Letter to Congress regarding Human Rights Situation under the Lobos Government in Honduras

Dear Members of Congress,

During her trip to Latin America earlier this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that she had sent members of Congress a letter informing them that the administration would be restoring aid to Honduras.   “The Honduras crisis has been managed to a successful conclusion” and “without violence”, she told reporters accompanying her on her trip.
Secretary Clinton also stated that the government of Porfirio Lobo had “moved quickly to implement many of the recommendations that (…) were incorporated into the [Oct. 30] Tegucigalpa accord”, including “a truth commission that will be set up.”
In order to put these statements into perspective, we would like to share with you a few short but important recent documents published by respected international and Honduran human rights organizations. They present a picture of recent developments in Honduras that contrasts sharply with Secretary Clinton’s characterizations, and also raise important issues surrounding the current proposal for a “truth commission”.
·        Although Secretary Clinton declared that the Honduras crisis has been “without violence”, the unfortunate reality is that violent attacks directed at groups and individuals opposed to the coup d’état have been a regular occurrence since the June 28th coup and continue to this day. 
o   On March 8, 2010 the Inter American Commission on Human Rights issued a release condemning a series of attacks against activists and their relatives that have occurred since the inauguration of Porfirio Lobo on January 27th. These include three murders, a number of kidnappings, arbitrary detentions, acts of torture and illegal raids. 
o   On March 3rd, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to the Honduras Attorney General stating that these attacks “could generate a chilling effect that would limit the exercise of basic political rights in Honduras.” 
·        The Lobo government has indeed taken steps to establish a “truth commission.” However, serious doubts have been raised regarding the legitimacy and credibility of the commission proposal that is being jointly promoted by the Lobo government and the US administration.    The “Platform for Human Rights” – a coalition that includes each of Honduras’ key human rights organizations – issued a statement on Feb. 18.  The coalition considers that “the conditions for such a commission do not exist” given that, among other reasons:
o   “There is no political will to stop the violation of human rights. Violations continue to be perpetrated against those who (…) condemn the coup d’etat.”
o   The Commission is not being created in conformity with respected international standards applicable to truth commissions. For example, there has been no consultative process involving victims and human rights organizations so as to define the mandate or the type of violations to be investigated.”
o   “State officials, who are authors or accomplices to human rights violations, continue to hold office and could as a consequence be involved in the investigation process.”
In her statements to the press in Costa Rica, Secretary Clinton noted that many governments in the hemisphere have pursued a different course than the US administration and have chosen not to recognize the Lobo government. “I don’t know what they’re waiting for,” she said, “but that’s their right, to wait.”
Notwithstanding these statements, we believe that the ongoing attacks against political activists in Honduras should make the administration think twice about normalizing relations with the Lobo government. The administration should also take note of the strong criticism that has been raised by Honduras’ most important human rights organizations regarding the Lobo government’s proposal for a Truth Commission. 
Best regards,

Quixote Center

United Steelworkers, AFL-CIO/CLC (USW)

Just Foreign Policy

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas—Institute Justice Team

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Pax-Christi USA- : National Catholic Peace Movement

SOA Watch

Witness for Peace

Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)

Fellowship of Reconciliation Task Force on Latin America and the Caribbean

Alliance for Global Justice

Nicaragua Network

Campaign for Labor Rights

International Action Center

May I Speak Freely Media

Forging Alliances South and North (ForAL)

Committee in Solidarity with the Honduran Resistance – Boston

8th Day Center for Justice

St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America

La Voz de los de Abajo

U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities

USLEAP- US Labor Education in the Americas Project

Coalition for Peace and Democracy in Honduras-Los Angeles

Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace and Justice (Chicago)

Veterans For Peace, Chapter 02, Jersey City, NJ

Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, L.A.

 Latin America Solidarity Committee, Milwaukee

Teachers for Social Justice of Chicago


Nonviolence International  

Loyola University Department of Social Justice

Peace Action Task Force of Hyde Park

National Immigrant Solidarity Network

Anti-War Committee (Minneapolis, MN)

Colombia Action Network

Racine/Kenosha Central America Solidarity Coalition

PATRIA MORAZAN (Houston, Texas)

Minnesota Hands off Honduras

Latin American Solidarity Coalition

Portland Central America Solidarity Committee

International Solidarity Movement-Chicago chapter

Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas

Direct Action for Rights and Equality

Rights Action

https://friendshipamericas.org/sites/default/files/sites/quixote.org/files/Honduras WHEM TruthCommission response letter.f.pdf, https://friendshipamericas.org/sites/default/files/sites/quixote.org/files/Honduras WHEM TruthCommission response letter.f_0.pdf