Honduras: union leaders murdered

According to union sources, some 40,000 Hondurans participated in May Day celebrations, which included marches in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. The three main labor federations marched together, along with a number of grassroots groups and coalitions, including the Popular Bloc (BP), the National Popular Resistance Coordinating Committee and the Coordinating Council of Campesino Organizations. The demands included a better agrarian reform, a general wage increase, a halt to privatizations, an end to corruption, and justice for three unionists murdered the night of April 23-24.

Chanting “Justice, justice” and “Out with the corrupt ones,” the marchers in Tegucigalpa passed the Congress building, where striking prosecutors had an encampment. The prosecutors walked off the job on April 7 around demands for suspects to be tried in several corruption cases that have been shelved; for a suspension of the firings and reassignments started by Attorney General Leonidas Rosa Bautista; and for the dismissal of Rosa Bautista and his deputy, Omar Cerna. (La Prensa, Honduras, May 1; Prensa Latina, Cuba, May 1)

The murdered unionists were Rosa Altagracia Fuentes, general secretary of the conservative Workers’ Confederation of Honduras (CTH); her driver, Juan Bautista Galvez; and trade union leader Virginia Garcia de Sanchez. Six masked assailants shot them on the highway between El Progreso and San Pedro Sula, according to eyewitnesses; Altagracia Fuentes was shot 16 times. Police initially called the attack a robbery by youth gangs, even though the attackers failed to take valuables from the car, including $4,000 in cash. But on April 28 the prosecutor in the case, Ricardo Castro, who works in a special unit for crimes against women, said he was now investigating other union leaders. Unionists generally blamed the murders on “enemies of the union movement.” Guy Ryder, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), wrote Honduran president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales a letter calling for “a full investigation to establish, as quickly as possible, the motives for the murders and identify those materially and intellectually responsible for these crimes, to punish them with the full weight of the law.” (Reuters, April 28; AFL-CIO Blog, April 28)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 25

See our last posts on Honduras and Central America.

  1. 18 dead in Honduras prison riot
    At least 18 prisoners were killed in a fight at the main jail in Tegucigalpa, capital of Honduras. Police were called in to restore order after prisoners attacked another group of inmates with knives and machetes May 4. On April 27, nine inmates were killed in fighting with knives and handguns at a prison in San Pedro Sula. Some of those killed in Tegucigalpa had been transfered there after the violence in San Pedro Sula. Some of the Tegucigalpa victims were beheaded. The violence is blamed on overcrowding and gang rivalries. (AlJazeera, BBC, May 4; UPI, April 27)