Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Severe Injuries Suffered By Victims On Boat Attacked By DEA Agents

La Ceiba, Atlantida

Translation by the Witness for Peace Nicaragua Team
For the original version in Spanish please visit Defensores En Linea

A team of human rights defenders from the Committee of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) with international accompaniment confirms the grave physical and emotional consequences suffered by two of the victims who were injured as a result of an attack carried out from a helicopter by United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) troops on the 11th of May near Ahúas, in the Honduran Mosquitia.
It has become known that DEA forces used automatic weapons to attack a “cayuco” (a small motor boat) that was transporting 15 people along the waters of the Patuca river.  Of the 15 people, 2 fisherman and 2 pregnant women were killed when hit with rapid gunfire from a helicopter that attacked the boat presuming that it was involved in drug-trafficking.
The tragic incident occurred on the 11th of May around 3:00 in the morning.  The passengers were riding from Roatán (Islas de la Bahía) in the boat named “DAGO” that took them to the Barra of the Patuca River, where in the early morning hours they boarded the cayuco motorboat that had arrived at the Barra del Patuca to drop off some divers.
Passengers on this boat were  people from various communities in the municipality of Ahúas and Brus Laguna in the department of Gracias a Dios in the Honduran Mosquitia.
The COFADEH team visited 22 year old Lucio Adán Nelson Queen in his hospital bed at the Atlántida Regional Hospital.  He had received 3 bullet-wounds in different parts of his body.
Lucio Adán has a serious wound in his left arm with the projectile still in his arm; the other injuries are localized in his back,  side, and  gluteus.
While the young man found it difficult to talk due to his critical condition,he told us that he had been sleeping in the small boat when he saw intermittent lights coming from the helicopter.  The small lights were nothing more than the bursts of gunfire that hit  his body.
In spite of being injured, and using only one arm he swam to the edge of the river and ran through bushes until arriving at a small house close to the community of Ahúas where a woman helped to take him to the clinic of the Moravian Church where he received his first round of medical attention.

Dannjy Nelson Escoto, Lucio Adán’s uncle, who has stayed in the medical center every day accompanying his family member, demanded an exhaustive investigation to clarify the unjustifiable attack perpetrated by DEA agents against defenseless people.
Lucio Adán has been hospitalized for 9 days and still hasn’t been scheduled for surgery.  Furthermore, his financial limitations prevent him from buying the pins needed to fix his injured arm.
Another survivor is the 14 year old boy, Wilmer Lucas Walter, a resident of Roatán, Islas de la Bahía, who, on the day of the attack, was on his way  to visit his grandmother in the community of Barra Patuca.
On the 11th of May, Wilmer was traveling to Ahúas to visit his grandmother Aura Estela Cooper, taking advantage of the fact that his mother’s friend was already making the trip with her youngest 14 year old child, a classmate of Wilmer’s, who died in the shower of bullets directed by foreign military personnel against the small boat.
Wilmer was asleep in the small boat, just like the other passengers, when he was suddenly thrown into the water when the boat was hit by bursts of machine gunfire from the helicopter that shot without warning.
The young child swam with difficulty until he came to the edge of the river where he quickly ran through the dense vegetation when he felt that his left arm weighed tons.  It was only then that he realized that the shots had seriously damaged one of his wrists.  He then went further into the jungle, listening to the blasts of projectile bullets fired by military personnel from the helicopter.
According to the specialists the condition of his hands has a guarded prognosis.  Wilmer’s mother, Sabina Romero expressed to that she is very worried for her son, seeing that they don’t have sufficient economic resources to take her son to a private clinic.
Both Wilmer and young Lucio are hospitalized in the Regional Hospital in Atlántida in the city of La Ceiba.  After the fatal attack first-aid was administered by medical personnel at the clinic of the Moravian Church in Agúas and then the injured were  transferred by plane to the city of La Ceiba.
It is worth pointing out that no government authorities have visited the medical center in person to inquire about the condition of the injured victims of this grave error committed by agents of the DEA that operate in the zone and whose presence was rejected by the Miskito communities following the incident.
Also, it was verified that Hilda Lezama Kenneth, whose legs were  injured  during the attack, was admitted into the Vicente D’Antoni Hospital on the 12th of May and released on the 17th since  her family could’t  pay  for her stay in the private hospital.
The COFADEH team along with various people who are part of the international accompaniment will head to Brus Laguna and Ahúas on Monday to document the testimony of the other victims of the attack suffered by various people at the hands of DEA agents from the United States.  It is now known that this team will also meet with journalists from the Associated Press (AP).

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