Killing Activists in
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
on December 13.
The bodies of slain activists are piling up in
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
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
has returned via elections, it's open season for
violent forces in
political unity of the Resistance Front against the coup.
The killings are happening almost faster than they can
On Sunday, Dec. 7, a group of six people were gunned
down while walking down the street in the Villanueva
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 RameÃ‚Ârez
- 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
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
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,
the National Resistance Front, was detained by security
forces in New Colony Capital, south of
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,
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
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
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
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
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
Department played a major role in allowing conditions
to get to this point. The
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
Joseph Shansky was reporting from
recent military coup, and can be reached at