The other side of the story in Honduras

Zenaida Velásquez Rodiguez seeks justice for the deaths of her brother Manfredo and her sister Ilse.

A pioneer in the movement for human rights in Honduras, Zenaida Velasquez Rodriguez is the sister of Manfredo Velásquez, who was abducted and disappeared by Honduran security forces.


Manfredo Velásque

On September 12, 1981, Manfredo was kidnapped in broad daylight in the parking lot of a movie theater in downtown Tegucigalpa. He was never seen again. At the time of his abduction, Manfredo was thirty-five years old, a graduate student, and a teacher. He was also the Secretary-General of the Student Union and a well-known political activist. The Honduran security forces frequently targeted such community leaders who were perceived as threats to the regime.

Zenaida did not limit her efforts solely to Manfredo’s death. In 1982, she founded the Committee for the Families of the Detained & Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), an organization that provides support for families whose loved ones have been abducted or murdered by security forces and death squads. Between 1981 and 1989, more than 180 civilians were disappeared by the security forces.

Perez-Esquivel fotos de radio

Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel

  Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, an Argentine who had come to Honduras to investigate human rights abuses, was visiting Honduras in 1984, Zenaida wanted to meet with him when she was detained by the Secret Police. Perez Esquivel helped to release her and finally they met the same day, January 5th at 8:00pm. They become good friends and collaborate until today.

Zenaida Velasquez’s  sister,  Ilse Velásquez, a Honduran teacher was  also recently killed by the military-backed regime in Honduras on March 18th, 2011, she left 4 children and 4 grandchildren.honduras-007

The teachers peacefully demonstrated in front of INPREMA (Acronym in Spanish for the Teachers’ Retirement Fund),  to protest its militarization.  There was a siren that went off indicating that the demonstration would be repressed; the teachers lifted their arms to indicate that their demonstration was pacific.  The repressive police force and a specialized battalion known as COBRAS ignored the message of peace shown by the teachers and started shooting tear-gas bombs ‘made in USA’ and firing water laced with chemicals from huge tanks and very potent hoses at the demonstrators.

On a letter to Nancy Pelosy, Zenaida writes: “The illegal regime of Porfirio Lobo, as well as the Human Rights Representative at the American Embassy, Jeremy D. Spector, has started a campaign of misinformation stating that the death of my sister was due simply to a car accident”.

Boaz Simovici

Boaz Simovici

This program was co-hosted with Boaz Simovici, columnist for Perfiles de America, Boaz holds degrees in Law, History and Music from Berkeley University.

We hope the situation in Honduras will improve and there will be a peaceful resolution of the current conflicts.

This program was produced and broadcasted at KZSU 90.1fm Stanford.

Thank you listening and we please leave us your comments and opinions.

Part 1 and 2 of this interview can be listened below.


¡Gracias por apoyar nuestra labor!
About Elizabeth Trajtenberg (40 Articles)
Founder and columnist for Perfiles de América and La Ventana Americana. Radio shows and Pod Casts. Producer, Editor, Host and Reporter.

Leave a Reply