Honduras | SOCIEDAD | DDHH

With Mari Cruz Portillo and Juan Carlos Herrera

“We are going to help Rommel get his life back”

Following the young teacher’s release, his family thanks the national and international solidarity received.

Giorgio Trucchi

Photo: Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners in Honduras

Last June 4, Rommel Herrera Portillo, a young teacher and political prisoner, was freed after two years of unjust imprisonment. His parents, Mari Cruz Portillo and Juan Carlos Herrera, spoke with La Rel about this long awaited moment and the plans for the future.

“It has been a very difficult two years, extremely tough, but we’re quite satisfied. We succeeded in getting Rommel his freedom back and that is what matters most,” Mari Cruz Portillo said.

“It was a group effort, in which Rel UITA (IUF Latin America) also participated. That was critical for us in overcoming obstacles and setbacks. It was not easy, but it was worth it,” she added.

The mother of this young teacher, who was falsely accused of burning tires in front of the U.S. Embassy, is worried that there could be more cases like her son’s in the coming months.

“We don’t want anybody else to go through what my son suffered. He should have been released immediately and instead he has spent two years in jail under false charges. It was incredible to see so many press media waiting for him yesterday when he was released,” she said.

“This is an election year. There is a great deal of tension and much violence. There are still political prisoners. As the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners in Honduras we are going to have to be very alert and prepared for whatever happens.”

First day of freedom

On his first day of freedom, Rommel asked to visit his grandfather’s grave.

“My son was denied the right to accompany his grandfather to his final resting place. We appealed through every means, but they would not grant him permission. It was a very painful thing to go through and that pain is going to stay with us for the rest of our lives,” Portillo recalled.

“As his family, we must now focus on surrounding him with love and on supporting him in his psychological and emotional rehabilitation. He will begin to rebuild his life little by little and make up for the time he has lost, so that he can contribute to our nation,” the young man’s mother added.

The power of solidarity

Juan Carlos Herrera, Rommel’s father, explained that it is time to turn the page and move forward.

Rommel is back with his family now. He was also acquitted of the charges of damages against the embassy, so there are no outstanding debts. We can start living again,” he observed.

“I would like to send a heartfelt thanks to everyone at Rel UITA for everything they did for Rommel, giving his case international visibility and monitoring his situation constantly. We greatly appreciate it,” Herrera concluded.