Honduras: Violence and Human Rights Violations Escalate

Honduras is immersed in a very worrying spiral of violence, and the international trade union movement remains on the alert for human rights violations. Being a trade unionist or part of the Resistance Front implies major risks in the Honduras of today. Various trade union and community leaders have faced death threats and attempts on their lives over recent weeks.

The situation in the country is deeply worrying: the repression continues unabated and the public sector is paralysed by the workers’ protest in support of the demand for an increase in their wages and the national minimum wage, against a background of serious hardships and constant human rights violations.

On 10 June, Oscar Molina, the brother-in-law of Porfirio Ponce, vice president of the drinks industry union STIBYS, was killed on the spot when two men came out of their vehicle, in broad daylight, and shot him 42 times in full public view when he stopped at a traffic light at a busy junction.

Shortly prior to this attack, Carolina Pineda, finance secretary of the secondary teachers’ association COPEMH, suffered an attempt on her life by hooded men who attacked the vehicle she was driving, shooting at her with high-calibre weapons. She was fortunately able to escape from her attackers, taking refuge in a private house, where she was offered protection. Carolina Pineda is a leader of one of the teachers’ organisations most committed to the fight against the coup. She had reported having received repeated death threats by telephone and text message.

On 12 June, José Luis Baquedano, deputy general secretary of the CUTH trade union confederation, was attacked as he travelled in a van with his daughter and three grandchildren by armed assailants in a grey minibus with smoked-glass windows who opened fire with a pistol. Fortunately no one was harmed. The trade union leader, also an executive member of the National Resistance Front (FNRP), managed to escape the attackers. Short afterwards, his vehicle was stopped by a police patrol; rather than offering him help, the police officers accused him of being responsible for the shots, allowing the gunmen to escape.

In two letters sent to President Porfirio Lobos (http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/Atentado_contra_dirigente_de_la_CUTH_junio_2_.pdf and http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/Espiral_de_violencia_en_Honduras_1.pdf ), ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder urged him to take every action necessary to allow the people of Honduras to live in a genuine democracy, to investigate all these incidents and bring all those responsible to justice. “It is essential that the rule of law be established, with respect for the fundamental rights of the people and workers of Honduras, and that a solid dialogue be established with civil society, including trade union and social organisations,” said the ITUC general secretary.