Karen Spring and Edwin Espinal Marriage in La Tolva Prison
Edwin Espinal and Karen Spring on their wedding day in La Tolva prison, Honduras
From Janet Spring Simcoe Honduras Rights Monitor
On Thursday October 18, 2018, our daughter Karen Spring and Edwin Espinal were married in La Tolva maximum security prison around noon, under heavy guard.
In attendance were Prisila Alvaredo, a Honduran lawyer and human rights defender, Mery Agurcia of the human rights organization, COFADEH, Grahame Russell from Rights Action Toronto, Karina Flores, a Honduran human rights defender, and Raul Alvarez, political prisoner arrested around the same time as Edwin.
The Spring and Espinal family members were not allowed in to view or participate in the signing ‘ceremony’ and cameras were denied. The wedding group were only allowed four photos of the ceremony and these were only given to the group after they insisted.
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The preparation and gathering of the necessary marriage documents took months; Karen was unsure if the ceremony would happen until the wedding day. Karen and Edwin’s marriage comes on the 9-month anniversary of Edwin’s arrest, which occurred during the post-electoral crisis. This crisis continues today as people protest the fraudulent election of November 26, 2017, when Juan Orlando Hernandez declared himself president.
As their marriage took place, at the same time, thousands of Hondurans were fleeing the violence and corruption of the Honduran government as they joined a caravan of people leaving the country, making their way through Guatemala and Mexico with the final destination, the United States border. Hondurans are still leaving their country in the hope that their mass exodus will bring attention to the serious conditions in the country at the hands of the corrupt government of Juan Orlando Hernandez.
The situation is dire; Honduras is known to have one of the highest murder rates in the world. The Honduran people are trying to escape this violence, lack of rule of law, military police brutality, gangs, and drug trafficking linked to the military regime of Hernandez. Yet their travels through Guatemala and Mexico to the United States will cause them undue hardships and in most cases, they will be denied entry into the US.
Yet they are desperate. Edwin and others who spoke against this corruption in the country now await an amnesty through the political dialogue that was initiated by the United Nations in late August. To date, no announcement has been made regarding their release, nor has the dialogue process been a success; talks and discussions between the opposition parties and Hernandez government are at a standstill. Yet our family is hopeful. If Hondurans speak or peacefully protest the fraudulent and illegal government practices of the Hernandez military regime, they are beaten, teargassed, murdered, tortured, disappeared, or in the case of Edwin and 21 other political prisoners, incarcerated without due process.
There is a total lack of justice in the country that is ruled by military force, supported and funded by the United States and Canadian government. Therefore, many Hondurans have made the decision to join the caravan and leave Honduras as their only recourse. Edwin and other political prisoners continue to live in dire conditions inside maximum security prisons that are owned and operated by US companies.
Edwin has lost over 40 pounds to date, living on a meagre diet which is restricted to under 2000 calories per day. Water is scarce and of very poor quality. Prisoners have restricted family visits; no written correspondence is allowed; phone service has been cut off since April. The maximum-security prisons in Honduras are unsafe. In the last three weeks, four prisoners have been murdered inside La Tolva and El Pozo prison in the northern part of the country.
The Spring family has received many congratulatory statements and letters of support. We thank the community of Elmvale and beyond for their best wishes during this happy but sad time. A professor at the American University, Washington D.C. and long standing friend and supporter of Karen and Edwin has compiled a wedding registry for the couple. It can be found at: https://www.theknot.com/us/karen-spring-and-edwin-espinal-oct-2018?preview=true We hope that Edwin will be released soon and await the day when Karen and Edwin can both travel to Canada to celebrate their marriage with the community – friends, and family members – who have supported them through this very trying, desperate time.
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