Honduras, March 18, 2016
Real World Radio
The MP and peasant leader made reference to the violence against organizations with the complicity of the State and reaffirmed the call to solidarity and international denunciation – Organizations create Popular Honduran Articulation Berta Cáceres.
After the assassination on March 3rd of Honduran Lenca leader Berta Caceres, the restriction of Gustavo Castro´s movements in Honduras (of Otros Mundos – Friends of the Earth Mexico), and upon the arrival to Honduras of an International Mission made up of several European and Latin American MPs to verify the humanitarian situation in Honduras, on Wednesday we learned about the murder of another COPINH member, Nelson Noé García, as well as the attack against the member of Via Campesina Honduras, Cristian Mauricio Alegría Turcios.
In an interview with Real World Radio on Wednesday, the leader of Via Campesina, Rafael Alegría, referred to the attack against his nephew, Cristian Mauricio Alegría Turcios, of Via Campesina Honduras, as a “plan to repress” the organization.
Alegría made reference to an “open repression policy” by the State and economic groups against popular organizations.
He defined the murder of Berta Caceres as “despicable” and strongly denounced the attempts to disconnect the reasons behind her murder with the struggle of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH).
Rafael, who was interviewed in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and who, just like Berta, received several death threats, said that the President of the United Peasant Movement of Aguan (MUCA) was detained by police forces on Tuesday. Since 2009, over 100 peasants of the movement have been murdered for defending their lands.
The leader also said that the offices of Via Campesina have been attacked six times, most recently on January 26. “The situation is sad and regrettable, and we denounce it at national and international level as a plan to attack, intimidate Via Campesina and its leaders”, said Alegría.
He also announced that this organization, both at national and international level, will start a series of strong mobilizations over the situation of defenselessness of “social defenders who struggle for land, the territory, natural resources and dignity” of Honduras.
Just like in June 2009 with the Coup d´ Etat, after the murder of Berta and the other social activists, the Popular Honduran Articulation Berta Cáceres was established to organize mobilizations in the country, explained Rafael.
“We are under an institutional dictatorship in Honduras”
Real World Radio: Interview with COPINH leader in light of another murder of a member of the organization
The situation in Honduras is of complete alert. The outrageous and still unpunished murder of Berta Cáceres seems to have intensified the violence and persecution against social activists, indigenous people and peasants in a country whose people continues to be under attack since the Coup d´Etat of 2009. Yesterday, after a violent eviction in Rio Chiquito municipality, Cortés department, the member of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) Nelson García was shot and murdered when returning to the place where he was staying.
Through an excessive use of force including Police officers, the Army, the Anti-Riot Police and the Intelligence and Security Special Response Group Troops (TIGRES), 150 peasant and indigenous families were evicted from the lands they were inhabiting and cultivating their food on for over 10 years. “During the eviction they destroyed bean, maize, yucca, banana crops, as well as their houses”, said Tomas Gomez, member of COPINH. He also said that the families have been left “totally unprotected”.
The community was processing the community titles over the lands before the National Agrarian Institute (INA), but Rio Lindo´s Mayor, through font men, has bought the lands illegally, denounced COPINH. According to the movement, the interests in this region are related to the increase of hydroelectric power generation potential.
After the eviction, Nelson Garcia was returning to the home where he rented a room: “the gunmen who shot at him four times were waiting for him”, said Gomez.
“We say that the one to blame here is the State”, said the COPINH member, and he added: “the State has not resolved the issue with community land titles that COPINH and the Lenca people have been demanding in order to legalize the possession over these lands by the indigenous people”.
With Nelson García, this is the 15th murder of a Honduran activist, including Berta Caceres, in 2016 alone. “This is an avalanche of threats and murders to disappear us, to take all lands away from us. Lands where there are mines, water, natural resources to be granted in concessions”, said Tomás Gómez.
In addition, the member of COPINH is denouncing the lack of progress of the investigations and the search for justice for Berta Cáceres, a case that triggered demands for justice in countries of all continents. “This is an institutional dictatorship. We see fewer people being murdered in countries with declared wars”.
About the current demands of the organization, Tomás said that they want the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project out of Lenca indigenous lands; to stop the criminalization of COPINH members; the demilitarization of the Lenca people; to immediately suspend all mining concessions, hydroelectric and wind projects in Lenca territories.
In order to comply with the precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for indigenous leaders and Berta Cáceres´ family, Tomás said that it is necessary to address the root causes. “And the root causes are the policies of the Honduran government based on the privatization and concession of indigenous territory without prior, free and informed consultation”, he concluded.
Lastly, Tomás Gomez said that there will be mobilizations organized by COPINH, OFRANEH and different organizations in Tegucigalpa, starting today at 4 pm until Friday, March 18, which will be covered by Real World Radio.
End the violence and death against the peasant-indigenous movement
La Vía Campesina denounces the grave criminalization taking place in Honduras today in the form of prisons, repression and the assassination of peasant and indigenous leaders. In the last few weeks the situation has worsened greatly with the proliferation of hired assassins aiming to take the lives of those who demand land to produce food, of those who struggle against extractivism, dams, and agribusiness.
Yesterday, March 15th, several regrettable events took place which we summarize below. All require the urgent attention and action of our organizations, allies and human rights entities:
1. Assassination attempt on Cristian Alegría, cousin of Rafael Alegría, lawmaker for the Libre Party and Coordinator of La Vía Campesina Honduras. This attack ocurred in front of La Vía Campesina offices located at Colonia Alameda, Tegucigalpa.
2. Assassination of Nelson García, member of COPINH and community leader in Río Chiquito. This tragic event took place during the forced eviction of the Río Lindo community, in department of Cortés, when an estimated 100 police officers, 20 members of the military police, 10 members of the Army, and various members of DGIC invaded the territory previously recovered by 150 families, 75 of which had built homes in the area with materials and efforts they worked hard to obtain.
3. Capture of Muca President Juan Ángel Flores in the departament of Colón. Detained in the early morning and accussed of links to drug trafficking, the lack of evidence forced authorities to release him hours later.
4. Detention of public defender Orbelina Flores Hernández, member of the Permanent Human Rights Observatory of the Aguan, accusing her of involvement in land conflicts.
5. Sentencing of David Romero, journalist of Radio Globo, to 10 years in prison. David has been courageously denouncing the embezzlement of social security and other acts of corruption in Honduras, all of which indicate involvement of the ruling party.
It is evident that these attacks are directed at combative social movements engaged in the struggle for land and in defense of territories such as La Vía Campesina, COPINH and Muca.
As such, we of La Vía Campesina:
1. Denounce the Honduran government for executing a plan of repression against leaders and social movements.
2. Demand respect for the life of Honduran social activists.
3. Call for international human rights organizations to come to Honduras and accompany the grave humanitarian situation being faced in the country. It is important that the Honduran government be denounced at the international level for its direct attacks on, and criminalization of, social struggles.
For La Vía Campesina, solidarity and internationalism are the key values of our movement. As such, we will continue monitoring the situation in Honduras closely, making public and denouncing internationally the persecution and criminalization faced by peasant, indigenous, and afro movements engaged in the frontline struggle to defend our territories against transnational capital and its attempt to take control of our natural resources.
Globalize struggle! Globalize hope!
For our dead, not one minute of silence! An entire life of struggle!