Honduran lives at risk

Honduran lives at risk
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I write from a place of uncertainty and vulnerability. The 57,000 people from Honduras who were granted Temporary Protection Status (TPS) in the United States now face a forced return to violence and foreseeable death thanks to the Trump administration’s repeal of Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

I am coming to Washington, D.C. next week, along with my colleagues from Radio Progreso and our research center, Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC), to appeal to the people of the United States, its public authorities and the media on the urgent need to make the U.S. government see that our lives in Honduras are in danger.  

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Many of us are particularly under threat because we have exercised our right to freedom of expression and have defended the victims of repression and abuses committed by the armed forces. We have denounced human rights violations by a government that six out of 10 Hondurans believe did not win the recent presidential election and has illegally exceeded the term limits put forth by our Constitution. For these actions, which are regarded as inalienable rights in the U.S., we are targets in our country.

 

In wide-scale protests following the flawed November 26, 2017 presidential election in Honduras, some 40 people have been murdered and more than 2,000 arrested for having exercised their right to publicly demonstrate against what more than 60 percent of the population contend was electoral fraud. 

According to the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras, published on March 12, at least 16 of those people killed were shot by the Military Police of the Public Order, an armed body that receives orders directly from President Juan Orlando Hernández. Several of the victims were shot in the head, which leads to suspicion of an official practice of extrajudicial executions.

Here is how the U.S. government can play a role in defending our human rights: 

Withdraw its backing of the Honduran security forces that are threatening the lives of our people. Honduras’ public security forces must be demilitarized; and serious progress to rid corruption at all levels of the state must be advanced.

Support our call for establishment of an independent investigatory commission which, under the auspices of the U.N. and within six months, will present a report to the Public Ministry of Honduras. The report will names those responsible for the post-electoral crisis murders and leads to bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Urge that all political prisoners, deprived of their liberty because they exercised their right to publicly demonstrate against electoral fraud, be freed. We seek humanitarian support for the families of those murdered and the families of political prisoners.

Declare null and void the election of November 26, 2017 because Juan Orlando Hernández’s re-election was unconstitutional. The highly questionable electoral results did not guarantee a winner or loser, yet he has declared himself the victor.

Support mechanisms to legally convene new general elections for a prompt return to the constitutional order. A new government should then initiate a National Dialogue, facilitated by the UN, to define priorities for public policies that guarantee good governance.

We want to achieve, via a dialogue, an agreement to convene a national constituent assembly that would lay the foundation for social stability and peace in Honduras.

I ask that the United States see our country for what it is — a nation of people who have been historically mistreated economically and politically by U.S. corporations and by U.S. military aid and alliances that threaten our lives. 

Rev. Ismael Moreno (Padre Melo), is a Honduran Jesuit priest who serves as director of the Honduran Jesuit radio station, Radio Progreso, and the Honduran Jesuit social action center Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC).