Five Year Anniversary of the June 28, 2009 SOA Graduate-led Coup in Honduras
Five years ago, SOA graduate Romeo Vasquez Velasquez and others forced their way into the home of democratically elected Honduran President Mel Zelaya and put him onto an airplane out of the country, an airplane that first stopped to re-fuel at the US Palmerola military base. As Hondurans massively mobilized to demand the return of their President, they were met with repression and violence that continues today. The ultra-right party that took power in the military coup consolidated their stranglehold on the country through elections marked by fraud and vote buying this past November. Now, with murders and killings taking place across the country, the judicial system seems to be more efficient at prosecuting those who speak up for justice than those who murder and plunder the country. The government has intensely militarized the country in the name of security while meticulously turning Honduras' resources and public goods over to private corporations. It's no wonder thousands of children are fleeing Honduras to the United States.
Click here to call on the US to cut military aid to Honduras and on the Honduran authorities to respect the human rights of those who speak out for justice.
In spite of the violence, the resistance continues across the country. In one example, the Lenca people of San Francisco de Opalaca have spent the past five months in a round the clock, day-in-and-day-out blockade at their Municipal office to prevent the government-imposed Mayor, who used fraud to claim he won November's elections, from taking office. They elected an autonomous Mayor and Municipal Council in a massive Municipal-wide Indigenous Assembly and are exercising their rights to demand democratic governance that obeys the will of the people and that public funds be used for public good, not for corruption. As a result, the Indigenous Assembly-elected Mayor and Municipal Council, as well as community leaders and radio program hosts, have been accused of sedition and 36 community leaders are currently facing trial. At stake in San Francisco de Opalaca is not only good governance but also acres and acres of pristine forests and other natural resources the communities depend on but that corporations and the World Bank want for projects such as the oxygen trade, dams, and mines. Two community leaders have already been murdered, one by Municipal employees in broad daylight just a short distance from where hundreds of people were gathered.
Click here to tell the Honduran authorities to stop the murder and criminalization of those who speak out for justice across the country and the US to stop military aid to Honduras.
To do more, join a delegation to Honduras this August to accompany communities standing up for their rights amidst intense militarization and repression.
Or organize a spontaneous action this Saturday, June 28th, the anniversary of the coup, by putting up SOA Watch's WANTED or MISSED posters related to Honduras in your community.
SOA graduates play a major role in enforcing the US corporate agenda in Honduras. Not only are the head of the Honduran Armed Forces and Army SOA graduates, but the same goes for many of the Commanders of Military and Military Police units currently patrolling the country. On May 21, hundreds of Xatruch III soldiers under the command of SOA graduate Col. Rene Jovel Martinez violently evicted small farmer families from their land in the Bajo Aguan, destroying their belongings and injuring people. On May 13, the Honduran Military Police and COBRAS attacked opposition LIBRE party Congresspeople with tear gas and batons inside the Congressional chambers as well as demonstrators protesting outside the Congress with tear gas. Several LIBRE Congresspeople were injured in the attack and taken to the hospital, suffering from tear gas inhalation and physical attacks by the Military Police or police, including a fractured arm. In a separate event, on June 18, three soldiers and a policeman attacked and murdered 62-year old José Husbaldo Guzmán Argueta, throwing him to the ground and firing two shots with an M-16, while he was working on trying to get a potable water project. Military tactics are also used by the police. On May 25, two Rio Blanco residents – where the Lenca people have been resisting an illegal hydroelectric dam in their territory for over a year – were tortured by the police, who brought them to a private home, where they beat them, forced their heads under water so they almost drowned, and then put rubber hoods on them so they couldn't breathe.
President Juan Orlando Hernandez has rapidly increased militarization of the country, inaugurating programs such as “Guardians of the Fatherland,” which aims to bring 25,000 children and young people – from kindergarden and up – to military facilities for formation in morals in values, but is heavily criticized as recruiting of children and military indoctrination. Hernandez and US Ambassador Lisa Kubiske also just celebrated last week the release of the new TIGRES – meaning Tigers – hybrid police-military unit trained by US Special Forces and the Colombian Jungle School in mountain operations, intelligence, and rural operations. The stated goal is to combat drug trafficking and organized crime but when asked about the three areas he had mentioned the TIGRES would work in, Hernandez refused to specify. If the new Military Police, a major push of Hernandez, are any indication, one area of work could be targeting the opposition political activists and social movements.
As the people of Honduras continue resisting five years after the military coup d'etat unleashed widespread repression on the country and five months after the inauguration of President Hernandez following fraudulent elections, it is more important than ever to speak out against continued militarization and repression in Honduras.
Click here to tell the US to stop funding the Honduran military and police and call on the Honduran authorities to respect the lives and rights of activists.
Click here for more information about an August delegation to Honduras to accompany communities struggling for their rights in the face of intense militarization.