Peasants of the Aguan River Valley Surrounded and Attacked by Military and Police

The Indiscriminate Violence Continues

Three months ago, GJEP Communications Director Jeff Conant published an article on Alternet detailing the violence in the Aguan River Valley of Honduras, related to the production of oil palm and the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism.

Since that time, several foreign investors have withdrawn support for palm oil in the region. But, as the article below makes clear, the violence continues, and is at a grave turn at this very moment.

The following article was written by Giorgio Trucchi, posted here, and translated for distribution in English by GJEP.

Peasants of the Aguan River Valley Surrounded and Attacked by Military and Police

- Giorgio Trucchi

Lower Aguan Valley, Honduras: A strong contingent of military, police, and private security guards of the landowner and palm oil producer René Morales, have surround more than 300 peasant farmers from the cooperative La Trinidad, a member group of the Movimiento Auténtico Reivindicador de Campesinos del Aguán (MARCA). On April 30, these peasant families reoccupied the land, which they recognize as their own, and since then they have faced many attempts to remove them, leaving two people wounded.

“Fifteen minutes ago they stopped firing,” said Julián Hernández, one of the leaders of MARCA. “Soldiers from the Fifteenth Infantry Battalion, police and private security guards attacked us at five in the morning and tried to remove us from the land, but they couldn’t.”

“They fired on us with high-caliber weapons and we have two companions wounded. Hey have us surrounded, and we’ve been one week without being able to leave. Our food and water are running out, and at any moment they could attack us again,” Hernández explained with concern to the news agency SIREL.

More than sixteen years ago, the cooperatives associated with MARCA began legal action to recover the lands they recognize as their own and which, they claim, were usurped by René Morales, a Nicaraguan landowner and palm-oil producer.

In the face of the inefficiency, and in many cases, collusion with the landowners, of the judicial authorities, members of MARCA decided this past April 30 to recover the lands belonging to the cooperative La Trinidad, on the left bank of the Aguan River near Trujillo.

“Since we came to recover our lands they’ve launched the repression,” said Hernández. “On the first of May hey made the first attempt to violently remove us. They attacked us, firing their weapons, and since then they’ve maintained the military circle and don’t allow us to leave.”

“The confrontation and attacks have been constant, but we have no alternative. These lands are ours and they took them from us. We tried to use the judicial process, but sixteen years have passed and we haven’t gained anything, because the judicial authorities are on the side of the landowners.”

“The only solution,” said Hernández, “Is to reclaim what belongs to us, and we plan to stay here. Better that they kill us defending our land than continue suffering hunger and poverty,” he affirmed.

In the face of this difficult situation, FIAN Honduras has released a communiqué in which it condemns the police and military operation for being in the service of the largest landowners in the region, and called for solidarity, “to prevent the continuation of these violent acts that often lead to loss of life among our companions and their families.”

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