October 2014 – Honduras Coup Update
Political Persecution summary from October 2014
Rio Blanco dam resistance – youth disappeared and killed
On Sunday 26/10/14 at 6am, Maycol Ariel Rodríguez (15) left home and was never seen again – he was invited by Evelio González to go hunting at la Vega del Culatón. Maycol was born and lived his fifteen years in Rio Blanco where in the last year and a half the community had resisted strongly against hydroelectricity dam project Agua Zarca (of DESA and Sinohydro), and a number of indigenous activists had been assassinated and tortured; that includes Maycol's own brother William Jacobo Rodríguez, who was assassinated this April. Who could it be but Evelio González? The place there supposably went hunting is a site where Agua Zarca was going to build the machine room, and Evelio is linked to DESA company and has a history of aggression and threats against Copinh activists – he has been sighted in the Agua Caliente community, close to the conflict zone. After days of search by Maycol´s family and compas, his body was found, drowned, in the Gualcarque river, the focus of love and defense of the Rio Blanco community against the Agua Zarca project. Maycol is remembered, 'as a child who learned with great clarity at his early age, all the conflictivity in his territory, who participated in the exercises of autonomy, reaffirmation and of self control, he constantly participated in mobilisations, and always remained disposed to the defence of the indigenous cause, he was always happy and always playing while other children – boys and girls, of Rio Blanco, under the Oak Tree, and on the sacred Gualcarque river.' His remains were returned to the community.
Also of the Rio Blanco dam resistance – eviction threats
On 9/10/14, as the compas of Rio Blanco worked together on the collective cornfield in Achotal and el Culatón – lands that the communities recovered through resistance and collectivised, a group of police accompanying 4 Madrid family members who are known to illegally sell land slots from the area to DESA company for the Agua Zarca hydroelectricity project invaded aggressively and the police made eviction threats against Copinh activists, warning that they were going to come on 13/10/14 to carry out the eviction. The same police had just on 23/8/14 broken into a community meeting where people analysed and made decisions about the illegal concession of another river Rio Cange, that is invaded by Blue Energy. The police also violently entered and caused destruction to the Tejera Health Centre in Rio Blanco.
Aggressions against another dam resistance
This time, on 6/10/14, the aggression was in Santa Elena, Cabañas, La Paz, against the Lenca indigenous people who rejected mining projects and privatisation and criticised the functioning of the the land registry/records office. There was an open meeting and assembly, and the aggressors included the mayors there, the puppets of Gladys Aurora López – Vice President of Congress and major shareholder of Inversiones Aurora of Gladys Aurora López, and representatives of this company as well as of Hidroeléctrica la Sierra SA, and Energías Renovables de Honduras ERHSA. These aggressors attacked community leaders of Santa Elena, Cabañas, and of Copinh, and reporters of Copinh radios La Voz Lenca and Radio Guarajambala who were there covering the community mobilisation. They were attacked physically, emotionally, with racist words, and when they expressed diseent and opposition, they were quickly denied a voice inside the meeting. The area was militarised, even the police were snatching microphones from the compas. The Santa Elena church, with the complicity of the priest parrish, lent itself to 'provide information' and give 'approval' for the hydroelectricity project, together with sectarian groups. National and Liberal parties representatives sent six truckloads of El Salvador Arena members to come participate in this meeting. This circus was an abuse particularly in the light of that the community gathered on 1/5/2010 in defence of Río Chinacla, in which the mayor who is the mayor today too, signed an agreement with the indigenous community agreeing to declare Santa Elena a territory free of mining projects, as well as to not sign or approve any hydroelectricity projects as demanded by the Lenca people in the region.
Indigenous people judicially persecuted
A number of affiliates of CinPH (Indigenous Coordinator of Grassroots Power in Honduras) have been arrested and face hearings; CinPH members are involved in defending ancestral territories. On 4/10/14, Miguel Martínez was arrested. He is from the indigenous community 21 de Octubre of San Pedro Lomás in Intibucá. He was held at La Esperanza police station for 24 hours, having been captured by police and military. On 5/10/14, a Sunday, Oscar Gerardo Aguilar Robeles was arrested by military and police from his own home, he was freed the same day in the afternoon. On 9/9/14, arrests were against Esperanza Domínguez, Blanca Blanca Cardona, Faustina Domínguez Gómez, Inés Sarabia, Socorro Osorio, José Marcelo Herodes, Ángel Alexander Hernández, José Gabriel Pérez Hernández, Alejandro Cardona, Pio Domínguez and the child Marcos Orlando Mejía Redondo. These were freed after 24 hours of being held at La Esperanza police station; they are from the indigenous community Zapachogo of El Duraznito La Sorto. They had hearings on 10/10/14.
Journalists – one banned, two others killed in assaults
Journalist Julio Ernesto Alvarado has been suspended for 16 months by the court from journalism for 'defamation' – his lawyer Kenia Oliva put in an appeal. On 6/10/14, at 11.30am, Court of Appeals representatives arrived at Kenia Oliva's home, parking outside her house and ringing her doorbell, informing her that the appeal had been rejected.
Within one week, two journalists have been killed in confusing assaults. On 13/10/14, radio announcer and reguetón singer of San Pedro Sula, Dorian Ortez (El Vikiry) was killed in a supposed robbery although there is no information on just what was robbed, and there are contradictions between police and other versions about what happened with his death and the events that led to this. On 7/10/14, a UNAH journalism student of Tegucigalpa, Liliana Lizzeth Reyes, together with taxi driver Daynis Flores Solórzano were sprayed with bullets and killed inside the taxi; the police also did not give information in their official report on what was supposably robbed from these.
Uni students occupying under siege
In the San Pedro Sula campus of UNAH, on 20/10/14, students were on their sixth day of occupation, and since 1am this day had been threatened with eviction from military police. In the afternoon, students were 'watched over' by five undercoveragents who were heavily armed and who parked their cars without numberplates over long hours close to the campus. One spy had verbally attacked students, saying, 'my president JOH is going to control you all for being troublemakers´. There are also reports that heavily armed undercover agents interrogated security staff who were given the task of taking photos of all students and then of passing the 'evidence' to a sociology professor who passes this info to her boss on a daily basis. They then went to take photos of the banners that were hung up and tried to do the same with the students who reacted avoiding them, though a group of students accompanied by a lawyer confronted these. The cops looked nervous with hands over the weapons, arguing they were sent by the prosecutors at the request of UNAH authorities.
On 21/10/14, a day when a mobilisation to the city centre was scheduled, the agents tried to enter campus but did not manage, and some picketing students who ignored demands from scab medical students to have classes were threatened by these.
On 28/10/14, at the Tegucigalpa campus where there are actions simultaneously, independently organised students were protesting but their protests have been falling on deaf ears. A group of students went to have lunch at Paseo Hollywood, when a white man with green eyes, 1.75m tall, in plain clothes, a black jumper, of military build, went recording the faces of the compas – students asked him not to but he kept going before leaving. He threatened students saying that their attitudes are forcing one to shoot at them, and to take their fists out on them. Students also reported that someone who is part of UTV channel and who has a close relationship with Roger Aguilar Flores (owner of private security company that has dedicated itself to filming students' faces closely during assemblies as well as outside of the campus – there are also reports from human rights organisations that Aguilar Flores is a retired captain, and an ex-member of 3-16 death squad from the 80s assigned to Choluteca, and yet he was hired by UNAH). When Aguilar Flores left, the UNAH security head arrived on the scene but ignored students' complaints. The students' protests are against the reforms in indexing that will exclude 1400 high school students from uni, and of the fines and charges for cancelling classes as well as against the criminalisation against five classmates.
Military police fires at bus that didn't stop
On 1/10/14, when a bus driver did not stop at the checkpoint as signalled to do so by the authoritarian Military police, the military police machine gunned on the urban bus – four were wounded, one gravely so, – and a puddle of blood was seen inside the bus. This happened on this day at 7.50am, in Tegucigalpa.
Blood on cops hands
From Jan 2011 to the time of this particular report, 149 civilian people have died at hands of police, 18 were minors, ..
Wind resistance – community on alert
On 11/10/14, Yamaranguila affiliates of CinPH met about wind projects there – and how wind energy is not clean energy – they pointed out that the project will pollute and dry out community waters with 100 antennas that will be installed in this water producing area, and how the energy won' t be public or council or community run – as it will be run as always by transnationals who will set high prices. The community is on alert, in defence and resistance.
Conciliator killed by hitmen
A conciliator working for public defence Iris Argueta just finished work and bought an ice-cream at the Catacamas Park in Olancho, when she was killed by hitmen and taken to emergency and died. This happened about 24 hours after the congress passed a law to punish with life sentence anyone who commits crimes against justice operators.
News Shorts October 2014
In the Guiness Book of Records: 60th anniversary Special Edition – Honduras is recorded as the country with the most assassinations
In the name of 'democratising access to radio communication', instead of attacking the concentration of media in few hands, regulation changes goes to limit radio licences to organisations legally constituted and recognised by the state, proceeding to attack a number of community radios – how does one justify this as being more democratic?
On 23/10/14, the first official cruise ship arrives to the Canadian-owned cruise ship and real estate project in Trujillo, Honduras, bringing unwanted tourists onto Garífuna land where communities were evicted and illegally displaced to make way for these tourists.
Now under discussion is a bill called 'Law Against Terrorism'. Back in 2010, a law was approved 'against finance of terrorism'. The new bill is completing the police-military state by defining actions considered terrorist (including ways of blocking traffic without permission and sabotages to the economy or hacking, for example), and empowering police, military and court authorities to take heavy actions against these, with the help of informants. The penalties are a very long list, but to get an idea: 'whoever provokes or maintains jumpiness, alarm or terror in the population or part of the population through acts endangering lives, health and freedom of people, or infrastructure intergrity, public interest services or publicnation services, with the intention of subverting the constitutional order or disturbing internal order, will be sanctioned with being locked up for 15-20 years' ánd 'Everything with the intention of terrifying and causing anarchy, impeding or making hard the work of any person or company, or of their owners, managers, workers or employees, will be punished with 1-3 years in jail.' and 'Whoever benefits from terrorist activities incites the staff of Army or police personnel or state security organisations, to dessert or leave their positions, or to put that in practice, any means towards that end, will be punished with 10-15 years of jail' and 'If the crime has been committed against a member or army or police or state security agent, the penalty applicable will increase by half.'
Snapshots of resistance in and outside of Honduras
Uni students of UNAH began an occupation of the uni buildings on 15/10/14, this is the first time in seven years UNAH students have occupied, and do so under heavy repression.
In Choluteca and Valle there were mobilisations against model cities, knowing that model cities will only increase inequality.
Ángel Amílcar Colon Quevedo, Honduran, Garífuna, and an immigrant who in 2009 was on his way to the US before being arrested and tortured by Mexican authorities, is free at last – on 15 October 2014.
Karla Lara – resistance singer with beautiful voice and soul has been on October and early November on an US concert tour – La Alegría Rebelde, cheers to whoever catches her there :).