Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Massacre of members of Peasant Movement of Aguán (MCA)

Unified Peasant Movement of Aguán (MUCA)

Tocoa, Colon Honduras - November 16th, 2010


We regret to announce the terrible assassination of Ignacio Reyes (50), Teodoro Acosta (40), Siriaco Muños (56), Raúl Castillo (45) and José Luis Sauceda (32), members of the Peasant Movement of Aguán (MCA) who were brutally killed in the morning hours Monday November 15th, 2010 in Tumbador, Trujillo by hired assassins of [Honduran oligarch, U.S. ally and coup-financier] Miguel Facusse.

The lands in this sector of Trujillo belong to the Peasant Movement of Aguán, since the State through the National Agrarian Institute (INA) paid Temistocles Ramírez for them, though then Miguel Facussé took them over without legal standing.


1. We condemn the brutal and merciless attack perpetrated by the businessman Miguel Facussé's hit-men and assassins in conspiracy with members of the police and military who had been trained ahead of time for the bloody acts, of which members of the Peasant Movement of Aguán (MCA), located in the municipality of Trujillo, were victims, where 5 innocent people died..

2. We condemn the attitude of the police and military who despite having knowledge of the armed groups of the businessmen Miguel Facusse, René Morales and Reynaldo Canales, don't act, but rather protect them and equip them with their vehicles, fatigues and high-caliber arms (M-16, M-60) to cover their massacres. This confirms to us that the army doesn't defend the interests of the people but rather defends the interests of the powerful in the country.

3. We condemn the attitude of the Ministry of Security and the Ministry of Defense in their mistaken discourse that the act happened because of the invasion of private property and at the same time WE DEMAND the disarming of the army of hit-men commanded by Miguel Facusse with military training by RANGER teams from the United States.

We clarify that struggle will no stop due to this massacre and our people will not continue to be subjected to slavery.

Masacre de miembros del Movimiento Campesino de Aguán (MCA)

Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Agua (MUCA)

Tocoa, Colon Honduras - 16 de noviembre del 2010


Lamentamos el terrible asesinato de Ignacio Reyes (50), Teodoro Acosta (40), Siriaco Muños (56), Raúl Castillo (45) José Luis Sauceda (32) miembros del Movimiento Campesino del Aguan (MCA) los cuales fueron brutalmente asesinados en horas de la mañana el día lunes 15 de noviembre del 2010 en lugar del Tumbador sector de Trujillo por Sicarios de Miguel Facusse .

Las tierras de este sector de Trujillo pertenecen al Movimiento Campesino del Aguan (MCA) ya que el Estado a través del INA las pago a Temistocles Ramírez, las cuales como en todos los casos Miguel Facusse se ha apoderado de ellas sin asidero legal.

Por lo cual:

1. Condenamos el ataque brutal y despiadado del cual fueron víctimas los compañeros del Movimiento Campesino del Aguan (MCA) ubicado en el municipio de Trujillo, donde murieron 5 personas inocentes perpetrado por sicarios y asesinos del empresario Miguel Facusse en confabulación con miembros policiales y militares los cuales habían sido entrenados con anticipación para hechos sangrientos.

2. Condenamos la actitud de la policía y militares, ya que teniendo conocimiento de los grupos armados del empresario Miguel Facusse, René Morales y Reynaldo Canales, no actúan, sino que los protegen y dotan con sus vehículos, fatigas y armas de grueso calibre (M-16, M-60) para cubrir sus masacres. Esto nos confirma que el ejército no defiende los intereses del pueblo sino que defiende a los grupos de poder del país.

3. Condenamos la actitud del Ministro de Seguridad y Ministro de Defensa en su discurso equivocado aduciendo que el hecho sucedió por invadir una propiedad privada y a la vez EXIGIMOS el desarme del ejército de sicarios armados que comanda Miguel Facusse con entrenamiento militar por equipos RANGER; S de Estados Unidos.

Aclaramos que debido a esta masacre la lucha no la pararan ya que nuestro pueblo no seguirá sometido a la esclavitud

Violence and Death in the Aguan Valley/ Violencia y Muerte en la Valle Aguan

FIAN: Food First and Information and Action Network

In response to the persistent violence in the Aguán Valley and the manipulative intent on the part of many communication media, we must remember important events that clarify the conflict over land tenure in what was known as the Regional Center for Military Training (CREM).

In 1977, Temístocles Ramírez, a United States citizen of Puerto Rican origin, purchased 5,700 hectares along the coast, paying 165 thousand Lempiras in a flagrant violation of the Constitution which prohibits foreigners from owning land on coastlines and borders.

Within the framework of the national security doctrine, in 1983, the United States required the government of Honduras to install the CREM and this required the expropriation of property from Temístocles Ramírez.
In 1987, Temístocles appealed the government of the United States, demanding indemnification for “his” land. On June 29th of that year, the U.S. House of Representatives agreed to reduce a $51 million loan to Honduras by $17 million with which the government of Honduras paid Temístocles this multi million dollar sum. These lands were paid with external debt and titled to the State of Honduras.

In 1991, during the government of Callejas, a new Municipalities Law was passed, allowing municipalities to sell all untitled lands, national and collective. The municipality of Trujillo sold the CREM lands to local cattle ranchers for only 23-30 Lempiras per hectare. In other words, what the government had purchased for 17 million dollars, the municipality sold for less than 50 thousand. The sale was illegal because the CREM lands were not collective, nor national, but land titled to the State.

In 1993, the Attorney General formally transferred these lands to INA to be distributed to landless peasants. However, the violent conflict did not end there. Even though the land purchases were illegal, the landowners demanded the State of Honduras to pay improvements and the government ceded, paying 105 million Lempiras.

From August 2008 to September 2009, there have been between 17 and 19 deaths as a result of the conflict between the peasants of the Guadalupe Carney Community (GC) and the landowners. Unfortunately, the conflict does not end there. Several years ago, Miguel Facussé planted 700 acres of African Palm on lands belonging to this community. According to the peasants of Guadalupe Carney, Miguel Facussé took these lands illegally together with other large landholders in the area: Rene Morales and the national member of Congress, Oscar Nájera.

The peasants know that these lands belong to them, and so nine months ago they occupied them, but Miguel Facussé reacted by using approximately 300 private security guards to evict them. As a result, negotiations were initiated between the MCA peasants and Miguel Facussé, who approached the negotiations from the perspective that the land did not belong to the peasants. The discussion, therefore, focused on the payment of improvements, in an attempt by Facussé to take advantage of the resources of the Honduran State. The negotiations moved very slowly and the INA (National Agrarian Institute) did not participate to the extent that it is required to by law, allowing the violence to emerge.

Under these circumstances, at 04:00 today, peasants from Guadelupe Carney occupied the 700 manzanas of land that Miguel Facussé illegally occupies in the “El Tumbador” sector. Following the occupation, approximately 300 of Miguel Facussé's private guards attempted to evict them. According to the same source, an exchange of gunshots lasted four hours.

At the time of this statement (approximately 17:30 CST), the following deaths are confirmed: Teodoro Acosta, campesino from the “Nueva Vida” community; Ignacio Reyes from “Familia Unida Dos”; Raúl Castillo from “14 de mayo” and Ciriaco Muñoz from “Nueva Esperanza”. There are four wounded; Calidonio Ramírez, Pedro Eleazar Deras, Marvin Jerónimo Méndez Leiva and Abraham Martínez, and two disappeared; José Luis Sauceda and Noé Pérez. The homes and cooperative buildings in the communities of “10 de abril” and “14 de julio” were damaged by shots fied by Miguel Facussé's security guards.

Suspiciously, the police did not arrive at the scene until 12:30 and seemed to have been expecting more dramatic results. Their intention and the result of their actions was the eviction of the peasants and leaving the lands in question in the possession of Facussé's guards.

It has again been made clear that the state institutions are at the service of the large landholders of the region and private security guards are acting for the repressive state organs and proceeding to capture, torture, and assassinate those who oppose the powerful, with full authority and complicity of the police.

We urge human rights organizations, governments, and transnational organizations to pressure Porfirio Lobo's regime to halt the violence that has caused so much damage to the residents of the Aguán Valley.

Macuelizo, November 15th, 2010

Gilberto Ríos
Secretario Ejecutivo
FIAN Internacional
Sección Honduras
Violencia y muerte en el Valle del Aguán

Por la persistente violencia en el Valle del Aguán y las interpretaciones antojadizas y malintencionadas de muchos de medio de comunicación, iniciamos esta denuncia recordando hechos importantes que aclaran el conflicto sobre la propiedad de la tierra comprendida en lo que se conoció como el Centro Regional de Entrenamiento Militar (CREM).

En 1977, Temístocles Ramírez, ciudadano estadounidense de origen puertorriqueño, compró 5 mil 700 hectáreas pagando 165 mil Lempiras en la costa del departamento, en flagrante violación a la Constitución que prohíbe que los extranjeros puedan ser propietarios de territorios costeros y de zonas fronteriza.

En el marco de la estrategia de la doctrina de la seguridad nacional, en 1983, los Estados Unidos obligó al gobierno de Honduras a instalar el CREM y este se vio obligado a expropiar a Temístocles Ramírez.

En 1987, Temístocles apeló al gobierno de los Estados Unidos, exigiendo una indemnización por “sus” tierras. El 29 de junio de ese año, la Cámara de Representantes de Estados Unidos acordó reducir en 17 millones de dólares un préstamo a Honduras de US $ 51 millones hasta que el gobierno hondureño le pagara a Temístocles esa suma millonaria. Esas tierras fueron compradas con deuda externa. Las tierras quedaron tituladas como tierras fiscales a nombre del Estado de Honduras.

En 1991, en el gobierno de Callejas se proclamó la nueva Ley de Municipalidades, según la cual se permitía a los municipios vender todas las tierras no tituladas, nacionales y ejidales. La municipalidad de Trujillo vendió las tierras del CREM a ganaderos locales por sólo 20-30 lempiras la hectárea. Así, lo que al gobierno le costó 17 millones de dólares, lo vendió la municipalidad por menos de 50 mil. Fueron ventas ilegales porque las tierras del CREM no eran ejidales ni nacionales (sin título), sino tierras tituladas a favor del Estado.

En 1993, la Procuraduría traspasó formalmente estas tierras al INA para que las distribuyera entre campesinos y campesinas sin tierra. Pero el conflicto violento no concluyó ahí. Aún cuando las compras habían sido ilegales, los terratenientes exigieron que el Estado de Honduras les pagara las mejoras y los gobiernos cedieron pagándoles 105 millones de Lempiras.

De agosto del 2008 a septiembre de 2009 se cuentan entre 17 y 19 muertos resultantes del conflicto entre campesinos de la Comunidad Guadalupe Carney (GC) y los terratenientes. Desafortunadamente el conflicto no concluyó ahí. Hace algunos años Miguel Facussé cultivó con palma africana 700 manzanas que pertenecen a esa comunidad. De acuerdo a la versión de los campesinos de la Guadalupe Carney, Miguel Facussé se tomó esas tierras ilegalmente junto con otros terratenientes del lugar: René Morales y el diputado nacionalista Oscar Nájera.

Como los campesinos sabían que esas tierras les pertenecían, 9 meses atrás las tomaron. Pero Miguel Facussé reaccionó y los desalojó con la utilización de aproximadamente 300 guardias de seguridad. Esta situación dio pie a que se iniciaran negociaciones entre los campesinos del MCA y Miguel Facussé, partiendo del reconocimiento de parte de este terrateniente que esas tierras no le pertenecían. Lo que se discutía entonces era el pago de las mejoras, pretendiendo a aprovecharse de los recursos del Estado hondureño. Las negociaciones se realizaron con mucha lentitud y la participación del INA no estuvo a la altura de lo que le manda la ley dejando espacio a la violencia.

Bajo esas circunstancias, a las 4 de mañana de hoy, campesinos de la GC se tomaron las 700 manzanas que ilegalmente ocupa Miguel Facussé en el sector de “El Tumbador”. Pero luego de la toma de tierras, aproximadamente 300 guardias privados de Miguel Facussé intentaron desalojarlos. El intercambio de disparos duró 4 horas según la misma fuente.

Hasta la hora de este comunicado se confirma la muerte de Teodoro Acosta campesino de la empresa “Nueva Vida”; Ignacio Reyes de “Familia Unida Dos”; Raúl Castillo de la “14 de Mayo” y Ciriaco Muñoz de la “Nueva Esperanza”. Hay 4 heridos: Calidonio Ramírez, Pedro Eleazar Deras, Marvin Jerónimo Méndez Leiva y Abraham Martínez, así como el desaparecimiento de José Luis Sauceda y Noé Pérez. Viviendas e instalaciones de las cooperativas “10 de Abril” y “14 de julio” fueron dañadas por los disparos de los guardias de seguridad de Miguel Facussé.

Sospechosamente la policía se presentó al lugar de los hechos hasta las 12:30 como que si estuviera interesada en que los resultados fueran más dramáticos. Su propósito y su acción fue la desalojar a los campesinos y dejar en posesión de las tierras a los guardias de Facussé.

De nuevo queda claro que las instituciones del estado están al servicio de los terratenientes de la región y los guardias de seguridad sustituyen a los organismos represivos del estado y proceden a capturar, torturar y asesinar a quienes se oponen a los poderosos con toda autoridad y complicidad con la policía.

Exhortamos a los organismos de derechos humanos, gobiernos y organismos supranacionales presionar al régimen de Porfirio Lobo para que detenga la violencia que tanto daño causa a los pobladores del Valle del Aguán.

Macuelizo 15 de noviembre de 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November 3, 2010 - Teachers and Students Tie Up Tegucigalpa

Honduran Unions and Resistance Protest New Wage Laws
On November 3, thousands of teachers, students and other supporters of the teachers tied up traffic for hours in Tegucigalpa in the first mobilization against new actions by the Lobo regime targeting organized workers and educators. The students shut down the center of the capital for four hours with a march to the national congress building. Teachers from other parts of the country had begun arriving in Tegucigalpa and joined the ranks of the Tegucigalpa teachers’ unions marching from the national university to the presidential palace. This will likely be only the first of many actions as teachers and other workers’ organizations, joined by the resistance movement, respond to the latest attacks on labor by the regime of Pepe Lobo.

In the last days of October the Lobo government launched a new offensive against the Honduran unions and working people. The Congress approved repeal of statutes governing wages for some sectors of organized labor. At the same time Lobo issued an executive order setting the increase for the minimum wages as low as 3 percent a year and creating different wage scales for different regions, industries and categories of workers.

The special articles which Lobo repealed (including Article 49 of the Teachers’ Law) guaranteed annual wage increases indexed by set percentages to the yearly increases in the minimum wage. These articles applied to teachers, government workers, public health employees, and public education professionals. The regime wants to eliminate the regular increases and the percentages and force the affected unions to accept whatever increases the government says are affordable each year. This is aimed especially at the teachers, whose militant and organized struggles over many years won for them many benefits and a somewhat higher wage index than other professions. The teachers movement – with more than 60,000 members in six different unions -- is also among the largest organized forces in the resistance movement, which sprung up to oppose last summer’s coup d’etat and has continued to reject Lobo’s government and call for a constitutional assembly.

The teachers anticipated the Lobo government’s latest assault on labor, and began mobilizing in mid-October in preparation, declaring a strike at the end of October. Teachers held a four-month strike over the summer, ended with an agreement with the government Aug. 30. But the government has since violated that agreement, stoking the teachers’ current wave of resistance.
According to that agreement the Ministry of Education was to pay back wages owed to some 5, 500 teachers, but by October it had only paid about 1,500 of them. The regime was also supposed to repay 4 billion lempira (200 million dollars) taken from the teachers’ benefit and pension institute, but still has not done so.

The violations of the August agreement are just the latest maneuvers in an ongoing campaign of intimidation, retaliation and violent repression against teachers since the military coup in June 2009. A dozen teachers have been murdered in overtly political assassinations since the coup and many teachers have been beaten or detained. Some union leaders still face charges from their strike earlier this year.

The current strike includes about 65,000 teachers organized in five unions belonging to the FOMH (Federation of Teaching Organizations of Honduras). Their demands include that the government fulfill the earlier agreement, fire the Minister of Education, comply with the entire Teachers’ Law and end the repression.

Now the teachers are being joined by other unions and organizations in response to the minimum wage crises.

Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Americas with a poverty rate of 60%. The minimum amount of monthly income necessary to meet the most basic needs (the “basic basket”) is more than 8 thousand lempira ($430). A 3% increase in the minimum wage is an increase of 165 Lempira ($8.70) a month. Under the Lobo regime’s program, workers in the special enterprise zones and industries will receive the lowest increase for a total monthly salary of about 3, 894.60 lempiras ($210). This is $100 less a month than the minimum salary of the other sectors. The highest increase included in the new decree is 7 percent.

The trade union confederations and other urban and rural workers’ groups were demanding a 15% increase in the minimum wage. Meanwhile union leaders and social justice organization noted that even the minimum wage increase of nearly 60% decreed by President Manuel Zelaya in January 2009 was not enough to pull the poorest workers out of subsistence. The wage increase ordered by President Zelaya in 2009 was never fully applied due to the intransigence of the business class and the coup.

Honduran law required that the minimum wage increase be implemented in January 2010, and the law mandated any delays in implementation must be compensated with back pay. . But Lobo did not act to raise the wage until last week, and then ordered back pay only from June 2010 rather than from January. Of course, given the regimes’ record with the teachers and the power and impunity of the oligarchy, it is far from certain that any back pay will be paid out.

But not everyone is suffering. In October, high-ranking functionaries of the Lobo regime (the Council of Ministers) did receive a salary increase of 10,000 lempira a month ($540). Their monthly total salary is now almost $5000 a month - about 25 times the minimum salary.

November 4, 2010 – Victoria Cervantes, La Voz de los de Abajo
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