Thousands of Hondurans are marching Thursday, on the International Day of the Disappeared, against political continuity, to demand new presidential elections, a constituent assembly, justice for the social leaders and activists murdered during post-election protests in November, the elimination of the military police, and agrarian reform.
The coalition Convergence Against Continuity summoned the people to March in Tegucigalpa, the country’s capital, to guarantee a prompt return to the constitutional order, which according to the protesters was breached during the 2017 “fraudulent” presidential elections.
According to the coalition, Hondurans are expressing their “indignation in the midst of a political, economic, and social crisis deepened by the illegal re-election” of Juan Orlando Hernandez.
However, they are not only protesting for the over 30 people killed by state security forces during the protests that followed the controversial 2017 presidential elections but also for the at least 20 people who were killed after the U.S.-backed 2009 coup against democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya.
In 2009, Zelaya pushed for a popular referendum to convene a national constituent assembly with the intention of amending the 1981 constitution to empower historically-marginalized groups, but he faced fierce opposition by the Honduran economic elites that used the country’s Supreme Court, Supreme Electoral Tribunal, and Congress to overthrow Zelaya.
Since the coup, the conservative National Party of Honduras has held the executive power.
Opposition groups expected to vote them out of power in the November 2017 presidential elections, but the National Electoral Council ruled that incumbent Hernandez had won the elections, prompting nation-wide protests.
The coalition is also demanding respect for the Indigenous and Afro-Honduran population and a cease of all concession on the extraction of natural resources in their territories.
Bertha Oliva of the Committee of the Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras told local media “I think it is the turn of the offended, of the Honduran people, this August 30, International Day of the Detained-Disappeared to shed light on the historical debt in terms of human rights.”
On Thursday Hondurans also commemorate the victims of United States-trained Intelligence Battalion 3–16, a special military unit that carried out assassinations, torture, and disappearances targeting government opponents during the 1980s.