Things That Matter

Honduras Moves To Enshrine Bans On Abortion And Marriage Equality In The Constitution

Honduras already has one of the world’s strictest bans on abortion. It’s completely banned in all circumstances, including even in cases of rape and incest, and when the person’s life and the health are in danger. The country also has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, including recognizing those that were performed abroad.

So, why is the country moving to further limit access to abortion and marriage equality?

The Honduran Congress has voted to make it impossible to legalize abortion and same-sex marriage.

In the first round of voting, the country’s congress had voted to move forward on complete and total constitutional bans against abortion and marriage equality. But lawmakers are taking it a step further, by increasing the votes needed to undo their constitutional amendments in the future.

One lawmaker referred to the legislation as a “constitutional lock” to prevent any future moderations of the abortion law.

However, the amendments require a second reading/vote and activists across the country (and world) are mobilizing to help stop these amendments from being voted in. But they face an uphill battle, as the legislation has overwhelming support within Congress and from the country’s staunchly conservative president.

Honduras already has among the world’s strictest bans on abortion.

Abortion in Honduras is already illegal in all circumstances. The country’s criminal code imposes prison sentences of up to six years on people who undergo abortions and medical professionals who provide them. The government also bans emergency contraception, or “the morning after pill,” which can prevent pregnancy after rape, unprotected sex, or contraceptive failure.

“Honduras’ draconian legislation already bans abortions, even in cases of rape and incest, when the person’s life and the health are in danger, and when the fetus will not survive outside the womb,” said Ximena Casas, Americas women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “This decree will make it virtually impossible to carry out the recommendations from multiple international human rights bodies to end this violation of reproductive rights.”

Honduras also already has a strict ban on same-sex marriage.

The 2005 constitutional amendment prohibits recognizing marriage between people of the same sex, including same-sex marriages contracted in other countries. Honduras also bans adoption by same-sex couples.

“By seeking to permanently and comprehensively block any possibility of accessing marriage for same-sex couples, the Honduran Congress is entrenching state-sponsored homophobia,” said Cristian González Cabrera, Americas lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“In a country where LGBT people already experience high levels of violence and discrimination, this effort to amend the constitution is sending the message that these people may be further stigmatized.”

Congress is also making it harder for future lawmakers to undo their constitutional amendments.

Not only was it not enough to double down on these draconian bans on abortion and marriage equality, lawmakers are moving to increase the threshold of votes to undo their bans.

Constitutional changes have until now been permitted with a two-thirds majority, but the new legislation raises that bar to three-quarters within the 128-member body. The measure still needs to be ratified by a second vote. However, support was clear on Thursday: with 88 legislators voting in favor, 28 opposed and seven abstentions.

Mario Pérez, a lawmaker with the ruling party of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, formally proposed the change last week, calling it a “constitutional lock” to prevent any future moderations of the abortion law.

Many see the constitutional amendment as a response to Argentina’s move to legalize abortion last month.

It was just last month that Argentina voted in favor of legalizing access to abortion. The South American nation became the largest Latin American country to allow abortion after its senate approved the historic law change by 38 votes in favor to 29 against, with one abstention.

For years, abortion has also been illegal in Argentina. The procedure was illegal except in cases where the mother or baby’s lives were in danger. In 2019, the country passed a law that also included rape victims as exceptions. 

The push towards various kinds of gender rights–including abortion rights–has been central to President Alberto Fernández’s administration. The center-left politician campaigned on a platform that emphasized the rights of women, gay, and trans communities since he was elected in 2019. Even throughout the devastation of the pandemic, Fernández has insisted on keeping his promises towards marginalized communities.

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Women Are Marching In The Dominican Republic As Part Of A Green Wave To End The Country’s Total Abortion Ban

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Women Are Marching In The Dominican Republic As Part Of A Green Wave To End The Country’s Total Abortion Ban

ERIKA SANTELICES/afp/AFP via Getty Images

For years now, women across Latin America have been fighting for their rights. In too many countries women are literally fighting for their safety and lives, not to mention access to equal pay, education, and safe and legal abortion.

Recently, these activists have started to see victories pop up across the region in what many are calling a green wave. With Argentina having legalized abortion late last year, many are hoping that the momentum will carry over into other countries.

Dominican feminists are demanding an end to the nation’s total abortion ban.

The Dominican Republic’s current penal code (which penalizes abortions) dates all the way back to 1884. It should go without saying that the time to update these archaic laws is long overdue.

The group of feminists use the hashtag #Las3CausalesVan and wear green, representing the latest in a green wave of reproductive rights that has spread across Latin America and the Caribbean.

“We are manifesting in front of Congress to demand respect to the life, health and dignity of women, emphasizing the inclusion of the three causals in the penal code,” Saray Figuereo, one of the activists involved in the movement, told the APP. “And we won’t let them make up an excuse that they’ll include them in a special law.”

The movement for the “Las 3 causales” (3 “causals” or “grounds/circumstances” in English) demands the approval of abortion in three extreme cases:

  1. When the pregnancy is a byproduct of a rape or incest
  2. When it represents a risk for the woman (or girl)
  3. When the fetus is nonviable

It’s the first time in generations that there is hope to update the country’s laws.

In 2020, the Dominican Republic held a historic election where Luis Abinader of the Modern Revolutionary Party won the presidential elections—the first time an opposing party won after a 16-year rule by the Party for Dominican Liberation.

In an interview with El País, he said, “Look, I disagree, as does the majority of the population, not only in the Dominican Republic but in the world, with free abortion, but I do think that there must be causals that allow the interruption of pregnancy. That has been the official position of our party.”

Reproductive rights in the Dominican Republic have long been an ongoing issue. The ratio of maternal mortality in the country is 150 per 100,000 births, higher than the average of 100 in Latin America.

“It’s been over 25 years fighting for this and all the lives that we keep losing, especially marginalized lives that are not even valuable enough for the media and the press to cover them, because the erasure of these voices is constant in the Dominican Republic,” activist Gina M. Goico told the AP.

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US Prosecutors Allege That Honduran President Hernández Said He Wanted to ‘Shove Drugs Up the Noses of Gringos’

Things That Matter

US Prosecutors Allege That Honduran President Hernández Said He Wanted to ‘Shove Drugs Up the Noses of Gringos’

Photo via Getty

They say the truth is stranger than fiction, and in this case, that saying happens to be true. New reports from federal prosecutors in New York have come out that implicate Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández in drug trafficking, embezzlement, and fraud.

For years, Honduras and the United States have publicly touted themselves as partners in global the war on drugs. But it seems that, privately, President Hernández felt differently.

Prosecutors allege that Hernández said that he wanted to “shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos”.

Federal prosecutors say that Hernández “said that he wanted to make the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration think that Honduras was fighting drug trafficking, but that instead he was going to eliminate extradition.”

The allegations against President Hernández are part of a larger drug trafficking case prosecutors have against, Geovanny Fuentes, a prolific Honduran trafficker whom authorities arrested in Miami.

Fuentes alleges that President Hernandez accepted bribes in exchange for protecting a cocaine laboratory and drug shipments headed towards the U.S. They say President Juan Orlando Hernández used his nation’s armed forces to protect huge shipments of cocaine in exchange for hefty bribes.

The case also alleges that Hernandez funneled aid money from the U.S. to non-governmental organizations.

The Honduran president isn’t explicitly named in the documents, but is instead referred to as “co-conspirator 4”. But the documents reference his political position as well as his relationship to his brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, who was also convicted of drug smuggling in 2019.

It’s worth mentioning that the 2019 case against Hernández’s brother also named President Hernández as a co-conspirator. That case alleged that President Hernández had accepted approximately $1 million in bribes from El Chapo.

President Hernández is denying the allegations and claiming that they are retaliations by cartel lords for his hardline stance against drug trafficking.

Recently, his office tweeted out: “The claim that Pres. Hernández supposedly accepted drug money from Geovanny Daniel Fuentes Ramirez, or gave protection or coordination to drug traffickers is 100% false, and appears to be based on lies of confessed criminals who seek revenge and to reduce their sentences.”

But at home, Hondurans seemed to have lost faith in their president. In fact, many are suspicious of his shady connections and seemingly never-ending scandals. Some Hondurans are reportedly worried that President Hernández may try to “illegally extend” his time in office in order to avoid prosecution by the United States”.

As of now, the prospects of him being prosecuted by the Trump administration are dubious at best.

Hernández and Trump have historically had a cozy relationship based on how fervently the Honduran president supported Trump’s strict immigration policies.

“[Indictment] will probably depend on the political will or political decision of the incoming Biden administration,” said InSight Crime senior investigator Hector Silva to Vice.

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