June 28, 2018, marks 9 years since the US backed coup d’etat in Honduras: 9 years of increasing violence and impunity, poverty and inequity for the Honduran people who made clear once again their rejection of the coup regimen in the elections held on November 26, 2017 — election results that were overturned by fraud and repression.

The US government continues to support the Honduran regime politically and economically including millions of dollars of security/military aid that facilitates human rights violations. The Canadian government continues to support the extraction industry dominated by Canadian mining companies and other Canadian mega projects in tourism and energy industries. These projects  are responsible for environmental and health damage as well as the violent repression and displacement of Indigenous communities.

A deep political crisis was triggered by widespread recognition of fraud and irregularities that allowed Juan Orlando Hernandez to declare victory in his re-election, (note: re-election is prohibited by the Honduran Constitution). The Hernandez regime met the post-election protests and rejection of fraud with massive repression, and a declared state of emergency: more than 30 people were killed most of them by the Military Police. Many hundreds were injured by army or police. All of these crimes remain in impunity with no information about any investigations. However, many protesters face ongoing legal actions against them by the government. More than 1300 were arrested during the post-election crisis. 23 people are recognized as political prisoners who are facing extremely severe charges and have been subjected to pretrial imprisonment without bail for months under terrible conditions.

Five of these political prisoners remain detained: Edwin Espinal and Raúl Álvarez in the maximum security prison La Tolva,  Edy Gonzalo Valles in the maximum security prison El Pozo, and Gustavo Adolfo Cáceres Ayala and José Gabriel Godinez Ávelar in the penitentiary in El Progreso. Arrests of activists continue, and there will likely be more prosecutions as the regime continues the repression. We support demands by Honduran organizations to free all the political prisoners and drop the politically motivated charges.

Another consequence of the crisis and US/Canadian support for dictatorship is a new upsurge in migration by Honduran men, women and children fleeing repression. The US government has implemented policies that violate international human rights and refugee standards, detaining thousands of migrants, refusing to accept petitions for asylum, violating due process, and infamously separating children, even infants, from their parents. Border Patrol agents use violence and live ammunition with impunity against the migrants at the border and are arresting members of humanitarian organizations attempting to give life-saving emergency care to the migrants in the desert border region. The crisis will deepen even more with the US withdrawal of temporary protected status (TPS) for Hondurans in January 2020. Some 50, 000 Hondurans who have lived legally in the US for decades, many who have US born children, will be forcibly returned to Honduras.

We demand that the US and Canadian government stop funding and supporting the regime in Honduras and end the mass deportations of refugees from Central America. We echo the Honduran people in demanding  “Freedom for the Political Prisoners” and  “Stop the Political Repression”. 

Take Action in Canada & the US Here to Free the Political Prisoners

Take Action Here Against US Support for Honduran Regime

Take Action Here for the “Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act

Link to Spanish PDF- En Español 

Update: February 5, 2018, by Karen Spring
See original Urgent Action & Demands here

On January 22, Honduran judge Claudio Elvir, ordered pre-trial detention for two Honduran political prisoners, Edwin Espinal and Raul Eduardo Alvarez. Since then, Edwin and Raul are being held in a US-style maximum security prison, La Tolva in southern Honduras. Since then family members and various national and international human rights delegations have been unable to verify the conditions of their detention. Visits by family members are extremely restrictive and often have to wait several months to get permission to enter.

International Human Rights Observers Denied Entry Into Honduran Prison
On Wednesday, five international human rights defenders and accompaniers (three from the US faith-based delegation) along with the Committee of the Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) attempted to enter the prison. The purpose of the visit to the prison was to enter and see Edwin and verify the conditions of his detention and his physical and emotional health.

After waiting over 5 hours, the five international defenders finally spoke to military coronel Najera who oversees the prison and who refused to allow the observers to enter. Coronel Najera made several arguments against the international defenders entering to see Edwin despite their insistence that they had come specifically to accompany COFADEH to talk to Edwin.

Citing several laws of Honduras, Coronel Najera ridiculed the international defenders and specifically, Karol Cardenas of COFADEH (Edwin’s legal representation), for not explaining Honduran laws to the delegation. Drawing on the façade of institutionality and the so-called rule of law, the Coronel would not budge. The international human rights delegation spend the entire day trying to enter the prison and despite their efforts, were turned away. The US Embassy, who met with the members of the faith-based delegation, was notified.

Attorney Karol Cardenas from COFADEH was able to enter to see Edwin for one hour. She met briefly with Edwin but was not taken to his cell to inspect or verify the conditions. She was unable to take in food or reading material. According to what Edwin told Karol, he is being held in a very small cell basically in isolation. He is allowed outside for two hours a day and spends the rest of the time by himself. There is a small window inside his cell that looks out to a cement wall.

Honduran Institutions Not Responding to Urgent Requests by Human Rights Groups
Since Edwin’s detention, representatives of COFADEH have requested a meeting with the Honduran institution that oversees the prison system – the National Penitentiary Institute (INP). The purpose of speaking to the INP is to ensure they are taking all necessarily measures to guarantee Edwin’s integrity and life while in prison (as per the state’s obligations since Edwin was granted protective measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) as a result of state persecution against him). The other reasons for meeting with the INP are to request for Edwin to be transferred to another detention center; and authorize the entrance of human rights representatives and Edwin’s family members into the prison.

In 10 days, the INP did not respond. COFADEH followed up with several phone calls. Finally, on the 10th day, the INP requested a meeting with COFADEH for Thursday (yesterday) at 2 pm in the INP offices in Tegucigalpa. Upon arrival at the office, COFADEH’s General Coordinator Bertha Oliva and three other human rights defenders waited 1.5 hours to be received by the sub-Director who never showed up.

Canadian Government
We received this response from the Canadian Government:
“As promised, we have shared the information provided with our colleagues in Ottawa for their awareness and also to seek guidance on the points you raised.  Unfortunately, we are not in a position to provide definitive responses at this time. We will let you know as soon as we can offer you more information.” 

US Government 
Despite receiving several letters of concern about Edwin and other political prisoners, there has been no official or unofficial response from the US Government about Edwin’s case, political prisoners or the human rights situation in the country in the context of the post-electoral crisis.

More information
Karen Spring, HSN (Honduras Solidarity Network)
spring.kj@gmail.com; + (504) 9584-8572
Facebook: Free EDWIN ESPINAL Libertad
Twitter: #FreeEdwinEspinal #LibertadEdwinEspinal

27 January, Honduras Solidarity Network protest in San Francisco

Protesters continue taking to the streets in Honduras in opposition to the inauguration of Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) where they are met by state-sponsored repression at the hands of a U.S. trained and financed Honduran military-elite. Over 30 people have been killed, and counting. Hundreds more have been arrested, arbitrarily detained and injured, including long-time Honduran activist, Edwin Espinal

U.S. tax dollars are supporting the repression.

Not only did the State Department legitimize Honduras’ fraudulent election by recognizing Juan Orlando at the same time that the Organization of American States (OAS) reported the process to be “characterized by irregularities and deficiencies, with very low technical quality and lacking integrity.” It also supports the Honduran security apparatus with millions of dollars worth of equipment, training, and technical assistance despite continuous reporting that the institution is plagued by endemic corruption and impunity. The long-standing overlap between high-level officials, police, and drug traffickers was once again corroborated by recent reports that Honduras’ newly appointed police chief is implicated in illicit cocaine transit.

Assistance to Honduran military and police doesn’t end with State Department funds. The Pentagon has its own channels through which it can provide security assistance to the country. These channels authorize several hundred U.S. troops— including elite military units like Green Berets and Navy SEALs— to train their Honduran counterparts. In 2015, over a thousand Honduran military police received training from the U.S. military, up from 191 Hondurans in 2010. These trainings have been on the increase in recent years as the Department of Defense has outmuscled State for control over U.S. foreign military aid. Special Operation force deployments, alone, nearly tripled in Central America from 2007 to 2014.

The foreign aid is justified in the name of U.S. national security — to protect U.S citizens from drugs in transit through Central American corridors and from Honduran migrants seeking asylum.  Key components of the policy include fighting a regional war on drugs and reducing the in-country factors causing Hondurans to flee, like poverty and violence. The irony is cringeworthy: our Honduran partners in counternarcotics are in on the trade; the security institutions being trained to keep Hondurans safe are systematically repressing them; and the regime being propped up has intensified unregulated, “free market” capitalism, making life unworkable for many. 

U.S. intervention in Honduras isn’t new. Military ties between the countries span decades, even leading many in the 80s to refer to Honduras as a Pentagon Republic. The nickname was fitting for a country used as the regional foothold for U.S covert operations against leftist movement. A more equitable allocation of the means of production (like land) threatened the geopolitical and economic interests of U.S. elite (like the United Fruit Company).  And so the U.S poured millions of taxpayer dollars into installing regimes disposed to “roll-back the pink-tide,” no matter the cost to foreign publics.

Global Exchange standing in solidarity with Honduras

In rejection of this imperialist legacy, we have joined over 30 organizations across Canada and the United States in solidarity with the people of Honduras who do not accept the illegitimate and repressive imposition of Juan Orlando Hernandez. Last week, many of you took action with us by contacting your congress member, tweeting, posting selfies in solidarity, and participating in solidarity protests around the country. It’s not time to let up!

Here are two ways to take action:

Co-sponsor the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, H.R. 1299. The bill asks that the United States suspend all “…security assistance to Honduran military and police until such time as human rights violations by Honduran state security forces cease and their perpetrators are brought to justice.

Demand the immediate release of EDWIN ESPINAL, and of all political prisoners in Honduras.