Posts Tagged ‘Honduras’

From a political prisoner to a garbage picker, and a bereaved mother to an activist, photographer Sean Hawkey reveals the poverty and violence rife in Honduras through the stories of men and women named Jesús

Main image: Yolanda Jesús Lozano, who works on the municipal dump in Rio Abajo, Tegucigalpa

The disappeared

Manuel de Jesús Bautista Salvador, 22, was arrested by military police (PMOP) in Naco, Cortés, in the north-west of Honduras, for breaking a curfew during the 2017 protests against the re-election of President Juan Orlando Hernández.

The government responded to the opposition demonstrations with military force and a 10-day curfew. By the curfew’s end, Honduras’ National Human Rights Commission said 14 civilians had died in protests since the election, and 1,675 people had been arrested.

A poster asking for news of Manuel de Jesús Bautista Salvador who has been missing since December 2017

On 3 December at 7.30pm, Manuel de Jesús Bautista Salvador was detained, along with a friend. They were beaten, pepper-sprayed and taken away with two others who were already in the police patrol vehicle. At a checkpoint, Bautista Salvador jumped from the vehicle and the other detainees heard shots.

The other men were released the following day but nothing has since been heard of Bautista Salvador. Despite petitions by the Honduran Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared, he is still “disappeared”, and there has been no investigation into his whereabouts.

The political prisoner

Jesús García of Carrizal, a Catholic lay preacher

Jesús García of Santa Elena, La Paz, spent 17 months imprisoned because of his activities as a Catholic lay preacher.

“When my father was assassinated my mother looked at how she’d been left with no help. She got sick and just died. One of my brothers was disabled. He also died of pneumonia. The rest of us survived somehow. I was orphaned quite young, so I couldn’t study. We all had to work to survive.

“I was a political prisoner because I was a lay preacher. I coordinated 180 other preachers in Santa Elena and Yarula and Nahuaterique. Our priests asked us to speak the truth, and that’s what we did.

“They came at two in the morning to take me. There were a lot of soldiers. They smashed up everything in the house.

“At first no one knew where they’d taken us. We were disappeared. At that time lots of people disappeared for ever, or maybe they’d find your body in a ditch. It was dangerous. A lot of people died like that. Our families were asking the army to give us back, at least to hand over the dead bodies.

“Central America has a lot of martyrs.”

The bereaved mother

Bereaved mother. Jesús Lorenzo Martínez, Ojo de Agua, La Paz.

“I don’t know how old I am,” says Jesús Lorenzo Martínez of Ojo de Agua, La Paz. “I’m on my own. Bringing my children up on my own is a struggle, a battle. I had six children but two are dead. Two boys died. They weren’t for me, they were for God. One went when he was a month old.

“The other went when he was one year and four months. Sometimes I grieve. I conform, it’s God’s will. But I am afraid when one gets ill. I can’t get ill or no one will look after them. One of the girls is working in San Miguel [El Salvador]. May God bless her and look after her and protect her.

“My kids are like me, they are as big as me now, and they will have to struggle like I’ve struggled. Sometimes I sleep with a flower, and I feel like the boys are with me and I feel strong.”

The indigenous leader

Indigenous leader Jesús Pérez, Corralito, Copán

“I live here in Los Altos de Corralito, where I was born, high up in the mountains,” says Jesús Pérez. “I plant corn and beans, and sometimes I earn some money working as a labourer.

“I have six living daughters, and two living sons. Our community has a history of struggle for land and for recognition of our indigenous identity, and my family has paid dearly for it. Blood has been spilt for our rights.

“The Maya Chortí communities were marginalised by the big landowners, but thank God, now we have official recognition as an indigenous people, and we have a little bit of land. We’ve been here for thousands of years, but we only got recognition in the last 20.

“My nephew was Cándido Amador. He was two days older than me. He gave his life for our cause. They assassinated him. He had long hair, he dressed in indigenous clothes, and had very indigenous features.

“…They thought that Candido was the leader and that’s why they assassinated him. He was beaten, he was cut with a machete on his hands, his neck, his head, and he was shot three times in the chest. And they scalped him. It was the night of 11 April 1997. He lived in my house, so they came here to get me to identify the body. He had been thrown on the side of the road.

“One of my own sons is buried next to him. He had a fall while he was working in the town, and died of the internal injuries later. We put flowers on both the graves at the same time.”

The dying man

Fausto de Jesús Vásquez, Los Patios, La Paz

Fausto de Jesús Vásquez, of Los Patios, La Paz, met his wife in the fields.

“She would bring the food to us when we worked, I saw her, and I fell in love with her. We had two children.

“I was born in Nahuaterique which was in El Salvador – now it is in Honduras. We have double nationality.”

(Nahuaterique was part of an international border dispute between El Salvador and Honduras that was resolved by the International Court at the Hague in 1992, when it passed to Honduran administration.)

“I’m dying. I am surrounded by my family. My children live nearby. Here nature is abundant, it’s good for maize and beans, coffee, yuca. I worked with vegetables too – tomatoes, cucumbers, to sell.

“We saw a bit of everything in that time, in the war. We lost everything – the house, all our things. But they are material things, you can get all that again. Life is what you can’t get back if you lose it.

“We rebuilt everything after the war.”

Jesús died peacefully at home earlier this year.

The hungry child

Jesús Ángel Vásquez, from San Marcos de Sierra, Intibucá

Jesús Ángel Vásquez lives in San Marcos de Sierra, Intibucá. “I am in fifth grade. I live with my mum and dad. I have three brothers. I’m the oldest one.

“I get up at two o’clock in the morning. I go to wash. My mum does good tortillas. My favourite food is rice. Sometimes we don’t have much food. I’m hungry.”

The land rights activist

Activist Jesús Salazar, in Suyapa, Pespire

Jesús Salazar, Suyapa, Pespire is the coordinator of an organisation for the defence of human rights.

“[We defend] our shared resources, the water and woods here. We began organising to defend ourselves four years ago.

“We need to defend the water. It’s scarce here in the south, and it’s our life. We depend on it to live.

“In 2003 we began to hear these promises, that the road was going to be improved and the church would be built, if we let the mining company in. The municipal authorities, our representatives in the National Congress, they all supported it. They promoted it.

“But, that’s not development for us. That’s the sale of our territory to transnational companies. It’s against our will and against our interests. They can always find an ally in the communities – people who will help them. They give them some money and brainwash them, but these people bring long-term difficulties for our communities, which will affect our children and grandchildren. It will poison them and rob them of water. We need to be very clear about this – they are bringing death.

“They came here with an environmental licence … But because we were already organised, there was a defence. We have 19 groups organised in the villages around here, and we have lawyers. We won’t let them in.

“They’ve tried. There have been confrontations and injuries. Twice those rats have come here with their machines. They even came at Christmas because they thought it’d be easier.

“They came one evening when we were planting corn. There weren’t many men here. Everyone was in the fields planting. Women with babies stood in front of the excavators to stop them coming in. Then, with mobile phones, we mobilised more than 300 people to come quickly with machetes and sticks, and we stood in front of the machines and we all raised our machetes in the air. The men they sent were thugs, but they left.”

The midwife

María de Jesús Pérez Vásquez

María de Jesús Pérez Vásquez, from Las Flores, Lempira, is 92.

“I had three of my own children – two boys and a girl. I spend most of my time in the house nowadays, with my daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

“There’s no one else my age around here. The secret to a long life is to rest enough but not too much, eat as little as a child eats and work hard. I still like to make tortillas, though my fingers are getting stiff now.

“My parents didn’t have money to send me to school, but I learned a few things. I worked as a midwife for 60 years. I delivered a lot of babies, attended a lot of women in birth. Everyone here knows me. Women still bring me little gifts to say thank you. When I walk down the road, most of the people I meet – I saw them arrive in this world. I was the first person to hold them.

“My husband was a drunk. He died of a hangover in a field 12 years after we got married. I brought up the children on my own.”

The seed saver

Indigenous corn saved by Jesús Martínez

Jesús Martínez, from Santa Elena, La Paz, says he doesn’t remember how old he is.

“[But] I remember the war. We heard it all happening – the bombs and machine guns, but they never arrived here. Thank God.”

Jesús’ son, who is also a Jesús – Jesús Martínez Vásquez – shows us some multi-coloured corn they are saving for seed, open-pollinated, indigenous varieties.

Jesús Martínez, from Santa Elena, La Paz

“These are seeds that are passed down from generation to generation. Farmers have done this for thousands of years. We save the seeds from the best heads of corn, then we plant them again, when the moon is right, and we’ll get a good harvest of strong corn like the harvest before, as long as it rains.

“We grow black corn, yellow and white, and mixed. We know that the seeds from here like our mountain soil. Corn has grown here in these mountains for hundreds of years. The first problem with the commercial corn seed is that you have to buy them. Well, we don’t have the money. It is very productive, but only the first year, then the second year it’s weaker. It’s so weak it’s not worth saving the seed for the second year.

“If you want to keep on getting the big hybrid yield, then you need to buy more seed the next year, and the fertiliser and the insecticide. And if you don’t keep your indigenous seeds, then you just have to buy the hybrid seed. So, the best thing is to grow at least some indigenous corn, and keep the seed, or you end up dependent on the seed companies and giving your money to them. Anyway, this is what we use for the tortillas. We eat these with beans, an egg, avocado. We grow two types of beans here, a tiny one and chinapopo. That’s a tasty bean.”

The survivor of domestic violence

María de Jesús Gabarette, from Tierra Colorada, Lempira

María de Jesús Gabarette is from Tierra Colorada, Lempira.

“My husband died. He hanged himself, here in the house, with a rope. When he used to get drunk I’d be afraid. He’d be really drunk sometimes and he’d shout at me, telling me off for going to church. Sometimes I’d just leave the house and sleep somewhere else, or I’d sleep with a knife under my pillow. Everyone used to tell me to leave him. Since he’s died, it’s helped me going to the church. My children helped me build this little adobe house.

“He’s been dead seven years now. Lots of women get killed by drunk and violent husbands. I’m afraid my kids will waste their lives drinking.

“I make a living by going to Lepaera to buy vegetables and chickens, and I bring them back here to sell. And I’m training to be a midwife.”

The rubbish picker

Yolanda Jesús Lozano, municipal dump, Rio Abajo, Tegucigalpa

Yolanda Jesús Lozano works on the municipal dump in Rio Abajo, Tegucigalpa.

“I’m a single mother bringing up my three children. I do it with the money I make here on the dump – mainly with tins and sometimes bottles, and other things if there are a lot. I can earn 80 lempiras [£2.60] a day. It’s dangerous here as they dump waste from the hospital. You can get a used syringe in your foot.

“Two weeks ago they found a head here, half eaten by the vultures. They say they found the body over in Comayagüela.”

The tenant farmer

Jesús Alberto Ramírez, in Sinaí Chimichal, Copán

Jesús Alberto Ramírez, lives in Sinaí Chimichal, Copán.

“Sinai is a holy place. It’s where Moses got the 10 commandments. Chimichal is a tree that grows here. That’s why we called this place Sinaí Chimichal. We’ve been here since 1991.

“We organised ourselves because we’d been enslaved by the landowner. We weren’t allowed to plant food to eat, or to put up a fence around our huts, or to wash clothes in the stream. They just made us work for whatever they wanted to pay us, and they’d treat us very badly.

“Organising ourselves was hard on everyone. My brother, Nicolás Ramírez, was shot in the belly and killed. The rest of us were captured, tied up with rope and taken to prison. After 20 days or so I was let out, but I was captured and sent to prison again. Our friend Rufino was also shot and captured and sent to prison without medical treatment.

“Negotiations took place, and eventually we were given about 30 acres to plant food and build huts. And here we are.

“We’ve suffered a lot of poverty here. Most of the families here have lost a child. But since we’ve been able to plant food it’s a lot better and not so many children have died.”

The carpenter

Jesús Alberto Mayorga Lemus, of Copán Ruinas

Jesús Alberto Mayorga Lemus, from Copán Ruinas, says his parents couldn’t afford to send him to school.

“So I decided to learn a trade to earn some money. I learned carpentry and I went to work. I was 13. I didn’t get paid for three years. My shoes were broken and I had patches in my trousers. It was hard. When I was visiting my girlfriend I had to hide the holes in my shoes by putting my foot up behind me.

“I’ve suffered, but you learn from suffering and you can use it to become better – a better son, a better brother, a better friend, a better husband. Without God, we aren’t anything.

“I fell in love and got married when I was 16 and a half. We had four children.”

The farmer

Jesús García Hernández, of Langue, Valle

Jesús García Hernández, is from Los Horcones, Valle.

“The drought has been going on for 10 years. It’s due to climate change. Winters were good before. But now we’ve had years without water. We’ve got dry streams, rivers and wells. We lose our seeds and fertilisers; we even lose our hope sometimes.

“There are families here who haven’t had a harvest for 10 years. We’ve all just lost another harvest. We prepared the soil, put in the seeds and fertilisers and, when the first bit of rain came, the plants began growing. Then the rain stopped. Then the rain came again but it was too late. After 10 years of drought the people here have used up their reserves and there’s desperation.

“We’ve had to deepen the wells, but they still dry up. The water is going down.

“A lot of people have left. Some go to work in other places as labourers or security guards or cleaners. And some risk the journey to the States. What else is there to do?”

The LGBT activist

Emanuel de Jesús Barrientos, of Comayagüela

Emanuel de Jesús Barrientos lives in Comayagüela.

“I knew I was gay when I was six years old. I’m 33 now, the age of Christ.

“In Honduras many gay men suffer discrimination. They are attacked, even killed. It’s dangerous to come out of the closet as it puts everything in danger – your family, your social relationships, your work, your security, even your life. We live in an aggressive environment of violent heterosexual machismo.

“I work promoting LGBT rights and I study at the university too. In our offices we are obliged to have a security system with cameras and rolls of razorwire as we’ve had threats.

“We have a proposal for a law for gender identity and equality. Through this law we would have a legal basis to prohibit all sorts of discrimination for sexual orientation, race, ability, age and gender identity.

“There are gender equality laws in other countries but, of course, with this government there’s not much chance of seeing it passed in Honduras. A lot of people are opposed to the movement for equality. They think the only thing we want is equal marriage and the right to adopt.

“Two years ago I tried dressing as a woman for the first time. I feel it allows me to express a feminine side of my character that I can’t while I’m dressed as a man. I don’t walk down the street like it, but I do it for LGBT events, like a show. It’s a bit of fun.”

The migrant

Jesús Hernández, on the migrant caravan

Jesús Hernández has joined the migrant caravan, pictured here on the road to Oaxaca out of Arriaga, Chiapas: he is wearing the NY baseball cap.

“I’m from Tela and I work as a mechanic, welder, carpenter, builder. I’m heading to the States to look for work. All my family are there. I’m travelling with the caravan because it’s safer than going alone. The journey is dangerous. And, there’s no money to pay a coyote [people trafficker].”

As the image above was taken, federal riot police blocked the road for a few hours. But shortly after dawn, Jesús and thousands of others headed north, continuing on their walk to the US border.

tinuing on their walk to the US border.

Activists press Dion on Canadian company operating Honduran gold mine

Mike Blanchfield / The Canadian Press
April 20, 2016 02:29 PM

– See more at:


OTTAWA – A Canadian human rights delegation urged Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion’s office Wednesday to come to the aid of Honduran villagers they say are being exploited by a Canadian mining company.

The group —including First Nations women leaders, the organization MiningWatch Canada, lawyers and activists — visited Honduras this past week and want to draw attention to the plight of villagers in Azacualpa.

The group says in a brief presented to Dion’s office that the operations of Toronto-based Aura Minerals are affecting the health of villagers by exposing them to cyanide leaching and from its open pit gold mine.

They also say the company wants to move both the villagers and their community graveyard. They’re also calling on the Canadian embassy to stop supporting the company’s activities in Honduras.

A request to the company for comment went unanswered Wednesday.

The rights group says it is troubling that the Canadian government has deepened economic relations with Honduras, including signing a free trade agreement, following the country’s 2009 military coup.

“We would like Canada to make a little bit more noise,” said Catherine Morris, the research director for Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, a delegation member.

Dion’s spokesman Joe Pickerill said in an emailed statement that the government is committed to demonstrating leadership on corporate social responsibility.

“Canadians expect our businesses operating abroad to respect human rights, labour rights, all applicable laws, and to conduct their activities in a socially and environmentally responsible manner,” he said.

In 2014, the previous Conservative government announced the creation of a revamped, corporate social responsibility counsellor that would screen foreign community complaints about mining operations and companies. Companies that refused to co-operate with the counsellor would lose government support.

The new counsellor does not have the power to compel mining companies to co-operate, but some non-governmental organizations saw it as a positive step after more than a decade of advocating for tougher scrutiny of Canadian overseas mining operations.

Liberal MP John McKay recently called for stricter oversight of Canadian mining companies because they periodically face accusations that they are violating local laws and human rights, despite overall improvements in the industry.

El caso Tumbador suma en la larga lista de impunidad en el Aguán

El equipo del Cofadeh visitó a Marta Julia López esposa de Ciriaco Muñóz

Tocoa, Colón.

En un sector tan violento donde los defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos arriesgan las vidas para defender los derechos de los campesinos y campesinas, la impunidad gana terreno cada día que pasa.

Se trata de la zona del Aguán localizada en el departamento de Colón al norte de Honduras. El 15 de noviembre de 2010, guardias de seguridad que trabajaban para el terrateniente Miguel Facussé asesinaron a 5 campesinos en la finca de palma africana conocida como Tumbador.

Un fallo emitido por el tribunal de justicia dictó sobreseimiento provisional para los supuestos victimarios, aumentando con ello la desconfianza en la aplicación de justicia y perpetrando la impunidad de los victimarios en el Bajo Aguán.

Un equipo de procuradoras de derechos humanos del Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH) que visitó la zona, constató que la Fiscalía no presentó ningún recurso de apelación para contrarrestar la decisión del tribunal, proporcionando libertad para quienes dispararon y mataron a 5 campesinos.

Las consecuencias de estos hechos han derivado en situaciones precarias para las familias de las víctimas, cuando las viudas perdieron la fuente de ingresos que proporcionaban sus compañeros de hogar y en el presente afrontan grandes dificultades para alimentar a sus hijos e hijas que quedaron sin padres.

Uno de esos casos es de María Concepción Membreño, esposa de Teodoro  Acosta. Cuando su compañero de hogar fue asesinado, su hijo menor apenas tenía 10 meses de nacido y ahora después de 4 años lucha por la vida para alimentar a sus 5 hijos.

Membreño dijo a que los que mataron a su marido fueron guardias de seguridad del terrateniente Miguel Facussé y que esa muerte junto a la de otros cuatro campesinos, cegó las intenciones de recuperar tierras y los anhelos de cultivar para sobrevivir.

“Uno de pobre, por eso es que necesita las tierras para cultivar, porque yo soy pobre y para mí es difícil todo esto, yo ya no soy como antes como cuando él estaba (Teodoro Acosta), encuentro todo diferente y no tengo amparo de nadie, solo de Dios”, expresó con tristeza Membreño que vive con sus hijos e hijas en una pequeña parcela de tierra en la comunidad Guadalupe Carney, municipio de Trujillo, en el departamento de Colón.

María Concepción Membreño dando declarciones al periodista Marvin Palacios

La situación que vive María Concepción Membreño no difiere mucho de las otras cuatro viudas que demandan justicia al Estado de Honduras, al perder a sus compañeros de hogar en condiciones violentas y a manos de guardias de seguridad, que de acuerdo a denuncias operan con total impunidad en el Aguán.

A cuatro años de los trágicos eventos para estas familias campesinas, el caso se encuentra en un punto muerto, no hay avances y mucho menos, esperanzas de alcanzar justicia.

En febrero de 2014 la organización internacional Human Rights Watch publicó un informe sobre Honduras titulado: “‘Aquí no hay investigaciones’: Impunidad de homicidios y otros abusos en el Bajo Aguán, Honduras”.

Las autoridades hondureñas no han investigado adecuadamente la ola de homicidios y otros abusos presuntamente vinculados a conflictos por la tierra en la región del Bajo Aguán, señaló Human Rights Watch.

El informe examina 29 homicidios y dos privaciones ilegales de la libertad ocurridos en el Bajo Aguán desde 2009, así como violaciones de derechos humanos cometidas por soldados y policías. Human Rights Watch determinó que fiscales y policías ignoraron sistemáticamente medidas de investigaciones oportunas y exhaustivas que permitieran esclarecer estos delitos, y dicha omisión ha sido reconocida en entrevistas por fiscales, policías y militares hondureños.

“Incluso tratándose de un país con alarmantes niveles de violencia e impunidad, la situación en el Bajo Aguán es particularmente grave”, observó José Miguel Vivanco, Director para las Américas de Human Rights Watch. “La ausencia de las medidas más básicas para llevar a los responsables de crímenes ante la justicia, ha perpetuado un clima de impunidad que estimula nuevos delitos, e incrementa la desconfianza en las autoridades”.

En ninguno de los 29 homicidios documentados por Human Rights Watch en el Bajo Aguán se ha dictado condena, según surge de información proporcionada por funcionarios gubernamentales. Solamente un caso llegó a juicio: El asesinato de cinco campesinos, ocurrido en noviembre de 2010.
Pero en enero de 2013 se dictó el sobreseimiento provisional hasta que se presentaran nuevas evidencias, luego de que la justicia no encontrara elementos suficientes para seguir adelante con la causa, y desde entonces no se ha reanudado. Se trata del caso conocido como Tumbador, ocurrido en Trujillo, departamento de Colón.

En 13 de los 29 homicidios y privación ilegal de la libertad que investigó Human Rights Watch, las evidencias apuntaban a la posible intervención de guardias de seguridad privada. Los guardias privados están sujetos a las leyes nacionales sobre uso de la fuerza y están obligados a respetar los derechos de los ciudadanos.

Las investigaciones de casos en que las víctimas indicaron que había guardias privados involucrados han estado marcadas por reiterados errores y omisiones, como situaciones en que los fiscales no exigieron los registros laborales donde consta qué guardias estaban trabajando cuando se cometió un delito.

Debido a la presunta participación de guardias de seguridad que trabajan para empresas agroindustriales del Bajo Aguán en delitos vinculados a conflictos por tierras, la Oficina del Ombudsman (CAO) —el mecanismo de rendición de cuentas de la Corporación Financiera Internacional (IFC)— ha iniciado una investigación sobre préstamos otorgados por esta última a la Corporación Dinant, propiedad del terrateniente Miguel Facussé.

La IFC, organismo de préstamo al sector privado del Banco Mundial, cuenta con normas sobre las prácticas de sus clientes relativas a contratación, utilización y supervisión de guardias de seguridad privada, en particular ante denuncias creíbles de abusos. La Corporación Dinant indicó a Human Rights Watch que realiza investigaciones internas de todas las denuncias de abusos que afectan a su personal y coopera plenamente con las autoridades en relación con cualquier denuncia penal.

El informe del Ombudsman del Banco Mundial, que se difundió en enero de 2014, identificó graves problemas en el modo en que el personal de la IFC había manejado la situación, que incluyeron subestimar los riesgos relativos a seguridad y conflictos por tierras, y no actuar con la debida diligencia a pesar de que se había planteado públicamente la situación relativa al proyecto y los riesgos que suponía. Según concluye el informe, el personal de proyectos de la IFC tampoco informó a otros especialistas de IFC en este tipo de riesgos ambientales y sociales sobre los problemas que sabían que estaban sucediendo. La IFC ha reconocido públicamente que hubo falencias en la implementación por la IFC de sus propios estándares.

Durante su gobierno, de 2010 a 2013, el presidente Porfirio Lobo adoptó ciertas medidas tendientes a mitigar los conflictos por tierras en el Bajo Aguán a través de mediación y compra de tierras. Pero, en general, la estrategia de su gobierno para abordar la violencia en la región consistió en incrementar la presencia de fuerzas de seguridad y atribuir su origen a grupos delictivos. No obstante, esta estrategia no contribuyó a reducir los delitos ni mejorar la rendición de cuentas, sostuvo Human Rights Watch en su informe-

El gobierno del presidente Lobo tampoco adoptó medidas preventivas para proteger a personas que se encontraban en riesgo a causa de conflictos por tierras en el Bajo Aguán, incluso en casos en que las evidencias sugerían de manera persuasiva que era probable que se produjeran hechos de violencia. En al menos dos ocasiones desde 2010, fueron asesinadas personas que previamente habían sido beneficiadas formalmente con “medidas cautelares” por la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos en razón de las actividades que desarrollaban en el Bajo Aguán, y que exigían al gobierno hondureño brindarles protección inmediata.

Estas víctimas fueron un periodista y un activista campesino. En un tercer caso, un abogado de derechos humanos a quien el gobierno hondureño había prometido protección fue asesinado. Ninguna de estas tres víctimas contaba con protección del gobierno en el momento en que fueron asesinadas, concluyó Human Rights Watch.

En otras instancias de amenazas creíbles a comunidades o personas, los funcionarios no han investigado los hechos ni han ofrecido medidas de protección efectivas. Reiteradamente en 2013, militares en la región agravaron el riesgo al cual estaban expuestos ciertos activistas que trabajan en el Bajo Aguán, al hacer declaraciones difamatorias y cuestionar la credibilidad de su trabajo.

Activistas exigen el fin de los feminicidios y la impunidad en Honduras

El 98 % de los 2.192 asesinatos de mujeres registrados entre 2010 y 2013 en Honduras están en la impunidad debido a la falta de investigación, según cifras de la Tribuna de Mujeres contra los Femicidios, que aglutina a siete organizaciones de féminas no gubernamentales. EFE/Archivo
El 98 % de los 2.192 asesinatos de mujeres registrados entre 2010 y 2013 en Honduras en impunidad.

25 de Marzo de 2014  Redacción: /

El director de Oxfam Internacional, George Redman, declaró este martes a Efe que a esa organización “le preocupa mucho” el nivel de impunidad en las muertes de mujeres en Honduras.
Organizaciones feministas de Honduras, con el respaldo de Oxfam Internacional, exigieron hoy el fin la violencia que afecta a las mujeres en el país, donde han muerto 71 féminas en lo que va de año, así como de la impunidad que rodea esos casos.

El director de Oxfam Internacional, George Redman, declaró este martes a Efe que a esa organización “le preocupa mucho” el nivel de impunidad en las muertes de mujeres en Honduras.
El 98 % de los 2.192 asesinatos de mujeres registrados entre 2010 y 2013 en Honduras están en la impunidad debido a la falta de investigación, según cifras de la Tribuna de Mujeres contra los Femicidios, que aglutina a siete organizaciones de féminas no gubernamentales.

“La mujer en general sigue siendo víctima de una cultura muy patriarcal, además no cuenta con las mismas oportunidades y beneficios que se le otorgan a los hombres”, subrayó Redman.

Instó a los operadores de justicia a “cumplir con el debido proceso judicial” para reducir los niveles de impunidad en los casos de muerte de mujeres, que representan el 52 % de los 8,5 millones de habitantes del país centroamericano.

La petición fue hecha durante la presentación del “Premio Nacional por la comunicación para la Igualdad y contra la violencia de género”, auspiciada por la Tribuna de Mujeres contra los Femicidios y Oxfam Internacional.

En declaraciones a Efe, la coordinadora de la Tribuna de Mujeres, María Luisa Regalado, valoró el papel de los medios de comunicación y su importancia para concienciar a los ciudadanos para erradicar la violencia de género en Honduras.

“Con el premio buscamos reconocer el trabajo de los periodistas hondureños que dan visibilidad a la violencia que sufren las mujeres y educan a la población sobre los derechos de la mujer”, explicó Regalado.

Precisó que la convocatoria del premio está abierta hasta el 25 de octubre próximo y cuenta con tres categorías en las que podrán participar profesionales del periodismo vinculados a medios impresos, electrónicos, radio y televisión.

Las categorías del premio son: Reportaje, Imagen Periodística y Columna.

La presidenta del Comité de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla, Gladys Lanza, dijo por su parte a Efe que “es alarmante” el número de féminas asesinadas en los últimos cuatro años en Honduras.

“Nos duele ver que las autoridades hondureñas no hacen nada por investigar y castigar a los responsables de las muertes de mujeres”, subrayó.

Lanza señaló a la educación como “un factor clave” para erradicar la violencia de género en Honduras, y abogó “al papel fundamental” de los medios de comunicación para lograr “cambiar esa cultura patriarcal” que impera en el país.

En un comunicado, las activistas expresaron su “preocupación” por los altos niveles de violencia contra las mujeres en el país y “la indiferencia” de las autoridades hondureñas.

“Vemos con preocupación que aún cuando se ha tipificado la figura del femicidio no existe una aplicación de las leyes y se castiga a los responsables” señalaron.

En Honduras, el Código Penal tipifica el femicidio como delito grave y lo sanciona con penas de hasta 40 años de cárcel. 

Por tercer año consecutivo, San Pedro Sula es la ciudad más violenta del mundo

Post 15 January 2014
Por José A. Ortega
Visitas: 7311

Con una tasa de 187 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes, la urbe hondureña de San Pedro Sula ocupó por tercer año consecutivo el liderato del ranking de las 50 ciudades más violentas del mundo. El segundo lugar correspondió a Caracas, Venezuela y el tercero a Acapulco, México, con tasas de 134 y 113 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes, respectivamente.

La situación de San Pedro no mejora, empeora. Si en 2010 figuró en el tercer lugar mundial con una tasa de 125 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes, en 2011 pasó al primer lugar mundial con una tasa de 159 y en 2012 mantuvo la primera posición con una tasa que calculamos similar a la del año anterior, pero que después se supo era superior (174).

Ciudad Juárez siguió reduciendo su incidencia de homicidios y si había tenido el primer lugar mundial en los años 2008, 2009 y 2010, en 2011 tuvo el segundo lugar, en 2012 el 19 y ahora ocupa la posición 37.

Del ranking salieron las siguientes ciudades que figuraron en 2012: Brasilia y Curitiba de Brasil, Barranquilla de Colombia, Oakland de Estados Unidos y Monterrey de México. Todas estas ciudades tuvieron tasas inferiores a la del lugar 50 (Valencia, Venezuela con 30.04 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes).

Al ranking de 2013 ingresaron las ciudades brasileñas de Campina Grande, Natal y Aracaju y la colombiana de Palmira. Asimismo reingresó al ranking la ciudad mexicana de Tijuana, que había figurado entre 2008 y 2010 y no figuró en los rankings de 2011 y 2012.

De las 50 ciudades del ranking, 16 se ubican en Brasil, 9 en México, 6 en Colombia, 5 en Venezuela, 4 en Estados Unidos, 3 en Sudáfrica, 2 en Honduras y hay una de El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica y Puerto Rico.


La abrumadora mayoría de las 50 ciudades más violentas del mundo se ubican en el continente americano (46 ciudades) y en particular en América Latina (41 urbes).

Esto confirma lo que revelan diversos estudios globales por país: que la violencia homicida en América Latina presenta una incidencia muy por encima de la media mundial.

La situación de América Latina no es igual en todos los países, claro está. El nivel de violencia es considerablemente menor a la media latinoamericana en países como Chile, Nicaragua, Costa Rica o Argentina.

Los países latinoamericanos con el mayor problema de violencia son Honduras, Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, México y Brasil.

Asimismo el proceso más exitoso y encomiable en la reducción de la violencia es el de Colombia. Resulta especialmente meritorio que desde hace 11 años sigan bajando la incidencia de homicidios y otros delitos violentos debido a la cada vez mayor eficacia de la policía y no como resultado de la negociación con criminales (como es el caso de El Salvador).

Ahora bien, el mayor obstáculo que un esfuerzo de investigación como el que representa el ranking enfrenta, es la falta de transparencia de los gobiernos de varios de los países. Peor aún es la práctica de falsificar cifras que realizan gobernantes de algunas naciones, específicamente de México y Venezuela.

Respecto al gobierno de Venezuela por sus actos ha demostrado que no le interesa la transparencia y la rendición de cuentas sino el ocultamiento o la propaganda, muchas veces basada en mentiras. Esta política del gobierno venezolano de hacer propaganda en lugar de resolver el problema de la violencia, confirma el temor de que Venezuela se conduce hacia el abismo.

En México en teoría hay transparencia informativa, para lo cual se hace público mes por mes la estadística de incidencia criminal, desglosada en decenas de tipos penales y con grado de desagregación estatal y, desde 2011, municipal.

El problema es que los gobiernos de no pocas entidades federativas falsifican las cifras, para simular una incidencia criminal inferior a la real.

Esta falsificación se constata cuando se cotejan las cifras de homicidios (y otros delitos) que los gobiernos locales reportan con las que genera el Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática (INEGI), las cuales son más abultadas y resultan de un ejercicio más profesional y más honesto.

Al respecto quepa citar a manera de ejemplo los casos más escandalosos de discrepancia, que evidencian la manipulación de cifras y que tienen relación directa con el ranking, los cuales corresponden a los estados de Tamaulipas, Coahuila y Chihuahua. Los datos son 2012, pues el INEGI hasta mediados de 2014 dará a conocer sus cifras preliminares de 2013.

El caso más escandaloso de falsificación de cifras es el de Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. El gobierno del estado reportó 288 homicidios en 2012. Con esa cifra y una tasa de 72.85 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes, se ubicó en el octavo lugar del ranking de las 50 ciudades más violentas del mundo.

Pero el INEGI registró 544 homicidios, es decir, ¡un 88.89% más! Eso significa que la tasa de Nuevo Laredo en realidad fue 137.61 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes, con lo cual el lugar que le habría correspondido en el ranking sería el tercero mundial.

El segundo caso de falsificación de cifras se refiere al municipio de Torreón Coahuila. El gobierno local reportó al SE-SNSP un total de 462 homicidios en 2012, cuando que el INEGI registró 792, es decir, un 71.43% más.

El tercer caso notorio de falsificación de cifras corresponde al municipio de Chihuahua, capital del estado del mismo nombre. El gobierno local reportó al SE-SNSP un total de 363 homicidios en 2012, mientras que el INEGI registró 587, es decir, un 61.71% más. Es decir, en el lugar de la posición 32 en el ranking que tuvo Chihuahua con una tasa de 43.49 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes, en realidad tenía que haber sido la posición 12, con una tasa de 69.56.

Cuando el gobierno del Presidente Enrique Peña festina la supuesta baja de la incidencia de homicidios en México ¿cómo creer en las cifras oficiales cuando están basadas en estos fraudes?

Por lo demás no es de esperar una disminución significativa de la violencia en México cuando la nueva administración, como la anterior, carece de una política eficaz y ni siquiera es capaz de poner en práctica sus cuestionables programas como el de crear una nueva policía (¡otra más!), la gendarmería nacional.

Lic. José Antonio Ortega Sánchez
Presidente del Consejo Ciudadano para la
Seguridad Pública y la Justicia Penal, A. C.

Posición Ciudad País Homicidios Habitantes Tasa
1 San Pedro Sula Honduras 1,411 753,990 187.14
2 Caracas Venezuela 4,364 3,247,971 134.36
3 Acapulco México 940 833,294 112.80
4 Cali Colombia 1,930 2,319,684 83.20
5 Maceió Brasil 795 996,733 79.76
6 Distrito Central Honduras 946 1,191,111 79.42
7 Fortaleza Brasil 2,754 3,782,634 72.81
8 Guatemala Guatemala 2,123 3,103,685 68.40
9 João Pessoa Brasil 515 769,607 66.92
10 Barquisimeto Venezuela 804 1,242,351 64.72

The Ugly Cuban-American in Honduras

August 15, 2009
Narco News has an article about a press briefing that US Ambassador Hugo Llorens gave to a group of journalists last Friday.  Belen Fernandez’ article,  US Ambassador Hugo Llorens Discloses Secrets of the Honduran Coup; Chinese Viewing Prohibited, provides interesting insight into the US role in the coup primarily because of the kind of answers Llorens gives to those pointed “what did you know?” and “when did you know it?” sort of questions.  Yet, even more revealing is how much and how poorly he lies.


For those of you too young to know, there was a film in 1963 called “The Ugly American” and starred Marlon Brando as US ambassador Harrison Carter MacWhite (can we get any more Anglo?) who is stationed in a fictional country called Sarkhan, somewhere in Indochina.  In the film, the Ambassador is a bit conflicted because his best friend from years past, a Sarkhanese by the name of Cheyung, has become a Marxist and leader of a revolutionary movement.  MacWhite is told he is supposed to spy on Cheyung which he does reluctantly.  In Sarkhan, resentment towards Westerners increases and the US diplomats in particular are considered to be the worst. The most famous scene from the film comes when MacWhite is in a chauffered embassy car and the revolutionaries in the streets begin pounding on his car giving him every indication that they would be happy to beat him to death.

In the real world, as war in Indochina cranked up, the phrase, “ugly American,” was used extensively to characterize members of the US diplomatic corps who lied, double-crossed, overlooked human suffering and did whatever was necessary to secure US access to precious resources.


Ambassador Llorens is the protege of one of the uglier ugly Americans, John Negroponte.  For 35 years Negroponte  has been the grand plotter of coups, destabilizations, and counter revolutions.  Llorens, a Cuban-American, who came to the US via Pedro Pan, is just the right sort of attack dog if you are trying to do an anti-left sweep through Central America and perhaps South America.  Let’s not forget that Llorens was Bush II’s national security advisor on Andean affairs during the 2002 coup  in Venezuela.

Llorens met frequently with the golpistas in the months leading up to the coup and they sure as hell weren’t trading recipes.  Llorens worked on coup preparation with Tom Shannon, Bush II’s Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs and was held over into the Obama administration and presently  awaits confirmation as Obama’s ambassador to Brazil.   I imagine Shannon was kept on in Washington to finish up the Honduran coup thing before he could hit the beach at Ipanema.  It was this duo that cooked up the idea of designing a coup around a contrived “constitutional crisis” making Zelaya’s ouster a little more palatable to the general public and perfect for confusing  US liberals as to whether they should be supporting Zelaya, Micheletti, or someone else. After further thought, maybe President Zelaya should consider himself lucky that Llorens and Shannon were in on the whole thing, otherwise, with the brutality exhibited in the streets of Honduras for the last 47 days, being pushed out of an airborne helicopter is not beyond the realm of possibility.

So, check out the article and wear your b. s. protector as you read.  The diplos and spies in Sarkhan seem like rookies compared to our Cuban-American in Honduras who gets uglier by the day.

San Pedro Sula’s violence mirrors Honduras’ pain

Associated Press By ALBERTO ARCE April 9, 2012

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (AP) — This is a city besieged by crime in all its forms: gang violence, drug cartel killings and rampant extortion compounded by a fear of authorities.

Honduras is now among the most dangerous places on Earth. No other country matches its rate of 86 slayings per 100,000 inhabitants a year, according to a 2011 United Nations Report. That is roughly 20 times the U.S. homicide rate.

And it’s worse in San Pedro Sula, often cited as Honduras’ most violent city, with a murder rate almost double the national average.

In this Wild West city, gangs such as the Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, operate with impunity. MS-13 was born in the 1980s among Central American-born inmates in the prisons of California and spread to Central America when members were deported back home by the U.S. They found fertile ground in Honduras and other countries with underfunded police forces and corrupt officials.

Hondurans say gangs have imposed an almost unchallenged reign of extortion, murder and drug trafficking on this city and others.

Mayor Juana Carlos Zuniga recognizes that San Pedro Sula is threatened by violence that authorities cannot control. And the city’s location near Honduras’ Atlantic coast and border with Guatemala have put it on key international drug trafficking routes.

“As a local government we don’t have the necessary instruments to fight the well-defined and identified violence derived from drug trafficking that overwhelms us,” Zuniga told The Associated Press.

One night recently, the Catalino Rivas public hospital in San Pedro Sula could have been operating in a country at war.

There were not enough stretchers for the 19 wounded who arrived that night, and the people who brought them in had to shift the patients about. Pools of blood on the floor went unmopped.

Natalia Galdamez, the doctor on duty, received three patients with gunshot wounds. They said a gunman suddenly appeared and shot them without saying a word.

“It’s tough to believe. This was a paid hit. We hear the same story all the time,” Galdamez said.

Drug trafficking isn’t the only source of San Pedro Sula’s violence.

At a nearby taxi stand, a driver with 21 years of experience explained how each of the company’s 35 cars has to pay $30 a month to a gang. He said the drivers have to pay the same amount in taxes to the government, but each year, not each month.

“Who do you think has more power, the state or the criminals?” said the driver, who didn’t want his name used for fear of reprisals.

Honduras and the dirty war fuelled by the west’s drive for clean energy

The palm oil magnates are growing ever more trees for use in biofuels and carbon trading. But what happens to the subsistence farmers who live on the lucrative land?
Honduras: peasant protests

Honduran police agents detain peasant leaders from Bajo Aguán at a protest in the capital, Tegucigalpa. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The west’s drive to reduce its carbon footprint cheaply is fuelling a dirty war in Honduras, where US-backed security forces are implicated in the murder, disappearance and intimidation of peasant farmers involved in land disputes with local palm oil magnates.

More than 100 people have been killed in the past four years, many assassinated by death squads operating with near impunity in the heavily militarised Bajo Aguán region, where 8,000 Honduran troops are deployed, according to activists.

Farmers’ leader Antonio Martínez, 28, is the latest victim of this conflict. His corpse was discovered, strangled, in November.

Peasant farmers say they are the victims of a campaign of terror by the police, army and private security guards working for palm oil companies since a coup in June 2009 ended land negotiations instigated by the deposed president, Manuel Zelaya.

Witnesses have implicated Honduran special forces and the 15th Battalion, which receives training and material support from the US, in dozens of human rights violations around the plantations of Bajo Aguán.

They say private security guards regularly patrol and train with the soldiers, and have even been given military uniforms and weapons for some operations.

The military denies the allegations, blaming the United Peasant Movement (Muca) for escalating violence in the region. Repeated requests for comment from the US embassy in Honduras failed to elicit a response.

Land occupations

The Bajo Aguán dispute dates back almost 20 years, to a World Bank-funded land modernisation programme. The farmers say thousands of hectares of land used for subsistence farming were fraudulently and coercively transferred to agribusinesses that grow African palms, which are lucratively exported to the west for biofuel, and are traded in the carbon credit market.

Since then, they have tried to reclaim the land using the courts, as well as roadblocks and illegal land occupations.

Zelaya launched an investigation to resolve the conflicts, but this came to an abrupt halt when he was toppled in a coup in 2009 that was backed by the business, political, military and church elites.

In December 2009, groups of subsistence farmers started large-scale illegal occupations on disputed land also claimed by the country’s biggest palm oil producer, the Dinant Corporation, which is owned by Miguel Facussé, one of Honduras’s most powerful men.

Dinant says 17 of its security guards were killed and 30 injured in clashes with farmers.

Map - Aguan Valley, Honduras

The region was heavily militarised in early 2010, and the farmers who were occupying the land were forcibly removed by soldiers enforcing contentious court orders. Accusations of human rights violations have escalated ever since.

In one incident, in 2012, Neptaly Esquivel, 32, a father of five, was permanently disabled by a bullet to the hip fired at close range by a soldier, whose face was hidden by a balaclava, during a peaceful protest against education reform. His case is with the inter-American court of human rights.

In another incident, Matías Vallé, 51, a founder member of Muca, was shot dead by two masked men on a motorcycle as he waited for a bus. Witnesses said a car full of private security guards was parked a few metres away.

His wife, Dominga Ramos, said he had rejected money from Dinant employees to stop the farmers’ movement, after which he was told there was a price on his head.

Ramos said: “I witnessed one police officer trying to hide a bullet shell in the ground with his foot. We buried him in a secret place so they couldn’t remove his head. I am tired and scared.

“My two sons left because of threats. We just want to work our land in peace.”

Dinant strongly denies any direct or indirect involvement in death squads or human rights violations.

It denies collusion between its security guards and government security forces to target peasant groups, and says it is committed to corporate social responsibility. The company says government security forces have been deployed against trespassers, who Dinant says are guilty of murder and other crimes.

A spokesman said Dinant was “not familiar” with the cases of Martínez, Esquivel or Vallé, and it had never been investigated for any suspected involvement. The company said it remained committed to “a quick and peaceful resolution to the Aguán conflict”.

Another recent case is the disappearance of Josbin Santamaría Caballero, who was allegedly shot and taken away in an army helicopter on 30 October 2013 as his wife and two young daughters cowered in their kitchen of their home.

The Dinant spokesman said the company was ignorant of his case, too.

Caballero, 25, son of a prominent peasant activist, had been publicly denounced as a violent criminal by Colonel German Alfaro, commander of the joint police-military Xatruch operation in the region.

Alfaro, trained at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly the School of the Americas) in Fort Benning, Georgia, denied any military involvement and said Muca, the most organised peasant group in the region, was responsible for the current violence.

Alfaro said: “Muca and other groups encourage farmers to confront agro-industrialists, maintain constant tension and insecurity, and commit crimes to destabilise the area with armed groups.”

Wider struggle

The Aguán conflict mirrors a wider struggle over land and natural resources across Honduras that for decades has pitted the poor majority against the country’s 10 oligarch families. Honduras became the world’s most violent country outside a war zone in 2011, and it is one of the poorest and most unequal in the Americas.

Activists say the use of state security forces to suppress protests against landgrabs, dams, mining and oil concessions has intensified since the 2009 coup. Over the same period the US has built up its military presence, with several bases in the country, which has become a major transit point for the international drugs trade. Between 140 and 300 tonnes of cocaine are believed to pass through Honduras every year en route from South America to the US and beyond.

Elections late last year boosted the status quo when the rightwing National party returned to power on a pro-business, pro-security manifesto amid allegations of electoral fraud and voter intimidation.

Bertha Oliva, director of the Committee of the Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared, said: “The police and military are using the cover of the US-led war on drugs in Honduras to eliminate many people, maybe including me: I am on the death list again.”

An investigation published in February by the Canadian group Rights Action (pdf) detailed 34 acts of violence and other crimes directly implicating the 15th Battalion. It said these typically occurred “in co-ordination with private security forces of palm oil corporations, Honduran national police agents and other military units … in what can only be characterised as death-squad activity.”

Karen Spring, from Rights Action, said: “The role of the military in terrorising and criminalising communities in the Bajo Aguán shows the complicity of the Honduran state and US government in supporting big business regardless of the killings.”

The use of private security has increased exponentially across Honduras, which now has five private security guards to every police officer.

The UN working group on mercenaries described consistent reports of guards using illegal weapons to carry out with impunity human rights violations including killings, disappearances, forced evictions and sexual violence.

Patricia Arias, who led the UN group, told the Guardian: “The most worrying information is about private security guards acting together with the police and army, for example the Xatruch operations in Bajo Aguán.”

Héctor Castro, vice-president of the Federation of Palm Growers, said both sides had committed abuses and broken the law. He added: “We don’t have a government or authorities which look for conciliation or apply the law equally.”

Vitalino Alvarez, a Muca leader who survived an assassination attempt in November 2012, said: “Each threat, disappearance and murder is part of the campaign of terror against us. We are blamed for killing each other and publicly called assassins, drug traffickers and drunks. We live, work and negotiate with guns pointed to our heads.”

From bananas to biofuels

Honduras was the original, archetypal banana republic: a small, poor, fertile country controlled by a small group of wealthy families with ties to transnational business interests such as Chiquita, formerly the United Fruit Company.

Bajo Aguán, with its lush terrain, sunny climate and myriad rivers, was once dominated by banana trees. In this landscape, poor campesinos barely scraped a living from back-breaking work.

Banana companies withdrew from the region in the 1930s, and its population declined. But by the 1980s the Aguán was one of the most diverse crop regions in Honduras, producing coconuts, pineapples, grapefruits and almost half of all the country’s bananas.

But African palm plantations have increased by almost 50% in the past three years, and now dominate the Bajo Aguán landscape, having replaced bananas and other edible crops. African palms, the saturated oil of which is a staple ingredient in processed foods and biodiesel, are now the most profitable crop in Honduras.

• This article was amended on Tuesday 6 January 2014. Josbin Santamaría Caballer was allegedly shot and taken away on 30 October 2013, not 2012 as we said. This has been corrected.