‘I’m not free yet… but we’re going to keep fighting’
Edwin Espinal considers a bottle of drinking water he had smuggled out of La Tolva jail, where he was held on trumped up charges for 19 months.
US Trained Honduran Police Get Medieval as Political Prisoner Edwin Espinal Released
By Adrienne Pine MintPress News
“It’s sad how the United States is supporting this corrupt government,” Honduran political prisoner Edwin Espinal told MintPress News immediately after his release from prison, where he had spent 19 months.
Edwin’s case — and the medieval violence to which U.S.-trained police in Honduras tried to subject me — perfectly illustrate the often lethal repression that has fueled the migrant crisis. After hours of police hurling stones and tear gas at student protesters last week, young children gathered the aluminum scraps from the ground to sell, underscoring that the poverty brought on by U.S.-backed neoliberal measures has gone hand-in-hand with police violence in fueling the human-rights catastrophe at the heart of the central American exodus.
A week of nationwide action in solidarity with political prisoners ended in elation at a concert on Friday held in the central park, as beloved movement leader Edwin Espinal — unexpectedly released from pre-trial detention earlier in the day — walked unevenly onstage. Espinal, looking like a deer in the headlights, was immediately mobbed by sobbing friends. The resistance band Patechucho Social Club played a rousing version of their song “Rap Rock Reggae Cumbia.”
On Friday, a three-judge panel in a courthouse surrounded by military police officers agreed that Espinal’s 19-month incarceration in a maximum-security prison was illegal, punitive and arbitrary.
I went with Edwin’s wife, Karen Spring, to pick him up from the prison. In his first interview after his release from prison, Edwin told me:
‘It’s very clear inside that they started a new force which has been trained by the U.S. government. And they’re really bad people. They treat us so badly… They always beat me up, they always humiliate me.
‘It is sad how the United States is supporting this corrupt government, which is focused on prosecuting the political opposition rather than on prosecuting corrupt people in the Juan Orlando Hernandez government.”
It is difficult to overstate the importance to Hondurans of Espinal’s conditional release while awaiting trial. Since the murder of his then-girlfriend Wendy Avila from suffocation caused by teargas inhalation in the months following the 2009 U.S.-backed coup, he has been an especially public figure in the Honduran struggle for social justice.