U.S. Involvement in Honduras: In Violation of Leahy Law?

The June 2009 coup in Honduras interrupted a process of investigating land titles to determine their authenticity and validity in order to return a significant amount of land from wealthy landowners to peasant farmer or campesino groups. Continued tensions over the plantation-like land distribution and labor arrangements have caused wealthy landowners to hire armed security guards, some said to be trained as or by paramilitaries and, in some instances, trained by national military groups as well. Violent clashes between campesino groups, government forces (both police and military) and/or landowners have resulted in forcible, illegal and deadly evictions; threats and harassment; kidnappings and disappearances; torture and outright murder. Journalists covering the conflict and government opponents have not been exempt.


Roughly 50-60 campesinos have been killed or disappeared since the coup, but the violence has escalated: August has been considered “an exceptionally violent month during what has been an exceptionally violent year,” and a recent NY Times article claims at least 15 people have been killed in recent weeks alone.


U.S. military aid to Honduras was restored March 2010, and has met with widespread criticism, especially since the U.S. seems to have turned a blind eye to the internal human rights abuses. Furthermore, the U.S. appears to be assisting in the training of Honduran military units. Is the U.S. in violation of the Leahy Law or Leahy provision? The Leahy Law is a human rights stipulation in U.S. congressional foreign assistance legislation that prohibits U.S. military assistance to foreign military units who violate human rights with impunity. Muriel Soy, a journalist/blogger for Honduras Human Rights, seems to think so:

Without a clear idea of how this money is being spent, and knowing that military abuses continue to occur, it is imperative that U.S. funding to the Honduran military be suspended.


One comment

  1. Issues of foreign aid, military support to other countries, and our own national struggles here in the US are not subject to easy resolutions. The US is one of the wealthiest countries in the world with amazing military, governmental, and non-profit infrastructure. However, we also struggle internally with many of the same issues we seek to assist – we give money but we have unprecedented unemployment, we give military aid but our troops are cought in many military venues around the world with no end in sight, we give medical assistance in ravaged areas but our own citizens go without access to lifesaving interventions. These priorities are not easy to balance, and everyone has their own opinion on how to distribute aid and assistance, and what equitable means. However, given limited resources, this country as a whole should be judicious and take a stance against human rights abuses in any form.

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