The coup organized by SOA graduates that toppled President Manuel Zelaya in 2009 not only brought an end to a democratic government, but also to the lives of more than 80 people who dared to take a stand for justice. And the lives of hundreds other Hondurans lie in the balance. Graduates of the SOA who head state security forces under the illegitimate post-coup regime of Porfirio Lobo continue to violently repress Honduran citizens who organize to bring justice to their nation. These security forces also work in complicity with private security forces to repress small farmers and cooperatives from defending the lands that provide their sustenance.
Every November we gather from around the Americas at the gates of the School of the Americas to remember those whose lives have been lost at the hands of graduates of this school, calling out "Presente". But the situation in Honduras today calls us to do more: to take action today so that there will be no more new names of Honduran victims called from the stage to our response of PRESENTE.
To be "presente" for Honduras today can mean many things. It can mean sharing the story of Honduras with our friends, as it disappears from the mainstream media. It can mean pressuring our members of Congress to stop military aid to a country that uses it to kill its own citizens. It can mean asking President Obama to close the SOA forever, so that there will be no more coups. If just a few more of us took these steps, we could really make a difference.
To be "presente" for Honduras can also mean more. It can mean accompanying a family who has lost a loved one in their struggle to find justice. It can mean actually going to Honduras to stand by communities threatened because of their efforts to defend their livelihood.
Family Accompaniment Program
Over 80 people have lost their lives for taking a stand for justice in Honduras. Thus far, none of these cases have ended in the conviction of those responsible. This flagrant impunity promotes the continuity of violence and repression. Meanwhile, family members of these victims often feel alone in their loss and their struggle.
1. To be in contact with the family, offering moral support, a sense that someone cares about them and about their loved one, and that they are not alone. This does not mean an offer of any material or financial support, but rather contact via letters and emails with the families to show support, especially on particularly important dates: their loved ones birthday, anniversary of death, mother's day, etc.
2. To follow their case and to put pressure on the appropriate authorities to make progress in the case. This can involve emails, faxes and phone calls to Honduran and U.S. authorities that inquire about progress in the case, and apply pressure for expedient action. These efforts combat the culture of impunity that allows repression to continue, with no consequences and also reminds the families that they are not alone in their struggle. If your local group would like to consider becoming involved in this program, please contact Lisa Sullivan at
CICA/COFADEH Short-term Accompaniment Program in Honduras
The Italian Collective in Central America (CICA) and COFADEH have recently launched a short term accompaniment program in Honduras. While the program may expand to other communities experiencing threats for their efforts to defend their lands and livelihood, the pilot program is taking place in the small community of Zacate Grande.
Zacate Grade, located on a southern island in the Gulf of Fonseca, is home to approximately 800 families living in 10 rural farming communities. The island was deserted until the 1950s, when people from the mainland arrived and began small-scale farming operations. While the land has quite obviously been occupied by these poor farmers for generations, it is now being dubiously claimed by Honduras' wealthiest citizen, Miguel Facusse. With the arrival of a highway connecting it to the mainland, Zacate Grande is considered prime beachfront real estate where some of Honduras' richest families have extravagant beach houses.
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