Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Priest and two others beaten

Yesterday I learned that a priest I know and two others (identified as his brothers in one source) were beaten by the police on the evening of December 26 near San Juan Intibucá. Padre Marco Aurelio Lorenzo is pastor of the parish of San Miguel Arcángel in Macuelizo, Santa Bárbara.

A few years ago he asked me to do a workshop for him on ecology. I’ve found him very friendly, committed to the poor and to justice, and very approachable.

He’s from a small town in the municipality of Yaramanguila, Intibucá. Presumably he and his brothers were going there to celebrate with family members.

The details are vague at this point and the whole incident appears rather absurd. 

Padre Marco Aurelio gave a press conference but I have not been able to find it. It doesn’t appear that this was a deliberate attack against a priest of the diocese. It is a part of the police violence and police corruption that are central to many of the problems here. He denounced the deeds publicly and it appears that he named his assailants. We will see if anything comes of this or if impunity will continue.

The assailants were police, as Padre Marco Tulio is quoted in the press: “They were in uniform… they were in a police car and they took me to the hospital. They beat me in the entire body; they didn’t know I was a priest until they were told in the hospital that I was a priest.”

Below is the communiqué of his parish. They use the word “torturado” which I translate literally as “tortured,” though I am not sure of the extent of the violent mistreatment they received, though you can see this photo of Padre Marco Aurelio’s scalp, which Padre Efraín Romero sent me:


We the parish of Saint Michael the Archangel, Macuelizo, Santa Bárbara, let the following  be known:

1. We make known publicly that on Monday, December 26, at 8:15 pm, Father Marco Aurelio Lorenzo and two people accompanying him suffered an assault, abduction, and intent of homicide by members of the Preventive Police of San Miguelito and San Juan Intibucá in the turn off to the El Rosario hacienda, at the 24th kilometer on the road from San Miguelito to Yaramanguila where they [the police] were waiting for them.

2. As a parish we deny the lie of the version of the police implicated in the assault, abduction and homicide intent against Father Marco Aurelio Lorenzo and the two people accompanying him, in which the police say that is was an accident. The priest and his two companions were tortured and injured in the face, suffered injuries in their bodies caused by kicks and blows after being tortured; the principal purpose was to get into the vehicle and fling it into a 300 meter deep abyss. What can we call this in a country like Honduras?

3. In Light of what has happened to our pastor and prophet, as parish we demand that the three Powers of the State: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial investigate the police stationed in the San Miguelito and San Juan Intibucá police stations, that they are part of the organized crime in our country and that all of the weight of the law be applied to them in the case that the law for kidnappers and assaulters en Honduras exists for those who area called police.

4. We ask the intervention of the security forces of the country so that they accomplish the purification of the organized crime that exists within the police since this shows these very signs of the country which are corruption and drug-trafficking.

5. We alert the public in general so that they don’t trust nor allow themselves to be seduced by the security forces which are the right hand of organized crime in our society and that don’t fulfill their function to protect, serve and care for the population in general.

We make a call to the church to raise a prophetic voice in our country in this crisis situation which our people are living and where the systems don’t respond to the criteria de humanity.

Presented December 31, 2011,
from the seat of the parish of San Miguel Arcángel, Macuelizo, Santa Bárbara

The original Spanish can be found here at my Spanish blog.

Padre Marco Aurelio Lorenzo in a September 2010 deanery workshop on Catholic Social Teaching


John (Juancito) Donaghy said...

A friend passed on to me this passage from a translation from ZORZAL, January 2012:

According to the testimony of Father Marco Aurelio Lorenzo, he and his two brothers were intercepted by a patrol of 8 police officers, while making a stop on a trip from Yamaranguila to Esperanza, Intibucá on 26 December at 8pm. The police stole money, tortured the priest and his brothers, and in an attempt to dispose of criminal evidence, tried to push the parish car with the priest’s unconscioius and bloodied body over a precipice of 300 meters. But they failed to lift the body [into the car], and when they tried to push the car over the precipice, it got stuck on the road.

They could not kill them with a bullet because the evidence would show that official weapons had been used, so the criminals decided to take the victims to the hospital, claiming an accident had happened and pretending to be humanitarians. But when the medical staff noticed that one of the victims was the priest Marco Aurelio, and the police began to act “confused”, and left the hospital after taking the money from the priest’s wallet. This outrageous criminal act was kept secret by his terrified family until 2 January, when the news was released through alternative means.

The mother of the three victims, Julia Vasquez, said: "We could not bear the fear. So we kept quiet." And, referring to the police report: "If this is what they do with someone who can defend himself to some extent, what do they do to those people who cannot do it [defend themselves]?"

John (Juancito) Donaghy said...

The plot thickens as the police claim that Padre Marco Aurelio was drunk. This has been "reported" widely in the newspapers here, including a statement from the national public information officer of the police. Such efforts are not uncommon here - as they are not uncommon under repressive regimes.

John (Juancito) Donaghy said...

Furthermore, it appears that the police involved were moved from Intibucá and thus may not be investigated for their role in this action. Impunity reigns.

Charles said...

And I keep getting the feeling that they're pioneering police tactics in Honduras for use in the USA.