BREAKING NEWS: The BERTA CÁCERES HUMAN RIGHTS IN HONDURAS ACT (H.R. 5474) has just been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, demanding a suspension of all U.S. military and police aid to Honduras!! This important bill is introduced on the Global Day of Action for Justice for Berta!
The bill states that “The Honduran police are widely established to be deeply corrupt and to commit human rights abuses, including torture, rape, illegal detention, and murder, with impunity” and that the military has committed violations of human rights, and therefore asks that the United States suspend all “…security assistance to Honduran military and police until such time as human rights violations by Honduran state security forces cease and their perpetrators are brought to justice.”
The bill features the following demands:
- All U.S. aid to Honduran security forces must cease, and the U.S. must vote no on all loans from multinational development banks to Honduras until the following conditions are met:
- A full investigation and prosecution into the murders of Berta Cáceres, 100 small-farmer activists in the Aguán Valley, Joel Palacios Lino and Elvis Armando García.
- A full investigation and prosecution of the armed attack against Félix Molina.
- A full investigation and prosecution of those members of the Honduran military and police forces who have committed human rights abuses.
- That the Honduran military withdraw from domestic policing, as mandated in the constitution.
- That the rights of “…land rights defenders; trade unionists; journalists; Indigenous, Afro-Indigenous, small farmer and LGBTI activists; human rights defenders; critics of the government; and other civil society activists…” are protected.
- Take steps toward establishing the rule of law and strong democratic systems such as a functioning judiciary branch capable of prosecuting member of the military and police forces.
Representatives Johnson (GA), Conyers (MI), Ellison (MN), Kaptur (OH), Serrano (NY), and Schakowsky (IL) are the initial co-sponsors of the bill, led by Johnson (see his press release here). We need your help securing more sponsors! All members of Congress are possible signers.
IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED:
1. Call your Representative’s office and ask to speak to the foreign policy aide. Use the script below in speaking with the aide. If the aide has not seen the bill, ask for the aide’s email address so that you can forward a copy of the bill. If the foreign policy aide is not available, ask to leave a message on their voice mail. Be sure to get the name foreign policy staffer so you can follow up.
*To co-sponsor the bill (or if the staffer wishes an official copy of the bill), you representative’s staffer must contact Sasha Foertsch (Sascha.Foertsch@mail.house.gov) in Rep. Johnson’s (GA) office. (NOTE: please do not contact Rep. Johnson’s staff yourself, but ask the staffer to do so).
Script: “My name is _____. I am a constituent from (your town/city) in (your state). I am calling to ask Rep. _____ to co-sponsor H.R. 5474, The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act calling for a suspension of U.S. security aid to Honduras until human rights violations committed by the Honduran security forces cease. Has Rep. _______ seen this bill? Can I count on him/her to sign on? Please call me this week at (_your phone number_) to let me know if you have seen the letter, and if Rep. _____ will sign it.”
**In your phone conversation, please highlight why this letter is important to you, especially if you have traveled to Honduras or heard a Honduran speak in your community.
2. Follow up with your Representative. It’s useful to follow up with an email to the aide. Here are some useful articles to share:
If you learn that your Representative has agreed to support this bill, please notify Elise Roberts, at email@example.com so co-sponsorship can be confirmed with Rep. Johnson’s office.
While there is not a deadline for Reps to co-sponsor, we need to build momentum and rally our representatives while there is a lot of press and events for the day of action! (See the interview today on Democracy Now! with Tomás Gómez Membreño of COPINH on the Global Day of Action and with Rep. Hank Johnson on this historic Honduran human rights bill.) There will be immediate counter-pressures on all Reps. not to sign the bill, and we’ll need to get out of the gate fast, and keep the pressure on.
- If you are in the district of one of the five original sponsors, please send them enourmous thanks and get your friends to, as well. They are up for re-election and need support from the district for taking on this issue. Schakowsky’s name does not show up in the current typseset version of the bill, but she is an initial co-sponsor along with the other five.
- In addition to the previous signers, below, ALL members are very important to get to sign on, including those who did not sign the previous letter. Republicans matter, too—some of them do not support U.S. foreign security aid.