Free Honduran Political Prisoners, Stop Criminalization Of Social Movements
On October 18th, 2019, Antonio “Tony” Hernández, brother of Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández was found guilty of drug trafficking charges by a jury in the Southern District Court of New York. While the evidence and testimony of the trial implicate the Honduran president and other high officials of the Honduran government in “state-sponsored drug trafficking”, obstruction of justice, severe abuses of power, and violence, the Honduran regime has criminalized activists and everyone that is opposed to Juan Orlando’s administration.
The continued criminalization of activists in Honduras has led to 10 political prisoners being held pre-trial in prison and at least 173 people who face prosecution for their participation in protests or their opposition to the regime. Among the political are the 7 environmental defenders of the Guapinol community who are held in the military-controlled maximum-security prison La Tolva and one in the La Ceiba Prison, and the teacher Rommel Herrera who was just transferred from La Tolva to a psychiatric hospital due to a severe mental health crisis after almost 5 months of pretrial detention under inhuman conditions.
In addition, the longest-imprisoned political prisoner, Gustavo Cáceres has been held in the prison in El Progreso despite having a medically diagnosed serious cognitive disability. Unable to speak, read, or write, Cáceres has been jailed for almost two years accused of trumped up charges related to being in the physical vicinity of protests in 2017. The trial against Cáceres will take place next Monday, October 28 in El Progreso. We demand that due process and justice be upheld in his case and that he be released immediately from detention.
A regime that was already considered illegitimate by most Hondurans and across the international community due to its continuation of the 2009 coup and Juan Orlando Hernandez’s illegal and fraudulent re- election in 2017, has now been called a drug-trafficking regime by U.S. federal prosecutors. This is the time to join the calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners from detention, that charges related to protesting be dropped, that the Honduran government respect the Constitutional right to protest without facing lethal force, and that the US and Canada end all political and material support for the Juan Orlando Hernandez regime.