In June 2009 a coup d’etat overthrew democratically elected Manuel Zelaya. Since the coup, human rights conditions in Honduras have deteriorated. Among those most affected by the post-coup violence are human rights advocates, journalists, women, Black and indigenous populations, and LGBT+ Hondurans.
Immediately following the coup, Hondurans began asking WfP to send delegations to Honduras to document the role of the U.S. in the crisis. We responded, producing a documentary short called Shot in the Back: the Human Impact of the Honduran Coup. Shortly after the coup, Honduras withdrew from ALBA, and attempts have been made to roll back Zelaya’s minimum wage hike, as well as laws proposed to privatize public resources such as rivers for dam projects. The Honduran business elite, which played a key role in instigating and financially maintaining the coup, is intimately tied to U.S. and transnational corporate interests.
The United States considers the Honduran government a reliable ally in the militarized war on drugs, and has engaged in a campaign of militarization that has worsened the human rights crisis in the country. In 2012, DEA agents were present on an operation that killed four civilians, including two pregnant women, in Ahuas, a small community in a remote part of Northern Honduras.
Since the coup, privatization of public lands, the construction of mega-projects on indigenous and campesino land, targeted political repression, and violence have gotten worse. Human rights defenders, environmental activists, and others have been targeted by state repression and violence, with the emblematic case being the March 2016 assassination of Berta Cáceres.
In November of 2017, Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández was reelected under deep suspicions of electoral fraud, and in contradiction to the Honduran constitution’s prohibition against multiple terms for presidents. Hundreds of thousands of Hondurans took to the streets to defend their vote and their democracy, and they were met with widespread and systematic human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, forced disappearance, kidnapping, and arbitrary detention. The scale of these abuses, committed by Honduran security forces that receive U.S. training and funding, amounts to crimes against humanity.
Despite the pattern of grave human rights violations and widespread impunity, the U.S. continues to support Honduras both diplomatically and through military aid.