In January of 2015, I traveled with Witness for Peace to Honduras. Large numbers of Honduran men, women, and children (sometimes by themselves) had and continued to flee the country. The root causes of this migration stemmed from economic and trade policies and drug-war based militarization from the United States. Targeted killing and violence was common and directed toward campesino and indigenous leaders, human rights activists, journalists, and unionists. Economic disparities destabilized communities and fueled drug trafficking and criminal gangs.
Despite the problems, the United States continued financially supporting the Honduran police and military – found guilty of numerous human rights abuses. After supporting a coup in 2009 that overthrew the democratically elected government, Secretary of State Clinton and the U.S. further extended influence through military presence, Drug Enforcement Agency officials, and weaponry provided to the militarized police forces.
This delegation had a few key takeaways for me:
- Learned from indigenous and campesino leaders about their struggle to maintain land sovereignty.
- Met with human rights lawyers, activists, academics, and journalists who gave a historical context of the crisis, the current situation, and the risks of reporting on this issue.
- Better understand the role of U.S.-funded police and military forces that commit(ted) human rights abuses and the culture of impunity.
- Learned how U.S. economic policy contributes to poverty, drug & criminal gangs, and land grabs that force families and children to migrate.
- Stood and continue to stand in solidarity with Hondurans struggling for justice in an oppressive, neoliberal global economy.