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[en] Margaret Thompson: Media Ignores Escalating Sexual Aggression Against Honduran Woman Protesters

Women in Resistance!, Tegucigalpa, July 3, 2009. Photo: Sandra Cuffe

Escalating Sexual Aggression Against Feminist And Women Protesters Against Military Coup In Honduras Ignored By Global & National Media

By Margaret Thompson
FIRE – Feminist International Radio Endeavour/Radio Internacional Feminista

August 17, 2009 – Tegucigalpa, Honduras — Global & national media are ignoring the growing intensity of sexual aggression and torture of women demonstrators in Honduras after the military coup d’etat & and violent repression, according to Honduran feminists and activists.

“The media (in Honduras) are manipulating our minds, because we see (in the streets) what is really happening” and they are not reporting the reality of the violent repression by the military and police, declared Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the first lady of Honduras and wife of Pres. Zelaya, who spoke to a Forum by Feminists in Resistance of Honduras today. Most of the mainstream media are owned by supporters of the military coup, so their reports reflect efforts by the defacto regime to create an image of “normality,” that all is well, that there was in fact no military coup, they merely ousted an ex-president who violated the constitution, according to Castro de Zelaya.

The first lady spoke to an audience of about 120 mainly women, including an international delegation from Central America, Mexico, Canada, Spain and the United States participating in a Feminist Transgressional Watch . The group is visiting Honduras for Women’s Human Rights Week, and conducting a feminist observatory of violations of women’s human rights, and feminist strategies of resistance to the military coup.

As popular resistance to the military coup continues with massive daily street marches, military and police officials are becoming more aggressive with both female and male demonstrators, beating them with clubs, shooting into crowds with (rubber or real) bullets, conducting large scale arrests or detentions, torture, and assassinations, little of which is covered in many media reports, said Indira Mendoza of Catrachas. Mendoza has videotaped some of these incidents directly or has testimony of witnesses. Hospitals and clinics are filled with young people in particular, with broken arm or leg bones, head injuries, and (rubber) bullet wounds.

Women’s and human rights groups are receiving reports of escalating sexual aggression against women both in the demonstrations and in detentions, ranging from verbal obscenities and threats, to women being grabbed or beaten with batons on their buttocks, to torture and rape in detentions, noted Adela Coria of the Center for Women’s Studies (CEM). In today’s Forum in Tegucigalpa, Yadida Minero reported that she had just taken a young woman to a radio station to denounce her torture and rape with a rifle while in detention at a police station.

Likewise, in the United States, the diminishing number of media reports on Honduras reflect how Pres. Obama led by Secretary State Hillary Clinton is backing away from his originally strong condemnation of the coup which ousted the legally elected President Zelaya, according to Breny Mendoza, a Honduran living in the US, and professor at California State University in Northridge. The intensive US news coverage and outrage in the US mainstream media about the controversial presidential elections in Iran is a stark contrast to the minimal coverage of the military coup in Honduras which ousted a democratically elected president. And the front and center role of women including feminists in the massive demonstrations, and the increasingly aggressive reaction of military and police to the women are also absent in media reports.

Despite the growing sexual aggression against women in Honduras, they are not filing complaints with the police for a number of reasons. Sara Rosales, a human rights lawyer with CEM, noted that women are afraid to report any violence since it is the police and military who are in part responsible for the violent repression, and the women also figure that such efforts are futile, because nothing will come of it.

After years of national and global campaigns about domestic violence, complaints filed by women had been increasing in recent years, says Rosales, also a member of Feminists in Resistance in Honduras.
There were 12,000 complaints filed with police in Honduras denouncing violence against women in 2007, and 20,000 reports last year, noted Rosales. But since the coup there have been very few complaints filed, which clearly demonstrates the connection between domestic violence and violence against women in armed conflict, both of which have increased in recent weeks.

Also, feminists and women’s activists are very disheartened that the de facto coup government kicked out the Minister of Women under Pres. Zelaya, Selma Estrada de Uclés in late June with the coup, and installed María Martha Díaz, a member of the ultra conservative Catholic group Opus Dei. Díaz has refused to process any complaints filed regarding violations of women’s human rights since the coup.

When feminists rallied outside the Institute of Women (INAM) to protest the policies of Díaz as de facto minister, she called in the military, who beat the protesters with batons.

Women are well aware of the irony of this assault. Years of struggle by feminists and other women is now lost, said Rosales. “It all changed in one day,” noted Breny Mendoza, a professor at California State University in Northridge and originally from Honduras.

Honduran feminists and investigators have received a vast number of complaints about violations of women’s human rights by the current coup regime in the past six weeks, and have conducted interviews for testimonies of 18 women. As part of the feminist observatory, human rights lawyers and activists are working with Honduran feminists to prepare a report on these 18 cases, which were presented to the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights, which is also visiting Honduras during the week of August 17th.

In the meantime, women including Feminists in Resistance are continuing to be front and center in the marches. “No more coups (golpes), and no more golpes (beatings) of women!” shout the women as they take to the streets. “Quien somos? Somos Feministas en Resistencia!”


US Secretary of States Hillary Clinton has refused to declare the siege a coup d’etat. Some say that this is because it would mean cutting all military and economic aid, beyond the small amount frozen in early July. And Clinton, along with US Sen. John McCain recently met with de facto coup Pres. Michelleti in Washington, who had come to meet with members of Congress as well to convince them that all is well in Honduras. Clinton is also on the board of the Millennium Development Corporation, which has continued to distribute millions of dollars to Honduras since the coup, according to Bill Conroy, as published in The Narcosphere on August 9, 2009.

Margie Thompson is a member of an international delegation that is in Honduras this week (August 17-21) conducting a local and virtual Observatorio de la Transgresión Feminista (Feminist Transformation Watch) to shed light on women’s rights violations that are occurring under the de facto regime that overthrew the democratically elected president in a coup d’etat on June 28th. For more information visit http://www.justassociates.org/actions/honduras_action_coup.html.

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Filed under ENGLISH, human rights & repression, international coverage, international solidarity, news & updates from Honduras

[en] “The Only Crime”: Testimony of Marcial Hernandez, beaten, detained & hospitalized

Marcial Hernandez: beaten, detained & hospitalized. Cortes, August 14th, 2009. Photo: Sandra Cuffe(Marcial Hernandez: beaten, detained & hospitalized. Photo: Sandra Cuffe)

Text, translation and photos by Sandra Cuffe

San Pedro Sula, Honduras, August 15th, 2009.

Repression against the national movement against the military coup in Honduras has become a daily occurrence. All over the country, police and the army are using tactics of terror and violence to disperse protests and illegally detain demonstrators.

Nevertheless, the resistance actions coordinated by the National Front of Resistance to the Military Coup in Honduras (FNRCGE, for its acronym in Spanish) continue to grow across the nation.

On August 14th, organizations and citizens in resistance from the northwestern region of the country mobilized in Choloma, blocking vehicle traffic along the highway between San Pedro Sula and Puerto Cortés. It was a very strategic choice of location, along the main highway leading to the country’s main port. Puerto Cortés has a great volume of exports, principally to the United States, of textile goods from the maquila factories in the northwestern region, as well as the fruits of the Tela Railroad Company, subsidiary of the transnational banana company Chiquita.

Soon after the highway blockade began, there was a negotiation between resistance leaders and police officials, supposedly in order to avoid yet another violent eviction. According to witnesses, a verbal agreement was made between the two parties to allow the protest to continue for another hour and peacefully disperse.

However, approximately twenty minutes after the agreement was reached, a large police presence gathered, along with some elements of the army, and police proceeded to violently disperse the protest, using tear gas and a water cannon. The demonstration dispersed, but police ran after resistance participants running towards downtown Choloma, using brutal violence during their arrest of protestors and others and during their transfer to the nearby police station in Choloma.

Twenty-seven people were detained. Among them were minors, elderly people, women, and journalists. The majority of the 27 detained were violently beaten.

Due to the severity of their injuries, five men were transferred in police custody to the Catarino Rivas public hospital in San Pedro Sula. All received treatment in the emergency ward for wounds documented as having been “caused by impact with a hard object.” Two men were released, but three protestors were still hospitalized late that same afternoon and were being held for observation and further treatment in the emergency room for an undefined period of time.

Julio Espinoza Carías, from Tela, Atlántida, has an exposed fracture of his right femur caused by the impact of a bullet, along with other wounds on his face and body.

Rogelio Mejía Espinoza, of the Aguán Farmers’ Movement (MCA) in the community of Guadalupe Carney in the Silín sector, Colón, has a fractured left maxillary sinus, with blood in the sinus, along with other injuries to his face and head, including a head wound that required several stitches.

Marcial Hernández, a member of the Coordination of Popular Organizations of the Aguán (COPA), from Tocoa, Colón, has a fractured left hand, a wound on the top of his head that required several stitches, and other injuries on his body. Immediately after the following interview, he was taken for a second time to get further X-rays done.

The following testimony was recorded in the Catarino Rivas hospital in San Pedro Sula in the late afternoon of August 14th. It was then transcribed word for word and translated into English.


“After the police arrived throwing [tear gas], we ran towards the central plaza. We ran well past the plaza, and they kept following us. And when we came back to regroup in the plaza, well, they let us make it to the plaza – some of us.

Those who were further away, dispersed, were being pursued. The police were grabbing them, beating them with their batons, hitting them, and taking them away to be detained.

We stayed there. Later, they surrounded the plaza. So once again we ran, this time towards the bridge. And when we were running there, the police came out in front of us, so we turned back.

There were some women from the Medicine, Hospital and Similar Workers’ Union (SITRAMEDHYS). And they were running, and we all went into some disgusting bathrooms that were there. We opened the gate and ran in. And the very same people closed the gate behind us. But when we went in, the women who had children with them entered the bathrooms and there was no more room for me, but anyways, we had to save the kids. So I sat down in a chair. The police passed us and about two minutes went by.

When they came back, they came to where I was. They opened the gate and came in running. And as though I were the enemy they grabbed me. They didn’t ask me for any kind of declaration. Someone simply pointed me out and then they came, but all at once, with their batons, hitting me on my back, on my head.

And someone grabbed me. One of them grabbed me by the shirt and shoved me. And when I walked forward, another one kicked me with his feet, his shoes, and knocked me over. And then I didn’t have any other choice but to curl up on the ground. And they really went at it there until they felt like stopping.

From there, they dragged me out. Then I stood up, and while I was getting up, they took advantage of it because I was exposing my back, so they took the chance to hit me as much as they wanted. And when we went out into the street, they put me back into the truck.

At that point, I was losing a lot of blood from my head.

Marcial Hernandez. Hospitalized in San Pedro Sula, August 14th. Photo: Sandra Cuffe

(Marcial Hernandez: head wound from police brutality. Photo: Sandra Cuffe)

They grabbed another compañero, and they were taking him on foot, beating him with the baton, and the police took us. And when we were arriving at the police station, they pushed me so hard that I fell down. They kept kicking me there, and then they dragged me into the police station.

The police official called them animals, he said something to them anyways. I could see that he said something about why they were doing that. But I couldn’t get up.

And the compañera that was here – she was the only one who helped me at that moment in the police station. When they wouldn’t respond to anything anyone said, someone yelled ‘stop hitting that man, don’t beat him, he’s defenseless.’

And that’s what happened. That’s what happened today.

The only… What’s it called? The only crime, absolutely the only one, was that we were going to a protest against this de facto government.”

# # #

Sandra Cuffe – sandra.m.cuffe@gmail.com – is a freelance journalist and photographer from Canada. In Honduras since July 3rd, she is currently a correspondent for the DominionPaper.ca (Canada), UpsideDownWorld.org (United States), DefensoresEnLinea.com (Honduras), and several community radio stations.


Filed under ENGLISH, human rights & repression, news & updates from Honduras

[en] May I Speak Freely?: HONDURAS NEWS IN REVIEW: July 10 – Aug. 3, 2009

Police Violence in the central park of San Pedro Sula. August 3rd. Image from video taken by Alfredo Bogran.

Honduras News in Review—July 10-Aug. 3, 2009

1. Post-coup death toll rises
2. International human rights delegation observes “systematic violations of human rights”

3. Repression severe on Nicaraguan border as Zelaya supporters gather to meet exiled president
4. Protests in Tegucigalpa, other cities meet with violent police, military response
5. Human rights NGOs take action on behalf of detainees, at-risk citizens
6. U.S. State Dept. maintains guardedly pro-Zelaya stance
7. U.S. Congress divided on Honduras
8. Honduran Congress members “deliberately kept out of legislative session” that ousted Zelaya
9. Excerpt of July 21 letter from Manuel Zelaya to Barack Obama
10. Human rights ombudsman Ramón Custodio censured by international human rights advocates
11. San José Accord still on table, but conflicts loom large
12. Elite Honduran business interests flex behind-the-scenes power in de facto government
13. “Cuarta urna” proposals had raised hopes among Honduras’ marginalized communities
14. Kidnapped journalist found dead
15. Other news in brief

1. Post-coup death toll rises

On July 25, fellow Zelaya supporters found the body of 23-year-old Pedro Magdiel Muñoz Salvador, notably bruised and stabbed 46 times, near a roadblock in El Paraiso. Muñoz had been among the approximately 5,000 supporters heading to the Nicaraguan border to greet deposed president Manuel Zelaya as he attempted to cross into the country. According to independent journalist and MISF associate producer Oscar Estrada, who has been sending daily updates of events on the ground, Muñoz had been part of a small group that had most actively challenged a police blockade in El Paraiso—one of 15 set up between Tegucigalpa and the border with Nicaragua. Muñoz allegedly had been arrested the previous evening, a claim that police officials denied. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called for an investigation into the murder, and urged the interim government to “adopt every measure to guarantee the right to life, integrity and security to all citizens of Honduras.”

The following day, Jorge Edgardo Cruz Sierra, 35, and Víctor Samuel Almendárez Fuentes, 12, were killed outside the National Stadium in Tegucigalpa after a soccer match. A third victim, Francisco Javier García Ortega, 45, died a few days later. Official reports attributed the deaths, along with at least five gunshot injuries, to a clash between rival fans that was subsequently subdued by police with tear gas and live ammunition. Some accounts said that the incident was provoked by gun-wielding fans who were waiting outside the stadium, as police had searched people on their way into the match. By contrast, Estrada suggested the police aggression was in response to crowd protests over the death of Muñoz and “the state of repression” in the country, not a soccer riot. According to Estrada, a block of fans had come into the game with a banner depicting Pedro Muñoz’s face; that section of the crowd was repeatedly skipped in the television coverage of the game, he noted. After what Estrada called “an extremely boring match,” which ended in a 0-0 tie, “the youth left protesting … yelling, ‘Murderers! Murderers!’” Television reports and a video posted to YouTube showed a police officer firing into the crowd. On July 29, Orlin Javier Cerrato Cruz, spokesperson for the Ministry of Security, allowed for the possibility that one of the deaths could have been at the hands of an officer. “We need to look at all the evidence to be able to ascertain whether [a police officer] is responsible.”

On July 29, a 38-year-old teacher, Roger Abrahán Vallejo, was shot in the head by police during a protest in northern Tegucigalpa. Witnesses said the shooting occurred as hundreds of police charged a crowd of protesters. Vallejo died in hospital three days later. Teachers present at the Hospital Escuela, where Vallejo was being treated, reported the presence of police and military forces at the health-care facility. According to Sergio Rivera, a member of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Honduras, police “forced their way into the wounded leader’s room … to intimidate his companions.” Police officials said were opening an investigation to determine whether the shot that killed Vallejo was fired by a police officer.

The first death directly tied to events related to the coup occurred on July 5, when Isis Obed Murillo, 19, was shot and killed when police fired into a crowd of Zelaya supporters awaiting the ousted president’s arrival at the Tegucigalpa airport. Since then, several other killings have been reported, although reports have varied and it is unclear whether all are related to post-coup events. Nevertheless, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has noted and requested clarifying information regarding the following six alleged murders (in addition to Muñoz): the death of journalist Gabriel Fino Noriega, Radio América correspondent in San Juan Puebla, Atlántida, killed on July 3 as he left the Radio América offices; the discovery of a body in “La Montañita” with apparent signs of torture and a T-shirt supporting the Zelaya administration’s “cuarta urna” proposal; the discovery of two bodies in a barrel in Tegucigalpa, with money and cell phones still intact, and their arms bound with shoelaces; the July 11 murder of popular leader Roger Bados, in San Pedro Sula; and the July 12 murder of popular leader Ramón García, in Santa Bárbara. [AP, 7/25/09; Oscar Estrada report, 7/27/09; EFE, 7/28/09; La Tribuna, 7/29/09; El Tiempo, 7/29/09; IACHR press release, 7/27/09; La Tribuna, 7/27/09; HablaHonduras, 7/31/09; AFP, 8/2/09; La Jornada (Mexico), 8/2/09]

2. International human rights delegation observes “systematic violations of human rights”

A fact-finding team of 17 representatives from European and Latin American human rights organizations visited Honduras to observe the human rights situation first hand, releasing on July 23 a preliminary report of their findings. The Observation Mission on the Human Rights Situation in Honduras said it verified many reports of abuses earlier in the month, including at least six extrajudicial killings and two confirmed disappearances. There were a number of other murders that they did not have the time to verify, according to an AlterNet reporter writing from inside the country, who was told by a member of the mission that if they had “stayed longer, the numbers of political murders would be higher.” The mission’s report also verified and documented many reported instances of press repression (see MISF 7/28 report) and also noted a credible report of paramilitary organizations, supposedly with drug trafficking connections, dressed in camouflage and acting in conjunction with the 15th Battalion of the Honduran Army in the Colón region. A final report from the mission is expected soon. On July 30, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), one of the participating organizations, issued a statement of concern over the human rights situation in Honduras, urging that the international community continue to condemn the coup, that the European Union suspend economic cooperation with Honduras, and that the U.N. high commissioner conduct a field visit to the country, among other things. [International Observation Mission preliminary report, 7/23/09; AlterNet, 7/28/09; FIDH, 7/30/09]

3. Repression severe on Nicaraguan border as Zelaya supporters gather to meet exiled president

A group of observers from the United Nations arrived at the Honduran border with Nicaragua on July 27, where supporters of Zelaya had been congregating since July 24 to greet the deposed president, who had promised to cross the border there over the weekend. The delegation, strictly there to document human rights conditions, reported shortages of water and food for the inhabitants in areas affected by the round-the-clock curfew, which covered approximately one third of the country and ultimately lasted five days. They received reports of a Red Cross vehicle that was trying to make it through to an encampment of protesters with basic provisions, which was denied passage by a military roadblock.

Movement to the southern border was impeded by as many as 15 military roadblocks, which stopped the busloads of supporters, forcing them to walk. Independent journalist and MISF associate producer Oscar Estrada witnessed first-hand many of the events at the border, and reported that throngs of supporters joined Zelaya, despite being deprived of transportation. Via Ciudadana, an international campesino rights organization, reported that marchers were variously tear-gassed and shot at, resulting in at least three injuries. On July 25, news broke that Via Ciudadana leader Rafael Alegría had been arrested. Estrada and the group of reporters with whom he was traveling were able to locate Alegría, along with roughly 150 peaceful protesters, in the local jail. With the help of Juan Almendares, director of the Center for Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and their Families, Estrada and the reporters were able to secure Alegría’s release, as well as those of the women being held, who had complained of sexual harassment as well as threats of sexual abuse. The same day, popular leaders Bertha Cáceres and Salvador Zúniga, of Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations (COPINH), and Miriam Miranda, of the Garifuna organization OFRANEH, were also detained but subsequently released.

A report from women’s group Feministas en Resistencia substantiates a claim that at least one Honduras Red Cross vehicle was used to transport tear gas and arms to the barricades along the southern route. This has had the effect of undermining the trust local people have in the aid organizations generally and the Red Cross specifically. Although the Red Cross said they never sent a unit in that direction, they have not denounced the misappropriation of their symbol by government forces, nor have they made a formal complaint to appropriate authorities, according to the group. [Oscar Estrada report, 7/27/09; Via Ciudadana; Revistazo, 7/28/09; Feministas en Resistencia, 7/28/09]

4. Protests in Tegucigalpa, other cities meet with violent police, military response

Violent repression exploded on July 30 in the El Durazno section of Tegucigalpa, a day that union leader and National Front Against the Coup organizer Juan Barahona called “the fiercest repression we have experienced to date.” Many nonviolent protesters and bystanders were beaten, including independent presidential candidate Carlos Reyes, whose arm was broken, MISF associate producer Oscar Estrada, whose camera was destroyed and confiscated along with his footage and cell phone, and president of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CODEH) Andrés Pavón. CODEH released a full account of their experience on the streets, reporting that disproportionate amounts of police and military forces were on hand, stopping buses full of people headed to El Durazno and briefly hijacking them, with helicopter support, to locations far from the protests. Some of these busloads were detained.

The protesters on hand were tear-gassed and beaten, seemingly at random. When one man who had stopped to take pictures was chased into his office, Pavón tried to intervene, stating his credentials. The police officer threatened him, calling human rights worthless and attempting to hit him with his baton. The account continued, “We bore witness to the disproportionate and beastly nature of the aggression. They were detaining the protesters, marching them down the street, single file, which recalled [a scene from] the Jewish ghettos.”

After being loaded onto trucks, the protesters were taken to the police’s Fourth Precinct or the Army’s Seventh Regional Command, where they joined over 100 detainees. By CODEH’s count, at least 16 people were severely wounded, and one, Roger Abrahán Vallejo, killed by gunshot. (See top story.) Reports from Comayagua city yielded similar stories, with at least 100 detained, over 20 severely wounded, and gas canisters being thrown inside the cells. Similar reports from Copán city emerged from protests there the following day. The New York Times also reported clashes in at least four cities. [NY Times, 7/31/09; TeleSur, 7/30/09; (Editor’s note: COFADEH reports will be posted to mayispeekfreely.org soon]

5. Human rights NGOs take action on behalf of detainees, at-risk citizens

In its legal capacity, CODEH made claims of habeas corpus for people detained in Tegucigalpa, Comayagua and Copán July 30 (see above story), only to be frustrated by judges who arrived after the detainees had been released without any intake or discharge records on file, leaving no evidence of the witnessed illegal detentions. CODEH has made four formal reports of human rights abuses to date, calling out numerous members of the de facto government for their roles in the events since June 28, including the previously reported state of exception decree, domestic media repression, and treatment of foreign diplomats.

According to an interview earlier in the month with Reina Rivera, former director of the Center for Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights, the military and the police are working in very close coordination, with the latter appearing to take orders from the former rather than checking its power in-country. She said that reports of disappearances are currently being verified, and that claims of forced military conscription, reported by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and others, have been followed by reports that these are now “voluntary,” due to pressure from NGOs.

On July 24, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expanded its list of people granted precautionary measures “in order to safeguard the life and personal integrity of persons in Honduras, who, according to information received, are at risk.” The expanded list names scores of people, including journalists, union leaders, leaders of local NGOs and former government officials. The commission has also requested information on specific claims of murders, beatings, death threats, press repression and other forms of abuse. [MDZ Online, 7/11/09; Revistazo; Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Precautionary Measures 2009]

6. U.S. State Dept. maintains guardedly pro-Zelaya stance

On July 27, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly restated the official U.S. stance on Honduras, saying, “We want the restoration of democratic order. And that includes the return by mutual agreement of the democratically elected president, and that’s President [Manuel] Zelaya.” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been more guarded in her assessment, omitting the last sentence regarding the return of Zelaya, saying, as she did on July 7, “We hope at the end of this mediation there will be a return of democratic constitutional order that is agreed to by all concerned. The exact nature of that, the specifics of it, we will leave to the parties themselves.”

Despite having generally expressed a position against the interim government, the State Department has not legally declared the Zelaya’s removal a coup d’etat, a position that Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley restated plainly in a July 20 briefing. Although the Obama administration and State Department have used the word “coup,” it hasn’t legally been declared such; clauses in the Foreign Assistance Act and Millennium Challenge Accounts call for the immediate termination of the flow of aid to a country in which a coup has “legally” taken place. At stake are $43.2 million in foreign aid slated for Honduras in 2009, including Millennium Challenge compact monies. There is $130 million left to be disbursed to Honduras under the Millennium Challenge through 2010. Over $20 million in military and police assistance and other aid programs have been suspended thus far, and $11 million in Millennium Challenge monies have yet to be authorized.

The argument for not cutting off aid has a humanitarian dimension—Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, with the most extreme inequality in wealth distribution. Cutting off aid would mainly affect the roughly 5.2 million people living under the poverty line, and not necessarily those pushing for the coup. Those who favor a tougher stance echo the words of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who said in a July 15 Miami Herald op-ed, “If those who overthrew Zelaya remain intransigent, we must look at additional cuts, without harming the poor more than Honduran politicians already have. In addition, we should consider pursuing punitive measures—including suspending travel visas—for anyone involved in suppressing the Honduran people.”

Spokesperson Kelly also stressed the department’s desire to have both parties adhere to the mediation talks headed by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. On July 28, the United States applied more pressure on the de facto government by revoking diplomatic visas for four of its officials: Tomas Arita Valle, the Supreme Court justice who signed the order for Zelaya’s arrest; José Alfredo Saavedra, president of the Honduran Congress; human rights ombudsman Ramon Custodio; and Adolfo Lionel Sevilla, defense minister in the interim government. In a briefing that day, Kelly added that the State Department would further support the Zelaya government in this matter. “Once they submit the proper notification of termination on [Embassy diplomats and staff who support the de facto regime], the United States will take steps to terminate their status,” he said. [Miami Herald, 7/15; U.S. State Dept., 7/27/09; U.S. State Dept., 7/28/09; Reuters, 7/28; Business Week, 7/29]

7. U.S. Congress divided on Honduras

Meanwhile, in Congress, two starkly different resolutions on Honduras are competing for support. H. Res. 630—which Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., introduced July 10—”condemns the June 28 coup d’etat in Honduras and refuses to recognize the de facto Micheletti government installed by that coup d’etat.” It also specifically calls for Manuel Zelaya to be reinstated and for the Obama administration to suspend any non-humanitarian aid, which it has not done to the full extent possible. Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, a co-signer of 630, has been circulating a letter addressed to President Barack Obama that cites human rights abuses and urges the United States to take further action against the de facto government, including a suspension of non-humanitarian aid and a freeze on bank accounts and assets of individuals involved in the coup. Grijalva said such actions would have no adverse effect on the people of Honduras, but would force the de facto government to “abandon its uncompromising stance.”

On the other hand, H. Res. 619, put forth July 8 by Rep. Connie Mack, R.-Fla., “condemns Mr. Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales for his unconstitutional and illegal attempts to alter the Constitution of Honduras,” and calls the actions of June 28 legal and constitutional. Mack, who, along with his Republican colleague Rep. Brian Bilbray of California, returned from a July 25-26 weekend trip to the country, said Zelaya “is playing a game here and [Venezuelan President] Hugo Chavez is pulling the strings.”

The bill supporters are currently engaged in a race for broader support, as 630 currently has 44 co-signers—mostly a liberal coalition of minorities and their supporters—while 619 has 41 co-signers—conservative Cuban exiles and their allies. [The Hill, 7/28/09; Huffington Post, 7/28/09; Library of Congress, H. Res. 619; Library of Congress, H. Res. 630; The Hill, 7/28]

8. Honduran Congress members “deliberately kept out of legislative session” that ousted Zelaya

A growing number of Honduran congressional deputies are speaking out against the coup and affirming that they did not participate in the June 28 vote—initially reported as nearly unanimous—to remove President Manuel Zelaya from office and instate Roberto Micheletti, the congressional president, in his stead. In a July 26 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a group of five representatives, including Copán deputy Elvia Valle, wrote, “We and other members of Congress were deliberately kept out of the legislative session which ousted President Zelaya. We were first informed that there would be no session that day, and a small group of us was notified that a session would be taking place at the very last minute, with full knowledge that we were then at great distances from the capital city.” Honduran Ambassador to the U.S. Enrique Reina and Armando Sarmiento, former Director of the Honduran Tax and Customs Bureau, told MISF at least 26 deputies were not present for the vote, while another who was present did not provide a “yes” vote but was counted as such.

Those 27 representatives signed their names to a follow-up letter to the U.S. Congress on Aug. 3, denouncing the dismissal of Zelaya, the denial of due process to Zelaya, the prevention of their participation in the vote, and the use of “progressive and systematic” repression and intimidation tactics against deputies speaking out against the coup. Comprising 20 Liberal Party members, five from the Democratic Union Party, and two from the Christian Democracy Party, the group noted that they “represent a broad slice of the political spectrum in Honduras—from former close allies of Roberto Micheletti, the de facto head of state, to strong supporters of Preseident Zelaya’s party and members of other political parties.” The group wrote in its July 26 letter, “In our country the coup not only turned back time several decades, to an era when it was common practice for the military to overthrow presidents, but it also sent us back to a time when civil liberties were systematically violated in the name of national security.” [MISF interview with Ambassador Enrique Reina and Armando Sarmiento; Honduran deputies’ July 26 letter to Clinton and Aug. 3 letter to U.S. Congress (Editor’s note: images of letters will be added to mayispeakfreely.org soon)]

9. Excerpt of July 21 letter from Manuel Zelaya to Barack Obama

“… I call upon the Honorable President Barack Obama to take concrete action aimed at restoring the constitutional order of the Republic of Honduras and ending the violations of human rights and the bloody repression of the people who are in the streets demanding justice by DECLARING the consequent state of emergency, prohibiting bank transactions and canceling the visas of the conspirators and those directly responsible for my absuction and the interruption of constitutional order in my country, designating them as “Specially Designated Persons” and adding them to the Executive Order 13224 of the United States of America, the following individuals: The High Command of the Armed Forces of Honduras presided over by Division General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and composed of Brigadier General Miguel Angel Garcia Padget, in his rank of General Commander of the Army, Commander General of the Navy, Rear Admiral Juan Pablo Rodriguez R., an Brigadier General Luis Javier Prince Suazo, Commander General of the Airforce; the directorate of the National Congress of Honduras presided over by Roberto Micheletti Bain, and composed of Jose Alfredo Saavedra, Toribio Aquilera, Ramon Velazquez Nassar, Marcia Facusse de Villeda, Rolando Dubon Bueso and Antonio Rivera Callejas; Attorney General Luis Alberto Rubi, and Public Prosecutor Rosa America Miranda.” [Translation by Embassy of Honduras, Washington, D.C.; text provided to MISF by Honduran Ambassador Eduardo Enrique Reina]

10. Human rights ombudsman Ramón Custodio censured by international human rights advocates

A group of Latin American, North American and European human rights lawyers, in a July 1 letter to the Federation of Iberoamerican Ombudsmen (FIO), denounced Honduran Human Rights Commissioner Ramón Custodio for endorsing the coup and failing to defend human rights in the country. Custodio is the Honduran representative to the FIO. The letter called for an investigation into Custodio’s actions and that he be urged to “fulfill his constitutional duty to defend and protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law because, with his actions and omissions, he has discredited and delegitimized the institutional figure of the ombudsman and the Iberoamerican Federation of Ombudsmen.”

On July 27, Nicaraguan human rights prosecutor and FIO President Omar Cabezas announced the opening of an office in Nicaragua to receive complaints of human rights violations by the de facto government in Honduras. He said the office was needed because Custodio “is supporting the coup government and is not assuming his duties.” (La Opinión reported Aug. 3 that Custodio had been expelled from the FIO, while La Journada reported that he had been expelled from the International Federation of Human Rights; however, the claims are in question, as neither organization appears to have made public statements to that effect.)

An open letter to Custodio, dated July 26, from former friend and colleague Knut Rauchfuss of the NGO Justice is Health, based in Bochum, Germany, went further in explaining why Custodio’s international peers—and many Honduras human rights figures—were so disappointed with him. “You are no longer a fighter for human rights,” Rauchfuss wrote, “but rather an accomplice to lies and brutality, an accomplice to military men and assasins. Each day, another [news] article appears, where my old friend Ramón Custodio presents himself as custodian to the Honduran ruling class and its military coup, articles in which you present yourself publicly exonerating soldiers who killed protesters, and letters in which you deny that political prisoners exist and in which you exonerate, too, the torturer Billy Joya. Where is the Ramón Custodio who agreed with the principles of justice and humanity? Where is the Ramón who respected human dignity?” [Editor’s note: Joya, a former Honduran Army captain, has assumed the role of security adviser in Micheletti’s cabinet. Joya is accused of the illegal detention, torture and murder of civilians in the 1980s, when he was a commanding officer in the military intelligence Batallion 3-16.]

Custodio is also one of the officials whose U.S. visa was revoked. (See story above.) In response to U.S. State Department’s action he said, “I prefer to die with dignity in Honduras before being subjected to blackmail and coercion.” During the 1980s, as president of the NGO Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras, Custodio actively spoke out against illegal detentions, disappearances and the government’s failure to abide by its own constitutional guarantees, and he advocated on behalf of victims and their families. [Rauchfuss letter via Listas RDS-HN, 7/27/09; La Prensa, 7/30/09]

11. San José Accord still on table, but conflicts loom large

Talks between the two Honduran governments—that of ousted President Manuel Zelaya and of de facto President Roberto Michelleti—as mediated by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, have taken a tumultuous course over the past few weeks, breaking off several times before reaching a near agreement late last week. The latest proposal, dubbed the San José Accord for the Costa Rican city by that same name, consists of 12 points:

(1) power sharing under a unity government, accepting the recently passed general budget; (2) a general amnesty for political offenses regarding the conflict, and general delay of any lawsuits extending six months; (3) renunciation of a poll or any other act regarding a Constitutional Assembly; (4) moving up elections by a month to Oct. 29; agreeing to international monitoring from now until transfer of power in January; (5) affirming neutrality of armed forces and requesting their assistance with electoral monitoring; (6) return of powers of state to their pre-June 28 status, with Zelaya as president; (7) establishing a verification commission, presided over by the Organization of American States, to make sure the accord is followed, as well as a truth commission, led by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights to clarify the deeds that occurred before and after June 28; (8) normalization of status between Honduras and the international community; (9) accord effective at the moment of signing; (10) differences in interpretation will be taken up by the verification commission; (11) setting forth a calendar for all steps to take place; (12) commitment to execute accord in good faith.

On July 25, the Honduran military issued a statement that it supported this plan and would not stand in the way of Zelaya entering the country with the accord in place. This move seemed to provide an opening for Micheletti to consider it, which he indeed did signal in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on July 27. On July 30, the New York Times reported unnamed officials as saying that Michelleti had called President Arias the previous day to express his support for the San Jose Accord. There was even movement in the Honduran Congress to study the proposal with the expectation of a quick resolution. Zelaya has already agreed to the accord. In July 29 broadcast on San Pedro Sula TV station, he said, “To avoid going against the Arias plan, we will change strategy [on Constitutional reform], but reform is still coming.”

On July 31, however, Michelleti dashed any glimmer of hope by issuing a statement, which said, in part, “We respect many of the points of the agreement but we do not accept some of them like the return of Mr. Zelaya. We don’t accept it in this country under any circumstance. If he wants to come back he can, but only if he faces trial.” A high-ranking diplomatic mission is slated to travel to Honduras in an effort to persuade the interim government to accept all 12 points of the plan.

The diplomatic drama took place against the backdrop of developments on the ground, which might have complicated negotiations. On July 24, Zelaya, along with a throng of supporters gathered at the Nicaraguan border, briefly crossed over into Honduras soil in defiance of the military, which had threatened his arrest if he did so. The event, which drew thousands of supporters defying curfews and making their way through the jungle, drew the ire of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who called the move “reckless.” Many Zelaya supporters still remain just over the border in Nicaragua in camps, where Zelaya is reportedly preparing a “popular militia” to guard him when he returns to the country for good.

Meanwhile, the Honduran Public Ministry has filed charges against Zelaya and his former minister of the presidency, Enrique Flores Lanza, for the falsification of documents in connection with an investigation of illegal use of funds for publicity spending, presumably connected to the “cuarta urna” opinion poll to have been conducted on June 28. The charges include a request for an arrest warrant for the deposed president. [NY Times, 7/19/09; NY Times, 7/23/09; NY Times, 7/25/09; NY Times, 7/26/09; Wall St. Journal, 7/27/09; Huffington Post, 7/27/09; NY Times, 7/27/09; Bloomberg, 7/29/09; Proceso Digital, 7/30/09; Proceso Digital, 7/30/09; NY Times, 7/30/09; La Tribuna, 7/30/09; NY Times, 7/31/09; Washington Post, 7/31/09; AFP, 8/1/09]

12. Elite Honduran business interests flex behind-the-scenes power in de facto government

A recent article in The American Prospect revealed that Lanny Davis, chief U.S. lobbyist and public-relations strategist for the pro-coup forces in Honduras, is being paid by members of the Honduras chapter of the Business Council of Latin America (CEAL), including his main contacts, Camilo Atala and Jorge Canahuati. Atala and Canahuati are two of eight extremely powerful families in Honduras, who together control much of the country’s media outlets and other business interests. According to the Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras, CEAL is a continuation of the same core group of business, political and military interests that during the 1980s comprised the Alliance for Progress and Development of Honduras, an anti-Communist group closely tied to the military that COFADEH and other human rights organizations consider a principal actor behind the infamous military intelligence Battalion 3-16 of that era, believed to have functioned as a death squad.

In a July 30 New York Times article revealing de facto President Roberto Michelleti’s brief flirtation with accepting the San José Accord, which would allow the return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, unnamed sources were quoted as saying that Michelleti faced stiff opposition from these elite business interests in welcoming Zelaya back to the country. Michelleti issued a statement the following day unequivocally stating that his government was no longer considering any resolution that would bring Zelaya back, citing internal resources and “private companies” who had agreed to “freeze prices on the basic basket of goods … for as long as is necessary,” as a firewall against international isolation and pressure to do otherwise.

Those private companies do not include some major apparel manufacturers with interests in the country, including Nike, the Adidas Group, The Gap and Knight’s Apparel, who on July 28 issued a joint letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for a restoration of democracy in Honduras. [American Prospect, 7/22/09; Nike, 7/27/09; All Headline News, 7/28/09; NY Times, 7/30/09; NY Times, 7/31/09]

13. “Cuarta urna” proposals had raised hopes among Honduras’ marginalized communities

The Honduran military recently made available on its Web site an extensive pdf document, which—in the midst of 156 pages listing pre-coup timelines, justifications for military and court actions to remove Manuel Zelaya from power, and miscellaneous legal documents—included a publicity flyer, apparently from the campaign to rally support for Zelaya’s “cuarta urna” opinion poll that was slated to have taken place on June 28. With no mention of a call to extend presidential term limits, the flier included a list of proposed changes the Zelaya government had hoped to introduce in the event a constitutional assembly was called to order. Among the 10 points listed were the promotion women’s rights, “guarantees of a multicultural and pluri-ethnic society,” and political reforms that would have allowed for more minority representation in government. Ironically—since a key criticism of the process was the perception of Zelaya’s desire to hold on to power—one of the points allowed for midterm votes of confidence for local, congressional and presidential representatives.

Beyond coup d’etat or rule of law, Zelaya or Michelleti, the promise of constitutional reform reportedly struck a chord with many disempowered communities, especially the Garifuna population, an ethnic subgroup descended from Amerindian and African people, of which there are roughly 400,000 in Honduras. Garifuna community activist Alfredo López told the Miami Herald, “We have no political visibility in this country and that makes us extremely vulnerable. The constitutional assembly would have given us a chance to change that.” For some Garifuna, Zelaya’s ouster meant dashed hopes, which is why they said they were marching not necessarily in support of Zelaya, but for a change in the status quo. According to Carlos Mauricio Palacios, a historian who has worked with indigenous communities, “[The constitutional assembly] was important, not just for the Garifunas, but all the minority communities. This was a chance to secure rights that have long been denied to them.'” [Documento Auditoría Jurídico Militar de las FFAA Sobre Sucesión Presidencial en Honduras, PDF; Honduras Coup 2009, 7/27/09; Miami Herald, 7/22/09]

14. Kidnapped journalist found dead

On July 8, the body of reporter Bernardo Rivera was found buried on a mountainside in the Copán region. Rivera, a former congressional deputy, was kidnapped on March 14 and apparently died in an escape attempt sometime in April. The NGO Reporters Without Borders issued a statement condemning the events, adding that the Honduran government had taken too long in coming to grips with the seriousness of the crime wave sweeping the country. [La Tribuna, 7/13/09; La Tribuna, 7/13/09; previous story: HNR, 5/1-31/09]

15. Other news in brief

Shortly after the events of June 28, the Honduran Foreign Ministry ordered all its diplomats home, and the ambassador to the United States, Roberto Flores Bermudez, complied, saying “This is not a coup d’etat, but rather a process in which a judicial order has been carried out.” Eduardo Enrique Reina, a former vice minister of foreign relations and private secretary to Honduras’s ousted president, presented himself on July 16 as Zelaya’s ambassador to the country. [Miami Herald, 7/3/09; The Hill, 7/16/09] Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle, minister of culture under the Zelaya administration who fled to Mexico after hiding in Honduras for seven days following the coup, and Enrique Reina, the new ambassador to the United States, reported that some ministers’ personal bank accounts and credit cards were frozen for more than a week following the coup. [MISF interviews with Fasquelle and Reina]

For background information on the June 28 coup, along with links to original Honduran government documents, read our Backgrounder: Making Sense of the Honduran Coup.

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Filed under ENGLISH, human rights & repression, international coverage, news & updates from Honduras

[en] CISPES: Honduran prosecutors family attacked after he denounces military coup on CNN


A delegation of anti-coup resistance leaders from Honduras is currently in Washington DC to work towards the unconditional reinstatement of President Zelaya. Please forward the information about the public forum to your contacts in DC.

WHEN: Wednesday, July 15, 2009, 6:00pm
WHERE: Institute for Policy Studies, 16th St NW Washington, DC 20036.
For questions and to RSVP, please contact: natali@mateagroup.com

Honduran prosecutors family attacked after he denounces military coup on CNN

The family of Honduran public prosecutor Jari Dixon Herrera were attacked by police on Tuesday shortly after he made statements to CNN en Español and other international media in Washington denouncing the recent military coup in Honduras. Dixon’s mother’s house, located in the town of Talanga, was first shot at repeatedly by police agents with automatic weapons. The agents then broke the door of the house down and entered the residence, beat Dixon’s mother and arrested and took away his brother. Jari Dixon is currently in Washington, DC, as part of a delegation of Hondurans that has been meeting with members of Congress, representatives of the World Bank, the State Department and human rights organizations to discuss the rights abuses committed by the Honduran de facto authorities.

The attack against Jari Dixons family comes in the wake of the killing of two leaders of the United Democrat Party. On Saturday evening, hooded armed men stormed the house of Roger Bados of San Pedro Sula and shot and killed him in front of his family. That same night, Ramon Garcia was ambushed and killed in the street close to his home in Santa Barbara.

These violent acts, that have gone largely unreported in the US media, strongly resemble the selective repression that occurred under the previous military dictatorship in Honduras, when paramilitary death squads killed or kidnapped key dissidents to maintain a climate of terror in the population. Human rights activists in Honduras have been speaking out against this development under the new coup regime, which comes on the heels of two weeks of violent repression of peaceful demonstrations, the closure of radio and TV outlets and intimidation of journalists who have criticized the coup and hundreds of arbitrary arrests of nonviolent protesters.

Jari Dixon is lawyer with the Honduran Attorney Generals office, and is Vice President of the Association of Honduran Government Attorneys (Asocación de Fiscales de Honduras). In 2008 he coordinated a hunger strike by lawyers who work for the Attorney Generals office in protest of corruption in the legal system.

Dixon, together with the renowned environmentalist and anti-torture activist Dr. Juan Almendares and United Democrat Party congressman Marvin Ponce, traveled to Washington to demand the restoration of the rule of law in Honduras and the return of its constitutional president Manuel Zelaya.



Filed under ENGLISH, human rights & repression, international coverage, international solidarity, news & updates from Honduras, press releases & communiques

[en] Criminal Charges Against Coup Leaders Pressed by Honduran Human Rights Organization CODEH

Honduras Coup Alert #24 – Lawsuit filed against Coup plotters & perpetrators, July 14, 2009

BELOW: a non-official translation (done for Rights Action) of a legal case filed with the Specialized Prosecutor for Organized Crime, in Honduran, by Andres Pavon of CODEH (Comite para la Defensa del Derechos Humanos en Honduras), against the coup plotters and perpetrators.

Grahame Russell (Rights Action): info@rightsaction.org, [504] 9630-9507, 9507-3835
Sandra Cuffe (independent journalist):
lavagabunda27@yahoo.es, [504] 9525-6778

Please re-distribute this information all around. To get on/ off Rights Action’s email list: http://www.rightsaction.org/lists/?p=subscribe&id=3/

* * *

CODEH Legal Actions




Esteemed Specialized Prosecutor for Organized Crime:

I, ANDRES PAVON MURILLO, legally of adult age, married, Honduran, with identity card number 0208-1962-00378, a teacher, acting in my role as the President of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras (Comité para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Honduras- CODEH), with legal status number 163-94, located in Tegucigalpa M.D, Barrio Guadalupe, Edificio Italia, with telephone numbers 237-9238 / 3347-2531;

and with the utmost respect I present myself before this investigative and criminal prosecution body, to amplify the denunciation which is presented in said Special Prosecutor’s office against the Congressmen of the National Congress ROBERTO MICHELETI BAIN, JOSÉ ALFREDO SAAVEDRA PAZ, TORIBIO AGUILERA, RAMÓN VELÁSQUEZ NAZER, MARCIA FACUSSE DE VILLEDA, ROLANDO DUBON BUESO, GONZALO ANTONIO RIVERA, MARIA FELICITA GUZMAN FONSECA,

and definitively against all those Congressmen in the Congress of the Republic who on Sunday, 28 June 2009, proceeded outside legal channels to destitute the Esteemed President of the Republic, JOSÉ MANUEL ZELAYA ROSALES; additionally against Mister General ROMEO VASQUEZ VELASQUEZ, and all the members of the Honduran Armed Forces High Command, that headed and committed the brutal detention and kidnapping and posterior forceful transfer to the Republic of Costa Rica. The Commanders of the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy are part of the High Command.

This denunciation is also extended to those people who have collaborated in altering the legally established constitutional order, including among these RAMÓN CUSTODIO LÓPEZ, who holds the public office of Ombudsman for Human Rights in Honduras (CONADEH), yet on the contrary has converted himself into one who negates all Hondurans’ human rights.



FIRST: On 11 May of this year, I publicly denounced that Honduran citizens participated in meetings in the country with the objective of planning a technical Coup d’Etat against the Constitutional President of the Republic José Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

The following day, 12 May, my denunciation was published in several news media.

As a consequence on 13 May, I received a citation from the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Organized Crime.

On 14 May, at two o’clock in the afternoon, I arrived at the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Organized Crime with the aim of presenting my testimonial declaration. The Prosecutor from the anti-drug unit Rodolfo Galo Herrera and the Prosecutor Ana Patricia Domínguez Lobo, head of the anti-kidnapping, terrorist, and arms trafficking unit attended me.

As is evident in my testimony and the citation notice, the Public Prosecutor’s interest was in the initiation of a ‘de oficio’ investigation for the crime of TERRORISM, as can be demonstrated in the citation notice.

At no moment was interest shown in the core arguments of my denunciation related to the technical military coup d’etat that I had denounced, thus making the Attorney General’s behavior suspect; having revealed that he could do this with individuals.

SECOND: As the Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime will know, Mister JOSÉ MANUEL ZELAYA ROSALES was legitimately elected in general elections for the constitutional period beginning on 27 January 2006 until 27 January 2010. As the Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime also will know, on Sunday, 28 June 2009, in the early morning hours, when the citizen President of the Republic was in his residence, he was violently detained by a strong commando group of the National Army or individuals dressed in military attire.

Previous to this, the executors of said violent act machine gunned the gates of his residence, and then burst inside, proceeded to threaten him, aiming their high-caliber arms at him, reaching the point of telling him to surrender and not offer any opposition, thus constituting the crime of the abuse of authority and the breaking and entering into a private dwelling, as established in Article 99 of the Constitution of the Republic which stipulates:

A residence is inviolable. No entry or registry should be conducted without the consent of the person who lives there or a competent authority’s resolution. However it can be searched, in case of emergency, to impede the commission of or the impunity from crimes or to avoid serious damage to people and property.

Excluding urgent cases, breaking and entering into a dwelling cannot be conducted from six in the afternoon to six in the morning, without incurring responsibility.

The law will determine the requirements and formalities for the entry, registry, or search to be conducted, as well as the responsibilities that may be incurred by he who conducts it.

As the Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime will know, since it is public knowledge, once this violent act was committed, its executors, that is to say the armed commando group, proceeded to kidnap the President of the Republic Manuel Zelaya Rosales, for which they took him in his underclothes from his residence, and in the following action was taken to an airbase where he was boarded on the presidential plane and transferred against his will to the Republic of Costa Rica, where he debarked at approximately eight in the morning that same day.

As the Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime will know, the Constitutional President of the Republic was received in the airport Juan Santa Maria in San José, Costa Rica from which he gave declarations to the entire world about what had happened to him.

Esteemed Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime, surely you know that this act which has barely been summarized is anti-juridical because in the legal order there is no disposition that authorizes it. Furthermore, the Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime is asked what would happen if this act took place against him or his family.

The Criminal Code in its article 323 corresponding to CRIMES AGAINST HIGH STATE FUNCTIONARIES stipulates the following: He who would offend the President of the Republic in his bodily integrity or his freedom will be sentenced to eight (8) to twelve (12) years of reclusion.

It is unquestionable, and no one can deny it, that the violent act by which the President of the Republic was taken from his home, transferred against his will to an airbase, and later to be removed from our sacred national territory is a serious offense against the dignity of any person, to his physical integrity and to his freedom.

This brutal and arbitrary occurrence committed by members of the Armed Forces should have been investigated ‘de oficio’ (automatically) by this criminal investigation body, and by this time its material, as well as intellectual, authors should have been imprisoned for it.

As this has not occurred, this formal denunciation has been presented so that it proceeds immediately as prescribed by the Constitution of the Republic and the Organic Law for the Public Prosecutor’s Office. In this case, the Honduran Armed Forces High Command, starting with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of this institution, ROMEO VÁSQUEZ VELÁSQUEZ, should be immediately summoned by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, since there was not any legal motive permitting the commission of such an illegal barbarous act.

THIRD: As the Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime also will know, after said brutal act of force was committed against the citizen President of the Republic José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, the news was disseminated at the national and international levels. The electricity service proceeded to be cut at the national level, removing from the radio and television stations from the airwaves so that no one could report adequately, with the exception of a few radio stations that poorly informed the citizenry in favor of the interests of the executors who committed this act.

The violation against the rights of citizens was such that the international channels were taken off the cable systems in the country, which is a situation that still continues.

As the Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime also will be knowledgeable, during the midday hours, the National Congress of the Republic held an emergency meeting to consummate another violent act against the Constitution of the Republic and the nation’s democratic system.

The National Congress did not met to express concern over what was occurring in the nation or about the person of the President of the Republic, rather to violate once more the Constitution; an act which the National Commissioner for Human Rights, Ramón Custodio López, accompanied the Congress and, as proposed by National Party congressman Juan Orlando Hernández, received an ovation.

Following instructions of the President of the National Congress ROBERTO MICHELETI BAIN, the Secretary of this body JOSÉ ALFREDO SAAVEDRA informed of the existence of a letter signed by the President of the Republic Manuel Zelaya Rosales in which he, with all the government cabinet from the Office of President of the Republic, resigned in an irrevocable manner for health reasons and other reasons expressed in the document read by the Secretary of the National Congress.

In view of the reading of the document, and following the instructions for the order of the day, the congressmen were asked if they accepted the (supposed) resignation that was read. Without further delay and without concern to investigate the letter’s veracity and other details, they raised their hands in sign of approval of the National Congress’ acceptance of the President’s supposed resignation.

As the Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime also will know, in view of the occurrence of this situation, the Constitutional President of the Republic, via telephone communication with the journalist Glenda Umaña from the station CNN, refuted the supposed resignation, revealing before the world that he had never resigned, which is obvious, because it is known by all that hours before said fraudulent act being known, he had been kidnapped and removed from the country.

Once the supposed resignation was accepted, the session was suspended to immediately proceed in the substitution of the legitimate President of the Republic. Once the session was resumed, recognizing that the fraudulent act had been categorically refuted from Costa Rica by the citizen President of the Republic, the National Congress proceeded to draft Decree number 141-2009, published in Gaceta number 31950, on Wednesday, 1 July 2009, by which it separated from the President of the Republic from office to later name as his substitute Mister ROBERTO MICHELETTI BAIN, who was the President of the National Congress.

Said Decree stipulated the following:

Article 1. The National Congress, in application of articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 205 numeral 20 and 218 numeral 3), 242, 321, 322 and 323 of the Constitution of the Republic agrees to:

a) Disapprove of the conduct of the President of the Republic, citizen José
Manuel Zelaya Rosales, for the reiterated violations to the Constitution of the Republic and laws and non-observation of jurisdictional bodies’ resolutions and sentences.
b) Separate the citizen José Manuel Zelaya Rosales from the office of President of the Republic of Honduras.

Article 2. Constitutionally name the citizen Roberto Micheletti Baín, current President of the National Congress, to the office of Constitutional President of the Republic for the time that remains to complete the constitutional period that culminates on the 27 January 2010.

Article 3. This decree will enter in effect the day of its approval by two-thirds of the votes of the members who conform the National Congress and is consequently to be immediately implemented.

As the Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime will be able to appreciate, with the approval of such illegal act by National Congress congressmen, and all of the people who supported said action, A CRIME AGAINST THE FORM OF GOVERNMENT, was committed as established and sanctioned in article 328 numeral 1) of the Constitution of the Republic which states:

He who commits a criminal offense against the form of government will be sentenced from six (6) to twelve (12) years imprisonment and those who execute acts directly leading to forcibly achieving, or outside the legal channels, any of the following objectives:

1. Replace the republic, democratic, and representative government for any type of government.

Esteemed Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime, as previously summarized, due to being a well-known occurrence, the crime against the form of government has been fully consummated and proven committed by the National Congress congressmen and all of those who supported said act of separating the citizen Constitutional President of the Republic from the office to which the people delegated to him, replacing the legitimately constituted government because in no part of the Constitution of the Republic is the National Congress given the power to destitute or separate from office the citizen President of the Republic.

None of the constitutional precepts quoted in the illegal Decree nor any others from the Constitution authorize the National Congress to issue such an illegal act.

The Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime should know that the governmental system is presidentialist, not congressional. In this order of ideas, the Honduran people directly elect the President of the Republic not the Congress or Parliament, thus in no manner can they destitute him from the office that the people conferred upon him.

In any case, the Congress can substitute the President of the Republic with his legitimate successors only and no more than when the President’s absolute absence is legitimate.

In this case, the Constitutional President’s temporary absence was due to an act of force that has been previously presented and is of your and the entire world’s full knowledge, therefore it does not authorize the Congress to name another person in his office. Having had done so constitutes a crime against the form of government and its executors should be punished with that demanded in criminal law.

This crime was constituted when Mister Roberto Micheleti Bain, on Tuesday, 30 June two thousand and nine entered into the Presidential Residence in a Honduran Air Force helicopter. The government residence was completely militarized with war tanks and, to commit the crime, he proceeded to repress all of the protestors that opposed his entry causing more than thirty-seven people wounded and one dead and intoxicating more than one hundred people with tear gas. All of these facts are recorded in the news publications from different news media and provoked illegal detentions for which we presented several habeas corpus in the Supreme Court of Justice.

Esteemed Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime, another shameful act used by the executors of the previously narrated facts is the falsification of the signature of the Constitutional President to create a fraudulent registry, that is to say the supposed resignation of the Honduran president. This low and vulgar act surely was implemented by those who ordered the reading of such a miserly trick. For this reason the crime of FALSIFICATION OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS has been committed, upon falsifying the signature of the President and attributing events to this signature which did not occur. As is stipulated in article 284 of the Criminal Code:

(…) will be sanctioned with imprisonment from three (3) to nine (9) years of imprisonment he, who in full or in part, makes a false public document or alters a real one in the manner that could result prejudicial implementing any of the following acts:

1. Counterfeiting or falsifying the script, signature or endorsement.
2. Involving the intervention of people in a document in which they had no role.

The crime committed was obvious when Mister Roberto Micheleti Bain, on Tuesday, 30 June of two thousand and nine, upon learning the President of the Republic did not resign from his office, therefore he had not signed said letter, as he himself affirmed from Costa Rica.

The congressmen could understand the above, as they did not use the resignation letter argument to substitute the President of the Republic. For this they made use of other useless and low-down arguments. But the truth is that the falsified registry exists and it was used to have him resign from an office to which the people delegated to him.

It is for this reason, this being an act of public knowledge, that you are able to proceed, Esteemed Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime against the material and intellectual authors of said action, so that they are sanctioned with the punishments established in the Criminal Code as has been previously stated.

FOURTH: Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime, the crime was committed when Mister Roberto Micheleti Bain, on Tuesday 30 June of two thousand and nine, the perpetrated actions and complete plans to detain, kidnap, and later remove from national territory the citizen President of the Republic, as has been previously narrated, as is of the national and international community’s knowledge, constitute crimes of rebellion foreseen and punishable under article 335 of the Criminal Code, which states:

Accused of rebellion are those who take up arms to overthrow the legal constituted government or to change or suspend in whole or in part the existing constitutional regime in what refers to the formation, functioning or renovation of public powers.

The promoters, leaders, or heads of the crime of rebellion will be punished with imprisonment from ten (10) to fifteen (15) years, fined with one hundred thousand (L. 100,000.00) to two hundred thousand (L. 200,000.00) lempiras and full prohibition of assuming public office during the time of reclusion (…)

As the Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime will know well, the crime was committed when Mister Roberto Micheleti Bain, on Tuesday, 30 June two thousand and nine, and the Armed Forces High Command took up arms on Sunday, 28 June and with this gave room so that the rupture of constitutional order was produced, via a destitution of the Constitutional President and naming in his place a de facto president.

The actions committed by the member of the Honduran Armed Forces that took up arms against their General Commander are nothing more than the crime of rebellion. For this reason, as Esteemed Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime you should proceed, having proven these facts, to ask the jurisdictional bodies to sanction with punishments established in the Criminal Code.

Unquestionably the people included in this crime include from the Joint Chiefs of Staff ROMERO VASQUEZ VELASQUEZ to those military hierarchies that make up the High Military Command. You should proceed to determine the responsibilities of each one of them.

FIFTH: Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime, the crime was committed when Mister Roberto Micheleti Bain, on Tuesday, 30 June two thousand and nine, took by force the Presidential Residence, an act which supposed a bloody COUP D’ETAT,

that has been committed a series of criminal acts committed against legally constituted government functionaries of President Zelaya, like the illegal detention against the Secretary of State in the offices of Foreign Relations, Patricia Rodas Baca, and forcibly conducted to the Republic of Mexico; and the military persecution against César Ham and Marvin Ponce, congressmen for the National Congress for the Party of Democratic Unity (Partido Unificación Democrática); against Presidential Secretary Enrique Flores Lanza against whom there has been built a media fiction, like that which occurred in the decade of the nineteen eighties, of supposed crimes; against Mayra Mejía, Secretary of Labor; Doris García, Minister of the National Institute of Women; Miriam Mejía, Youth Institute; Milton Jiménez Puerto, President of the Bank and Insurance Commission; Marco Tulio Burgos Córdova, National Commissioner for the Permanent Contigency Committee; Luter Castillo Harris, Head of External Cooperation of the Republic’s Ministry of Foreign Relations; Arcadia López, Staff Minister of the Presidential Residence; Carlos Melano, aid to President Zelaya; Enrique Reina, aid to President Zelaya; and the other Ministers, Vice-ministers and members of President Zelaya Rosales’ cabinet.

In the same manner, the family members of President Zelaya Rosales were affected. Many of these people have been object of criminal acts like illegal detentions, damage against their personal integrity and threats of all types, on the part of the material executors of the occurrences that took place on Sunday 29 June and that continue to occur. These acts should be punished, for which the corresponding investigations should continue. And for being a well-known occurrence, immediate procedures should be used against their executors.

For your knowledge, all the people that have been aforementioned persons are object of INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS protective measures, including the person who in this moment is amplifying his testimonial declaration.

SIXTH: Esteemed Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime, beginning with the breaking of constitutional order, the rights recognized in the Constitution, like those of freedom of movement, freedom of expression, the right to defense, the presumption of innocence, the inviolability of residence, assistance by legal defense, among others in their individual and social dimensions have been flagrantly violated.

As you know well, from the first hours of Sunday, 28 June, the electric service was cut, the radio and television stations that transmitted truthful information of the occurrences were taken off the air, avoiding that the people informed themselves, not permitting the international news channels to be aired on the cable systems. In brief, the right to the freedom of expression has been brutally violated.

As you also know, since that Sunday, a curfew, state of siege, and more properly stated a restriction of the exercise recognized by the Constitution have been decreed. All of these limitations take place in the implementation of an illegitimate government that has usurped power, and consequently constitute crimes AGAINST THE RIGHTS ESTABLISHED IN THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC. Esteemed Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime, you have the obligation to pursue them and request punishment for the guilty persons.

SEVENTH: As is in your full knowledge, in an almost immediate manner, these occurrences were condemned by the international community and qualified as without a doubt a COUP D’ETAT. This same day, the Permanent Council of the ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES (OAS) condemned the COUP D’ETAT perpetrated by members of the military and civilians; and demanded the immediate, secure, and unconditional return of the President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales to his constitutional functions. It also declared that it would not recognize any government that arose from this unconstitutional break.


1. To condemn vehemently the coup d’état staged against the constitutionally established Government of Honduras and the arbitrary detention and expulsion from the country of the constitutional president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, which has produced an unconstitutional alteration of the democratic order.

2. To reaffirm that President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales is the constitutional President of Honduras and to demand the immediate, safe, and unconditional return of the President to his constitutional functions.

To declare that no government arising from this unconstitutional interruption will be recognized and to reaffirm that the representatives designated by the constitutional and legitimate government of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales are the representatives of the Honduran state to the Organization of American States.

3. To instruct the Secretary General to undertake, together with representatives of various countries, diplomatic initiatives aimed at restoring democracy and the rule of law and the reinstatement of President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales, pursuant to Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and report to the Special General Assembly on the results of the initiatives. Should these prove unsuccessful within 72 hours, the Special General Assembly shall forthwith invoke Article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter to suspend Honduras’ membership.

The Security Council of the United Nations, also pronounced unanimously against the violent act perpetrated against the constitutional government of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, which it qualified as a COUP D’ETAT, and does not recognize the USURPATING GOVERNMENT, emerging from a coup by force.

Esteemed Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime, the most shameful situation that those who conducted the coup d’état have submitted us to is the that the ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES in their THIRTY-SEVENTH PERIOD OF SPECIAL SESSIONS, in an unanimous manner, and in view that Honduras had in the context of the Inter-American System violated the INTER-AMERICAN DEMOCRATIC CHARTER, and having produced a rupture of the constitutional order, resolved to EXPELL HONDURAS FROM THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES during the period that Honduras maintains the rupture of constitutional order. The text of the resolution is the following:


1. To suspend the Honduran state from the exercise of its right to participate in the Organization of American States, in accordance with Article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.  The suspension shall take effect immediately.

2. To reaffirm that the Republic of Honduras must continue to fulfill its obligations as a member of the Organization, in particular with regard to human rights; and to urge the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend human rights and fundamental freedoms in Honduras.

3. To instruct the Secretary General, together with duly designated representatives of various countries, to reinforce all diplomatic initiatives and to promote other initiatives for the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in the Republic of Honduras and the reinstatement of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales so that he may fulfill the mandate for which he was democratically elected, and to report immediately to the Permanent Council.  No such initiative will imply recognition of the regime that emerged from this interruption of the constitutional order.

4. To encourage the member states and international organizations to review their relations with the Republic of Honduras during the period of the diplomatic initiatives for the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in the Republic of Honduras and the reinstatement of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales .

5. To instruct the Secretary General to transmit this resolution to the other entities of the Inter-American system and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Esteemed Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime, it is not possible to deny that what occurred on Sunday, 28 June 2009 is a COUP D’ETAT, as the international community in effect has observed. To negate this would convert one into an accomplice. For this reason, you as representative of society, as your Organic Law states, are in the obligation to immediately begin the corresponding investigations to prosecute the people guilty of these occurrences. Not doing so, you would be taking part in favoring impunity for these serious occurrences, and as well as those who are denounced, also could be judged by international justice penal courts, to whom one will turn to if the justice system in Honduras does not function.


Without detriment to the other crimes that have been previously mentioned in this written denunciation presented to the Special Prosecutor against Organized Crime, he is reminded of what the Constitution of the Republic and the Organic Law of the Public Prosecutor’s Office impose upon him, in such that it is an unavoidable obligation of the Public Prosecutor’s Office to investigate all criminal acts and proceed ‘de oficio’ to deduct criminal responsibility of the people who have committed a crime, that it be investigated the names of those who broke and entered into the home of the President of the Republic José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, that the registers of the proceedings of the National Congress are gathered to confirm the assistance and voting of the congressmen and congresswomen present to determine who committed the mentioned crimes.



In addition to the aforementioned precepts we fundament this denunciation on articles 3, 80, 102, 205, 235, 236, 237, 321, 322, 323 and others applicable in the Constitution of the Republic; 1, 5, 6, 16, 17, 24 and others applicable in the Organic Law of the Public Prosecutor’s Office; 25, 92, 267, 268, 272, 273 and others applicable in the Criminal Procedural Code.

Tegucigalpa, Central District Municipality (Municipio del Distrito Central), 8 July 2009

* * *



unequivocal denunciation of the military coup
no recognition of this military coup and the ‘de facto’ government of Roberto Michelletti
unconditional return of the entire constitutional government
concrete economic, military and diplomatic sanctions against the coup regime
respect for safety and human rights of all Hondurans
application of international and national justice against the coup plotters, and
reparations for the illegal actions and rights violations committed during this illegal coup


Rights Action staff in Honduras are providing emergency relief funds, every day, to community development, campesino, indigenous and human rights organizations for: food and shelter, transportation and communication, urgent action outreach and human rights accompaniment work.

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[en] Honduran Police Detain [and Deport] Six [Venezuelan] Television Journalists

By Jens Erik Gould

July 12 (Bloomberg) — Honduran police detained six employees of the regional television network Telesur and Venezuela state-run station Venezolana de Television last night, according to Angel Vargas, first secretary at the Venezuelan embassy in Tegucigalpa.

The journalists were taken to police headquarters for five hours and their passports were confiscated, Vargas said. They were then taken to their hotel, given back their passports and told not to leave until immigration officials arrived, he said.

“They told us we should leave the country because our security wasn’t guaranteed and we were at risk here,” said Larry Sanchez, a Telesur technician who was among those who were detained. “‘We have intelligence and we’re following you,’ they said.”

It was the second time that Venezuelan journalists had been detained in Honduras since a June 28 coup that ousted Manuel Zelaya as president, Vargas said. Honduran soldiers arrested Telesur journalists at gunpoint in their hotel rooms on June 29 and later let them go, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jens Erik Gould in Tegucigalpa at jgould9@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: July 12, 2009 13:34 EDT

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Filed under ENGLISH, human rights & repression, international coverage, news & updates from Honduras