Beyond the Headlines

Padre Melo (aka Fr Ismael Moreno Coto SJ) spoke powerfully and movingly about Honduras and the struggle for human rights on 15 August in Toronto. The following is a brief report on the event, together with a number of useful links for those who want to learn more and to act in solidarity.

Padre Melo speaks on human rights in Honduras (Photo: C. Hincks/CJI)

Padre Melo speaks on human rights in Honduras
(Photo: C. Hincks/CJI)

At the public event (co-sponsored by Canadian Jesuits International, Kairos, the Jesuit Forum and Mary Ward Centre), Padre Melo offered important insights on the factors that have resulted in the environmental degradation and political and economic instability of his country, including the difficult observation that “Canada is the name that is most closely associated with the degradation of the natural resources in Honduras.”

His message was clear on how important it is to act in solidarity with those working for human rights and justice. For committed journalists an act of solidarity is a matter of having a voice or not having one at all; for Radio Progreso (of which Padre Melo is director) it is a matter of being on air today or shut down tomorrow; and for many human rights and environmental activists it is a matter of life or death.

Please see the links below if you would like to learn more, to advocate for human rights in Honduras, or to support the work of Padre Melo at ERIC (Team for Reflection, Research and Communication) or Radio Progreso:

  • A Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau from 200 organizations in Latin America asks for a response on the “role of the Canadian State in the violations of Canadian mining operations abroad, through political, financial, or diplomatic support to the companies involved.” You may disseminate this letter, which is also available in French, Spanish and Portuguese.
  • Another Letter to Trudeau, in English and French, from the Provincial Superiors of the Jesuits in Canada. They urge the Prime Minister to raise the issue of Fr Melo’s safety and that of all people committed to human rights and a healthy environment in Honduras.
  • Soberania 2021 (in Spanish) is ERIC and Radio Progreso’s proposal for a National Plan to be implemented from the year 2021. It aims to involve all sectors of society in a participatory process to define ways to access health, quality education, a healthy environment, water, agricultural land, and security. ERIC is working with communities on a more detailed document that we hope to share once it is finalized.
  • A Toronto Star article based on an interview with Fr Melo during his visit. Also a Toronto Star editorial. By sharing these within your networks, you can help bring attention to Honduras through other media outlets.
  • Reflections on Fr Melo’s visit by CJI staff members Isabel Perez-Doherty and Miriam Lopez-Villegas.
  • A documentary The Guardian of the River (in Spanish) produced by Radio Progreso pays homage to Berta Cáceres, who was killed for her activism on environmental and indigenous peoples issues.
  • Radio Progreso’s website livestreams all of its broadcasts. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you’ll enjoy the music! By streaming their programming you are increasing Radio Progreso’s listener count, which Padre Melo says is crucial to their ability to keep broadcasting on social justice issues.
  • You can become a member of Radio Progreso at Tu voz y mi voz (Your voice and my voice).
  • Like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube page where we will post the highlights of our day with Padre Melo.
  • Please also consider making a financial contribution to the work of Radio Progreso. Tax receiptable donations will go to support Padre Melo’s work, providing opportunities for people to speak out for a more just and peaceful society in Honduras. When making your donation online or by phone or cheque, be sure to add a note that the donation is “FOR RADIO PROGRESO IN HONDURAS.” If donating online, add this note under the MESSAGE FOR CANADIAN JESUITS INTERNATIONAL box. Thank you!