Honduras: Military intelligence behind assassinations, tortures, and forced disappearances

UPSIDE DOWN WORLD

A demonstrators carries a sign reading “JOH, our dead are on your conscience” during the Honduran women’s day march in central Tegucigalpa, Jan. 25, 2017. PHOTO/Heather Gies

As a complement to the important reporting from the AP about the involvement of highest-level Honduran police tied to Juan Orlando Hernández in drug trafficking, here is my translation of an interview from Radio Progreso from a few days ago, Inteligencia militar está detrás de asesinatos, torturas y desapariciones, dice excapitán de las Fuerzas Armadas:

The ex-captain of the Armed Forces, Santos Orellana Rodríguez, says that active intelligence and counterintelligence units are currently receiving direct orders from President Juan Orlando Hernández.

He confirms the open secret that the institution has its own group that carries out the dirty work of eliminating people, and creating chaos in this country. “If at this moment you were to interview the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff he would tell you the opposite, he’ll say I’m a liar, that I am angry at the institution, but I tell you the truth about what has taken place within the institution,” Rodríguez asserted.

Captain Orellana Rodríguez was dishonorably discharged [AQP added link] from the military for having mentioned publicly that the president’s brother, Congressmember Antonio “Tony” Hernández, was being investigated by the DEA for drug trafficking, and denounced that Congressmember under investigation had used official airplanes to transport drugs.

In an interview with Radio Progreso (RP), Captain Santos Orellana Rodríguez (SOR) spoke of the actions of the Armed Forces during the current political crisis and the role they have played in the JOH [Juan Orlando Hernández] government.

Unrest bubbles over in Honduras as corruption rigs politics for the powerful.

“There’s no democracy here,” said Juan Almendares. “Some say democracy is characterized by electoral processes. Here not even elections are democratic.” #HondurasElection2017 https://t.co/7rXTdMPt7Z pic.twitter.com/hmGGOBNopZ

— UpsideDownWorld (@UpsideDownTweet) December 18, 2017

RP: Do the Armed Forces participate in acts of vandalism and repression or not?

SOR: Each act of vandalism, each act of repression is planned by the Armed Forces. Remember that the Armed Forces is an institution with its own hierarchy and planning strategy; they know when they will attack and then know when they will provoke. I am not at all surprised, and I can assure you that every act of vandalism, everything that has taken place, buildings being burned and all that, has been provoked by counterintelligence in the Armed Forces.

RP: How does military intelligence operate?

SOR: The Armed Forces are in charge of intelligence in Honduras. They created an intelligence agency of the State but the Armed Forces themselves operate it. Coronel Germán Alfaro is the national director of intelligence, he has been investigated for drug trafficking, he has been investigated for abuse of authority and human rights abuses. The gringos were investigating him for the death of a boy in Tocoa.

RP: What is your opinion of the Armed Forces that you belonged to?

SOR: The Armed Forces are a noble institution that serves society, but at the present moment our Armed Forces are not serving the people. Anyone would be justified in asking why we have Armed Forces- to carry out repression, to terrorize people in the streets, to teargas people, to create chaos, because all of this is planned by military intelligence and counterintelligence. In all the protests there are 30 or 40 intelligence agents marching alongside protestors, and they are the ones provoking confrontations with the police.

RP: Who is making decisions in the Armed Forces?

SOR: The problem is that the commanders of the Armed Forces lack the necessary character, they don’t have the will to come out with the people and serve the people. What the commanders are doing is serving the president. That’s why I insist that as long as the Armed Forces answer to the executive branch they will continue to be corrupt. For example, who’s facing a crisis now? The president. Who is chief of the Armed Forces? The president. Who is the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff going to take orders from? The president of the republic.

RP: Selective repression, assassinations, kidnappings, tortures–how do they happen?

SOR: The planning process within the Armed Forces has its own goals, and they know perfectly what they are, and if they are listening to this interview they know the truth. They pick their targets, the majority of [assassination] cases that have happened in the country have been carried out by the Armed Forces.

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