November 2014 Honduras coup update
One journalist's daughter killed, another journalist's case of being suspended getting attention
On 4/11/14, Merilym Abigael Espinoza Bustillo (14) was assassinated; Merilym is the daughter of Globo Radio/TV journalist Rony Espinoza and his partner Karla Patricia Bustillo. Under dictatorship of Juan Orlando Hernández lots of journalists of Globo had been attacked..
In the beginning of November 2014, Inter American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ordered for the Honduran state to annul the ruling to suspend journalist Ernesto Alvarado from practising journalism – he was politically found 'guilty' for defamation against a public official. Human rights defenders Dina Meza and Kenia Oliva applied for protection measures for Ernesto, these were then ordered by IACHR for the Honduran state to provide him protection.
One organised farmer assassinated, another farmer-human-rights-defender charged
At midnight on 11/11/14, Juan Ángel López Miralda (Juan Galindo) – a leader in the Aguan land struggle, was assassinated after having for a long time received death threats. He was assassinated where he lives, in the Rigores, in the municipality of Trujillo, in the Colón province where there is massive land conflict mostly with palm giants. A year ago, he went to human rights organisation Cofadeh to put on record the threats, persecution and attempts he suffered as a member of farmers movement MUCA and the president of Marañones farmers settlement's Cristo Rey cooperative. He recounted that on 16/4/13 he was attempted against by armed men with hooded faces, and that on 9/10/13 the home of this dad was visited by Coronel German Alfaro of Xatruch with a Yanga Nueva police in a threatening and interrogative manner, and then on 16/10/13 he suffered another attempt similar to that suffered on 16/4/13. All this made Juan exile after the November 2013 elections, but he returned on July 2014 for family reasons without advising Cofadeh of the reasons, despite being someone accompanied by the human rights organisations for being at high risk.
Juan was interviewed in December 2010 on a rainy day by Dick and Miriam Emanuelson, and can be seen on this video: http://youtu.be/J1oFJEKyp8M
. He said, 'we live in a terror zone. The army with huge weapons. Farmers are dying, brutally assassinated. We know that there are Colombian and Israeli hitmen filtered into the battalions. We are going to keep going in this struggle. It's going to cost us in blood but one day we will see the light'; today, more than 130 farmers in Bajo Aguan have been assassinated since the coup.
On 18/11/14, human rights defender Irma Lemus responded to a capture order against her by voluntarily attending a hearing – she is accused together with other farmers of land usurpation, theft of cattle, and damages and prejudices against the Fondo Ganadero. At court the judge asked what her profession was and she said human rights defender, to which the judge laughed saying, 'so that means you go around usurping lands, hey?' Irma is on bail conditions of signing every 15 days at the Trujillo court with her next hearing date being 10/12/14. She belongs to farmers cooperative Fuerzas Unidas, is the sub-coordinator of Aguan Human Rights Observatory, belongs to the Honduran national network of human rights defender which in turn belongs to IM-Defensoras (over 300 defenders of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua). In Ocotos Altos, there has been a land conflict with Fondo Ganadero since 2007 that the Agrarian Department has delayed in resolving, in a context where in the region, from the land conflicts, 125 have been assassinated and 6 disappeared since 2009.
Uni – arrests, expulsion interviews, criminalisation of protests
On 3/11/14, as students protested privatisation and neoliberalisation and demanded participative democracy in the running of the uni, protested against the exclusion of 80,000 students, against the handing over of autonomous decision making of the universities to the private universities, against cuts to the UNAH budget, against new taxes and increases to student services, against imposition of 'the finger' of student representatives on the SRC, and against UNAH authorities impeding the organising of student councils, UNAH authorities exercised one-way communication as they know only imposition, and appeared only to present a document of a new law that prohibits protests within uni grounds, and announced that students had 30 minutes to disperse and dismantle their protest.
In the San Pedro Sula campus, four sociology students had already recently been charged by the Department of Public Prosecution – Ovét Córdova, Franklin Benítez, Marcos Rubí and Javier Hernández. Franklin Benítez was accused of participating in an illicit protest. He said that the authorities of UNAH began criminalising protest by destroying placards, posters, banners, and audiovisual resources that the students used in this struggle, while the police beat them and launched large amounts of teargases.
On 10 and 11/11/14 in the Tegucigalpa campus, six students were called for expulsion interviews/hearings with the uni authorities for their participation in protests – Sergio Ulloa (social work student, MAU member), Dayanara Castillo (sociology student, MAU member, who said she is sure they will all be expelled but that they are not giving up this battle to defend public education, additionally she said that the Economy Dean Belinda Flores discriminated against her for her sexual choice and way of dress in comments she made against her in front of others), Cesario Padilla (MAU member, journalism student, who pointed out that the repression is used to dismantle the students' uprising), Javier Barahona (sociology student, MAU member), José Luís Herrera (sociology student), and Moisés Cáceres (sociology student)
On 18/11/14, at 5.45pm, in Tegucigalpa, six students and a graduate protested using arts, culture and music and noticed that they were watched by armed men in plain clothes as they were leaving, and as they left together talking about the protest and going to get a guitar from a friend's house nearby, they were arrested outside the uni – Erchell Raudales (28, psychology graduate), Daniel Guzmán (philosophy student), Erick Aguilar (literature studenta), Kevin Barahona, Adán Galo (border administration student), José Luís Rodríguez (biology student) and José Barahona. Police said they were arrested for 'public scandal', the arrestees said they were abused for the way they dressed – for having long hair like rockers for example, and had their shoelaces taken off them and used to tie them up, and at 7.50pm, took them to the Manchén police station. They were locked up in a tiny foul smelling dark cell, where the police laughed at them and warned that they will 'pay'. There was no conciliation judge present at the police station like required. One student was denied access to the toilet. An officer told them that if they made a fuss that he would beat them with sticks. One arrested student managed to hide their phone and contacted journalist Ronnie Huete who intervened with CPTRT human rights defender Edy Tabora to obtain the release of the students at 11pm based on that the arrests were illegal – the charge given is not a legally arrestable one – they were supposed to be given fines – they were not, in addition they were not informed of their rights when arrested. The uni director Julieta Castellanos denies the political persecution against students claiming the testimonies made to media were lies, saying that there were no protests. UNAH has been spending public funds on a discrediting and media disinformation campaign (on Presencia Universitaria paper, UTV channel whose cameras zoomed into faces to profile student leaders) against students to de-legitimize their protest and justify the criminalisation against them.
Ironically, given that authorities have been destroying students' placards, police also said that on 18/11/14 it was not a protest 'because the protesters didn't carry placards...the day before they did protest and we even protected the protesters, for protesting in Honduras, nobody gets detained so much as they are not annoying anybody'. Police claimed instead that they arrested the students because somebody called them 'smelling alcohol on the students' – something they did not test for 'since they weren't driving'. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ap-K3dhZM68&feature=youtu.be
an interview (Spanish) between an arrested student and journalist Ronnie Huete can be seen here.
Shots of threat against indigenous community
On 19/11/14, police mission assigned to repress against the Rio Blanco Lenca indigenous people that has maintained a resistance and endured very severe repression of over 1.5 years against the damming of the Gualcarque river, this day, this mission constantly fired shots with their weapons near where the community works on their collectively recovered land and by the meadows of the Gualcarque river. Police also militarised aggressively and permanently around Los Robles (the site of the blockade) and committed acts of aggression against the community there on the weekend. These add to recent attacks in Rio Blanco including against the Tejera Health Centre and the murder of young Maycol.
On 23/11/14, Movimiento Amplio Por La Dignidad y Justicia made public that 20 villagers of Florida Atlántida that oppose mining and hydroelectricity companies' imposition had protection measures ordered on Christmas Eve of 2013 by Inter American Court of Human Rights for the Honduran state to implement. Honduran authorities and MADJ were supposed to have met by 18/11/14 to agree on how these measures would be implemented. Honduran authorities cancelled a meeting they had committed to on 10/11/14 on short notice when MADJ had already travelled to the meeting place. A meeting was held on 17/11/14 but the authorities sent delegates who did not know the case who pushed to militarise the area with 'community police' to be made up of police that had threatened and intimidated the at-risk community. This would obviously only endanger the community. The affected community's proposal was being ignored – the community asserted that in the context, their safety can only be obtained through collective/community self-protection.
Council driven Social cleansing in El Negrito, Yoro
A villager travelled on 18/11/14 to the capital city to ask for assassinations of youths in El Negrito, Yoro to be investigated. Since 2010, when the council endorsed 'Patronato de Limpieza Social' (social cleansing committee) began – run by hitmen – the dead bodies of youths aged between 15-23 began appearing; bodies belonging to people who had little economic resources, who come from broken families. The council of Negrito is headed by re-elect mayor Delvin Salgado of National Party; this council has imposed a curfew using ten men who impose the code of silence at gunpoint while the mayor says nothing, 'it fills us with powerlessness, silence and fear'. In this town, more than 45 youths were killed just last year. The villager said that people aren't going to take this anymore.
Eviction of market stalls against indigenous community - privatisation
The Indigenous Association of Producers of Fruits, Vegies and Others of Marcala told that people had always sold their produce on the paths near the council market, but with the privatisation process the market is undergoing, Mayor Gloria Argueta prepared and sent troops of 10th infantry battallion of Marcala with orders to evict market stalls on these paths, destroying livelihoods in this indigenous community.
NEWS SHORTS – November 2014
To fulfil IMF requirement for loans, the JOH regime is firing 2000 state electricity workers (of ENEE) in the name of saving 57 million lempiras a month (US$2.85 million) – ENEE's debt has risen to 4000 million lempiras (US$200 million) with 2000 million lempiras (US$100 million) in accumulated interest, while the state telecom Hondutel has a debt of 750 million lempiras (US$37.5 million). In ENEE's case the roots of the debt are in corruption with several administrations signing permanent exorbitant contracts with thermic energy companies at cooked up rates, in addition to not chasing debts of big business that continue to consume masses of energy while they don't pay electricity bills – contrasted with the poor majority who cop increases all the time and when they owe 50 lempiras ($2.5) their electricity get cut off. Both ENEE and Hondutel are in crisis – Hondutel is in the process of being completely privatised, while ENEE follows its steps. Hundreds including from other cities protested being fired from ENEE taking capital city streets with chants, banners, placards and fireworks, calling for fixed payments to thermic companies to be stopped, for the privatisation to be stopped and to be reinstated to their jobs. They planned more actions, including to legally challenge the dismissals.
Femicides – over 328 women have been assassinated so far in 2014 in Honduras according to Centro de Derecho de las Mujeres – that is one woman every 18 hours, and 89% of these murders remain in impunity. This month, a case catching international attention is the assassination of Miss Honduras – María José Alvarado (19) together with her sister Sofía Trinidad Hernández – they were murdered and their bodies thrown into mass graves, the murders being motivated by jealousy in this sad patriarchal world where 'love' is messed up and 'beauty' objectified and commodified.