Speaking Out Against Canadian Support of Human Rights Violations in Honduras
– Christine Nugent –
The Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor hosted a meeting in Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s Toronto riding of University–Rosedale on September 18 to speak out against Canada’s abysmal support of suppression of democracy and human rights by the current government of Honduras. Titled “Washington at Work in Honduras — What’s Canada’s Role?” the meeting called for an end to human rights abuses and for an end to Canada’s support for the corrupt Honduras regime.
The poster for the event noted that the peoples opposition was well ahead with 60 per cent of the vote counted in the 2018 Honduran election. “Suddenly it stopped. Everything went dead. Twenty-four hours later the dictator was proclaimed re-elected and Canada was quick to congratulate him.”
Hondurans took to the streets in cities and towns across the country as well as to social media denouncing an electoral fraud. Honduran President Hern ández decreed a state of emergency, suspended constitutional rights, imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew, and authorized the military and police to use force against protesters. Forty-five people were reported killed by U.S.-trained military and police forces and many more injured and/or arrested on trumped up charges — most of them youth — in the 45 days following the election.
One of those arrested was Edwin Espinal, husband of Karen Spring, who spoke at the meeting held in University Rosedale. Other presenters included Yurissa Varela of the Honduro-Canadian Solidarity Community; Yves Engler, a Montreal-based author on Canadian Foreign Policy and activists; and Tyler Shipley, a York University professor and author.
The meeting was chaired by Karen Spring’s mother, who provided an account of her family’s inability, despite all their efforts, to get any assistance from Canadian Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her department. She reported that neither Prime Minister Trudeau nor Minister Freeland would even respond to emails about Espinal’s case even though he is married to a Canadian citizen and was being held as a political prisoner in Honduras.
Karen Spring opened the meeting reporting that her husband had only recently been released from a Honduran prison, pending trial, after 19 months of detention in horrific conditions.
Yurissa Varela spoke about her work with Honduran refugees and the brutal conditions that force people to leave their home and migrate to other countries.
Yves Engler focused on the hypocrisy of Canada’s foreign policy and traced back the history of Canada’s support for oligarchs and criminals in Central and South America, all on behalf of Canadian corporate economic intetests.
Tyler Shipley described Canada’s support for Canadian mining and tourism operations in Latin America as a continuation of Canada’s two founding principles which he characterized as capitalism and dispossession of indigenous peoples.
This public forum held by the Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor organization is yet another example of Canadians speaking out in this election, raising their demands for a new direction in Canadian foreign policy and making it clear that the Canadian government is not acting or speaking in their name, but pursuing a self-serving agenda against the interests and human rights of the Honduran people.
Christine Nugent is the MLPC Candidate in Humber River—Black Creek.