Grassroots Pressure Works – You Did It! US Withholds Funds to Honduran Police!

A lovely message from SOA Watch:

Over the last few weeks, thousands of you around the country have sent messages to your Members of Congress, urging them to ask US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to suspend US assistance to the Honduran military and police, given the widespread, serious human rights violations by the U.S.-trained Honduran security forces.

Now, the US government is responding to the grassroots pressure by withholding funds to Honduran law enforcement units directly supervised by Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, the SOA graduate who became the new national police chief. Funding will be withheld until the U.S. can investigate allegations that he ran a death squad a decade ago. The strategy of using death squads for the military’s dirty work is certainly nothing new for SOA students: Roberto D’Aubuisson established the Death Squads that were responsible for much of the violence in El Salvador in the 1980’s, and Benedicto Lucas Garcia masterminded the creation of the Civil Defense Patrols in Guatemala. Mexico’s José Ruben Rivas Peña , who took the SOA’s elite Command and Staff Course, called for the “training and support for self-defense forces or other paramilitary organizations in Chiapas,” and many of the Colombian officers cited in reports about collaboration with paramilitary groups graduated from the School of the Americas (SOA). A report, released by the State Department says that it “is aware of allegations of human rights violations related to Police Chief Juan Carlos Bonilla’s service” and that the U.S. government has established a working group to investigate.

This is a good step in the right direction that only happened because you were pushing for change. However, we need to push further. We don’t yet know how much of the U.S. funding for the repressive Honduran state forces is affected. What we do know is that graduates of the SOA, who head state security forces under the illegitimate post-coup regime of Porfirio Lobo, continue to work in complicity with private security forces to repress small farmers and cooperatives from defending the lands that provide their sustenance. We also know that political repression is among the worst in the hemisphere: journalists, opposition activists, and LGBT activists have been murdered with impunity.

Call the Honduras Desk in the State Department at 202-647-3482and let them know that while we appreciate that some of the funding is being withheld, their report and the investigation; it is absolutely urgent that ALL U.S. military and police training and aid to the repressive Honduran security forces be cut immediately. Afterwards, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202- 224-3121 and talk to the office of your Member of Congress. Let them know that we need them to amplify our voices at the State Department, that we need them to also work for the end to all U.S. military and police training and aid to Honduras as well as for the closing of the notorious School of the Americas, where many of the people responsible for the coup and the ongoing repression in Honduras were trained.

Stand in solidarity with our compañerxs in the South and mobilize your community for the November Vigil at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia(November 16-18, 2012) to speak out for justice and against oppressive U.S. foreign policy. Join your voice with thousands of human rights activists, torture survivors, anti-war veterans, students, families, union workers, and artists from across the Americas, at the largest grassroots anti-militarization mobilization in North America. Click here for more information.