Two More Lawyers Assassinated in Honduras: Impunity and Repression Reign Supreme, As Regime Aims to Complete “Free Trade” Agreement with Canada

Click to enlarge image p18j0jmtio1kod1d9e13n5eqv1hkp5.jpg

 

José Nicolás Bernárdez, a lawyer and an ex-congressional candidate for the Libre party in the elections this past November, was murdered this morning in San Pedro Sula while sitting in a parked car. He had also been a one time member of the UD party. He was from the town of Lima which is between San Pedro Sula and El Progreso.

Asesinan A Abogado Y Ex Candidato A Diputado Por LIBRE En SPS

http://www.tiempo.hn/portada/noticias/tirotean-a-abogado-jose-nicolas-bernardez-en-sps

La mañana de este viernes fue asesinado en la 10 calle 14 y 15 avenida del barrio Cabañas de San Pedro Sula el abogado y ex candidato a diputado por el partido LIBRE José Nicolás Bernárdez por sujetos que se conducían en motocicletas, quienes lo atacaron a tiros quitándole la vida. La víctima se conducía en una camioneta placa PDA 8740 y el hecho ocurrió a las 7:00 de la mañana, justamente frente al Ministerio Rey de Reyes. Las autoridades llegaron a la escena y hasta el momento no hay capturados y se desconoce el móvil del asesinato. Bernárdez fue pre candidato a diputado por el movimiento Pueblo Organizado en Resistencia del Partido Libre. Se conoció que Bernárdez también formó parte de las filas del partido Unificación Democrática (UD).

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De varios balazos murió el juez de Paz, en el municipio de Iriona, Lenin Castañeda.

Lenin Castañeda, son of Adolpho Castañeda, one of the founders of MUCA, Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán, was murdered today at his home in Tocoa, Colon. He was a judge in the Municipality of Iriona, Colon.

Asesinan A Balazos A Un Juez Y A Un Abogado En El Norte De Honduras

http://www.elheraldo.hn/Secciones-Principales/Sucesos/Asesinan-a-balazos-a-un-juez-y-a-un-abogado-en-el-norte-de-Honduras

Un juez y un abogado fueron asesinados este viernes en dos ataques criminales ocurridos en los municipios de Iriona y San Pedro Sula, en la región norte de Honduras.El crimen contra un juez de los Juzgados de Paz de Iriona fue perpetrado alrededor de las 9:40 AM en el centro de la ciudad de Tocoa, en el departamento de Colón, en el norte de Honduras.La víctima fue identificada como Lenin Castañeda, quien caminaba por el centro de la ciudad cuando fue atacado por unos hombres armados que le dispararon a matar.El profesional del derecho participó el pasado fin de semana en las elecciones que realizó el Colegio de Abogados de Honduras (CAH) para elegir a sus nuevas autoridades.Al lugar del asesinato se hicieron presentes varios abogados que lamentaron el crimen contra su colega.Fuentes policiales informaron que el juez era hijo de Adolfo Castañeda, fundador del Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán (MUCA).Segundo abogado asesinado Por otra parte, el abogado José Nicolás Bernardez fue asesinado dentro de su camioneta alrededor de las 8:30 AM cuando se conducía por el barrio Cabañas en San Pedro, en el departamento de Cortés.El profesional del derecho murió de forma instantánea dentro de su vehículo. En ninguno de los casos se conoce el móvil del crimen y la identidad de los homicidas.En los últimos diez años, más de 90 abogados han sido asesinados  en Honduras.

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Information sent by:
Rights Action
March 17, 2014
info@rightsaction.org

and by Greg McCain International Human Rights Defender, Honduras http://freechavelo.wordpress.com/

Honduras Election: Neither Free Nor Fair

Fresh Article Summarizing Honduran Reality, (http://www.nlgsf.org/news/honduras-delegation-election-neither-free-nor-fair)

Early in the morning of June 28, 2009, Honduras President Mel Zelaya was removed from his home and the presidency by the military in an illegal coup d’etat. People were furious and took to the streets. After months of protests, which were met by police brutality and repression, the new military government held a presidential election on November 29th. Hondurans across the country boycotted the election and voter turnout was below 20%. Regardless, the military regime declared their candidate, Pepe Lobo, the newly elected president.

Hondurans wait in line at a polling place. Photo by Erik Sperling.

A NLG delegation went to Honduras in August of 2009 to investigate the constitutionality of the coup. They reported that after analyzing the legal and constitutional issues involved, that the election of November 29, 2009 was not legal, free, fair or transparent. Unfortunately the United States quickly acknowledged the election and congratulated Honduras on a job well done.

In November, 2013, Honduras held it’s first national election since the military coup d’etat. People came out in record numbers to vote for a new president, fill many congressional seats, and elect mayors throughout the country. NLG sent a delegation of 17 comprised of attorneys, legal workers, and law students to observe the historic election. The delegation also met with human rights organizations, attorneys, judges, U.S. ambassador Kubiske, indigenous activists, and special Honduran attorney generals charged with prosecuting human rights violations and defending indigenous rights.

The election was marked by polar realities. Throughout election day, the delegation witnessed unparalleled enthusiasm, civic engagement, and optimism in the Honduran people. This was contrasted by an enormous military presence, and numerous accounts of substantial and traceable fraud in the electoral process. In the end, the delegation reported that the Honduras national election was neither free nor fair. They report the results cannot be considered an accurate reflection of the will of the people.

The United States role in white washing the fraudulent election, again, is particularly concerning. The statement issued by Secretary Kerry on the Honduras elections on December 12, 2013 demonstrates the disturbing response. “[W]e commend the Honduran government for ensuring that the election process was generally transparent, peaceful, and reflected the will of the Honduran people.”1

This statement is not only inaccurate, but also tactfully and subtly shifts the focus away from the conspicuous and documented irregularities that leave many suspicious of the proclamation that Juan Orlando Hernandez (‘Orlando’), of the same coup National Party, as the new president.

Orlando, the previous president of congress, has a long and frightening history of eroding the democratic process and encouraging the militarization of Honduras.

Orlando has been the biggest advocate for the creation of a military police force. In the August of 2013, under Orlando’s direct campaigning, congress passed legislation creating this new force. After only two months of instruction, the soldiers marched onto the streets (the national police receive a whole year of training).

Soldiers checking identification at a polling place. Photo by Erik Sperling.

The young barely trained soldiers are now being used for ordinary policing in Honduras. They were seen throughout voting precincts with full army fatigues, large guns, no identification, and often with ski masks drawn over their heads.

Leyla Diaz of CIPRODEH, one of Honduras’ oldest human rights groups, explains, “it’s not known which functions are clearly those of the police and which are of the military. And in that confusion, what’s generated are human rights violations.”2

Another project of Orlando that deeply concerns human rights advocates is the model cities project. Model cities, aka charter cities, aka ZEDES (Zonas Especiales de Desarrollo y Empleo) are an alarming neo-liberal economic experiment in which an area of a country will be declared sovereign and in complete control by corporations. All governance will be privately run, including a privately hired judiciary and a contracted policing force.

In 2012, Orlando led the “technical coup” in which 4 of 5 Supreme Court justices were ousted and replaced by Orlando supporters immediately following a decision that model cities legislation was unconstitutional. Recently the new Supreme Court declared the model cities laws constitutional and passed the case on to the Public Prosecutor for comments. The Public Prosecutor is none other than Oscar Chinchilla, the one justice who did not find the model cities legislation unconstitutional in 2012.

On February 10, 2014, Orlando announced that the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is beginning to research where to establish the first ZEDE. A document from the Honduran Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation (SEPLAN) website explains that KOICA will contribute $4 million USD to the project feasibility plan and offer a report documenting three preferred locations to Honduras. Honduras will then have one month to choose one of the three locations.3

NLG members are encouraged to keep a close eye on Honduras. A full report from the election observation delegation will be coming out soon on NLG’s international committee web page, nlginternational.org. For more information on the election observations, see the blog Jessicatarena.com. In May a research delegation is planned to return to Honduras. They will collect more documentation and write a report on the timely and urgent developments of human rights and the environment in Honduras. If interested in participating, please contact Mark Sullivan (msullivanlegal@gmail.com).

Despite Four Political Assassinations of Libre Party Members This Week: People March On

Libre’s rally on Sunday was dominated by grief for the death of a prominent and well-loved Libre party member Jose Antonio Ardon. He was shot multiple times by four gunmen the night before while preparing for the march. This was the fourth political assassination of a Libre party member in the last week. The message is clear: speak out against fraud and your life is in danger.

Xiomara filed an official set of complaints about the vote counting process documenting errors and discrepancies. The agency in charge of investigating and prosecuting electoral fraud is open  four months out of every election cycle and staffed with ruling party members.

TSE has agreed to a partial recount, but their ability to do this in a valid and transparent manner is suspect considering their poor track record of counting, reporting, and guarding paper ballots.

Anonymous Honduras has twice penetrated the vote counting center, and on December 2 replaced the TSE’s main page with their own.

 

Meanwhile, the students continue to speak out against the co-opting of their country and in favor of a free, democratic, and safe Hounduras.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xiomara “We will defeat them in the streets, we already beat them at the polls”

Yesterday Evening Xiomara Zelaya made a moving speech. Below is a translation:

Good evening.
Members of the national and international press,
Sisters and brothers of struggle,
People of Honduras,
Beloved comrades,
Five days after the end of the electoral process in our country, after several public appearances, I am here once again before you, to reiterate that we have found innumerable proof of the disgusting monstrosity with which they are stealing the presidency of the republic from our people of Honduras.
Our position is unwavering and unceasing: while they don’t allow us access to the system of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, we will not accept the results emitted by that Electoral Tribunal.
We do not recognize the legitimacy of any government that is the product of this shameful assault. We will demonstrate that triumph of LIBRE was the will of the Honduran people with its votes on November 24th. And this triumph is being stolen by those who have turned the electoral system into a farce, by falsifying voting records and adulterating electoral results.
We demand, together with our people, that they allow us to look over the 16,135 original records where the will of the people was expressed. And for those that show inconsistencies in the recording, we demand public scrutiny of every one of those polling places.
I denounce that this government, that this group that is governing the country, has no respect for the institutions of Honduras. They know that they have stolen the will of the people and right now they ignore our position and are trying to use force to install a regime that came from fraud, to continue sustaining the brutal violence, the intimidation, the violation of human rights and the continual and unyielding action of the system that impoverishes our people in order to subdue and manipulate them.
They have everything. The power to bully us, attack us and to persecute our people. But they will never make us give up our dignity!
Sisters and brothers, let us peacefully take to the streets that we came from!
Chants: To the streets! To the streets! To the streets!
We are going to defend our triumph in every one of the communities where we know the people are awaiting us. To see that they respect every vote. Every will that was expressed at the polls.
I swear, I swear for my kids, that I will not rest until I see a Honduras that is free, sovereign, independent.
Chanting: Xiomara! Xiomara! Xiomara!
We are going to make a reality of the dream of Morazán. Resistance and re-foundation. Here, in the presence of all of you, I ask the party, to launch all of the necessary actions to defend the will of each and every Honduran. In defense also of our candidates for mayor and congress.
All of this, within the parameters of morality, of respect, of the rights of others, and of the policy of non-violence that rules in our party, to continue this struggle, that should not end until this international nightmare that oppresses us, sustained by evil sons of this land who do not deserve to live here, has come to its end.
To our people, to the youth, to the teachers, to the workers, to the businesspeople, home-makers, women and men, I call on all of us to defend our proposal to create a homeland, a democratic state instead of this oligarchic state that oppresses us and that today seeks to subjugate us through this monstrous fraud.
I ask you, let us stand up and place ourselves immediately at the disposition of the orders that will come from our leaders and our general coordinators. To those who are against freedom and against the people’s sovereignty, I tell you that this struggle has just begun! They will never be able to defeat our people, we are stronger than ever because we are organized in more than 20,000 collectives nationally. With the consciousness and the conviction to work through this great network of information and communication to guarantee that not one of these actions of fraud are not reported.
Chants: Long live Xiomara! The people, united, will never be defeated!
For the memory of those who gave their lives for a better world that is still possible, I swear before you, that we will not cede even for an instant until we carry out our historic mission of defending our people, with our morals, in every battlefield necessary. We will never stop struggling! We will never forget the atrocious crimes of those who kill our people with hunger every day so that they never, and be completely clear, they will never be able to kill our hopes.
We will defeat them in the streets, we already beat them at the polls. Until the final victory! Thank you very much.
honduras scape

Students undeterred by police brutality

Hundreds of students marched through the streets of Tegucigalpa on Wednesday, November 27 against the obvious rampant fraud in Sunday’s national election. Students were undeterred and more prepared after a previous day of extreme repression by police. Everyone carried bandanas and scarves saturated in water ready to march on if police were to gas them again.

People watched the march from their doorways and vendor carts, many pumped their fists along with the students chant “No al fraude!!!” (“No to fraud”) and “El pueblo unido jamás sera vencido!!!” (“The people united will never be defeated”). Others watched silently, nodding their heads in approval. Two municipal police trucks followed closely behind. One policeman filmed the march presumably to identify participants.

At one point, students stopped the march and shouted to the crowd “There is an infiltrator taking pictures of our faces!” They began creating a big circle so everyone could see each other. They wanted to know if anyone was completely unknown to the others. Others disapproved and the group decided rather to stop taking pictures. A few minutes later some students demanded one person explain himself. All the others circled around him while he lifted his shirt to show he carried no weapons or recording device. They dug through his pockets and wallet looking for evidence that he worked for a government agency. He stood placid and quiet. They determined he was “limpia” (clean), hugged him, and everyone marched on.

The night before two Custodias were assassinated in San Pedro Sula. Custodios were in charge of voting centers throughout the country. It seems the two female university students were preparing to release documentation of fraud in their polling centers the next day.

Since Sunday’s election, people with documentation of fraud continue to speak out. Local media sources are barely broadcasting the information. However people are using online media forums. Facebook pages show the actual votes per party counted per voting table next to the ones the government reports it received. (https://www.facebook.com/david.mrtenez?fref=ts)

The anti corruption party, PAC, is on television daily denouncing the electoral process as fraudulent. The Libre party, which was reported to be significantly ahead in the polls only a couple weeks before the elections has peculiarly remained silent. The parties are still negotiating seats for the national congress. Around 20% of votes remain uncounted. These votes come from the countryside where there is no internet or electricity. They were driven to the headquarters to be tabulated Sunday night. TSE, the government agency in charge of the election, suspended their online vote counting without explanation on Wednesday.

Tomorrow, Thursday at 9am, more people will gather to march.

A video from Tuesdays teargas raid by municipal police at UNAH

Honduran Students Assaulted by Municipal Police

At least hundreds of teargas canisters were fired by municipal police at thousands of students participating in a peaceful rally at UNAH in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

canisters

The frustrations expressed by the students echo those throughout Honduras. The apparent fraud and lack of transparency at critical stages of vote counting leave Hondurans faithless in the validity of Sunday’s election. Students explained to the media that they are tired of the state of affairs. They are convinced Xiamara Zelaya is the actual president and are ready and willing to stand up for the future of Honduras.

canister

The university rector, Julieta Castellanos, closed the university and canceled classes for the following two days in an attempt to suppress student voices.

 

Indicative of widespread nepotism and corruption within Juan Orlando’s Partido Nacional, Castellanos was appointed for a second term in April 2013, only after Partido Naccional changed Honduran law to allow second terms one month prior to the end of her tenure.

students

Students peacefully rallied outside of the university until municipal police in riot gear sprayed teargas from a large military grade vehicle. They retreated to inside the university grounds while the police continued to spray them and shoot teargas canisters. Students responded by throwing concrete blocks. This assault continued for more than one hour. Meanwhile classes were in session. A professor said that his class was suddenly disrupted by the military assault. Fearful students attempting to leave the university grounds were stunned to discover that the police locked the gate and were shooting at anyone trying to escape.

 

Eventually the assault receded and students were allowed to leave campus. Hundreds of students remained behind to determine their future course of action. Students were unafraid and enthusiastic.

 

Many expect the school to be militarized by morning.

 

They are returning in the morning to call for the review of the tallies of votes in particular districts. As per the election process, each party received a copy of the tallies. Those copies do not match those recorded, and insist this be reconciled. They will present a petition with this and other calls in the morning.

 

We will be there.

 

At least one student was hit in the forehead by a teargas canister

At least one student was hit in the forehead by a teargas canister

 

Leave your comments, thoughts, and words of encouragement to the youth standing up for their country!