SOA Graduate Col. German Alfaro moved after attacking human rights defenders Print

SOA graduate Col. German Alfaro has been removed from his post as head of the FUSINA (Honduras' National Inter-Institutional Security Force) following verbal attacks and defamation of an international delegation visiting Honduras' Lower Aguan Valley to take testimony of human rights abuses. On August 16, 2014, Col. Alfaro continued his pattern of criminalizing and defaming human rights defenders when he took to the media and accused the delegation of "encouraging campesinos to launch attacks" and said they were investigating the group for "being in a practically restricted area of the country."

The delegation had traveled to Honduras' Lower Aguan Valley to learn about the very real assassinations and human rights violations suffered by the campesino communities.  It was precisely when the delegation visited the community of La Panama and took testimonies from victims about a violent eviction by the Honduran military involving tear gas, live bullets, one death, two serious injuries, and the beatings of several people, that Col. Alfaro lashed out in the press defaming the delegation.  This follows similiar accusations made by Col. Alfaro in the press against Annie Bird of Rights Action - who has extensively documented extrajudicial killings and abuses in the Aguan Valley - and accusations against local human rights defenders and small farmers.  It is part of a dangerous strategy aimed at hiding the reality in the Aguan by intimidating, discrediting, and defaming human rights workers who speak out and expose the reality of murders and repression in the Aguan Valley.

Just two weeks after the delegation visited the Aguan, the Human Rights Observatory there reported that military forces under the command of another SOA graduate, Col. Rene Jovel Martinez, purposefully destroyed 52 acres of corn that campesinos had cultivated, some of which was almost ready to harvest. This leaves those families without the corn harvest they need to eat for the coming year. Col. Alfaro previously occupied Col. Martinez's position as head of the Xatruch Task Force in the Aguan but was moved to FUSINA after his December 2013 attacks against Annie Bird in the Honduran media.  Now, he has been moved again, this time he swapped positions with fellow SOA graduate Col Rene Ponce Fonseca, who now becomes the head of FUSINA.  Col. Alfaro has now taken Col. Fonseca's previous position as head of the Dept of Organization, Operation, and Training for the Honduran Army.  While the Honduran newspapers report it is a "desk job" and thus probably get Col. Alfaro farther away from defaming and attacking human rights defenders in the media, having a military official with a record of such incredible disdain for human rights work and a history of criminalizing campesino movements, in charge of the Army Department that includes training is worrisome.  Will the training curriculum include a course on Defamation 101: Strategies to Defame and Attack Social Movements and Human Rights Defenders?