Summary and Current Status
Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC)—a non-profit organization that works to enhance cooperation among the U.S., Cuban, and global health communities—has reported that Luther Castillo, a respected Honduran physician, is in imminent danger. Just a few weeks prior to the recent coup d’état, Dr. Castillo was appointed Director of International Cooperation in the Honduran Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is an indigenous Garifuna man who, for the past ten years, has been director of a foundation in Honduras that provides health services to indigenous people living in remote coastal communities. In 2006 he was named “Honduran Doctor of the Year” by Rotary International’s Tegucigalpa chapter.
MEDICC said on July 7 that the Honduran army has been given orders to capture Dr. Castillo and, if he resists, to shoot him. MEDICC also reported that, in a July 3, 2009, communiqué from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS), Dr. Castillo’s name was included on a list of individuals in Honduras whose lives are considered to be “at risk” and who are in immediate need of protection.
Dr. Castillo has spoken out against the coup, coordinated peaceful popular resistance, reported on demonstrations organized to demand the reinstatement of President Zelaya, and described repression of the protests by security forces. His cell phone reportedly was cut off at approximately 2:30 p.m. on July 7, and he appears to be in grave danger.
The CHR learned in late July from MEDICC that Dr. Castillo had managed to leave Honduras and come to the United States. He spent several weeks in Washington, D.C. as part of a delegation of Hondurans who oppose the coup and is appealing for help from the Obama administration and members of the U.S. Congress to support the reinstatement of ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
Thank you to the many correspondents who wrote timely letters of concern in behalf of Dr. Castillo. MEDICC told CHR that they believe the outpouring of international support played a significant part in making it possible for him to leave Honduras unharmed. Dr. Castillo recently returned to Honduras.
The U.S. State Department informed the CHR that the U.S. Embassy in Honduras has been assured by the Honduran police and special prosecutor for human rights that there is no warrant for Dr. Castillo’s arrest.