Tag Archives: Aguan

Annie Bird: 3 Killed; 2 Kidnapped in the Aguan

HONDURAS RE-ADMITTED TO THE OAS

3 KILLED; 2 KIDNAPPED IN THE AGUAN

(By Annie Bird, June 9, 2011)

On Sunday, June 5, Jose Recinos Aguilar, Joel Santamaria and Genaro Cuesta, all members of the Authentic Revindicative Campesino Movement of the Aguan (MARCA), were massacred in a car a few meters from the San Esteban cooperative.  At approximately the same time it is reported that armed forces entered the installations of the National Agrarian Institute and opened fire on families who for several months have taken refuge within the government owned agrarian training center. Doris Pérez Vásquez was shot in the abdomen and is reported to be in critical condition.

Even as the community buried the three men murdered this Sunday, they continued the search for Olvin Gallegos and Segundo Gomez, two members of MARCA.  Eyewitnesses saw private security guards, from the same forces being trained as paramilitaries, kidnap the two men.

MAY 15 – DISAPPEARANCE

The killing and kidnapping of these 5 campesinos follows upon the May 15th forced disappearance of Francisco Pascual López as he tended cattle on his farm close to the property line with the Panama African palm plantation, a farm that maintains heavy presence of paramilitaries.  Nearby farmers with whom he shares the farm heard shots fired, but when they arrived where he had been, he was gone.  Police found bullets and a trail of blood leading into the Panama African palm plantation, but refused to enter the plantation to continue the search.

MAY 18 – KILLING

On May 18, Sixto Ramos was killed along the highway, shot from a passing car.  Additionally, on May 10, Jose Paulino Lemo was shot as he walked on the road to sell fish by a passing motorcycle.  Francisco Pascual Lopez, Sixto Ramos and Jose Paulino Lemo were active members of the Campesino Movement of the Aguan (MCA).

PARAMILITARY TRAINING ON HONDURAN MILITARY BASE

FOREIGN TRAINERS REPORTED

There are reports that approximately 400 private security guards, employed by African palm producers in the region, are being trained in the Rio Claro base in Tocoa, Colon, home of the 15th Army Battalion.  The security guards reportedly are from the Orion security company, employed by the Exportadora del Atlantico, and others are employed directly by the Dinant palm oil and derivatives company.

The trainers wear Honduran military uniforms, and rarely leave the base though they have been reported to participate in forced, illegal evictions.  During these evictions security guards have been reported to change into military uniforms; close collaboration between police, military and security guards has been reported.

Local informants claim the trainer’s accents, stature and coloring lead people in the region to believe they are not Honduran.  Many suspect they are Colombian.  In October 2009, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the use of Mercenaries, Private Security and Paramilitaries reported the Honduran African palm producers were recruiting security forces in Colombia particularly among former AUC members – a right-wing paramilitary group.

There have also been reports of Chinook helicopters flying to and from the Rio Claro base, which leads many to believe US troops maintain a presence on the base.

On January 8, 2011, Juan Chinchilla, a Honduran land rights activist, was kidnapped and tortured.  Able to escape the evening of January 9, while being moved from his illegal detention center, Chinchilla reported that participants in his torture spoke English and another language he was not able to identify.

CRIMINALIZATION OF LAND RIGHTS AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

The rash of killings and forced disappearances is obviously of grave concern; all the more shocking as Honduras was re-admitted to the OAS.

A communiqué by the National Agrarian Institute Workers Union asserts that since the June 2009 military coup, 39 campesinos have been killed by paramilitary forces working for the oil palm planters while 10 more have been disappeared.

As violence by paramilitary forces increases so does criminalization of land rights activists and other human rights defenders.  The limited media reporting of the killings in the Aguan region is coupled with accusations that the land and human rights movements being targeted by the paramilitary actions are armed.

In March 2010, when the military backed Honduran regime was criticized for the extreme militarization of the Aguan, de facto president Lobo responded with unsupported accusations that the campesinos were armed and Venezuelan and Nicaraguans were present in the area.

Following the November 15, 2010 massacre of 5 campesinos by Dinant palm oil security forces (with military and police support), Lobo claimed that campesinos had a stash of over 1,000 high caliber weapons and had received foreign training, which Security Minister Oscar Alvarez claimed took place in Nicaragua.

On this pretext the military took over the National Agrarian Institute (INA) and the INA union reported that the army stole documentation that demonstrated that palm oil planters did not hold legitimate claim over lands being contested by campesinos.

African palm producer Miguel Facusse (one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Honduras and major backer of the June 2009 military coup) is again using Honduras’ corrupted “justice” system to persecute human rights defenders, a practice long employed by Facusse and others.

On May 30, 2011, Facusse’s lawyers announced he was suing Catholic Bishop Luis Alfonso Santos for statements that implicated Facusse in the killing of 14 farmers in the Aguan region. A few days later, June 6, 2011, Facusse presented defamation charges against Andres Pavon, the Director of the Honduran Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CODEH).  Several months prior Pavon had presented legal charges against Facusse related to the killing of the 14 farmers, and just days before being subject to the defamation charges had denounced that the evidence on the killings was disappearing from the Attorney General Offices files.

PALM PLANTERS USE VOLENCE AND FRAUD TO TAKE LAND FROM FARMERS

This State-backed, paramilitary repression occurs in the context of a series of complex, long-term land rights disputes in the region.

The lower Aguan, a fertile agricultural plain that surrounds the Aguan river near Honduras’ Caribean coast, was subject to an agricultural colonization program in the 1960s and 1970s facilitated by an agrarian reform program.  At that time dozens of cooperatives were formed and many began cultivation of a crop pioneered by United Fruit Company, African palm for vegetable oil production.

In the beginning of the 1990s, a “land modernization” law was passed.  Among other measures, the “Land Modernization Law” in Honduras removed restrictions on resale of land obtained through the agrarian reform program.  Dozens of cooperatives established through the agrarian reform program were resold to today’s Honduran palm oil magnates, Miguel Facusse and Rene Morales.  However many of the sales were marred by illegalities, fraud and violence.

By 2000, there were tremendous problems of landlessness, underemployment and terrible working conditions among small farmers in the region.  With the support of the Parish of Tocoa, landless farmers organized the Campesino Movment of the Aguan (MCA).

In 2000, hundreds of small farmers established themselves in an area known as the Center for Regional Military Training (CREM), an extension of land used by the US army in the 1980s to train Central American militaries and to provide support to the Contra armed insurgency that fought the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Between 1989 and 1990, the CREM land had been purchased by the National Agrarian Institute, reportedly from US citizen Temistocles Ramirez, for $17 million to be used exclusively for agrarian reform purposes.  Previously, the land had been used for large scale cattle ranching, and according to some reports drug trafficking, largely by former Honduran military, who naturally quickly came into conflict with the campesinos who established farms in the property in 2000.

However, with support from the catholic church and national land rights organizations, the “cattle ranchers” were compensated through the INA for the “improvements” they had made on the CREM land, so as to take pressure of the campesinos who were now setting up coops and businesses, with the support of INA.

Only a few portions of the land then remained in conflict, particularly an area known as El Tumbador which Miguel Facusse claimed to own, via a questionable land purchase.  The MCA divided the CREM lands between 45 distinct Campesino Businesses.

In 2004, campesinos began organizing to reclaim cooperative lands that had been illegally acquired by the palm oil magnates in the 1990s, forming the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan, MUCA.

In February 2006, 7000 campesinos organized in the MUCA blocked the main highway in Tocoa, demanding that the District Attorney in Tocoa, the Attorney General of Honduras and the Supreme Court investigate the irregular purchases of the cooperatives in the 1990s.

By March 2009, after years of investigation, the MUCA proposed a negotiation platform focused on demanding that 29 cooperatives be returned to campesinos.

On May 28, 2009 MUCA occupied the palm oil processing plant owned my Miguel Facusse.

President Zelaya personally went to the Aguan to negotiate with the campesinos.  On June 12, 2009 an agreement was defined between the MUCA and the government, and the processing plant occupation was lifted.  On June 19 President Zelaya signed the agreement, which essentially mandated a technical-legal team with the investigation of the legal history of the cooperatives.

On June 21 the investigation began, but ended with the June 28, 2009 military coup.

In reaction to the suspension of the investigation, on December 9, 2009 the MUCA began occupying the former cooperatives in conflict, and claim to hold documentation to demonstrate that the palm oil magnates do not legally own 29 cooperative farms.

In April 2010, de facto president Porfirio Lobo sent thousands of troops to occupy the Aguan, and forced the MUCA to enter into negotiations, not only threatened private security forces controlled by the palm oil magnates, but also by the Honduran military.

An agreement was signed in which Miguel Facusse agreed to sell an extension of land to the MUCA.  At this time a section of the MUCA split off to form the Authentic and Revindicative Campesino Movement of the Aguan, MARCA.

MARCA campesinos decided to pursue recognition of their land rights through law suits using the documentation they had gathered that showed flawed titling processes by the palm oil magnates rather than signing a negotiated agreement as those in MUCA chose to do.

The terms of the “agreement” signed between the palm oil companies and the MUCA have not been complied with and the “justice” system has not facilitated the advance of the legal remedies sought by MARCA.

Instead, throughout 2010 palm oil planters strengthened their paramilitary presence and the area remained militarized.  Dozens of campesino killings have been documented, and it is understood that others have occurred which have not been documented; please see the list below:

PARTIAL LIST OF KILLINGS, KIDNAPPINGS & DISAPPEARANCES

1. January 4, 2010: Miguel Angel Alonso Oliva, from the Cooperativa Guanchias, Shot in the back

2. January 31, 2010: Juan Ramon Mejia, from the Cooperativa Occidental, Intentionally run over by a car

3. February 4, 2010: Isidro Santos, from the Cooperativa Occidental, Died in car crash while fleeing from armed men shooting at them from another car

4. February 4, 2010: Francisco Montes, from the Cooperativa Buenos Amigos, Died in car crash while fleeing from armed men shooting at them from another car

5. February 14, 2010 – Feliciano Santos from the Cooperativa 21 de Julio – fatally shot while walking to lands in dispute

6. March 17, 2010 – Jose Antonio Cardoza from the Associative Business Brisas de COHDEFOR – fatally shot while walking home from the fields

7. March 17, 2010 – Jose Concepcion Carias from the Associative Business Brisas de COHDEFOR – fatally shot while walking home from the fields

8. April 7, 2010 – Jose Leonel Guerra Alvarez from La Confianza Cooperativa – shot in front of his home by two people who stopped on a motorcycle

9. April 25, 2010 – Esteban Garcia from the Associative Business 9 de Agosto – shot while riding his bicycle from a passing car

10. June 20, 2010 – Oscar Giovanny Ramirez of the La Aurora Coopertiva – killed in the midst of an assault carried out by Cobra police force and Orion security guards

11. August 18, 2010 – Victor Manuel Mata Olica from the La Auroroa Cooperative – shot while traveling home in a car that according to witnesses was fired upon by security guards riding in blue double cabin pick up truck

12. August 18, 2010 – Rodving Omar Villegas from the La Auroroa Cooperative – shot while traveling home in a car that according to witnesses was fired upon by security guards riding in blue double cabin pick up truck

13. August 18, 2010 – Sergio Madiel Amaya from the La Auroroa Cooperative – shot while traveling home in a car that according to witnesses was fired upon by security guards riding in blue double cabin pick up truck

14. September 10, 2010 – Francisco Miranda Ortega of the La Aurora Cooperativa – shot by six people while he rode his bike to Tocoa

15. November 15, 2010 – Raul Castillo of the Cooperative 14 de mayo – shot by Dinant security guards on the Finca El Tumbador

16. November 15, 2010 – Jose Luis Sauceda of the Cooperative 14 de mayo – shot by Dinant security guards on the Finca El Tumbador

17. November 15, 2010 – Ciriaco Munoz of the Cooperativa Nueva Esperanza – shot by Dinant security guards on the Finca El Tumbador

18. November 15, 2010 – Teodoro Acosta de la Cooperativa Nueva Esperanza – shot by Dinant security guards on the Finca El Tumbador

19. November 15, 2010 – Ignacio Reyes Garcia of the Three United Families Cooperative – shot by Dinant security guards on the Finca El Tumbador

20. Esteban Garcia from the Associative Business 25 de abril was shot while riding his bike by gunmen in a white sedan

# # # # #

* Please re-publish this information, citing author and source

* To get on/ off RA’s listserv: http://www.rightsaction.org

* Rights Action’s Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rights-Action/176850879028427?ref=ts

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Annie Bird (annie@rightsaction.org)

Grahame Russell (info@rightsaction.org)

Karen Spring (spring.kj@gmail.com)

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[es] Giorgio Trucchi: MUCA avanza no obstante incumplimiento de acuerdos

El incumplimiento de los acuerdos en Honduras no detiene el proyecto del MUCA
“Terratenientes y gobierno están jugando con fuego”
Giorgio Trucchi
Rel-UITA
La táctica dilatoria de los terratenientes palmeros y del gobierno ha logrado paralizar el cumplimiento de los acuerdos firmados en abril pasado. Sin embargo, miles de familias campesinas, organizadas en el Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán (MUCA), siguen con su proceso organizativo, desafiando las calamidades naturales y advirtiendo a las autoridades que la paciencia se está acabando.

“El productor palmero Miguel Facussé ha adoptado un sinnúmero de tácticas para dividir a nuestro movimiento y paralizar el cumplimiento de los acuerdos firmados con el gobierno –explicó a Sirel el secretario general del MUCA, Yoni Rivas–.

Ha exigido una cantidad de dinero exagerada para las tierras, ha rechazado el diálogo directo con el Ministro del Instituto Nacional Agrario (INA) y ha continuado con la campaña mediática de desprestigio contra el MUCA y con la represión.

El resultado –recordó Rivas– ha sido la paralización del proceso entero”.

Ya se han vencido los términos para la entrega de las 3 mil hectáreas no sembradas, así como la realización del estudio técnico-jurídico y la implementación de los proyectos educativos, sanitarios y de vivienda.

“Los otros dos terratenientes y productores palmeros de la zona, René Morales y Reinaldo Canales, hasta se rehusaron a presentar la documentación legal a las autoridades. Además, no se dio a conocer el resultado de la remedición de las tierras y la cantidad que se nos va a entregar en concepto de sobre techo.

Supuestamente –continuó en secretario general del MUCA–, el presidente Porfirio Lobo está negociando directamente con los terratenientes, sin embargo, nuestra paciencia se está acabando. Están jugando con fuego y vamos a volver a meterles presión para que nos escuchen nuevamente”, dijo.

Los miembros del MUCA acusan al gobierno de ser el principal responsable de esta situación.

“El gobierno está obligado a dar respuestas a las demandas del pueblo, pero está quedando demostrado quiénes mandan de verdad en el país”, aseveró Rivas.

El proyecto no se detiene

Pese a los desastres naturales, la represión y las tácticas dilatorias, las familias campesinas del MUCA han echado a andar su proyecto y ya se ven los primeros resultados importantes.

“Dos de los seis asentamientos fueron inundados por las aguas del Río Aguán, y tenemos a centenares de personas refugiadas en albergues, en condiciones muy difíciles y con poca ayuda por parte de las autoridades”, explicó el dirigente campesino.

Sin embargo, todos los días los miembros del MUCA montan en sus bicicletas y recorren varios kilómetros para llegar a las plantaciones de palma.

Ya se conformaron 25 empresas asociativas campesinas que han comenzado a producir y repartir las ganancias entre los socios.

Además, se están constituyendo fondos de ahorro para obras sociales, la adquisición de medicamentos y de instrumentos para la producción y la movilización de los trabajadores y trabajadoras.

Pero no se trata solamente de vender la fruta de la palma, sino también de garantizar la seguridad alimentaria de las familias.

“En el asentamiento de La Confianza, por ejemplo, hemos implementado el cultivo de granos básicos, hortalizas, yuca, pequeños proyectos de cría.

También inauguramos una tienda de consumo y estamos en el proceso de promover un proyecto de piscicultura”, explicó Yoni Rivas a Sirel.

No cesa la represión

Ante estos avances, la represión no se detiene.

“Ya nos han asesinado a 16 compañeros; las amenazas son constantes y tenemos todavía 300 juicios pendientes contra miembros del MUCA.

Hasta el momento no se hizo nada para investigar los asesinatos, y queremos enviar un mensaje claro al gobierno y a los terratenientes: no permaneceremos inermes ante la violencia masiva y la impunidad; van a tener una respuesta”, dijo Rivas.

El dirigente del MUCA aprovechó la presencia de Sirel para agradecer el apoyo de la UITA.

“Para nosotros, el principal aliado para fortalecernos y consolidarnos ha sido la solidaridad. En este caso, la UITA ha desempeñado un papel muy importante. Nos ha ayudado a alzar la voz y a transmitir al mundo nuestra situación y lucha. Por eso le agradecemos infinitamente”, concluyó.

Fuente: http://www.rel-uita.org/agricultura/palma_africana/terratenientes_y_gobierno_jugando_con_fuego.htm

Galería fotográfica: http://www2.rel-uita.org/galeria/?id=107

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[en] COFADEH: Alert in the Aguan, Young MUCA Member Murdered

Alert: New Violent Incidents in the Aguan, Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras, COFADEH, calls out urgently to the international community in the face of new acts of violence that occurred in the Aguan region today, Thursday, April 1st:

1.-We condemn the murder of 22-year-old Miguel Alonso Oliva, murdered by security guards when the Aguan Unified Campesino Movement (MUCA) occupied lands in the Boleros estate, which are illegally possessed by landowner Rene Morales.

2.-At the same time, we condemn the lack of quick action to solve the land conflict in the lower Aguan by the Porfirio Lobo Sosa regime, which is showing itself to be acquiescent to the landowners by failing to take on the responsibility of returning the State-owned lands that should be immediately handed over to the campesinos and campesinas, as per the law.

3.-We urge the international community to send urgent actions to the Honduran State in order to end this precarious and difficult situation against women, men, and children. They are terrorized by the weapons belonging both to the security guards working for landowners Miguel Facusse, Rene Morales and Reynaldo Canales, as well as those of the heavily-armed army and police forces that are preparing to move into the area with the intention of evicting the campesinos and campesinas who have recuperated the lands along the left bank of the Aguan river. Several cooperatives are located along the left bank: Suyapa del Aguán, Guanchías, Buenos Amigos, Remolino, Despertar, Trinidad, San Esteban, Quebrada Honda, Paso Aguán, El Plantel, Islas 1 and 2, Marañones, and Boleros.

4.-We proclaim our solidarity with the family of young Miguel Alonso Oliva, whose wake is being held in the community of Guadalupe Carney in Silin, Colon, where dozens of people have gathered to accompany his relatives.

5.-COFADEH has received unconfirmed reports of other possible deaths of security guards, demonstrating the urgency of a resolution to this conflict in order to avoid further bloodshed and the polarization of the Honduran family.

OF THE ACTS AND THOSE RESPONSIBLE,
WE DO NOT FORGET, NOR DO WE FORGIVE

Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras
COFADEH

Tegucigalpa, April 1st, 2010

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[es] COFADEH: Alerta y denuncia asesinato de joven en el Aguan

Alerta ante nuevos hechos violentos en el Aguán Jueves, 01 de Abril de 2010‏

El Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras, COFADEH, hace un llamado urgente a la comunidad internacional ante nuevos actos de violencia ocurridos en el Aguán, este jueves 01 de abril:

1.-Condenamos el asesinato del joven Miguel Alonso Oliva de 22 años, quien fue asesinado por guardias de seguridad cuando el Movimiento Campesino Unificado del Aguán (MUCA), tomaba las tierras en la finca Boleros, que están en posesión ilegal del terrateniente René Morales.

2.-Al mismo tiempo condenamos la falta de acciones rápidas para solucionar el conflicto de tierras en el Bajo Aguán por parte del régimen de Porfirio Lobo Sosa, que se muestra aquiescente con los terrateniente al evadir asumir la responsabilidad de devolver las tierras que son del Estado y que de inmediato deben ser entregadas a los campesinos y campesinas, tal como lo señala la Ley.

3.-Urgimos de la comunidad internacional el envío de acciones urgentes al Estado hondureño a fin de terminar con esta situación precaria y difícil contra mujeres, hombres, niños y niñas que sufren el terror de los fusiles tanto de guardias de seguridad de los terratenientes Miguel Facussé, René Morales y Reinaldo Canales, como del ejército y la policía, que fuertemente armados se preparan para movilizarse a la zona, con la intención de desalojar a los campesinos y campesinas que han recuperado las tierras en la margen izquierda del Río Aguán. Donde se ubican las cooperativas Suyapa del Aguán, Guanchías, Buenos Amigos, Remolino, Despertar, Trinidad, San Esteban, Quebrada Honda, Paso Aguán, El Plantel, Islas 1 y 2, Marañones y Bolero.

4.-Nos solidarizamos con la familia del joven Miguel Alonso Oliva, quien está siendo velado en la comunidad Guadalupe Carney, en Silín, Colón, donde decenas de compañeros y compañaeras llegan a acompañar a sus familiares.

5.- El COFADEH ha recibido información no confirmada de otras posibles muertes de guardias de seguridad, lo que pone de manifiesto la urgencia de resolver este conflicto para evitar más derramamiento de sangre y la polarización de la familia hondureña.

DE LOS HECHOS Y LOS HECHORES

NI OLVIDO NI PERDON

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras

COFADEH

Tegucigalpa, 01 de abril de 2010

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[en] Human Rights Platform: Prevent Intensification of Violence in Aguan Region

Press Release

We Must Prevent the Intensification of Violent Incidents in the Lower Aguan

The Human Rights Platform, in its travels to learn in situ about the conditions of violence in the Aguan Valley and the conditions in which the families organized in the Aguan Unified Farmworkers’ Movement (MUCA) live, visited the La providencia de la Concepción, La Aurora, La Confianza and Los Camarones cooperatives, located along the right-hand riverbank, and the Guanchías cooperative along the left bank.

From this visit, we summarize our report in the following points:

* The facts learned refute the media campaign that criminalizes the actions taken by MUCA, relating them to guerilla groups advised by foreigners who supposedly operate in the region;

* We confirmed the presence in the land occupations of families including children (including infants), pregnant women, seniors, disabled people, living in deplorable conditions;

* The Human Rights Platform has documented complaints that reflect a state of distress, helplessness, and anxiety, caused by the presence of groups armed with sophisticated military equipment (weapons with laser beams and night vision) that harass the population in the area, violent evictions, and constant death threats against members of the different cooperatives;

* The testimonies highlight that various people have been injured as a result of the violent evictions and acts of intimidation, and that a series of anomalies has taken place during illegal detentions: arrest and detention of minors (children between 5 and 8 years of age); confinement in places of detention with no legal authorization (a case in which detainees were held in military facilities in the region); the supposed authorities did not identify themselves at the moment arrest, and did not read the detainees’ rights or inform them of the supposed charges.

* We denounce the precarious situation of the families claiming their right to land in the lower Aguan. Among our discoveries in the settlements, we found that there is little food, serious signs of malnutrition, unsanitary conditions, huts made of palm fronds and/or plastic, where entire families live, and ontop of all of this the lack of medical attention that may cause problems in the children’s development. Furthermore, the Human Rights Platform is concerned about the impossibility of obtaining a working income while the crisis continues.

* In the case of the Guanchías cooperative, the families occupying the property are living in warehouses with toxic waste, which represents a threat to their health. Ontop of this, ten people with rabies due to bat bites have been identified.

* Apart from the violations of the rights to life and to physical and psychological integrity, the rights to education, health, and food are being violated.

As the Human Rights Platform, we declare ourselves in constant vigilance with respect to the situation in the lower Aguan, taking into account that it demands prioritized attention in terms of human rights.

We demand that the Special Attorney’s Office on Human Rights pay close attention to the conflict posed in this region and we encourage the national and international community and international human rights organizations to issue statements with regard to the observations presented in this release.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras, March 24, 2010.

CDM-CIPRODEH-CODEH-COFADEH-CPTRT-FIAN

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[en] Human Rights Platform concerned about potential eviction in Aguan Valley

Human Rights Platform warns of possible violent eviction of farmworkers’ settlements in the lower Aguan

The Human Rights Platform informs the national and international community of the possible violent eviction of the families organized in the Aguan United Farmworkers Movement (MUCA) engaged in land occupations in the Aguan Valley. According to reports received about the current state of the negotiations, the designated governmental commission will present a written proposal to the farmworkers’ movement today.

MUCA has announced that it will analyse the proposal with its members and will then make a declaration on the subject. The concern is that if the farmworkers’ response does not please the landowners, the latter may proceed to an eviction using the traditional violent methods that, given the current circumstances, could result in deaths and injuries.

According to formal complaints obtained in the region, heavily armed uniformed groups aided by special equipment for nocturnal operations patrol the areas surrounding the farmworkers’ settlements in a threatening way.

The Human Rights Platform believes that the necessary precautions should be taken to avoid potential violence, which would once again endanger the physical and psychological integrity of thousands involved in the conflict.

The Honduran State is responsible for preventing and guaranteeing that citizens’ human rights are respected and for punishing the perpetrators of crimes against the physical integrity of others. It is also responsible for ensuring that farmworkers have access to land and other resources to live decently.

We demand that the Special Attorney’s Office on Human Rights pay attention to events in the region and take measures appropriate to the particular conditions there in order to avoid greater trouble.

We ask that international human rights organizations, populations, and governments demand of Porfirio Lobo Sosa the immediate dismantling of paramilitary squadrons and a halt to actions of repressive State forces biased in favour of the landowners.

Tegucigalpa, MDC, Honduras, March 24, 2010

CDM, CIPRODEH, CODEH, COFADEH, CPTRT and FIAN

[translation from the original Spanish version by Sandra Cuffe]

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