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Proyecto Hondureño proyectohondureno at gmail.com
Thu May 29 09:00:14 PDT 2014

Lawmakers Ask State Dept. to Review Support for Honduras

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MEXICO CITY – — More than 100 members of the House of Representatives,
outlining the deteriorating human rights situation in Honduras, urged the
State Department on Wednesday to press the Honduran government to protect
human rights and ensure the rule of law.

In the past few months, international organizations have raised renewed
concern over the targeted killings of journalists and advocates for human
and land rights.

The letter to Secretary of State John Kerry was signed by 108 members of
Congress, led by Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois. In
it, the lawmakers argued that the government of President Juan Orlando
Hernández has “adopted policies that threaten to make the human rights
situation even worse” by promoting a militarized police force and using its
army for domestic law enforcement.

The letter called on the State Department to evaluate Washington’s support
and training for the Honduran police and military.

In its 2013 human rights
the State Department acknowledged the severity of human rights abuses in
Honduras. It described the “corruption, intimidation, and institutional
weakness of the justice system leading to widespread impunity,” along with
“unlawful and arbitrary killings by security forces, organized criminal
elements, and others.”

The letter from House members mentioned the tear-gassing of opposition
legislators and activists during a protest in the Honduran Congress
building two weeks ago, as well as the killings of lawyers and human rights
defenders, among others.

Other outbreaks of violence over the past few weeks have continued the

In April, Carlos Mejía Orellana, the marketing director of Radio Progreso,
a Jesuit radio station critical of the government, was stabbed to death in
El Progreso. His killing prompted a statement at the time from Senator Tim
Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, saying, “Too often, Honduran officials have
dismissed threats and attacks against journalists, and questioned whether
the violence was connected to the victims’ profession.”

Other homicide investigations have been quick to assign personal motives or
describe killings as tied to robberies.

Last week Aníbal Duarte, the popular mayor of the municipality of Iriona,
was shot and killed in front of his family in a hotel swimming pool in
Jutiapa, near the Caribbean port city of La Ceiba.

Mr. Duarte administered a vast and sparsely populated territory in
northeastern Honduras where illegal logging and drug
rampant. Officials in the investigative arm of the national police
local reporters that they believed a personal dispute was behind his

Three days later, a government forester was fatally shot in La Ceiba as he
got off a bus. The victim, José Alexander González Cerros, 33, who worked
in the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, had recently reported illegal logging
in the area.

In another case, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a
statement this month condemning the killing of Orlando Orellana, 75, a
rights advocate who led a community in a property dispute outside the city
of San Pedro Sula, in the northwest. No arrests have been made in these

The commission also expressed concern about the rising number of children
and young people who have been victims of violence in Honduras. Casa
Alianza, an organization that works with street children, presented a
report last month showing that 270 children and young people throughout
Honduras had been killed in the first three months of this year. Two weeks
later José Guadalupe Ruelas, the director of the Honduras branch of the
group, was beaten by the military police.
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