Police May Have Murdered University President’s Son

Julieta Castellanos, President of the Autonomous National University of Honduras (UNAH) has been a controversial figure over the past several years. From allowing the militarization of the university, to her role in the official truth commission, to the complicated union struggles within UNAH (among other things), the UNAH President has let her opinions be known.

Although she’s endured student protests calling for her resignation, the latest events have led even those opposed to her politics, to stand in unambiguous solidarity with her at this moment.

The Tegucigalpa Association of Sociology Students (AES), after hearing news of the recent murder of her son, Rafael Vargas Castellanos, and his friend, Carlos Pineda, issued the following statement:

The Association of Sociology Students (AES), representing all the active and inactive students in the major, expresses our grief over the deplorable murder of RAFAEL ALEJANDRO VARGAS CASTELLANOS, compañero, friend and student of sociology. We stand with the family of the deceased, and above all with JULIETA CASTELLANOS, who, in addition to being a university authority, is a compañera and sociology professor. As such, in this moment of profound sorrow, we send our deepest condolences and condemn the murder of our compañero.

A member of the university community stated that the response had to be solidarity and nothing else; that the moment members of a movement cease to recognize the Other’s shared humanity across ideological divides, all is lost. Certain members of the Honduran police force, however, appear to be of a different opinion.

Castellanos founded a watchdog organization that exposes official abuses and corruption, and it may very well be those exposed who are responsible for the deaths of her 22-year-old son, Vargas Castellanos, (who was studying law), and his 24-year-old friend, Carlos Pineda, (who was finishing a degree in sociology). The two young men were found murdered early Saturday at kilometer 8 of the highway that leads from Tegucigalpa to southern Honduras. It was reported that the students’ car had been intercepted by a police patrol.

Officials today announced that yes, the young men may have been killed by police officers. An investigation that uncovered policemen linked to other homicides indicates that those same men may have killed the two students. The suspected officers’ names have not been disclosed.

“Yes, sir, regrettably we are working under that theory,” Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla said on Channel Five television today when asked about the case. “I am going to make the biggest effort of my life to resolve all these problems.”

Bonilla, who took over the security position two months ago from Oscar Alvarez, added, “If there are criminals in the police, the place for them is the Central Penitentiary.”

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