“Routine Operation”: Father Ismael Moreno reports from Aguan

Posted on March 18, 2011

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It was three thirty in the afternoon, Friday, March 18th, when the team from Radio Progreso traveled from the city of Tocoa to the community of Guadalupe Carney, in the municipality of Trujillo, Province of Colon. At the community “Ocotes Altos” our vehicle was intercepted suddenly without warning by two police patrols, one driving a Toyota 4X4, double cabin and the other, a truck which also was transporting around twenty-five police, dressed in rigorous dark uniforms, all with ski masks and armed with machine guns.

All of the police pointed their loaded weapons in the direction of our vehicle and towards each of the four persons who were riding in the vehicle. They yelled at us to get down from the car, and a group of them, without saying anything, pressed us against the vehicle while they violently searched our clothing and our bodies. It was then that they asked us where we had the weapons.

To our question of why such an attitude and aggression against us, one of the uniformed men, who seemed to be commanding the platoon, limited himself to saying, “it is a routine operation”, meanwhile one group aimed at us from the vehicles and other police surrounded us motioning with their weapons to signal that they would shoot at any gesture, movement or word that was not under their implacable control.

Once they had checked our bags, wallets, pants, car seats and all of the nooks and crannies of the vehicle, the police again got into their vehicles and were lost in the dust of their “routine operation”. Once inside the vehicle, and almost to shake off our own anguish, we began to express our feelings of impotency and the shock that, for us, this authoritarian, violent, horrific action represented.

One of the two campesinos who accompanied us in our visit, with parsimony said: “So you see what happens to us daily, those of us who live in Aguan. It happened to you today. We live it every day; that is why the policemen in charge didn’t say anything strange when he responded that it was a “routine operation”.

That same day, a campesino group had been violently evicted from lands they claim and that are in the hands of Miguel Facusse. It is public knowledge that the police are also in the hands of that businessman and of other dark enterprises in Aguan. The same day a protest was repressed in the capital leaving a teacher dead. And once day before, the so-called Minister of Justice and Human Rights, had called from Geneva, Switzerland to speak with pride of her success in defending the government of Lobo Sosa, who with a cynical smile, she called a loyal defender of human rights.

The “routine operation” with which the police violate human rights in Honduras and in particular in the region of Aguan, seems to be part of the same operation as the routine lie by high public functionaries who present an image of a government that defends human rights, but that has very little to do with the defenselessness to which so many poor people, communications media that leave the official format and the social sectors who struggle for their rights, are subjected. That is what Radio Progreso experienced in our own flesh in our recent visit to the region of Aguan. And so we share this testimony of our own defenselessness.