Honduras: ‘More dangerous than Colombia’

Human rights organisations have reported that, almost a year after the coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, repression by security forces had left the country “more dangerous than Colombia”.

An Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) delegation confirmed that the murder, harassment and intimidation of opposition supporters, journalists and peasant and worker organisers had continued “with impunity” since the coup regime handed power to President Porfirio Lobo in January.

IACHR President Felipe Gonzalez said: “The commission expresses its deep concern at the continuing human rights violations following the coup that occurred in Honduras on June 28, 2009.”

The IACHR found that teachers, union organisers and peasant workers occupying unused land owned by members of the country’s wealthy elite had been assassinated since Lobo assumed power. At least seven journalists had also been killed, making Honduras “more dangerous than Colombia for this profession”.

Gonzalez stressed that democracy in the country could not be considered fully restored while Zelaya remained in exile in the Dominican Republic, and said the former leader could not be sure of his personal safety if he returned.

Popular and Indigenous Organisations activist Bertha Caceres added that the truth commission set up by Lobo was simply “a commission of lies” meant to whitewash the repression that followed the coup.

National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) coordinator Juan Barahona emphasised that the commission was intended “only to encourage foreign countries to recognise Lobo's illegitimate government”.

Giving evidence to the IACHR, medical worker and human rights campaigner Dr Juan Almendares said: “In Honduras, we don’t have a democratic process — we have a military process, and we have a very powerful oligarchy that is ruling the country with the army.”

Despite the repression, however, Almendares said opposition supporters were preparing for huge demonstrations on the first anniversary of the coup to demand a constituent assembly.

[Reprinted from the Morning Star.]