Pandemic response a partisan war on the people in Honduras

Honduran Military police guard the entrance to San Pedro Sula to ensure lockdown measures during the Coronavirus pandemic. At all entrances into the city there is a heavy military presence that checks ID’s to ensure citizens are travelling on their assigned days. If not their vehicle will get reposessed, they will get arrested and be fined a month’s pay. Photo by Seth Berry

This article originally appeared in Toward Freedom

Hundreds of people, many wearing medical masks, brought traffic to a standstill on an outer Tegucigalpa highway to protest the Honduran government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re hungry, they say, demanding food and support.

Military police approach the crowd, assault rifles in hand. In a chaos of shouts, the first rounds are fired. A hail of stones thrown by the protesters come thumping and scudding on the pavement. 

One of the officers levels his rifle above the protesters, firing a rapid succession of shots before jumping in the police pickup and stealing down the road. It is unclear if anyone was wounded in the confrontation.

The street battle caught on video in Tegucigalpa on May 8th shows but one face of the US-backed government of Juan Orlando Hernandez’s response to the pandemic. The government is besieged by mounting accusations of corruption and drug trafficking, and the coronavirus has ushered in a rise in hunger, corruption, state violence and repression. 

In the countryside, land conflicts simmer, and many activists are worried they’ll soon boil over. Over the past decade, hundreds of peasant activists have been murdered by the Honduran military, sicarios, or state-allied paramilitary groups. 

Quarantine has added a macabre new chapter to those conflicts: unable to leave their home while death threats against them continue, activists have become sitting ducks. 

Author: jared8796

I'm a multi-award-winning writer and independent journalist whose essays and reportage have been published in The Nation, Vice News, the Los Angeles Review of Books, El Faro, and NACLA, among others. As an investigator, my focus is on violence, environmental conflict, political and social struggle in Central America, particularly Honduras. As a writer and essayist, my wider concern is understanding the historical dynamics of social struggle and interrogating fundamental presuppositions concerning humans relation with one another and the planet. I've spent two and a half years as a reporter covering social and environmental strife in Mexico and Central America. In 2018, I was a grantee for the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, for whom I covered the continued existence of the Zapatista movement 25 years following their uprising. Since then, I've reported on MS-13 gang violence; indigenous radios in Guatemala; anti-government resistance in Honduras; and deadly environmental conflicts.

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