by defensores en la linea (the original in Spanish is here: “Me he enfrentado a la muerte”
What do the women who defend human rights in Honduras face, those who oppose the arbitrariness of their male co-workers; those who do not tolerate the abuse; those who made denouncements to the authorities only to be ignored; those that are the exiled or banished?
“I have faced death,” summed up Orbelina Flores Hernandez after a lot of thinking. She is a woman farmer, a mother, a grandmother and a human rights defender in one of the most troubled regions of Honduras, The Lower Aguán Valley, where waging a struggle for land and the sound of bullets is a constant back and forth between the few periods of calm interrupted by the worst of circumstances; the taking of the life of whomever.
She can not conceal amongst the tears in her tired and fearful green eyes what has passed through her life. She has 55 years of struggle in this life, which she has dedicated to defending the rights of her sons and daughters, her colleagues, and people known to be victims of injustice.
Fittingly, according to Navi Pillay, who was High Commissioner of Human Rights of the United Nations, “Human Rights Activist is a title that every one of us can acquire. It is not a function requiring professional qualifications. It only depends on us looking at our fellow beings as human beings, we understand that we all have rights to the entire range of human rights and their commitment to see that dream made into a reality.”
Orbelina Flores, came into the world on Thursday, November 10, 1960, in the community of Taujica, Tocoa in the department of Colón. From childhood, things were not easy. There were seven brothers that, when her father died and her mother left to care for her aunts, “I barely passed the first grade because I didn’t have anyone to raise me,” recalled the defender, however that helped her to form strength and steadfastness in adversity.
“I’ve always been a working peasant woman,” said Orbelina, who married at 20 years of age, she raised nine sons and daughters plus one she adopted; She was widowed in 1998 and has since assumed the role of single mother with the care and upbringing of her children. This compares to the thirty percent of Honduran women who are also single mothers or heads of household.
By that time the peasant farmers began to organize in cooperatives to reclaim land “owned” by rich landowners. As a mother she saw the need to join the fight for her children to have better living conditions.
Thus, she became one of the founders of the United Peasant Movement of the Aguan (MUCA), which from November 2001 has been organized by the participation of 28 peasant farmer groups around the “legitimate claim to the lands that were declared for purposes of agrarian reform since the 1970s and fraudulently passed into the hands of corrupt businessmen,” according to Report of the Events and the Recovery of the Land of Agrarian Reform in Honduras by AlbaTv in 2010.
What Orbelina, who has always lived in the community of La Confianza, was searching for was to acquire land for herself and her children, at least where they could grow food because, “land is life, without it we are nothing, but for demanding this right I have had many difficulties come to me,” she said.
Of the twenty people who started MUCA, four were women, Beatriz Elvir, Maribel Mejia, Elida Bobadilla, and Orbelina Flores; the peasant farmer leader Adolfo Casteñada thought it was important to involve more women because their work is valuable, and so other women were integrated, who not only supported the work through traditional gender roles, but were occupying positions of decision making and forming advocacy issues such as women’s rights, violence counseling, and land rights, accompanied by various organizations including the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH).
Women At the Forefront of the Struggle Facing Threats
In the Lower Aguán it is not uncommon to see women leading land seizures, road blocks, social protests or face local authorities that criminalize, attack and stigmatize them, noted Orbelina. She makes mention of the protest known as “The Seven Thousand Machetes, the first big demonstration where equal number of men and women defended the struggle with machetes in hand, this being the unique and characteristic tool of peasant farmers.”
She adds, “We were coming with a machetillo (a colloquial term for machete) in hand, that was back in 2001, we are recovering the lands of Agrarian Reform in Bajo Aguan.”
“As a peasant farming woman, and defender of land rights I have faced death and not only me but my family, those who depend on me and those who just want to eat the fruit of their labor.”
But death has touched other people, and came through infiltration especially by paramilitary groups who impose fear and with this silence that wont allow censure against them. However, the human rights defender does not keep silent in the face of injustices, and Orbalina affirms her decision to continue denouncing situations that threaten life and work in the community from attacks coming from the rich landowners, the military who have besieged the region, and the judicial authorities who are on the side of the powerful.
Orbalina’s preparation and availability, has led her to coordinate the oversight board of the Permanent Observatory for Human Rights of the Aguan (OPDHA in it’s Spanish acronym). This work has not been welcomed by many people because from there they observe, accompany, and follow up on complaints of human rights violations.
Life is very valuable, asserts Orbelina, who saw things out of the ordinary in the community and wanted to salvage it, “but I was responded to with death threats,” she says, “I faced death threats as if I were the bad person who had infiltrated.” That affected her deeply, and in 2013 she was forced to flee from the organization that she had helped found with blood, sweat, and tears. She was forced into exile away from the land that her struggle had achieved.
Although one of the first recommendations for the State of Honduras in the United Nations’ 2010 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was to ensure respect for the rights of women, in its 2015 review peasant women and feminist organizations deny that there is any progress from the government.
While it is true that the Honduran government has opened the Investigative Unit for Violent Deaths in the Aguán (UMVIBA), in this time it has not even reported that 815 women, including Orbelina, have been criminalized in the struggle for access to land, have been victims of violent evictions and illegal arrests, and have been murdered.
Nor has UMVIBA reported that, “rural women do not have access to land, credit nor technical assistance. On the contrary, their struggle has been criminalized, and in 2014 alone four peasant women were killed,” as was denounced by La Plataforma 25 de Noviembre Against Violence Towards Women which was composed of memebers of women peasant farmer and feminist organizations before the UPR presentation by the State of Honduras in Geneva, Switzerland in May of 2015.
Orbelina believes that justice should be equal. Money and influence can not be a part of decisions in favor of the powerful, but must guarantee life as the maximum right of everyone.
Paradoxically, in the Bajo Aguán, that right is constantly threatened, Orbelina Lopez has lamented the murder of many of her peers, and what is most painful is that their deaths go unpunished, “I saw them die: Juan Jose Escoto, Toño Belly, Jose Angel Flores, Silmer George, both of the Jacobos. Also Dony, Lalo, Daniel, many peers, and others who I remember by their nicknames, but will not mention out of nervousness and feelings of fear.”
Fear sometimes does not let women speak, the direct victims of state, sexual and economic violence in the Lower Aguán, and if they do, the authorities re-victimize them and the communities designate them as guilty.
“I face the fear of death, I do not expect something different because I have no right to claim that they will save my life, mine is no more nor less than the others [who have been murdered],” lamented the human rights defender referring to the actions of the authorities when a person files a complaint in either of the cities of Tocoa, La Ceiba or Tegucigalpa. This recently occurred with the assassination of the President of MUCA, Jose Angel Flores, and fellow MUCA member Silmer George, by an alleged paramilitary group in La Confianza last October 18th, adding 125 murders recorded by the OPDHA.
These actions are part of the more than 1,172,000 victims of internal forced migration in Honduras, since they must move from the community, fleeing from one place to another, and are destabilized emotionally because they have to flee their home, family, pets and livestock.
“Not being home affected me, it’s very painful I missed my own hot coffee. It was a year and a half that I left and still I cannot go outside, not even to my patio to sweep quietly because at any moment they could attack me.”
“Judicial authorities know everything that has happened in the Bajo Aguán, and I do not know what to do, I got tired of being denounced, so I ask the national and international organizations, to help us ask for the investigations into the murders of our peers and act against human rights violators,” said Orbelina.
She considers it impossible that the Honduran authorities would act in favor of the work of human rights defenders, of peasant’s rights. Not to mention to give importance to the vulnerability that women face, even when their children and daughters are put in the middle of it, “but I have no reason to flee since the complaints that I have made (against the criminals) are real, nevertheless I fear for my family.”
Meanwhile, Orbelina continues harvesting bananas, corn, beans, yuca, taro root, lemons, oranges, and raising hens, chickens, ducks, because she likes to have in her yard her family’s food, but it is clear to her that the main need is justice and that life is respected.
She concluded by saying that “If anything happens to me the paramilitary group operating in the region is responsible, as well as is the State which is the guarantor of providing peace and security to our lives, because we deserve the best just like all the rich, with equality, because we are all just looking for how best to survive, which is more complicated when I make these denouncements, but I will not stop as long as God lends me life … “
August 2016 Honduras Coup update
Known cases of political persecution in August 2016
Organised farmer attempted against
On 17.8.16, in the morning, in Tegucigalpa, Carlos Geovany Calix (28) was near the Stibys soft drink workers’ union building where he and others rested after the first day of a ‘Forum for Grassroots Unity’, when someone attempted against Carlos, wounding him with a gunshot in the right leg. Carlos lost a lot of blood and was taken to hospital where others accompanied him and his condition stabilised. Carlos belongs to La Vía Campesina and CNTC (National federation of farm workers) La Paz. The farmers’ gathering continued with farmers speaking up about many abuses.
Another organised farmer attempted against, his brother who tried to protect him was killed, and the two surviving farmers were arrested
On the night of 23.8.16, also in Tegucigalpa, in the El Rincón neighbourhood, three organised farmers of Buen…
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Yesterday, the Court in Tela issued a not guilty ruling in favor of the Garífuna community of Barra Vieja, which is being harassed by the Indura Hilton, by means of the National Port Company and the Honduran Institute of Tourism.
The trial against the leadership of Barra Vieja took place after 64 members of the community were put on trial in June of last year. The court declared them innocent of the crime of seizure of property. The ruling in the case indicated, among other things: “It is unknown at this time how many hectares or manzanas are registered in favor of the National Port Company, or the Honduran Institute of Tourism, the National Agrarian Institute and the Tela Bay Project.” There certainly exists an overlap between the various government entities and the investors. However, it remains clear that the land in question is part of Garífuna ancestral territory.
For over four decades, the Garífuna communities in Tela Bay have suffered strong threats to their territory, accompanied by assassination of leaders, promoted by business people and politicians who have sought to create a tourism enclave, refusing to consider the environmental and social costs.
While in Tela the ancestral territory rights were recognized for the Barra Vieja community, last Thursday, September 8, in the afternoon, a contingent of police accompanied by a group of armed civilians attempted to evict a group of neighbors from the community who had recovered a piece of land that had been “sold” in an irregular manner to foreigners.
The police presented an order of eviction, issued on April 7, 2016, by judge Víctor Manuel Melendez Castro. The eviction order was sought by Mr. John J. Scott and Sandra L. Scott, who claim they are the owners of a piece of land in San Blas, located in the Municipality of Santa Fe, Colón.
The use of hired thugs by the police to burn down the dwellings and their contents is, by itself, a violation of the law, as well as violating the rights of the Garífuna people to their ancestral territory. The members of the community of Giriga (Santa Fe) emphatically rejected the eviction attempt.
In 2007, Trujillo Bay became a piñata of territory, promoted by the Canadian Randy Jorgensen, known as the King of Porn, who received unlimited help from the Municipalities of Santa Fe and Trujillo. Apparently, the Scotts are connected to Jorgensen, as is indicated in a blog about tourism published by Sandra Scott.
During the administration of post-military coup, regime leader “Pepe” Lobo, Jorgensen counted on his unconditional help to obtain environmental permits and “legalize” his projects of real estate speculation and the construction of the Banana Coast cruise ship docks.
In December 2011, the Public Prosecutor’s office issued an order against Jorgensen, accusing him of seizure of property.
It took until 2015 for him to finally appear in court in Trujillo, which then granted him a provisional acquittal. The Appeals Court of Ceiba nullified this provisional acquittal and required Jorgensen to appear again before the courts, which Jorgensen refused to comply with. The “King of Porn” has thus far avoided facing justice.
Both Trujillo Bay and Tela Bay have become focal points of dispossession in the name of tourism, and the businesspeople and investors supported by the State come and push out the Garífuna communities, which have to endure the overlapping pressures.
With the advent of petroleum production in the Moskitia region, there arises a new threat to Trujillo Bay and its inhabitants: the construction of a petroleum refinery, which endangers the fragile and rich biodiversity of the region.
Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, OFRANEH
Canadian Porn King on Trial for Tourism Projects in Honduras
- Watch 8 minute report: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWqoB5GTfm8
Sambo Creek, septiembre 10 de 2016.- El día de ayer de ayer el Juzgado de Tela emitió una sentencia absolutoria a favor de la comunidad Garífuna de Barra Vieja, la que viene siendo hostigada por el Indura Hilton, a través de la Empresa Nacional Portuaria y el Instituto Hondureño de Turismo.
El juicio contra la directiva de Barra Vieja tuvo lugar después de haber sido juzgados 64 miembros de la comunidad en junio del año pasado, los que fueron absueltos del delito de usurpación. La sentencia de se juicio entre otras señaló: “se desconoce actualmente cual es la cantidad de hectáreas o manzanas registradas a favor de la Empresa Nacional Portuaria, o del Instituto Hondureño de Turismo, del Instituto Nacional Agrario y del Proyecto de Bahía de Tela”. Ciertamente existe un traslape entre las diversas entidades del Estado y los inversionistas, sin embargo queda claro que la tierra en cuestión…
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The Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, 6 months after the assassination of COPINH’s General Coordinator, hereby states that:
• The assassination of the woman who served as COPINH’s General Coordinator and who was a founding member of the organization was a crime committed against the entire Lenca people’s struggle to build autonomy and defend Mother Earth, our shared natural resources, and our rights as indigenous peoples.
• Despite this crime we re-affirm that we will continue our fierce struggle against the deadly projects that have been imposed without consultation since the 2009 military coup d’état. We know that our sister Berta Cáceres Flores has not died as long as neither her struggle nor her political project, embodied by this organization, have died.
• Our compañera Berta Cáceres, our sister, is the victim of a State crime, having suffered persecution by Honduran authorities, security forces and courts and criminalization of her work throughout her years of political activity, aided and abetted by corporations like DESA, and international banks like FMO, CABEI and FINNFUND, who want to plunder our shared natural resources to turn them into their own profit.
• Over the 23 years of our organization’s existence, this crime has been the biggest blow to our people and it is an attempt to end the struggle waged by COPINH, which continues to suffer from demonization and criminalization by the government and national and international corporations and financial institutions.
• Having accompanied Berta in her struggle, which is our people’s struggle, we are completely clear that justice will not come from the corrupt and inefficient institutions that have promoted the extermination of peoples in resistance and that the arrests they have made do not represent justice for this assassination but are clear example of the way that impunity is produced in this country.
• COPINH continues to demand the creation of an Independent Investigation Commission so that we can get to the bottom of this crime, a demand that has fallen on the government’s deaf ears.
• For several years COPINH has been demanding the expulsion of the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project from Lenca territory, where it has been imposed without consultation, along with the 50 other concessions for dams and wind-power megaprojects that they seek to impose upon our territory.
• The Lenca people are fighting to live in peace, which is why we demand the de-militarization of our territories, where the soldiers, police and private security forces exist to secure private investments by violating the most basic of human rights and sewing fear, terror and death.
• Faced with this assassination, the corporations and banks who finance terror and death should know that COPINH will be unwavering in its efforts to find those who participated in this act. May the perpetrators know that we will not rest in our search for Justice for our sister and that we will denounce each and every attack we suffer for carrying out our work before the international authorities.
• COPINH knows that both before and after the 2009 coup d’état the violence and atrocities come from the interference of the U.S., with its money and its interventions, as with the coup d’état itself. The imposition of the extractivist model comes as a result of the U.S. capitalist doctrine and Berta’s assassination is part of a clear strategy to eliminate by force any form of opposition to that economic model, which the U.S. is at the heart of.
• We denounce the campaigns to criminalize our organization, financed by DESA on national TV, where they roll out Gloria López, a person who does not represent Lenca women and is a farce of a dignified indigenous person and who we are sure is being used by Honduran businessmen to manipulate public opinion and create more conflict.
• COPINH is completely clear what justice in the face of this enormous loss means: finding who assassinated her, who gave the order to assassinate her, and denouncing the criminal power structure that allowed for her assassination. It means that the work of resistance, of emancipation, of rebellion by COPINH and the Lenca people remains steadfast. It means tireless struggle against this economic, political and cultural system that seeks to eliminate our communities, their ancestral resistance and alternatives to dispossession, exploitation, racism and exclusion.
• Justice is keeping the memory of Berta’s life alive, the convictions that led her to be the greatest leader of the Lenca people in the history of the Lenca people’s resistance. Justice is clearly telling the corporations, the representatives of the state and all of those who enter Lenca territory that we will not allow the development of any project, action or activity that rolls over people or that eliminates our voices. It means development by the communities and NOT by corporations that take advantage of communities, development based on proposals that stem from our needs.
Six months after this vile crime the Lenca people continue to cry over this loss for the Honduran social movement, yet we have not forgotten that her spirit accompanies us as one more ancestor who has joined us in the millenarian resistance of the Lenca people.
Six months after this assassination thousands of voices have risen to demand Justice for Berta and to take up our demands, for which COPINH profoundly thanks the communities, grassroots social movements and civil society from all regions of the continent and world. As a people in struggle we know that justice will come only through the efforts of the grassroots social movement and people of conscience.
Berta didn’t die, she multiplied!
With the ancestral strength of Berta, Lempira, Mota, Iselaca and Etempica we raise our voices full of life, justice, freedom, dignity and peace!
La Esperanza, Honduras, September 2nd, 2016
The political climate for the social and grassroots movements in Honduras has been, to say the least, one of transition for the past several years. Each year since the 2013 elections, in ever increasing increments, the resistance movements have struggled, in addition to actualizing their own priorities, to maintain the alliances between the various organizations and communities that had come together for the first time in a meaningful way after the 2009 coup. Much of the energy of the resistance was swept into the electoral farce which created some divisions within the resistance as electoral farces are want to do. Even so, there had been a strong coalition of resistance groups which formed into The Platform of Social and Grassroots Movements. This platform is made up of numerous organizations and movements such as COPINH, OFRANEH, MADJ, ERIC, indigenous communities from across the country, feminist groups, and LGBTQ groups as well as the various campesino movements in the Aguán and Sula Valleys, La Paz and else where. From 2012 through to about late 2014 they had converged for some very successful protests, marches and recuperations/occupations. They pulled off a successful march from San Pedro Sula to Tegucigalpa in 2013, they put pressure on the Congress and the Supreme Court to nullify the Charter Cities proposal, and they came together with the international network to pressure for the liberation of the political prisoner Chabelo Morales, amongst other causes. Many factors led the resistance movements to begin to lose steam and by 2015 most of the groups were struggling to meet their own priorities and the Platform was not abandoned, but put on hold. It is after Berta Cáceres’ assassination that new energy to build on alliances has picked up some. All of this is to say that there has been a transition happening in Honduras in the social and grassroots movement and that has made it somewhat difficult to coordinate with organizations and communities in terms of accompaniment, but that meant persistence on the part of accompaniers to maintain connections and be available at the drop of a hat.
The Accompaniment Work
2016 was a year of transition for me as well. After HSN’s successful international campaign to free Chabelo Morales resulted in his full exoneration in 2015, I suddenly had a huge vacuum in my life in regards to what to turn my energies to next. Chabelo’s case had been the bulk of what I had been focusing on since August of 2012 with diversions into other human rights hotspots in the waiting periods ( see articles here: gregmccain.pressfolios.com). As things shifted within the social and grassroots movement in Honduras, I needed to shift and reevaluate where best to focus. In Nov 2015 I moved from Guadalupe Carney, the community that I had been living in with the family of Chabelo Morales since Aug 2012. I currently rent a house in Tocoa. I have been accompanying the Permanent Observatory of Human Rights of the Aguán (OPDHA in its Spanish acronym) as well as other communities throughout Honduras. Below is a list of the various forms of accompaniment that I carried out in 2016:
Revisited the community of Achiote, Bonito Oriental, Colon to talk with the community and employees of an iron mine that shut down without informing the community and also has contaminated the rivers and environment. Also went to the jail in Trujillo where 7 members of the community including 3 minors had been detained during a protest roadblock. Subsequently attended the preliminary and initial hearings at the courthouse in Trujillo.
- Visited the community of Sector San Pedro, Tocoa, Colon with members of OPDHA. There is a proposed mining concession that the mayor of Tocoa is trying to push on the community. Talked with the residents, provided information on violations by mining companies as well as what promises they make, but don’t keep. The community subsequently overwhelmingly voted down the proposed concession in a town hall meeting called by Mayor Adnan Funes, shouted him down until he fled in anger.
- Accompanied Cesar Flores, a journalist with local radio and TV stations in Tocoa and a correspondent with Radio Progreso in Tocoa, to the Public Prosecutor’s office and to CONADEH to file formal compalints for death threats and intimidation that he had received from Tocoa police while trying to cover a Municipal meeting concerning the municipal water privatization.
- Visited Abel Pérez and Santos Hernandez in the jail in Nacaome, Valle, two residents of Zacate Grande who were imprisoned due to a dispute with a rich landowner. The rich landowner accused them of usurpation of land and threats against him. I checked on there well being in the prison which they have been in since May 2016. I attended several court hearing in Nacaome related to their case and gave them funds (US$50) to help make their incarceration a little more bearable. I have spoken with their lawyer Denia Castillo regarding an international campaign to put pressure on the Prosecutor and judges to have a fair trial and call for their release. There is to be a hearing sometime after August 19th to determine if they can be released from jail before their trial which begins in October.
Accompanied campesinos from the Aguán to attend the wake and funeral of Berta Cáceres in La Esperanza, Intibucá. Included in the bus from the Agúan was Vitalino Alverez from MUCA and the Plataforma Agraria who is listed second on the hit list that the Honduran military has circulated and of which Berta was listed as first to be killed.
- Contacted MADJ and arranged to visit the UNAH-VS campus where there was a
student strike and blockade of the entrance and several of the student leaders have received death threats and suspicious cars have parked and surveyed the strike. Accompanied the students in a street demonstration that blocked a major traffic artery in San Pedro Sula.
Accompanied Orbelinda Flores of MUCA to the courthouse in Tocoa who was briefly detained for having outstanding warrants stemming back to 2010 for land usurpation. These were old warrants that had been settled years ago, but still were in the system, plus one was for a land recurperation that Orbelinda had never participated in.
Visited the police station in Tocoa after Jose Flores, the President of MUCA was arrested for what turned out to be trumped up weapons and drug possession charges. Accompanied him to the court house the same day for the preliminary hearing in which it was determined that there was no evidence against him regarding the charges.
- Accompanied Wilmer Ramos Rivera, Coordinator of MADJ in the department of Atlántida and a journalist with Radio Dignidad in San Juan Pueblo, Atlántida along with members of MADJ to the Public Prosecutor’s office in Tela, Atlantida so that he could file a denouncement against his kidnapping of aseveral hours and death threats that he received while on the air during his news broadcast. He reports on mining and hydroelectric projects in Atlántida
- Accompanied the widows of the El Tumbador massacre, which took place in 2010 near Guadalupe Carney, to the offices of UMVIBA (the special investigative team from the Minsiterio Publico who are supposed to be investigating the violent crimes in the Aguán stemming from the land conflicts). UMVIBA has claimed that it is due to the lack of cooperation from the victims of the massacre that their investigation has been halted. This was claimed after initially stating that it was the noncooperation of Dinant that was stalling their work. The widows of the 5 men killed were too afraid to go to UMVIBA fearing reprisals from DINANT and State authorities. The lawyers with COFADEH convinced that it was in the best interest of everybody that they go. They only agreeded to go and give testimony if accompanied by human rights observers. I was invited by OPDHA to accompany the women.
The house that I rent in Tocoa has become a safe house for people fleeing death threats and/or sexual and domestic violence in Tocoa/Trujillo. Between January through July, 5 different women who had received death threats stayed at the house on different occasions. 2 of them stayed before being linked to Honduran women’s organizations that helped them seek exile outside of Colon or the country, and 3 were fleeing a domestic violence situation. I accompanied all of them to the Public Prosecutor’s office to file denouncements in order for them to have required paperwork to either seek asylum or further pursue legal recourse or atleast to have documentation if/when the violence escalated.
- The house has also been utilized by members of campesino movements and OPDHA as well as the Fundación San Alonzo Rodriquez for when they need to travel to Tocoa for meeting or events that go for several days and it is too far for them to travel back and forth. Also, if they live out in a remote rural area and need to travel from Tocoa to SPS or Tegucigalpa early in the morning such as 1 or 2 am, they stay at the house which is convenient to the 3 bus companies in Tocoa.
- Accompanied members of the community of La Panama, Trujillo to UMVIBA to show them photos of a human remains that had been discovered near their community in the Rio Aguán bordering the Paso Aguán plantation where 2 clandestine graves had been discovered and where it is still suspected others missing from the community are buried. UMVIBA went to the site of where the skull and bones were found and said they would investigate.
I coordinated with Teri Mattson and Maria Robinson from Task Force on the Americas as well as with Kim Porter on raising funds for Chabelo Morales for start-up capital for a concrete block manufacturing business to help him reintegrate back to society after nearly 7 years of incarceration. This included soliciting for funds, collecting the funds through international channels, helping to find a block making machine, dispersing funds so as to ensure proper cash flow of needed equipment and supplies.
- Helped build the Honduras Solidarity Network’s Facebook page, overseeing it as it increased its reach to over 1000 people. Posted regularly, alerts and news items.
- Created and maintain the Human Rights Observation/ Honduras Facebook page that has bilingual information on the situation in Honduras that reaches over 500 people.
- Translated news articles, press releases and communiques pertaining to human rights issues in Honduras.
- Assisted in getting legal documents and a notarized statements in Honduras to the legal team working on an asylum case which is currently pending in Miami.
(Disregard the ad below if you see one, I don’t authorize nor endorse nor get a penny from those advertising on my page.)
Por Chorompo Gutierrez
A former Honduran soldier says murdered environmentalist Berta Cáceres appeared on a hit list distributed to U.S.-trained special forces in Honduras months before she was assassinated.
The video is in Spanish, but at the link below is a an article in English about the massacre at El Tumbador.
Impunidad. Esa es la palabra que define lo sucedido el 15 de noviembre de 2010 en la finca El Tumbador, jurisdicción del municipio de Trujillo, departamento de Colón, donde murieron 5 campesinos cuando realizaban el proceso de recuperación de tierras, luego que fueran atacados a disparos por militares y guardias de seguridad de la empresa DINANT.
Esa fecha, a eso de las 4:00 de la madrugada unos 200 campesinos, entre jóvenes, mujeres y hombres, llegaron a tomar posesión de unas 800 hectáreas de tierra del Centro Regional de Entrenamiento Militar (CREM), ubicadas en las cercanías de la comunidad Guadalupe Carney, municipio de Trujillo.
Estas 800 hectáreas, que pertenecieron a un norteamericano (Temístocles Ramírez) y que en 1993 fueran decretadas para fines de reforma agraria, están dentro de una escritura que posee el Movimiento Campesino del Aguán (MCA).
Luego del paso del Huracán Mitch en 1998, que dejó mucha…
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English translation from Ag Missions:
State Crime: the assassination of Berta Cáceres and the participation of the Honduran military.
Sambo Creek, May 11, 2016.
Two months after the assassination of Berta Caceres, the Technical Investigation Agency (ATIC), together with the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Life, effectuated a series of arrests in the cities of Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba and Trujillo, aimed to arrest the alleged killers of the indigenous leader Berta Cáceres.
Among those implicated are Sergio Rodríguez Orellana, an employee of the Energy Development Company (DESA) and two military, among them Major Mariano Díaz, active member of the Armed Forces who also works as an instructor for the Military Police, entity created by Juan Orlando Hernández- as well as a retired lieutenant.
It seems unlikely the Major Mariano Diaz, considered a consenting (obeying) element within the armed forces, would have participated in the assassination without his superiors being informed. The militarization of Honduras intensified after the coup d’etat, serving as a catalyst for the collapse of the national police, which for the most part turned into a kind of cartel at the service of organized crime. Mr. Juan Hernández took advantage of this crisis to promote the Military Police, which acts as his praetorian guard.
Certainly the progress in the investigations is the result of the international pressure and the direct intervention of the U.S., a country affected by the corruption and institutional collapse in Honduras, promoted by those who have been partners of the empire until now.
The terror narrative imposed in Honduras by those in power has culminated in a series of state crimes ranging from the pillage of the Honduran Social Security Institute, which resulted in a unknown number of victims, all the way to the systematic elimination of minors (youth). The more than 4,000 women assassinated between 2014 and 2015 are part of a policy of extermination that we Honduras are getting used to as if this were part of an aberrant “normality.” At the same time state officials, drunk on power, persist in selling the image of an Immaculate Honduras.
In the supposed war on drugs, the indigenous peoples have been the victims of a farse that culminated in the massacre of Ahuas perpetrated by the DEA and the assassinations committed by the Navy on an Iriona sand bar.
The assassination of Berta Caceres was premeditated with great treachery, and the intellectual authors can be sure that sooner or later their names will rise to the surface, and most probably there will be bankers and government officials involved in the order given to the military killers who participated directly in the homicide.
The state persecution of Berta reached its extreme when they planted a firearm on her, with the objective of criminalizing her, and the state having failed that, opted for her elimination.
In face of the protests of COPINH for the assassination, the violent reaction of the security forces, applauded by the mainstream media and those at the service of Juan Hernandez, is summed up by the comment by Judge Raul Zaffaroni of the Inter American Commission of Human Rights, about crimes committed by governments: “The condemnation of the condemned. This is a neutralizing technique used frequently around state crimes, especially when they are directed againt pacifists, dissidents and political adversaries.”
The assassination of Berta marks the beginning of the fall of the dictatorship, which despite its enormous expense on propaganda, cannot contain the absolute rejection of a country whose children flee in a stampede in the face of the reigning violence, corruption and the barbarity of its government.
Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, OFRANEH
Sambo Creek, 11 de Mayo del 2016.- A los dos meses de haberse perpetrado el asesinato de Berta Cáceres, la Agencia técnica de Investigación (ATIC) acompañado de la Fiscalía Especial de Delitos contra la Vida, procedieron a efectuar una serie de allanamientos en las ciudades de Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba y Trujillo, dirigidos a arrestar a los supuestos asesinos de la lideresa indígena Berta Cáceres.
Entre los implicados se encuentra Sergio Rodríguez Orellana, un empleado de la Compañía Desarrollo Energético Sociedad Anónima (DESA) y dos militares, entre ellos el Mayor Mariano Díaz, miembros activos de las Fuerzas Armadas, el que desempeña además como instructor de la Policía Militar -ente militar impulsado por Juan orlando Hernández-, ademas de un teniente retirado
Es inverosímil que el mayor Mariano Diaz, considerado por algunos como como un elemento consentido dentro de las fuerzas armadas, hubiera participado en el asesinato sin que sus superiores estuvieran informados…
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A beautiful reflection on Berta’s Life from Rosie Wong!
Berta Caceres multiplied
Are the the most magical moments when we sit with new or close friends with whom we feel affinity, share with one another our revolutionary dreams and talk about things to plan to bring these to reality? In 2012, Miriam Miranda, a tireless organiser of the indigenous Garífuna (black Honduran) communities, came to Utopía – an organising and workshop and lodging space of the Copinh, a Lenca indigenous organisation co-founded by Berta Caceres. Miriam and Bertha had crossed paths and even coordinated many times before in spaces of resistance, but until then had not found time for this nurturing of one another. This night in 2012, after workshop and everyone sharing dinner, in the misty foggy frosty night of La Esperanza, Intibucá, they talked into the night about their dreams and plans. Miriam remembered Bertha’s serenity and soft voice contrasted with her force, a force sustained by…
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BERTA CÁCERES EN MEMORIA “Let us wake up! Let us wake up, humankind! We’re out of time. We must shake our conscious free of the rapacious capitalism, racism and patriarchy that will only assure our own self destruction.” -Berta Cáceres, excerpt from her Goldman Prize … Continue reading MARCH 2016 In Pictures
Contact: Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan
NEW YORK—The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) denounces the March 2 killing of leading indigenous and environmental activist Berta Cáceres and the investigation by Honduran authorities that followed. A March 8-15 NLG delegation to Honduras met with various Honduran and U.S. government officials, community members, and the Cáceres family to probe the circumstances surrounding her murder and the ensuing investigation. It issued its report today.
In 2015, Cáceres received the Goldman Environmental Prize for her courageous and tireless work advocating for indigenous and marginalized communities. She drew ire for her leadership in the peaceful resistance against the Agua Zarca dam project in Rio Blanco, one of many development projects threatening dispossession of indigenous communities.In 2015, Cáceres received the Goldman Environmental Prize for her courageous and tireless work advocating for indigenous and marginalized communities. She drew ire for her leadership in the peaceful resistance against the Agua Zarca dam project in Rio Blanco, one of many development projects threatening dispossession of indigenous communities.
Cáceres’ family and other groups have condemned irregularities in the investigation, including the government’s refusal to honor requests for an independent autopsy; the initial rush to judgment that the killing was a crime of passion; and the refusal to allow Gustavo Castro Soto, a victim and sole witness who was injured in the attack, to return to his home in Mexico. Neither the NLG nor the family believes that the government that failed to protect Cáceres, and whose legal institutions are notoriously corrupt, can be trusted to find her killer.
Based on the delegation’s findings, the NLG echoes the growing demands for the U.S. to support an independent, impartial, international investigation by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that leads to prosecution of both the material and intellectual authors of the murder. The NLG also urges the U.S. to suspend security assistance until Honduras has shown through concrete action and results that it respects human rights, protects human rights defenders, and upholds the rule of law. The NLG also calls for the U.S. to permanently end development aid (including direct aid and funds disbursed through multilateral development banks) that supports projects that were undertaken in violation of the right to free, informed consent of the indigenous people whose territory they affect.
Without urgent, pointed, and effective action by both the United States and the broader international community, which provide funding to the Honduran government, Honduras will likely continue its massive violation of the rights and the lives of its indigenous communities.
The National Lawyers Guild was formed in 1937 as the nation’s first racially integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.
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Magdalena Morales, the Regional Director of the National Central of Peasant Farmworkers (CNTC) died today in El Progreso after a battle with cancer. Honduras has lost another great leader in the struggle. The government attempted to criminalize her for her organizing with the campesinos of Agua … Continue reading In Memoriam: Magdalena Morales
The Lasting Legacy of Berta Cáceres By Lauren Carasik (for a PDF click here: A Voice for Honduras’ Voiceless) https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/honduras/2016-03-22/voice-honduras-voiceless Honduras is reeling from the assassination of prominent indigenous rights activist and environmental leader Berta Cáceres, who was gunned down in her home in La Esperanza on … Continue reading A Voice for Honduras’ Voiceless
No one defending their land and territory in Honduras is safe. That was the message that rang loud and clear after Berta Cáceres was murdered in her home on March 3. Cáceres, an Indigenous Lenca wo…
Sambo Creek, 10 de marzo de 2016.- El asesinato de la dirigente Lenca Berta Cáceres, acontecido el pasado tres de marzo en su casa de habitación en La Esperanza, Intibuca, saca a relucir los enormes peligros que corren las personas que se dedican a la defensa del medio ambiente y los pueblos indígenas en los países que vienen siendo recolonizados por el neoliberalismo.
La incansable lucha para proteger el río Gualcarque, entre otros, que libró Berta, sirvió para que muchos hondureños sumidos en la desinformación se enteraran como después del golpe de estado el 2009, la élite político empresarial del país a instancias de organismos internacionales se dividieron las cuencas hidrográficas en Honduras con el supuesto propósito de producir energía limpia.
La farsa de la energía “limpia” producida a través de la muerte de los ríos, se ha convertido en uno de los negocios más lucrativos para las minúsculas elites…
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The Farce of Electing New Supreme Court Judges February began where January left off, there still were not enough votes to install the new Supreme Court of Justice. The opposition parties of LIBRE and PAC and a small number from others continued to vote NO! … Continue reading February 2016: The Month in Pictures