TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Fear rises in Honduras as governmental abuse and oppression grows. Journalists, activists and independent citizens are under the control of the government and military which continues to impose limits on speech as well as preventing citizens from conducting peaceful demonstrations against the Post-coup regime. The past year has been plagued with an increase in disappearances and murders of journalists, students, homosexuals and even teachers.
With a homicide rate that is four times that of Mexico, Honduras currently maintains a spot as the country with the highest homicide rate in the Western hemisphere.
On April 1, 2011, Honduran teachers and students orchestrated a strike across the country to protest the repression inherent in the government. Their attempts to free 18 teachers arrested and detained for sedition were unsuccessful. Teachers protesting the illegal detainment, privatization of public school education and the oppression by the regime were beaten, shot with tear gas and illegally detained by police and military personnel.
Americas Director at Human Rights Watch, José Miguel Vivanco condemned the violence, indicating that “Human Rights Watch recognizes that Honduran police have a duty to respond to protesters who engage in violence and prosecute those who break the law. But they also have an obligation to respect the basic rights of demonstrators.”
Protests by public school teachers have been ongoing since Mid March of 2011. Each one ending more violently than the first. President Lobo has been blamed as the source of the violence.
“If President Lobo is committed to law and order, he should ensure that alleged brutality by the police is thoroughly investigated and that those responsible are prosecuted and held accountable,” Vivanco said. Human Rights Watch called on the immediate and thorough investigation of the use of excessive force by Honduran authorities. Further, Honduran authorities have been asked to prosecute anyone deemed responsible for the violence.
Allegations of targeted violence against the media have also been made. According to C-Libre, a popular Honduran newspaper, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters directly at journalists and cameramen, injuring those who merely came to record the protests.
Gerardo Torres of Honduras’ National Front of Popular Resistance claimed that the money received from the United States to combat such issues as drug trafficking has been used indiscriminately.
“All the money is spent on weapons, propaganda and controlling the mass media,” Torres is quoted as saying. “There are no civil rights in Honduras.”
The Honduran homicide rate has increased 39% in the last two years.
Photo courtesy of Honduras Human Rights. For more information please visit:
Honduras Human Rights – Honduras: Probe Charges of Police Brutality – 8 April 2011
Honduras Human Rights – Endless Repression By Military Back Regime – 1 April 2011
Latin Dispatch – Honduran Government Responsible for Murders and Human Rights Abuses – 14 April 2011