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OpiniĆ³n

The Causes Of Honduran Flight From Their Country

Por Nora Gallardo
September 2018

My first Broadside article on Honduras concentrated on the murder of environmentalist Berta Caceres.  This article touches on the recent arrest of one the plotters of her death, David Castillo, but mainly on the Hondurans fleeing their country. At present, a caravan, primarily of Hondurans, have walked from their country to Mexico, where they remain camped out at the U.S. border. Policies of both the “elites” in Honduras and the U.S. have not allowed economic and social growth.
According to the Council of Economical Affairs article (7/2015)  “the elite have grown wealthier through increased industrialization, the poor continue to be left out. There is 60% Honduran poverty rate.”  Such unchecked industrialization has contributed to pollution.  Pollution contributed to the 9 million deaths worldwide.

David Castillo is the executive President of ‘DESA’ (Desarrolles Energetico), the company building the Agua Zarca Dam over the Gualcarque River for a hydroelectric plant, whose construction was fought against by a campaign led by Berta Caceres.  The local indigenous communities were not allowed to be involved in the project planning as mandated in the law.  DESA is controlled by the Atala family linked to the largest bank in Honduras and is suspected of backing the 2009 coup of President Zalaya. Berta was one of 130 environmentalists killed since this 2009 coup.

According to a 3/17/17 Guardian article, the name of Berta Caceres had appeared on a military hit list provided by elite U.S. forces. “These leaked court documents raise concerns that the murder of the Honduran environmentalist Berta Caceres was an extrajudicial killing planned by military intelligence specialists linked to the country’s U.S. trained Special Forces. Honduras has the highest murder rate for environmental activists in the world mostly because of conflict over land rights.”

Manuel Zalaya was a wealthy logger and rancher, but he raised the minimum wage, provided free school lunches and pensions for workers, built new schools, and subsidized public transportation.  He dared to attempt to change a constitution written during the U.S. backed military dictator Paz Garcia. (6/19/16 Huff Post).

 U.S. policies also supported this coup by continuing to send millions in financial support to President Jose Porfirio Lobo Mejia, who said following the coup, “the country was now opened for business.” Since 2009, the economy has stagnated, cocaine trafficking through Honduras and organized crime have increased, adding to the murder rate. In Honduras, 7,300 people have been murdered since 2009, including journalists not aligned with the government and campesinos (farmers).

In 2011, Honduras had the world’s highest murder rate of 85 per 100,000,16 times more than the U.S. (2/17/12 Times Herald Record article from the Associated Press. 1 out of five in Honduras live in extreme poverty ($1.90 U.S. per day), facing poor education, underemployment and the fate of pollution that has left El Salvador with 90% of its rivers contaminated, now the second most deforested country in the Americas (“Free trade Agreements and Environmental Destruction,” Nick Alexandrov 6/20/14 WWW.Counterpunch.org).

In addition to the high poverty rate, most people don’t make the official $300 per month minimum wage. Also despite land struggles and continuing violence, the U.S. has continued funding the government, particularly its military.

 Why does our Congress allow funding of Honduras after the coup? It was written, “that after the coup, congressman caved in to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairwomen of the House of Foreign Affairs, and at that time her allies, because Honduras was the first domino to push back against the center-left and leftish forces that have won elections in Latin America”   (The Argentina Independent 6/23/13).

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce/Bureau of Economic Analysis, “U.S. investment in Honduras was $741 million for 2014 and $1.175 billion for 2015.
 
Another recent insult to the people of Honduras is the result of the 11/17/2017 Presentdential election after which The Organization of American States called for a new election. Juan Orlando Hernandez, a conservative, was declared the winner on 11/26/2017 by about 50,000 votes by the Honduran electoral commission. But initially, the opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla was winning after 68% of the votes were in.  Then a questionable shift occurred. There are  multiple allegations of fraud. Twenty-two people have since died while rioting.  U.S. Senator Leahy commented that there is no justification for this government violence.

Why doesn’t Trump tweet about the recent Honduran election, the U.S., and Honduran ‘elite’ participation in controlling the will of the 60% who live in poverty, or those who wish to protect their land, and water supply? Why has the temporary protection status (TPS) for 90,000 Hondurans living in the U.S. just been rescinded?

 

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