Report Details How US-Backed Coup Unleashed Wave of Abuses in Honduras

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Report Details How US-Backed Coup Unleashed Wave of Abuses in Honduras

Survey by 54 civil society organizations and social movements presented to UN as alternative to official state report

Before her assassination, Honduran Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres criticized U.S. presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton as an example of international "meddling." (Photo via Democracy Now!)

Before her assassination, Honduran Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres criticized U.S. presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton as an example of international "meddling." (Photo via Democracy Now!)

The U.S.-backed Honduran coup ushered in a wave of neoliberal policies that have systematically violated the economic, cultural, and social rights of the nation's Indigenous people, women, and farmers, while leaving activists and rights defenders—such as the late Berta Cáceres—vulnerable to criminalization and violence.

Such were the findings of a new report, prepared by a coalition of 54 Honduran social movements and rights organizations and presented as an alternative to the official government report submitted to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which began its 58th session in Geneva on Monday.

"The coup d'etat in 2009 meant an imminent reversal of human rights and a serious blow to the country's institutions," states the report (pdf), which is available in Spanish.

While the study does not single out international governments that supported the ouster of the country's democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya, it comes as former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares to assume the role of Democratic nominee for president. Clinton's role in the coup has come under increased scrutiny since the assassination of Cáceres, a Honduran Indigenous rights and environmental activist, in March.

The survey of civil society and regional organizations found that the right-wing government's economic agenda has helped advance extractive development projects while ignoring the rights of those who hold claim to the land.

"According to the report numerous concessions have been granted to hydroelectric and mining projects in areas which indigenous peoples consider sacred or vital to ensure the subsistence of local communities," said global anti-hunger group FIAN International, which published the study.

As a result, peasant communities are "increasingly facing forced evictions" while the individuals and organizations that voice opposition are met with "violence, intimidation, and criminalization," the study found—such as in the case of Cáceres, who was murdered by Honduran military officials and employees of the hydroelectric dam project that she opposed.

"This demonstrates that the mechanisms available in Honduras for their protection do not suffice. The overwhelming majority of the cases go unpunished," the report reads.

What's more, this violence has particularly targeted women—including through structural violence such as restriction of their civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. "The climate of fear in both the public and private sphere, and the lack of accountability for human rights violations against women is the rule, not the exception," the report states.

"All this happens within a context of extreme poverty and imbalanced wealth distribution that leads many to go malnourished," the report continues. According to FIAN, 12.1 percent of the Honduran population is undernourished while a full 95 percent of Indigenous children under 14 suffer from malnutrition.

Coming full circle, the report notes that this cycle of violence and extreme poverty is driving migrants to seek asylum in the United States, where they are often met with imprisonment and deportation

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