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Updated 10/02/2008

Remembering 25 Years Ago—September 1983

(español)

Sept. 9

Ramón Adonay Bustillo Jimenez, a Honduran trade expert and public accountant, disappears.

Source

“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.

Sept. 17

Jorge Maldonado Padilla, a Honduran, disappears.

Source

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos en Honduras Web site, Desaparecidos en 1983, Jorge Maldonado Padilla.

Sept. 18

The Honduran military reports that José María Reyes Mata, leader of a leftist insurgent group (the PRTC, Central America Revolutionary Workers Party) that entered the country in mid-July, has been killed in a clash between the army and the guerrillas. (See August 1983 edition.) However, on Oct. 14 U.S. intelligence receives information that a number of guerrillas taken prisoner by the Honduran Armed Forces, including Reyes Mata, have been summarily executed. The executions are reportedly initiated after an unnamed field commander receives orders from military chief Gen. Álvarez Martínez to "search and destroy," meaning no prisoners should be taken alive. Some of the bodies are placed in the Patuca River and later wash ashore in populated areas; the military denies any knowledge relating to these bodes. In November, the CIA learns from a "reliable source" the name of the officer who executed Reyes Mata and concludes that the reports alleging prisoner executions "could not be refuted." During this time, U.S. Ambassador to Honduras John Negroponte questions the veracity of the reports and expresses concern over disseminating information about the prisoner executions because it "might create a human rights problem for Honduras" and could "become a significant political issue in Washington," according to a 1997 CIA inspector general report. Various intelligence reporting cited in the CIA report estimate the number of insurgents executed to be as many as 40 to 70.

Also among those killed is the Nicaraguan-born U.S. citizen and former Green Beret David Arturo Báez Cruz, who returned to his homeland in 1981 to support the Sandinista government and ultimately joined the PRTC guerrilla column. The 1997 CIA report mentions varying accounts of a "Nicaraguan advisor" who was either killed or executed. A secret telegram issued from U.S. Southern Command in Panama in November 1983 (declassified in 1998) states that Báez Cruz, who "served as the PRTC communications officer," was "killed in action during the Olancho operations." In 2003 Eric Haney, a former member of the U.S. Army's elite Delta Force, who says he was one of two U.S. commandos sent to secretly help the Honduran army in the Olancho operation, claims that during a firefight with the rebels he shot and killed a man whom he identified as a commander because he was operating a radio. When he examined the body, Haney says he recognized the man as Báez Cruz, one of the Green Berets who had tried out with him for the Delta Force in 1978. The body was not recovered.

Sources

"Excerpts from 'Selected Issues Relating to CIA Activities in Honduras in the 1980s.'” U.S. CIA, Office of the Inspector General; Aug. 27, 1997. 

"CIA Stipulations to Facts Regarding Honduran Military Activities and U.S. Intelligence in Honduras in the 1980s." Excerpt from the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nomination of John D. Negroponte to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (S. Hrg. 107-781); Sept. 13, 2001. 

"Former Ft. Gulick green beret disappeared in Honduras in 1983." Joseph E. Mulligan. The Panama News; June 16-29, 2002.

"Ex-Green Beret's Sandinista story emerges 20 years later." Juan O. Tamayo. The Miami Herald; Sept. 3, 2003.

"Aguacate revisited." Joseph E. Mulligan. Christian Century; Aug. 30, 2000.

Sept. 19

The Honduran military holds a briefing for the national and international press on its progress to date in its operation against the PRTC guerrillas, initiated in early August in the Olancho province. Members of the press are helicoptered into the military's base camp in Nueva Palistina, where captured weapons and equipment are on display, along with three insurgents—José Alfredo Duarte Rodríguez, José Armando Moncada Ferrufino, and Oswaldo Castro Ruiz, all Hondurans—who were either captured or deserted. In the weeks that follow, family members of the three men begin to inquire about their whereabouts. On Oct. 4, the mother of Moncada Ferrufino is told by an Army commander that her son was shot while trying to escape and that the mountainous terrain of the region prevented the body from being recovered. According to the woman, the officer adds, "Be careful—if you make a report or keep asking questions, you might have problems." On Oct. 17, the CIA receives information confirming that the three men, along with as many as six others, were summarily executed by the Honduran Armed Forces sometime between September and early October 1983.

Sources

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos en Honduras Web site, Desaparecidos en 1983, José Alfredo Duarte Rodríguez.

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos en Honduras Web site, Desaparecidos en 1983, José Armando Moncada Ferrufino.

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos en Honduras Web site, Desaparecidos en 1983, Oswaldo Castro Ruiz.

"Excerpts from 'Selected Issues Relating to CIA Activities in Honduras in the 1980s.'” U.S. CIA, Office of the Inspector General; Aug. 27, 1997. 

Sept. 28

Pablo Roberto Munguia, Honduran, disappears after being captured by DNI agents investigating a robbery in his house.

Source

“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.