In militarized Honduras, delegation speaks truth to power at U.S. embassy

NCR Editor’s note: Tom Webb traveled with an ecumenical delegation to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Jan. 24-30 to witness the repression against peaceful demonstrations to the recent presidential election. 

by Tom Webb

TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS — After three days of intense listening, conversing and witnessing, members of the Emergency Religious Delegation to Honduras took a four-hour bus trip Jan. 28 from El Progreso to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to deliver a report to the U.S. Embassy.

We arrived shortly before sunset at the Loyola Center and prepared for a nighttime vigil outside the embassy. This site also serves as the satellite for Radio Progreso, one of the few independent radio networks in Honduras which investigates, analyzes and reports on human rights violations, military misconduct and the work of environmental defenders throughout the country. The main station in El Progreso is directed by Jesuit Fr. Ismael Moreno, also known as Padre Melo, a native Honduran who is considered one of the leading voices for the poor and marginalized. Honduras is a desperately impoverished nation, with one out of five Hondurans in rural areas living on less than $1.90 a day, according to the World Bank.

At nightfall the delegation made their way through narrow and twisting streets to the embassy. We carried two six-foot-long orange banners with our delegation name proudly emblazoned on them. Several other people carried crosses with black ribbons bearing the names of seven of 33 civilians who have been killed in the post-election, government-ordered national repression.

It was difficult to avoid the heavily militarized state of this country. Over 100 heavily armed military and national police lined the sidewalk of the block-long embassy, arm-to-arm. Tear-gas guns and automatic weapons were menacingly displayed. The steps to the embassy were even more heavily guarded with several soldiers on each of the six steps to the main entrance…

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