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POLICY ANALYSIS: a Year After the Coup

June 25th, 2010

By Galen Cohee Baynes, Nicaragua International Team

Outspoken critics of last year’s coup in Honduras and its aftermath continue to live in a state of persecution.  Journalists in particular have been subject to violence since Porfirio Lobo’s government came to power in January, with at least seven journalists having been murdered so far this year.  Ismael Moreno (known in Honduras as Father Melo), a Jesuit priest, radio host and contributor to Envío magazine, condemned the coup from the start.  As a result, his radio station was occupied by the military following the coup and he began receiving death threats.  Those threats have increased in intensity in the last two months, likely due to Father Melo’s work to protect Irma Melissa Villanueva, who was gang-raped by police in the wake of the coup.  Father Melo continues to write about events unfolding in Honduras, but his situation is increasingly dangerous.

Father Melo

Despite the fact that opposition voices in Honduras continue to face violence and persecution, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other State Department officials have remained mute on the subject, applauding the formation of a widely criticized truth commission.  While Porfirio Lobo’s government hopes that the creation of the commission will win Honduras' entry back into international bodies like the Organization of American States, its legitimacy has been called to question based on the process for choosing commissioners, the limitations in terms of its scope, and its accessibility to the public.  Members of the commission (which will be headed by Guatemalan ex-president Eduardo Stein) were chosen by Lobo’s administration with little transparency in the process.  The body is limited to investigating the events specifically surrounding Manuel Zelaya’s ouster and will not look into abuses committed in the months following the coup d’etat.  And the commission has the authority to declare findings confidential, in which case the findings will not be released publicly for ten years.

International solidarity with Honduras is still in need.  Consider traveling to Honduras with Witness for Peace in August to observe the current political climate and stay informed with unfolding events.