Tag Archives: aguan valley

US ambassador to Honduras offers tacit support of brutal crackdown

By Lauren Carasik, January 7, 2014. Source: Al Jazeera America

Police officers detain a protester outside the Supreme Court in Tegucigalpa in 2012. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Police officers detain a protester outside the Supreme Court in Tegucigalpa in 2012. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

In remarks last month, U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske decried pervasive impunity in Honduras as the single biggest threat to human rights during an International Human Rights Daycommemoration. In a country already plagued by grinding poverty and unrelenting violence, entrenched impunity does present a terrifying threat to justice. However, despite her own admission that the Honduran legal system is dysfunctional, Kubiske blamed those being oppressed by that impunity for taking the law into their own hands to defend their rights.

Kubiske specifically reproached peasant farmers in the fertile lands of the Lower Aguan Valley, who are engaged in a desperate struggle with local wealthy landowners and the government for control over their lands, which has left 113 members of their campesino community dead since the 2009 coup that overthrew democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. Over the last two decades, campesinos lost the lands granted to them in the 1970s under agrarian reform initiatives through a combination of corruption, intimidation, intentional division, force and fraud. Efforts to seek legal redress were largely unsuccessful. Zelaya was ousted shortly after he vowed to institute measures that would reverse illegitimate land grabs by oligarchs, including Miguel Facusse Barjum, a palm-oil magnate.

When land grabs continued under President Porfirio Lobo, a landowner, the campesinos, with no other options, resisted the encroachment by peacefully occupying their lands. State security and paramilitary forces responded with escalating repression and bloodshed. Last month, after a complaint lodged by Rights Action, an international human-rights organization, the World Bank’s independent auditor issued a report on its private lending arm’s funding for Dinant Corp., which is headed by Facusse Barjum. World Bank President Jim Kim has indicated that he is preparing an action plan in response to the findings. As the investigative process drags on, repression continues unabated in the Lower Aguan.
Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Hydroelectric dams, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, World Bank

Activists accuse World Bank of deadly dealings in Honduras

By Kate Woodsome, 4 January 2014. Source: Global Post

Honduran workers harvesting African palm trees.  Photo: Orlando Sierra AFP/Getty Images

Honduran workers harvesting African palm trees. Photo: Orlando Sierra
AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — A recent political coup. Drug trafficking. One of the world’s highest murder rates. With attributes like those, Honduras may not sound like an easy sell for international investment.

But that hasn’t dissuaded the World Bank, whose mission is to encourage development in the countries that need it most.

The bank’s private lending arm, the International Finance Corporation, is spearheading several multimillion-dollar projects in Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Americas. However, some are questioning whether the money is doing more harm than good.

Human rights groups accuse the IFC of ignoring warnings that its funding for the Honduran palm oil industry is helping fuel a deadly land conflict that’s turning the fertile Aguan Valley near the country’s northern coast into a virtual military zone.

Farmworkers say they’ve been forced off land that’s mostly taken up by oil palm tree plantations. The controversy is casting doubts about whether the bank and its 182 member countries can respect their own code of ethics while doing business in politically unstable, corrupt societies. Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, World Bank

9 dead this year in Honduras land fight

Note: For more information on the ongoing struggle for the land in the Aguan Valley, check out the trailer for the upcoming film Resistencia below.

–The GJEP Team

February 19, 2013. Source: Associated Press

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — A Honduran land rights activist says nine farmers have been killed since the beginning of the year in a region of northern Honduras torn by a land dispute.

Rafael Alegria says the latest person to be killed was a farmer shot to death Saturday in the Aguan Valley, a fertile farming area plagued by violent fights between agrarian organizations and land owners. Alegria says the farmer’s brother was killed in September.

The activist said Tuesday that 89 people have been killed since December 2009, when farmworkers in the Aguan Valley took over land to demand ownership of about 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares) of privately held oil palm plantations.

The dead are mostly farmworkers but include plantation employees and police officers.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Honduras: two more campesinos killed in Aguán

January 15, 2013.  Source:  Weekly News Update on the Americas

Two campesinos were shot dead on Jan. 11 in the Lower Aguán Valley in the northern Honduran department of Colón as they were walking out of an estate which they and other campesinos had been occupying for two months. A long-standing conflict between campesino groups and large landowners in the area has resulted in the deaths of some 80 campesinossince the groups began occupying estates in December 2009 to dramatize their demands for land. According to Wilfredo Paz Zúniga, spokesperson for the Permanent Human Rights Monitoring Center for the Aguán, the victims were José Luis Reyes and Antonio Manuel Pérez. He said unidentified people shot them at close range from a moving automobile. Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression

Deadly conflict over Honduran palm oil plantations puts CEO in the spotlight

By Jennifer Kennedy, January 10 2013. Source: CorpWatch

Photo: CorpWatch

Photo: CorpWatch

Months before he was killed this past September, Antonio Trejo-Cabrera reportedly sought protection from Miguel Facussé, the owner of Dinant Corporation, a major Honduran snack food and agricultural company. Trejo had good reason to be afraid – he was a lawyer who represented peasant movements fighting palm oil plantations in the Honduras in the last three years – many of whom were subjected to violence and other human rights abuses.

A recent profile of Facussé in the Los Angeles Times describes the 89-year-old businessman as “a symbol of the old style of patriarchal power” that has “ruthlessly developed the country over the decades from a hot and dusty backwater to an international producer of bananas, cheap clothing and, more recently, biofuels.”

Facussé joined the biofuel rush by planting African palm trees, backed by funds from bilateral and multilateral loan agencies like the World Bank. The palm trees yield a fruit which can be processed to produce biofuels that is in high demand by governments who want industry to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels like coal and petroleum in order to meet international obligations to mitigate global warming under the Climate Change convention. Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Honduras: four are killed in latest Aguán violence

Note: On-going coverage of the violence in Honduras’ Aguan Valley, linked to the takeover of peasant farmland for oil palm plantations.

–The GJEP Team

Cross-Posted from World War 4 Report, 04/03/2012

Four Honduran campesinos were killed and 11 were wounded in an ambush March 29 at the Marañón estate, near the city of Trujillo in the northern department of Colón. The victims were members of the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MUCA), one of several organizations struggling to gain farmland in the Lower Aguán Valley. MUCA vice president Juan Chinchilla told the Associated Press wire service that the victims “were leaving for work and were traveling in various vehicles where they were attacked by armed men without having a chance to flee or defend themselves.” About 50 campesinos have been killed in the Aguán region since 2009, mostly in disputes with major landowners; some died in unexplained violence sometimes attributed to criminal gangs.

The ambush at the Marañón estate came three days after a similar attack in the same area left five soldiers wounded, two of them seriously. On the evening of March 26 some 30 unidentified men with high-caliber weapons opened fire on the soldiers as they were traveling in an area known as Panamá, near Sonaguera, Colón. The soldiers are stationed in the region as part of Xatruch 2, a military operation the government says is intended to reduce violence in the Aguán Valley.

The attack on the military patrol led to a flurry of contradictory statements by officials. President Porfirio (“Pepe”) Lobo Sosa immediately denied that the attack was connected to the land disputes in the area. “These are not campesinos,” he said on March 26. “This has nothing to do with the agrarian conflicts. These are other people, the same gang, I think, that was in San Francisco de La Paz; they’re moving between Olancho [department] and Colón.” But a military spokesperson announced that the attackers were campesinos involved in the land disputes, while Gen. René Osorio Canales, head of the Armed Forces Joint General Staff, suggested that the campesinos were being armed and trained by Nicaraguan and Venezuelan instructors. [This isn’t the first time Gen. Osorio has attributed violence to guerrilla activities; see Update #1097]. (El Heraldo, Tegucigalpa, March 27; Prensa Latina, March 27; Honduras Culture and Politics blog, March 28; AP, March 29, via Univision)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 1.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean

Video–Resistencia: The Aguan Valley Occupation in Honduras

When a military coup ousted the only president that ever supported them, they occupied the plantations…and these farmers aren’t going anywhere

Why this film?

Since June 28, 2009, when the military took control of the streets of Honduras and overthrew the elected president, I’ve been covering the Honduran resistance movement. The Honduran resistance brought together virtually every sector of society: teachers, feminists, industrial workers, indigenous communities, taxi drivers, students, street vendors, and everyone else who supported the ousted president’s campaign for direct democracy and social justice.

I have spent more than two years covering their struggle to reverse the damage done by the military, politicians, business leaders, and foreign governments. During this time, a remote region of the country known as the Aguán Valley has become the most significant of the many post-coup battles. It was here that thousands of peasant families decided to take matters into their own hands. They needed land, and if the powers-that-be were willing to overthrow presidents to keep them from getting it, they would have to take it themselves.

It’s been more than two years since they made that decision, and in spite of a media campaign labeling them terrorists, constant police harassment, evictions, death threats, imprisonment, and the killing of more than 50 of their comrades, they are still there. Still occupying, defending, and working more than 5,000 hectares of palm oil plantations.

Implementing their own direct democracy, not just voting for politicians.

Recognizing women, men, and youth as equal leaders, not just constituencies.

Planting crops to feed Hondurans, not just for export.

The impact

Palm oil—including the more than 90 million gallons exported from Honduras each year—is an ingredient in roughly 50% of the products we find in our supermarkets. Should we not be concerned about who benefits from the sale of this booming commodity?

If so, why haven’t we heard of the Aguán Valley? Why, when we do hear about Central America, is it only about drugs and gangs? These are rich and complex societies like any other, and like societies all over the world, they are questioning whether the inequality around them is just.

Many Hondurans have decided to not sit idle while their most fertile valleys are dedicated to exporting bananas and palm oil for the benefit of a few landowners. In the Aguán, they have taken over the plantations, so that now the profits from palm oil sales are being invested in housing, community radio stations, education, and local food production.

The farmers of the Aguán are living critiques, both of how we think about development in the Global South, and how we organize our own workplaces and communities. They are asking big questions, and getting answers through action. All in the face of extreme violence and persecution.

History is taking place, and while we all know about events in Tahrir Square and Occupy Wall Street, we should ask ourselves why we haven’t heard about the Aguán. This film is part of the process of filling that gap. It takes us into the occupied plantations, with the farmers who live and work there as the tellers of their own story.

What can you do?

Help make information about the Aguán Valley occupiers as readily available as the palm oil they produce.

Share the trailer. Ask friends if they’ve heard of the farmers of the Aguán. 

For more on how you can help, go to: http://www.indiegogo.com/Resistencia-1

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Videos