In the five years since the 2009 coup d’etat, Honduras has descended into a state of violence that has touched nearly every aspect of society. Young people are fleeing the country in record numbers, sparking media attention in the United States as U.S. Customs and Border Patrol have been unequipped to adequately deal with the influx of minors. The youth are not only fleeing the violence, but also the stagnant economy that promises little future for the next generations. In a 2013 report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), the authors find that Honduras now has the most unequal distribution of income in Latin America and that nearly 100 percent of economic growth since the coup has flowed into the pockets of the richest 10 percent. Social spending has plummeted since the coup and extreme poverty has increased by over 25 percent. Unemployment, underemployment, and the number of Honduran workers being paid less than minimum wage have all gone up over the last five years. It is no wonder then that youth are leaving, fleeing the violence, impunity, and economic model that only benefit the powerful. We work and pray every day for a new Honduras and for a U.S. foreign policy that prioritizes human rights, standing in solidarity with those who confront impunity and put their lives on the line as they dare to dream of a better world.
The following opinion piece originally was published on June 29, 2014 by Radio Progreso, an independent radio station (see NewsNotes May-June 2014) and Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC), a social analysis and action center. Both organizations are directed by Padre Melo, a Jesuit priest who (along with the staff) has often come under threat from the post-coup Honduran authorities. Eben Levey, who has worked with the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns as an intern since September 2013, translated the article from its original Spanish:
"On June 28, 2009, Honduras awoke to the announcement of a coup d’etat, which five years later continues to manifest its tragic effects on democratic institutions and on the life of a citizenry trapped by impunity and violence that governs, controls, blackmails, and permanently threatens society.
"In the post-coup Honduras, just in the last year, there were 109 massacres, 6,757 homicides, that is to say, 563 homicides per months, and on average, 19 victims per day. In the post-coup Honduras, femicides increased from 512 to more than 600 in 2012 and 2013. In the post-coup Honduras, members of the National Police assassinated 149 people between January 2011 and November 2012.
"In the post-coup Honduras, more than 32 journalists and media workers have been assassinated with impunity. In the post-coup Honduras, 765 students from primary schools, secondary schools, and universities have been assassinated between January 2010 and May 2014. In the post-coup Honduras, just during the government of ‘Pepe’ Lobo, 3,901 boys, girls, and youth under the age of 23 were assassinated, and through the third month of the current government, that number is near 270.
"In the post-coup Honduras, impunity has been strengthened by tainted justice and an amnesty law that favors those who attacked democracy and human rights. In the post-coup Honduras, those who committed the coup remain in power as if they were national heroes, and they maintain control over the key institutions of justice and security.
"In the post-coup Honduras, the fatal trinity of impunity, corruption and concentration of power has deeply wounded the heart of the country and denies all justice. In the post-coup Honduras, the country is sold in pieces, and the natural resources of communities are, without any consultation, given away to businesses and unscrupulous businessmen who are often more than willing to use violence against the communities.
"However, in the post-coup Honduras, thousands of victims continue to demand justice, fighting directly against impunity and those impunity protects, they continue defending their territories with their lives, and they continue to rebel against despair and suffering to yell ‘ENOUGH!’ And this almost desperate cry comes from within the souls of millions of people driven by the dream of a Honduras free from fear, free from violence, free from misery. Step by step, slowly, we are building from the quotidian community struggles a shared Honduras based on justice and solidarity."