“Once Washington recognized the president elect, the international community bent its knees…The power of the United States made itself felt with all of its force. All it took was for it to speak or the rest to break their silence. The protests against the fraud didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if there was or wasn’t fraud in the elections on November 26th. Nor did it matter the country in which the crisis had occurred. What mattered for the so-called ‘international community’ was their submission to the word dictated by Washington. Once again the power of empire and the non-existence of countries like Honduras was made clear. What occurred in the present and the future of this country is the least important. If their peoples are broken by internal conflicts, if a dictatorship is installed, this does not matter. What matters are geopolitical and financial interests.”
– Jesuit priest Ismael Moreno, known as Padre Melo
This morning marks the start of a week-long National Strike in Honduras in protest of the January 27th swearing in of Juan Orlando Hernandez for a second presidential term despite fraudulent elections. In the weeks leading up to this National Strike, there has been a marked increase in targeted repression of protest leaders, human rights defenders, and journalists. SOA Watch condemns the ongoing brutal counterinsurgency tactics carried out by the US-trained and financed state security forces aimed at creating terror in an attempt to break the legitimate opposition of the Honduran people to the imposition of a US-backed dictator.
Over 30 people have been murdered
, many of whom were killed by the Military Police or other state security forces who fired live bullets at protesters, and hundreds of others have been injured or tortured
. According to human rights organization COFADEH (Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras), over one thousand people have been detained and many are facing criminal charges aimed at silencing dissent. Others have been victims of torture or have had to flee for their lives. Security forces have entered neighborhoods, setting off teargas inside homes with children present, and seizing adults for arbitrary arrests. Jesuit priest Father Melo has received death threats and he and other social movement leaders have been the subject of vicious defamation campaigns. Lawyers Victor and Martin Fernandez, leaders of the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice, have been targeted after speaking out about the January 1 death squad-style execution of Wilmer Paredes, an anti-fraud protest leader in the Atlántida region who had also been tortured and beaten by state security forces. On Tuesday, 50 state agents surrounded the home of Francisco Godinez, coordinator of the campesino organization CNTC, to try to arrest him. Journalists covering the protests have been attacked and had their equipment destroyed. The list of horrific repression goes on and on.
It is in this context that hundreds of thousands of Hondurans are taking to the streets all across the country today in direct action to refuse to recognize the imposition of Juan Orlando Hernandez. If not for the US support and recognition of Hernandez, it is doubtful that his regime would be able to survive the massive popular outcry. Last night, well-known activist Edwin Espinal was arrested on his way home and is awaiting a hearing inside a military base. Both through support of the regime and training and financing of the security forces, the US is directly responsible for the bloodbath taking place in Honduras.