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CCR: Parents of Activist Teen Shot and Killed after Illegal Honduras Coup File Suit against Micheletti

Parents of Activist Teen Shot and Killed after Illegal Honduras Coup File Suit against Micheletti

Extrajudicial Killing, Crimes against Humanity and Other Human Rights Violations Occurred under Post-Coup Leader’s Authority and Direction

CONTACT: press@ccrjustice.org

Para leer esto comunicado de prensa en espanol, haga clic aqui.

June 23, 2011, Houston – Today, almost two years after the military coup in Honduras, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a complaint in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas, on behalf of David Murillo and Silvia Mencías, the parents of 19-year-old Isis Obed Murillo who was shot and killed by Honduran military forces during a peaceful demonstration against the military coup d’etat of June 28, 2009. The defendant is Roberto Micheletti Baín, former president of the Honduran National Congress who assumed the role of head of the de facto government immediately following the coup d’état ousting President Zelaya. The complaint details extrajudicial killing, crimes against humanity of murder and persecution, wrongful death and other gross human rights violations that occurred in Honduras under the authority and/or direction of Micheletti.

“I want no more bloodshed,” said Silvia Mencías, mother of the killed teen. “I don’t want any other mothers to suffer the way I have.”

“I was Isis Obed’s friend, teacher and father. We carry our pain like a cross, but Isis Obed’s legacy – the principles with which we raised him – will always be alive in our minds,” said David Murillo, Isis Obed’s father. “In life and in his work with social organizations, he was committed to defending the rights of others.”

On July 5, 2009, President Zelaya attempted to return to Honduras and restore the democratically-elected government. Zelaya intended to fly by airplane to Honduras and land at Toncontin International Airport in the capital of Tegucigalpa . Nineteen-year-old activist Isis Murillo and his family joined thousands of other coup opponents at the airport for a non-violent, peaceful gathering to welcome Zelaya back and support the restoration of the government. When Zelaya’s plane attempted to but was blocked from landing, Isis Murillo was shot in the head by Honduran military and died just moments after.

“The forces of Micheletti’s de facto government killed Isis Murillo as part of the severe crackdown and repression that ensued immediately following the coup,” said Center for Constitutional Rights staff attorney Pamela Spees. “Our clients’ son was a casualty of the systemic attacks on fundamental rights under this illegitimate regime.”

Subsequent to Isis ’ killing, the plaintiff and his family were subjected to surveillance and harassment by police and other authorities. This harassment took place in the context of what lawyers describe as an intense repression and political persecution that began under Michiletti’s regime that targeted the National Front of Popular Resistance, which formed in opposition to the coup, as well as journalists and other groups standing in opposition.
“How is forgiveness possible if there is no investigation, sanction nor reparation – when there is impunity?” said Bertha Oliva, Director of El Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH), Center for Constitutional Rights’ partner in bringing this complaint. “As family members of people who were forcibly disappeared for political and ideological reasons, we know full well that reconciliation is not reached through forgiveness and forgetting of atrocities. We need truth and justice to move forward.”

To view the complaint or for more information on the lawsuit, visit the Center for Constitutional Rights’ Honduras page or www.ccrjustice.org/honduras-coup. For information on the Center for Constitutional Rights Freedom of Information Act litigation around Honduras , visit http://ccrjustice.org/honduras-foia.

 

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

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June 14th: U.S. Congress to Hear from Honduran Military Coup Leader Under False Premises

Rights Action – June 10, 2011

HONDURAS REPRESSION & IMPUNITY WATCH

U.S. CONGRESS TO HEAR FROM HONDURAN MILITARY COUP LEADER UNDER FALSE PREMISES

The U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs is to hear from the “Honorable Roberto Micheletti Baín (Invited)”, who is, they say, the “Former President of Honduras”.

Micheletti was a key leader of the June 2009 military coup in Honduras, and was a ‘de facto’ leader of the military-backed regime that carried out widespread repression against the Honduran people.

It is false to say Micheletti is a “Former President” of Honduras.  The so-called swearing in process by the pro-coup Honduran Congress, one day after the illegal military coup, was based on a forged resignation letter of President Zelaya.

The ‘dishonorable’ Micheletti should be tried in court in Honduras for his role in the coup, not received by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as “former President” of Honduras.

WHERE & WHEN

 

HEARING NOTICE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20515-0128

Connie Mack (R-FL), Chairman

June 7, 2011

You are respectfully requested to attend an OPEN hearing of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, to be held in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building (and available live, via the WEBCAST link on the Committee website at http://www.hcfa.house.gov):

DATE: Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TIME: 3:00 p.m.

SUBJECT: Holding Honduras Hostage: Revoked Visas and U.S. Policy

WITNESSES:

The Honorable [sic] Roberto Micheletti Baín (Invited), Former President [sic] of Honduras

Mrs. Sandra Martínez de Midence, President, Central Bank of Honduras

Mr. Leonardo Villeda Bermudez, Former Executive Secretary, National Convergence Forum (FONAC)

*NOTE:  Further witnesses may be added.

By Direction of the Chairman

The Committee on Foreign Affairs seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202/225-5021 at least four business days in advance of the event, whenever practicable.  Questions with regard to special accommodations in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats and assistive listening devices) may be directed to the Committee.

WHAT TO DO

Write to your own Member of Congress, and other government officials, demanding that Micheletti – a dishonorable military coup plotter and leader – NOT be invited to speak at this hearing.

WHITE HOUSE: http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT/, 202-456-1111, Comment Line: 202-456-1414

CONGRESS: Go to http://www.house.gov/ to get info for your member of Congress, and call:  202-224-3121

SENATE: Go to http://www.senate.gov/ to get contact for your Senator, and call: 202-224-3121

STATE DEPARTMENT: 202 647-8947

STATE DEPARTMENT – Office of Western Hemisphere Affairs: 202 647-0834, WHAAsstSecty@State.Gov

AMBASSADOR CRAIG KELLY, Principal Deputy Asst. Secretary, Western Office of Hemisphere Affairs: KellyC@state.gov

MARIA OTERO, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs; c/o Laura Pena, Assistant: PenaL@state.gov

BENJAMIN GEDAN, Honduras Desk Officer, (202) 647-3482

DR. ARTURO VALENZUELA: ValenzuelaAA@state.gov

PAUL MONTEIRO, Office of Public Engagement, Darron_P._Monteiro@who.eop.gov

AMBASSADOR HUGO LLORENS, U.S. Embassy in Honduras, LlorensH@state.gov, 504 2236-9320 ext. 4268, 2236-9037; Silvia Eiriz, Eirizs@state.gov

*****************

FOR MORE INFORMATION about the brutal military-backed regime in Honduras, headed by Roberto Micheletti, contact:

Annie Bird, annie@rightsaction.org, 202-680-3002

Grahame Russell, info@rightsaction.org, 860-352-2448

Karen Spring, spring.kj@gmail.com, 011-504-9507-3835 [in Honduras]

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Annie Bird: 3 Killed; 2 Kidnapped in the Aguan

HONDURAS RE-ADMITTED TO THE OAS

3 KILLED; 2 KIDNAPPED IN THE AGUAN

(By Annie Bird, June 9, 2011)

On Sunday, June 5, Jose Recinos Aguilar, Joel Santamaria and Genaro Cuesta, all members of the Authentic Revindicative Campesino Movement of the Aguan (MARCA), were massacred in a car a few meters from the San Esteban cooperative.  At approximately the same time it is reported that armed forces entered the installations of the National Agrarian Institute and opened fire on families who for several months have taken refuge within the government owned agrarian training center. Doris Pérez Vásquez was shot in the abdomen and is reported to be in critical condition.

Even as the community buried the three men murdered this Sunday, they continued the search for Olvin Gallegos and Segundo Gomez, two members of MARCA.  Eyewitnesses saw private security guards, from the same forces being trained as paramilitaries, kidnap the two men.

MAY 15 – DISAPPEARANCE

The killing and kidnapping of these 5 campesinos follows upon the May 15th forced disappearance of Francisco Pascual López as he tended cattle on his farm close to the property line with the Panama African palm plantation, a farm that maintains heavy presence of paramilitaries.  Nearby farmers with whom he shares the farm heard shots fired, but when they arrived where he had been, he was gone.  Police found bullets and a trail of blood leading into the Panama African palm plantation, but refused to enter the plantation to continue the search.

MAY 18 – KILLING

On May 18, Sixto Ramos was killed along the highway, shot from a passing car.  Additionally, on May 10, Jose Paulino Lemo was shot as he walked on the road to sell fish by a passing motorcycle.  Francisco Pascual Lopez, Sixto Ramos and Jose Paulino Lemo were active members of the Campesino Movement of the Aguan (MCA).

PARAMILITARY TRAINING ON HONDURAN MILITARY BASE

FOREIGN TRAINERS REPORTED

There are reports that approximately 400 private security guards, employed by African palm producers in the region, are being trained in the Rio Claro base in Tocoa, Colon, home of the 15th Army Battalion.  The security guards reportedly are from the Orion security company, employed by the Exportadora del Atlantico, and others are employed directly by the Dinant palm oil and derivatives company.

The trainers wear Honduran military uniforms, and rarely leave the base though they have been reported to participate in forced, illegal evictions.  During these evictions security guards have been reported to change into military uniforms; close collaboration between police, military and security guards has been reported.

Local informants claim the trainer’s accents, stature and coloring lead people in the region to believe they are not Honduran.  Many suspect they are Colombian.  In October 2009, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the use of Mercenaries, Private Security and Paramilitaries reported the Honduran African palm producers were recruiting security forces in Colombia particularly among former AUC members – a right-wing paramilitary group.

There have also been reports of Chinook helicopters flying to and from the Rio Claro base, which leads many to believe US troops maintain a presence on the base.

On January 8, 2011, Juan Chinchilla, a Honduran land rights activist, was kidnapped and tortured.  Able to escape the evening of January 9, while being moved from his illegal detention center, Chinchilla reported that participants in his torture spoke English and another language he was not able to identify.

CRIMINALIZATION OF LAND RIGHTS AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

The rash of killings and forced disappearances is obviously of grave concern; all the more shocking as Honduras was re-admitted to the OAS.

A communiqué by the National Agrarian Institute Workers Union asserts that since the June 2009 military coup, 39 campesinos have been killed by paramilitary forces working for the oil palm planters while 10 more have been disappeared.

As violence by paramilitary forces increases so does criminalization of land rights activists and other human rights defenders.  The limited media reporting of the killings in the Aguan region is coupled with accusations that the land and human rights movements being targeted by the paramilitary actions are armed.

In March 2010, when the military backed Honduran regime was criticized for the extreme militarization of the Aguan, de facto president Lobo responded with unsupported accusations that the campesinos were armed and Venezuelan and Nicaraguans were present in the area.

Following the November 15, 2010 massacre of 5 campesinos by Dinant palm oil security forces (with military and police support), Lobo claimed that campesinos had a stash of over 1,000 high caliber weapons and had received foreign training, which Security Minister Oscar Alvarez claimed took place in Nicaragua.

On this pretext the military took over the National Agrarian Institute (INA) and the INA union reported that the army stole documentation that demonstrated that palm oil planters did not hold legitimate claim over lands being contested by campesinos.

African palm producer Miguel Facusse (one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Honduras and major backer of the June 2009 military coup) is again using Honduras’ corrupted “justice” system to persecute human rights defenders, a practice long employed by Facusse and others.

On May 30, 2011, Facusse’s lawyers announced he was suing Catholic Bishop Luis Alfonso Santos for statements that implicated Facusse in the killing of 14 farmers in the Aguan region. A few days later, June 6, 2011, Facusse presented defamation charges against Andres Pavon, the Director of the Honduran Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CODEH).  Several months prior Pavon had presented legal charges against Facusse related to the killing of the 14 farmers, and just days before being subject to the defamation charges had denounced that the evidence on the killings was disappearing from the Attorney General Offices files.

PALM PLANTERS USE VOLENCE AND FRAUD TO TAKE LAND FROM FARMERS

This State-backed, paramilitary repression occurs in the context of a series of complex, long-term land rights disputes in the region.

The lower Aguan, a fertile agricultural plain that surrounds the Aguan river near Honduras’ Caribean coast, was subject to an agricultural colonization program in the 1960s and 1970s facilitated by an agrarian reform program.  At that time dozens of cooperatives were formed and many began cultivation of a crop pioneered by United Fruit Company, African palm for vegetable oil production.

In the beginning of the 1990s, a “land modernization” law was passed.  Among other measures, the “Land Modernization Law” in Honduras removed restrictions on resale of land obtained through the agrarian reform program.  Dozens of cooperatives established through the agrarian reform program were resold to today’s Honduran palm oil magnates, Miguel Facusse and Rene Morales.  However many of the sales were marred by illegalities, fraud and violence.

By 2000, there were tremendous problems of landlessness, underemployment and terrible working conditions among small farmers in the region.  With the support of the Parish of Tocoa, landless farmers organized the Campesino Movment of the Aguan (MCA).

In 2000, hundreds of small farmers established themselves in an area known as the Center for Regional Military Training (CREM), an extension of land used by the US army in the 1980s to train Central American militaries and to provide support to the Contra armed insurgency that fought the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Between 1989 and 1990, the CREM land had been purchased by the National Agrarian Institute, reportedly from US citizen Temistocles Ramirez, for $17 million to be used exclusively for agrarian reform purposes.  Previously, the land had been used for large scale cattle ranching, and according to some reports drug trafficking, largely by former Honduran military, who naturally quickly came into conflict with the campesinos who established farms in the property in 2000.

However, with support from the catholic church and national land rights organizations, the “cattle ranchers” were compensated through the INA for the “improvements” they had made on the CREM land, so as to take pressure of the campesinos who were now setting up coops and businesses, with the support of INA.

Only a few portions of the land then remained in conflict, particularly an area known as El Tumbador which Miguel Facusse claimed to own, via a questionable land purchase.  The MCA divided the CREM lands between 45 distinct Campesino Businesses.

In 2004, campesinos began organizing to reclaim cooperative lands that had been illegally acquired by the palm oil magnates in the 1990s, forming the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan, MUCA.

In February 2006, 7000 campesinos organized in the MUCA blocked the main highway in Tocoa, demanding that the District Attorney in Tocoa, the Attorney General of Honduras and the Supreme Court investigate the irregular purchases of the cooperatives in the 1990s.

By March 2009, after years of investigation, the MUCA proposed a negotiation platform focused on demanding that 29 cooperatives be returned to campesinos.

On May 28, 2009 MUCA occupied the palm oil processing plant owned my Miguel Facusse.

President Zelaya personally went to the Aguan to negotiate with the campesinos.  On June 12, 2009 an agreement was defined between the MUCA and the government, and the processing plant occupation was lifted.  On June 19 President Zelaya signed the agreement, which essentially mandated a technical-legal team with the investigation of the legal history of the cooperatives.

On June 21 the investigation began, but ended with the June 28, 2009 military coup.

In reaction to the suspension of the investigation, on December 9, 2009 the MUCA began occupying the former cooperatives in conflict, and claim to hold documentation to demonstrate that the palm oil magnates do not legally own 29 cooperative farms.

In April 2010, de facto president Porfirio Lobo sent thousands of troops to occupy the Aguan, and forced the MUCA to enter into negotiations, not only threatened private security forces controlled by the palm oil magnates, but also by the Honduran military.

An agreement was signed in which Miguel Facusse agreed to sell an extension of land to the MUCA.  At this time a section of the MUCA split off to form the Authentic and Revindicative Campesino Movement of the Aguan, MARCA.

MARCA campesinos decided to pursue recognition of their land rights through law suits using the documentation they had gathered that showed flawed titling processes by the palm oil magnates rather than signing a negotiated agreement as those in MUCA chose to do.

The terms of the “agreement” signed between the palm oil companies and the MUCA have not been complied with and the “justice” system has not facilitated the advance of the legal remedies sought by MARCA.

Instead, throughout 2010 palm oil planters strengthened their paramilitary presence and the area remained militarized.  Dozens of campesino killings have been documented, and it is understood that others have occurred which have not been documented; please see the list below:

PARTIAL LIST OF KILLINGS, KIDNAPPINGS & DISAPPEARANCES

1. January 4, 2010: Miguel Angel Alonso Oliva, from the Cooperativa Guanchias, Shot in the back

2. January 31, 2010: Juan Ramon Mejia, from the Cooperativa Occidental, Intentionally run over by a car

3. February 4, 2010: Isidro Santos, from the Cooperativa Occidental, Died in car crash while fleeing from armed men shooting at them from another car

4. February 4, 2010: Francisco Montes, from the Cooperativa Buenos Amigos, Died in car crash while fleeing from armed men shooting at them from another car

5. February 14, 2010 – Feliciano Santos from the Cooperativa 21 de Julio – fatally shot while walking to lands in dispute

6. March 17, 2010 – Jose Antonio Cardoza from the Associative Business Brisas de COHDEFOR – fatally shot while walking home from the fields

7. March 17, 2010 – Jose Concepcion Carias from the Associative Business Brisas de COHDEFOR – fatally shot while walking home from the fields

8. April 7, 2010 – Jose Leonel Guerra Alvarez from La Confianza Cooperativa – shot in front of his home by two people who stopped on a motorcycle

9. April 25, 2010 – Esteban Garcia from the Associative Business 9 de Agosto – shot while riding his bicycle from a passing car

10. June 20, 2010 – Oscar Giovanny Ramirez of the La Aurora Coopertiva – killed in the midst of an assault carried out by Cobra police force and Orion security guards

11. August 18, 2010 – Victor Manuel Mata Olica from the La Auroroa Cooperative – shot while traveling home in a car that according to witnesses was fired upon by security guards riding in blue double cabin pick up truck

12. August 18, 2010 – Rodving Omar Villegas from the La Auroroa Cooperative – shot while traveling home in a car that according to witnesses was fired upon by security guards riding in blue double cabin pick up truck

13. August 18, 2010 – Sergio Madiel Amaya from the La Auroroa Cooperative – shot while traveling home in a car that according to witnesses was fired upon by security guards riding in blue double cabin pick up truck

14. September 10, 2010 – Francisco Miranda Ortega of the La Aurora Cooperativa – shot by six people while he rode his bike to Tocoa

15. November 15, 2010 – Raul Castillo of the Cooperative 14 de mayo – shot by Dinant security guards on the Finca El Tumbador

16. November 15, 2010 – Jose Luis Sauceda of the Cooperative 14 de mayo – shot by Dinant security guards on the Finca El Tumbador

17. November 15, 2010 – Ciriaco Munoz of the Cooperativa Nueva Esperanza – shot by Dinant security guards on the Finca El Tumbador

18. November 15, 2010 – Teodoro Acosta de la Cooperativa Nueva Esperanza – shot by Dinant security guards on the Finca El Tumbador

19. November 15, 2010 – Ignacio Reyes Garcia of the Three United Families Cooperative – shot by Dinant security guards on the Finca El Tumbador

20. Esteban Garcia from the Associative Business 25 de abril was shot while riding his bike by gunmen in a white sedan

# # # # #

* Please re-publish this information, citing author and source

* To get on/ off RA’s listserv: http://www.rightsaction.org

* Rights Action’s Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rights-Action/176850879028427?ref=ts

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Annie Bird (annie@rightsaction.org)

Grahame Russell (info@rightsaction.org)

Karen Spring (spring.kj@gmail.com)

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Rights Action: Protests Challenging to IDB-Funded ‘Shock’ Program Met with Massive Violent Repression

Honduras Regime Impunity Watch

Rights Action – April 12, 2011

 

PROTESTERS ACROSS HONDURAS CHALLENGE IDB-FUNDED ‘SHOCK’ PROGRAM TO PRIVATIZE EDUCATION IN HONDURAS, AND ARE MET WITH MASSIVE VIOLENT REPRESSION

By Karen Spring & Annie Bird, April 12, 2011

 

March 2011 was marked by the worst repression seen against the people of Honduras since the June 2009 military coup.  The repression came in response to massive protests against an all-out final push by the Pepe Lobo regime to essentially privatize Honduras’ public education system while destroying teacher’s independence, politicizing schools, slashing salaries in half and ransacking retirement funds.

 

ho - ed

(Photo: Karen Spring, Honduras, April 2011)

 

On April 1, 2011 teachers stopped the protests, a gesture to demonstrate a willingness to dialogue.  Pepe Lobo’s response was to publish the names of 300 teachers being summarily fired.  This forced parents and teachers back into the streets, and on Monday, April 11, protests began again.  A national strike will take place on Tuesday April 12, challenging the shock changes to the nation’s education system.  Violent repression of the protests is feared.

 

Strong national and international interests lie behind the plans for the Honduran education system.  Business interests and national political party power structures are teaming up with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank (WB), to capitalize on education in Honduras while neutralizing teachers as an important voice in Honduran public policy.

 

MILITARY COUP USHERS IN SHOCK SOCIO-ECONOMIC POLICY MEASURES

 

On March 17, thousands of teachers began protesting as the de facto Honduran Congress examined a new law that fundamentally restructures the Honduran education system on a scale not seen since 1895 enacting what Honduran teachers call the privatization of the national education system.

 

This comes on the coattails of the June 2009 military coup and is just one of a series of ‘shock’ measures being undertaken to profoundly change the way Honduras administers everything from education to water to land rights to electricity to national sovereignty to retirement funds.  It also comes very shortly following the February 1, 2011 approval of a $100,000 technical loan from the IDB, Project Number HO-T1149, for a project called “Support of a comprehensive educational model.”

 

Over the past 16 months of the Pepe Lobo administration, a whirlwind of laws have rushed through congress to facilitate these shock measures, many facilitated by WB and IDB funding, and they are generating massive protests that build on the already widespread rejection of the legitimacy of the Pepe Lobo regime.  Lobo assumed office in January 2010 following illegitimate elections which were carried out by the post-military coup regime, under extreme repression and were not recognized by most of the nations in the Americas.

 

As the population of Honduras witnessed the extreme repression unleashed against protesting teachers and grasped the gravity of the changes to be enacted in the educational system, Hondurans joined the teachers in protest.

 

Since March 30th, parents from communities throughout Honduras occupied schools and blocked roads.  The Lobo regime’s response was to order teachers back to school and send in the military.

 

VIOLENCE TO SILENCE PROTESTS & DESTROY FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

 

Tear gas, live ammunition, tanks spraying a mix of water and pepper gas, illegal detentions, trumped up charges, violent beatings, disappearance attempts and murder are some of the tactics that the post-coup regime is deploying against the pro-democracy people’s movement and public school teacher’s movement that have taken to the streets to protest government education policies changes since July 2010.

 

Honduran teacher’s professional associations have not only been targeted for destruction by the IDB, as is clearly described in a March 2010 IDB study of the educational labor market in Honduras, but also by the Lobo regime, as teachers have also been a pillar of support for the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP, acronym in Spanish) that formed in opposition to the June 28th, 2009 military coup.  Strategically, destroying the teachers professional societies would mean a directly attack on the FNRP.

 

Since the coup, over 65 members of the pro-democracy people’s movement have been killed, disappeared and directly targeted for their role in the movement, 14 of them being public school teachers.  In addition, human rights organizations have identified over 300 “suspicious” killings, with indications of political motives and/or participation of state security forces.

 

On March 18, a 59-year-old teacher, Ilse Velasquez Rodriguez was shot in the head with a tear gas canister, fell to the ground and was run over by a news vehicle.  Tear gas launchers are considered a lethal weapon if fired directly on targets, an increasingly common practice by Honduran police.  Police and military also shot many tear gas canisters inside the central offices of teacher’s associations, COLPROSUMAH and COPEMH after protests had ended for the day, while teachers were meeting and resting. Dozens were arrested and charged with crimes including sedition, and dozens were injured.

 

The collective power of the teachers, both in the pro-democracy people’s movement and in the struggle against privatizing education, impedes both national interests of the post-coup regime and international interests of the WB and IDB.

 

In an IDB document from March 2010 with recommendations and conclusions regarding ‘needed’ Honduran educational reform, the IDB wrote, “That [The National Teacher's Work Code] gives the teacher’s union an enormous coercive power over the government.”

 

PRIVATIZATION OF EDUCATION OR “DECENTRALIZATION”

 

Throughout Latin America a series of educational ‘reform’ or ‘decentralization’ programs have been enacted over the past decade, programs promoted by the WB and IDB.  In the case of Honduras the program is called the Honduran Program for Community Education, PROHECO.

 

In this model, the responsibility for administering schools and their funding is given over to non-governmental organizations, and in some countries businesses, that administer schools in theory, though often not in practice, in collaboration with local communities.

 

The PROHECO program was created in Honduras during the presidency of Ricardo Maduro from the National Party.  Administration of PROHECO schools was then charged to a Honduran NGO, the Ricardo Ernesto Maduro Andreu Foundation for Education, FEREMA.

 

The new education law passed on March 31, 2011 amidst massive repression of protests, follows the same model as PROHECO, but rather than just being a handful of schools in each municipality, the new law shifts all public schools from elementary to high school, over to the “decentralized” model.

 

The March 31 education law creates Municipal Educational Development Councils (COMDE) in each municipality, which coordinates administration of schools.  Though not explicit in the language of the law, Honduras’ experience with PROHECO and other experiences in the region make it clear to teachers that the COMDE schools would be administered in coordination with an NGO that administers the schools budgets.

 

WB and IDB technical grants, like the February 1, 2011 IDB grant, are usually extended to help governments prepare the groundwork to receive the multimillion dollar loans to promote new programs.  Teachers expect the IDB to provide a $50 million loan to support the shift to the COMDE model in the near future, and they are also expect that FEREMA would also assume management of COMDE schools.

 

POLITICAL PARTY INFLUENCE IN ALL THE NATION’S SCHOOL

 

FEREMA, created by former National Party president Ricardo Maduro, is closely tied in to National Party structures. The potential for political manipulation through the nation’s schools when managed by a private foundation closely tied to political party structures is tremendous.

 

Political manipulation has already occurred in some PROHECO schools, such as occurred in Santa Rositas, San Francisco de Lempira, where a conflict between National Party municipal and school authorities and the families of the students of the school culminated in the burning of the school in early March.

 

The on-going two year dispute in Santa Rosita centered around municipal and school authorities attempts to fire and replace teachers that were not loyal to the National Party. Local authorities and PROHECO administrators, along with the police and military, entered the school to attempt to physically remove the teachers despite strong resistance from the parents.

 

Many of the PROHECO and municipal officials involved in the attempted illegal firings also have outstanding legal complaints for other abuses, particularly the school director, accused of raping young students and making death threats against the parents denouncing the abuses.

 

In early March the Special Prosecutor for Indigenous Peoples Rights conducted an investigation of the charges and was herself threatened.  When charges were formalized, according to the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organization of Honduras), COPINH, the abusive authorities responded by burning the school.  COPINH was blamed publicly by the media and authorities for the burning while an investigation has still not been carried out.

 

DESTROYING TEACHERS PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS

 

In Honduras, it is considered that certain professions like public prosecutors and teachers, should have a certain guarantees to ensure their ability to carry out their profession with independence. Destroying the professional associations not only destroys labor conditions but destroys their ability to act with independence.

 

Teachers’ professional associations have played a key role in the structure of the Honduran educational system for over on hundred years. Teachers associations are more than unions, though they fulfill some of the important functions of unions, such as collective bargaining on teachers working conditions and administration of important benefits like retirement pensions.  But professional associations also accredit teachers, have an important voice in educational policy, and protect the teachers from arbitrary firing / hiring.

 

The creation of the PROHECO program for the first time allowed the government to hire teachers to practice without belonging to professional associations.  PROHECO starting teachers earn salaries of approximately L4500 per month, less than the minimum wage, and are only paid the 10 months of the year classes are in session. The Secretary of Education teachers affiliated with the professional associations earn salaries of about L9800 over the 12 month calendar year, with two additional bonus salaries per year.

 

PROHECO teachers are hired on ten month contracts, which must be renewed yearly.  Since they are hired year to year they have no right to unemployment compensation or retirement benefits.  It also makes their job security contingent on absolute compliance with whatever the school’s administrating NGO demands of them.

 

In short, the experience of PROHECO has confirmed to teachers that the measures being undertaken to dismantle the professional associations and “decentralize” education open up the possibility of politically motivated firing of teachers, while ravaging teachers working conditions.

 

ROB THE TEACHER’S PENSION FUNDS; BUY TEAR GAS & AMMUNITION

 

Ilse Velasquez, the teacher killed in protests on March 18, had hoped to retire this year, but had been told she could not since the teachers’ pension funds were gone.  The de facto Roberto Micheletti regime that took power for 5 months after the military coup until the ‘election’ of Pepe Lobo, illegally took four billion lempiras ($40 million USD) from IMPREMA, the institution that manages pension funds for 68,000 teachers.

 

The stolen funds are believed to have been used by the de facto government to fund the military machine run by the oligarchy, illegal “President” Micheletti and head of the armed forces, Romeo Vasquez Velasquez to repress and terrorize the pro-democracy movement critical of the coup and it’s perpetrators.

 

The Lobo regime has not complied with an agreement reached with teachers in August 2010 to return a portion of the stolen funds to IMPREMA. Instead, the government and Congress have been attacking IMPREMA; attempting to create the impression of corruption and mis-management to convince the population of needed reform.

 

Teachers claim the de facto government, backed by the IDB, intends to consolidate IMPREMA into the IPM (military retirement fund) and that the age for retirement will be raised from 60 to 70.

 

PEOPLE RESIST

 

Attempts to consolidate the privatization process that began under the Maduro administration were largely unsuccessful in the privatization effort during the  overthrown President Zelaya’s term in office from 2006-2009, the IDB and WB seem to be successfully pushing this agenda with the Pepe Lobo’s regime comprised of Honduran oligarchy and business elite, who have many reasons to follow suit.

 

Strong and growing national resistance against the new education law continues. Including departmental assemblies and protests organized by the teacher’s movement and pro-democracy people’s movement. This is despite Lobo’s threat that all teachers that do not present themselves to work will be suspended for one year without pay. Taking democracy into their own hands, municipal consultations are also now occurring throughout the country in an effort to reject the Congress’s recent decision and the new education law.

 

In a last final effort to defend public education to avoid the system to be handed over to the same people that planned and supported the military coup, the teachers, the National Front of Popular Resistance, students, indigenous organizations, churches and parents of public school students continue to resist by occupying schools, holding assemblies, consultations and protesting in the street.

 

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WHAT TO DO – MAKE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS

for HONDURAS’ PRO-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT

 

To make a tax-deductible donation for community based organizations in Honduras’ pro-democracy movement working to defend human rights and the environment and to eradicate poverty and re-found their nation-state, make check payable to “Rights Action” and mail to:

 

UNITED STATES:  Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887

CANADA:  552 – 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8

 

CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS: http://rightsaction.org/contributions.htm; or go to: http://www.rightsaction.org.  (Credit card donations can be done anonymously)

FOR DONATION OF STOCK:  contact info@rightsaction.org.  (Stock donations can be done anonymously – have your stockbroker contact info@rightsaction.org)

 

QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, MORE INFORMATION???

Annie Bird, annie@rightsaction.org

Karen Spring, in Tegucigalpa, spring.kj@gmail.com, 011 [504] 9507-3835

Grahame Russell, info@rightsaction.org

 

Thank-you.

 

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OFRANEH: ALERT, April 7: Eviction in the Garifuna community of Punta Gorda, Roatan

ALERT: Eviction in the Garifuna community of Punta Gorda, Roatan.

At the request of the Military Social Security Institute [Instituto de Prevision Militar, IPM, which owns several businesses], agents from the Ministry of Security are right now carrying out an eviction in the island community of Punta Gorda, Roatan.

The more than 40 families that are being violently evicted live in the neighbourhood known as Punta Gorda, located in the community of the same name. It is outrageous that that while the State of Honduras boasts about a policy of inclusion and makes an ostentatious show of its celebration of the International Year of Afro-Descendants, the armed forces order the Ministry of Security to carry out an eviction.

As Garifuna, we find ourselves suffering a second expulsion from the Caribbean. In just a few days, on April 12th, the arrival of our People to Honduras will be commemorated, specifically marking our arrival to the island of Roatan, after our forced displacement by the British from the island of Saint Vincent in 1797.

The pressures on our territory that our People suffer are rooted in the speculation by the tourism industry. Projects such as Banana Coast, Laguna de Micos, and in a not-so-distant future the so-called Model City have precipitated an onslaught of evictions in Punta Gorda and in the majority of coastal communities, which are the aim of businesspeople, politicians and armed forces, taking advantage of the vast judicial void that exists in Honduras.

Since the coup d’etat in 2009, the pressures on Garifuna territory have intensified. The eviction in Punta Gorda is part of the “Christian humanism” of the current administration, which uses violence in an attempt to impose its vision of a “democracy” of the few associated with the party in power.

The Garifuna of Punta Gorda lack a land deed for their territory, despite dancing to the tune of numerous governmental administrations over the years – administrations that tend to celebrate the anniversary of our arrival to Honduras in Punta Gorda with rituals of power.

How will the State of Honduras and its kindred organizations explain this eviction at the Afro-Descendant summit they plan to hold this August? Basta Ya – enough! – of the expulsion of the Garifuna People of Honduras.

La Ceiba, April 7, 2011.

OFRANEH

Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, OFRANEH
Tel: (504) 4420618, (504) 4500058
Av 14 julio, calle 19, Contiguo Vivero Flor Tropical, Barrio Alvarado, La Ceiba, Honduras
email: garifuna@ofraneh.org, ofraneh@yahoo.com

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Banging the Drums of Resistance to the Repression, by Karen Spring

BANGING THE DRUMS OF RESISTANCE TO THE REPRESSION

(by Karen Spring, spring.kj@gmail.com)

 

On March 28th, Miriam was shot by police in the stomach with tear gas canisters, illegally detained and threatened, during a peaceful road occupation to reject the privatization of public education being carried out by the military-backed Honduran regime.

 

Three days after her release, and still recuperating, Miriam was present in Tegucigalpa marching with the Garifuna people.

 

garif - 1

(Miriam Miranda, Tegucigalpa, April 1, 2011. All photos: Karen Spring)

 

(From a speech by Miriam Miranda, Coordinator of OFRANEH (Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras), on the streets of Tegucigalpa, April 1, 2011)

 

“Today we are here, present in the capital, not just so people can watch us dance. We do not want to maintain this idea that Garifuna are only useful to dance. As well, we will not be used to help legitimize a government that carried out a coup d’etat.

 

“We are here as Garifuna so we can make visible the problems of the Garifuna people. So that people will realize, on a national and international level, that the Garifuna people are here to reclaim their historical rights.

 

“We are here on the 1st of April, inaugurating the International Year of the Afro-descendents named by the United Nations.

 

“Today we can say that we are facing the second expulsion of our territories, that is why we’re here.

 

“The Garifuna people have inhabited Honduras and resisted for more than 214 years. It is not true that we are just able to dance. That is why we are here. We are here with our identity, our spirituality, our culture, because we have a culture of resistance. Even before a system that wants to eliminate all of the value of our culture. All the value that we are as Garifuna people. We are proud to be Garifuna. The Garifuna culture is a culture of milleniums. The Garifuna people just like the Lenca people, Pech, Mosquito, and Tolipan, all the indigenous and black peoples, we have been resisting against a monoculture, one culture that they are trying to create and say that we are.

 

“We are here to say that we are not interested in speaking with [President] Pepe Lobo because he is not in charge. We want to tell the world that yes, we are present. We do not want them to receive us in the Presidential House … when he [Pepe Lobo} will not dialogue with the teachers. When he is repressing the people. Because of this we are here to say we are present!”

 

THE MARCH OF THE DRUMS; 214 YEARS OF ANCESTRAL RESISTANCE; 2011 INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF AFRO-DESCENDENTS

 

garif - 2

 

“The sounds of our drums are symbols of resistance.” (Garifuna doctor, Luther Castillo)

 

In Honduras, April is a month of celebration for the Garifuna people. To inaugurate the African Heritage Month during the International Year of Afro-Descendents and 214 years since the Garifuna people arrived in Honduras (forcibly brought here by [British] imperialists carrying out an ethnic cleansing on the island now known as San Vincent), roughly 2000 Garifuna people and 214 drums were brought from various communities on the north coast and Bay Islands of Honduras to Tegucigalpa last Friday, April 1st.

 

garif - 3

 

From the National Teaching University to the Central Park, the Garifuna community – joined by Lenca indigenous members of COPINH (Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras) – marched with 214 drums, many maracas while singing and dancing in the streets of the capital city.

 

garif - 4

 

But as Garifuna doctor, Luther Castillo said to the crowd, “We commemorate [the African heritage month] but we have nothing to celebrate.” With many colourful written banners carried on the streets of Tegucigalpa, the Garifuna demonstrated the various threats to their culture and survival. All reasons why it’s difficult for the Garifuna to celebrate as they are facing “a second expulsion from their territory.”

 

Banners read:

 

* The Plundering of Garifuna land and Territory is racism

* In the International Year of Afro-descendents, the Robbery of African and Latin American Lands has Intensified

* The Hydroelectric Dam Decrees are Unconstitutional: We Demand the Right to Consultation

* We Demand Integral Agrarian Reform: No to Facusse-landia

* The Municipalization of Education, Water & Indigenous Land is Privatization

 

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Source:

Honduras Military-backed Regime & Impunity Watch

Rights Action – April 6, 2011

 

 

  • Please re-post and distribute this information, citing author & source
  • To get on/ off Rights Action’s listserv: www.rightsaction.org
  • To support Honduras’ Pro-democracy movement: [contact Rights Action]

FOR MORE INFORMATION, ENGLISH & ESPANOL

Annie Bird, annie@rightsaction.org

Grahame Russell, info@rightsaction.org

Karen Spring, in Tegucigalpa, spring.kj@gmail.com, 011 [504] 9507-3835

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[en] COFADEH to participate in Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Hearings in DC

Original article in Spanish by Mario Casasus, DefensoresEnLinea.com

 

Lawyer Kenia Oliva and human rights activist Mery Agurcia will represent the Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) in three Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hearings on October 25th and 26th in Washington, DC: Protective Measures, Freedom of Expression, and Criminalization of Human Rights Defenders.

In a radio interview by the Voices Against Forgetting (Voces contra el olvido) program, Kenia Oliva explained: “We will follow up on the case of protective measures, report on the state of freedom of expression, and denounce the criminalization of human rights defenders. We are taking well-documented case files to demonstrate that human rights violations are still occurring. The State has even criminalized human rights defenders. In this situation of legal uncertainty, the Office of the Public Prosecutor itself, which would be the institution responsible for protecting and cooperating with human rights defenders in terms of investigating human rights violations, is instead criminalizing defenders, initiating criminal charges against them.”

Kenia Oliva will also take advantage that “while in Washington, on October 26th, the time limit to respond to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding the case of ‘The Six Students’ is up. COFADEH was involved in a process of an “Amicable Settlement with the State.” In 2008, the government of President Zelaya had enacted an Executive Decree in which the government committed to starting a National Program of Reparations for Victims of Human Rights Violations during the 1980s. However, the Office of the Public Prosecutor opposed its creation, arguing that it was excluding. Thus, COFADEH decided not to pursue the “Amicable Settlement” and to instead to follow the formal case proceedings before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.”

The case of ‘The Six Students’ dates back to 1982, when army soldiers kidnapped six students – Milton and Marlen Jimenez Puerto, Gilda and Suyapa Rivera Sierra, and Edwin and Adan Guillermo Lopez Rodezno – and tortured them for four days. In July 1995, the Special Attorney for Human Rights, Sonia Dubon, accused ten military officials with attempted murder and illegal detention in connection with the “temporary disappearance” of the students. Among the accused military officials were Raymundo Alexander Hernandez and Billy Joya Amendola, who both currently live in total impunity.

Translated from Spanish by Sandra Cuffe

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[en] MISF Briefing: Government-Supported Human Rights Abuses and the Legacy of Impunity

Briefing on Honduras: Government-Supported Human Rights Abuses and the Legacy of Impunity

READ MISF’s FULL BRIEFING, UPDATED OCT. 11 2010, HERE (PDF) AND IN SPANISH HERE (updated Spanish version coming soon).

In the months after the June 28 coup in Honduras, international media and NGOs reported on the de facto government’s suspension of constitutional rights, censorship of media outlets and repression of peaceful demonstrators. Less reported and harder to monitor has been an ongoing wave of human rights violations—illegal arrests, intimidation, police beatings, and suspicious deaths of journalists, resistance leaders, activists, advocates and their family members—which have continued, and in the case of journalists increased, since the inauguration of President Porfirio Lobo Sosa.

Human rights advocates say they have been witnessing a pattern of abuse strikingly similar to what citizens suffered during the political conflicts of the 1980s. They point to a culture of ongoing repression that has been cultivated by government and military impunity for human rights violations over the last 30 years.

“The connection is very evident in the patterns of repression that have played out. The mode of repression, the sowing of fear, detentions, and the general climate of terror is very reminiscent of the 80s,” Claudia Hermansdorfer, director of the Honduran Center for Women’s Rights, said.

In the 1980s the Honduran Military Battalion 3-16 kidnapped, tortured or “disappeared” citizens. Today at least five former military officers with ties to Battalion 3-16 are reported to hold powerful positions within the government or police (see Former Battalion 3-16 members in positions of power today, below) and little has been done to end a dysfunctional culture of impunity.

In 1994, then Human Rights Commissioner Leo Valladares published numerous recommendations in The Facts Speak for Themselves (Los Hechos Hablan Por Si Mismo) following his independent investigation into human rights abuses perpetrated by Honduran security forces in the 1980s.

In his report, Valladares advised that “the creation of [several specific] greater legal protections will be necessary to prevent disappearances from happening again,” including a “central registry of detained persons” and a “special law regarding detention.” He also recommended several reforms regarding accountability, noting, “The state has the duty and the right to use force against those who violate its laws. The legitimate use of force, however, flows from respect for the Constitution and laws of the nation.” His recommendations include those to “assure democratic and citizen control of all public security actions,” among others.

Those recommendations remain valid today and, regrettably, most have not been acted on by any Honduran government since the report was published. According to Susan Peacock, a former fellow at the National Security Archive who assisted Valladares in his efforts to obtain U.S. declassified information on events in the 1980s, “If those recommendations have not been followed up on, it is unlikely the Truth Commission’s will be. History is likely to repeat itself until actions are taken to break the cycles of impunity.”

The net result is a culture of impunity that has left many Hondurans fearful of the current situation. Bertha Oliva, director of Committee for Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), said, “Before, they hid the dead. Now they do it in public, challenging every principle of human rights.”

CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full backgrounder on government-supported human rights abuses and the legacy of impunity in Honduras. The information provided is based on research that May I Speak Freely Media has conducted over the past 10 years.

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[en] COFADEH: 157 Hondurans have fled into Exile

By Dina Meza, DefensoresEnLinea.com

Original article in Spanish

 

The Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras, COFADEH, is able to confirm that there are political exiles. Over the last few weeks, three more people have been taken out of the country because their lives are in danger, bringing the total to 157 persecuted people who have left Honduras, said Bertha Oliva, coordinator of the human rights organization COFADEH.

After declarations by [ousted] President Manuel Zelaya Rosales about the existence of political exiles, the regime of Porfirio Lobo Sosa has tried to delegitimize these allegations, requesting a list of the exiles’ identities. On the matter, Oliva pointed out that COFADEH has registered 157 people in exile due to political persecution by the Honduran State and its agents.

“At the same time they say they are creating mechanisms, they are going looking for people with photographs in hand. They are paramilitaries, death squads that persecute people who have some level of leadership in their communities and neighbourhoods,” denounced the coordinator of COFADEH.

To Oliva, the total of 157 Hondurans who have fled Honduras is a scandalous number, considering that if Honduras is supposedly living through a process of reconciliation, there should not be a single person leaving the country due to terror or political persecution.

COFADEH is not working with cases of family vendettas, but with people involved in the national resistance with some level of leadership in their communities and neighbourhoods who are being followed, pursued using their photographs – in short, we are talking about paramilitaries, death squads, reiterated the human rights activist.

It is about political persecution. If it were not so, why is it that members of the resistance are those who are being persecuted?, she asked while emphasizing the regime’s double standards.

Concerning Porfirio Lobo’s repeated statements asking for the list of exiles in order to prove that they really exist, human rights defender Oliva asked how it is possible that Lobo, who supported left-wing movements in the 1980s, now asks for names and addresses, which would place these people at risk.

“This is not a legend, it is not happening in Bosnia… this false respect of human rights needs to be stopped,” expressed Oliva, who returned last weekend from a trip to the United States where she denounced what is happening in Honduras and, together with the Human Rights Platform [of Honduras], received the Letelier Moffitt award.

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[en] Annie Bird: Indigenous Communities Defend Their Rivers Against Privatizations

 

HONDURAN COUP AUTHORS POISED TO PILLAGE INDIGENOUS TERRITORY AND NATIONAL ENERGY COMPANY

by Annie Bird, Rights Action co-director, October 13, 2010

Honduran indigenous communities resist illegal concession of rivers for dams while the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) violates its charter and international law in supporting the projects

FORTY ONE DAM CONCESSIONS THREATEN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES

On the “Day of Indigenous Resistance”, indigenous communities across Honduras demanded respect for their fundamental rights, affirming the government’s obligation to obtain their free, prior and informed consent when implementing projects that affect their communities.

Honduran communities and many nations in the Hemisphere do not recognize the legitimacy of the current government, imposed following the June 28, 2009 military coup and then the November 27, 2009 illegitimate election.

Despite the precarious situation of the Honduras regime and state, in international law, on September 2nd and 3rd laws were passed that conceded use Honduran rivers to private corporations for the construction of 41 hydroelectric dams.

Many of these dams would affect indigenous communities.  While none of these communities have been consulted, as international law prescribes, many communities, both indigenous and not, have declared their express opposition to the projects in community assemblies, the maximum traditional indigenous authority, and in municipal referendums.

THE CALL TO THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND BLACKS

The complete disregard for indigenous rights by the military coup authors was demonstrated earlier this year by the Honduran National Council of Private Enterprise (COHEP) in its call on the ‘de facto’ regime to withdraw from the International Labor Organization’s Covenant 169, a key instrument in initially establishing a framework for the recognition of indigenous rights.

Indigenous peoples from across Honduras met on October 3 in Garifuna territory to articulate a response to the assault to which they are being subjected, and convoked a national Constituent Assembly of Indigenous Peoples and Blacks.  Protection of national resources and the full recognition of the territorial rights of indigenous people are issues at the heart of the call to draft a new constitution for Honduras.

Protection of national resources is also what is most feared by transnational corporate interests and what has generated the tremendous and persistent mainstream media distortion of the reasons for the call for a new constitution and the motives behind the coup, focusing on the red herring of changes in term limit restriction.

As recently as October 7, even the Huffington Post ran an article by a Council on Foreign Relations fellow focused on the change in term limits.  The current and sixteenth constitution was adopted in 1982 during a military dictatorship.

IDB VIOLATES LAW; CO-16 FINANCING FOR METHANE GENERATING LARGE DAMS

The Inter-american Development Bank (IDB), in violation of its own Charter, has resumed funding in Honduras despite Honduras’ ongoing suspension from the Organization of American States.  To compound its violation of international law, the IDB has approved funding for a technical assistance grant to undertake initial project feasibility studies for the Gualcarque and Mixure dams, both in Lenca territory and both having been expressly rejected on multiple occasions in both community assemblies and municipal referendums.

The ‘de facto’ regime is planning to make use of funds obtained through financial mechanisms established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for construction of three large dams on the Patuca River despite studies that demonstrate that large dam reservoirs, especially in tropical regions, emit significant methane emissions.

WORLD BANK HELPS COUP AUTHORS PILLAGE THE ENERGY COMPANY

The push for the construction of dams is occurring as the World Bank and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration fund programs oriented toward the privatization of the Honduras National Electrical Energy Company, ENEE.  Though national energy companies across the region had been privatized through similar World Bank promoted programs, Hondurans had strongly defended their national energy company and small consumers received energy for a fraction of the cost as in privatized neighboring countries.

A process of segmenting sectors of ENEE began in 1999.  The meter reading services were contracted out to a Honduran financial services corporation owned by Arturo Corrales, currently the de facto Minister of Planning and International Cooperation.  Corrales was a key actor in the military coup.

Privatization of the national energy and telephone companies seem to be high on the agenda of the coup government.  General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, the military officer who carried out the coup, was named head of the national telephone company, and talk of privatization has already begun.  Washington lobbyist and former State Department official Otto Reich, who was a key voice justifying the coup in Honduras, has worked extensively with telephone and energy corporations.

ENEE’s labor union protested on October 6, demanding that the privatization process be stopped and the already privatized sectors of the energy company be nationalized.  In August ENEE’s union denounced in a press conference that the de facto administration was not enforcing payment for electricity and thus not paying thermal generators money owed in an effort to bankrupt the company as a pretext to allow financial corporations to take it over and privatize it.

Ousted President Manuel Zelaya had rigorously enforced payment of massive outstanding debts by large consumers, restoring financial viability to the State corporation and providing sufficient funds to finance subsidies for low income, small consumers.  Though this generated widespread popular support, corporations that consumed large quantities of energy were angered.  It was denounced by the Union that during the coup the ENEE headquarters were occupied and millions of dollars in debt were erased from the system.

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HOW TO SUPPORT HONDURAS’ PRO-DEMOCRACY, ANTI-MILITARY COUP REGIME MOVEMENT

TO MAKE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS … for community based groups in the pro-democracy / anti-military regime movement, make check payable to “Rights Action” and mail to:

UNITED STATES:  Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887

CANADA:  552 – 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8

CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS: http://rightsaction.org/contributions.htm

STOCK DONATIONS: Contact info@rightsaction.org

SPEAKERS:  Contact Rights Action to plan educational presentations in your community, school, place of worship, home, about the tireless and courageous Honduras pro-democracy movement.

EDUCATIONAL DELEGATIONS TO CENTRAL AMERICA:  Form your own group and/ or join one of our educational delegation-seminars to learn first hand about community development, human rights and environmental struggles.

JOIN RIGHTS ACTION’s LISTSERV: http://visitor.constantcontact.com/d.jsp?m=1103480765269

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