Hillary, Honduras and my late friend Berta

Clinton has simply defended her stance on regime change in Honduras, claiming she “managed a very difficult situation” in a way that was “better for the Honduran people.”

My friend Berta did not agree, nor do the many courageous Hondurans following in her footsteps, all of whom need all the solidarity they can get from the good people of my adopted country.

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Latest update: Honduras gov’t shuttling envoys to DC, media and foreigners targeted by gov, Pepe Lobo’s son goes to jail and MACCIH’s messy start

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The Honduran government has quietly been sending government representatives to lobby on the Hill. If you recall, then-Foreign Minister Arturo Corrales, who is now caught up in the latest police scandal, visited back in April. This time it was Coordinator General Jorge Ramón Hernández Alcerro. (His position being a cabinet-level equivalent of the U.S. President’s Chief of Staff.) He was told by at least one staffer on Capitol Hill that the Honduran government should acquiesce to calls for an independent international investigation. The cast of characters that Honduras has sent so far have not impressed those in Washington, “[N]o sensible person would trust [them] with a ten foot pole,” said a person with knowledge of at least one meeting. As well, the Honduran government has refused to accept a recently released report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that is critical of Honduras and the shameful record of impunity and violence in the country, claiming it is biased.

On May 9, Hernández Alcerro announced an investigation into “foreigners who participate in protests and incite violence” in Honduras. This was in response to COPINH’s peaceful march to the presidential palace days before during which government forces violently repressed a few dozen protesters with tear gas, riot police and water cannons. Hernández Alcerro’s new investigation is part of a coordinated campaign targeting human rights observers/defenders in Honduras who work for international non-governmental organizations.

Most recently, the government has taken to pulling tv licenses from channels that have allegedly failed to pay fees (Spanish). This, coincidentally, includes Globo TV, the main government opposition channel.

Former Pres. Lobo’s son is charged with drug trafficking

Former Honduran president Pepe Lobo’s son pled guilty to drug trafficking in New York on May 16. “Fabio Lobo has now admitted in court that he conspired to import thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the United States. Whether you are a street-level dealer, a member of a cartel, or the son of a former foreign president, drug dealing is drug dealing.”

This is yet another example on a growing list as to why the Honduran government cannot be trusted to adequately conduct professional criminal investigations: they are complicit in criminal activity and impunity reigns. Lobo’s father was elected president of Honduras in late 2009 after a military coup ousted then-President Manuel Zelaya. Porfirio Lobo left office in January 2014, when Juan Orlando Hernandez assumed the presidency.

MACCIH sputters to life

The Support Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras — known by its Spanish initials MACCIH — slowly began to sputter into motion late last month. Alex Main shines a light on its increasingly controversial and already turbulent existence:

“…the fact that both the Honduran government and the OAS Secretary General had tried to involve MACCIH in an investigation that had nothing to with the body’s mandate, and had attempted to do so before MACCIH had even come into existence, left a very bad taste in the mouths of Honduran human rights defenders and anticorruption advocates.”

Lastly, Berta’s mother, Doña Bertha is doing as well as can be imagined. She receives visitors daily keeping her spirits up but also making her a bit tired. Overall she is in good health and as strong as ever. She and Berta’s children send their gratitude for your overwhelming support.

How can you help?

Go to BertaCaceres.org and donate to Berta’s children, mother and COPINH. The money is needed to keep pressure on both the US and Honduran governments. 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.

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Click to share these Tweets supporting Berta Caceres

Tweet: Berta was murdered 2 months ago. Join us today asking for justice to President @juanorlandoh #Justice4Honduras http://ctt.ec/8F4fi+Berta was murdered 2 months ago. Join us today asking for justice to President @juanorlandoh #Justice4Honduras http://ctt.ec/8F4fi+

Tweet: Berta was killed 2 months ago. Demand President @JuanOrlandoH #Justice4Honduras and cancellation of #AguaZarca http://ctt.ec/K9aqP+Berta was killed 2 months ago. Demand President @JuanOrlandoH #Justice4Honduras and cancellation of #AguaZarca http://ctt.ec/K9aqP+

Tweet: .@JuanOrlandoH: Conduct transparent investigations and ensure accountability for crimes #Justice4Honduras http://ctt.ec/9jioG+.@JuanOrlandoH: Conduct transparent investigations and ensure accountability for crimes #Justice4Honduras http://ctt.ec/9jioG+

Tweet: .@SusanSarandon “I'm calling on the Honduran gov to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation”#Justice4Honduras http://bit.ly/1Ws7dIp.@SusanSarandon “I’m calling on the Honduran gov to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation”#Justice4Hondurashttp://bit.ly/1Ws7dIp

Tweet: .@itspetergabriel “Stop the persecution of Lenca community” Join us asking for #Justice4Honduras http://bit.ly/1Ws7onk .@itspetergabriel “Stop the persecution of Lenca community” Join us asking for #Justice4Honduras http://bit.ly/1Ws7onk

Right-wing Website Blames “Foreigners for Inciting Violence and Hatred in Honduras”

The ruling elite and their right wing supporters are beginning to target international human rights observers, blaming them for the violence that the police and military instigated during COPINH’s peaceful protest in front of the Presidential House in Tegucigalpa on May 9.

From “Nos Queda Claro”:

A foreigner of Italian origin Giulia Fellin has infiltrated into the disorder staged by representatives of (COPINH) Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, yesterday at the Presidential House.

This is a clear lack of respect for all Hondurans who only want to live in peace, but to realize that a foreigner comes to perform vandalism in our nation we should be greatly disturb to the extent that we do not want those people residing in our land.

We call on the authorities to immediately expel from the country these people who do not belong in Honduras, that we consider harmful and only pose a danger and inciting violence and hatred.

The Hondurans can not allow these kind of brawls to continue smearing the image of the Honduran nation, not allowing foreigners to meddle in matters that concern them only citizens.

But Honduras is entitled to expel these people who come from other countries to carry out activities that destabilize the order of a nation.

(Link to original post at “Nos Queda Claro” which hides it’s true ownership)

Piden justicia para Berta Cáceres en Nueva York

Defensores de los derechos de los indígenas y de protección del medioambiente protestaron en Nueva York el martes para pedir una investigación independiente del asesinato en marzo de la activista hondureña Berta Cáceres, conocida por su oposición a un proyecto hidroeléctrico en tierras ancestrales de la etnia lenca.

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Findings By the Attorney General’s Office Regarding the Assassination of Berta Cáceres Are Insufficient

Last May 2nd we found out, through the media, of the actions taken by the Attorney General’s office (AG) and the Technical Criminal Investigation Agency (ATIC in Spanish), which resulted in the capture of four people presumably responsible for the assassination of our beloved Berta. They are: Edilson Duarte Meza (triggerman), Sergio Rodriguez (Manager for social and environmental issues for the company ‘Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA)), Mariano Díaz Chávez (Instructor for the Military Police for Public Order and Special Forces Army Major), and Douglas Geovanny Bustillo (Retired Lieutenant for the Armed Forces and DESA’s former director for security). We know that soon after, Emerson Eusebio Duarte Meza, was captured, and that the AG office made mention of a person named Henry Javier Hernández, who presumably participated in the act but has yet to be captured.

Throughout the week, our lawyers attempted to learn the details of the investigation, for this reason, they turned to the Attorney General’s office, made calls to the prosecutors in charge, and the ATIC. However, each of these efforts failed and we still have no access to any information, which violates the Honduran domestic legislation allowing us participation as victims in the criminal proceeding.

On Friday, 6th of May, a hearing challenging the AG’s accusation against the four defendants, took place lasting until Saturday. In this act before the Court of National Jurisdiction, we were able to participate as a family and through our legal representatives. Also, present were representatives of the UN’s High Commission on Human Rights (OHCHR) monitoring the event.

Based on the information contained in the investigation file submitted before the Court of National Jurisdiction, we clarify the following:

  • There is sufficient evidence indicating that the murder of Berta Cáceres was motivated by the construction of Agua Zarca dam owned by DESA.
  • The most important measures that support the AG’s investigation are:
    1. Telephone records of persons accused of being participants in the crime;
    2. Ballistic testing of the firearm presumed to be the murder weapon;
    3. The evaluation of Berta Caceres’ autopsy and the clinical opinion of the evaluation performed on Gustavo Castro;
    4. Several proceedings about investigations conducted in the field, such as eyewitness accounts, and interviews, among others

However, the aforementioned findings, although positive, are insufficient and incomplete in order to identify all those responsible for the murder of our mother, daughter and partner, and to fully clarify the responsibility of DESA and other institutional actors implicated in the event.

In this regard, we hold the following concerns:

  • The investigation has been anything but thorough. We do not know of any actions or thorough proceedings to determine all of the intellectual authors of the crime. That is, there have not been investigations on the possible involvement of other army members and/or the institutional involvement of this security apparatus in the crime. Nor proceedings on the participation and / or responsibility of the directors or economic stakeholders that make up DESA.
  • There are no particular accusations. The indictment does not specify which role each defendant played and only alludes to them in general statements as a criminal group.
  • Absence of evidence. There is nothing in the court file about the confessions from the captured men presumably involved in the crime, in fact, at the initial hearing they all denied it. Further, there’s no video that shows how the murder was executed, contrary to what has been said by ATIC to the media.
  • Re-victimization and lack of access to information. In regards to our request to have access to information about the case, Judge Lisseth Vallecillo Banegas stated that she recognized our right, but that she was not qualified to order the Public Prosecutor to provide us information since, “the authority to direct the investigation and promote the criminal accusation corresponds to the prosecutorial body, thus the judicial branch cannot intervene in the activities of another institution.” Thereby, without any legal basis, we were excluded –once again — from the process of investigation and re-victimized.

With the Objective of Letting the Truth Be Known,

That Justice Be Done Without Impunity For Those Responsible,

We Renew Our Request to the Honduran Authorities:

  • To accept the participation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and with its support to appoint an interdisciplinary group of experts to contribute in the investigation of the murder of our mother, daughter and partner, in order to strength and re-direct the investigation to include all authors, particularly those who took the decision to execute the crime.
  • To be allowed to participate with an active role in the investigation process, and to be provided of unrestricted access to the case file.
  • The cessation of our re-victimization as mother, daughters and son of Berta Caceres, and the implementation of comprehensive protection measures to prevent the continuous threats.

We urge the Human Rights Prosecutor, the National Commissioner of Human Rights ( CONADEH) and the UNHCHR, within their mandates’ framework, to take action with pronouncements about the victims’ right to truth and access to justice in a process of this nature.

We appeal to national and international solidarity groups to hear the voices of the family and COPINH, and to insist that the Honduran authorities amend the deficiencies denounced above and accept our requests.

We reiterate that all we seek is truth and justice in the murder of our Berta, if achieved, we all win.

Latest Update from Berta’s Family: Four Defendants to Stand Trial, Capture Coincides with visit to White House, FMO’s PR Fail

Thank you for your support and for signing up for these updates. We will do our best to keep these timely and let you know about our latest efforts and articles you may have missed.

Four Sent to Pre-trial Detention Ahead of Trial

The four defendants whom the government claims were responsible for the assassination of Berta Caceres were sent to the national penitentiary for pre-trial detention on Sunday. There is, of course, a considerable amount of danger for these men in jail where they could be easily eliminated. Berta Caceres’ family continues to call for an independent international organization conducted by IACHR because the government does not have the will, capacity or experience to investigate and convict not just the triggermen but the intellectual authors as well. Additionally, at least two of the defendants have strong ties to the military, and other state institutions have also been implicated which means the investigation has been seriously compromised.

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Honduras: 5 charged with murder over killing of activist Berta Cáceres

Cáceres’ family has been demanding an investigation by an independent international panel into her killing.

Her daugher, Olivia Zúñiga Cáceres, said the arrests were just the beginning of a long road to prosecution.
“Real justice is to punish the intellectual authors behind this,” she told CNN en Español.

Read more.

Honduran Journalist’s Facebook Post May Have Led to Assassination Attempt

Well-known and respected Honduran journalist Félix Molina posted an damning article about the military and government connections to the dam Berta Cáceres and COPINH were fighting against. Later that day, an attempt was made on his life.

What follows is a translation of his post:

May 2 at 9:09 am
Memory pricks until it draws blood (original post here)  

It is today that the cabinet minister Pacheco Tinoco must talk about the crime of Bertha, well, a direct relative of his is part of DESA. And the President of that company, Roberto David Castillo Mejia nephew of the eternal congressman Rodolfo Irias Navas of the National Party for La Ceiba, Atlantida; a military man, graduate of West Point (2004), of the Department of Intelligence and Counterintelligence of the Joint High Command also. And the Atala family, the same. And also those who collaborated with strategic information about the victim.
The initial report by the Police burns them, and also includes a congressman from Santa Barbara and an ex-military man close to the authorities of the National Party.
The contract between DESA and the ENEE (Number 043-2010) is signed by Roberto Martinez Lozano, dated June 3, 2010 and published in the Gazette on December 31 of the same year.

Desa is the company building the dam, “Agua Zarca” in the muncipality of San Francisco de Ojuera in Santa Bar ara on the Gualcarque River considered to be an ancestral path of the Lenca indigenous people.

The contract has the DESA matriculation number for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tegucigalpa, 2509060 and if you go to the pagehttp://190.5.103.114/clienteremoto/imagenes.aspx you can see the founding documents and updates for DESA.

The most important points are the following:
1. DESA was constituted in May 2009 by the original shareholders, the brothers Roberto Antonio Abate Ponce and Geovanny Isidro Abate Ponce.
2. In June 2010 the Administrative Council of Desa was joined by Jorge Fa ian Corea Lobo as president and Felix Rolando Alvarenga Castilla, as secretary. Francisco Ayes Callejas was named as its special executor.
3. In November of 2011 the public capital of Desa was raised by 25,0000 Lps to a minimum of 50 million Lps and a maximan of 143 million Lps. In that month the company Potencia y Energiz de Mesoamerica S.A. (PEMSA) joined the investors represented by Gerardo Caarrasco Escobar with 16,650 million LP in capital; and Invesiones Las Jacarandas S.A. de C.V. represetned by Jose Eduardo Atala Zablah with capital of 33,350 Lps, who was immediately nambed President of the Assembly of DESA, and Roberto Pacheco Reyes was named secretary; Jacobo Nicolas Atala ZZablah, vice President; Jorge Corea Lobo, first vocal, Jose Eduardo Atala Zablah, second vocal; Roberto Pacheco Reyes, secretary, Tanya Romero Baca and Pedro Atala Zablah as alternate vocales; Karla Lopez Matamoros as commissioner for the partnership (sociedad).
4. In distinct moments the following have been legal representatives of DESA: Carolina Liseth Castillo, David Gerardo Agurcia Mercadal. Permits granted by SERNA in favor of DESA were: Resolution 1661-2009, December 14, 2009 and Resolution 283-2010 January 22 2010 (a few days after the “transfer” of Michiletti to Pepe Lobo).

The President of DESA, Roberto David Castillo Mejia, is the direct nephew of the eternal congressman Rodolfo Iria Nava, of the National Party of Atlantida, he is a military man, graduated from West Point (2004) and worked in the Department of Intelligence and Counterintelligence of the military’s Joint High Command. He joined the ENEE in 2008 as a Technical Advisor during the administration of the Intervening Board ordered by President Mel Zelaya and later was named by the lawyer Rixi Moncada as the Coordinator of Control of Management/Administration. He was the object of a report by the TSC for having received a double salary (from the government) one as a military officer and one as an employee of the ENEE, and also becasue his business had over-charged the armed forces for equipment sold to them.