Fr. Ismael Moreno Coto, better known as Padre Melo, has been the target of a smear campaign, say the Jesuits. CNS photo/Rhina Guidos

Jesuits condemn rights violations in Honduras

By 
  • July 12, 2019

The Jesuits of North America are calling out the government of Honduras for “the deterioration of the rule of law,” and backing up a condemnation of Honduras’ political class by the country’s conference of Catholic bishops.

“We deplore the social and political crisis experienced by the Honduran population as a result of the historic violation of fundamental rights,” the Jesuits wrote in a July 1 statement.

“The very foundations of what it means to be Catholic in support of the poorest of the poor and the work of those who would seek to minister to them is in jeopardy,” said Canadian Jesuit provincial superior Fr. Erik Oland.

The Jesuits in Canada and the U.S. are worried because Honduras’ U.S.-supported government has been running a smear campaign against Jesuit Fr. Ismael Moreno, popularly known as Padre Melo. Moreno runs two Jesuit projects in Honduras — a radio station with its associated website Radio Progresso, and a forum for debate and research about issues in Honduras called ERIC.

“There has been a propaganda campaign filled with lies and manipulation to discredit defenders of human and environmental rights,” the Jesuits said.

Honduras has been in turmoil with thousands fleeing the country in caravans headed north to the United States as inflation runs out of control, unemployment soars and the government has sought to privatize health care and education. Mass protests in cities have been met with tear gas and live ammunition fire.

Canada’s ambassador to Honduras, James K. Hill, has protested against Honduran use of Canadian-purchased vehicles to deliver soldiers to the site of protests. The Canadian tax-funded vehicles were supposed to be used by Honduras’ ministry of health in its fight against chagas disease and other vector-borne illnesses.

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