|Military Coup in Honduras|
The School of Coups is at it again...
Tegucigalpa, Honduras - On June 28, 2009, graduates of the School of the Americas overthrew the democratically-elected government of Honduras.
In a well-planned operation, 200 masked soldiers under the command of General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez stormed the presidential palace in the middle of the night. The soldiers grabbed President Zelaya from his bed, forced him onto an airplane and flew him into exile. The state television was taken off the air. Electricity to the capital, Tegucigalpa, was cut, as were telephone lines and cell phone service.
The leadership of SOA graduates in the coup follows a pattern of anti-democratic actions by graduates of the school (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, WHINSEC), a U.S. military training facility for Latin American soldiers.
The Pentagon’s claim that the institute instills respect for democracy and civilian leadership, while teaching military combat skills, has once again been disproved by the actions of the institute’s graduates.
The crisis in Honduras began when the military refused to distribute ballot boxes for a referendum to determine whether or not a majority of Hondurans want to enter a process to modify their constitution. In response, President Zelaya fired the head of the military, SOA graduate General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez. The heads of all branches of the armed forces then quit in solidarity with Vásquez. Vásquez, however, refused to step down, bolstered by a Court ruling that reinstated him. Vásquez remains in control of the armed forces.
The SOA has a long and shameful history in Honduras. In 1975, SOA graduate General Juan Melgar Castro became the military dictator of Honduras. From 1980-1982 the dictatorial regime was headed by yet another SOA grad, Policarpo Paz García, who intensified repression by Battalion 3-16, one of the most feared death squads in the Americas.
Honduran social movements are resisting the regime and engaging in daily pro-democracy protests, strikes and civil disobedience. Thousands of farmers, women, indigenous people, teachers, students, unionists and ordinary citizens have united in the National Front of Resistance against the Coup. The Honduran military has responded with curfews, suppression of critical media, brutal repression and even murder.
The outcome of the struggle between the military coup and the anti-coup resistance will have far-reaching consequences for all of the Americas. Join the resistance!
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The Spring issue contains mobilizing information for the SOA Watch Border Convergence, which is taking place from October 7-10, 2016 at the US/Mexico border in Nogales, and also focuses on recent developments in Latin America and within the SOA Watch movement.
Click here to download a PDF version of the Spring 2016 issue.
As this issue of Presente went to print, our hearts were heavy. The assassination of our dear friend and comrade Berta Cáceres, and the increased repression against social movement groups, have left us shocked and saddened. SOA Watch Latin America liaison Brigitte Gynther traveled to Honduras the morning after she learned about the assassination and has been coordinating SOA Watch’s response together with our partner groups on the ground. If you do not already receive Urgent Action emails from us, please click here to sign up now.
The recent decision by the U.S. judge in North Carolina to extradite one of the perpetrators of the 1989 massacre at the University of San Salvador gives us hope that justice will prevail in the end. It will take all of us to create change! Please join us as we mobilize to the U.S./Mexico border from October 7-10, 2016!
Other articles in this issue cover a protest by SOA Watch in Chile against US bases in Latin America, the FBI surveillance of SOA Watch, updates from Colombia and Mexico, news about the first Border Patrol agent to receive training at WHINSEC, background information about Direct Action, the Youth Encuentro in Guatemala, and more.
Download this issue of Presente here.
Interview with Father Fausto Mila in Honduras
SOA Watch participated in the International Human Rights Encuentro in Honduras in February 2012. Laura Jung spoke with Father Fausto Milla, a religious leader in the Honduran movement who has been persecuted by the State of Honduras.
By Pablo Ruiz, Equipo Latinoamericano of SOA Watch
SOAW Chile achieved an important victory; to declassify the names of over 760 Chilean soldiers who took courses at the School of the Americas/WHINSEC during the past decade.
For more info about ¡Presente!, go to About US.
There never was a good war or a bad peace.
- Benjamin Franklin
A challenging new documentary has quickly become one of the
widest-reaching films to encapsulate the history of the SOA Watch
An in-depth look at the torture practices of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, focusing on an innocent taxi driver in Afghanistan who was tortured and killed in 2002.