Tag Archives: Miguel Facusse

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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KPFK Sojourner Truth Earth Minute: Honduras hosts ‘sustainable’ palm oil convention, despite related human rights abuses

August 7, 2013. 

kpfk_logoGlobal Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.

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Expanding palm oil empires in the name of ‘green energy’ and “sustainable development’

August 6, 2013. Source: Biofuelwatch

International environmental and human rights campaigners condemn the 4th Latin American Palm Oil Conference to be held by the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in Honduras on 6th-8th August

From 6th-8th August, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is holding its 4th Latin American Conference on so-called sustainable palm oil in Honduras. (Conference website:http://rspo2013.com/). Environmental and social campaigners have been shocked to learn that one event sponsor is the palm oil company Dinant Corporation, owned and controlled by Miguel Facusse, the largest landowner in Honduras. They are calling on World Wildlife Fund WWF and three other organisations to withdraw from and denounce the conference being held in Honduras due to the Dinant’s sponsorship of the event and the serious human rights implications.

Mr. Facusse was a key supporter and beneficiary of the June 2009 military coup in Honduras, has been associated with narco-trafficking, and, along with other large oil palm growers, has been linked to the targeted killing of more than 88 members and supporters of peasant organisations since June 2009 in the Aguan Valley, one of the main palm oil producing regions in Honduras.

Annie Bird from Rights Action states: “By holding its conference in Honduras and by allowing Dinant Corporation to sponsor the event and hold a stall, the RSPO is turning a blind eye to systemic and severe human rights abuses, including forced evictions of entire communities and over 88 killings for which palm oil companies, especially Dinant, are responsible. The RSPO Conference serves to reinforce the impunity with which the large-scale palm producers operate.”

RSPO is overwhelmingly dominated by the interests of large corporations like Nestlé, Rabobank and Unilever—all linked to cases of “land grabbing” in Asia, Latin America and Africa.”
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The oxygen trade: Leaving Hondurans gasping for air

By Rosie Wong, July 25, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry

honduras-carbon-trade-assassinations-peasants

The carbon trade doesn’t just fail to address climate change. In countries like Honduras, it funnels cash to notorious human rights abusers and threatens vital resources.

“We’re not selling this oxygen to anybody,” said Vitalino Álvarez, a participant in the Unified Aguán Farmers´ Movement (MUCA) in the boiling hot northern region of Honduras. Like many places around Honduras and the world, Álvarez’s community is a direct victim of international carbon trading programs—or what residents call “selling oxygen.”

Carbon trading was developed as a mechanism for addressing global climate change under the Kyoto Protocol. It allows companies rooted in the global North, which collectively produce most of the world’s greenhouse gases, to buy and sell “Certificates of Emissions Reduction” from developing-world companies rather than cut their own emissions. The practice enables them to continue polluting based on the assertion that emissions elsewhere are being cut.

Through this mechanism, they pay companies in the global South that have implemented “green” initiatives (making new technological investments or reducing deforestation, for example) and either use the certificate to avoid cutting their own emissions or else sell it to another company. This scheme is not only accepted, but also actively promoted, by both the United Nations and the World Bank.

But carbon trading does not actually fulfill its stated goal of cutting global emissions, since the price of carbon remains too cheap to curb polluter behavior. The study “Carbon Trading—How It Works and Why It Fails” shows that carbon trading allows overall air pollution and climate change to continue to escalate.
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World Bank must end support for Honduran palm oil company implicated in dozens of murders

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project joins several other NGOs calling for an end to funding palm oil giant Grupo Dinant, which is implicated in murders and human rights abuses in Honduras.  GJEP is the North American focal point for the Global Forest Coalition and works closely with BiofuelWatch.  Jeff Conant, quoted in the article below, is the former Media Coordinator for GJEP.

-The GJEP Team

March 19, 2013. Source: Global Forest Coalition

Photo: Jeff Conant

Photo: Jeff Conant

Today several Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) condemned a statement by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, IFC which defends the record of a Honduran palm oil company, Grupo Dinant, implicated in dozens of murders as well as other human rights abuses. The IFC statement explicitly admits to supporting training for the company’s armed security guards.

The NGOs are : Friends of the Earth International, Global Forest Coalition, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Urgewald, Rights Action, Rettet den Regenwald/Rainforest Rescue, Global Justice Ecology Project, and Biofuelwatch.

A World Bank Ombudsman  is currently investigating an IFC loan of $30 million for Grupo Dinant which was approved in 2009, at least half of which has already been disbursed.

This month, an Open Letter by 17 NGOs  and an international petition signed by over 63,000 people  have protested the loan and called on the World Bank to immediately cease their support for Grupo Dinant.
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Honduras: Aguán campesino leader arrested

By Bill Weinberg, February 12, 2013.  Source: WW4 Report

A contingent of some 30 soldiers and police agents arrested Juan Ramón Chinchilla, president of the largest campesino organization in northern Honduras’ Lower Aguán Valley, the evening of Feb. 8 in the central park in Tocoa, Colón department. Police then drove Chinchilla, who heads the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MUCA), 60 kilometers to a court in the city of Trujillo, where he was charged with “usurpation of land.” After a two-hour hearing, the judges released Chinchilla conditionally at about 2 am; he is required to stay in the country and to report to the court every Monday.

The criminal complaint against Chinchilla originated with Exportadora del Atlántico SA, the agricultural division of Grupo Dinant, a food product company founded by the wealthy Miguel Facussé Barjum. The Aguán Valley has been subject to violent struggles between campesinos and large landowners like Facussé since late in 2009, when MUCA and other campesino cooperatives occupied a number of estates they said were on land reserved for small farmers under an agrarian reform program from the 1980s. More than 80 campesinos have died in the land disputes, and Chinchilla himself was captured and beaten by hooded men in January 2011 and held for two days before escaping.

According to MUCA, the court’s decision to release Chinchilla so quickly was the result of solidarity from media groups and from hundreds of campesinos who headed to Trujillo the night of Feb. 8 and threatened to block roads if Chinchilla wasn’t freed. But the case against Chinchilla remains open. MUCA spokespeople say 3,081 campesinos have been arrested in connection with Aguán land disputes in the last two years, while the government of President Porfirio Lobo Sosa has failed to prosecute the region’s landowners and their security guards for violence against campesinos. (Lista Informativa Nicaragua y Más, LINyM, Feb. 9, viaFrente Nacional de Resistencia Popular,  Honduras); MUCA communiqué, Feb. 10, viaHonduras Tierra Libre)

In related news, on the afternoon of Feb. 2 a group of armed men gunned down the campesino Juan Pérez near the El Tigre community, about three kilometers from Tocoa, as he was returning home from work. Pérez, the father of nine, was a member of the Campesino Movement for the Recovery of the Aguán (MOCRA). Three hours later Williams Alvarado was murdered in the community of Taojica; he was a MUCA member who worked at the Flor del Aguán cooperative in the Aurora settlement. (MUCA communiqué, Feb. 3, via Vos el Soberano, Honduras; Adital, Brazil, Feb. 4)

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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

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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

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Stop World Bank funding of death squads in Honduras

By Annie Bird, November 8 2012. Source: Rights Action

Photo: Upside Down World

Note:  The World Bank is being called upon to suspend its $30 million loan to the Dinant Corporation of Honduras, an African palm oil corporation that belongs to one of Honduras’ wealthiest persons and largest landowners.

As examined in the following report by Annie Bird of Rights Action, Facusse’s security forces are believed to be responsible for the murder of over 80 campesino land rights activists and their supporters in the Aguan region of northern Honduras; murders that have taken place since the 2009 military coup.

Rights Action is urging the international community to add their voice to the call, by writing to the President of the World Bank demanding an explanation as to why it continues to invest in the military junta-controlled country, where the rule of law, the most fundamental element of a rights protective framework necessary for just development, is not functional.

You can send letters (which are far more effective than petitions or emails) to

President Jim Yong Kim
The World Bank Group
1818 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20433

The Dinant Corporation and subsidiaries of the Jaremar Corporation, both Honduran African palm oil corporations blamed by campesino movements for the murder of approximately 80 campesinos in the Aguan river valley region since the June 2009 military coup, have received millions of dollars from the World Bank since the coup.  Most recently, on November 2, 2012, Orlando Campos, Reynaldo Rivera Paz, and José Omar Paz – all former members of a campesinomovement which contests rights to the “ Panama farm” against Dinant Corporation’s illegitimate claims – were killed in a drive-by shooting as they waited for a bus. The following day, in an unprecedented arrest of a death squad member, police officer Marvin Noe García Santos was arrested for these assassinations.
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Lawyer who helped peasants recover lands murdered in Honduras

September 23, 2012. Source: Latin American Herald Tribune

TEGUCIGALPA – Honduran attorney Antonio Trejo, who represented peasants who have attempted to reclaim land in the Caribbean province of Colon, was murdered by unknown killers in Tegucigalpa, a human rights group announced Sunday.

Trejo was the legal adviser to the MARCA land reclamation movement and was shot to death Saturday night near the Toncontin International Airport, the Committee of Relatives of Disappeared Detainees in Honduras, or Cofadeh, said.

According to the versions of the murder published in the local media, Trejo attended a wedding on Saturday night in the southern capital neighborhood of America near the airport and when he left the noisy venue to answer a cell phone call he had received he was riddled with bullets by gunmen waiting outside.

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