Monday, January 20, 2014

New Bajo Aguan Military Commander

Colonel German Alfaro Escalante, announced that the Chairman of the Honduran Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Freddy Santiago Diaz, has decided to replace him in his role as head of the Fuerza de Tarea Xatruch, running military operations in the Bajo Aguan.

His replacement will be Colonel René Martínez.  Alfaro said this was part of a larger shake-up of command around the country.

Tensions between campesinos and human rights activists and the military in the Bajo Aguan may have been eclipsed by the election, but they did not disappear.

Alfaro, a 1984 graduate of at least one School of the Americas course (Infantry Official Basic Training), was an outspoken critic of Rights Action co-director Annie Bird. On December 12, Alfaro, following up on dubious claims made by Ambassador Lisa Kubiske on December 10, accused Bird of inciting campesinos to invade African Palm plantations in the Bajo Aguan. He said that the military was investigating her for allegedly subversive action with the campesinos, and for supposedly filing false claims of human rights violations by the military in the Bajo Aguan.

It remains to be seen whether Alfaro's replacement signals any change in the posture of the Armed Forces, or just a change in the face of the military operation.

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