Remembering 25 Years Ago—August 1981
A group of civilians are arrested by the Honduran Army as part of a crackdown on a Salvadoran insurgent support network in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Ambassador Binns learns of the events from Col. Gustavo Álvarez Martínez, commander of the Honduran Public Security Forces, in an Aug. 15 meeting. Álvarez tells Binns that several prisoners are still being interrogated, but the warehouses they uncovered contained few weapons, indicating that suspected materiel had been moved to the border.
After the publication in 1994 of the Honduran human rights commissioner’s report, which describes the arrest and disappearance of 21 civilians between Aug. 5 and Aug. 10, Binns concludes that all of these individuals were targets of the operation Álvarez described. (Editor’s note: The human rights commissioner’s report indicates that 15 people, all Salvadorans, were arrested as part of this operation.) Binns writes in his 2000 autobiography, “There is no doubt that the Hondurans uncovered an insurgent supply apparat, but it is less clear that those who were arrested and vanished were actually involved. It is also clear that these actions were contrary to Honduran law and represented major human rights violations.”
The 21 individuals include the following:
· Luis Alberto Regalado Lezama, a Salvadoran refugee, arrested Aug. 5 by the First Infantry Battalion.
· Eduardo Garcia, a Venezuelan citizen, detained Aug. 5 in Tegucigalpa, allegedly by the DNI.
· Jorge Maximiliano Hernández Paredes, a 44-year-old Salvadoran refugee, arrested on Aug. 5 by the First Infantry Battalion.
· Jorge Enrique Jiménez Argueta, a Salvadoran, detained Aug. 5 in San Pedro Sula, allegedly by the DNI. The Honduran Government informed the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions that Jiménez had not been detained, and the Honduran Permanent Mission in Geneva stated, according to immigration records, that Jiménez had been deported to El Salvador.
· Sofia Jiménez, a Salvadoran, detained Aug. 5 in Tegucigalpa, allegedly by the DNI, and reportedly taken to an unknown location. The Honduran Permanent Mission in Geneva claimed Jiménez had never entered the country.
· Enrique Menjivar, a Salvadoran, detained Aug. 5 in Tegucigalpa, allegedly by the DNI.
· Matilde Quintanilla Melgar, a Salvadoran refugee, detained Aug. 5 in Tegucigalpa, reportedly by DNI agents.
· Rafael Antonio Rodríguez, a Salvadoran citizen, detained Aug. 5 in Tegucigalpa by DNI agents.
· Yadira Villalta, a Salvadoran citizen, detained Aug. 5 in Tegucigalpa, allegedly by the DNI. Villalta had been detained earlier in El Salvador, where she had been cruelly tortured and raped in front of her children.
· Domingo Rodríguez, a Salvadoran citizen, detained Aug. 5 by DNI agents in Tegucigalpa.
· Raphael Rodríguez, a Salvadoran citizen, detained Aug. 5 by DNI agents in Tegucigalpa.
· Rafael Torres Rodríguez, a Salvadoran refugee living in Honduras, detained Aug. 7 by the DNI in San Pedro Sula.
· Juan Francisco Alvarenga Garcia, a Honduran citizen, arrested Aug. 7, allegedly by the DNI, in Tegucigalpa.
· Jorge Manuel Morales Alvarado, an Ecuadoran citizen, detained Aug. 8, allegedly by the DNI and the Honduran Armed Forces, in Tegucigalpa. Sources report that Morales Alvarado was detained along with the children of Yadira Villalta: Marisol Villalta, age 8, and Antonio Villalta, age 5. The children are later left at their home by female military personnel.
· Domingo Eleuterio Rodríguez Cabrera, a 32-year-old Honduran mechanic, detained Aug. 8 by DNI Regional Director Danilo Rico Núñez while he is repairing an ambulance for the Ministry of Health in his shop in San Lorenzo. It is thought that the Honduran security forces believed Rodríguez to be a Communist who studied automotive mechanics in the USSR. His family files petitions of habeas corpus for his release, but to no avail. The family endures constant threats and in 1983 his father is shot and his mother is forced to leave the country along with her other children. Rodríguez’s nephew, Oscar Guillermo Rodríguez, is also detained and disappeared at this time.
· Jorge Zavala Eurake, a public accountant and local grain merchant in Tegucigalpa, detained Aug. 8 in Tegucigalpa by DNI agents. A witness sees five armed men in plainclothes grab him, push him into a waiting car and drive away. His family inquires with the public security forces and at hospitals and morgues, but to no avail. In October 1982 Col. Leonidas Torres Arias, ousted intelligence chief for the Honduran Armed Forces, announces at a press conference in Mexico City that Zavala and other disappeared individuals had been abducted and executed on the orders of Col. Álvarez Martínez and police Capt. Alexander Hernández Santos, but that allegation is denied.
· David Ayala, a Honduran citizen, detained Aug. 10 in San Pedro Sula, allegedly by the DNI.
· Jose Eduardo Gonzalez, a Honduran citizen, detained Aug. 10 in Comayagüela, allegedly by the DNI.
· Jorge Eduardo Morales, a Salvadoran refugee living in Honduras, detained Aug. 10 in San Pedro Sula.
· Flavio Narciso Lopez Ayala a Salvadoran refugee living in Honduras, detained Aug. 10 in San Pedro Sula, allegedly by the DNI.
“Honduras: The Facts Speak for Themselves.” The Preliminary Report of the National Commissioner for the Protection of Human Rights in Honduras. Human Rights Watch; July 1994
“The United States in Honduras, 1980-1981: An Ambassador’s Memoir.” Jack R. Binns. McFarland & Co. Inc.; 2000
Comite de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos en Honduras Web site, Desaparecidos-1981
Report of the International Commission for the Defense of Salvadoran Refugees, 1981
“’Disappearances’ in Honduras: A wall of silence and indifference.” Amnesty International; April 30, 1992