The Honduran Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared (COFADEH) repudiates the harassment and death threats directed towards human rights defender Blanca Azucena Espinoza, President of the Buenos Amigos Peasant Cooperative, in the municipality of Sabá in the department of Colón in the north of Honduras.
On September 27, 2010, Blanca Azucena Espinoza led, along with other residents, an occupation of unused lands in the community of El Elixer in order to benefit numerous landless families. Later that day she was beaten by a man armed with a machete who works for the largescale landowner Cesar Velásquez, who claims the property is his.
Since then, Blanca has faced a series of acts endangering her life and the lives of her nine children. On December 31, 2010, masked men in a green pick-up truck without license plates fired on a group from the community who was meeting with Blanca.
On January 4, 2011, subjects driving a grey car followed Blanca in the municipality of Sabá, where she took refuge in the offices of the Municipality. Three days later, on January 7th, Roger Barahona, an employee of Cesar Velásquez, followed Blanca when she was walking with her daughter on a street in El Elixir and attempted to hit Blanca's daughter with his car. On various occasions this individual has assured her that he will kill her and has shown her pistols and simulated firing them.
Since January 30, 2011, one of Blanca's daughters has been receiving text messages that say that Blanca is a "dead woman."
On March 1, 2011, at approximately 11:30pm, two masked and armed men riding a motorcycle patrolled Blanca's home for about 15 minutes. They left suddenly when a neighbor’s vehicle approaches. The subjects, in addition to ski masks, were wearing military-style coats and boots. On March 8 at approximately 10:30pm they arrived again and remained in front of her house for a half hour.
Blanca and three members of the board of the Buenos Amigos Peasant Cooperative are currently facing judicial procedures for land usurpation and the judicial authorities have also emitted a warrant for the arrest of her two daughters - one of whom is eleven years old - for the same offense. The constant presence of armed men and the text messages sent to her daughter are psychologically traumatizing her children who are clearly frightened and suffering from insomnia.
We are asking the international and national community to demand that the Honduran State:
• initiate an independent, exhaustive and impartial investigation into the threats against Blanca Azucena Espinoza, that they publicize the results of their investigation and that the responsible parties appear before the justice system;
• take immediate measure to provide effective protection to Blanca Azucena Espinoza and her family, according to their wishes;
• offer psychological support free of charge to Blanca's nine children so that they can recuperate their mental health and semblance of normalcy;
• comply with its obligation to guarantee that human rights defenders can exercise their right to carry out their activities without unjust restrictions and without fear of reprisal, as established in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (1998) and the corresponding resolutions of the OAS.
PLEASE FAX, CALL OR E-MAIL:
Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés
Presidente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia
Tel (504) 269-3000 269-3069
Luis Alberto Rubí
Fiscal General de la República.
Fax (504) 221-5667
Tel (504) 221-5670 221-3099
WITH COPIES TO:
Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH)
Barrio La Plazuela , Avenida Cervantes, Casa No. 1301
Apartado Postal 1243
Fax:+504 220 5280 (solicite: "tono de fax")
And diplomatic representatives from your country of origin:
• U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras 011-504- 2236-9320, 011-504-2238-5114 Fax Number: 011-504-2236-9037
• Canadian Embassy in Costa Rica (also responsible for Honduras): firstname.lastname@example.org or Fax 011-506-2242-4411 – Political Affairs