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U.S. Protesters Expelled From Honduras

September 18, 1988

MIAMI (AP) _ A group of religious U.S. peace activists arrived here Saturday after being expelled from Honduras, where they were held in a cell for four days after protests at the American embassy and a U.S. air base.

Members of Project Independence, who arrived at Miami International Airport, said they were protesting U.S. intervention in Central America, and that colleagues in Guatemala would continue to protest.

They said four other members of the interdenominational group, who chained themselves to the U.S. embassy gate in Guatemala City on Wednesday, have been joined by ″scores″ of Guatemalan citizens each day for prayers and protest songs.

″They will stay chained up until they are forcibly removed or until the seventh day of their action,″ said Andres Thomas, 27, a seminary student at the Divinity School of Howard University in Washington.

He said the group in Guatemala City also will fast until the end of the protest.

Thomas was one of 13 Project Independence activists detained in Honduras on Wednesday and deported Saturday for separate protests in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, and at the Palmerola air base 40 miles outside the city.

The four protesters in Guatemala City were identified in a Project Independence news release as Charlie Liteky, 57, a former Roman Catholic priest; Dale Ashera-Davis, 34, member of a religious community in Baltimore, Md.; former Swarthmore College Dean John Schuchardt, 49, and Sara Story, 26, a legal researcher from Washington.

According to Patricia McCallum, 47, a doctoral student at Harvard University’s Divinity School who took part in the Guatemalan protests, Project Independence staged the demonstrations to coincide with the anniversary of the date in 1821 when Central America gained independence from Spain.

″We put our bodies in front of the path of death″ that project members regard as the fruit of Central American policies of the Reagan administration, Ms. McCallum said.

The project was brought into being ″to condemn the long and continuing history of U.S. military and CIA-backed intervention in all the Central American countries,″ said a statement issued at an airport news conference.

Ms. McCallum said the group was detained for three days in a cell measuring 6-by-14 feet, where two U.S. consular officers visited them.

Members of the group said Honduran guards told the protesters their case was being handled by U.S. authorities.

″It was clear to us our destiny was in the hands of the U.S. embassy,″ Ms. McCallum said.

Mark Fryer, 31, a member of the Catholic Worker Movement from West Creek, N.J., said the group received privileged treatment at the prison. Guards were friendly and food and newspapers were brought to the protesters.

But he charged that Guatemalan prisoners down the corridor went without food for seven days and could be heard screaming under torture.

″It was horrible to know that this (alleged torture) was just one of the results of U.S. government policy in Central America,″ Thomas said.

The group identified the other members as: Mary Jane Helrich, 70, Newport, N.Y.; Teri Allen, 30, and John Bach, 41, both of Hartford, Conn.; Kathy Boylan, 45, Wyandanch, N.Y.; Art Laffin, 34, and Elmer Maas, 53, both of New Haven, Conn.; Gail Presby, 29, New York City; Bob Simpson, 67, Philadephia; Brian Terrell, 32, Maloy, Iowa; and Judith Williams, 49, Madison, Conn.

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