"Opposing Death Squads and Dictatorship" is the theme of a 7-city U.S. tour by Honduran LGBT leader Jose "Pepe" Palacios beginning today at Atlanta's "Creating Change" conference.
Since a 2009 U.S.-supported coup, 87 LGBT Hondurans – including top leaders like Walter Trochez and LIBRE candidate Erick Martinez Avila – have been murdered in a systematic campaign of targeted hate crimes and political assassination.
Palacios is a founding member of the Honduran LGBT group, Diversity Movement in Resistance (MDR), formed in response to Trochez's murder, and is a member of the steering committee of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP).
Honduras won the dubious distinction of having the highest murder rate in the world in the years since the U.S.-supported coup. Coup supporters used the overthrow of the elected government to settle scores against social justice movements and the poor.
Contrary to stereotypes about predominately Roman Catholic countries, Honduras has a vibrant Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) movement which is among the leading forces organizing against the coup regime. LGBTs there have joined indigenous peoples, African descendants, farmers, teachers, women, students, and trade unionists in numerous, massive, non-violent street demonstrations of resistance.
This summer and fall, in the run up to the country's first contested election since the coup, many fear that the violence will get even worse. The purpose of the tourorganized by the Gay Liberation Network, La Voz de los de Abajo and the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America is to raise international awareness about the dire situation in the country and use the spotlight of publicity to add a higher level of safety for activists there.
Included in the presentations will be a short film produced by the Gay Liberation Network which was shot during a September 2012 solidarity delegation to Honduras organized by La Voz de los de Abajo. Footage in the film shows armed guards of the nation's largest landowner firing in the direction of the delegation to intimidate them from investigating a murder that had happened just a few days before.
In addition to Atlanta, Palacios will be giving presentations at and attending leadership meetings in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Cleveland, New York, Washington, DC and Chicago (Chicago will have two public events, one in English and one in Spanish).