Repression and Impunity Continue Unabated in Honduras Print
In Honduras, SOA/WHINSEC graduates and the US-financed government continue to repress the population and those who speak out, and all too often go unpunished. In January 2015, 2011 WHINSEC graduate Second Lieutenant Josue Antonio Sierra, got off scot free for his role in the murder of a 15-year old Ebed Yanes despite the judges finding that "it has been proven Josue Antonio Sierra y Felipe de Jesus also fired their weapons at young Ebed Jassiel, which makes them participants in his death.”

So why did they walk free? WHINSEC grad Sierra was in charge of the patrol, part of a US-vetted unit in charge of the US-donated vehicle used to chase down and kill young Ebed at a military checkpoint. Conveniently, Honduras' Public Ministry solely accused a low ranking soldier who was not part of the US vetted unit, of murder, while accusing Sierra and Rodriguez only of abuse of authority and cover up. The judges found that Sierra and Rodriguez were indeed part of the murder so they had no obligation to present the evidence against themselves and thus were not guilty of a cover-up, but also could not be sentenced for murder because there were no murder charges against them. Human rights organization COFADEH had previously tried to include murder charges against them but the government Special Prosecutor for Human Rights decided against it. Now, the US can conveniently report that nobody from the vetted unit, much less a WHINSEC grad, has been found guilty of murder in the case.

The US-funded Honduran military also is involved in silencing the press and critical voices about the intense militarization that is currently occurring in Honduras. On January 24, when well-known opposition jounalist Cesar Silva, Director of News for TV Globo, went to the National Congress to cover the debate about the Military Police he was denied entry and threatened that he would be found gagged in a canal with yellow legs. While 7 other journalists who don't typically cover the Congress were allowed in by Lt. Col. Victor Mario Avila Galeano, Chief of Security for the President of the Congress, who was coming down the stairs with two-time SOA graduate Col. Carlos Andino Cobos, Silva was again denied entry and was informed that Lt. Col. Avila decides who enters and who doesn't.

When Cesar Silva asked Lt. Col. Avila why he was not allowed into the Congress, Avila threatened him, saying continue to publish videos of soldiers eating dogs and you will be found gagged in a canal with yellow legs. The week before Silva had broadcast a video from Honduran Military Police training which showed a soldier being forced to eat a dog, including its tongue and brains. The soldier is visibly repulsed, as if he wants to vomit, and is then hit to make him keep eating. Silva showed the video to inform the Honduran public of the type of training the Military Police are receiving before being sent on the streets in the country's largest cities. As the public debate about the Military Police and whether they should be added to the Honduran constitution continues on, the silencing and threatening of journalists who critically report on the Military Police should be condenmed. Instead, two-time SOA graduate retired Col. Carlos Andino Cobos, who is Chief of Security for the National Congress, defended Lt. Col. Avila, telling a Honduran organization that he knows Avila very well and knows he wouldn't have said something like that. Apparently, Col. Andino Cobos' skills from the SOA Military Intelligence Interrogator course don't carry over to investigations of his friends.

Meanwhile, in the northern part of the country on the night of January 29, 18-year old campesino leader Christian Alberto Martinez Perez was riding his bike near the entrance to Paso Aguan Plantation, which is controlled by security guards for Dinant Corporation and soldiers from the Xatruch III Task Force, commanded by SOA graduate Jovel Martinez. Christian went missing, his bike found at the entrance to the Paso Aguan Plantation.  Campesino and human rights organizations proceeded to search for him, finding his shirt on the Paso Aguan Plantation. Over 200 people combed the area for him, until finally on the third day of searching, he was found, blindfolded, barefoot, hands and feet tied up, left in a field. Once rescued, he told how a Dinant security guard approached him with a gun and together with a soldier put him in a vehicle, blindfolded him, and interrogated him about the leadership of the Gregorio Chavez campesino movement.

Christian reported, “the soldier told me, any group, from the Panama or not, that enters on the farm we will disappear one by one.” The Paso Aguan Farm is controlled by Dinant Corporation, owned by Honduras' wealthiest businessman, and has been the site of much conflict; campesinos Gregorio Chavez and Jose Antonio Lopez Lara were both found dead there and the nearby Panama community has been subject of much harrassment. Past human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, by the SOA graduate commanded Xatruch Task Force have been well documented, and well over 100 campesinos have been murdered in recent years in the area. The murders and human rights abuses are so extreme that even a World Bank audit found the World Bank's IFC Corporation violated its own policies in lending to Dinant Corporation.