The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) is deeply concerned about the escalation of severe human rights violations in Honduras. WOLA calls for an end to these attacks, for a thorough investigation of these criminal acts and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Immediately following the inauguration of Porfirio Lobo on January 27, there has been a notable increase in attacks against people opposed to the June 28 coup d’état and their family members. They include:
- On February 24, Claudia Larissa Brizuela, a member of the opposition movement and mother of two, was murdered inside of her home by unidentified intruders. Her father, Pedro Brizuela, is a prominent opposition politician and journalist.
- On February 15, Julio Benitez, a member of the workers’ union (SANAA), was murdered outside of his home in a drive-by shooting in Colonia Brisas de Olancho.
- On February 12, Hermes Reyes, a member of an opposition group, was kidnapped and beaten by three paramilitaries. That same day, men who identified themselves as police looted the home of Porfirio Ponce, a union organizer and opposition activist.
- On February 10, a family of five in San Pedro Sula was abducted for five days. Two of the women were raped and all five were tortured. All are active members of the political opposition movement.
- In early February, two reporters were kidnapped by paramilitaries in Tegucigalpa. The paramilitaries physically abused the reporters and demanded that they divulge information about the opposition movement.
“The respect for human rights deteriorated following the coup d’état on June 28, 2009. Even the US Government has acknowledged this and it is alarming that it is continuing under the new government,” stated Vicki Gass, a Senior Associate on Rights and Development who lived in Honduras for two years following Hurricane Mitch. WOLA warns that continued human rights violations and pervasive impunity will undermine the government’s goal of rebuilding trust in democratic institutions and embolden perpetrators of political violence. “If President Lobo wants international recognition and aid reinstated after his country was shunned by governments following last year’s coup, then he needs to get the military back in the barracks and end these violations,” she added.
Vicki Gass, Senior Associate on Rights and Development