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

 

 

 

IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED!
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.

PROMPT FOLLOW-UP:

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.

Sincerely,

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.

Sincerely,

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.

Español abajo

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”.    

“Honduras: Stolen elections, continued assassinations and US antics as usual” Preliminary report by Tanya Cole- December 4, 2013

Honduras: Stolen elections, continued assassinations and US antics as usual”

Preliminary report by Tanya Cole- December 4, 2013

Contents

1. pre-election violence

2. International Observer Teams

3. Election Day

4. Election results

5. LIBRE press release

6. Assassinations continued

7. Next steps for solidarity

Honduras: Stolen elections, continued assassinations and US antics as usual”

Preliminary report by Tanya Cole (Director -Witness for Peace Southwest, co-leader Sister Cities/Share Observation Team)

Dec 4, 2013

Witness for Peace Southwest sent three representatives to observe the Honduras elections this past Nov 24th as part of 166 international observers organized by the Honduras Solidarity Network. The elections were wrought with pre-election violence, fraud, intimidation, protests, assassinations and US attempts to legitimize a stolen election. The Honduras electoral tribunal declared the right wing national party candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez the official winner while three political parties claim fraud and demand a recount. The night of the election just hours after the closing of polling stations, US Ambassador Lisa Kubiske called the election “transparent” and called on the Honduran people to peacefully respect the results.

Pre-Election Violence

A Rights Action report showed in the weeks leading up to the elections, LIBRE and Resistance activists were harassed, threatened and assassinated for their political involvement. The homes of Edwin Espinal and Marco Antonio Rodriguez were raided by military police, LIBRE congressional candidate Beatriz Valle received deaths threats forcing her flight from the country and TV Globo cameraman and LIBRE activist Manuel Murillo was assassinated. Our delegation met with Edwin Espinal a week before the elections. (more to come in full report)

manuel murillo

(In the early morning of June 28, 2009, Manuel Murillo was one of the first journalists on site to document the overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya. His body was found exactly one month prior to the elections on Oct 24, 2013 in Tegucigalpa. Photographer unknown.)

International Election Observers

The Honduras Solidarity Network organized the largest international election observation team with 166 credentialed observers by the TSE. U.S delegations were organized by Sister Cities/Share Foundation (of which WFPSW members participated, co-led by Tanya Cole), La Voz de los de Abajo-Chicago, Alliance for Global Justice/Taskforce on the Americas, SOAW, National Lawyers Guild, Cross Border Network and more. Observers were in 10 of the 18 departments of Honduras: Ocotepeque, Copan, Lempira, Santa Barbara  Cortes, Francisco Morazan, Choluteca, Olancho, Atlantida and Colon. WFPSW members as part of Sister Cities/Share delegation observed in the Aguan Valley, Department of Colon where 113 campesino leaders have been killed since the 2009 coup. Other international observer groups also sent delegations: US State Department, Organization of American States, European Union, Carter Center, National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI) and a few more.

obsevation team

Sister Cities/Share Observer Delegation Team-Aguan Valley, Honduras

International Observers were subject to intimidation and harassment in the days prior to the elections by immigration police sent by national party President Pepe Lobo. Several raids occurred in Tegucigalpa and El Progreso. One raid occurred while HSN delegations were receiving observation training from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE). Another raid in Tegucigalpa was conducted by immigration police heavily armed and faces covered in masks.

immigration police honduras

Honduran Immigration police, some heavily armed and masked, harassed credentialed international election observers in El Progreso and Tegucigalpa.

Day of Elections- Nov 24, 2013

Violence and Intimidation: The eve of elections took the lives of two campesinos while they were returning home from electoral training in preparation for their election duties the next day. Maria Amparo Pineda Duarte was the elected President of her cooperative. Julio Ramon Maradiaga was an active member. The community is the site of an ongoing land struggle in the area, and both victims were active members in the LIBRE party (see video report). In the department of Copan, International Observers from the Alliance for Global Justice recorded reports of LIBRE members who were held hostage the morning of the elections so that they could not serve on their voting tables. Two women also reported being attacked and their credentials stolen.

Vote Buying- Both the traditional parties (Liberal and National) were reported to be buying votes outside voting centers. Testimonies, photos and video recordings of the vote buying was collected at the majority of voting centers where the international observer teams were present. In most cases votes were bought for 500 Lempiras ($25 USD) and the voter was to make a public open vote in front of the whole voting table (a voting option normally for handicapped or elderly), with the national party or liberal party representative watching through the window to confirm the vote for payment. See video here of vote buying. Also see video sample of open ballot voting.

Election Results

Within hours of the closing of polling stations on election day, the TSE (Supreme Electoral Tribunal), whose President is a well known member of the National Party, began to post preliminary results of National Party Presidential candidate Juan Orlando leading LIBRE’s Xiomara Castro by 5 percentage points. Almost immediately US Ambassador Lisa Kubiske called the Honduran elections “transparent”, said the results coincided with the reports from her observers and called on Hondurans to peacefully respect the results of the TSE.

kubiske and lobo

US Ambassador Lisa Kubiske with current National Party President Pepe Lobo.

Discrepancies in vote reporting- It soon became clear that the vote tallies that were reported from the original voting “mesas” did not match the posted results on the TSE website. See this video description of the discrepancies in vote counts on the TSE website.

LIBRE sweeps in congress and municipalities– Despite discrepancies in vote counts LIBRE candidates still swept in the areas of congress and municipal mayorships. LIBRE went from zero seats in congress to 38 seats holding the second largest majority. Other smaller parties like the PAC also gained seats. LIBRE also swept in many municipalities, winning mayorships and local level positions across the country. Many members of the grassroots FNRP resistance gained political positions. Former President Mel Zelaya won a congressional seat from his department of Olancho.

composition of Honduran congress 2014

The chart above shows the new breakdown of the Honduras congress after the Nov 24, 2013 elections. The LIBRE party (PLR) is the color orange holding 38 seats. The National Party (PN) color green holds 48 seats, Liberal Party (PL) color red 26 seats and the Anti-Corruption Party (PAC) color grey won 13 seats. 2014 will hold a very different Honduran congress, unseen in the 100 year history of 2 party rule between the National and Liberal Parties.

LIBRE refuses to recognize results, shows proof of fraud and calls its base to the streets.

On Friday November 29, 2013, Presidential candidate Xiomara Castro de Zelaya held a press conference in which she stated 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…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!” See full english translation here. See video of speech in Spanish here.

Gerardo Torres (Los Necios) speaks in a video interview with the Real News: “We’re going to bring the struggle back to the streets, as we have been doing for the last four and a half years, because Juan Hernández is not the legitimate president of Honduras. The election was won by Xiomara Castro more than 5 percent. People decided that she had to be the president. And we’re not willing to let anybody steal this. On the other hand, Libre Party has now almost half of the Congress, of the people in Congress. So we made alliance with other parties that are also against the National Party. We can make a strong position as a party in Congress while the resistance is keeping on the pressure against Hernández government…we’re not going to stop fighting. We’re going to keep the international pressure, the national pressure, until at some point in Honduras the will of the people is respected.”

LIBRE takes to the streets after elections student protests after elections Honduras

Student and LIBRE protests of electoral fraud.

Continued Assassinations of Resistance leaders

Within a week after the elections, two more political assassinations occurred. A day after the elections in the area of Ocotal, Santa Barbara, Gilberto Lara aged 60, a member of the Central Nacional de los Trabajadores del Campo (CNTC) campesino organization and of the cooperative “Sacrada Familia” was murdered. Gilberto disappeared after going to buy some batteries. His fellow cooperative members went to look for him when he did not return and found his decapitated body.  Gilberto is the third member of the CNTC to be murdered with 2 days of the election.  

The next victim was Jose Antonio Ardon known as Emo 2 (for his resemblance to the beloved resistance figure Emo who was also murdered). He was part of the famous motorcycle group Motorizada of the Resistance who always accompanied Xiomara, and LIBRE. He was ambushed by 4 gunmen and hit 4 times, about a block away from his home. See video interview (spanish) of Juan Barahona, LIBRE vice-presidential candidate and sub-coordinator of the FNRP regarding the recent assassination of Jose Antonio Ardon and other resistance leaders. Barahona states that there has never been investigations of the political murders of resistance members, they have been committed with complete impunity and it has been planned attacks with the intent to hurt the morale of the social struggle. Barahona continues to state that “they will never accomplish this…the front and the party will keep going to defend the interests of the Honduran people.”

Emo2

Jose Antonio Ardon (Emo 2) pictured left red shirt was part of the LIBRE motor brigade. He was assassinated near his home on November 30, 2013 by four gunmen.

 Next Steps for Solidarity

1. Report Backs- Witness for Peace Southwest and Sister /Share delegation members will be completing a full delegation report that will include reports from visits to Rio Blanco, Siria Valley, meetings with the Movement for Diversity in Resistance (Erick Martinez), Los Necios (Ana Rivera ad Gerardo Torres), Edwin Espinal, COFADEH, Hugo Noe Pino (former ambassador to US), Berta Caceras and Aureliano Molina of COPINH, Bartolo Fuentes (new elected congressman LIBRE), OFRANEH (Afro-Hondurans), Wilfredo Paz (Aguan), MUCA-Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan and much more. There will also be report back events taking place in Southern California and other states and cities. WFPSW will host a webinar report back in coming weeks.

2. Holding the US Embassy accountable- WFPSW and partner organizations will be launching a letter and call in day campaign to denounce US Ambassador Lisa Kubiske’s interference in the Honduran electoral process. Stay tuned for action alert.

3. Honduras Solidarity Network face to face planning meeting-The Honduras Solidarity Network will be holding a face to face strategy meeting in coming months to plan next steps of solidarity in post elections Honduras. WFPSW will be sending representatives to this strategy meeting.

4. Fundraising for increased accompaniment and security protections for resistance activists- WFPSW will continue its fundraising efforts to provide increased accompaniment to resistance activists through speaking tours and delegations in addition to raising funds to assist with increased security measures for resistance leaders under threat. Donations can be made at www.wfpsw.org.

Resources:

websites:

www.wfpsw.org

www.hondurassolidarity.org

www.hondurasresists.blogspot.com

www.resistenciahonduras.net

Videos:

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz5yEwgyCWgMIKp632-ujcw

http://www.youtube.com/user/wfpsw

http://therealnews.com

http://jessefreeston.com

Facebook pages:

(WFPSW) https://www.facebook.com/groups/witnessforpeacesouthwest/

(HSN) https://www.facebook.com/HondurasSolidarityNetwork

(HSN election watch) https://www.facebook.com/hsnelectionwatch

(FNRP) https://www.facebook.com/FrenteNacionalDeResistenciaPopular

(COPINH) https://www.facebook.com/copinh.intibuca?fref=ts

(MUCA) https://www.facebook.com/movimientounificado.aguan?fref=ts

(OFRANEH) https://www.facebook.com/ofraneh.garifuna?fref=ts

WFPSW meets with Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)

Ana Rivera, Tanya Cole (WFPSW Regional Director) and other WFPSW members had a meeting in Tucson with Representative Raul Grijalva’s office to ask him to send a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding U.S neutrality in the Honduran elections. Rep. Grijalva responded to this ask with an excellent letter to Sec. Kerry co-signed by Representatives Mike Honda and Hank Johnson.

Click here to read the letter

Honduras Speaking Tour with Ana Rivera: Sept. 14-Oct. 4, 2013

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Calendar of events:

Ana Rivera still has some openings for speaking events on the following dates: Sept 17 Bay Area daytime, Sept 18-21st , Sept 23-27, Sept 30-Oct 3 (Southern California)

Sun Sept 8 9:00am: KPFA Interview with Ana Rivera and Dana Frank on the Sunday Show with host Philip Maldari KPFA 94.1 FM | Berkeley, California. Listen online: www.kpfa.org/archives

Sat Sept 14 6:30pm BBQ Welcome Party and Witness for Peace Southwest 30th anniversary celebration. El Sobrante, CA Bay Area  call 805-669-VIVA or RSVP for address.

Sun Sept 15th 5pm: Taskforce on the Americas Annual Dinner. Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Marin, 240 Channing Way, San Rafael, California. For information call 415/924-3227. $35 min donation. 

Mon Sept 16 evening: Potluck/Pizza fundraiser in Berkeley at Redwood Gardens: contact geodale1@earthlink.net.

Tuesday Sept 17 BALASC Event

Modern Times Bookstore at 2919 24th Street 7pm – 9 pm.  Doors open at 6:30 pm. 

Sun Sept 22 Tucson, Arizona:

    2pm Welcome BBQ and 30th Anniversary Celebration of Witness for Peace Southwest. rsvp at southwestwfp@gmail.com or 805-669-VIVA

    5pm Presentation at the Global Justice Center, 225 E 26th St., Tucson, AZ 85713

more info: Chuck Kaufman <chuck@afgj.org> or call 805-669-VIVA

Fri Sept 27th 730pm Santa Barbara, CA

location TBA. contact southwestwfp@gmail.com or call 805-669-VIVA

Sat Sept 28th Ojai, CA Retreat and Conference

“Linking Human Rights and Environmental Sustainability” 11am-5pm workshops on Colombia, Climate Change, Honduras and more with keynote speaker Ana Rivera-Honduras. Housing, camping and overnight stays available. Evening films and activities for over night guests. Carpools available from outside areas. contact southwestwfp@gmail.com or call 805-669-VIVA. more details soon at www.witnessforpeacesw.wordpress.com co-sponsored by Christian Peacemaker Teams

Sun Sept 29 Morning and lunch Pacific Unitarian Church 5621 Montemalaga Dr, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90274 email: sojournerrb@yahoo.com or call 805-669-VIVA

Sun Sept 29 afternoon/evening Los Angeles Public event TBA

Past Highlights and Pictures

Highlights and Accomplishments

Southwest Region Witness for Peace

Moving Congress: In theSouthwest region secured 6 of 87 congressional signers on a Dear Colleague letter condemning human rights abuses in Honduras. On the Colombia Free Trade Agreement 4 congresspersons were swayed to vote NO through Southwest region efforts in October. WFPSW rallies were held at 3 Southern California undecided congressional offices a day before the free trade votes. 2 of the 3 reps voted against the free trade agreements the next day. Through grassroots pressure, this December Rep. Berman CA-28, ranking Democrat in the House Foreign Relations committee sent a public letter to Secretary Clinton questioning US funding of state sponsored repression in Honduras. This next year we will be bird-dogging congress during election campaigns to make sure they address the failed Drug War, Honduras human rights violations, the Cuban Embargo and immigration reform. (pictured WFPSW members at Rep. Henry Waxman’s office)

Honduras– The Southwest Region joined protests at the Honduran Consulate in the spring when there was a brutal military/police crack down on teacher/students protests that lead to the death of elementary school teacher Ilse Ivania Velásquez Rodríguez. In March the Southwest region hosted Gerardo Torres, leader of the Honduran Resistance Front, for several speaking events in Southern California. In September the Southwest region sent a nine-person delegation to Honduras that visited the campesino movements of the Aguan Valley, 4 political prisoners, served as international observers for the Sept 15 Resistance marches and met with the brand new US Ambassador to Honduras. The Southwest hosted Afro-Honduran Garifuna Doctor Luther Castillo for a workshop on Honduras at the School of the Americas vigil in Ft. Benning, Georgia. The Southwest continues to be an active member of the Honduras Solidarity Network. In 2012 we plan to send more protective accompaniment delegations to Honduras, push for more cuts in US funding and get a Dear Colleague letter circulating in the Senate.(pictured: delegate Sara Kohgadai with former Honduran President Mel Zelaya.)

Trade- Three free trade agreements came to a vote  for Colombia, Panama and South Korea. The Southwest held face to face meetings with several congressional offices in the spring in which reps committed to vote against the FTAs. During the final votes many reps spoke out strongly against the FTAs on the floor of the Senate and House. In the end 80% of House Democrats voted against the Colombia FTA and most significantly against a specific ask by President Obama to pass the trade agreements. In 2012 election season we will be holding reps accountable for their votes on the FTAs and will push for more congressional co-sponsors for the Trade Act, a bill that will stop any new FTAs and renegotiate all current FTAs. (pictured: rally at Rep. Karen Bass’ office. She voted against all 3 FTAs)

Colombia- In the Spring the Southwest hosted events for the Days and Prayer and Action on Colombia, in July we sent an accompaniment delegation to the humanitarian peace communities of Uraba, Colombia and in the fall we lobbied against the Colombia FTA and hosted Jani Silva, campesina leader from Putumayo, Colombia on a speaking tour that reached over 1000 people. In 2012 we will send protective accompaniment delegations to Uraba, Colombia and continue to raise awareness in the US of the failed drug war model. (pictured Southwest delegates in Uraba, Colombia)

Migrant Rights- In January we hosted the first domestic delegation on immigration and migrant rights in Ventura County, California. We co-sponsored multiple migrant rights forums and participated in campaigns to stop ICE’s Secure Communities Program. In the summer the Southwest sent volunteers to deliver water and humanitarian aid at the Arizona/Mexico border with the human rights group No More Deaths. In 2012 we will return to volunteer on the border, flight for an end to ICE’s S-COMM program and participate in migrant rights forums and Know Your Rights Trainings. (pictured: volunteers with No More Deaths take a break in the Arizona/Mexico desert.)

Cuba– the Southwest has participated in the efforts to protect Cuban family travel. Hardline Cuban Americans in congress twice this year have tried to roll back travel for Cuban Americans to Bush era policy. In December the Southwest sent 28 delegates to Cuba ranging from ages 24-76 and representing 18 states. This coming year we will support the campaign to Free the Cuban Five, organize delegations to Cuba and lobby to end the travel ban and embargo on Cuba. (pictured: International Workers Day march in Havana, Cuba)

Delegations– The Southwest sponsored 4 delegations to Honduras, Colombia, Cuba and Ventura County, CA. A total of 55

delegates participated and the Southwest Region awarded $3,175 in delegation scholarship assistance. In 2012 we have delegations planned for Honduras, Colombia, Cuba and domestic California and Arizona delegations on migrant rights. We also will be facilitating more short term and long term volunteer accompaniment teams in Uraba, Colombia and the Aguan Valley of Honduras. (pictured: Southwest region’s first domestic delegation focused on farmworkers and migrant rights in California.)