WASHINGTON — Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) alongside her five co-leads, Representatives Hank Johnson (GA-04), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Jesus "Chuy" García (IL-04), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), and Ilhan Omar (MN-05) led a group of 21 lawmakers in introducing the House companion to Senator Merkley’s Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act of 2021. This critical legislation, which is identical to the Senate version, lays out a comprehensive framework for combating corruption, impunity, and human rights violations in Honduras. It builds on the strong foundation laid by the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act.
The introduction comes after U.S. federal prosecutors made public that they are investigating Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández for his involvement in drug trafficking throughout the U.S. It also follows the conviction and sentencing of his brother and former Honduran Congressman Tony Hernández who will serve life in prison for his leadership in the same conspiracy – an expansive, sophisticated, and violent drug ring.
In response to this rampant corruption and well documented history of human rights violations, the Honduran Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act will impose sanctions on the Honduran president for corruption and human rights abuses, and suspend U.S. security assistance and export licenses for covered defense articles and munitions items to the Honduran police and military, among other provisions.
“For years, the United States has provided millions of dollars in security assistance to Honduras, and for years we have seen the military and police murder human rights, labor, and environmental activists with impunity,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. “And now we see the Honduran President implicated in a decade’s long violent drug trafficking scheme. The U.S. must stop financing the rampant corruption and violations of human rights that prevent the Honduran people from building a safe and thriving country. It is well past time for the U.S. to make clear that the Honduran government must restore the rule of law, and respect and uphold human and civil rights. Until that time, we must cease our aid, impose sanctions, and hold those in power accountable.”
“Disturbing human rights abuses and blatant corruption are being committed at the highest levels of the Honduran government—claiming lives, silencing human rights and environmental defenders, and forcing families to flee persecution and violence. We can’t stay silent in the face of this crisis,” said Senator Merkley, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and introduced the legislation in the Senate in February. “A failure to hold Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, national officials, and members of the police and military accountable will only make things worse, by fueling widespread poverty and violence and forcing more families to search for safety. We need a comprehensive plan of action, including sanctions, and halting the provision of U.S. security assistance and defense equipment to the Honduran police and military.”
“I am honored to co-lead the Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act. This bill continues the call for long-sought justice for Hondurans and holds President Juan Orlando Hernandez accountable for his high-level involvement in narcotrafficking,” said Congressman Hank Johnson. “It is imperative that the Honduran military and police do not receive funding from the United States to continue terrorizing its own people. This legislation, coupled with my legislation, the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, sends a clear message to the government and people of Honduras that state violence cannot continue with impunity. This year commemorates five years since the assassination of human rights and environmental activist Berta Cáceres, who was murdered for speaking out against injustice. Many more have been tortured, imprisoned, and killed by the Honduran government; we must deliver justice for them by defunding and demilitarizing Honduran security forces. Human rights in Honduras cannot wait. I thank Rep. Schakowsky and Senator Merkley for their leadership on this bill.”
“I’m proud to stand with defenders of human rights and introduce the Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro. “It is long overdue to stop providing aid to Honduran military and security forces, and to hold President Juan Orlando Hernández accountable for corruption. Addressing the root causes of migration requires us to confront the insecurity and impunity that forces many people to flee to the United States. The Honduran people have the right to a safe and decent life in their home country and they must be protected, not victimized by their own government. I encourage all of my colleagues to support this important legislation."
“The Honduran people continue to leave their country because of violence, corruption and lack of economic opportunities. The institutions intended to protect the public are instead violating human rights and protecting criminals and drug traffickers” said Congressman García. “We must address the root causes of migration, and that includes addressing the safety of Central American people. The Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act of 2021, will impose sanctions against high level officials for corruption and human rights abuses. We must stand in solidarity with our Honduran brothers and sisters against impunity and institutional violence.”
“The United States cannot remain silent and allow the horrific treatment of the Honduran people as well as rampant fraud and corruption to go on without consequences,” said Congresswoman Kaptur. “The Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act is vital, commonsense legislation that will hold Honduran leaders like Juan Orlando Hernández accountable for their actions. The U.S. cannot support regimes that flagrantly violate human rights and the rule of law.”
“Our immigration policies and foreign policy are inextricably linked. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, national officials, and members of the police and military are responsible for unspeakable crimes against humanity in Honduras—and are fueling a humanitarian crisis in the region that is leading thousands to flee their homes for safety,” said Congresswoman Omar. “We should not be providing security aid to a government that murders human rights activists with zero legal accountability. Not holding them accountable will only fuel widespread poverty and violence and force more families to flee their communities in search of safety. I am proud to join Congresswoman Schakowsky to ensure that Honduras is not rewarded for their crimes.”
Original cosponsors include: Blumenauer, Cicilline, Cohen, Danny Davis, Espaillat, Grijalva, Jayapal, Lowenthal, McGovern, Napolitano, Norton, Panetta, Pocan, Porter, Pressley, Raskin, Rush, Scanlon, Tlaib, Vargas, Welch
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Perspectives from Havana: Economist Estéban Morales
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Like the rest of the world, Havana and Cuba have just completed the first full year of Covid 19. It has done so with the full force of the U.S. embargo on its neck, including additional measures enacted by the Trump administration and so far not modified or removed by the Biden administration. What has Havana been like the past year? What is it like now? What have been the major challenges and achievements?
Register to attend (only one registration is needed for the series)
Please join us to explore these and other questions with 5 leading voices from Cuba. All events start at 6 pm
April 27: From the Perspective of a Sociologist and Feminist – Marta Nuñez
May 04: From the Perspective of a Poet and Writer – Nancy Morejón
May 11: From the Perspective of the Next Generation — David Faya
Each week will start with a short presentation, followed by plenty of time for questions and dialogue. The discussion will be moderated by Cole Harrison (Massachusetts Peace Action), Sandra Levinson (Center for Cuban Studies), and Gloria Caballero (Latin American Solidarity Coalition of W. Mass)
Register to attend (only one registration is needed for the series). At the close of each session you will be given information and options for action to lift the Sanctions and end the Embargo, as well as ways in which you can get involved with the organizations sponsoring and co-sponsoring the series, or hold events and forums in your own community, institution or organization.
Introductions: Merri Ansara in Havana
Main Sponsors: Massachusetts Peace Action (www.masspeaceaction.org), Center for Cuban Studies
Two months into the Biden administration, the fate of the Iran deal remains perilously uncertain and the president has done little to reverse Trump's failed "maximum pressure" policy or ease crushing sanctions on 83 million people — in the middle of a pandemic.
If we want to see diplomacy succeed, then we need to make it clear to the new administration that the United States must save the Iran deal. That’s why, together, with the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Friends Committee on National Legislation, Peace Action, and 19 other organizations, we’re launching a #ReSealTheDeal week of action.
The Iran deal was the result of years of painstaking negotiations and is one of the strongest and most significant nuclear nonproliferation arrangements in history. With this deal, we peacefully eliminated the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and strengthened our own national security. Without it, we face the very real prospect of another disastrous conflict in the Middle East.
Since Trump left the Iran deal in 2018, the U.S. and Iran have only narrowly avoided war. And if President Biden doesn’t change course, that is the path we’re heading down.
But changing decades of foreign policy failure won’t be easy. It’s going to take ALL of us taking action to demand a future free from endless war and filled with peace and justice.
The good news is, our movement CAN urge President Biden to choose the path of diplomacy — IF we build enough momentum and pressure.
And luckily, we’re not alone. This week, over 20 pro-peace, pro-Iran-deal organizations are pushing President Biden to honor his campaign promise and return the United States to the Iran nuclear deal immediately.
Thank you for working for peace,
Stephen, Annika, Sara, and the Win Without War team
P.S. In case you missed it, NIAC is hosting an expert panel featuring Senator Chris Murphy and other key international relations and nonproliferation experts this Wednesday at 2:30 PM ET. You can RSVP here to join and find out more details for the event!
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Biden Administration Asked to Review Plutonium Pit Expansion Plans
February 11, 2021
Public interest organizations sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) requesting that it address calls for a rigorous environmental review of plans to expand production of nuclear bomb cores at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina.
The non-profit groupsNuclear Watch New Mexico, SRS Watch and Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environmenthave previously submitted a number of formal comments and information related to the environmental and public health risks associated with a significant expansion of plutonium “pit” production at the two DOE sites.
The three organizations’ documents, which include several legal filings since 2019, were consolidated and re-submitted on Wednesday so the DOE under the new Biden administration has “immediate access to these documents,” the letter states.
Download the documents
A key concern among the three public interest groups is the necessity of preparing a legally mandated Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) analyzing the potential impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) at all relevant DOE sites. The groups want to ensure that the administrative record is intact and that reconsideration of the PEIS be undertaken before legal action is pursued.
“We are hopeful that a review of programs with significant environmental impacts under NEPA will return to normalcy with the new presidential administration,” said Leslie Lenhardt, staff attorney for the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, a non-profit environmental law firm representing the organizations. “DOE and the National Nuclear Security Administration have a new opportunity to revisit their prior refusal to conduct a PEIS for this critical issue.”
In 2018, in an effort to expand and refurbish the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, the Trump administration proposed producing at least 80 pits a year30 at the existing Los Alamos site and 50 at the Savannah River Site.
At Los Alamos, pit production has been plagued by a long history of safety issues, yet DOE is proposing to increase production by 50 percent at that location. At the Savannah River Site, which has never produced pits, the DOE is seeking to convert the never-finished Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility into a pit factory. The failed MOX facility wasted billions of taxpayer dollars and was not designed for producing nuclear war heads.
Pit production entails processing hazardous and radioactive materials and would significantly increase the amount of nuclear and toxic wastes generated at the Savannah River Site and Los Alamos. In addition to the possibility that plutonium could be stranded at the sites, drastically increasing the nation’s plutonium pit processing capability means more waste needs to be treated, stored or disposed ofa risk for surrounding communities who may be impacted by the release of these materials.
The groups say the DOE is required to analyze the collective environmental impacts at the multiple production sites as well as impacts on the waste isolation pilot plant in New Mexico, where the agency plans to dispose of plutonium pit wastes without adequate review. The groups strongly affirm that the public has the right to participate in the PEIS decision-making process pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.
“While we fully anticipate the Biden administration will affirm the need to prepare the PEIS on expansion of plutonium pit production, we remain ready to bring a lawsuit under NEPA,” said Tom Clements, director of SRS Watch.
Marylia Kelley, executive director of the Livermore-based Tri-Valley Cares noted that the “driver for expanded pit production is a novel warhead design underway at Livermore lab in California. Under NEPA, the agency must consider the DOE-complex wide impacts of this proposal in a thoroughgoing programmatic review.”
Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico added, “It’s important to note that no future pit production is to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear weapons stockpile. Instead, it is for speculative new nuclear weapons designs that can’t be tested because of the international testing moratorium, or perhaps worse yet may prompt the U.S. back into testing, after which surely other nations would follow.”
Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
A Candlelight Vigil for Peace and Global Nuclear Disarmament
Please join Peace Action of Wisconsin on Thursday, August 6th for a candlelight vigil along Lincoln Memorial Drive to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and renew our commitment to a world free from nuclear weapons.
75th Anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki
Thursday, August 6th, 8PM – 9:30PM
Along Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee
Near Bradford Beach Pedestrian Bridge
(Free Parking in the lot across from Bradford Beach and the North Point lot just south of there.
Meet in either one of the two parking lots to pick up lanterns, signs and banners.)
SAFE SOCIAL DISTANCING - 10 feet apart.
Everyone please wear masks. Special peace masks will be available for sale.
No More Nuclear Weapons! No More Hiroshimas!
For more information, contact Peace Action of Wisconsin, 414-269-9525;
website: peaceactionwi.org; facebook.com/peaeactionwi; email: [email protected]
Co-sponsored and endorsed by a number of other local peace & justice organizations.