hillary Clinton’s support for the 2009 coup that unseated President Manuel Zelaya and unleashed a wave of violence against activists in the country. To many, Cáceres’s death was emblematic of everything wrong with Clintonite foreign policy: a toxic confluence of investor and commercial interests with an uncomfortably high tolerance for shady regime change.
From the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Nov/Dec 2016, p. 44
Canada's "looting of Honduras"
“THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT needs to act in a responsible manner and should stop giving legitimacy to the Honduran regime which has criminalized and killed many people in my country and has created a grave situation there. The Canadian government should remove all their companies, investments and financing from Honduras.” This was the plea of Berta Zúñiga Cáceres when I interviewed her at the World Social Forum in Montreal this summer. Zúñiga is the daughter of renowned Indigenous Honduran environmentalist Berta Cáceres, who was murdered this March by assassins linked to the Honduran military. Berta was targeted for her prominent role in the Lenca nation’s opposition to the construction of the Agua Zarca dam on it its territory in the area of Rio Blanco.
From the Guardian, November 29, 2016
Fyffes melons at centre of labour abuse claims from Honduran workers
Thousands of miles from the supermarkets in the west that they supply with cantaloupes, a community of Honduran melon plantation labourers say they are threatened with dismissal and destitution because they have tried to form a union at their Irish-owned company.
The workers – the vast majority of whom are women – are now appealing to US and European consumers to boycott products sold by the fruit multinational Fyffes until it improves working conditions and allows collective bargaining.
From The Guardian, November 23, 2016
'It's a crime to be young and pretty': girls flee predatory Central America gangs
Sara Rincón was walking home from college in the capital of El Salvador when she was confronted by three heavily tattooed gang members who had been harassing her for weeks.
The group’s leader – a man in his 30s, with the figure 18 etched on to his shaven head – threw her against a wall, and with his hands around her neck gave her one last warning.
From The Guardian, November 15, 2016
Berta Cáceres murder: international lawyers launch new investigation
A group of international legal experts has launched an independent inquiry into the murder of Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres amid widespread concerns over the official investigation.
Five lawyers from the US, Guatemala and Colombia are in Honduras to try to uncover the intellectual authors behind the assassination of Cáceres and the attempted murder of her colleague the Mexican environmentalist Gustavo Castro.
From the Intercept, October 4, 2016
A story published this week by the Daily Beast about the nine months Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine spent working as a volunteer in a Jesuit community in Honduras in 1980 and 1981 has been making the conservative rounds. The Beast’s tabloid headline is a cheap exercise in red-baiting: “Tim Kaine’s Time with a Marxist Priest.”
That priest, Fr. James Carney, was indeed a revolutionary and, as a practitioner of liberation theology in Latin America during a period marked by populist movements fighting against death squads and murderous regimes backed by the U.S., an avid student of Marxist theory.
From the New York Times, September 22, 2016
End U.S. Support for the Thugs of Honduras
Santa Cruz, Calif. — Around midnight on March 2, the indigenous peoples’ rights and environmental activist Berta Cáceres was shot dead by gunmen who entered her residence in La Esperanza, Honduras. A longtime campaigner against illegal logging operations, Ms. Cáceres had been repeatedly threatened because of her opposition to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, one of the largest of its kind in Central America.
“I have no doubt that she has been killed because of her struggle, and that soldiers and people from the dam are responsible, I am sure of that,” her 84-year-old mother told a local radio station. “I hold the government responsible.”
From the New York Times, September 22, 2016
Es hora de que Estados Unidos deje de financiar a los delincuentes en Honduras
Alrededor de la medianoche del 2 de marzo, la activista por los derechos de los indígenas y el medioambiente Berta Cáceres fue asesinada por sicarios que entraron a su casa en La Esperanza, Honduras. Llevaba tiempo luchando contra la tala de los bosques y había sido amenazada en repetidas ocasiones por su oposición al proyecto hidroeléctrico de Agua Zarca, uno de los más importantes de América Central.
From Al Jazeera's Fault Lines, September 21, 2016
Honduras: Blood and the Water (Video)
In early March 2016, Honduras's most prominent and outspoken environmental activist, Berta Caceres, was killed in her home. While shocking, her murder did not come as a surprise to her colleagues or family.
For years, Caceres had received thousands of threats because of her work, fighting for the rights of indigenous communities and for her attempts to stop a hydro-electric dam from being built on indigenous land.
From the New York Times Opinion Pages, September 16, 2016
End U.S. Support for the Thugs of Honduras
Santa Cruz, Calif. — Around midnight on March 2, the indigenous peoples’ rights and environmental activist Berta Cáceres was shot dead by gunmen who entered her residence in La Esperanza, Honduras. A longtime campaigner against illegal logging operations, Ms. Cáceres had been repeatedly threatened because of her opposition to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, one of the largest of its kind in Central America.
From TeleSUR English, September 15, 2016
Honduras Independence Day: The Unrealized Promise of Liberation
Honduras marks 195 years Thursday since winning its independence from Spain, but the small Central American country remains deprived of a second and true independence as it is stuck under ongoing domination of wealthy local oligarchs, foreign corporations, and a lasting legacy of longstanding U.S. imperialism.
From In These Times, September 12, 2016
The U.S. Spends Millions Funding Central America’s Drug War. A New Report Says It Hasn’t Worked
A new paper released last week by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) disputes data from a 2014 report on U.S.-funded anti-crime programs in Central America, suggesting these programs may not have been as effective as previously thought.
In 2007, then-president George W. Bush created the Merida Initiative, a security cooperation agreement between the United States, Mexico and Central America, as a regional response to rising drug trafficking and violence in Central America. Furthering this approach, in 2010 President Obama created the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), separating the Central American countries from the Merida Initiative.
From Sydney with Honduras, August 2016
August 2016 Honduras Coup Update
A great summary of human rights violations and issues related to Honduran social movements for the month of August 2016.
From Common Dreams, August 31, 2016
US Special Ops Training in Latin America Tripled, Docs Reveal
U.S. Special Operations Forces training missions to Latin America tripled between 2007 and 2014, newly obtained documents by a human rights advocacy organization reveal, offering further evidence that it is "the golden age" of secret operations by these elite fighters.
The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) says the uptick happened during "a period when overall military aid to the region was decreasing" and as overall transparency about these forces, which include the Green Berets, the Navy SEALs, and Rangers, is waning.
From Now Magazine Toronto, August 31, 2016
Gravedigging for Gold
What's a gold pendant or ring worth in the grand scheme of things? If you're living in the path of a Canadian gold mining company in Azacualpa, Honduras, the cost includes digging up a local cemetery where six communities have been burying their dead for two centuries.
Since the late 90s, three successive Canadian mining companies have operated the open-pit San Andres gold mine in the highlands of western Honduras. The mine's history hasn't been pretty: cyanide spills, health complaints and forced displacements.
From WOLA, August 30, 2016
U.S. Special Operations in Latin America: Parallel Diplomacy?
The U.S. military’s most elite forces have been increasing their deployments across the globe, and Latin America and the Caribbean are no exception. But as Special Operations Forces activity grows, the already low amount of transparency and available information about their actions is shrinking.
From MintPressNews, August 29, 2016
Israel And Honduras Enter New, Blood-Soaked Military Alliance To Support State-Sponsored Terrorism
AUSTIN, Texas — Israel and Honduras announced a new security agreement this month in which Israel will supply weapons and training to the Honduran military.
Honduras is ruled by an oppressive and murderous regime that took power after a 2009 coup, and the agreement marks just the latest chapter in Israel’s long, bloody history of arming Central American despots.
The deal, inked on Aug. 20, would dramatically upgrade the Honduran regime’s offensive capabilities.
From TeleSUR English, August 25, 2016
Honduras and Israel: A New Special Relationship
In the aftermath of the 2009 coup in Honduras, I had the opportunity to interview deposed President Manuel Zelaya, who, having been kindly escorted in his pajamas to Costa Rica by the Honduran military, had then resurfaced in Tegucigalpa and taken refuge in the embassy of Brazil. The interview took place via an intermediary inside the embassy, who conveyed my questions to Zelaya.
One topic we touched on was a comment the left-leaning Zelaya had made concerning “Israeli mercenaries” operating in Honduras. This had unleashed a predictable hullabaloo in international media, with commentators tripping over each other to portray the besieged leader as an anti-Semite extraordinaire on some sort of permanent acid trip.
From the Guardian, July 8, 2016
US investigating allegations Honduran military had hitlist of activists to target
The US government is investigating allegations that a hitlist of activists was circulated to special forces units of the Honduran military with instructions to eliminate the targets, including Berta Cáceres, the celebrated environmental campaigner who was later gunned down in her home.
US officials have been in contact with counterparts in the Honduran government, as well as individuals and groups that monitor human rights in the country, to look into the allegations of a hitlist that were first reported in the Guardian.
From the Guardian, June 21, 2016
Berta Cáceres's name was on Honduran military hitlist, says former soldier
Berta Cáceres, the murdered environmental campaigner, appeared on a hitlist distributed to US-trained special forces units of the Honduran military months before her death, a former soldier has claimed.
Lists featuring the names and photographs of dozens of social and environmental activists were given to two elite units, with orders to eliminate each target, according to First Sergeant Rodrigo Cruz, 20.