U.S. legislators urged Wednesday U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to properly address the “urgent situation” of trade unionists under death threat in Honduras.
The move followed the murder of a prominent activist Berta Caceres, co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples in Honduras barely a week after she was threatened once again.
“The safety of activists throughout Central America remains a serious concern,” said the members of Congress in the letter, “despite recent efforts” of the U.S. administration.
They demanded a series of measures aimed at holding the Honduran government more accountable if it failed to provide endangered activists with effective protection, whether they are “labor, campesino, Indigenous and Afro-Indigenous activists, LGBTI and other human rights defenders.”
While the state often fails to offer police protection to activists who have received threats, the “widely documented” corruption of police officers in Honduras discard police protection as a viable option, they highlight.
Activists even reject police protection themselves in some cases, like Nelson Geovanni Nuñez Chavez, of the Federation of Agro-Industrial Workers. Congress members suggested the U.S. embassy provide funding for private protection for Nuñez, as well as Tomas Membreño, a fellow activist at FESTAGRO.
The letter coincides with a similar initiative signed by 730 scholars on the same day, calling Kerry to "suspend all aid and support to Honduras until the country improves its deplorable human rights record," referring specifically to the US$1 billion aid package sent to the Central American region in 2016, called "the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle."
RELATED: 6 Years After Honduras' Coup
Last August, a group of Democratic lawmakers also demanded Kerry stop providing financial aid, in particular to suspend the financial assistance to the Honduran police and military forces, because of concerns over systematic human rights abuses.
The letter handed to Kerry insists widespread state repression and human rights abuses have significantly increased since the 2009 right-wing coup against President Manuel Zelaya.
The legislators referred to the growing participation of military officials in the national laws of Honduras, despite constitutional restrictions, and the attempts by President Juan Orlando Hernandez to amend the constitution and extend police militarization.