Honduras: high price of the struggle
As the hours tick down on the last chance for restoration of the Zelaya government that could provide a fig-leaf of legitimacy for the November 29 elections, the price being paid by those resisting the coup is getting more, much-needed attention.
A recent Reuters story by Frank Jack Daniel, 'Honduran abuses rampant after coup', reinforces the NY Times account mentioned in a previous post:
Suspicious deaths. Beatings. Random police shootings. Life under the de facto government of Honduras at times feels uncannily like Latin America's dark past of military rule..
Via Honduras Oye, an outstanding Al Jazeera video episode makes the point even more vividly. (The interviewer's penetrating questions to all parties are also a startling reminder of how rare real journalism is these days.)
Update: 2:15pm, 16 Oct - Human Rights Watch weighs in, urging the international community to back human rights prosecutors in the Attorney General's office, whose efforts to investigate military and police killings and abuse have been obstructed and threatened by the coup regime and the military. "If anyone questions the damage that the de facto government has done to Honduras’ democratic institutions it’s clearly illustrated by these cases ... by obstructing the investigations, the public security forces are thumbing their noses at the rule of law." HRW also urged support for overturning Micheletti's illegal decree and opposed amnesty for human rights violations as part of any agreement. End update.
Update 2: 4:00pm, 16 Oct - Excellent: "The United Nations human rights chief is sending a team to Honduras on Sunday for a three-week official visit to examine violations of rights in the wake of the coup d’état in the Central American country in June." Not so excellent is that the report is expected to be delivered by ...next March?!. End update 2.
The death toll since Zelaya's return is high. Below are just some of the victims, those for whom I have information [links provided for those not mentioned in previous posts]. In the same period there have been more than a few young men taken away in nighttime sweeps of neighborhoods whose whereabouts are unknown or whose bodies have not been identified.
Update 4: 2:00pm, 15 Jan 2010 - Additions:
Edwin Renán Fajardo Argueta, 22, a member of Artists in Resistance, was found strangled to death in his apartment in Tegucigalpa on Dec. 23. He had received death threats before his murder.
Carlos Turcios, vice-president of the Choloma chapter of the Resistance Front, was kidnapped [Sp.] near his home on the afternoon of Dec. 16. He was found dead the next day in Baracoa, Cortes, with hands and head cut off. There is a report that the body was not Turcios', so he may be considered disappeared. End Update 4.
Update 3: 3:40pm, 14 Dec - Additions:
Walter Tróchez, a human rights advocate, member of the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transsexual community, and active member of the Resistance Front was assassinated December 14 with two shots just outside of Larach & Co. in the center of Tegucigalpa. On December 4 Tróchez had been kidnapped outside the "El Obelisco" Park in Comayaguela by four hooded men who drove a gray pickup without plates (presumed to be DNIC). They hooded and beat him, and demanded information about resistance activities; Tróchez managed to escape and filed a formal complaint. More from Adrienne Pine.
Santos Corrales García was found dead [Sp.] on Thursday, December 10, near Talanga (50 km east of Tegucigalpa). His body was headless. On December 5 Corrales had been taken away with four others from the Nueva Capital neighborhood of Tegucigalpa by five men dressed in uniforms of the national criminal investigation directorate (DNIC). He was tortured and interrogated about the location of a businesswoman who provided supplies to the resistance during demonstrations. The two men and two women who were taken with Corrales were transported, tied hand and foot, dumped at highway exits far from home and told not to return to their neighborhoods.
Isaac Coello, 24; Roger Reyes, 22; Kenneth Rosa, 23; Gabriel Parrales; and Marco Vinicio Matute, 39. The five men, active in the resistance from the Victor F. Ardon and Honduras neighborhoods of Tegucigalpa, were massacred [Sp.] on December 7 by men in military and police uniforms. A young woman working with them was also shot, but not fatally; she survived by pretending to be dead.
Luis Gradis Espinal, a teacher from the department of Valle, was found dead on Wednesday, November 25 in Las Casitas neighborhood in western Tegucigalpa. He was tied and had been executed. His family reported him disappeared when he didn't return after having left for the capital on Sunday, Nov. 22. During the weeks before the election (and after) there were dozens of police search and captures for resistance participants. End Update 3.
Eucebio Fernández Suárez, director of the Mateo School in Macuelizo, Santa Barbara, union leader, constant participant in resistance actions, and candidate for vice-mayor, was shot Oct. 19 at 7:10am at the Macuelizo exit of the Virrey highway. [Added 3:00pm, 19 Oct. Name corrected 9:15pm, 20 Oct.]
Jairo Ludin Sánchez, president of the union of workers at the National Institute for Professional Formation, died Oct. 17 in hospital. He had been in critical condition since being shot in the head by a policeman while taking part in a demonstration on the afternoon of Sept. 23 in his neighborhood near Morazan Boulevard in Tegucigalpa. Details. [Added 2:00 am, 18 Oct. More details 3:15pm, 19 Oct.]
Olga Osiris Uclés, 35, died Oct. 4 from effects of the tear gas police used against demonstrators at Radio Globo on September 30. She lived in the La Joya neighborhood of Tegucigalpa, and leaves four children.
Mario Fidel Contreras, a teacher and vice-principal at Instituto Abelardo R. Fortín, was shot twice in the head on Oct. 2 by a man on a motorcycle near his home in the San Angel neighborhood of Tegucigalpa.
Antonio Leiva, a Lenca campesino and resistance leader, who had disappeared some days before, and had been detained previously by security forces, was found dead on Oct. 3 with signs of torture in Canculuncus, a village in Santa Barbara.
Marco Antonio Canales Villatoro, 40, was shot on Sept. 26 by two men on a motorcycle as he was leaving an evangelical church in Tegucigalpa. He was a PINU candidate for suplente (alternate legislator) for Francisco Morazan department, and the nephew of the owner of Radio Globo, Alejandro Villatoro.
Wendy Elizabeth Avila, 24, law student. A resistance activist non-stop since the coup, she died on Sept. 26 from the effects of tear gas used against people in the street in front of the Brazilian embassy on Sept. 22.
Elvis Euciado, a teenager, was riding his bike toward a neighborhood soccer field on Sept. 23 when he yelled 'golpistas' at a police patrol 200 feet away. The patrol stopped; one policeman got out and shot him dead on the spot. [The policeman's since been charged with murder, the sole exception to impunity among these cases.]
Francisco Alvarado, 65, was shot with an M-16 while going out for food on the evening of Sept. 22 (more than 24 hours into a continuous curfew) in the Flor del Campo neighborhood of Tegucigalpa.
Oscar Adán Palacios was shot to death by the military in the Victor F. Ardon neighborhood of Tegucigalpa on the afternoon of Sept. 22 (just short of 24 hours into the curfew).
Felix Murillo was found dead
with signs of tortureafter apparently being hit by a vehicle in Talanga, Francisco Morazan department (near Tegucigalpa) on Sept. 20, the day before Zelaya reappeared in the capital. His body entered the morgue at the Escuela hospital as an unknown. He was a resistance activist and witness in the case of the death of Roger Vallejo, a fellow-teacher shot to death while taking part in a demonstration on July 30.
Whatever happens by the end of today, the next phase has begun: fighting for a national assembly to write a new constitution. These and all the martyrs of the resistance to the coup since June 28 will be present in the struggle. ¡Presente!
[Image: Elvis Euciado, from newspaper Tiempo]