Monday, July 13, 2009

WNU #997: 2 Honduran Activists Murdered

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #997, July 12, 2009

1. Honduras: 2 Left Activists Murdered
2. Honduras: Army and Business Owners Wavering?
3. Honduras: Coup Reactions in US and Chile
4. Colombia: Katío Embera Leader Killed
5. Links to alternative sources on: Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti

ISSN#: 1084‑922X. Weekly News Update on the Americas covers news from Latin America and the Caribbean, compiled and written from a progressive perspective. It has been published weekly by the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York since 1990. For a subscription, write to . It is archived at

*1. Honduras: 2 Left Activists Murdered
On the evening of July 11 a group of men entered the home of Honduran activist Roger Bados in the 6 de Mayo neighborhood of the northern city of San Pedro Sula and shot him dead. Bados was the former president of the union at a local cement factory and a member of the leftist Democratic Unification Party (UD) and of the Popular Bloc, a coalition of grassroots organizations active in the struggle against the military coup that overthrew President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales on June 28. Erasto Reyes, another grassroots leader, told the Venezula-based television network TeleSUR that the murder came at “a moment in which the political crisis is aggravating the security situation for leaders.” But he said the organizations will continue to carry out "peaceful, nonviolent” mobilizations. “We’re not letting down our guard; we’re continuing in the struggle.”

Ramón García, also a UD member, was killed the same night in the Callejones area of the western department of Santa Bárbara. Unknown persons ordered him to get out of a bus and killed him, according to a UD leader, Renán Valdés, who said that García’s sister and his nephew’s wife were also wounded. (TeleSUR 7/12/09) [Following our sources, we referred to the UD as the “Democratic Unification of Honduras (UDH)” in Update #995 and the supplement to #995.]

*2. Honduras: Army and Business Owners Wavering?
The appearance of unity within the Honduran military and the de facto government is deceptive, according to statements by Argentine deputy defense minister Alfredo Forti published in the Buenos Aires daily Clarín on July 11. “People with the rank of colonel have been sending messages to the outside saying that they’re at the limit of their ability to withstand the pressure and that they think a moment is coming when they’ll have to separate themselves from the current position because otherwise there might be a bloodbath,” said Forti, who was ambassador to Honduras from 2004 to 2007. "These are expressions of fractures within the armed forces. We don’t know if it’s because there are military people who support the Constitution or because they see it’s a situation that’s lost and they’re trying to find a way out.”

Forti put much of the blame for the situation on the business class, which he said “has an almost monopolistic control in many parts of the economy, and at the same time has a very strong influence on the two traditional parties, the Liberal Party and the National Party.” (Clarín 7/11/09)

Business owners have also been influencing politics by using bribes and threats to get employees to participate in demonstrations supporting the coup, according to dozens of calls made to the Radio Globo radio station on July 7. Callers to Radio Progreso in the northern city of El Progreso told similar stories about employees at maquiladoras (assembly plants producing largely for export), municipal offices and the Granitos and Terrazos construction material company. A woman said she was "offered food and 100 lempiras in cash [about $5] for wearing a white shirt.” Participants in demonstrations supporting the coup wear white shirts. (Inside Costa Rica 7/9/09)

But the business owners appeared to have had second thoughts about the coup once they had seen the level of popular resistance it generated. Radio Globo director David Romero told TeleSUR on July 5 that the business people that had promoted and financed the coup found that the crisis was greater than they expected. He said they had been pushing for a negotiated solution in a meeting of major business owners that morning. (Prensa Latina 7/5/09)

*3. Honduras: Coup Reactions in US and Chile
On July 11 seven US trade associations—including the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), the US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA) and the US Chamber of Commerce—sent a letter to US president Barack Obama on the situation in Honduras. The letter stressed the “particular importance” Honduras has “for the US textile and apparel supply chain” and called it “the linchpin to the Western Hemisphere supply chain for this sector. Honduras is the third largest market for U.S. textile mill products (U.S. exports were $1.4 billion in 2008), the fourth largest supplier of apparel to the US market and the largest [Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA)] supplier to the United States.”

The trade associations said nothing about restoring democracy or the constitutional order but emphasized the need for “[p]redictability and stability,” which “are absolutely critical to US companies, especially in these difficult economic times.” (Fibre2Fashion 7/11/09)

In contrast, a July 9 letter to US secretary of state Hillary Clinton signed by 35 Latin America experts from US universities insisted that “[a]nything less than the urgent restoration of President Manuel Zelaya to office would be an usurpation of the will of the Honduran people.” “[C]oncessions of any kind to the coup government…would create a terrible precedent, showing other anti-democratically minded and power-hungry individuals that it can be worthwhile to carry out a military coup in order to advance their political agendas,” warned the authors, who included Harvard emeritus professor John Womack, author and filmmaker Saul Landau, Central America expert Hector Perla, and authors and Central America experts Greg Grandin and Dana Frank. (El Financiero (Mexico) 7/9/09, some from Notimex; Common Dreams 7/9/09)

On July 10 the de facto government received support from a city council member in Santiago, Chile. “It appeared to be a common, ordinary coup” at first, Lucía Pinochet Hiriart said, according to the satirical and investigative Chilean weekly The Clinic, but later it turned out that “the one who wanted to carry out the coup d’état was Zelaya.” He “makes himself out to be the victim,” she said, but his own allegedly unconstitutional acts left the military no choice but to do “something unconstitutional.” Pinochet Hiriart, who represents the exclusive Vitacura neighborhood in eastern Santiago, is a daughter of late Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, who seized power from elected president Salvador Allende Gossens in a bloody 1973 coup. (Qué (Spain) 7/10/09 from EFE)

*4. Colombia: Katío Embera Leader Killed
Two men armed with pistols shot Colombian indigenous leader Héctor Betancur Domicó dead the night of July 6 as he was leaving the offices of an indigenous organization in Tierralta in the northwestern department of Córdoba. Betancur Domicó was the leader of the Katío Embera community of Changarra, one of 17 small communities in the region, which has a total population of about 5,000 Katío Embera. The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) reported that more than 1,254 indigenous people have been killed by armed groups in Colombia since January 2002. (La Raza (Chicago) 7/11/09 from AP)

The Bogotá daily El Tiempo reported on July 7 that prosecutors were investigating 1,603 military personnel, mostly from the 5th Division, in connection with 812 extrajudicial executions carried out during the last six years. The victims included "false positives"--civilians executed by the army and then presented as rebels killed in combat. Many were trade union activists or community leaders; others were victims of "social cleansing," the rounding up and killing of homeless people and other social outcasts. The Colombian military receives some $500 million a year in US assistance. (Latin American Herald Tribune 7/709 from EFE)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti

Chile: Alternative Media Have Their Network

Ex-Bolivian "Minister of Cocaine" deported to face genocide charge

Peruvian provinces paralyzed by paro

New Peru cabinet tilts back to ruling party

Colombia's Stalled Trade Agreement

Colombian bounty-hunters bring down Pablo Escobar's escaped hippopotamus

Zelaya to Honduran armed forces: "Stop the repression!"

Honduras: Zelaya supporters block roads; Chávez warns dialogue a "trap"

Honduras: non-dialogue in Costa Rica; real repression in Tegucigalpa

Costa Rica's Arias to mediate in Honduran crisis; US withdraws recognition?

Honduras Coup Government Detains Father of Boy Who Died in Protests

Honduran Teachers Defy Coup Government, Maintain Strike

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya Discusses Coup, Costa Rica Talks, U.S. Role and More

Video Report: Honduran Coup Resistance Growing

Video Reports: Honduras Under Siege, Clashes Turn Deadly

Photo Essay - Tragedy in Honduras: Army Shoots and Kills Protesters

High Stakes for Honduras

Honduras, Washington and Latin America: Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Good Neighbor

Showdown in 'Tegucigolpe'

Honduras: Zelaya's jet denied entry; military admits coup was "criminal"

LA Times op-ed: "non-coup" in Honduras

From Memory to Resistance, Children Bear Witness: HIJOS Celebrates 10 Years in Guatemala

Mexico: Oaxaca Justice Condemns Innocent APPO Man for the Murder of Brad Will

Oaxaca: activist gets prison in Brad Will case

Michoacán: "La Familia" strikes back hard at federales

The End of an Era: The Cold War in El Salvador and Cuba

UN Cover-up in Haiti

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