July 1, 2019 — The Jesuits in Honduras are denouncing the Honduran government’s repression of protests over the past two months. The protests have been triggered by the government’s privatization initiatives. Honduran security forces have killed and wounded teachers, students, health care workers and other Honduran citizens demonstrating to protect the health and education systems.
A woman at an April 30, 2019, protest in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. (CNS photo/Jorge Cabrera, Reuters)
“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,” the Jesuits wrote in a statement on behalf of all their apostolic works in the country.
Tear gas and bullets have been used against protestors, resulting in multiple injuries and several deaths, including that of 17-year-old Eblin Noel Corea Maradiaga who was killed by a bullet during a June 19 protest.
The Canadian ambassador to Honduras has lodged a protest regarding the Honduran military’s misuse of vehicles donated by the Canadian government to improve health services to instead transport soldiers.
The Jesuits state that they stand in solidarity with victims of repression by the security forces and denounce smear campaigns and other attempts by the government to criminalize journalists and human rights advocates, such as Fr. Ismael Moreno, SJ, (known as Padre Melo).
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 two ministries he directs, the Equipo de Reflexion, Investigación y Comunicación de la Compañía de Jesús en Honduras (ERIC) and Radio Progreso.
Fr. Ismael Moreno, SJ (CNS photo/Rhina Guidos)
The Jesuits in Canada and the United States are standing with their brothers in Honduras. Fr. Erik Oland, SJ, provincial of the Jesuits of Canada, said, "The very foundations of what it means to be Catholic in support of the poorest of the poor and the work of those who would seek to minister to them is in jeopardy.”
The Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States’ Office of Justice and Ecology signed onto a statement with other non-governmental organizations calling on the Honduran government to order security forces to “end immediately excessive use of force against protesters” and “withdraw military and military police from responding to any protest,” as well as ensure that government officials stop threats against human rights defenders and journalists.
The Jesuits of Honduras have adopted the call of the Honduran bishops to work “in accordance with the dignity of the human person and seeking the common good.” Their statement concluded that “change for the better is possible” and calls for a commitment to “achieve it in solidarity.” [Sources: ISN, Tiempo]