The Honduran Bishops’ Conference released a statement on 7 June, as their Plenary Session concluded, expressing concern at government crackdowns on recent protests against the president, urging the government to return to democratic decision-making.
Protests began during May after reforms to the health and education sectors were proposed, which would have led to privatisation. Security forces have used teargas and live bullets to deter protesters in the capital Tegucigalpa and other cities. Protesters, who included doctors and teachers, demanded the resignation of the president, Juan Orlando Hernández, who relented and cancelled the reforms.
Hernández was recently named by US prosecutors in court documents from 2015 that say he was a target of a major investigation into drug-trafficking and money laundering. Charges were apparently not brought, and he denies any wrongdoing.
The Bishops’ Conference has said that protests must remain peaceful, but that it is understandable that people become frustrated when they do not see positive changes. The bishops said: “We are worried about the moral deterioration that our country is falling into. It is never permissible to do evil in order to reach the greater good.”
The Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, criticised the protestors in late April, calling them violent, but has not spoken publicly about them since then. He was awaiting a flight to Panama on 30 May when tear gas released outside the airport forced the cardinal and other passengers to evacuate.