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! to all the candidates because of the corruption involved on the parts of the National Party (NP) and Liberal Party (LP). With each new round of voting, all members of the LIBRE party consistently voted no on the ballots and displayed them to the cameras in direct violation of an order from the President of the Congress Mauricio Oliva of the National Party.
There was much talk of the buying of votes as with each round someone else would cave and vote for the NP/LP connected judges. Several members of PAC went with the tide and were swiftly branded as traitors by Salvador Nasralla, leader and ex-Presidential candidate of PAC. David Romero, Director of Radio Globo/Globo TV, showed checks that had been paid to several Deputies of the Congress valued at US$10,000.
The LIBRE Congressman Esdras Amado Lopez had been denouncing the buying of votes on his TV station Colusat Sur 36. He collaborated with Romero on exposing the scandal, but then became embroiled in it when he turned in favor of voting for the corrupted judges. He stood in front of the congress with his ballot as the other LIBRE members had, but instead of a NO printed across the ballot, he wrote “ACUDEZA ACUDEZA X – O” and a heart with an arrow thru it. With this he was taunting Salvador Nasralla who often shouts “agudeza” or “sharpness, acuity” at the players during his sports commentary of soccer matches. To the other members of LIBRE and of PAC it was with sharp acuity that Amado had sold out and was now a traitor to the opposition. When Amado walked back to his seat, Walter Banegas of PAC waved a 50 Lempira note in his face, the symbol for having sold out to the will of JOH. Amado lunged for the note and the two were seperated by other congress members. Amado has been removed from the LIBRE party and has become antagonistic toward Mel Zelaya and the others:
After the fraudulent election, when the required fifteen judges were finally selected, US Ambassador James Nealon, who had been orchestrating the fraud along with JOH and the National Party run Congress, immediately sanctioned the farce for the international community with this tweet:
Beatriz Valle, a LIBRE congress member, replied:
And Other Honduran Citizens had their Say:
The New Bought and Paid for Supreme Court Judges Will Be in Place for the Next 7 Years
Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia (MADJ), a member of the Platform of Social and Grassroots Movements, issued a statement after the fallout of the elections:
Faced with this grim reality, the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ) calls on the citizens to condemn all acts of corruption. Retrieve the sovereign power of the people to monitor and control the corrupt political class, it is an essential step to regain our sovereignty, dignity and justice that we have lost; and a great challenge we face with more organization, more mobilization and more political proposals.
Social Welfare is Sacrificed for “Economic Stability”
Under new IMF structures put in place in the last two years, the Honduran population has been forced to live even more austere lives than what has been usual under the corruption of the ruling elite.
Stability Without Development: The First Two Years of the Current Honduran Government is a new report published February 15th by the Central American Institute for Fiscal Studies (ICEFI in its Spanish acronym) based in Guatemala (to download a PDF version in Spanish, click here). It states that the deficits caused by the previous two coup regimes, which hemorrhaged money as the golpistas raided infrastructure dollars and moved the money off shore, have been stabilized on the backs of the poor through increased taxation of basic food staples and stagnation of wages. The decrease in oil prices also contributed to the decline in the deficit, but the overall benefit to the majority population, 60% of which live in poverty, has been nil or they are worse off financially than before the JOH administration took office in 2014. 6 out of 10 Hondurans are either unemployed or paid too poorly to afford the basic staples.
The ICEFI report concludes that the current government succeeded in “reducing the fiscal deficit and reducing the homicide rate per 100,000” (although the drop in the homicide rate is disputed by university and NGO studies and the rates of murders of young people and the number of masacres has increased), it failed to produce economic growth, job creation, poverty reduction and greater equity. JOH sacrificed these in order to meet the agenda of the IMF. It further concludes that the current government lacks the ability or political will to create “a comprehensive economic policy that promotes opportunities for the general public.”
The report authors note that the tax burden in the first two years of JOH are substantially higher than the two years (2007, 2008) previous to the coup while economic growth in 2014 and 2015 is half that of the pre-coup government of President Mel Zelaya. Also, the tax burden on the poor of 15.1% of GDP in 2013 to 17.8% in 2015 was, without regard to any effort to increase social progress. Furthermore, tax exemptions for the wealthy, many of them unjustified, amounted to US $ 1.2 million, equivalent to about 6% of GDP.
Before the ICEFI report came out, it was revealed that no taxes would be paid to the state for 28 years by the proposed new international airport in Comayagua. The concession to build is owned by scion Lenir Pérez (second photo above on the left), son-in-law of the late Miguel Facussé, who also never paid taxes nor utility bills for his Dinant Corporation. Pérez is also known as the owner of the iron oxide mine in Nueva Esperanza, Atlántida that repressed the community as it tried to expand its illegal operation. He was handed the concession by de facto coup President Roberto Micheletti without consultation with the community. His hired security henchmen kidnapped international human rights defenders that were visiting the community in 2013.
Report on the Human Rights situation in Honduras
Conclusions and Recommendations Made by the IACHR and its Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression on the Situation Over the Right to Freedom of Expression in Honduras
February 23, 2016
Washington, D.C. – On the occasion of the publication of the “human rights situation in Honduras” report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression highlights those recommendations related to ensuring the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, with the purpose of assisting the state of Honduras in strengthening its efforts to respect and guarantee that right in their jurisdiction.
On the report published on February 18, 2016, the IACHR and the Office of the Special Rapporteur noted the serious situation of violence in which journalists and media communicators are for exercising freedom of expression, making them a particularly vulnerable group in the population. According to official figures, between 2003 and 2014, 50 journalists and media workers were killed in Honduras. Most of these crimes remain unpunished, preventing to determine if there is a connection with the victims’ informative work and has hindered the identification and conviction of material perpetrators and masterminds.
The IACHR and its Office of the Special Rapporteur have also highlighted the progress in the investigations of the killings of journalists Anibal Barrow, Alfredo Villatoro and Héctor Francisco Medina Polanco, as well as media worker Carlos Hilario Mejía Orellana. The IACHR encourages the State to proceed with the identification and the conviction of the intellectual perpetrators of these crimes. In this regard, the Commission stresses the need to create special investigation protocols requiring the definition and exhaustion of criminal theories related to the assaulted individual’s exercise of their profession. The omission of logical avenues of investigation or lack of diligence in the gathering of evidence in this respect can have a serious impact on the development of proceedings at the indictment or trial stages, especially in the identification of masterminds.
In this regard, the Commission and the Office of the Special Rapporteur noted with satisfaction the adoption of the Law on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Journalists, Media Workers, and Justice Operators [Ley de protección para las y los defensores de derechos humanos, periodistas, comunicadores sociales y operadores de justicia] in April 2015, which provides the State with a clear legal framework for the adoption of effective and appropriate measures in this area, representing a significant improvement over the pre-existing situation. The report recommends the State to strengthen its efforts for the law’s effective implementation.
Moreover, the report warns of the increasing use of legal actions related to the exercise of freedom of expression, particularly of criminal actions of defamation in Honduras. According to the information received, these criminal figures are used to censor critical expressions referred to public officials and public affairs, thus disproportionately affecting the work of journalists and human rights defenders. In this regard, the IACHR and the Office of the Special Rapporteur urged to reform the Criminal Code to decriminalize libel, slander and defamation.
The high concentration of ownership and control of the media in Honduras was also an object of consideration in this report. The Commission and its Office of the Special Rapporteur warned over a disturbing trend when it comes to the acquisition of major media outlets through transnational capital and the control over small media outlets by political leaders who reproduce ideological content and concentrate the message. The report recommends the State ensure, through legislation, transparent, public and equal criteria for assigning radio frequencies in the new digital dividend. These criteria must consider media outlet control and ownership concentration, and assign broadcasting administration to a body with political and economic independence, subject to due process and judicial review.
Also, the report displays the procedural deficiencies and flaws in the process of assigning frequencies to community media outlets and the need to have these regulations adopted as law, in its formal and tangible sense.
During the in loco visit to Honduras, the IACHR and its Office of the Special Rapporteur noted with satisfaction the measures taken by the State for the effective implementation of the Law on Access to Public Information [Ley de Acceso a la Información Pública], and encouraged the authorities to provide the Instituto de Acceso a la Información Pública (IAIP) with sufficient human, economic and material resources, as well as guaranteed independence for the Commissioners. Notwithstanding the significant progress observed, the report warns of the incompatibility of the Law for Classification of Public Documents related to Security and National Defense [Ley para la Clasificación de Documentos Públicos Relacionados con la Seguridad y Defensa Nacional] published in the Official Gazette in 2014, which imposes disproportionate restrictions on the right to information of national security interests. In the report the State was recommended to revise this regulation, in accordance with the principles of the Law on Access to Public Information [Ley de Acceso a la Información Pública] and the international standards in this matter.
The report accounts the progress made by the State to ensure the effective enjoyment and the universal right to freedom of expression on the Internet. In this regard, the IACHR encourages the Honduran State to continue to adopt in a progressive manner the positive measures of universal inclusion of the population to the Internet and information technology.
The report accentuates, however, the importance of protecting the right to privacy and freedom of expression of the people in the digital world. Thus, it calls upon the State to revise the Special Law for the Intervention of Private Communications [Ley Especial para la Intervención de las Comunicaciones Privadas], particularly the clause that imposes the providers of communication services, the obligation to “keep the data on all connections of each user for the period of 5 years”. In that regard, the Special Rapporteurs of the UN, OSCE, OAS and African Commission have affirmed that “requirements to retain or practices of retaining personal data on an indiscriminate basis for law enforcement or security purposes are not legitimate.”
Based on these findings and recommendations, the Office of the Special Rapporteur encourages the State to continue to strengthen its efforts to ensure the full exercise of the right to freedom of expression in the country, and in particular, to ensure the safety of journalists and media workers and eradicate the impunity in which these crimes remain in Honduras.
In the following link you can find the conclusions and recommendations made by the Commission and its Office of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of the right to freedom of expression in Honduras, which is part of the Country Report recently published.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the IACHR to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.
Alert issued by C-LIBRE:
Journalist Beaten by Security for Honduran First Lady
Alert 26-16 | Honduras, February 11, 2016
The Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre).
Members of the Presidential Honor Guard of the Casa Presidencial, assigned to the First Lady of Honduras, Ana Garcia, beat up the journalist of TV Globo, Rony Espinoza, and tried to prevent his access to coverage of a public activity.
At the same time, junior staff of the the same officer verbally assaulted human rights defender and a journalist of C-Libre, Tommy Morales, when he tried to cover the launch of the Research Unit of Violent Deaths of Women and Femicide in Honduras.
Coincidentally, this unit is the same that will investigate the murder of Merelym Espinoza, the daughter of Rony Espinoza which still goes unpunished without knowing whether it was a crime of indirect intimidation against the journalist.
It is the second attack this month on journalists by the staff of the president’s wife happens, the first was last Thursday against two indigenous communicators and on that occasion the right to seek, receive and impart information was violated.
Journalist Accused of Defamation for Reporting Embezzlement Claim Receives Death Threats
Below is a translation from a report by ConexiHon.hn
Feb 4, 2016 > Tegucigalpa, Honduras (Conexihon) .- The journalist, Selvin Jonas Euceda Ordonez, received death threats when leaving his home by an unknown person on a motorcycle. This happened a few days after a failed settlement hearing on January 15th. The next hearing was scheduled for February 8th. If there is no agreement, the case will go to Oral and Public Trial.
Euceda was criminally charged with defamation for reporting that in the Police Bureau of Investigations (DPI) there is a complaint of alleged embezzlement against Mr. Javier Amador. The news was transmitted on the program Uncensored on Channel 45 in the department of Choluteca, south of Tegucigalpa. Amador is the president of the National Aquaculture (Fisheries) Association of Honduras. Euceda told C-Libre, “I said that there should be a thorough investigation of the labor record of each person who directs an organization.”
According to the Amador’s settlement demand, Euceda must make a public apology in all media, and moreover, pay 50,000 lempiras. In addition, Amador requires that the journalist hand over documents that show the complaint of embezzlement and reveal his sources as well as the recordings of programs on September 10 and 26 2015. Euceda now has a program on Televictoria.
The Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states that all social communicators have the right to confidentiality for all their sources of information, their notes, and any personal and professional archives. The European Court of Human Rights has pointed out along the same lines that the protection of journalistic sources is one of the basic conditions for freedom of the press.
390 Massacres in 6 Years under the Continuing Coup Government
ConexciHon.hn reports that,
“While supposedly the homicide rate per 100,000 people has fallen considerably, according to the appearances of the representatives of the President Juan Orlando Hernandez and spending funds on advertising emphasizing their claims, collective deaths soared after the coup June 2009.
“From January 2009 to March 2011 57 massacres were recorded, 2012 there were 115, 2013 were 96, 2014 were 90, 2015 was 85 and in the first two months of 2016 there have been 4 massacres; in total over the past six years there have been 390 massacres in the country.”
The chart to the right shows the Homicide Statistics in Honduras. The National Rate of Homicides 60*100,000/people in 2015 which based on a population of 8,576,532 (INE) is equal to 5146 people murdered or 429/month. The numbers on the left of the chart were complied by the University Institute for Peace, Democracy and Security (IUDPAS) which is part of UNAH and those on the right are from the Police Statistical System Online (SEPOL).
2015 closed with 387 murders of children, ranging in ages from 14 to 18 years. Also killed were 379 women (60% of their occupations or trade are unknown, but 18.3% were housewives, students, and businesswomen, women between the ages of 30 to 34 years have a higher risk of being killed.
COPINH DENOUNCES THE VIOLENT EVICTION OF 50 INDIGENOUS LENCA FAMILYS OF THE JARCIA, GUISE, INTIBUCÁ COMMUNITY UNDER ILLEGAL AND ARBITRARY ORDERS
The below is translated from Dina Meza’s report in pasosdeanimalgrande.com.
The Chronology of a Eviction: Police, Army, Judges and Prosecutors Unite to Seize More Land from Lenca Communities
A violent eviction of 50 Lenca families in the community of Jarcia, Guise, Intibucá, under the command of the National Police, Police Bureau of Investigations (DPI) and the army proceeded to destroy the homes and agricultural production of the community, according to the denunciation of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, (COPINH).
COPINH described as illegal and arbitrary the eviction which aims to favor Lenin Pérez through an order of Mario Pineda, Second Judge of Letters. Security forces proceeded to destroy the houses with back hoes where pregnant women and indigenous children were.
“We demand that the police and military forces leave this territory !. ! We demand the immediate recognition of these lands as belonging to the community of Jarcia, since the legal nature is ejido land and is not within the competency for a mayor to issue full titles,”said COPINH in a public statement.
They also denounced Judge Mario Pineda, the public defenders office and Prosecutor Vania Jetziva Aguilar, “who continues insinuations of racism, favoritism and negligence.”
The indigenous organization warned that this is not an isolated policy because this Friday Feb 26th there is another eviction scheduled in Rio Chiquito, Rio Lindo, Cortés, which is also an indigenous community who is a part of COPINH.
The Indigenous are Protected Against Forced Evictions by a UN Declaration
Article 10 of the Declaration of the United Nations for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples DUNIP issued in 2007 states that, “Removal or Forced Relocation: Indigenous peoples must not be removed or transfer by force from their land. If they are moved, then it must be only with their free, prior and informed consent, which means they have the right to make decisions about a transfer, freely, without pressure, having all the information before anything happens. Also they are entitled to compensation for their transfer and, if possible, the option to return to their land.”
Article 26 on the right to own, use, develop and control the lands and traditional resources mandates that “Indigenous peoples have the right to own their lands and resources and to develop them. Governments shall recognize and legally protect these lands and resources, and implement measures to respect the laws and traditions of indigenous peoples in non-indigenous legal systems.”
Whereas, Article 22 expresses, regarding elderly indigenous people, women, youth, and persons with disabilities, that governments with appropriate consultation with indigenous peoples, ensure that their rights are respected and they are free from all forms of violence and discrimination.
With these kinds of organized and coordinated actions from all of the State agencies, it is evident that the state is violating these UN Declarations which are part of the internal legal establishment in this country.
Therefore, the Commissioner Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, IACHR, will be informed of this violent eviction.
Furthermore, the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have reiterated that the preservation of the particular connection between indigenous communities and their lands and resources is linked to the very existence of these peoples, and therefore “deserves special protective measures.”
The Court has insisted that “States should respect the special relationship that members of indigenous and tribal peoples have with their territory so as to ensure their social, cultural and economic survival”
For the Commission, the special relationship between indigenous and tribal peoples and their territories means that “the use and enjoyment of the land and its resources are integral components of the physical and cultural survival of indigenous communities and, more generally, the realization of their human rights” which is covered by the Standards and Jurisprudence of the Inter-American System of Human Rights Regarding the Rights of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.
See these documents on the rights of indigenous peoples:
Dole Foods Honduras Destroy “Imperfect” Bananas So the Poor Cannot Eat Them
from Radio Progresso’s Nuestra Palabra:”Pirracha are called the worst of the bunch of bananas. The green bananas are the tip of the cluster, smaller and which no longer have the appropriate measure to be stored in boxes that are to be exported through the docks of our Honduran Atlantic ports… pirracha are lower quality products that are used for domestic consumption.”
But apparently they aren’t even good for domestic consumptionThe below translation is from a report by Criterio.hn.
The multinational corporation based on the Atlantic coast for more than a century, Standard Fruit Honduras S.A.(DOLE FOODS), is destroying the fruit that does not meet export requirements for Europe and the United States, to prevent the poor in the area from eating it.
The company executives from the US capital, have built a huge dump on this plantation in Las Vegas, Colon in the Aguán on the banks of a river, so that these bananas, better known as “pirracha” rot and become contaminated and thus preventing the neighbors of the sector from taking them to soothe a little hunger.
Ramon Soto Bonilla, a TV journalist from Tocoa, Colon, traveled to the plantations and showed videos of the dump and the hostile behavior of employees and security guards of the company. Soto Bonilla was harassed at all times while he remained in the facilities of the Standard Fruit Honduras, S.A. An employee is observed taking photographs. Through his work, the journalist notes that security guards threaten to rape the women who dare pass the place where the bananas are tossed.
“Bananas are denied to single mothers, the elderly, children and other people in need of food,” says Soto Bonilla, while walking and moving towards some undergrowth where those in need of the fruit hide to avoid detection by the security guards who intimidate with beatings and insults.
The poor of the sector, who are exposed to the humiliations of the guards, are also challenge by he presence of yellow beard snakes, which abound in the undergrowth and in the wetland, stated the reporter, while being followed by security guards and employees harassing him with photographs.
In addition to talking with people who want to take the “pirracha” the reporter asked employees to give him the name of the company manager in order to get his version, but instead of receiving an answer to his request, he was attacked by guards and other men and women who persisted in taking pictures of his face and body in a clear action of threat and a violation of the freedom of the press.
IT WOULD BE THE U.S. WHO IS BEHIND ACTIONS AGAINST CRIMINAL GROUPS IN HONDURAS
The below is a translation from the report by Radio Progreso.
This week, the reality of insecurity that prevails in Honduras was disrupted by several raids and arrests in what the government has called “Operation Avalanche.” It has resulted in the arrests of the Mayor of Talanga as well as a former official with the police. Also, more than a hundred secured properties and an amount exceeding 12 million lempiras was seized. However, this all prevailing insecurity has also caused distrust in the population towards the institutionalization of the corruption and that is why people wonder what’s behind all this?
The analyst and former candidate to head the Directorate of Investigation and Evaluation of the Police Force (DIECP), Omar Menjivar, says that this is characteristic of a country where the rule of law does not prevail, but the lack of trustworthiness of the population in their institutions does, especially with those institutions responsible for ensuring security and justice. In addition it does not trust that the will of the current government is behind these hard blows to organized crime, but rather it is a direct intervention by the United States State Department.
“These operations are not defined by the determination born of the National Police, it is not like this, it is an operation planned and directed by the US embassy and they have interests in this matter. One of them is the issue of the gangs territorial domination which has caused a wave of migrants to the US. Another irrefutable truth is that as a state we don’t have a police force, as an institution. The few units that work are some elites that are directed by the US. That is the truth that we live under, “said Menjivar.
Meanwhile, the Security Secretary, Julian Pacheco Tinoco, told media that Operation Avalanche is for the whole year and that he has not hesitated to strike hard at the criminals.
A resident of a violent neighborhood who requested to reamin anonymous for security reasons stated, “These operations which stifle the alleged criminal groups, they exacerbate the neighborhood wars which cities suffer every day. In a conflict zone for territorial control of gangs in one of the most violent cities in Honduras, these operations have led to violations of human rights of young people not involved in crime, due to the lack of knowledge by security agencies of the dynamics of these groups. Lack of prior investigation results in numerous, but not effective, arrests.”
“We have to see who is being captured,” says Menjivar. In his view, it is the player at the bottom rung of the crime pyramid that is falling, and they often are the ones who are also the victims of criminal groups. “Sometimes they capture the one who collects the extortion when such a person is often forced to do so without actually belonging to the structure of the organized crime,” he added.
No no security clearance
An image of six alleged gang members dressed in uniforms of the now defunct National Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DNIC) and the new Police Investigations Department (IPD) remains on alert to the Honduran population after the Police spokesman, Commissioner Hector Ivan Mejia, published on his Facebook account the following:
The latest events are connected. According to Omar Menjivar, it is an open secret that the National Police has an alliance with the Mara Salvartucha (MS) gang and other structures of organized crime and this calls into question the arrests 9under Operation Avalanch) and the promotion of this photo which alarms the population since the alleged gang members 9in the photo) belong to the rival gang Barrio 18 (as indicated by the gang signs of they are flashing with their hands).
“I find it surprising that some arrests are directed against the MS since it has been said for a while that there has been an alliance between the National Police and the MS. You only have to take notice of one fact in police actions, the arrests of people associated with extortion or any violent act are always members of the 18 (the rival gang).”ponders Menjivar, who was a candidate to head an entity that had generated hope at the time because it would have conducted a police purging from a civil society strategy, not one coming from inside the police force.
“A few years ago the DIECP was created but it has been a fiasco and there was a popular outcry about the police purging that has so far proved ineffective, precisely because these criminals can maintain their roots within these structures, there are no such controls to ensure security to the population, from the state authorities,” he added.
Aurora Pineda is the mother of Carlos David Pineda, the young man who, along with the son of the rector of the university, was killed by police in 2011. She drove the process of police purging and believes that this may have force and be implemented in Honduras if MACCIH (Support Mission against corruption and impunity) begins to investigate the actions of the police and military, leaving a clear message against impunity.
“While there three cases together to be pushed, the most emblematic cases can get results. The MACCIH should be used to purge the police and the armed forces. While there is no purification there will never be progress on security issues, but rather we see how crime is transformed, we are see increasing massacres. The State must take into account that the strategies implemented so far are not the best,” she told Radio Progreso.
She added that it is worrying that they are reintegrating agents who had left the police and are giving them positions of greater importance. “They have double standards,” she said.
InSight Crime, a foundation headed by US journalists, Jeremy McDermott and Steven Dudley, with funding from Open Society Foundations, in its more recent analysis of security issues in a Honduran context, says: “The decline in homicides in Honduras (30% in the last four years) will be exploited by the administration of President Juan Orlando Hernández to show off the achievements of its security policy. This administration has been in favor of an approach of “Mano Dura” which is frequently used in Central America, although this tactic has been criticized because all it really does is help street gangs become more sophisticated groups.”
What happens in Honduras is closely followed by entities close to US security policy to implement the component of fighting crime which of course clearly allows the plan of the Partnership for Prosperity in the North Triangle.
While all this happens the population is trapped in the middle of a war that continues to cause bloodshed and leaving a trail of mourning and pain.
Listen to Omar Menjivar’s interview on Radio Progreso (in Spanish):
Below is a translation from an article published in El Heraldo on February 14, 2016.
Casa Alianza Denounces That There are Death Squads in Honduras
The US humanitarian organization Casa Alianza denounced Sunday that there are death squads provoking fear among the population and urged the government to stop the “slaughter” of children and adolescents, the victims of crime in Honduras.
Casa Alianza reacted well after suspected gang members shot dead at point blank five teenagers, three girls and two boys aged between 13 and 16 years in the populous neighborhood Hato de Enmedio, east of Tegucigalpa.
The deceased belonged to one family and were engaged in picking up trash for recycling in the neighborhood .
It is the sixth massacre recorded so far in 2016.
“This new massacre occurs in a hostile environment for children and youth because records of violence show that at least 81 children and young people are killed every month in the country and more than 98% of crimes remain in total impunity “Casa Alianza said in a statement delivered to AFP.
The organization urged the government to stop the killing of girls and young people and investigate “in depth the death squads that systematically carry out a strategy of social cleansing in order to create fear among the population”.
The NGO said the government of President Juan Orlando Hernández has erred in its policy to eradicate violence in the country, where almost a hundred young people a month are killed.
For the organization “it is clear that the security strategy implemented by the current government has failed to protect the population and it is expensive, inefficient and ineffective because it costs the lives of thousands of Hondurans.”
For Casa Alianza, “the current government makes up the figures regarding these violent acts eager to give a misleading picture of what is actually happening”.
According to figures from the Ministry of Security the homicide rate dropped in 2015 to 56.7 per 100,000 inhabitants from 75.1 in 2013 and 67.5 2013 in 2014. The world average is 6.3/100,000.
Founded in 1981, Casa Alianza is a non profit organization dedicated to rehabilitate and defend poor youth in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras. It is the Latin American branch of Covenant House based in New York.
“Murder in a restaurant in San Pedro Sula”
a painting, a commentary, a poem from the brothers Ariel and Jose Manuel Torres Funes
A Commentary by Jose Manuel Torres Funes on “Murder in a restaurant in San Pedro Sula” (original in Spanish can be found here)
Ariel Torres Funes (28 years) is a Honduran journalist and writer. Painting is one of his passions, to which he is dedicats himself to sporadically and as an amateur. Conversing with him, he told me that the desire to paint comes to him when he confronts a personal or emotional situation that he could not face if not through artistic creation – without paying much attention to the artistic criteria used nor to an eventual dialogue with the art.
This simple process of creation is very recurrent in Honduras – basically I speak from the experience of amateur artists, who do not live in their creations and who have not studied in any school of Fine Arts.
In Honduras,you simply write or paint sometimes because you cannot do anything but allow yourself to digest the reality. This is the same process that I followed in my training as a writer. Write or paint, in this sense, plays an important therapeutic role, which helps fight or better understand the feelings of frustration that provoke the country.
In the case of this painting, it is the original scene of a murder that took place in a US restaurant chain Pizza Hut in the city of San Pedro Sula (considered the most violent city in the world), the industrial capital of Honduras, and the second largest after Tegucigalpa.
Before painting, Ariel told me in a casual conversation that had this image that would not leave him in peace. I even think that this scene has for many days ruined me, he confessed.
The owner of Pizza Hut in Honduras is Jorge Canahuati, one of the biggest oligarchs in the country, a proprietor of, among many companies, more than half of the newspapers circulating nationally.
As the murder occurred in one establishment, he decided that this time, none of his media would talk about this case – He is also known to have put pressure on other newspapers that are not his own, so as not to damage the image of his restaurants, which by the way, spend huge sums on advertising.
This is one of the few exceptions of a non-broadcast of violent images that have made these newspapers which publish every day the most gruesome photos that possibly exist.
In Honduras, as in other parts of the world, the owners of the media are not interested in the mental health of its population. In fact, the Honduran elites have never considered the Honduran population as citizens. Newspapers, for that matter, rarely use this term, because to use it tacitly implies that people are also possessors of rights. Semantically, it is not the same thing to call a person a citizen when you call them an inhabitant.
I do not even talk about all pejorative epithets that are used daily in the press, which constantly invoke racism, xenophobia, gender violence, contempt for the poor and so on.
Newspapers in Honduras – without exception feed a culture of contempt, which is observed in the selection of information, treatment made of it, the images and the language they use.
The problem with yellow (or tabloid) journalism in Honduras is that it is the only one that exists on paper. You have no other. We have four national newspapers in Honduras and the four are, as the saying goes, “dripping blood”.
In Honduras the media are the most powerful ideological instruments that exist above political parties. And without a doubt, are not so much a reflection of society, as a reflection of their owners. It is surprising and terrifying the way these newspapers portray the personality of their owners.
Open a newspaper owned by Canahuati and when you finish it, you have the impression of having made a tour of a clandestine cemetery. That’s the feeling that it leaves you, that death and contempt for human life have reached a stratum of perversion and incontestable legitimacy. This reality, in a small and limited country, with few channels of expression is insufferable.
Actually, this painting, which hung on a wall in Ariel’s house and was accompanied with an inscription in wood of the poem below – of my authorship – is a testament to the parallel state of terror that exists in the media in Honduras.
Murder in a restaurant in San Pedro Sula
por Jose Manuel Torres Funes
There was a day without textures
We transformed into crystalline beings
Unfinished strokes: pure arms legs livers
The table legs lost their color
As did the glasses, dishes, houses
The tepidity disappeared
They singed with his frozen life
As well as the floor holding us
The macho voice
Announced that we had lost the balance
We were ears that spilled words
We were mouths vomiting terror
Like the sun when it is vertical
I watched death in the center of things
I watched as she devoured our food
We were ears that spilled words
We were mouths vomiting terror
Like the sun when it is vertical
It was a day without textures
We transformed into beings of water
Arms legs livers in a puddle
The table legs lost their color
As did the glasses, dishes, houses
Searing with his frozen life
As well as the floor holding us
The macho voice
Announced that we had lost balance
I could see death in the center of things
I could see as she devoured our food