I spent many weeks in Central America in the 1980’s when people of faith were trying to stop the Reagan war policies and were deeply concerned about human rights in the region.
The stories I hear from the Quixote Center delegation in Honduras today sound a lot like the reports of repression and human rights violations I heard in the 1980’s.
Take the case of David Murillo. He is the father of a young boy who was shot dead at the airport the night that President Zelaya, overthrown in a coup, tried to return to the country. He was arrested shortly after his boy died, and our delegation visited him in a prison in Juticalpa. He is an environmental activist in the area of Olancho, working against deforestation and water privatization.
He told of being presented with a blank piece of paper to sign (or be shot). Then, a manufactured confession to charges of murder and rape was typed above his signature. He believes that all this is an attempt to stop his activism, and it’s surely a message to others. Because the real issues behind the coup are economic. The poor are getting uppity, and the old order wants power back. Murillo said about President Zelaya, “I have never seen a President like this. He has broken the walls behind which the people were held.”
But the people as a whole continue to feel empowered to act. They have called for a 7-day National March Against the Coup, which will end August 11th. Thousands marched yesterday in Tegucigalpa, and thousands more are making their way on foot to both Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula (the two largest cities in the country).
Today, the U.S. delegation will present a letter regarding human rights violations to U.S. Ambassador Llorens, followed by a press conference. Stay tuned.