[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for August 21. See original here and related article here.]
Tegucigalpa – The Comité Hondureño de los Derechos Humanos (CODEH – Honduran Human Rights Committee) today denounced the presence of a death squad in the Bajo Aguán region, where thousands of campesinos are in conflict with landowners over land ownership.
Secundino Ruiz Vallecillos, a member of the Movimiento Auténtico de Campesinos del Aguán (MARCA), was killed yesterday by two assassins riding a motorcycle while he was on his way to the San Isidro cooperative, in the department of Colón on the country’s Atlantic coast.
Eliseo Pavón, another campesino leader who was with him, was also injured.
“CODEH believes that a death squad has been established in Aguán, financed by the landowners of the area and led by former military who were linked in the ‘80s with the repression that was seen in the country,” according to a communiqué distributed by the humanitarian organization.
The 3-16 was a death squad that operated in Honduras during the ‘80s and, together with the armed forces, kidnapped and disappeared around 184 popular leaders, according to charges made by CODEH.
As a result, Honduras was ordered by the International Human Rights Court, with headquarters in Costa Rica, to compensate the families of several of the disappeared of the time, among them that of Ángel Manfredo Velásquez.
CODEH reports that the death squad’s method is to disguise their crimes by making them appear to be common delinquency, taking any money the victims were carrying.
Aguán is a valley that has been militarized since last October, a situation that is dangerous for the population, especially for the campesinos, who have lost the freedom of movement because of the siege to which they are subjected.