Photo Credit: iStock – spawns
Recent U.S. prosecutions of high-profile narcotraffickers have uncovered shocking levels of corruption at the heart of the Honduran state—including cocaine smuggling, murder, bribery, and illicit campaign contributions linked to president Juan Orlando Hernández (a.k.a. “JOH”) and people close to him.
For some in the U.S. press and political circles, these disclosures were a wake-up call; but for UUSC’s partners and other grassroots activists in Honduras, they confirm what they have long seen and reported. JOH’s regime has perverted the country’s institutions, rolled back electoral democracy, and imperiled the human rights of the Honduran people. The result has been to make Honduras one of the most dangerous countries in the world for human rights defenders, particularly women, Indigenous, and Afro-Indigenous activists.
U.S. policy to date has not only failed to stem these abuses, it has actively abetted them. After right-wing Honduran politicians seized power in an unlawful coup in 2009, U.S. support for the new regime was critical to establishing its legitimacy. In 2017, this history was repeated. JOH, a successor to the post-coup government, declared victory in an election widely condemned as fraudulent, and U.S. officials helped perpetuate his rule.
A new bill in Congress offers a vital chance to shift course. The Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act of 2021 would sever ties between the U.S. government and corrupt officials in Honduras, while investing in human rights infrastructure in the country. It also calls attention to the persecution and criminalization of human rights defenders in Honduras, incentivizing the country’s authorities to halt this abuse and release wrongfully-detained activists like the Guapinol water defenders.
Help us advance this critical piece of legislation by calling on your members of Congress to co-sponsor the bill.