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Updated 10/02/2008

Remembering 25 Years Ago—July 1983


July 1

José Amilcar Maradiaga, a 43-year-old Honduran campesino, is captured in Jacaleapa, El Paraíso in a joint operation between Contra forces and Battalion 3-16. In the last known account of Amilcar Maradiaga's whereabouts—a Honduran military report dated Nov. 30, 1984—he is reported as being held in secret detention, along with other "disappeared" individuals, at the U.S.-funded Regional Military Training Center. (See June 1983 edition.) The report expresses concern that human rights groups are asking too many questions and recommends that the prisoners be moved.

“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

"Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America." J. Patrice McSherry. Rowman & Littlefield; 2005.

"Informe Especial." Fuerzas Armada de Honduras, Centro Regional de Entrenamiento Militar (CREM). Nov. 30, 1984.

July 21

At a customs checkpoint on the Nicaragua-Honduras border, activist Luis Manuel Figueroa Guillen and his two daughters are intercepted by a National Intelligence Directorate (DNI) agent, accused of carrying false passports and "subversive material" in the form of Nicaraguan music records, and handed over to the custody of the Public Security Forces (FUSEP).

The daughters are released, but Figueroa is taken to a house where he is subjected to abuse by five men with Nicaraguan accents, then transferred to local FUSEP headquarters, where he is kept handcuffed throughout the night. The following day he is taken to the regional DNI headquarters in Choluteca, where Maj. Dimas Carvajal Gómez orders two subordinate officers to torture him. The same day, he is moved to another location, where he is further tortured by José Marcos Hernández, under orders from Juan Blas Salazar Meza, with the alleged goal of extracting a signed confession of responsibility for several crimes.

On Aug. 8, 1983, Figueroa is brought before a court and charged with antigovernment activities, but is subsequently released. Twelve years later, on Nov. 7, 1995, government human-rights prosecutor Sonia Dubon brings charges illegal detention and torture against six military officers including Salazar, Hernández, Carvajal and German Antonio McNeil, the DNI agent who intercepted Figueroa at customs. Another nine years later, in August 2004, Salazar Meza, Hernández and McNeil are found guilty and each sentenced to one year and eight months in prison. Carvajal could not be sentenced because he had passed away.

"Condenan a Juan Blas Salazar." Rodolfo Isaula. El Heraldo; Aug. 5, 2004.

 "Officers charged in torture." The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Mass.); Nov. 8, 1995.