PBI-Honduras accompanies COFADEH to former military torture centre in Amarateca that is now a House of Memory

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On June 3, PBI-Honduras posted:

“Recently, as part of the week of the Detained-Disappeared, we accompanied COFADEH [the Committee of Families of Detained- Disappeared in Honduras] to the House of Memory in Amarateca, a space that was used in the 1980s as a torture house. COFADEH acquired the property in order to rescue historical memory on issues of human rights violations and crimes against humanity.”

The Inter Press Service has reported:

The country estate of a Honduran general who formed part of a past military government housed a torture centre used by the army in the 1980s, according to police reports and a team of U.S. anthropologists.

Bertha Oliva with COFADEH said the army held and tortured many opponents of the military regime on the estate of Gen. Amilcar Zelaya. Some of the victims figure on the list of people “disappeared” by the security forces last decade.

Zelaya was one of three generals who formed the junta that ruled this Central American country from 1978 to 1981, after a string of coups d’etats.

Using special techniques, the anthropologists found traces of human blood and even the prints of bloody hands on the walls of several rooms of Zelaya’s country residency.

And Somos+ Tocoa has also previously explained:

“This house served as a torture center in the ’80s. According to COFADEH reports there were more than 500 people here until 1986, in possession of the death squads (Army Intelligence Battalion 3/16). The house belonged to Lieutenant Colonel Amilcar Zelaya Chief of the Honduras Police in the period of the triumvirate from 1978 to 1980 [after the coup that toppled] General Melgar Castro [in August 1978].”

That triumvirate was headed by Policarpo Paz García.

For a first hand account from Hernán Guevara Gutiérrez, who was arrested in 1982 and taken to the house where he was tortured for a month, see So that it never happens again.

Canada and Honduras in the 1980s

During the period that the house was being used to torture people, Joe Clark and then Pierre Trudeau, John Turner and Brian Mulroney were the prime ministers of Canada.

Canadian academic Tyler Shipley has written: “Between 1978 and 1980, the US spent some $10 million beefing up the Honduran armed forces.”

He adds: “In 1980, the Honduran military peacefully relinquished political power, a move that was designed – by the military and its allies in the US – to forestall more dramatic civil unrest.”

Shipley continues: “Between 1980 and 1992, the US spent some $1.6 billon in military and economic aid to Honduras, intended to establish the apparatus of repression, buttress the institutions of political power, and infiltrate and co-opt the civil society organizations that were best positioned to harness social unrest.”

In 1983, UPI reported: “Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau told a group of about 700 college students [in Toronto] he could not do anything about U.S. foreign policy towards Central America [including Honduras]… Trudeau said that as a major world power the United States was trying to protect its own interests.”

In December 1987, Maclean’s magazine reported: “[Foreign Affairs minister Joe Clark] announced an additional $13 million in aid to Honduras, which has not yet dismantled its contra base camps or cut supply flights to the rebels [fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua].”

This week, Dalhousie University professor John M. Kirk wrote in The Globe and Mail:

The Conservative government of Stephen Harper was clearly driven by ideology when it supported the government of Porfirio Lobo in Honduras, who took power after a coup in June 2009.

Canada was the last country in the hemisphere to call for the reinstatement of the democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya, and even maintained its Military Training Assistance Program there following Mr. Zelaya’s overthrow.

Canadian support for corrupt Honduran presidents continued under the [Justin] Trudeau government, despite clear evidence of ballot-stuffing and corruption in 2013 and 2017 elections.

Photo of PBI-Honduras on a previous accompaniment to the house in August 2020.

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