May 2020 Honduras coup and COVID-19 update
The month of May began with 899 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 712 active cases, 75 dead and 112 recovered. On 27 May 2020, a doctor and ex minister of health during the Zelaya administration, Carlos Aguilar, who works as a pneumologist at the Torax hospital with COVID-19 patients, announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 and hopes to recover soon and return to the frontlines with fellow doctors and nurses there. On that date, there had been 188 lives lost to COVID-19. May ended with 5202 confirmed cases on 31 May 2020 with a rapid growth in confirmed cases for a small country.
May Day 2020 is an unusual May Day in the world when most people are in lockdown, such was the case in Honduras. Smaller protests took place, of hospital radiologists protesting about lack of PPE and stressed about catching COVID-19 on the frontline, while the mythical pandemic state spending and donations remains unseen to healthcare workers. Workers in general had been protesting for weeks by this point about the lack of work and food in the context of non existent welfare and day-to-day survival, a situation that only worsens as a list of 170,000 job cancellations by companies was being signed off by the state. Also protesting was Maricruz, the mother of one of the political prisoners, Rommel, who demanded the release of all political prisoners and also expressed her solidarity with Silvia Castillo, whose son, Tomás Castillo, a dreamer of the resistance, was murdered by state security agents on May Day 2016.
COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons, and, what’s happening with political prisoners?
There had been campaigns since the onset of COVID-19 to release political prisoners, now there is the added danger of COVID-19 contagion. But, even to the end of May 2020, when COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons have begun to become reality, the Honduran state had ignored cries of organisations including the UN, and released none of the political prisoners. It also must be noted that most prisoners, including all current political prisoners, have not been convicted and are languishing in severely overcrowded prisons for up to years before their trials slowly come to a close.
The first COVID-19 outbreak was in El Pozo maximum security prison in Santa Barbara. There, on 20 April 2020, a 52 years old inmate was watching TV with his cellmates when he suddenly started feeling sick, and died in the cell. It was days after his death in prison when the authorities tested his body for COVID-19 and days after the test, found and announced that the inmate had died of COVID-19.
He was not the only one from El Pozo prison to die of COVID-19. A fellow prisoner was taken from prison to hospital for Leukemia treatment – officially having provisionally tested negative to COVID-19 prior to initial transfer to hospital on 31 March and again on 11 May, to then tested COVID-19 positive on 14 May 2020 (although results were received 21 May) at which point he was transfered to Thorax Hospital for TB treatment – there was news that he recovered from TB on 21 May – having been diagnosed with TB in November 2019, but then on 27 May 2020, he died of COVID-19, presumably having caught COVID-19 while in hospital under custody.
In Tamara prison in Francisco Morazàn, a new prisoner aged 40, following his admission into the prison, tested positive for COVID-19 on 15 May 2020 and a prison emergency had been declared. By 21 May 2020, six other prisoners began to develop respiratory symptoms, having been exposed.
The courts ordered the closure of El Pozo (that held 1000 plus prisoners), the temporary closure of Tamara prison, for staff to take extra measures to prevent spread, and to make sure any prisoners taken to hospital are properly isolated to not be placed at risk of COVID-19 in hospital. Courts also ordered the prison department to distribute PPE supplies to all prisoners (authorities say they do that, but all prisoners do get is a roll of toilet paper each, no soap, no sanitiser, no masks), as well as COVID-19 tests for all prisoners and immediate isolation of any COVID-19 positive persons. There was a prison population of 22,007 in over 25 prisons in Honduras, with prisons operating at approximately 200% over capacity, some worse than others. What’s more, rather than a reducing prison population, the police state had arrested many people retaining a portion of them in the prisons, adding to the already severely overcrowded prison population amidst the pandemic. Only a total of 500 prisoners have been given bail to, only after having been exposed, but also selectively, not having been where the prison outbreaks were, upper class prisoners of corruption/white collar crimes have also been preventatively released.
The only method of preventing COVID-19 outbreak in prisons had been a punishing one, - denying prisoners from receiving visits since mid March.
There are twelve political prisoners. Some have risk factors. The prisons are appalling but COVID-19 makes the prisoners’ vulnerability skyrocket. There is limited medical attention available to prisoners which is rarely accessible in moments of need, with only one doctor for every 1000 prisoners – and political prisoners have even less access because prison authorities use withholding medical attention as part of the torture against them. All but one Guapinol environmental defenders have health problems (eight in Olanchito are held together with two others in a small 12 square metres prison cell with bunk beds); 42 years old José has hypertension, 30 years old Kelvin also has hypertension and had developed a urinary tract infection, 48 years old Porfirio has eye problems and had developed allergies while in prison, 28 years old Ewer has migraines, and 20 years old Arnold has allergies that got much worse in the last months, 28 years old Orbin has asthma, only José Cedillo seemed to not have health complaints. 63 years old Jeremías is held apart from other Guapinol political prisoners, in La Ceiba prison. Jeremías suffers from advanced gastric ulcer and needs special food, which he doesn’t get access to since the pandemic, as his family ususally sends him food but prison authorities have begun to not accept this. Jeremías has reflux and cannot sleep lying down, and had also developed a prostate infection while in prison. There are also political prisoners in other prisons, Rommel is held at Mario Mendoz psychiatric hospital, Carlos Tinoco is in juvenile detention in Francisco Morazán, and Victor Castillo and Antonio Felipe Esquivel in Choluteca prison. Choluteca prison is extremely overcrowded, with 1500 men and women contained in a prison with capacity for 600 prisoners, not to mention it gets as hot as 42 degrees celsius inside in summer, and inadequate access to food, water and medical attention, and the prison being in danger of fires because of poor condition of electrical circuits.
In Antonio Esquivel’s case, he was captured in December 2019 when the police raided their home in search of his partner Aleyda, leader of Bastión del Sur organisation. Aleyda had not been able to see him since before his capture, as she had been in hiding prior to COVID-19, and was herself captured (and given bail) as soon as she came out of hiding to survive the pandemic. Visits were cut off then but Aleyda had been dropping off food parcels for Antonio because of his dietary limitations. She had found the receipt of food packages to be increasingly limited and arbitrary in the name of COVID-19 safeguards. On 13 May 2020 Aleyda came back home with the food she had brought to the prison to drop off for Antonio, only to be told that she can only bring canned foods, and that arbitrarily some items like flour, milk, oats and fried chicken weren’t allowed, while beans, rice and pastas were accepted. Canned foods are prohibitively expensive in Central America being an imported food available only at supermarkets for the middleclass. Aleyda returned with another food package on 18 May 2020 with 25 green bananas and a packet of cheese. The officer made a sly comment about if they were trying to make a green bananas business in the prison, allowed them through, but not the packet of cheese. Antonio suffers from reflux, headache and a lot of desperation.
And meanwhile, firefighters attended to a fire on 24 May 2020 at the women’s prison in Tamara.
Other countries in the region for which there are campaigns for the states to release political prisoners are Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Estados Unidos, Guatemala, México, Paraguay and Perú.
Political persecution, police and military brutality, and some other invisible consequences under COVID-19
Murder of a thermoelectricity security guard
On 1 May 2020, young security guard Edwin Noel Sacaza Flores of the Garífuna (black) Sambo Creek community was murdered inside the U.S. owned La Ensenada thermoelectricity plant of Laeisz group of Benjamin Hirsch (who lives in Florida US). Edwin was an employed security guard of La Ensenada. He was killed inside a container, by strangling or suffocation. He was without weapons that he carries for work. The Garífuna Sambo Creek community went to protest his murder outside the La Ensenada plant where over 40 police also militarised, in defense of the plant. That night they continued to protest outside the morgue in La Ceiba. Garífuna people are outraged knowing that there will never be investigation nor justice, they will never know the context of Edwin’s murder. The community had fought against the plant’s installation itself, which was imposed without consultation with the community; they were only told it was going to be built in June 2018 and that the building would finish end of that year, and it were to be built between the Nombre de Dios Mountain Ranges National Park and Cayos Cochinos of the Bay Islands. It was also built without an environmental licence, using the highly contaminating Bunker C. It had just begun operation on 5 April 2020. During May 2019, three generators were burnt in another station, San Isidro, of the Laeisz Group – the cause of which had been inconclusive. What is known of La Ensenanda plant is that it had already begun polluting; the bunker had escaped to a nearby creek that goes out to the sea, killing fishes and other sealife, harming beaches and tourism in the region, plus Bunker C is highly toxic and emits particles and can destroy the Sambo Creek and Corozal community. The plant emits a toxic smoke that hits Corozal community worst. The plant is also built on unstable ground that can collapse. It is a disaster in all the senses, even capitalistically, it makes little sense, being one of the most expensively priced fuels in Latin America. The Garífuna people demand that there be investigation, and the plant be closed. They also protested against the plant back in May 2018, marching 34 kms from Jutiapa to La Ceiba, only the press never resounded what they did.
Police brutality under COVID-19 curfew
On 3 May 2020, in Arenales, Trojes, El Paraíso, police bashed up villagers of the community who were simply heading home. There are photos of one of the villagers’ back, showing marks of beatings.
On 4 May 2020, in Pavana, just 21kms outside of Choluteca City, police arrested José Dolores Rodríguez for breaking the curfew, so the people who were worried about him, including his brother Jamie Enrique Alvarez, followed the police patrol. However, at the Santa Elena COVID-19 checkpoint, The police patrol stopped, came out, and without saying anything proceeded to bash and arrest the brother Jaime together with José. The community checkpoint only permitted José and Jaime’s mum Elena Alvarez to continue following José and Jaime – others following were stopped. Elena was told that her sons would be held for 24 hours. Jaime needed medical attention and there was a medical examination offered by police but they knew that such exam inside the police structure would not help him and waited until after his release (expected 2pm the next day) for medical attention.
On 8 May 2020, in the La Era neighbourhood in Tegucigalpa, the community was questioning whose graves the state was digging and how a certain renal patient who was to be buried there had died, as they saw the digging of multiple graves at their local cemetery. Did the renal patient have COVID-19? Are all these graves for COVID-19 deaths? Are there a lot more people dying from COVID-19 than the state is admitting, covering up lives lost like missing cookies from a cookie jar? The answer to these questions given by the military and police were tear gas bombs that they launched at the community.
On 14 May 2020, in Pespire, Choluteca, mototaxi drivers protested the lack of work, as they had been without income to sustain their families for two months already – they have mortgages, they need to buy food, pay loans and electricity bills, and they asked, ‘why are the shops open but transport services are unauthorised?’. The military and traffic police attacked them arresting three drivers, damaged their small vehicles, and beat up two of the drivers protesting and launched teargas bombs. Videos of the repression against the drivers, women and children present had been shared on social media. ‘Councillors have been receiving advanced payments, what about us? Who will pay the damages caused by police and military?’ All they want is to work, and to be given equipment to work safely in the pandemic, to transport people with everyone wearing masks. They began the protest at the central park, and when the mayor did not come out to negotiate, they blockaded the Panamericana highway, stopping cars that are authorised to circulate (eg trucks, medical vehicles). The laws are meant to protect people from contagion risks, but repression and confrontation from the military exposes people to contagion risks.
Also on 14 May 2020, Francisco Celedonio Ramírez, a survivor of the 2020 El Tumbador massacre of landowners against peasants, was out doing agricultural work, when police used the pretext that he was breaking the curfew to arrest him and took him to the Trujillo courts, accusing him of what they always accuse peasants, of usurpation. Celedonio personally was wounded in the massacre ten years ago and had facial wound that healed over almost ten years and scars that will remain forever. He is one of many peasants who joined landless peasant movements to recuperate lands knowing that their bodies become body shields for the land they try to recover. In addition, the Guadalupe Carney community where he had struggled and lived, in particular, was in the 80s the CREM- regional military training centre and was a scene of horrific human rights violations in the Bajo Aguan region in those times, so recuperating this land, which began in the year 2000, was a struggle to reivindicate hundreds of victims of soldiers and landowners in those times. This day when he was arrested happened also to be the 20th anniversary of the Guadalupe Carney community – usually there would be a massive public celebration, but because of the pandemic curfew, the community limited the celebration to a sharing chain, where needed items are passed onto those who need them. In contrast, the police and military never respected efforts to prevent contagion, having never stopped patrolling the area. There are concerns that the state is renewing persecution against him using police and courts, reviving previously resolved charges. His hearing was set for 16 May 2020.
As well, on 14 May 2020, in Danlí, El Paraíso markets, police appeared and began checking documents and arresting people, when Officer Ledesma targetted young mobile phone accessories street vender Noel Alexander Velásquez López who was on his way to getting more chargers from a friend’s place two blocks away to sell. The police swung at Noel with the baton and grabbed him by the neck and arrested him. People around including Noel’s brother Franklin who sell the mobile phone accessories with him tried angrily to intervene and confront the police. Noel and Franklin’s family live on what they earn each day in the informal economy. They contacted a lawyer they knew who pressured and obtained Noel’s release that afternoon. Police claimed that Noel’d disrespected authority and that it was not his circulation day according to his ID number, as justification for the arrest.
On 16 May 2020, in Zacate Grande, Faustino Mejía was, like other days, collecting dry wood on a field of peasant recuperated land that the palm magnate Facussé family claims belongs to them and had fenced off, - the Facussés called the police and officers Euceda and Rodríguez arrived and arrested Faustino. Faustino was then locked up at the Puerto Grande police station. Villagers including teenagers mobilised and went to put pressure on outside the police station and obtained his subsequent release.
On 16 May 2020, at night time, in Guarizama, Olancho, in the context of a small community church gathering young Miguel Padilla just returned to the gathering having gone to walk his spouse there in the dark, only to see his brother-in-law had been arrested by military police for no reason. For daring to question the military police why they had arrested his brother-in-law, they turned to him, said, ‘what’s with you?’and began to bash Miguel, twist his arms, and further bashed him at the police station parking lot in front of the police, beating him in the spine and caused his ribs to fracture while his brother-in-law was being placed in a cell. Miguel learnt later that his brother-in-law was under arrest because he dared approached the military police and ask them to tone down the flashlights of their vehicles as the bright light was impacting on their activity. Miguel was on bedrest for at least 8 days, he was in such a state he could not even go to the toilet by himself and required his spouse’s help. ‘I’m here recovering bit by bit, I don’t feel very well, I don’t have the medicines that I need, because I can’t even work. What’s more I am parent to two twins – I had 3 children but one died 5 months ago. My twin daughters are 6 years old...the doctors told me that I cannot work in this state’, the family depends on the income from his work with machete from which he earned only U a day. With his injury, his family is left with no income, and were also forced to stay elsewhere, in fear of further attacks by the military police and police.
On 20 May 2020, Heydi Amaya needed to go out to do errands. In Honduras, people are told which day of the week they are allowed out depends on what number their ID numbers land in and it was her ‘circulation day’. In order to be safer from contagion, Heydi asked her brother, Roberto, to drive her, but for him to stay inside the car at all times. Their first police and military checkpoint encounter was okay, she explained the situation and they let them through. They quickly went and did the errand, and were on the way home, but when they passed through outside the police station, two police agents stopped them, and Heydi proceeded to explain, but they refused to listen. Police said to them, ‘Get out of the car’ and grabbed Roberto by the chest to throw him into the police station, while the car was still turned on. ‘Whats going on?’ Heydi protested, ‘Let him go!’ ‘Get out of the way,’ they ordered and hit her in the face. Roberto then said, ‘don’t touch her, she’s a woman’, and 8 other police started to attack and kick him. Heydi then yelled and the police started to attack her neck, ‘don’t bash me, this is a crime, I will call the human rights organisations,’ ‘You are under arrest’. The siblings were taken and locked up without any hygiene measures to safeguard them from COVID-19 contagion, to the contrary, they ripped the mask off Heydi’s face. Heydi managed to let her family know and they placed pressure immediately and the siblings were released 3 hours later, although only on the condition that they signed a declaration saying they were charged with throwing rocks and breaking a window. They signed because they needed to leave quickly to get medical attention. During the ordeal, Heydi heard a police tell another, ‘take a photo of them and give me the photos..’this worried Heydi and Roberto, since they are being threatened with retaliation for resisting and possibly also for their community and political work.
On 24 May 2020, in Nueva Esperanza, Las Flores, Lempira, people witnessed military police shoot and kill Ovidio Gutiérrez, and how they left him there on the footpath and fled. Ovidio was someone known by the community to have mental issues, and also, as a humble person, who never messed with anybody.
Attacks – including one murder – against community members who are obligated or self-organised to control traffic into their communities to minimise COVID-19 risks in their communities
In Plan de Flores, La Paz, the community COVID-19 checkpoint refused police entry into their community – in retaliation, the police tried to arrest them but the community managed to disarm and hold the police and called other police to come take them back to the police station. When other police did arrive for them, in the form of 8 patrols, the police joked when handed the bag with the police’s gun and bullets inside, calling it a ‘solidarity bag’, but it wasn’t funny, in fact, bullets to the bodies, and not food, is precisely what the Honduran government gives to the population. The police also started putting out made up videos and stories about what this checkpoint did to the police (photoshopped so they are tied to the posts) to try to justify past and future repression. The police came in a plain car from Gracias, Lempira, gave false names, and gave death threats to those on duty at the checkpoint. In this checkpoint, people are obligated by the National Party to participate in a ‘volunteer’ roster to make sure nobody enters. The ‘volunteers’ are not paid, are not given PPEs, and are threatened with fines for not participating.
On Saturday 9 May 2020 three police patrols arrived at the Jutiapa community COVID-19 checkpoint, and the community members carried out their established routine and asked everyone to get out of their vehicles and proceeded to fumigate the tyres and windows. One police in particular, officer Gómez, got offended and punched the community member – 18 years old Cesar Arnulfo, in the chest. When Cesar tried to run, the police handcuffed Cesar, and continuously beat him. People around yelled at the police to let him go and to stop hurting him and yelled to others for help. The police threatened to arrest everyone there and pushed Cesar into the police patrol vehicle to take him to the Danlí police station. People from El Obraje community took direct action in solidarity and followed the patrol vehicle and managed to block the road ahead of the police car, in an effort to force the police to abort the arrest. Another police ordered this police over telephone to release Cesar – which officer Gómez and other officers he was with complied, but not without first telling him that the police will kill him if he talked about what happened. The scarier part for Cesar is that one of the agents who threatened him is from his community. With officer Gomez, this was the first time Cesar had seen him, but he will never forget his face. His ribs were fractured from the beating and his head felt wrong, and an arm was dislocated – his mum (who is also part of the community COVID-19 watch effort) recounted after.
On 12 May 2020, at the Las Pilas COVID-19 (self-organised) checkpoint of the Puerto Grande committee in Zacate Grande, landowner Pedro Lazo, who works for for the infamous murderous palm magnate Facussé family, arrived at the COVID-19 gate there on his motorcycle with a woman on the passenger seat, and ordered organised peasant, human rights defender, and community radio activist Elía Hernández to open the gate. When she insisted that this was not the process to seek passage through the gate, he angrily asserted that he will go through the gate as many times as he pleases, ‘because I work for the Facusses’, and told Elía that ‘since you started with the organised peasants, you act like you own this place, and now you are with the COVID-19 screening committee you act like you own Zacate Grande,’ and at that point he said that he was going to kill her and chop her in pieces and bury her some place she won’t know. That wasn’t the first death threat she received and she continued to be subject to intimidations; on 20 May 2020 Elia was on a lote of land bought by her sister but that was under Elía’s care, when a relative of Pedro’s, who lives opposite that lote, told her she had to ask permission ‘before stepping her big foot’, and when she argued, Pedro’s grandad further told her he will not give her permission to cut a rotten log that is in between the two properties. On 21 May 2020, since her and others are under police protection order as recognised persecuted persons, she went to the police to complain about these new threats and harassment and almost immediately, someone in her community told her that the Lazo family already found out she had gone to the police about this. The police also did not want to receive her complaint. She is worried about her and her family’s safety. Elía, aged 34, belongs to a struggle for land, territory, and the local beaches to be free of landowners.
On 20 May 2020, at night, 3 unknown hooded men entered the home of Edwin Fernández, member of Ofraneh, (black garífuna fraternity organisation) and head of the committee in the Río Tinto committee to close the community and prevent the entry of COVID-19 and protect the garífuna community this way. They demanded for Edwin to hand over the key of the security gate of the Rio Tinto community in front of his family, and when he refused, they shot him dead in front of his children. The Río Tinto community only began to have a road connecting the community to the outside world since a relatively short time ago, having been completely closed off by African palm plantations before that. It is imagined that the attackers are connected with organised crime in the region. This is in the context of many killings against Garífuna people, and the Garífuna communities, with 47 recent killings. The Garífuna communities had self organised an emergency plan to watch all their entrances and exits, as well as community information, the making and distribution of masks, community food kitchens and pantries, and continual work to strengthen the immune system of community members through education and access to food and medicines. As well, they organised systems to attend medically and spiritually to people who may have caught COVID-19. They had also organised a network to accompany women and children who suffer DV and sexual violence during this time of social isolation. The Garífuna people in the midst of the attacks and pandemic have taken and continue to take transformative and autonomous actions to care for and defend life.
On 24 May 2020, in Valle de Angeles, Opatoro, La Paz, police patrol PN-551 arrived at the community checkpoint from San Pedro Sula. When the villagers told them they could not go through since they carried no hygiene equipment and did not observe social distancing protocols. The police got angry and proceeded to ram their vehicle towards the villagers so villagers had to take action to retain the police.
Some of the disappearances during COVID-19
Back on 7 April 2020, a 33 years old mother, Karen Rivera Saldívar, was trying to get to San Luís in Santa Barbara when she couldn’t find the transport that could take her and was stranded, because of the pandemic. Karen also couldn’t find transport to return home. While stuck, she became disappeared, with unknown whereabouts, until 19 April 2020, having been disappeared for 12 days, when her dead body was found. A further 17 days after her body was found it was taken to the San Pedro Sula morgue – her brother and dad had identified her body but the body was not taken to where her family is for burial: in the middle of COVID-19 the authorities told the family they would send the body to the family if Karen’s elderly and sick mother travelled to San Pedro Sula city (a major COVID-19 hotspot and without public transport, knowing too that this family is poor and have been without income since the pandemic began) for a DNA test. Even if she could somehow afford a long taxi ride to do that, they would still have had to wait 3 months for the DNA test results. ‘It’s really sad to not be able to say goodbye to her, without the means of bringing her here’, Karen’s mother said, ‘I am a mother of five children, one of my children had already been killed before Karen, two years ago, now they kill her, leaving me only 3 children.’ Karen’s 11 years old daughter stays with Karen’s mother, and her 12 years old son will be with his father. It’s a painful time made a lot more painful.
On 8 May 2020, at the El Espino border, two Cuban women, Mariluz Muñoz Valdez and Yanaisa Gonzales were detained by border police and kept under inhumane circumstances with benches to sleep on and no food given and no measures to prevent exposure to COVID-19 while under custody. They had subsequently disappeared, last seen under custody having been taken to an unknown direction.
On 15 May 2020 Cofadeh human rights organisation placed a habeas corpus demanding the Honduran state to put Denis Eduardo Maradiaga Molina to a court hearing and to release him if there are no grounds for his detention. 28 years old Denis, turning 29 the following week, was arrested on the night of 20 April 2020, when he was going out with friends that night and him and his friend Luís were captured during the curfew. Since then his mum and the rest of his family have searched desperately for him, not knowing where he is detained, if he is alive, if there are charges. Cofadeh sought for an executive judge to go to each prison and hospital and check if he is there. To date, over 11,000 people in Honduras had been arrested for being out during the curfew, with an average of 300 a day.
The corruption pandemic in Honduras
With the pandemic contracts made without tendering, some information surfaced about how money was laundered by the Honduran state in the name of addressing COVID-19. It included buying overpriced N95 masks with over 57 million lempiras, at prices considerably higher than market price, as confirmed by research by the Health Department. The regime also brought in Breas Vivo 65 ventillators on a presidential plane on 17 March 2020 in a publicity stunt – but since then, cardio-pulmonary and biomedical experts have confirmed that the equipment is no good for use with COVID-19 patients, and that the equipment is incomplete anyway, with cables and sensors for monitoring patients missing. They sat unused in the Torax hospital warehouse. The regime had also contracted on 10 February to have a building company establish a triage space and renovate two observation wards and renovate the space to prevent contagion, at the Torax hospital. However this job was not completed and what was done was done poorly, so 5 million lempiras were used and the hospital, is not as it should and needs to be, purpose built to prevent contagion of COVID-19. Between the mentioned contracts, over 20 million lempiras are mispent and many lives lost and placed at risk at present and into the future. To 17 April 2020, the total official COVID-19 budget in Honduras is US,448 millions, around 80% of which in the form of future external debt.
Long protested Criminal Code on virtual vacation, soon the be current
Pushed through under the table and in dictatorship conditions, the criminal code which criminalises protests, makes ‘public disorder’, ‘disobedience to authority’, ‘meetings and illicit protests’ and ‘terrorism’ crimes and decriminalises sexual violence, corruption and organised crimes, had been protested against for the past two years. It was to officially become current on 10 May 2020, but was going through at least 45 days of ‘virtual vacation’ before becoming current, having already had two extensions of 6 months, with pressure to stop the law on one hand from protests including even from the UN, and for it to come into law on the other hand, with the political class’s commitment with organised crime.
And not to forget too, the JOH regime is a drug trafficking-state
Another thing that keeps getting put off is the sentencing hearing of the New York court of Tony Hernández, JOH’s brother, found guilty of drug trafficking and carrying weapons and lying to court. It was postponed for the fourth time, now to 29 June 2020. It is known that the brothers had received a million dollars from the Sinoloa Cartel for JOH’s presidential campaign and court paperwork showed JOH had collaborated in the trafficking scandal, of tonnes of cocaine. In part of a slow sweep DEA is planning against a number of actors in this drug trafficking case, the Manhattan Federal Court had on 30 April 2020 accused the ex police head of Honduras, Juan Carlos El Tigre Bonilla, of drug trafficking, weapons possession, using official position to protect drug trafficking charges, and also known was his involvement in the murder of a rival trafficker. Prosecution have said that it will be investigating and pressing charges against many others, including JOH, although, DEA head Mike Vigil believes that prosecution, while collecting more evidence, will wait until JOH’s presidential term finishes, around November 2021, to press the charges.