A member of the United States Congress, Betty McCollum, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry condemning the country’s continued financial support of the Honduran government in spite of a catalogue of horrifying human rights abuses committed by officials.
And as the spotlight turns to the U.S. involvement with the Central American country, the human rights group Centre for Economic Policy Research told teleSUR former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton needs to explain her position regarding her role in the 2009 coup in Honduras, which paved the way for rampant impunity.
“It appears she'd rather people not know this history,” CEPR's international communications director, Dan Beeton, told teleSUR.
McCollum's letter mentioned the current outrage in Honduras at the assassination of renowned activist Berta Caceres, whose family claims responsibility lies with the state. Caceres had been outspoken about the U.S. and Clinton’s role in the military coup.
“The recent murder of the internationally renowned Indigenous activist Berta Caceres only highlights the fact that violence, lawlessness, corruption, and human abuses by members of the military and police make Honduras the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere,” the Democrat representative for Minnesota's 4th congressional district wrote.
The Leahy Law
McCollum “respectfully” asked Kerry to answer questions regarding U.S. funds from the Department of State and the Department of Defense to the Honduran government, including with people linked to human rights abuses.
“I respectfully request that the Department respond to me with regard to the enclosed correspondence and provide me with your assessment of the current status of U.S. assistance and full implementation of the Leahy Law,” she wrote, referring to the human rights law banning the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Defense from giving military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity.
McCollum called for a thorough investigation into U.S. assistance to the government of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
“Part of this review must be a guarantee that the Leahy Law is being fully enforced and no U.S. funds are being used to support or train any security forces or individuals linked to human rights abuses,” she added.
Attached to the letter was a list of “credible evidence regarding individuals and units that have committed human rights abuses in Honduras, which fall under the scope of the Leahy Law,” provided by prominent U.S. human rights nongovernmental organizations, including the Honduras Accompaniment Project, Witness for Peace and CEPR.
The disturbing document includes abuses by the Honduran military, military police, and regular police, which have never been prosecuted.
The document cites the case of current General Commissioner of the National Police, Hector Ivan Mejia and members of the Choloma and San Pedro Sula police. In August 2009, the testimony says, four members of the police kidnapped and gang-raped Melissa Irma Villanueva, while she was taking part in a protest.
“Now bitch, now you’re gonna see what happens to you for being where you shouldn’t be,” the police told her.
Mejia was the director of the San Pedro police at the time. None of the police officers were ever prosecuted, and after trying to report the event, Villanueva was kidnapped again, alongside her sister, and both were gang-raped in front of their husbands. Mejia was later prosecuted, and acquitted.
Other examples include torture, extrajudicial killings and brutally oppressing peaceful protesters.
Hillary Clinton Needs to Explain Herself
CEPR’s Beeton told teleSUR that the time had come for Clinton to acknowledge her role in the misery and impunity in Honduras.
“Hillary Clinton should explain why she worked to – as she put in her book, ‘Hard Choices’ – make the issue of the return of Honduras' democratically-elected president to office ‘moot,’” he said in an email to teleSUR.
By preventing Zelaya's return to the presidency, he explained, through blocking an OAS resolution among other means, Clinton's State Department effectively allowed the coup to succeed - doing great harm to US-Latin American relations in the process.
“Instead, it appears she'd rather people not know this history, as key passages about it have been removed from the paperback edition of the book,” he added.