Honduras: "People Are In The Streets Every Day"
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A national march against the coup in Honduras kicked off Wednesday, with demonstrators leaving from every corner of the country and marching up to 15 hours a day to demonstrate their support for the return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya. Organizers with the National Front Against the Coup say participants, including Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the wife of ousted President Manuel Zelaya and popular Catholic priest Andrés Tamayo, plan to march 15 hours per day, through hills, rain and military checkpoints, converging early next week in either San Pedro Sula or Tegucigalpa, the country's two main cities.
The march was planned following a vigil, held Monday, for two teachers and active coup resisters, both of whom died over the weekend. The first, Abraham Vallejo Soriano, 38, who was shot on July 30 during a march in support of the return of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. Then, on Saturday, while leaving Vallejo Soriano’s wake, teacher Martin Florencio Rivera Barrientos, 45, was stabbed more than 25 times.
Their deaths bring the total number of people killed for their participation in the resistance to the coup in Honduras to nine, according to an August 3 press release from the International Solidarity, Observation and Accompaniment Mission in Honduras, a delegation comprised of various Latin American and European human rights experts, academics and others.
Among the dead are also two union leaders, an LGBT movement leader, a radio journalist, and several young demonstrators, including Pedro Magdiel Muñoz Salvador, 22, whose body was discovered close to the Nicaragua-Honduras border two days after being taken into police custody, according to a statement released by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an arm of the Organization of American States. The release says his body was found with "signs of torture," which other sources say included at least 40 stab wounds. [Warning: graphic images]
"The Commission calls for an investigation into the killings and punish those responsible," the IACHR statement reads. "The IACHR also calls for the de facto regime to take all measures to ensure the right to life, integrity and security of all inhabitants of Honduras."
The International Mission’s July 23 report also cited 1,275 curfew and demonstration-related arrests as of that date. A massive crackdown during a national strike on July 30 is believed to have risen that number by at least a few hundred more.
The report from the International Solidarity, Observation and Accompaniment Mission in Honduras says the legal basis for the arrests comes from Executive Order No. 011-2009, requested by interim President Roberto Micheletti, which temporarily suspended constitutional rights while a curfew was in place. It was never renewed, according to the Mission, making its ongoing enforcement illegal.
In addition, the report says, constitutional rights, according to Honduran law, can only be suspended in the case of a foreign invasion or natural disaster -- neither of which is currently the case. Nonetheless, its enforcement continues, leading to widespread militarization, repression and thousands of arbitrary arrests.
According to Abencio Fernández Pineda, former attorney for the non-government organization the Committee of the Relatives of Disappeared Detainees of Honduras, the crackdown on dissent harkens back to the 1980s, a time when the Honduran army, with U.S. support, waged a covert campaign against leftist leaders. According to the National Security Archive, a documentation project of George Washington University that stores information from declassified U.S. government documents, at least 184 people were disappeared during that era. Most are believed to have been kidnapped and executed by secret police units such as the notorious Battalion 316, which was trained and equipped by the CIA to advance U.S. foreign policy in the region.