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Updated 03/09/2009

Remembering 25 Years Ago—February 1984

Feb. 2

U.S. Rep. Gerry E. Studds (D-Mass.) introduces legislation to suspend joint military maneuvers between the United States and Honduras, and to limit the number of U.S. military personnel there to 200. In a press release, he says the legislation is motivated by concern that large-scale military activities in Honduras have in fact become a semipermanent deployment of U.S. combat troops, which, combined with U.S. support for the Nicaraguan contras and training programs for Honduran and Salvadoran troops, "has had a profound and harmful impact upon the political life of Honduras." He says the U.S. military presence has impeded the success of civilian democratic rule, vesting Honduran military chief Gen. Gustavo Álvarez Martínez with greater power and prestige than President Roberto Suazo Córdova. He notes that "the taking of political prisoners and mysterious disappearances of political activists have increased dramatically over the past two years." In addition, several members of Congress accuse the U.S. Defense Department of establishing a semipermanent military presence in Honduras without Congressional approval, which is usually required for military construction and the establishment of foreign bases. According to Sen. Jim Sasser (D-Tenn.), the ranking minority member of the Military Construction Subcommittee, the Pentagon ''may be trying to subvert the Congress'' by building ''a military infrastructure in Honduras that is far beyond anything necessary for the military exercises being undertaken there.''


"Statement of U.S. Rep. Gerry E. Studds Upon Introduction of Legislation to Limit U.S. Military-Presence in Honduras." U.S. House of Representatives, Office of Rep. Gerry E. Studds; Feb. 2, 1984.

"Senate Study Questions a Buildup by Pentagon in Honduras." The New York Times, Feb. 2, 1984.

Feb. 9

Three human rights monitoring groups issue a report charging that political killings, disappearances and torture increased in Honduras during 1983 and that the country's National Investigations Directorate was responsible for many of the abuses. A six-member delegation of the three groups—the Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights, Americas Watch and the Washington Office on Latin America—visited Honduras for 10 days in October 1983, meeting with Honduran government officials and human rights leaders, along with church leaders, lawyers, doctors and businesspeople. The delegation says it documented 49 civilian deaths in the first half of 1983 that were attributable to government forces, 13 of those due to political motives, and that 28 people disappeared that year, with no evidence that the cases were being investigated. The report also places blame on the U.S. government, saying, "The United States has failed to exert meaningful pressure on the military to curb mounting abuses. At best, it has remained silent when questions of human rights violations are raised. At worst, it has defended military abuses."


"3 Human Rights Groups Say Abuses Increase in Honduras." The New York Times; Feb. 10, 1984.

Feb. 18

Marcelino Moncada Bustamante, Honduran, disappears after being detained at 8:00 a.m. in front of the Guaymuras radio station in Santa Clara, Paraíso Department, by members of the Nicaraguan contras. One of his alleged captors is named Armando, or Commander Toño.


“Honduras: The Facts Speak for Themselves.” The Preliminary Report of the National Commissioner for the Protection of Human Rights in Honduras. Human Rights Watch; July 1994. 

To read past editions, go to the Remembering 25 Years Ago archive.