Tag Archives: honduras

How Indigenous communities in Honduras are resisting US-backed multinationals

By Beverly Bell, April 2, 2014. Source: The Nation

Members of a Lenca indigenous community protest against the planned construction of a dam in Honduras. Photo: AP Photo/Edgard Garrido

Members of a Lenca indigenous community protest against the planned construction of a dam in Honduras. Photo: AP Photo/Edgard Garrido

“Screw the company trying to take our river, and the government. If I die, I’m going to die defending life.” So said María Santos Dominguez, a member of the Indigenous Council of the Lenca community of Rio Blanco, Honduras.

April 1 marks one year since the Rio Blanco community began a human barricade that has so far stopped a corporation from constructing a dam that would privatize and destroy the sacred Gualcarque River. Adults and children have successfully blocked the road to the river with their bodies, a stick-and-wire fence and a trench. Only one of many communities fighting dams across Honduras, the families of Rio Blanco stand out for their tenacity and for the violence unleashed upon them.

The Honduran-owned, internationally backed DESA Corporation has teamed up with US-funded Honduran soldiers and police, private guards and paid assassins to try to break the opposition. Throughout the past year, they have killed, shot, maimed, kidnapped and threatened the residents of Rio Blanco. The head of DESA, David Castillo, is a West Point graduate. He also served as former assistant to the director of military intelligence and maintains close ties with the Honduran Armed Forces.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Political Repression

Honduras: Who should really be on trial for the Rio Blanco dam?

By Brigitte Gynther, March 19, 2014. Source: Upside Down World

María with her nephews.  Photo: Brigitte Gynther

María with her nephews. Photo: Brigitte Gynther

María Santos was walking home on March 5th, 2014, when seven people suddenly jumped out of hiding, surrounded her, and then attacked her with machetes, striking her head and chest. María has been a vocal leader in the struggle against the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Dam, defending the Lenca territory of Rio Blanco and the Gualcarque River for her children and grandchildren to come. She is an active member of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH, Consejo Civico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras), and a tireless fighter in the struggle of the Lenca people of Rio Blanco to prevent DESA, a private dam company, from privatizing and building a dam on their river.

When María’s husband heard that she was surrounded, he and her 12-year-old son ran and found her. Her husband pleaded with the attackers not to kill her and her young son ran to his bleeding mother’s side. One of the attackers swung his machete down on the young boy, splitting his ear and part of his face. Her husband was also attacked. All three are seriously injured and had to be hospitalized. Doctors found that María’s son’s cranium was fractured.

María’s husband, Roque, had previously been attacked by several men as he was leaving the site where the community has physically blocked the dam company from accessing the river, and has been effectively preventing the construction of the dam for over a year.  Even though the identities of the men who attacked him are known, that crime has been left in complete impunity.  The collusion between powerful interests and the Honduran justice system means that the justice system routinely serves those interests and that attacks against those who stand for their rights are rarely brought to justice.  Before the most recent attack on her life, María had received numerous death threats for her vocal opposition to the dam, including threats from this same group of people who have now put her in the hospital. One Sunday evening, when María was walking to her house from the roadblock, a man came up her, took out a pistol, and threatened María, asking, “Do you want to be shot?”  None of these death threats have been investigated. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Water

Honduras: Indigenous Tolupanes return to their territory with IACHR orders of protection

By Greg McCain, March 6, 2014. Source: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

A caravan makes it’s way up the dusty winding road into the mountains of the department of Yoro. It is heading toward San Francisco de Locomapa, one of the territories of the Tolupane people, an indigenous tribe that has been in existence for over 5,000 years.

San Francisco is also the site of a massacre that occurred on August 25, 2013. Armando Fúnez Medina (46), Ricardo Soto Fúnez (40), and Maria Enriqueta Matute (71) were murdered by Selvin Matute and Carlos Matute (no relation to Enriqueta). The latter two are hired guns for the Bella Vista Mining Company, which has been extracting antimony from the surrounding mountains without the consent of the community and with a mining concession that is in dispute. The two men also hire themselves out to illegal loggers that deforest the mountainsides.

The three victims were members of the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ, in its Spanish acronym), which has been protesting the mining and illegal logging and the installation of a hydroelectric dam on Tolupane territory. The community had begun a roadblock on August 12, 2013 stopping trucks that were loaded with illegal timber and antimony and then reporting it to the local police who essentially let the illegal trucks and their cargo go.  Continue reading

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World Bank forced to admit failings on controversial human rights scandal

January 22, 2014. Source: FIAN International

Civilians denounce land conflicts and violence in Bajo Aguán, Honduras.  Photo: FIAN International

Civilians denounce land conflicts and violence in Bajo Aguán, Honduras. Photo: FIAN International

The World Bank has been forced to backtrack on a controversial investment in Corporación Dinant, a palm oil company implicated in serious human rights abuses in Honduras.

Following the January 10th release of one of the most damning investigations ever issued by the Bank’s internal watchdog, the Office of the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO), the Bank’s private-sector lending arm the International Finance Corporation (IFC) issued an ‘action plan’ that failed to address most of the investigation’s findings .

Following widespread negative press coverage, an outcry from civil society organizations, and criticism from the Bank’s Board, the IFC today admitted errors and promised to ‘refine’ its action plan and ‘reflect on’ internal problems that led to mistakes.

Civil society groups today welcomed the IFC’s admission of its mistakes and credited the Bank’s Board for stepping in when the Bank’s management had failed to respond appropriately. However they said the IFC’s new response still falls seriously short of laying out a plan to ensure that communities’ human rights are respected in future. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Food Sovereignty, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, World Bank

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.
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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

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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

Honduras: Huge Political Crisis As Right Steals Elections

Note: There are very clear links between the coup in Honduras and the overthrow of Zelaya with the emergence of Honduras as a major center for palm oil production for biofuels–largely for import into the US.  To read more about this and the resistance of Honduras peasant communities against the oil palm industry, visit our coverage of the issue here.

November 28, 2013, By Elena Zeledon.  Source: GreenLeft.org

Large-scale electoral fraud affected every aspect of the November 24 general elections in the Central American country of Honduras. This has sparked a huge political crisis, which matches and possibly surpasses the crises produced by the coup d’etat that overthrew president Manuel Zelaya in 2009. The fraud has denied victory to Liberty and Refoundation (LIBRE) party presidential candidate Xiomara Castro, the wife of Zelaya. LIBRE was formed National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), which united many sectors that took part in the resistance to the coup.

In Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere and occupying an area about the size of Queensland, two decades of struggle has helped develop one of the most social and class conscious movements in the world.

It has been governed for decades by a series of revolving door governments headed by either the National or Liberal parties. When the level of social struggles or political impasses reached a crises point, the army stepped in. Military dictatorships would end these “democratic interludes”, and then step back into the shadows allowing the two parties to play out its game of charades.

Fraud Revealed
This “two-party” cycle was ended on November 24 with the result for LIBRE. Castro is the legitimate president. There is no doubt in the minds of any independent observer that LIBRE won the vote. There is also no doubt that the ruling National Party and its presidential candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez, the self-proclaimed winner, engaged in huge electoral fraud. This took place on in the run-up to the vote, as well as on election day.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Politics, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Canada signs free trade deal with Honduras amid pre-electoral repression

By Sandra Cuffe, 14 November, 2013. Source: Upside Down World

Photo: Karen Spring

Photo: Karen Spring

Canada and Honduras inked a bilateral free trade agreement on November 5, amid political repression, increasing militarization, and controversial Canadian investment in the Central American nation.

Ed Fast, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, and Honduran Minister of Industry and Commerce Adonis Lavaire signed the deal in Ottawa, less than three weeks before general elections are expected to change the political landscape in Honduras.

“It’s really uncertain what’s going to happen with the elections,” said Karen Spring, a Canadian human rights activist living in Honduras. “It’s a lot less likely for [Canada] to have a government – and the political conditions and the economic conditions – in [Honduras] that would approve the free trade agreement or would allow it to be approved.”

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Honduras: Berta Cáceres is still alive

Note: Jeff Conant is a good friend and former Communications Director for Global Justice Ecology Project.

-The GJEP Team

By Jeff Conant, 10 October, 2013. Source: Foreign Policy in Focus

Photo: hondurasdelegation / Flickr

Photo: hondurasdelegation / Flickr

Honduran authorities want Berta Cáceres in prison. Even more, they want her dead.

Berta, as she is fondly known by her many friends in Honduras and beyond, is a Lenca indigenous woman, and one of the founding directors of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). She is now the face of social movement resistance in Honduras, which in recent months has seen an escalation of state repression against social movement leaders, indigenous peoples’ organizations, environmentalists, and political dissenters. She went into hiding on September 20.

But as I write, against all odds, Berta Cáceres is still alive.

Resisting the Corporate State

COPINH, one of the strongest voices in Mesoamerica for the defense of indigenous peoples’ rights, was founded in the early 1990s to fight logging companies in the territories of the Lenca people. After decades of struggle, COPINH has expelled dozens of logging operations from Lenca territories, recovered over 100 indigenous communal land titles, and served as a critical voice in international forums advocating for the right of indigenous communities to give or withhold their binding consent to any megaprojects planned for their territories. Continue reading

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Defending Indigenous lands and waters in Honduras: The case of Rio Blanco

Note: See below for an update from September 15th on the court case of the COPINH leaders.

-The GJEP Team

By Beverly Bell and Tory Field, 6 September, 2013. Source: Other Worlds

The indigenous Lenca community of Rio Blanco is in its fifth month of blocking an illegal damming operation on the sacred Gualcarque River. Here, the road to the river, blockaded. Photo: Beverly Bell.

The indigenous Lenca community of Rio Blanco is in its fifth month of blocking an illegal damming operation on the sacred Gualcarque River. Here, the road to the river, blockaded. Photo: Beverly Bell.

On September 12, Berta Caceres, Tomás Gomez, and Aureliano Molina, leaders of the indigenous Lenca organization Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) must appear in court. Their charges? Usurpation of land, coercion, and causing more than $3 million in damages to DESA, a hydroelectric dam company. Berta, the general coordinator of COPINH and an internationally recognized social movement leader, is also facing separate charges of illegally carrying arms “to the danger of the internal security of Honduras.”

The Honduran-owned and foreign-financed company has been attempting to build a dam on the sacred Gualcarque River in the Lenca community of Rio Blanco. Community members have blockaded the road against the company, thwarting the dam’s construction, for over five months.

The charges brought against the three indigenous rights defenders are part of a strategy of physical, legal, and political suppression by the Honduran government and industries to break indigenous resistance to mining, damming, logging, and drilling. The exploitation of indigenous lands, and the riches upon them, are being imposed without the communities’ consent. This is in violation of the Honduran constitution and of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization which requires free, prior, and informed consent by indigenous peoples before anything can be built on, or taken from, their lands. Continue reading

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