Post-election Honduras means living in a hyper-militarized state

NCR Editor’s note: Tom Webb is traveling with an ecumenical delegation to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Jan. 24-30 to witness the repression against peaceful demonstrations to the recent presidential election. National Catholic Reporter will continue to have reports from the delegation in the coming days.

by Tom Webb

SAN PEDRO SULA, HONDURAS — In the aftermath of the allegedly fraudulent presidential election in November 2017, Hondurans have become accustomed to living under military rule.

In the northern region around San Pedro Sula, small squads of military and national police routinely occupy strategic intersections, bridges and demonstration points, keeping order armed with batons, tear gas and automatic weapons. In worse scenarios, order has involved beatings, home invasions, and the use of weapons maiming, wounding and in several instances actually killing innocent people.

Juan Orlando Hernández was inaugurated to a second term in office Jan. 27 in a heavily guarded ceremony in the National Stadium in Tegucigalpa. On that same day, several delegates from an interfaith group of Americans who journeyed to Honduras to accompany our Honduran brothers and sisters during this time of darkness joined with reporters from Radio Progreso to examine firsthand how this tense country might fare.

We accompanied four teams of reporters to points around El Progreso and San Pedro Sula to observe and speak to local residents.

What we found were generally a few scattered acts of protest that were met with a more tentative response from the military battalions. In Puller, north of El Progreso, we witnessed a small dirt road blocked by a burning log and palm fronds. As part of a weeklong strike to protest the election, the fire was intended to dissuade workers from going to their jobs at the Hondupalma factory in the rural community Aldea La 36. While some 100 villagers from the small rural community hovered around the smoking fire, there was no police response. But the protesters’ tactics proved successful as a caravan of cars and trucks idled on the road with no way to enter…

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