Monday, February 28, 2011

Urgent concern for safety of human rights defenders of San Miguel Ixtahuacán following peaceful protests

Feb. 28, 2011

We denounce the human rights violations and abuses committed today against peaceful protesters in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, Guatemala. The protest, demanding compliance with precautionary measures ordered by the Interamerican Commission for Human Rights regarding the Marlin mine, took place without incident during the day. In late afternoon, participants returning from the peaceful roadblocks were reportedly confronted and attacked by community development council (COCODE) members and mine workers in San José Ixcaniche.

According to participants in the protest, Miguel Angel Bámaca and Aniseto López were beaten and threatened with lynching; one bus including approximately 40 men and women have been illegally detained and some beaten in the community of San José Ixcaniche. As this alert is being written, they remain detained. We are deeply concerned that the lives of human rights defenders are at risk.

Contact has been established with the local Human Rights Procurator’s (PDH) office, the local Presidential Commission for Defense of Human Rights (COPREDEH) and police, as well as national and international organizations to report these acts.

We ask you to stay alert and be ready to respond when more information and action requests are available from local organizations supporting communities resisting unjust mining in Guatemala.

The Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala, USA
Collectif Guatemala, France
Breaking the Silence, Canada
Rights Action, Canada/USA

Versión en español

Guatemala 28 de febrero de 2011

Comunicado urgente de preocupación para la seguridad de los defensores y defensoras de San Miguel Ixtahuacan en protesta pacifica

Denunciamos las violaciones de derechos humanos y abusos cometidos hoy en contra de manifestantes pacíficos en San Miguel Ixtahuacán. La manifestación, organizada para exigir el cumplimiento de las medidas cautelares otorgadas por la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos en el caso de la mina Marlin, tomó lugar sin incidente durante el día. Según informes, por la tarde, participantes regresando de los bloqueos pacíficos fueron confrontados y agredidos en San José Ixcaniche por miembros del Consejo Comunitario de Desarrollo y trabajadores de la mina.

Según participantes en la manifestación, Miguel Angel Bámaca y Aniseto López fueron golpeados y amenazados con lincharlos; una camioneta con aproximadamente 40 personas fue detenida ilegalmente y algunas personas – hombres y mujeres- fueron golpeadas en la comunidad de San José Ixcaniche. Hasta el momento, la gente que estaba en la camioneta sigue siendo detenida en el salón y la alcaldía comunitaria. Estamos sumamente preocupados de que estén en risego las vidas y la integridad física de esos defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos.

Se ha establecido contacto con la Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos (PDH) y la Comisión Presidencial para los Derechos Humanos (COPREDEH) y la Policía Nacional Civil (PNC), así como con organizaciones nacionales e internacionales, para informar de esos acontecimientos.

Pedimos que estén alertas y listos para reaccionar cuando haya más información y solicitudes para tomar acción por parte de las organizaciones locales apoyando las comunidades en resistencia en contra de la minería injusta en Guatemala.

En solidaridad,

La Red de Solidaridad con el Pueblo de Guatemala (NISGUA), EE.UU.

Collectif Guatemala, Francia

Rompiendo el Silencio, Canada

Derechos en Acción, Canada/EE.UU.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Promising young Honduran forced into suffering of exile

Original article in Spanish from

Translated by Political Organization Los Necios


Renan Hector Soto Caballero

This week saw the forced exile of the young Renan Hector Soto Caballero, director of the Civil Society Group, GSC, a promise to Honduras, but continued harassment placed his life in a threatening situation.

The Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras, COFADEH, sent a denouncement to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, which then requested information from the State of Honduras, which to date has been negligent in protecting the integrity of Soto Caballero.

Minutes before leaving his homeland, Hector stated that these are not easy times, "to think differently in this country is dangerous and for some human rights defenders like myself we are being forced to retreat under such circumstances basically to safeguard our physical well being, hoping that the processes that we are promoting continue, we are taking a momentary pause because circumstances are too risky to guarantee one's life in their own country."

Bertha Oliva, coordinator of COFADEH, said goodbye to Hector with his mother and father who were very concerned with the forced journey of his son.

In relation to leaving his family which is a painful situation, “all of us who leave do so with the intention to return as soon as possible, it depends on the political will to respect freedom of speech of citizens who disagree.

To the international community I make an invitation to review its policies of support, especially to the government to whom they are giving a lot of legitimacy, and strong financial support to institutions that have a double standard, a public face of good governance, within the country a lot of repression.

We hope that they take these cases as a clear proof that the situation in the country persists and that a lot of commitment and pressure is needed to change this picture."

I do not understand that those who do so much harm to Honduras walk freely in the streets.

Hector says goodbye to his mother

Doris Caballero, Hector's mother, expressed through tears that is difficult for a mother, "there are no words, for a mother being separated from a child, especially Hector Renan who is a promise for the country, who since a small child has had his principles, is not easy.

"I think about the qualities of my child, the human being that he is and know that there are people who do so much damage to the country and walk the streets freely, I never thought my son would have to go through this."

Likewise for Hermilo Soto, Hector's father, it is not an easy situation, "as a parent I feel very sad and pained because Hector Renan has to leave the country against his will, he always aspired to live here with his family, be a professional and contribute in a healthy and positive manner that will help change things, "he lamented.

With regard to the danger in which his only son has been, Hermilo, accepted that the entire family has lived a lot of stress, severe pain, "my wife spent about 15 days with no sleep, and his sisters cry."

Hermilo added that it has generated a family trauma, "when we realized that he had received death threats, that they were pursuing him, sent him text messages and in state of defenselessness in this country, any phone call generates alarm, with that the family loses peace, work productivity is also lower because you do not finish your work because you lose concentration."

He recalled that when he lived his own risks in the 1980's through his commitment as a trade unionist at the time, maybe he was prepared to take personal risks, but one is never fully prepared to cope with the risks of their children, “I wanted the risks and uncertainties which my generation lived in the 80's not to be lived by my children.”

He also lamented that, like his son, unfortunately many young people who are unhappy and want to help drive change in this country, cannot live here, due to the intolerance of the powerful, the army, the police, "because we have a militarized state, a police state."

With respect to the official discourse of the government, which negates the forced expulsion from Honduras of many people who have gone into exile, it may be because embassies in the country are not pronouncing themselves, or it could be that Hondurans are not formally soliciting their right to exile and have to take the more risky road and leave in whichever manner from the country.

International community continues to give and asks the regime for nothing in return

Soto Hermilo very concerned that the international community are insensitive to the case of Honduras, during the coup the problem of human rights violations was a topic of much discussion, but now in the continuation of the coup they are not a priority.

"We see for example that the European Union is giving around 40 million euros to the Ministry of Security, a police force with high levels of corruption, senior police officers directing delinquent groups and the international community providing assistance without demanding anything in return, not even a real effort to reform the police," he lamented.

For years there has been an effort of the international community to strengthen the judicial system, the investigative systems, and we have a system that does not protect us or is not applied to those who violate it, in fact it has a political bias; is applied to the weak, the vulnerable, and not those who do not transgress it.

A message to his son-in-exile

Hermilo Soto says goodbye to his son, while asking the international community to reconsider its policies concerning Honduras

With much pain and on the point of tears, Hermilo sent a message to his son: "Héctor Renan I suggest you keep your beliefs, I believe that difficulties and challenges strengthen the character of the people; never forget the values of solidarity we instilled in our house and go forward."

Telephone calls from unknowns in recent days to the house of his parents, precipitated the exile. This is in spite of the fact that Hector had handed in a phone number from where he received threatening messages, which has been in the custody of the police for several weeks now.

Since August of year 2010 a denouncement was filed by COFADEH to the Attorney-General, Luis Rubio, but there is no result to date.

To date, since the coup, more than 200 people, including President Manuel Zelaya Rosales, are in exile. Between December 2010 and February 2011 many families have left to exile under the imminent threat to their personal safety.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Honduras: Bajo Aguán: a “special administrative region” for human rights violations

Peasant and popular organizations denounce a new wave of repression

Giorgio Trucchi - Lista Informativa "Nicaragua y más"

Militarization of the Lower Aguán Valley © (Foto G. Trucchi)

The Aguán Valley, in north-eastern Honduras, continues on red alert.
While the government and members of Congress are determined to accelerate the creation of “paradisiacal” special administrative regions, offering a “quality standard of living, first class jobs, services and zero insecurity,” forced evictions, persecution and arbitrary detentions continue in the Aguán region.
On January 27, 2011 over 120 families of the Peasant Movement of Elixir in the Sabá zone were forcibly evicted. Police and army began hunting down 18 members of the movement and its President, Blanca Espinoza, who had to abandon her nine children in order to avoid arrest. All are accused of damaging private property and usurpation of land.
Two people were jailed and the community of Elixir was militarized.
“At the same time, repressive State forces and the private guards of businessman César Velásquez escalated repression. On February 2, they detained and jailed 21 members of the organization including five women and five minors” stated a leader of the teachers union and member of the Executive Committee of the National Resistance Front (FNRP), Wilfredo Paz.

Legal and human rights defenders intervened immediately, obtaining their release. “The intention was to wait for 24 hours, invent a series of charges and then issue arrest warrants to keep them in jail. But they could not get away with it” explained the FNRP leader.
The situation is difficult in the midst of a climate of intimidation and insecurity for thousands of peasant families in the Bajo Aguán.

“The repressive forces have created a monitoring and control system in the entire zone. It is almost impossible to approach the peasant groups in the settlements without being detected and pursued by the guards of the private landowners. They have even gone after international representatives who come to the zone to understand what is happening,” stated Paz.
Harassment and threats against peasant leaders continues as well. Juan Chinchilla, a young leader with the Unified Peasant Movement of the Aguán (MUCA) and the FNRP, was kidnapped on January 7th. After being interrogated, threatened and tortured, he was able to escape his captors.

One month after his escape and without having committed any offense, Chinchilla continues in hiding in Honduras for fear of being assassinated.
“Compañero Juan Chinchilla remains in hiding because there are enough indications that they continue looking for him. On several occasions, unknown, armed actors have looked for him in the peasant settlement of La Concepción, where his family lives.

In addition - continued Wilfredo Paz – last week, two vehicles were parked for a long time in front of the house where the parents of Juan Chinchilla live. These are clear indications that his life is still at risk” he said.
Despite this situation, the peasant and popular organizations in the zone and the FNRP at the department level, do not renounce their objectives.
“We continue to demand access to land; integral agrarian reform and we denounce the decision to declare Decree 18-2008 unconstitutional. Mobilizations will not cease and we insist on the urgency of installing a permanent observatory for human rights that is national and international in character,” concluded Paz.
Meanwhile, the FRNP in Colón announced that it will soon present the formation of a departmental structure for human rights to safeguard and defend the lives of thousands of families and people who continue to resist.

Guatemala: Member of Caja Lúdica Murdered

From: La Prensa Libre February 4, 2011

Twenty-four year old Victor Aroldo Leiva Borrayo, “The Monkey,” member of the artistic collective, Caja Lúdica (The Tickle Trunk), died yesterday after receiving gunshot wounds to the head.

By CAROLINA GAMAZO Guatemala (Translated by Jackie McVicar)

The attack occurred at 10:30pm on 12 Calle, 4-65 of zone 1, by unknown men who fled the scene.

The wake will be held today and tomorrow he will be buried in the General Cemetery.

"We denounce and condemn this act, we are dismayed; it took us by surprise and it’s painful,” affirmed Samuel Ochoa, member of Caja Lúdica, an artistic organization intended to reconstruct the Guatemalan social fabric through art.

Loving and Playful

"He was a great person, was always a very loving and happy person, outraged by reality, with a great passion to carry out artistic expressions, we remember him as our compañero, happy, full of life and joking,” said Ochoa.
Leiva was known in the Collective as, “The Monkey,” for his acrobatic capacity. He had Garifuna roots as his family was originally from Livingston, Izabal but he had lived his entire life in the capital.

He was founding member of Caja Lúdica, an association that he created together with friends in 2000, with the objective of reconstructing the social fabric through art and culture. “We promote alternatives for youth who, through their creativity with art and culture, stop being victims of the system,” expressed Ochoa.

Leiva used stilts, was a dancer and also participated in art projects in the association.

The investigation is now in the hands of the Public Prosecutor’s office, Ochoa assured, and denied any relationship between Leiva and criminal acts.