Amid Government Human Rights Abuses in Honduras, Jesuits Speak Out

BY ISN STAFF | June 30, 2019

Amid a growing political crisis in Honduras, Jesuits in the Central American country and the United States have issued statements calling for an end to the government’s use of force that has perpetuated human rights abuses throughout the country.

Demonstrators march as military police look on in El Progreso, Honduras, on June 28, 2019. [Radio Progreso]

In a statement issued on June 26 by the Jesuit communities and works in Honduras, they cited the deteriorating human rights and rule of law situation. The statement denounced the dangerous reality for those publicly demonstrating against the government and offered solidarity with the families of four Hondurans killed by national police during recent protests related to government attempts to privatize healthcare and education. They also denounced attempts by the government to discredit defenders of human and environmental rights, including Jesuit Father Ismael Moreno, S.J. (known popularly as Padre Melo). The Jesuits closed their statement with sentiments of support for the statement of the Episcopal Conference of Honduras (Honduran Conference of Catholic Bishops), which recently issued a public letter regarding the unrest and government repression.

Fr. Ismael Moreno Coto, S.J., speaks with attendees after his keynote presentation at the 2014 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.

The efforts to disparage Fr. Moreno are not new. In December 2017, a flyer circulated on Honduran social media, falsely accusing him and eight other regional leaders of inciting violence and involvement in narcotics trafficking. Earlier that year, Fr. Moreno was falsely accused by a Honduran university president of promoting anarchy and generating violence among the school’s students. In both cases, the Jesuits and other church and human rights leaders defended Fr. Moreno’s work and that of the Investigación y Comunicación de la Compañía de Jesús en Honduras (ERIC) and Radio Progreso, the two ministries in Honduras he directs.

In the U.S., the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology joined a number of non-governmental organizations in calling on the Honduran government to end excessive use of force, respect the rights of Hondurans to protest, defend freedom of the press, disband the country’s military police and ensure justice regarding human rights crimes committed by the government. The statement, issued on June 27 included Latin America Working Group, Oxfam, Amnesty International and the Washington Office on Latin America.

Jesuit Community of Honduras speaks out about the situation in the country

Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. (Luke 6, 22).

Given the critical situation that the Honduran people are suffering, as well as the loss of legitimacy that the various institutions of the country are experiencing, the apostolic works entrusted to the Jesuits of Honduras express our concern: 

  1. We deplore the social and political crisis experienced by the Honduran population as a result of the historic violation of fundamental rights and the deterioration of the rule of law, which are a result of the erratic and corrupt practices of politicians and decision-makers in the public administration. 
  2. We stand in solidarity with the victims of systematic repression by the various armed groups and security forces in their mandate to repress the social protests led by various sectors of the population demanding justice and respect for their fundamental rights and rejecting the government policies of privatization of public goods and services. This indiscriminate repression has left dozens of people injured and some dead, including: Luis Antonio Maldonado; Erick Francisco Peralta; and the teenager Eblin Noel Corea. We extend our sympathy in solidarity to their families and our commitment, coming from our faith, to the search for justice. 
  3. We warn, call attention to and denounce the high risk to which the Honduran population are exposed when they take to the streets to exercise their right to peaceful protest, when the National Council for Defense and Security, under the command of Mr. Juan Orlando Hernández, authorizes and sends the military and police forces to indiscriminately repress the protests of a population that demands justice, respect for the rule of law and the constitutionality of the country. This was most evident in the violation of university autonomy, when a squadron of the military police broke into the University City facilities, leaving at least four students injured. 
  4. There has been a propaganda campaign filled with lies and manipulation to discredit defenders of human and environmental rights. Publicizing the profiles of people identified as leaders of the protests has the intention of criminalizing them and sets the context to justify repressive actions and judicial procedures against these persons. Those listed include Fr. Ismael Moreno (Padre Melo), SJ, director of the Reflection, Research and Communication Team and Radio Progreso (ERIC-RP); and Leonel George and Juan López, delegates of the Word of God of the San Isidro Labrador de Tocoa Parish, who are falsely accused of leading an armed gang that confront the police and other accusations that only seek to discredit their struggle for social justice and create conditions that would justify actions against them. 
  5. We highlight and concur with the last message of the Episcopal Conference of Honduras (CEH), based on analysis, reflection and prayer concerning the roots and consequences of the current crisis in Honduras. Any effort to “correct the path of Honduras” must go through the “recovery of ethical values” and overcome the “moral decadence into which the country is falling.” The country yearns for a just society with just laws, “in accordance with the dignity of the human person and seeking the common good,” capable of dialogue because there is confidence in state institutions, with a healthy political ethic in which truth is both the goal and the starting point. A society that does not militarize security and state institutions. 
  6. We fully adopt the call of the CEH: “We call on the whole society that, starting from the reality in which each person and group lives, we join the search for ways to solve these problems in Honduras. This can come through accords, agreements, reforms, platforms, a referendum, citizens’ initiative laws, etc. Change for the better is possible. Let us commit ourselves to working to achieve it in solidarity.”

1 reply
  1. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Prophets never remained silent for too long. Silence is not always golden. Moreno is doing fine.


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