Authors: Antonio Saadipour Sellés, Lisa Haugaard
In Honduras, the country’s elites collude to finance environmentally destructive mega-projects, persecute human rights, environmental, and land defenders, and guarantee impunity from prosecution for their crimes. According to Global Witness, Honduras is the mostdangerous country per capita for environmental and land defenders and,according to Frontline Defenders, the world’s third deadliest country for human rights defenders.
Criminal networks and corruption reach even the highest levels of government in Honduras. Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department published a list of “more than 50 current and former officials, including former presidents and active lawmakers, suspected of corruption or undermining democracy” in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Among them are current Honduran legislators and former Honduran president José Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo Sosa and his wife Rosa Elena Bonilla de Lobo. In March, former Honduran congressman Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández was sentenced to life in prison for his years-long involvement in a massive drug trafficking operation. And the allegations that his brother and current president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, accepted bribes from drug cartels keep surfacing in trials in the Southern District of New York.
The recent conviction of David Castillo, former manager of the company Desarrollos Energéticos, for masterminding the 2016 murder of Indigenous human rights defender Berta Cáceres has set a new precedent in Honduras. On the day of his conviction, Laura Zúñiga Cáceres, Berta’s youngest daughter, said, “Today is a day of victory in a long process. This is one more step on that long path to justice. We will keep contributing to this process so that [such crimes] are not repeated, but also so that the judicial process can lead to healing.”
Many more steps must be taken before we truly see justice in Honduras.
What’s Going On?
In February, we asked you to call your senators to urge them to support Senator Merkley’s Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act of 2021 (S. 388), which would “suspend certain United States assistance for the Government of Honduras until corruption, impunity, and human rights violations are no longer systemic, and the perpetrators of these crimes are being brought to justice.” In April, Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Jesus “Chuy” García (D-IL), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) led a group of 21 lawmakers in introducing the House companion to Sen. Merkley’s bill, H.R. 2716.
Read the full text of the bill here.
What You Can Do!
Fill out this form to send a message to your representative urging them to cosponsor the bill. We’ve already drafted it for you (although you can make edits)! All you have to do is enter your contact information.
As Rep. Schakowksy stated, “It is well past time for the U.S. to make clear that the Honduran government must restore the rule of law, and respect and uphold human and civil rights. Until that time, we must cease our aid, impose sanctions, and hold those in power accountable.” Impunity ends where accountability begins.