Friday, December 25, 2009

Killing Activists in Honduras

Killing Activists in Honduras


By Joseph Shansky

Upside Down World

December 23, 2009


    "As a revolutionary I will be today, tomorrow

    and forever on the front lines of my people,

    all the while knowing that I may lose my life."

    - Walter Trochez, 25, murdered in Tegucigalpa

    on December 13.


The bodies of slain activists are piling up in

Honduras. While it's being kept quiet in most Honduran

and international media, the rage is building among a

dedicated network of friends spreading the word quickly

with the tragic announcement of each companero/a.


Now that the world heard from mainstream news outlets

such as the New York Times of a "clean and fair"

election on Nov. 29 (orchestrated by the US-supported

junta currently in power), the violence has increased

even faster than feared.


The specific targets of these killings have been those

perceived as the biggest threats to the coup

establishment. The bravest, and thus the most

vulnerable: Members of the Popular Resistance against

the coup. Their friends and family. People who provide

the Resistance with food and shelter. Teachers,

students, and ordinary citizens who simply recognize

the fallacy of an un-elected regime taking over their

country. All associated with the Resistance have faced

constant and growing repercussions for their courage in

protesting the coup. With the international community

given the green light by the US that democratic order

has returned via elections, it's open season for

violent forces in Honduras working to tear apart the

political unity of the Resistance Front against the coup.


The killings are happening almost faster than they can

be recorded.


On Sunday, Dec. 7, a group of six people were gunned

down while walking down the street in the Villanueva

neighborhood of Tegucigalpa. According to sources, a

white van with no license plates stopped in front of

the group. Four masked men jumped out of the van and

forced the group to get on the ground, where they were

shot. The five victims who were killed were:


- Marcos Vinicio Matute Acosta, 39


- Kennet Josua Rame­rez Rosa, 23


- Gabriel Antonio Parrales Zelaya, 34


- Roger Andres Reyes Aguilar, 22


- Isaac Enrique Soto Coello, 24


One woman, Wendy Molina, 32, was shot several times and

played dead when one of the assassins pulled her hair,

checking to see if anyone in the group was still alive.

She was taken to the hospital and survived.


The Honduran independent newspaper El Libertador

reports that the group members were all organizers

against the coup. According to a resident in the area,

"The boys had organized committees so that the

neighbors could get involved in the Resistance Front."


This massacre was part of a string of Resistance-

related murders during the past few weeks alone. On

December 3, Walter Trochez, 25 a well-known activist in

the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)

community was snatched off the street and thrown into a

van, again by four masked men, in downtown Tegucigalpa.

In the report that he later filed to local and national

authorities, Walter said he was interrogated for hours

for information on Resistance members and activities,

and was beaten in the face with a pistol for refusing

to speak. He was told that he would be killed

regardless, and he eventually escaped by throwing open

the van door, falling into the street, and running away.


It wasn't the first time Walter had been subject to

these kinds of threats. He was a much-loved organizer

against the coup who had been documenting human rights

violations, particularly in the gay community. Walter

had just published two articles. One following the

elections was titled "The Triumph of Abstentionism", on

the success of the effort by the Resistance to

encourage citizens to refuse to vote. The other was

called "Escalation of Hate and Homophobic Crimes

against the LGBTT Community Rooted in the Civil-

Religious-Military Coup d'etat in Honduras".


In both, he concludes: "As a revolutionary I will be

today, tomorrow and forever on the front lines of my

people, all the while knowing that I may lose my life".


On Dec. 13, one week later, Walter was shot in the

chest by a drive-by gunman while walking home. He died

at the hospital.


On Dec. 5, Santos Garcia Corrales, an active member of

the National Resistance Front, was detained by security

forces in New Colony Capital, south of Tegucigalpa. He

was then tortured for information on a local merchant

who was providing food and supplies to the Resistance.

After reporting the incident to local authorities,

Santos' body was found five days later on Dec 10,



There have been others as well, notably a rise in

murders in the LGBT community since the coup. In

particular, several transvestites have been recently

killed in similarly gruesome ways. Human rights

advocates report that "up to 18 gay and transgender men

have been killed nationwide - as many as the five prior

years - in the nearly six months since a political

crisis rocked the nation."


The latest victim, Carlos Turcios, was kidnapped

outside his home in Choloma Cortes, at three in the

afternoon of Wednesday Dec. 16. He was found dead the

next day, with his hands and head cut off. Carlos had

been vice-president of the Choloma chapter of the

Resistance Front, a town located a few hours outside of

the capital. Andres Pavan, president of CODEH

(Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in

Honduras), commented: "We believe this horrendous crime

joins others where the bodies show signs of brutal

torture.This aggression is directed to the construction

of collective fear."


It is a sinister effort to shake up a community that is

now in fact stronger than ever. As Walter Trochez noted

(and CNN confirmed), most of the country refused to go

to the polls that day. Many of the world's governments,

including most of Latin America, refused to recognize

the results.


In this climate of fierce repression, citizens can no

longer depend on authorities for the most basic

protective rights, and those fearful for their lives

cannot report to the police. Complaints they file, such

as those of Santos and Walter, could soon become

signatures to their own death letters. Many believe

with good reason that the killings are state-sponsored.

At the very least, they are the result of new

conditions which allow for the widespread deterioration

of state protection.


Paven and other human rights leaders in Honduras have

been extremely vocal in denouncing these atrocities,

but the story has remained under the radar for most

Hondurans and almost all international media. At the

time when Hondurans most need exposure to these abuses,

they've been left to fend for themselves.


How did this happen? Why are people being randomly

executed in dark corners of the country for simply

standing in opposition to a military coup?


Most of the bloodshed is on the hands of coup president

Roberto Micheletti and other leaders of the regime.

However, President Barack Obama and the US State

Department played a major role in allowing conditions

to get to this point. The US government took no

concrete action against the thousands of documented

violations since the coup took place June 28. It's no

shock that the violence has worsened dramatically with

the eyes of the world now averted.


In a recent interview, Francisco Rios of the National

Front Against the Coup reiterated Frente communiques

which stated that the Resistance, though now lying low,

is preparing a massive organization effort for next

year and beyond. Rios reported that they have stopped

meeting publicly as a safety measure for now, but will

soon begin dividing into chapters around the country

with plans to emerge as a new, strengthened political

force. Walter, Santos, Carlos, and all of the

Resistance fighters who gave their lives have inspired

others in the movement to continue the struggle for

justice in Honduras.



Joseph Shansky was reporting from Honduras during the

recent military coup, and can be reached at


No comments: