Honduras: 21 Bodies Found at Contra Base

As of Aug. 31 a team of Guatemalan archaeologists and forensic anthropologists had found the remains of 21 people in clandestine
graves at a former Honduran military base used in the early 1980s by US-funded contra rebels…The excavations come as the US Senate is scheduled to hold hearings on the confirmation of former US ambassador to Honduras John Negroponte, nominated by US president George W. Bush to be US ambassador to the UN.

As of Aug. 31 a team of Guatemalan archaeologists and forensic anthropologists had found the remains of 21 people in clandestine
graves at a former Honduran military base used in the early 1980s by US-funded contra rebels attempting to overthrow the leftist Nicaraguan government of the 1980s.

The excavation, by members of the Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala under the auspices of Honduras’ courts and the Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office, began on Aug. 27 and is scheduled to last for 30 days.

The El Aguacate base, some 250 km east of Tegucigalpa in Olancho department, was built by the US in 1983 for use by the contras, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Honduran military.

Authorities expect to find as many as 80 bodies on the base, including those of leftists disappeared by the Honduran military in the 1980s. [El Nuevo Herald 9/2/01 from wire services; La Hora (Quito) 8/31/01 from AFP; La Nacion (Costa Rica) 8/29/01 from AP]

The clandestine graves were first discovered in August 1999, along with cells where the military apparently tortured and killed suspects; the base was in use until 1990 [see Update #498].

The excavations come as the US Senate is scheduled to hold hearings on the confirmation of former US ambassador to Honduras John Negroponte, nominated by US president George W. Bush to be US ambassador to the UN.

Negroponte served in Honduras from 1981 to 1985 and was considered a key element in the contra operation [see Updates #578, 580].

"If you look at Honduras’ human rights record," notes Jose Miguel Vivanco, executive director for the Americas division of the US-based Human Rights Watch, "the worst period in Honduran history was the beginning of the 1980s, precisely when Negroponte was serving there as US ambassador and reporting that everything was fine, that the Honduran military was free of abuses and was not engaging in human rights abuses." [Financial Times (London) 8/30/01]

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has scheduled Negroponte’s confirmation hearing for Sept. 6. Committee chair Joseph Biden (D-DE) has publicly announced that Negroponte’s confirmation is "a done deal."

ACTION

Human rights activists are calling for calls, faxes and emails from constituents to the committee’s members to demand thorough questioning of Negroponte’s record.

A complete list of contact information for committee members and of questions they should ask Negroponte is available from the Nicaragua Network at:

202-544-9355, email nicanet@afgj.org

and Network in Solidarity with Guatemala (NISGUA) at:

202-518-7638, email nisgua@igc.org

[Nicaragua Network urgent action 8/31/01]

[ also see related items:

On appt of Negroponte: New Ripples in an Evil Story – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1319

Negroponte’s Nomination “Clouded” by Deportation of Witnesses –
http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1332
]

Author: Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York

News Service: Weekly News Update on the Americas #605

URL: http://www.eco.utexas.edu/faculty/Cleaver/chiapas95.html