A group of independent UN experts expressed concern Oct. 9 over the increased use of mercenaries in Honduras since the June coup d’etat. The panel said it received reports that 40 former Colombian paramilitary veterans had been hired to protect properties and individuals in Honduras since the June 28 ouster of President Jose Manuel Zelaya. The panel also heard reports that 120 mercenaries from various Latin American countries had been contracted to support the de facto regime.
“We urge the Honduran authorities to take all practical measures to prevent the use of mercenaries within its territory and to fully investigate allegations concerning their presence and activities,” the panel said in a press release. The experts noted that Honduras is a signatory of the international convention tha bans the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries.
The panel was established in 2005 by the Commission on Human Rights, which has since been succeeded by the Human Rights Council. It consists of five members, from Fiji, Libya, Colombia, Spain and Russia. (CNN, Oct. 10)
Three weeks before the panel issued its statement, the Bogotá daily El Tiempo reported that demobilized paramilitary fighter Walter Ochoa Guisao had been approached by a group of Honduran businessmen to recruit veterans of the paramilitary bloc formerly led by Ramón Isaza AKA “El Viejo”. The fighters were reportedly offered a monthly salary of $750, plus living expenses. The meeting is said to have taken place at a finca (large farm) dubbed “El Japón” in the Magdalena Medio region, formerly owned by accused narco-trafficker Jairo Correa Alzate and now officially property of the Colombian state. The paper said the businessmen sought to “import” to Honduras ex-combatants of the notorious United Colombian Self-Defense Forces (AUC). (EFE, Oct. 10; El Tiempo, Sept. 13)