DonateNow
Stay tuned for something new!
In the coming months, MISF Media will launch a redesigned website. In the meantime, continue to check here for new editions of the "Honduras News in Review" and "Remembering 25 Years Ago" features.
Human Rights
in the Global Community
Overview
Global Bodies & Treaties
Current Issues
Human Rights–War on Terror News Update
Human Rights in Honduras
Overview
History
Current Issues
Honduras News in Review
Remembering 25 Years Ago
Search the Site:
Updated 05/03/2009

Honduras News in Review—April 1-30, 2009

Para títulos en español con sus enlaces correspondientes ver al fondo de la página.

1. Honduran reporters threatened, killed
2. Land disputes continue to shed blood
3. Dionisio Díaz García’s killing spotlights criminal infiltration of police
4. Mining company leaves environmental damage in its wake
5. Peru’s Fujimori get 25 years for human rights abuses
6. Other news in brief

1. Honduran reporters threatened, killed

On April 12, unknown gunmen attempted to kill Carlos Roberto Chinchilla, a reporter and owner of television station “Telemaya” Channel 12, shooting at his tires after forcing him to slow his car with rocks strewn across the road near San Nicolás, Copán. Chinchilla had reported a previous attempt on his life in 2008, when masked men entered his station and tied up employees, leaving them to deliver Chinchilla a verbal death threat. Chinchilla’s brother-in-law, Germán Rivas, also a reporter, was killed nearly six years ago, a murder that remains unsolved. A few days later Osman Rodrigo López Irías, a reporter who had worked at the daily newspaper La Tribuna, Channel 54 TV and most recently at the presidential press department, was shot and killed by a road in the outskirts of Tegucigalpa. The motive for the murder is unknown, but the NGO Reporters Without Borders said that taken with the March 31 death of radio correspondent Rafael Munguía, another case with unclear motive, the event represents a worrying trend. “Regardless of whether this is a ‘common’ crime or a premeditated murder, the authorities need to move quickly and take significant action in a situation that threatens to compromise freedom of movement," the organization said in a statement released following the death of López Irías. [La Prensa, 4/13/09; ConexiHon, 4/09, No. 113; La Prensa, 4/20/09; ConexiHon, No. 114; La Tribuna, 4/22/09; past story: HNR, 4/08]

2. Land disputes continue to shed blood

Gunmen shot and killed Odilio Acosta and Santos Aguilar, of the Campesino Movement of Rigores (MCR), in a drive-by shooting on April 15 in Nueva Vida, Trujillo, Colón. The motive was presumably a dispute over the land that MCR and other campesino movements affiliated with the National Field Workers Confederation have been occupying in the area. This latest event took place near the site where last year 12 people were massacred over land disputes in Guadalupe Carney, a case for which two campesino activists are still jailed awaiting trial. The lands in question have previously been the subject of negotiations with the National Agrarian Institute, without resolution. [Honduras Laboral/Comun Noticias, 4/16/09; La Prensa, 4/20/09; past story: HNR, 8/1-15/08]

3. Dionisio Díaz García’s killing spotlights criminal infiltration of police

Francisco Murillo, commissioner of the National Directorate of Criminal Investigation, acknowledged on April 6 that criminal organizations have infiltrated Honduras’ primary law enforcement agency. A group of current and former officers act as informants and occasionally gunmen for organized criminal syndicates—a discovery the directorate made when they captured the men responsible for the murder of Dionisio Díaz García, a lawyer for the Association for a More Just Society. (See HNR, 3/1-31/09.) Murillo said the agency is currently working through Internal Affairs to get to the bottom of the conspiracy. He added that, because of tough economic conditions, officers and especially former officers can often be bought for “a few lempira.” [La Tribuna, 4/7/09]

4. Mining company leaves environmental damage in its wake

On April 22 the Honduran special prosecutor for the environment announced that Entremares, a Canadian mining company found to be polluting nearby villages, was leaving the country without following up on the cleanup requirements for which they were liable. “Their exit strategy didn’t properly address all the health risks [being left behind], nor have they followed up with the drainage [of heavy metals] into the water table, which affects the environment and could cause health problems,” said special prosecutor Aldo Santos. “They are replanting the land with fruit trees and not native ones, which is not OK with the local populace,” he added. Local citizens have been complaining about the mining company since 2000, citing damage to the forest and the environment as well as health problems related to water pollution. Entremares employed open-pit mining to extract gold, silver and zinc from the Valle de Siria area, and the process used chemicals like arsenic, lead and mercury. The Natural Resources Ministry finally ratified the complaints in September 2006 and levied fines, which the company refused to pay. Media outlets have reported the company’s imminent closure and departure since December of that year. [La Tribuna, 4/23/09; past stories: HNR, 9/18/06; HNR, 12/19/06; HNR, 7/3/07]

5. Peru’s Fujimori get 25 years for human rights abuses

On April 6, Peru’s Supreme Court found former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori guilty on four charges of human rights abuses, which it classified as “crimes against humanity,” and condemned him to 25 years in prison. Fujimori was found to have ordered massacres in Lima in 1991 and 1992 that left 25 dead, as well as the 1992 abductions of businessman Samuel Dyer and journalist Gustavo Gorriti, a vocal critic of Fujimori's decision to shut down Congress and the courts during a state of emergency. Javier Zuñiga, an observer from Amnesty International who attended at the trial, said, “This was an historic day. It’s not every day that you see a former head of state being sentenced for human rights abuses like torture, kidnapping and the forced disappearance of people.” He added, “Let’s hope that this is the beginning of many judicial movements, not only in Latin America but also around the world.” Fujimori was hugely popular for much of his 10-year term, during which time he subdued the Shining Path guerilla movement, which had taken over as much as two thirds of the country, and stabilized the country economically; however, he abruptly fled the country in 2000 when evidence began to surface that his secretive head of intelligence, Vladimiro Montesinos, was bribing judges and congressmen. He resigned shortly thereafter and was charged with roughly 50 human rights violations by Peruvian prosecutors. The former president maintained his innocence throughout the trial, claiming he had no knowledge of what Montesinos or his Colina secret police cum death squad were doing. [Hondudiario, 4/7/09; El Tiempo, 4/7/09; L.A. Times, 4/8/09]

6. Other news in brief

Attorney General Luis Alberto Rubí reported on April 7 that seven unnamed prosecutors had been put under high security after receiving anonymous threats against their safety. [El Heraldo, 4/8/09] For the third time in two months, Inés Yadira Cubero, a former judge and prosecutor now serving as president of the San Pedro Sula transparency commission, reported a threat to her safety as her brother was followed by two strangers when he left the university on April 20. Following an attempt on her life in March, police say this is part of a larger pattern of intimidation. [La Tribuna, 4/22/09, past story: HNR, 03/09] José Omar Fúnez, a local head in the Mara 18 gang and the alleged murderer of labor leader Altagracia Fuentes, was found dead on April 11 in a suburb of La Lima, a city near San Pedro Sula. [La Prensa, 4/11/09; past story: HNR, 1/15-31/09]. On April 15, feminist groups marched in front of the congressional building, asking that President Manuel Zelaya veto the recently passed ban on the “morning after” pill, and taking congressional deputies to task for what they deemed an action “based on a small-minded whim,” according to Blanca Dole, president of the Honduran University Women's Collective. [La Tribuna, 4/16/09] The National Anticorruption Council announced on April 28 that it had fulfilled all the requirements and joined the Organization of American States as a formal civil-society member, allowing it full access to the international organization’s resources and support. [Hondudiario, 4/28/09] On April 29, the Supreme Court of Justice ratified the minimum-wage increase that went into effect at the beginning of the year, overriding business-owner complaints by saying it was justified in the face of the high cost of living in the country. [El Tiempo, 4/30/09; past story: HNR, 2/1-28/09]


1. Periodistas amenazados, asesinados [La Prensa, 4/13/09; ConexiHon, 4/09, No. 113; La Prensa, 4/20/09; ConexiHon, No. 114; La Tribuna, 4/22/09]
2. Conflictos de tierras continúan derrame de sangre [Honduras Laboral/Comun Noticias, 4/16/09; La Prensa, 4/20/09]
3. Asesinato de Dionisio Díaz García ilumina infiltración criminal de cuerpo policial [La Tribuna, 4/7/09]
4. Compañía minera deja daños ambientales a su paso [La Tribuna, 4/23/09]
5. Corte peruana condena Fujimori a 25 años de cárcel por delitos contra los DDHH [Hondudiario, 4/7/09; El Tiempo, 4/7/09; L.A. Times, 4/8/09]
6. Siete fiscales amenazados a muerte por su labor
[El Heraldo, 4/8/09]
7. Comisionada municipal es objeto de intimidación [La Tribuna, 4/22/09]
8. Hallan cuerpo de supuesto asesino de sindicalista [La Prensa, 4/11/09]
9. Organizaciones feministas fustigan prohibición de las píldoras del "Día Después" [La Tribuna, 4/16/09]
10. El CNA se adhiere a la OEA [Hondudiario, 4/28/09]


SUBSCRIBE to the Honduras News in Review e-mail update.

Go to the HNR archive for past editions of the News in Review.