Honduras names “Truth Commission” —as rights abuses continue

Former Guatemalan vice president Eduardo Stein was named by new Honduran President Porfirio Lobo last week to head a “Truth Commission” to examine the June 2009 coup d’etat that ousted President Manuel Zelaya and the circumstances leading up to it. Formation of the Commission was a condition of the Tegucigalpa-San José Accord brokered by Costa Rica last year to end the Honduran crisis. (DPA, Feb. 4) The Popular Resistance Front of Honduras, which mobilized to oppose the coup, issued a statement rejecting the Truth Commission. Front coordinator Juan Barahona called it an attempt to “whitewash” (limpiarse) the coup, and re-establish diplomatic recognition and aid from the international community. (ABN, Venezuela, Feb. 7)

Human rights abuses continue in Lobo’s Honduras. On Feb. 4, the same day Lobo announced the naming of Stein, a member of the Syndicate of Workers of the Honduran Social Security Institute (SITRAIHSS) was found dead in Tegucigalpa’s Loarque neighborhood. Vanessa Zepeda had also been an an active member of the Popular Resistance Front, and had repeatedly received death threats. Witnesses said the body was thrown form a vehicle, but lawyers from the Popular Resistance Front were prevented by authorities at the city morgue from examining the deceased. (El Libertador, Tegucigalpa, Feb. 5)

On Feb. 2, two cameramen from the opposition TV Globo who had worked in the presidential palace during the administration of President Zelaya and later participated in marches against the coup, were kidnapped at a Tegucigalpa gas station by gun-wielding men in civilian clothes who said they were police. Tied up, beaten and threatened with death, they were interrogated about supposed weapons caches. When the men protested their ignorance, the captors wrapped one in a plastic body bag and threatened to bury him alive. A phone call at the last minute ordered the two released after some 24 hours in captivity. (Tiempo, San Pedro Sula, Feb. 4)

On Jan. 27, the Honduran Congress approved an amnesty law that covers both Zelaya and all those responsible for the coup that removed him from power. The bill was signed by Lobo immediately upon being sworn in that day. The vote came just hours after a Honduran Supreme Court judge cleared senior military leaders of criminal charges for their roles in the coup. Zelaya had been charged with treason and abuse of power by the de facto regime after the coup. In January, prosecutors filed “abuse of power” charges against the military leaders, including army commander Romeo Vásquez Velásquez. (VOA, NYT, Jan. 27)

See our last posts on Honduras and Central America.

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