June 28, 2018
Today marks the 9th anniversary of the June 28, 2009 US-backed and SOA graduate-led coup in Honduras. We continue to stand in outrage and solidarity with everyone that has suffered, has been tortured, murdered, and incarcerated in the aftermath of this intervention. We acknowledge the current turmoil in Honduras: five political prisoners are still held captive in US-modeled prisons, the children currently kidnapped from their parents in US detention centers, those murdered and disappeared, and the people of Honduras that continue to resist the current Juan Orlando Hernandez dictatorship. Today we uplift the struggle and resistance of the communities, activists, human rights defenders, and everyone fighting for dignity, truth and justice.
Since 2009, the post-coup regime has maintained a violent system of oppression reflected in the blatant disregard for human rights that has led to perpetual instability and impunity. Since the coup, we have watched with horror as human rights defenders, indigenous and campesino communities, environmentalists, lawyers, journalists, LGBTQ community members, students and social movement leaders continue to be targeted for criminalization, attacks and murder.
We condemn the six generals officially linked to the orchestration of the coup, four of whom were trained at the School of the Americas – Generals Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, Luis Prince Suazo, Miguel Angel García and Carlos Cuellar. It is proven once again that the leadership of SOA graduates in the coup is but a reflection of anti-democratic actions by School of the Americas.
Over the past nine years, we have witnessed the alarming rate at which the US foreign policy crisis in Honduras – that is, US military and political intervention – has in turn triggered and exacerbated a humanitarian crisis throughout Mexico and at the US/Mexico border. The unprecedented exodus of Hondurans fleeing for survival is a direct consequence of the 2009 coup.
The inhumane policies of deterrence and expansion of the US southern border throughout Mexico and the northern region of Central America, including the US-funded Southern Border Plan, have created a vertical border throughout Mexico to ensure the persecution, detention, deportation of migrants and refugees. Those who survive the US-funded State of Exception through Mexico arrive to the US/Mexico border only to have their international rights as refugees and asylum-seekers stripped from them, and are met by dehumanizing, racist and torturous policies of imprisonment and family separation.
In order to adequately address what we are seeing as a result of the expansion of US border imperialism, we must acknowledge the historic role the US has played in creating the conditions of violence that force people to flee their homelands.
The 2009 ousting of democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya has not only destabilized the country; it exposed the deadly impact the US-backed intervention continues to have on the people of Honduras. More recently, the fraudulent November 26, 2017 elections triggered yet another blow to the Honduran people, as the unconstitutional presidential candidacy of Juan Orlando Hernández was proclaimed victorious by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. The result of a ten-hour long “electoral informations system crash” suddenly put Hernández ahead of Salvador Nasralla, despite the claim of an irreversible victory for the latter with sixty percent of the vote counted. This electoral fraud sparked a national outrage that continues to manifest itself in the streets of Honduras today.
Over 30 people were killed for protesting, hundreds were injured and tortured, and over a thousand people were arbitrarily arrested at the hands of hyper-militarized state security forces. The aftermath of the elections led to the arrest of 23 political prisoners on trumped up charges. While many have been released, they continue to face charges. The five political prisoners that remain: Edwin Espinal and Raúl Álvarez detained at the maximum security prison La Tolva; Edy Gonzalo Valles detained at the maximum security prison El Pozo; and Gustavo Adolfo Cáceres Ayala and José Gabriel Godinez Ávelar detained at the penitentiary in El Progreso, continue to fight for their freedom.
Before, during and since the elections, there has been an increasingly militarized presence of state forces to target and persecute the same sectors of society that have actively denounced the 2009 coup. We condemn the ongoing counterinsurgency tactics carried out by the US-trained and financed terrorist state security forces that seek to silence and break the will of the Honduran people.
Today we join the Honduras Solidarity Network and others to uplift the people of Honduras’ demand to end US military and security funding to the murderous coup regime. We demand the liberation of all political prisoners in Honduras. We also call on the United States to put an end to the criminalization, imprisonment, deportation and killing of migrants and refugees. We continue to demand justice for Berta Cáceres and the hundreds of people assassinated or forcibly displaced as a consequence of the post-coup regime and the US military, economic and political intervention in Honduras.


As thousands of Hondurans continue to take to the streets to express their fierce rejection of the coup regime, we must do our part to hold the US to account for directly training and financing Honduran state forces.
June 4, 2018

Reports and Findings: US Human Rights Delegation to Honduras – April 8-18, 2018

There are political prisoners in Honduras. There is a dictatorship in Honduras. The United States supports the dictatorship and contributes to the violence, repression, and destabilization of Honduras. Faced with devastating levels of violence and instability, people are fleeing Honduras and seeking political asylum in the US. If they reach the US, then they are held in ICE custody. This has also proven to be deadly – just last week, Roxana Hernandez, a transgender Honduran woman, died in ICE custody after fleeing persecution in her homeland.

More than four months have passed since Edwin Espinal was detained by the Honduras government. He is currently a political prisoner at the supermax prison La Tolva, along with Raul Alvarez. Edwin has been persecuted by the Honduran government since the coup in 2009. Only after four months of national and international pressure did the prison director at La Tolva finally approve a visit from a human rights delegation from Canada and the United States. It is important to continue fighting for the freedom of the remaining political prisoners and to support the others that have been freed but await charges.

From April 8-18, 2018, La Voz de los de Abajo and Alliance for Global Justice organized a delegation to Honduras at a time when there were 21 political prisoners that were targeted and persecuted following the widespread public protests responding to the fraudulent presidential elections in late 2017. While many of the political prisoners have been freed, the stories of their persecution are emblematic of the repression that pervades the lives of everyone in Honduras. Opposition to the regime is met with persecution, imprisonment, and even death. People may be forced to remain silent, but their streets scream it loudly – the people oppose the Juan Orlando Hernandez regime. They oppose the corruption, militarization, and collective punishment the regime imposes on them.

After weeks of work, a report with the detailed findings from the delegation is available online.  Please take a look and share the report widely.

May 9, 2018

Honduras Delegation Report-back: Solidarity with Political Prisoners 
by Dévora González

From April 8-15, 2018, SOA Watch joined a delegation to Honduras, organized by the Alliance for Global Justice and La Voz de los Abajo, in order to better understand the situation of political prisoners and to contextualize the repression of several affected communities. We spoke with political prisoners and their families, met with the National Committee to Free the Political Prisoners, the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), as well as the Team for Reflection, Investigation, and Communication (ERIC-SJ), as they are working on the legal cases and campaigns for the release of those detained in the aftermath of the fraudulent elections.

In late November 2017, we witnessed electoral fraud and the unconstitutional reelection of Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH). When the people of Honduras mobilized in opposition to the fraudulent election results, US-trained state security forces responded with violent repression – including live bullets – resulting in over 35 killed, over 1,300 arrests and 22 political prisoners.

For years, we have witnessed the United States train, finance and back a coup regime. The murder of our dear compañera, Berta Caceres was carried out at the hands of two SOA-graduates, the intellectual authors, along with six others involved in her assassination.

The people’s’ disapproval of the JOH regime is evident in the writings on the wall  across the country; it is heard in the voice of the people screaming Fuera JOH! (out with Juan Orlando Hernandez!), it is felt in a country rejecting US imperialism. The people of Honduras are standing up to a government that is desperately attempting to maintain control through a pattern of collective punishment, including the disintegration of families and the imprisonment of political dissidents, not to mention forced displacement Hondurans and creation of refugees fleeing their homeland. Brave leaders and protesters are held in military-run maximum security prisons under torturous conditions and served inadequate and rotting meals and water. The repeated requests of Human Rights Observers to enter the prisons to examine the health of the political prisoners have been denied.

COFADEH made a formal request to enter La Tolva and El Pozo prisons, but neither of these military-run maximum security prisons answered our requests.  When we attempted to visit La Tolva, our group’s physician was permitted to talk to a doctor at the prison; however, the prison did not allow our physician to provide medical attention to either Edwin Espinal or Raul Alvarez. Of the families in the community of Pimienta, only the parents of two young brothers have been able to gather the necessary permits to visit their children at the El Pozo prison.

After several attempts to visit multiple prisons, we were only able to meet with Lourdes Johana – the only female political prisoner – who, until her recent release, was held in a prison in Tela.  The police detained not only Lourdes, but her husband and brother at her home. While she was in prison, her relatives cared for her four children, and her business was forced to close.

To date, there has been no State accountability. During our meeting with Human Rights and Labor Officer at the US Embassy, Jason A. Smith, he refused to acknowledge the gross human rights violations happening throughout the country, and denied the existence of political prisoners. In contrast, we repeatedly heard stories of families – including children – being gassed in their homes during the arrests. We learned about fabricated evidence used to incriminate protesters on trumped-up charges. We learned about the police harassment Lourdes experienced prior to the protests in order to obtain information from her.

As a grassroots movement rooted in solidarity with Latin America, our commitments is to put an end to the economic, military and political intervention from the United States to Honduras!

The political persecution in Honduras of those speaking out against a dictatorship is far from over. During our week in Honduras, at least ten people, including two families, had to flee their homes. We must continue to hold the United States accountable for the funding and training it has provided to the Honduran military, which  continues to commit gross human right violations. We must continue demanding that security and military aid to Honduras be cut. We must continue demanding the release of political prisoners and that their charges dropped. We must continue paying attention to Honduras as its people continue to endure and resist a US-backed dictatorship and refuse to remain silent, even in the face of brutal repression.

Since our delegation, Eduardo Urbina has been granted refuge in Costa Rica and the request for his extradition made by Juan Orlando Hernandez was denied. Edwin and Raul are still detained at La Tolva. Just this week, Lourdes Johana, the only woman political prisoner was released from the prison in Tela, and several other political prisoners were released from Progreso and Pozo.  Regardless, they must still face charges and must continue resisting the State as they look to stabilize their homes again. Lourdes, for example, must now find ways to provide for her family again and work through the trauma her children have experienced that has halted their education and uprooted them from their home. The release of some of the political prisoners is due, in large part, to continued grassroots pressure and the international campaign to free political prisoners in Honduras.  Let’s keep up the pressure until all political prisoners are free!

Stand up in solidarity with the people of Honduras this May 10th!

This week and over the coming weeks, take a picture of yourself or with a group with a sign or a piece of paper demanding the freedom of the political prisoners and share it through your social networks (Facebook, twitter, Instagram) with the hashtags #LibertadPresxsPoliticxsHN and #FreePolticalPrisonersHN.


February 6, 2018

As Long As Rights Are Trampled, There Will Be Forced Migration
by Roy Bourgeois and Margaret Knapke

We often debate the pros and cons of welcoming immigrants here. We seldom consider the U.S. impact on the countries they leave.

Jorge García is no “bad hombre.” Before being deported to Mexico in mid-January, he was a hard-working, tax-paying landscaper in Michigan. He’s also a husband and father — although now an absent one.

Many deportees — most, like García, good people — return to countries they no longer know, some of them unable to speak the language. Others are thrust into life-threatening situations. Families and communities fracture; some deportees die.

In 2008, Laura was an undocumented Mexican mother of three living in Texas. Actually, she did have one U.S. “paper” — a protection order issued against her violent ex-husband, who’d subsequently been deported. He said he’d kill her if she returned to Mexico.

The following year, Laura was detained after a traffic stop. She told the police officer, and later a Border Patrol agent, her very reasonable fears. But reportedly she was pressured into signing a “voluntary return.” Her ex kept his word, within days of her deportation back to Mexico.

It’s an ongoing debate: What do U.S. citizens owe undocumented immigrants, if anything? Do DACA “Dreamers” deserve special consideration? Should TPS recipients lose their “temporary protected statuses” if the conditions in their home countries are still dangerous? What if sending them home would rupture families or disrupt the U.S. economy?

What have immigrants brought to our country — what strengths and gifts, and what liabilities?

We want to add this critical question: How has U.S. foreign policy affected their countries? Refugees walk hot desert miles, ride atop trains, and entrust themselves to smugglers for a chance at a safer, less desperate life. Has our country helped create the extreme conditions these migrants are fleeing?

We believe the U.S. training of Latin American militaries has contributed mightily to this exodus, with the School of the Americas (SOA) being a prime example. The SOA was established in 1946 to train Latin American military personnel. By 2000, it had instructed more than 60,000 soldiers in combat, counterinsurgency, psychological operations, and more.

Although the SOA claimed its training upheld democratic values, human rights reports told different story. In 2001 — following a public, editorial, and congressional outcry — the SOA was “closed” and rebranded as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).

Then and Now

Without question, democracy and human rights are still under siege in many Latin American countries. Rural communities, often Indigenous, are jeopardized when their lands look promising to outsiders for business ventures — in logging, mining, hydropower, tourism, or agribusiness.

Consider, for example, Honduras — the Central American nation that just reinauguratedconservative President Juan Orlando Hernández, the declared winner of a fiercely disputedNovember 26 election. The OAS’s call for an electoral re-do was rejected, and thousands of protesters filled the streets of Tegucigalpa during the January 27th ceremony.

The election drama takes place against a backdrop of violence against human rights defenders.

Indigenous feminist and environmentalist Berta Cáceres cofounded the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) in 1993. In recent years, COPINH has opposed the building of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam, which was begun in violation of the Lenca people’s rights and threatens their water and livelihood. They’ve fought the dam in court and blockaded access roads.

Cáceres succeeded in drawing international scrutiny to the controversial project; it stumbled in 2013 when a builder and a funder withdrew. In 2015, she won the Goldman Environmental Prize for bravely “protecting vulnerable people and ecosystems.” She’d received many death threats.

Gunmen killed Cáceres in her home the following year.

Berta was not alone in her courage. According to Global Witness’s January 2017 report: “123 land and environmental activists have been murdered in Honduras since the 2009 coup.” LGBTQ persons and journalists and human rights defenders suffer repression, too.

Notably, SOA graduates Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez and Gen. Luis Javier Prince Suazo figured prominently in removing President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. Coup-makers accused Zelaya of trying to change the constitution, but he’d already angered the elite by raising the minimum wage, advocating land reform, and offering myriad forms of assistance to the poor.

His reforms were going in the right direction for most Hondurans. According to researchers Jake Johnston and Stephan Lefebvre at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, during Zelaya’s brief tenure, “Poverty and extreme poverty rates decreased by 7.7 and 20.9 percent respectively.” After his ouster, those rates rebounded.

In early September 2010, the post-coup government granted 41 dam concessions — many of them in territories belonging to Indigenous people, without the prior, “good faith” consultation that is their right. Agua Zarca is one.

The grim reality: Governments and their militaries, often trained and subsidized by the United States, have skewed the distribution of wealth and power in many Latin American nations.

According to figures at the Security Assistance Monitor, Honduras received over $100 million in U.S. “security aid” from 2009 to 2017. Then, two days after the flawed Honduran presidential election in November — defying fact and reason — the U.S. State Department certified that the Honduran government supports human rights, making it eligible for more aid.

The Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) reports that at least 30 people have been killed since the November election — most of them opponents of President Hernández, and most killed by the military police.

But Honduras’s democratic opposition is not going away. COPINH has called “for a deepening of national mobilization against fraud and dictatorship. The more they repress, the more we struggle and organize.”

Hondurans in the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported in 2016 that “more families and unaccompanied children are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America” and trying to reach the United States. This isn’t surprising, given the profit- and military-driven upheavals mentioned above.

Natural upheavals have forced migration, too, including Hurricane Mitch in the autumn of 1998 and earthquakes in El Salvador in 2001. Hundreds of thousands of Central Americans sought refuge in the United States after those events, qualifying for Temporary Protected Status.

Now, under the Trump administration, DHS has set January 5, 2019 and September 9, 2019deadlines for Nicaraguans and Salvadorans, respectively, who must transition out of their TPS by then.

Meanwhile, officials are still deliberating the fate of Honduran TPS holders, claiming they lack “definitive information regarding conditions on the ground compared to pre-Hurricane Mitch.” Hondurans could find their TPS ending on July 5, 2018, or possibly extended.

An observation regarding those elusive “conditions on the ground”: The ability of the majority of Hondurans to recover from Mitch, even 20 years later, is inseparable from the economic justice issues we’ve touched upon. And those, in turn, depend upon recovering real democracy in Honduras.

Into the Future

So what’s next?

SOA Watch encourages actions in solidarity with the people of Honduras. Activists have rallied around a bill called the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Actwhich seeks “to withhold U.S. funds from Honduran police and military in the name of human rights.”

Other policies that might help include a “clean” DREAM Act — one that will not make life more dangerous and difficult for immigrants who aren’t Dreamers.

Our country has played an often disastrous, deadly role in Latin America. We can just begin to make amends to our southern neighbors by showing refugees respect, hospitality, and security.

Ultimately, reducing the flow of refugees requires a just foreign policy, one that values people — and what Cáceres called “our Mother Earth” — over profits. You can be sure: As long as rights are trampled, voices are silenced, and lives are cut short — there will be forced migration.

Even at great risk. Even without parents. Even with a wall.

Roy Bourgeois founded SOA Watch, a nonviolent grassroots organization working to close the SOA/WHINSEC and end state violence in the Americas. Margaret Knapke is a longtime human-rights activist.

February 3, 2018

Accompanying Honduras 
by Ken Jones

As the bus was taking our accompaniment delegation to Honduras to the airport for our return home, it stopped by the offices of Radio Progreso. Piling on to the bus came some twenty staff members of the station to bid us goodbye. Each of them greeted us with an embrace, a kiss, or a clasp of hands expressing heartfelt gratitude for our having come to be with them at this dangerous and chaotic time in their country. It was a striking gesture of affection that deeply touched us, the visiting delegates.

We came to this country at the urgent request of SHARE El Salvador, a humanitarian aid organization with a long history of solidarity work in Central America. Police and military repression in Honduras since the overtly fraudulent elections in November 2017 has been getting worse, with over thirty people killed and more than one thousand in jails. Death threats aimed at those who are raising their voices the loudest are getting more overt and intense.

In particular, the life of Jesuit priest and native Honduran Father Ismael Moreno, known as Padre Melo, is in danger. Possibly as well known as the assassinated Berta Caceres, Melo is the director of Radio Progreso, an independent station that reports on human rights violations, police and military abuses, and the work of dissidents and protectors of the land and waters. A humble and soft-spoken man, he is a spiritual and political leader who has not minced words as he has pointed to the illegal and brutal behaviors of the Honduran government and elites. He has also denounced the United States for its support of the regime, and for its hypocrisy in certifying Honduras as having an acceptable human rights record. Now his picture is featured on a flyer being circulated purporting to depict terrorists in El Progreso, in what could well be a prelude to his assassination.

The organizers of our delegation had originally hoped that a handful of faith leaders could come on very short notice to accompany and protect Padre Melo, as well as others, and to witness and report on what is happening on the ground as the cycles of demonstrations and police repression escalate. Surprisingly, fifty people – mostly clergy – got on a plane and arrived on January 24 to spend a week meeting with Radio Progreso staff and grass roots activists, listen to stories from family members of victims of the repression, attend street demonstrations, marches, and vigils as observers, take part in religious ceremonies, and generally listen and observe.

Most of us knew the history we were walking into: the 2009 coup when President Zelaya was arrested in his pajamas by the military and flown out of the country; the immediate support of the U.S. for the new coup regime; the subsequent mass repression of the people; the corruption of political leaders as they have colluded with multinational corporations to steal land and exploit mineral resources; the assassinations of dissidents such as Berta Caceres; the impunity of the police and military; the flagrant violation of domestic and international law.

Then came the elections of 2017. Salvador Nasralla of the opposition Libre party was well ahead in the count when the ballot count was halted, supposedly by a glitch in the computer system. Twenty-one days later, the Supreme Electoral Tribune announced that Juan Orlando Hernandez, the incumbent, had been re-elected.

It was a transparently fraudulent election. Not only was the process full of so-called “irregularities,” the very fact that Orlando Hernandez was running for a second term was expressly forbidden by the Honduran constitution. Ironically, the rationale used for the ousting of Zelaya in 2009 was that he was conspiring to run for a second term. And here was Hernandez, the chosen one of the elites, doing exactly that and getting away with it.

In this context, one might expect demonstrations of dissent in any democratic society. But Honduras can scarcely be called a democracy at this point. People in the streets are understandably carrying signs calling their government a dictatorship. They are denouncing Hernandez and endlessly chanting for his ouster with the cry of “Fuera JOH!” They take roads and block traffic. They stand face-to-face with integrated forces of counterinsurgency-trained police and military in their riot gear with their armored cars, shields, water cannons, and seemingly endless supply of tear gas. All financed and supplied by the U.S.A.

It is breathtaking to see the courage and tenacity of the people. They know the dangers they face because so many of their loved ones have been victimized by this regime. When we listened to the families of the victims, we heard one story after another. Jose Luis was trying to leave a protest when he was shot in the face. He lost an eye. Maria’s husband was walking home from work in an area near where a protest was happening when he was shot, near his home. He is now paralyzed and brain damaged. When his son ran out of the house to help him, he was arrested, and bathed in pepper spray. A woman in tears told us how her husband was shot and taken to a hospital. He was judged to be in good condition. But then he was visited in his room by two military men who accompanied him to the operating room, where he died on the operating table. His wife has filed denunciations with the police and says she is now persecuted and followed.

As members of our delegation attended a street demonstration one evening, they got a ride home from a former legislator, Bertolo Fuentes, who is known for speaking out against the government. Fuentes is living in dangerous circumstances – his picture is in the center of the flyer that also targets Padre Melo, calling him a terrorist. As he was driving our fellow delegates home, Fuentes got a call that four uniformed policemen were invading his house. The police had pointed guns at the heads of his wife and son and had  dragged his son from the house and kicked and beaten him. Fuentes immediately turned around and sped to his house. When the delegate group arrived, the policemen quickly left.

Some of our delegates, including a journalist, traveled to Pajuiles, where there is a small encampment of people next to a hydroelectric project being built, at the entrance to their community. Nearby are two squads of fully integrated military, police, and military police that have been at this post since before the elections. There our delegates learned that on Tuesday, January 23 around 4 am, a 35-year old agricultural worker and father of five was dragged out of his home and executed by the police. He was shot more than 40 times in the back of his head and torso, by a military/police patrol, his mother and brother watching from nearby. The police and military post is less than 300 meters from where the man was killed. There has been no investigation or even mention by the police of the incident. Thursday night, the same day of the funeral, the police threw gas bombs into the community. This was confirmed by one police officer who spoke to our group.

At the end of the week, our delegation was able to meet with staff at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, including Chargé d’Affaire Heide Fulton, the acting head of the embassy since President Trump has not filled the ambassador position in Honduras. We told them these stories and more.

We explained how the violence of the state is causing people to flee. How, in fact, the U.S. sponsorship of this regime is a cause for the migration that so concerns politicians in our country, to which we have responded with our militarized border, walls, and prisons. And we pointed out that revoking the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Honduran refugees would only worsen the situation in Honduras, causing more and more suffering and deaths in Honduras.

We explained how these very same conditions in Honduras were the same conditions many of us saw in El Salvador in the 1970s and 1980s. How Honduras could be looking at a much worse problem in the near future. How, in fact, the people we talked to in Honduras very much fear this will be the case after the inauguration of Hernandez, when the eyes of the world are no longer on Honduras. They fear the hammer will come down on them for their opposition.

We urged the State Department officials to hear us and to take the following immediate actions:

  1. Protect the lives of dissenters, in particular Padre Melo;
  2. Insist that the government stop using militarized policing to repress demonstrators;
  3. Release political prisoners who are being dragged off to jails for dissenting;
  4. Acknowledge that this was a fraudulent election and call, as the OAS has recommended, for a new election, conducted under international supervision.

We certainly had little expectation of a favorable response from these State Department officials, but we were nonetheless surprised at the tone deafness and bureaucratic defensiveness of Ms. Fulton’s reply. She instructed us that the State Department mission there is to “improve security, fight corruption, increase prosperity, and strengthen historically weak institutions.” She said that the country does not have enough police to provide security and that the U.S is remedying this. She said she would like to see factual evidence of what we were telling her we had seen and heard, and stated that “there are two sides to every story.” She said she had not heard about any illegal detentions. And she said that since the Honduran constitution does not provide for a new election option, the U.S. could not do anything other than work for reforms that improved the process next time.

Of course, Fulton did not acknowledge the historic role the U.S. has played in Honduras, and indeed throughout Latin America and the world, in fostering the very conditions of destabilization that we witnessed, supporting repressive regimes, and undermining democratic structures and institutions. She didn’t blink when she said there was nothing the U.S. could do about the fraudulent election in Honduras, its client state. In the face of hearing the heartfelt testimony and pleas from this largely religious delegation, the trained diplomat came back with the expected dispassionate company line. As one delegate said, it showed the typical U.S. government “heart of stone.”

The next day, we got on the bus and headed to the airport. When we were thanked and so warmly sent on our way by the staff of Radio Progreso, we were reminded how remarkable the people of this country are. They continue in their courageous struggle with good humor, graciousness, and resilience, despite the grim repression they face. Many of us expressed our gratitude to them in return, for inspiring us to call on these inner strengths ourselves, even in the hardest of times, for protecting us, and for giving us a glimpse of the dictatorship our government supports.

On the plane home, still feeling the embraces of solidarity, I recalled the saying that is attributed to Lila Watson, an indigenous Australian: “If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

How can we be free when our sisters and brothers are not? La luche sigue.

Ken Jones is a retired professor of teacher education living in Swannanoa, NC. He can be reached at jonesk@maine.edu


January 20, 2018

Join Hondurans in taking action this week to call for an end to US financing of the illegitimate regime in Honduras!  

This morning marks the start of a week-long National Strike in Honduras in protest of the January 27th swearing in of Juan Orlando Hernandez for a second presidential term despite fraudulent elections. In the weeks leading up to this National Strike, there has been a marked increase in targeted repression of protest leaders, human rights defenders, and journalists. SOA Watch condemns the ongoing brutal counterinsurgency tactics carried out by the US-trained and financed state security forces aimed at creating terror in an attempt to break the legitimate opposition of the Honduran people to the imposition of a US-backed dictator.

Over 30 people have been murdered, many of whom were killed by the Military Police or other state security forces who fired live bullets at protesters, and hundreds of others have been injured or tortured.  According to human rights organization COFADEH (Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras), over one thousand people have been detained and many are facing criminal charges aimed at silencing dissent. Others have been victims of torture or have had to flee for their lives. Security forces have entered neighborhoods, setting off teargas inside homes with children present, and seizing adults for arbitrary arrests. Jesuit priest Father Melo has received death threats and he and other social movement leaders have been the subject of vicious defamation campaigns. Lawyers Victor and Martin Fernandez, leaders of the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice, have been targeted after speaking out about the January 1 death squad-style execution of Wilmer Paredes, an anti-fraud protest leader in the Atlántida region who had also been tortured and beaten by state security forces. On Tuesday, 50 state agents surrounded the home of Francisco Godinez, coordinator of the campesino organization CNTC, to try to arrest him. Journalists covering the protests have been attacked and had their equipment destroyed.  The list of horrific repression goes on and on.
It is in this context that hundreds of thousands of Hondurans are taking to the streets all across the country today in direct action to refuse to recognize the imposition of Juan Orlando Hernandez. If not for the US support and recognition of Hernandez, it is doubtful that his regime would be able to survive the massive popular outcry. Both through support of the regime and training and financing of the security forces, the US is directly responsible for the bloodbath taking place in Honduras.

TAKE ACTION! Join a protest, organize an event, visit your congressperson, or speak out on social media in solidarity with the people of Honduras and against continued US financing of the murderous Honduran regime.

1. Speak out on social media! 

2. Call the US Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senators and Representative. (You can find your Representative here and Senators here)

Sample script: I am calling to ask you to do everything you can to cut US financing of the brutal Honduran regime, which is murdering pro-democracy protesters and targeting journalists and human rights leaders. Over 30 people have been murdered, many of whom were killed when the Military Police fired live bullets at protesters, and hundreds of others have been injured or tortured, including with electric shocks.  According to Honduran human rights organizations, over one thousand people have been detained and many are facing criminal charges aimed at silencing dissent. Others have been victims of torture or had to flee for their lives. Security forces have entered neighborhoods, setting off teargas inside homes with children present, and seizing adults for arbitrary arrests. Prominent human rights and social movement leaders have been targeted with threats and defamation. Even the OAS recognized electoral fraud in the recent elections, but the US State Department is supporting Juan Orlando Hernandez’s violent attempt to hold onto power for a constitutionally-prohibited second term.  I ask you to speak out against the brutal state repression of pro-democracy protesters in Honduras and do everything you can to suspend US aid to the Honduran regime.
(If your Representative has not yet sponsored HR 1299, the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, which would suspend US security aid, please ask him/her to do so.  You can see a find a list of representatives who have sponsored here.)
3. Join a protest, or organize an event in your community!