David Murillo waits patiently for an update. Next to him, a table overflows with piles of manila folders packed with documentation of murders, disappearances, and other human rights violations. Whenever he travels from his home in Olancho to the Honduran capital, he stops by the office of the Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras to see if there’s any progress in his son’s case.
Murillo’s voice catches slightly when he talks about his son. Nineteen-year-old Isis Obed Murillo was shot and killed by a soldier a week after the June 28, 2009, coup, when hundreds of thousands converged on the airport, hoping to welcome ousted president Manuel Zelaya home. Now more than five years later, militarization is still on the rise, but David Murillo maintains his hope for justice.
“We continue to struggle, and we continue to hope for justice. We’re not going to let up until we see a window of opportunity for peace in this country,” says Murillo. His optimism wavers when he reflects on the current situation. “There’s no change, no transformation in the country. More than anything, what they’re doing is applying window dressing to the country,” he says.
The norm in post-coup Honduras
Militarization, impunity, and human rights abuses have dominated Honduras since the coup. Joining the regular national police force on the streets are soldiers, military police, and new militarized elite special police forces with U.S. and Colombian training. Canadian aid to security forces and investigative units has picked up, but some of it has produced more concerns than results.
Following the 2009 coup, Honduras shot to the top of the global list of per-capita homicide rates. Between 2000 and 2013, more than 60,000 homicides occurred — with 27,272 of the homicides taking place between 2010 and 2013. In a country of only eight million, more people were killed in the last 14 years than the entire population of Fredericton, New Brunswick, or North Bay, Ontario. Of the over twenty-seven thousand homicides between 2010 and 2013, only an estimated four per cent resulted in a conviction.