US military aid to Honduras must stop due to death threats
Human rights activists, journalists, and members of the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgendered community have been under constant threat in Honduras since the 2009 military coup ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya.
Since 2009, more than 22 journalists and 70 LGBTQ people have been murdered without a single case being prosecuted in court. Aside from these murders, numerous journalists and human rights workers have reported death threats through e-mail, phone, and personal interaction.
The danger being faced by Hondurans is serious, and many are calling the country the most dangerous place in the world to speak out against the government, especially in the form of journalism. These human rights abuses are serious, and the US government is funding them.
According to www.usaid.gov, the official estimated aid to the Honduran government was nearly $68 million in the FY 2011, with a minimum of $4 million being designated for the construction of two new military bases.
With the enormous pressure on congress to make cuts to our federal budget, there could not be a better time to stop sending money to Honduras, a nation that currently clearly disrespects human rights.
The millions of dollars annually taken out of US taxpayers’ pockets is being placed in the hands of militaristic rulers who have refused to investigate the murders of nearly 100 people, including that of Honduran journalist Alfredo Villatoro. Villatoro was on his way to work when he was kidnapped by six men. He was later found dead in the street with two shots in his head.
This journalist’s death is only one in a nation with a hot climate of hostility towards Honduran journalists and human rights workers. And the absence of security for these journalists is restricting the flow of news sources and stripping Honduran citizens of their right to information.
As a grassroots human rights organization in Ann Arbor, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) is greatly concerned about this issue. The Honduran people are requesting the attention of the international community, and asking that we stand by them in their time of need.
Standing with the Honduran people is as easy as contacting your government representative and requesting that cuts be made to Honduran military spending. It is important that Congress understands why Honduran military aid is the perfect place to begin budget cuts, an area that could save taxpayers millions of dollars over the course of only one year.
On behalf of the many Hondurans facing serious threats to their lives, we ask that you take the time to call your representatives and tell them why you want them to keep money out of the hands of the Honduran military, and in the pockets of the American people.
If you are interested in hearing more about the serious threats to the Honduran people and what you can do to help, join us at our Latin America Task Force meetings which take place the second Tuesday of each month at 7 pm in the First Baptist Church of Ann Arbor. For information, email Molly Peters or in the ICPJ office at 734-663-1870.
Molly Peters is the Latin America Task Force intern at the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice in Ann Arbor.