The US historically and consistently practices intervention in Latin American countries. IFCLA’s Demilitarization programming advances awareness of the reality and impacts of US intervention, focusing on the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. IFCLA strives to educate the St. Louis community on the ways that US financial intervention, military training, and corporate exploitation have led to the intentional overthrow of democratically elected governments, reinforced repression, and fueled civil wars which have killed countless civilians in these countries. Through education and action, we seek to build a network of concerned allies who are prepared to engage elected officials and work for policy change in the US to end these devastating interventions.
In Honduras, the impact of US intervention is very clearly evident. The US played an instrumental role in the 2009 military coup coup d'état that resulted in the presidency of Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH). Many Hondurans call this presidency “the dictatorship” in recognition of its political atrocities. This dictatorship is reminiscent of other police states in Central American history: state-sponsored repression, political assassinations, arbitrary arrests, torture, suspension of due process, criminalization of peaceful protest, death threats, intimidation, political corruption and a widespread culture of impunity.
You can take the following actions to advocate for justice in Honduras:
Take action: the berta caceres human rights in honduras act
The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Act (HR1945), demanding a suspension of all U.S. security aid to Honduras, was recently reintroduced by Rep. Hank Johnson's (GA) office with a total of 43 initial cosponsors, including various new supporters like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Deb Haaland, and returning Reps who have signed for the first time, like Bennie Thompson [MS], Sheila Jackson Lee [TX], and Donald Payne [NJ])! Since the reintroduction, 10 more have signed, bringing us to a total of 53 co-sponsors (see full list of below), including 4 in the past few days.
Some numbers on our momentum:
2016 version had 5 initial cosponsors and 54 total cosponsors (in addition to Johnson)
2017 version had 25 initial cosponsors and 71 total cosponsors
2019 version has 43 initial cosponsors… currently 53 total cosponsors
Securing the support of all of last year’s Reps will bring us quickly to 65. And there are many new Reps that are likely supporters too.
The Berta Cáceres Act was originally introduced in 2016, two months after the assassination of beloved Honduran Indigenous and feminist leader Berta Cáceres. The Act was met with immediate and broad support including the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, and over a hundred other faith, labor, environmental, and human rights organizations. Berta's family and organization, COPINH (the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), immediately applauded the action and continue to advocate for the legislation.
The bill states that "The Honduran police are widely established to be deeply corrupt and to commit human rights abuses, including torture, rape, illegal detention, and murder, with impunity” and that the military has committed violations of human rights, and therefore asks that the United States suspend all “...security assistance to Honduran military and police until such time as human rights violations by Honduran state security forces cease and their perpetrators are brought to justice.”
The bill demands that all U.S. aid to Honduran security forces must cease, and the U.S. must vote no on all loans from multinational development banks to Honduras until the Honduran government has met the following conditions:
- Pursued all legal avenues to bring to trial and obtain a verdict of all those who ordered and carried out the murders of Berta Cáceres, the killings of over 100 small-farmer activists in the Aguán Valley, the killings of 22 people and forced disappearance of 1 person by state security forces in the context of the 2017 postelectoral, the May 3, 2016 armed attack on Félix Molina, and the November 26, 2018 shooting of Geovany Sierra.
-Investigated and successfully prosecuted members of military and police forces who are credibly found to have violated human rights, and ensured that the military and police cooperated in such cases, and that such violations have ceased;
-Withdrawn the military from domestic policing, in accordance with the Honduran Constitution, and ensured that all domestic police functions are separated from the command and control of the Armed Forces of Honduras and are instead directly responsible to civilian authority;
-Established effective protection of the rights of trade unionists, journalists, human rights defenders, the Indigenous, the Afro-Indigenous, small-farmers, and LGBTI activists, critics of the government, and other civil society activists to operate without interference; and
-Taken effective steps to fully establish the rule of law and to guarantee a judicial system that is capable of investigating, prosecuting, and bringing to justice members of the police and military who have committed human rights abuses.
When you call your Representative's office, ask to speak to the foreign policy aide. Use the script below in speaking with the aide. If the aide has not seen the bill, ask for the aide’s email address so that you can forward a copy of the bill. If the foreign policy aide is not available, ask to leave a message on their voice mail. Be sure to get the name foreign policy staffer so you can follow up.
“My name is _____. I am a constituent from (your town/city) in (your state). I am calling to ask Rep. _____ to co-sponsor H.R. 1945, The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act calling for a suspension of U.S. security aid to Honduras until human rights violations committed by the Honduran security forces cease. Has Rep. _______ seen this bill? Can I count on him/her to sign on? Please call me this week at (_your phone number_) to let me know if you have seen the letter, and if Rep. _____ will sign it.”
**In your phone conversation, please highlight why this letter is important to you, especially if you have traveled to Honduras or heard a Honduran activist speak in your community.
To co-sponsor the bill (or if the staffer wishes an official copy of the bill), representative’s staffer must contact Chelsea Grey (firstname.lastname@example.org) in Rep. Johnson’s (GA) office. NOTE: please do not contact Rep. Johnson’s staff yourself, but ask the staffer to do so.
If you are in the district of one of the original sponsors, please be SURE to thank them profusely, and get your friends to, as well.