Saturday, December 5, 2009

Close the School of the Americas- Honduras Presente!

Honduras Presente!: Report from the Close Down the School of Assassins (SOA) 2009

November 21 and 22, 2009: For the 19th year, anti-war, social justice, solidarity and human rights activists gathered at the gates of the School of Americas (now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) at Fort Benning, Georgia to demand that this military training School of Assassins be shut down once and for all. This year Honduras was strongly represented, because the military officials in command of the coup d’etat of June 28, 2009 were trained at the SOA and the Honduras military has long history of training at the SOA.

The significance of the coup in Honduras as a set back for human rights in Latin America was highlighted by several speakers and a key note speaker during the weekend was Berta Oliva, the founder and director of the Committee for the Families of the Disappeared and Detained In Honduras (COFADEH). Berta spoke at the rally on Saturday and the vigil for the fallen and disappeared on Sunday. She also was the speaker at a standing room only workshop Saturday evening

Berta spoke of the history of human rights violations by the U.S. trained Honduran military going back to the 1980’s and even before, including the case of her husband Tomas Nativi who was disappeared in 1981. She spoke of the disappeared, detained and murdered Honduras since the coup d’etat this year and the situation of a human rights crisis in which the coup government elections on November 29th would take place. She emphasized the concerns of COFADEH that the human rights violations by the government will increase during and after the elections. She called for continued solidarity and action from activists in the United States in support of the Honduran people and the resistance.

In the closing vigil on Sunday, the names of the dead and disappeared in Honduras were joined with the names of hundreds of people from all over Latin America. !Honduras Presente! Close the SOA!

November 29th - Chicago Emergency Action

On Sunday, November 29th, 50 people protested the illegal elections in Honduras and held a vigil for the fallen in the resistance to the coup d'etat in front of the Honduras Consulate in Chicago. (Photos by J.F. Gomez)

The press release for the event is below.

For Immediate Release Emergency Action

Honduras: De Facto Elections Equal a De Facto Government, Not Democracy!

We Are All Honduras - Chicago VIGIL - 3pm to 5pm

Sunday, November 29th

In front of the Honduran Consulate at 4439 West Fullerton

Join us in a vigil to protest the illegal elections organized by the coup government - in the midst of a growing human rights crises - and to honor the assassinated and imprisoned members of the anti-coup resistance.

At 4 pm, there will be a ceremony marking the closing of the polls and the attempted murder of democracy in Honduras.

Sunday, November 29, 2009, the de facto Honduran government installed in power through a military coup on June 28, 2009, will hold its illegal elections under conditions of a human rights crisis in which the army and police forces have murdered more than 30 resistance members, and there are ongoing detentions and repression. The military coup and the military-political dictatorship have been condemned around the globe. The de facto elections have also been declared to be illegitimate by governments and international organizations including the Organization of American States. The resistance movement, which includes organizations representing teachers, workers, community groups, students, women, indigenous people, and more, has called for a boycott of the de facto elections. More than 100 candidates of parties participating in the elections have announced their withdrawal from the elections in protest of the continuation of the coup. Human rights organizations have issued alerts warning of the danger of even more massive and violent violations of human rights by the army and police. [See the attached alert from The Committee of the Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH).]

Unfortunately, one of the only governments to consider recognizing these elections as legitimate is the United States. However, the on-going violations of human rights clearly show that conditions for free and fair elections do not exist in the country.

November 25 - November 29: Call-In for Honduras

Call the White House: (202)-456-1111 or (202)-456-1414

(to email go to

Call the State Department (202) 647-4000 (to email go to

Contact members of your Congressional delegation:



Human Rights Alert from COFADEH, Honduras – November 21, 2009


The Committee of the Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) expresses its concern to the national and international community regarding the deterioration of the human rights situation in Honduras, which is deepening each day.

A new wave of violence includes death threats, political persecution, illegal detentions, tortures and the militarization of sectors of principal cities. Of particular concern is the incursion of vehicles without license plates, darkened windows, driven by heavily armed agents with hooded faces into neighborhoods identified as allied with the Resistance against the coup and self declared as “free of political propaganda.” These actions follow the creation of lists profiling leaders of the resistance movement by order of the military and police.

The overall environment that has been created is one of repression and uncertainty. This was reinforced by a statement issued on November 16, 2009 by the Sub-Secretary of the Service Networks of the Ministry of Public Health that orders the preparation of a CONTINGENCY PLAN for provision of health services for 24 hours per day from November 19th thru December 4th, 2009. According to statement No. 1055-09-SSRDS, the plan must include: Anticipated Suspension of Activity without putting the health of patients at risk, Re-scheduling of Surgeries during these dates and supply of medicine and equipment necessary for the plan.

These measures appear to be related to the conduction of the illegal electoral process on November 29, which is proceeding in an irregular manner and reflects the militarization and para-militarization of the country. The military reserves have been mobilized to support the 16,000 members of the armed forces and 14,000 police already mobilized in the distribution of ballot boxes.

In departments in the western part of the country, army reserves distributed fliers to intimidate the population in resistance, characterizing members of the resistance as irrational delinquents and discrediting marches and protests as inhumane and uncivilized behavior. This activity parallels the “anti-communist” campaigns of the 1980’s.

The military control advances and consolidates as Michelleti announces a “strategic departure” from the country between November 25th and December 2, 2009. The security forces equip themselves with new repressive tools. An armored vehicle has been added to the Secretary of Security for dispersing protests. The anti-riot units are equipped with video cameras and high-pressure water cannon and a mechanism that marks anyone who comes in contact with the water for 48 hours. The armed forces have begun conducting selective checks along major roads in the country and departments in the Atlantic zone of the country have experienced military over flights.

COFADEH communicates its concern to all Human Rights institutions and the international community regarding the safety of social activists who struggle for the reestablishment of democratic order.

COFADEH asks the international community to be on alert regarding the human rights situation in Honduras and to demand that the Honduran state guarantee the right to life and integrity of the Honduran population and foreigners living in the country.

COFADEH, Tegucigalpa, Honduras. November 21, 2009

Report from Ceriboya - Delegation to Honduras

Report from the Northern Atlantic Coast Garifuna

La Voz de los de Abajo Delegation to Honduras

We arrived in La Ceiba in the late afternoon on Saturday, October 24 and were met by staff from the Foundation for the Health of the People (Luaga Hatuadi Waduhenu). This foundation, headed by Dr. Luther Harry Castillo, works with the Garifuna communities building and operating the first and only Garifuna hospital in Honduras, located in Ciriboya close to Iriona. They talked about the history and significance of the hospital project for the communities living in the poor region, in particular for the Garifuna communities that make up the majority of population. The hospital serves approximately 30,000 persons and has treated close to 200, 000 adult and pediatric cases, including traumatic accidents, snakebites, complications of chronic illnesses and acute sicknesses of all types. They also serve as an important maternal health resource for pregnant women.

The Foundation staff also talked about the situation at the hospital, as well as in La Ceiba, since the coup. In La Ceiba, the anti-golpe resistance has a smaller percentage of the population than in Tegucigalpa and some other parts of the country. None-the-less, it has mobilized demonstrations and is an active part of the national anti-coup movement. Organizations and individuals in the resistance have received threats, including death threats. After one demonstration, for example, threats were made stating that “some of the people you see here (at the march) will be found with cotton stuffed down their throats” - a reference to the death squad style killing of people by suffocating them. Hospital staff have been threatened and the coup government has attempted to close the facility. We heard more about the defacto government’s repression against the hospital when we travelled to Ciriboya on Sunday, October 25.

Ciriboya is one of many small Garifuna communities on the Atlantic coast in Colon and Miskitia. We reached the hospital there after a 5 hour drive from La Ceiba, including more than two hours on unpaved, rutted road which passes through beautiful countryside full of banana and coconut palms, small creeks, and lush greenery and flowers, often just a very short distance from the sea. Along the road, people walk carrying loads of firewood and water (there is no electricity and shortages of drinking water in most villages).

The hospital is a beautifully constructed, yellow building with a veranda on the second floor, located in a clearing, with its own electrical power and water pumping system for water for cleaning and bathing. We were met at the door by Dr. Wendy Perez and other hospital staff. Dr. Perez, like Dr. Castillo, is one of the Honduran doctors trained in Cuba who along with volunteer Cuban doctors and locally trained nurses’ aides make up the medical team for the hospital.

Our delegation to the hospital had two missions. La Voz de los de Abajo was committed to a mural project at the hospital to be completed in the 3 days we were there (see the photos for the finished project) and we were carrying out the Todos Somos Honduras delegation’s mission of interviewing the community and documenting the situation since the coup. To that end we interviewed hospital staff, members of the community support committee for the hospital, Garifuna activists working to defend the culture and rights of their people, members of women’s organizations, patients from the hospital and other community members.

We were told that the hospital projects originally faced harassment and problems from government officials and regional powers, as well as the Honduran medical elite because of the hospital’s dedication to serving and empowering the Garifuna community and because all care is absolutely free to all its patients, without discrimination of any sort. The situation improved during Mel Zelaya’s presidency and the hospital was formally opened in December of 2007. Zelaya and his Minister of Health visited the hospital before the coup and committed government support for the project. Dr. Castillo was appointed Director of International Cooperation for the Ministry of Health.

Right after the coup, the defacto government began to harass and threaten the hospital and the community. The physician appointed to head the defacto Ministry of Health by Michiletti was previously the head of the Honduran physicians’ organization that attempted to block the Cuban trained Honduran doctors from being licensed to practice medicine in Honduras. The coup government revoked the hospital’s permit and ordered it to close. Dr. Castillo and the Foundation refused and the military came to the hospital and attempted to seize control. The reaction from the local community and from national and international human rights organizations forced the military to withdraw. Dr. Castillo and the other staff began receiving threats right after the coup and human rights organizations in Honduras declared the threats against Dr. Castillo to be credible and serious, including a plan to assassinate the physician. On October 6th the military again sent troops to the hospital, entered it forcibly and searched it. At the same time the coup government has cut Health Ministry operations that were cooperating with hospital staff to extend services to even more remote communities and recently re-wrote an agreement for regional collaboration to eliminate the participation of the Foundation and the hospital.

The community members we interviewed talked about the climate of insecurity and fear in the region due to the military activities and threats, and the feeling of being isolated and vulnerable to any paramilitary or military violence against the community, its leaders and the hospital. The Garifuna organizations we spoke with stated that the coup has set back their progress in health, education and economic services and projects desperately needed for the survival of the people and culture.

Pictures: Meeting with the Foundation staff in La Ceiba; meeting with the community committee in Ceriboya for support of the hospital. Delegation member with community; finished mural with Dr. Perez and community children, mural with Cuban medical personnel; children’s mural painted by local children.

La Voz de los de Abajo Delegation to Honduras Report

From October 24 to October 31, La Voz led a delegation of 14 people from Chicago to Honduras. The participants included members of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America; Teachers for Social Justice; La Otra Chicago; Producciones EN EL OJO; and La Voz members. Delegation members visited organizations and communities in resistance to the coup in Ceriboya and Gudadalupe Carney, Colon; Siguatepeque; El Progreso; La Paz and Tegucigalpa.
The delegation met with the National Front of Resistance;COFADEH;CNTC, the teachers' unions; COPINH; OFRANEH;Radio Progreso; Radio Realidad; Red Comal and many other individuals and groups and accompanied the marches and public activities of the resistance as human rights observers. After participating in the October 29th resistance march that was brutally repressed by the army and police, the delegation met with the human rights officer of the U.S. Embasy in Tegucigalpa to express our concern for the human rights situation and to insist that the U.S. government take a strong stand against the human rights violations and against the coup itself.
After returning to the Chicago, delegation members have held public "report back" meeting to share our experiences and to provide the facts about the situation in Honduras that are not being published in the mainstream media.