April 18, 2016
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1) Days after visiting Washington DC Honduran FM Arturo Corrales resigned. It is unclear why he did so but according to Honduran news reports Pres. Juan Orlando Hernandez was not happy with him after his meetings at the OAS which involved negotiations over MACCIH which the family of Berta Caceres made clear they did not want involved in the investigation of her assassination. The NYT reports it was linked to his previous post as security minister.
During Corrales’ visit to Washington he met with NGOs but it was not as benign as several pro-government news reports suggest. Below are the highlights:
-In his 13-minute long opening statement, where he spoke mostly about the scourge of crime in Honduras and human rights, he did not mention Berta’s name once. He was only able to say it after her name was used in the first question that was asked.
–Corrales claims the authorities have indeed been in touch with the family, they had been in touch with the father and some brothers. Berta’s father Doré left the family when they were 5 years old, they have not been in touch since and she had little, if any, interaction with Doré’s sons, her stepbrothers.
–Corrales claimed police had given Berta cameras but did not install them for her own safety; No cameras were given to her for her to have installed
–Corrales spoke about security measures and how it was possible to provide security for 12,000 members of COPINH? No one ever asked for security for 12,000 members of COPINH, the request was for security measures for the top leadership and the immediate family, only.
–Corrales claimed the meeting with Honduran attorney general Oscar Chinchilla failed because lawyers were present; The question really is why wouldn’t anyone take a lawyer if they are going to see the country’s top judicial official in a corrupt county like Honduras if not for legal advice then simply as a witness? Additionally, that “meeting” only occurred because Berta’s daughter Bertha Zúniga and Victor Fernandez went to the Public Ministry to deliver a statement and accidentally ran into him.
–Corrales suggests that each crime defers to a systemic problem; Corrales –as he has done before is blaming the rampant drug and organized crime for the assassinations of activists and journalists most of which have never been solved.
2) The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) wrapped up its 157th session and made this statement regarding an investigation into the assassination of Berta Caceres:
“The family of Berta Cáceres asked the IACHR to appoint an interdisciplinary group of independent experts to assist in the investigation into her killing. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro supported that request after meeting with the family and representatives of the human rights defender. The Inter-American Commission expressed to the State of Honduras that it was willing to appoint a group of this nature.”
3) April 15th’s NYT story with head of MACCIH is misleading. Reporters Elisabeth Malkin and Alberto Arce wrote a scathing indictment of the Honduran police force complete with documents originally “leaked” to El Heraldo (owned by the Canahuati family one of the ten families that own everything in Honduras). These documents are the Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernandez’, justification for militarizing the police force. Juan Jiménez Mayor, the former Peruvian justice minister who is leading the new commission seems to imply that he has a wide investigative berth, beyond just corruption. This, however, is not the case. Jiménez Mayor was not pressed on this by NYT reporters who by default make MACCIH look like it can solve everything from corruption in the Honduran government, to the theft of Scooby snacks from the Mystery Machine.
Again, MACCIH is untested and does not have the scope/mandate to investigate murder, only corruption. This last point sounds like a fine line but it’s an important one to distinguish because it gives the Honduran government room to exploit.
In case you missed these recent news stories:
PRI: Key dam funders withdraw support after murders in Honduras
Honduran environmentalist’s murder probe botched, experts say; intentionally, family fears
How can you help?
Go to BertaCaceres.org and donate to the immediate family and COPINH. The money is needed to keep pressure on both the US and Honduras. You can also sign up for the newsletter, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. The more people we educate about what is happening the more Berta’s legacy can bring about true change and her death be not in vain.