Saturday, December 19, 2009

Walter Tróchez

Walter Trochez
Originally uploaded by StormyPetrel
This past Monday, I received a message through a Honduran HIV/AIDS email list that I belong to. The message said that Walter Tróchez had been shot and killed on Sunday night in the middle of Tegucigalpa.

I worked with Walter on the TOT we did in Teguz shortly before the end of my service. Though younger than I was, he was a longtime activist in the LGBTQ community, and did extensive work with and on behalf of PLWHA. He was bright, energetic and articulate, and made a big impression on me at the TOT.

After the coup, he posted several times to the email list about resisting the coup, and human rights violations that were happening. I hate to admit that I didn't pay a lot of attention to those posts, as my feelings about the coup were largely ambivalent. The government of Honduras seemed so dysfunctional during my time there, how much worse could the de facto government be? And if the majority of Hondurans were checked out of the political system already, wasn't the government a democracy in name only even before the coup?

If anything, I was of the opinion that one group of elites had deposed another group of elites, and was mad that the coup had cost the people of Honduras so dearly. One article I read claimed that Honduras' economy had been set back 10 years by the coup.

Walter was shot twice from a car that then sped away. He was targeted and assassinated. 10 days earlier, he had been kidnapped by government agents who hooded him, took him to an unknown location, and beat him while asking questions about La Resistencia, the movement to resist the de facto government.

Walter escaped and immediately reported the crime and documented his injuries with the human rights commission in Tegucigalpa, as he had done for dozens of other resisters who had been harassed, intimidated, kidnapped, beaten, and even killed.

Any trace of ambivalence about the coup has evaporated since reading the news of Walter's assassination. The de facto government has returned Honduras to the bad old days of dirty wars waged by dicatorships backed by the US.

And unfortunately, the de facto government has received endorsement if not outright backing from the US government. Pepe Lobo won an election that was not monitored by any international agencies and in which turnout was less than 50% (though it was reported to be 62%). Pepe was one of the so-called "business leaders" who originally backed the coup.

Unfortunately, the US showed no backbone against a country the size of Tennessee whose economy and military is almost entirely dependent on our support. So the de facto government in Honduras will continue to act with impunity, attacking and killing brave activists like Walter who are simply advocating for a return to the rule of law.

Right now, the best thing I know of to do is write your congressperson, senators, and President Obama to express your anger and dismay at such a colossal failure of to practice good foreign policy or even basic human decency in Honduras' political crisis. I'll try to find out about other ways to support La Resistencia, and post them here.

More about Walter:
Sample letter to US Gov't:
Amnesty International Statement: