Xavier Network standing in Solidarity with Jesuit Priest in Honduras

Jesuits from around the world are standing in solidarity with a Jesuit priest and eight community leaders in Honduras. The nine have received death threats following the recent presidential elections, after speaking out to defend democracy and the rights of the Honduran people.

Members of the Xavier Network have written to their governments to express their concern about the violence and repression taking place in the central American country. An International Statement has been released asking all Jesuit communities to stand together against this violence.

Fr Ismael Moreno Coto, known as “Padre Melo” has received hostile messages through social media, reminiscent of the threats that circulated El Salvador leading up to the murder of Jesuit Priest Rutilo Grande and two Salvadorians in 1977. The Jesuit Province of Central America, including the Jesuit communities and a Jesuit radio station led by Fr Melo, believe they are facing a significant risk for speaking out.

This all comes after a peaceful election on the 26th November 2017, with early results suggesting opposition leader Salvador Nasralla was leading. The counting of votes was suspended twice before it was announced that, with 94% of the votes counted, President Juan Orlando Hernandez was in the lead. After a 10-day curfew was issued the results were officially announced twenty-one days after the election, to widespread condemnation. In the following street protests up to thirty people are reported to have died.

Fr Roberto Jaramillo Sj President of the Latin American Jesuit Conference says:

“We hold Juan Orlando Hernandez and his allies responsible for the safety and physical and moral well-being of the nine people falsely accused.”

Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world and deepening inequalities and violations of human rights, especially against women, indigenous people, environmentalists and journalists.

Members of the Xavier Network is asking their respective governments to take action and protect the democratic rights of the people of Honduras. We are calling for an investigation into all claims of state violence since the elections, a recount of the election results, a right for the people to demonstrate peacefully and justice to be brought to all those who have committed crimes. We urge our governments to speak out strongly against this abuse of the democratic process and the violations of human rights in Honduras.

Photo: Padre Melo, Credit Radio Progreso