Honduras: New Congressional Dear Colleague Letter open for signers. Ask your Rep to sign on!


Honduras Dear Colleague letter now with 67 signers! Has your Rep. Signed?

Rep. Shakowsky’s Dear Colleague letter on human rights in Honduras now has 67 signers. See the list below to see if your Rep. Has signed on yet. Click here to send a letter thanking your Rep for signing on. If you Rep has not signed click HERE to send a letter asking them to sign on by the letter;s deadline Wed May 21st.

Click HERE to Thank Your Rep or Ask your Rep to sign the Shakowsky Honduras Letter.

Schakowsky Honduras Letter Current Signers / May 12, 2014 – 9:00 am EST

1.         Schakowsky (IL)

2.         Johnson (GA )

3.         Farr (CA)

4.         Miller (CA)

5.         Grijalva (AZ)

6.         Kaptur (OH)

7.         McGovern (MA)

8.         Lee (CA)

9.         DeLauro (CT)

10.       Michaud (ME)

11.       Tierney (MA)

12.       Conyers (MI)

13.       DeFazio (OR)

14.       Takano (CA) *

15.       Capuano (MA)

16.       Keating (MA)

17.       Waters (CA)

18.       Welsh (VT)

19.       Moore (WI)

20.       Speier (CA)

21.       Pingree (ME)

22.       McDermott (WA)

23.       Bass (CA)

24.       Polis (CO)

25.       Cicilline (RI)

26.       Huffman (CA) *

27.       Nadler (NY)

28.       Van Hollen (MD)

29.       Slaughter  (NY)

30.       Brady (PA)

31.       McCollum (MN)

32.       Neal (MA)

33.       Honda (CA)

34.       Waxman (CA)

35.       Matusi (CA)

36.       Bera (CA) *

37.       McLeod (CA) *

38.       Pocan (WI) *

39.       Kind (WI)

40.       Ellison (MN)

41.       Tonko (NY)

42.       Lynch (MA)

43.       Hastings (WA)

44.       Castro (TX) *

45.       Blumenauer (OR)

46.       Langevin (RI)

47.       O’Rourke (TX) *

48.       Grayson (FL) *

49.       Cleaver (MO)

50.       Braley (IA)

51.       Jackson-Lee (TX)

52.       Garamendi (CA)

53.       Lewis (GA)

54.       Holt (NJ)

55.       Chu (CA)

56.       Kennedy (MA) *

57.       Brownley (CA) *

58.       Pascrell (NJ)

59.       Clark (MA) *

60.       Beatty (OH) *

61.       Swalwell (CA) *

62.       Gutierrez (IL)

63.       Enyart (IL) *

64.       Bonamici (OR)

65.       Shea-Porter (NH) *

66.       D. Davis (IL)

67.       Wasserman-Schultz




Contact the Foreign Policy Staffer in Washington DC Office of Your U.S. Rep in Congress!

We need your help! On Monday, April 28, 2014, Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) began circulating a sign-on “Dear Colleague” letter in the U.S. House of Representatives to Secretary of State John Kerry addressing Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Honduras. Reps. Sam Farr (D-CA) and Farr and Hank Johnson (D-GA) have joined as initial co-signers. Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) have also joined as initial co-signers.

The letter states that “egregious violations of human rights continue” almost 5 years after the coup. It raises concerns about militarization of the police, and the failure to investigate or prosecute human rights abuses, including in the Aguan Valley. The letter also raises concerns about freedom of speech and associations, and questions whether the November 2013 election was not free and fair.

The letter asks State Department to:
Pay close attention to these issues and strictly evaluate U.S. support for Honduran security forces, in accordance with conditions placed on the aid in the 2014 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act.
Fully enforce the Leahy Law, which prohibits U.S. assistance to any individual or unit that has committed gross human rights abuses and is not being brought to justice.

The deadline to sign on is May 21, 2014 at 5:00 PM eastern time.

We need your help in securing the signature of your Member of the U.S. House of Representatives on this letter. Only members of the House can sign the letter.

To sign on to the letter (or if the staffer wishes an official copy of the letter), your Rep’s staffer must contact Andrew Goczkowski Andrew.Goczkowski@mail.house.gov in Schakowsky’s office. (NOTE: please do not contact Schakowsky’s staff yourself, but ask the staffer to do so).

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, give them the name of your Rep, then ask to be connected:
(If you do not know the name of your Rep, please go to http://www.house.gov/ and enter in your zip code at the upper right).

When you call, ask to speak with the aide who handles Foreign Policy. Use the script below in speaking with the aide. If the aide does not recall seeing the letter, ask for the aide’s email address so that you can forward a copy of the letter.

If the foreign policy aide is not is not available, ask to leave a message on his or her voice mail. Be sure to get the name foreign policy staffer so you can follow up.

Script: “My name is _____. I am a constituent from (town / city) in (your state). I am calling to ask Senator _____ to sign the Jan Schakowsky letter on Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Honduras. Has Representative­___ seen this letter? Can I count on him/her to sign on? Please call me this week at (_your phone number_) to let me know if you have seen the letter, and if Representative _____ will sign it.”

In your phone conversation, you might highlight why this letter is important to you, especially if you have travelled to Honduras or heard a Honduran speak in your community.


It’s useful to follow up with an email to the aide. You can ask whoever answers the phone what their email is and/or use this formula if you know how to spell their name correctly (the person who first answer the phone can spell it for you): Firstname.Lastname@mail.house.gov, e.g. Jane.Doe@mail.house.gov
In an email, you can just ask them to sign the letter, and then if you like send some information.

Here are two useful general articles, and the recent statement from Reps. McGovern, Schakowsky, and Farr.

1. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/02/honduras-the-thugocracy-ext-door-103883.html
2. http://sojo.net/magazine/2014/04/crucible-courage
3. http://mcgovern.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/statement-by-reps-mcgovern-farr-and-schakowsky-on-the-murder-in-honduras

If you learn that your Congressmember has agreed to sign, please notify me, Gary Cozette at cozettelada@ameritech.net, so we can confirm the signature with Rep. Schakowsky. Please contact me if you want to know if your representative has signed on. I will circulate updated lists of signers whenever we receive them from Rep. Schakowsky’s office.

NOTE: Please DO NOT send the letter to the media in either the US or Honduras until the letter has secured all signers and is formally delivered to the State Department with all signers and a press release. Also once again, please do not contact Schakowsky’s staff yourself, but ask your rep’s staffer to do to become a signer.

Gary L. Cozette
Honduras Solidarity Network – Congressional Working Group
Cell: 773.350.3518

Date: 4/28/2014
Join Letter to the State Department Urging Action to Protect Human Rights in Honduras
Current Signers: George Miller, Sam Farr, Henry C “Hank” Johnson, Raul Grijalva

Dear Colleague,

Please join us in signing the attached letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging action on the ongoing human rights situation in Honduras.

While a new Administration has recently been sworn in, grave concerns remain over the human rights situation. Vulnerable groups continue to be targets of intimidation and violence, military forces continue to be utilized for policing, and human rights abusers continue to operate with impunity in the region. The 2013 elections in Honduras were preceded by the assassination of several opposition candidates, and questions remain about discrepancies in the vote.

We hope you will join us in writing to Secretary Kerry to ensure that the State Department continues to urge the Honduran government to protect fundamental human rights in the region, end the use of military forces for law enforcement, investigate and prosecute abuses, and restore the rule of law.

If you have any questions, or would like to sign onto the letter, please contact Andrew Goczkowski in Rep. Schakowsky’s office at 202-225-2111, or by emailing Andrew.Goczkowski@mail.house.gov

Thank you for your consideration.


Jan Schakowsky Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Sam Farr
Member of Congress Member of Congress Member of Congress

May XX, 2014

The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

We write to express concern about the ongoing human rights situation in Honduras. As a new President and Congress have recently taken office, we ask the State Department to use its leverage to urge the Honduran government to protect the fundamental human rights of its citizens, end the use of military forces for law enforcement, investigate and prosecute abuses, and, more broadly, restore the rule of law.

Almost five years after the 2009 coup ousting President Zelaya, egregious violations of human rights continue. The Associated Press has documented ongoing death-squad style killings by Honduran police. Independent media and human rights organizations continue to report that vulnerable groups, including members of the LGBT community and indigenous and campesino activists, are being targeted and killed. Basic labor rights are routinely violated and union leaders have received increased death threats in recent months.

Instead of implementing reforms to address those pervasive problems, the Honduran government adopted policies that threaten to make the human rights situation even worse. The former and current administrations have promoted the militarization of police forces and use their armed forces for domestic law enforcement. In August 2012, a new Military Police was created, with a projected size of at least 5,000. That force has committed human rights abuses while engaged in policing, such as the October 2013 raid on the home of opposition activist Edwin Espinal. Members of the armed forces are also implicated in the killing of Tomás Garcia in July 2013. Because of a continuing record of human rights abuses by the Honduran police and military, Members of Congress have repeatedly called for a cessation of U.S. aid to the country’s security forces.

Those and other human rights abuses have not been effectively investigated or prosecuted in recent years. According to the National Commissioner for Human Rights, during the last administration, dozens of lawyers and journalists were killed and 97 percent of cases regarding these suspected human rights abuses remain unpunished. The non-governmental group Rights Action cites allegations of almost 100 killings of lands rights activists in the area of Bajo Aguán. According to a Human Rights Watch study, there is “virtually complete impunity for crimes” believed to be associated with land conflicts in that region of the country.

We are also concerned about recent developments impeding Hondurans’ freedom of speech and association. In the first two months of 2014, the Honduran government published a new decree revoking the legal status of over ten thousand non-profit organizations, including a wide range of opposition groups. Those groups include women’s and environmental organizations, a prominent group that regularly reports on press freedom issues, and schools.

Finally, we are concerned about reports that last year’s election in Honduras was not free and fair. The human rights group COFADEH reports that at least 18 members of the leading opposition party LIBRE were assassinated in the lead-up to the election, with an additional six LIBRE-affiliated individuals and a well-known progressive journalist killed in the weeks after. Election observers documented widespread vote-buying activities, acts of intimidation, and cases of citizens’ names being eliminated from voting rolls. Challenges by opposition parties regarding discrepancies in the vote were not transparently addressed by the Supreme Electoral Council.

We ask that you pay close attention to those issues, strictly evaluating U.S. support and training for the Honduran police and military in accordance with human rights conditions placed in the 2014 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations law. We also ask that you fully enforce the Leahy Law, which prohibits assistance to individuals or units of any foreign military or police body that commit gross human rights abuses with impunity. The State Department, along with our embassy in Honduras, must take a consistent and public stance supporting those threatened with human rights abuses, and strongly encourage the investigation and prosecution of those perpetuating crimes, including state agents.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


Members of Congress

Honduras: Carlos Mejia of Radio Progreso assassinated.

radio progreso press conference carlos mejia carlos mejia

Witness for Peace Southwest first met Carlos Mejia of Radio Progreso in 2011 during our delegation’s visit to his radio station in El Progreso, Honduras. We found out that he was coming for trainings at the Los Angeles radio station KPFA in which we greeted him again in Southern California a few months later. Carlos was a kind and gentle person who was dedicated to the Honduran resistance movement fighting for human rights and democracy in his country. We commend his life and condemn his assassination. WFPSW reaffirms its commitment to solidarity, justice and human rights in Honduras.

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Press Statement by Padre Melo on the assassination of Carlos Mejía.

April 12, 2014

Assassination of Carlos Mejia Orellana, Manager of Marketing at Radio Progreso. Carlos enjoyed along with other fellow radio co-workers protectionary measures enacted by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR).

The Organization ERIC (Reflection, Research and Communication), held a press conference this Saturday, April 12 condemning the crime. Below the news from the Diario Tiempo:

‘The assassination of the manager of marketing of Radio Progreso, Carlos Mejía Orellano, found lifeless in the interior of his house on Friday night, is a direct blow to the work we do as Radio Progreso’ said the Jesuit priest Ismael Moreno, director of the prestigious station, at a press conference on Saturday.

‘It is a direct blow, not only to the life of our colleague and his family, but also to the work we do as Radio Progreso and (ERIC),’ Moreno said.

Mejía Orellana served as head of marketing and sales of our institutions and was one of our colleagues who the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) had required the protection of his life and integrity, said in a statement read at a press conference for local media.

The protective measures were enacted on the following dates: June 2, 2009, April 26, 2010, May 3 and June 2 the same year and on May 27, 2011.

‘ His murder is another example of the failure of a security policy by the Honduran State and its lack of political will to adopt effective protection measures established by the IACHR’, criticized the radio announcer.

‘ We demand a serious investigation in where both the material actors and the intellectuals authors of the crime are brought to justice ‘, Moreno said, reporting that this violent act violates the work of journalism, the right to freedom of expression and the lives of the members of the radio.

‘It is highly suspicious that this criminal fact occurred on the eve of Holy week when everyone retires to their respective holidays and especially the entities responsible for justice and when unfortunate acts like these get pushed to the background’, they criticized.

When asked about the context of the assassination of Mejia, the priest revealed that there are no outward signs that the doors of the house have been forced and that’s a question they will make to the relevant authorities, he said.

Meanwhile doctor and specialist in human rights, Joaquín Mejía, said that ‘many of the people in Honduras who opposed the coup d ‘ état (June 2009 ) have received threats as well as institutions, around more than 15 partners of Radio Progreso and ERIC received these same threats during the time of the coup which continued to be repeated in the following years’.

Mejía added that unfortunately the State of Honduras has ignored the requests of the IACHR and ‘the death of Carlos is the example of this lack of political will’.

He said that the Honduran State must comply with the instructions requested by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights at the time they are requested to be able to stop these threats against all media actors.

‘The police believe that someone close to him killed him in the neighborhood Suazo Córdova, that is the information that is being provided by the police.’ said one of the journalists who attended the conference.

‘We have information that the murder was in the neighborhood Suazo Córdova, he was stabbed by a sharp object with motives unknown, we reaffirm the call of this press conference because we do not accept at this time unsustained rumors that are not based on a process of investigation that needs to lead to the identification of the executors of this murder and the motives that led to it’ said Ismael Moreno, also known as ‘Father Melo’.   Español   Conferencia de Prensa con Padre Melo sobre el Asesinato de Carlos Mejía. 12 de abril, 2014   Asesinan a Carlos Mejía Orellana, Gerente de Mercadeo de Radio Progreso, quien gozaba junto a otros de sus compañeros de la radio de Medidas cautelares decretadas por la CIDH. El Equipo de Reflexión Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC), realizó este sábado 12 de abril una conferencia de prensa condenando el crimen. Abajo la noticia en Diario Tiempo: “Asesinato de Mejía es un golpe directo al trabajo que realizamos como Radio Progreso” El asesinato del gerente de mercadeo de Radio Progreso, Carlos Mejía Orellana, encontrado sin vida en el interior de su vivienda la noche del viernes, “es un golpe directo al trabajo que realizamos como Radio Progreso”, señaló este sábado en una conferencia de prensa, el sacerdote jesuita y director del prestigioso medio, Ismael Moreno. “Es un golpe directo, no solamente a la vida de nuestro compañero y de su familia, sino también al trabajo que realizamos como Radio Progreso y como Equipo de Reflexión Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC)”, señaló Moreno. Mejía Orellana se desempeñaba como responsable de mercadeo y venta de nuestras instituciones y era uno de nuestro compañeros para quien la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) había requerido la protección de su vida e integridad, rezaba el comunicado leído en la conferencia a medios locales. Las medidas de protección fueron decretadas en las siguentes fechas: 2 de junio de 2009, 26 de abril de 2010, 3 de mayo y 2 de junio del mismo año y el 27 de mayo de 2011. “Su asesinato es una muestra más del fracaso de la política de seguridad del Estado hondureño y de su falta de voluntad política para adoptar medidas efectivas de protección establecidas por la CIDH, criticó la emisora. “Exigimos una investigación seria donde se juzgue tanto a los responsables materiales como los intelectuales”, dijo Moreno, al tiempo que denunció que este hecho violento vulnera el trabajo de comunicación y el derecho a la libertad de expresión y a la vida de los integrantes de la radio. Es altamente sospechoso que este hecho criminal haya ocurrido en las vísperas de semana santa cuando todo mundo se retira a sus respectivas vacaciones y especialmente los entes responsables de justicia y cuando los hechos lamentables como estos pasan a un segundo y tercer término, criticó. Ante la pregunta acerca del contexto del asesinato de Mejía, el sacerdote reveló que no existen señales externas de que las puertas de la vivienda hayan sido forzadas y que esa es una pregunta que ellos le hacen a las autoridades correspondientes, acotó. Por su parte el Doctor y especialista en derechos humanos, Joaquín Mejía, expresó que “muchas personas en Honduras que nos opusimos al golpe de Estado (junio de 2009) recibimos amenazas e incluso instituciones y, alrededor de más de 15 compañeros de Radio Progerso y el ERIC recibieron estas amenazas en el contexto del golpe mismas que se repitieron en los siguientes años”. Mejía añadió que es el Estado de Honduras lastimosamente ha ignorado las peticiones de la CIDH y “la muerte de Carlos es el ejemplo de esa falta de voluntad política”. Dijo que el Estado debió acatar las medidas solicitadas por la CIDH desde el tiempo en que fueron solicitadas para poder frenar esas amenazas en el marco del ataque de todos los comunicadores sociales. “La policía maneja que fue una persona cercana a él quien lo mató en la colonia Suazo Córdova, esa es la información que está dando el ente policial”, consultó uno de los periositas que asistieron a la conferencia. “Nosotros tenemos la información de que el asesinato fue en la clonia Suazo Córdova, asesinado con arma blanca y los móviles son desconocidos, por eso mismo ratificamos la convocatoria a esta conferencia de prensa porque no aceptamos que en este momento haya un tipo de rumor que no se sustente en un proceso de investigación y que lleve a indentificar a los ejecutores de este asesinato y los móviles que llevaron al cumplimiento del mismo”, concluyó Ismael Moreno, conocido como “Padre Melo”.