Honduras: Micheletti appoints death squad veteran
Fears that the de facto regime in Honduras is availing itself of expertise in repression from the bloody years of the 1980s were vindicated by reports that coup-installed President Roberto Micheletti has appointed as special advisor one Billy Joya Améndola—named as one of the principal leaders of the 316 Battalion death squad.
Joya Améndola, who apparently operated in the '80s as "Dr. Arranzola," is also named as a founder of the semi-official "Lince" and "Cobra" death squads. Human rights groups in Honduras charge he is responsible for at least 11 extrajudicial executions, as well as the April 1982 kidnapping and torture of six students. He apparently received training in Argentina from Gen. Guillermo Suárez Mason AKA "Pajarito"—who would later be convicted and imprisoned on charges related to 30 murders and 200 kidnappings. (See obituary, The Independent, June 23, 2005.) Joya Améndola also obtained a scholarship from the Honduran army to study in Augusto Pinochet's Chile.
The Spanish government sought the extradition of Joya Améndola various times after 1985, but the Honduran judicial system has never responded. Ironically, when a judge in Tegucigalpa issued an order for his arrest on kidnapping and torture charges in 1995, he took refuge in Spain, and remained there as an asylum applicant until he was expelled in 1998. (Gennaro Carotenuto, Italy, July 5, translated by Quotha.net)
Hugo Maldonado, director of the local Human Rights Committee in San Pedro Sula, says that the de facto regime is purging Zelaya sympathists from the security forces, and the most reactionary elements of the army are now in control. He named Joya Amendola and retired Gen. Daniel López Carballo as the men overseeing this reshaping of the security forces. (Público, Spain, July 22)
A graduate of the US Army's School of the Americas (SOA), Gen. López Carballo told CNN that the coup was warranted because Venezuelan President Chávez would be running Honduras by proxy if the military had not acted. SOA graduates who led the coup include armed forces chief Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez and air force chief Gen. Luis Prince Suazo.
SOA-trained Honduran army counsel Col. Herberth Inestroza justified the military coup in an interview with the Miami Herald, saying, "It would be difficult for us, with our training, to have a relationship with a leftist government. That's impossible." Inestroza also confirmed that the decision for the coup was made by the military. (Examiner.com, July 18)
In that same interview, Inestroza also admitted the removal of Zelaya was a "criminal" act. Yet in an interview with the New York Times days earlier, he denied that removal was a coup, or that the "rule of law" had been broken.
See our last post on Honduras.