Monday, August 12, 2013

La Voz de los de Abajo condemns the murder of CNTC member

August 11, 2013 

La Voz de los de Abajo condemns the murder of CNTC member Felix Corea in Progreso, Yoro on August 10, 2013. We hold equally responsible the Honduran government including the defacto president Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo and his ministers; the president of the congress, Juan Orlando Hernandez and the members of congress; the Honduran security forces; the AZUNOSA Company and the other big landowners as well as the individuals who physically committed the crime.  Furthermore we condemn the U.S. government which continues to aid and train the Honduran military and security forces, and which directly participates in military/police actions. All these forces are responsible for the violence and for the impunity that exists for violent actions against the campesinos and campesinas. 

Unfortunately this murder is not the only crime committed this month so far. The same forces are accountable for the deaths and violence against other members of the resistance and the press in Honduras. 

ADCP/CNTC Land Recuperation at AZUNOSA
Felix was murdered on August 10th when a truck identified as belonging to the sugar company AZUNOSA deliberately ran him down. Felix was part of the land recuperation organized by the National Center for Rural Workers (CNTC) and the Association for Campesino Development of Progreso (ADCP) on lands occupied by AZUNOSA a multinational sugar company. Felix was leaving the recuperation when the truck, which had no license plates, ran him down. Witnesses recognized it as an AZUNOSA vehicle and they also took Felix to the local hospital but he died before he could be seen by doctors.

The La Voz de los de Abajo delegation in July met with the campesinos at AZUNOSA a week after the most recent forced eviction of the campesinos by the company’s private guards and police. At that time we saw the military and private guards patrolling on the company land together. We also met with the campesinos last September when they had also been evicted. We have a long standing solidarity relationship with the CNTC. The CNTC was founded in 1985 and has approximately 400 affiliated campesino communities across Honduras. 

In the most recent eviction at AZUNOSA a number of campesinos and campesinas were arrested and at this time the General Secretary of the Progreso Regional CNTC, Magdalena Morales is under house arrest related to the land recuperation and faces court proceedings on September 21. She reported to Radio Progreso a week ago that the campesinos and campesinas were being followed by trucks with no license plates and heavily tinted windows and were being harassed constantly.  The Sula Valley contains vast land holdings by Honduran and international companies who control sugar and corn production and processing. 

 Besides AZUNOSA there is a land conflict with CAHSA (a Honduran sugar company) in which campesinos organized in the Campesino Movement of San Miguel (MOCSAM) have been attacked and suffered deaths and also has a large number of members under prosecution in the court system. These companies occupy more and than is legally allowable and therefore the excess land should be eligible for distribution to the campesinos.

Information on the attack from Greg McCain, Adrienne Pine at QUOTHA, and the  Convergencia Refundacional (the Refoundational Space). 

Assassination and Attacks on Resistance Youth Leaders 
On August 6th a student leader and resistance member from the National Autonomous University of Honduras in San Pedro Sula, Lennin Dubon was assassinated in that city. Two days later on August 8th the Political Organization Los Necios reported that the General Secretary of the LIBRE Youth, Darwin Barahona was kidnapped by armed men who waved their weapons in his face and threatened another youth leader who was with him. Barahona was released later. Young people and students have been the target of much police and military violence and paramilitary threats. 

Information from Los Necios and LIBRE Youth


LGBT Activist and LIBRE Candidate Assaulted
The LGBT organization APUVIMEH published a denunciation on August 9th that Arely Victoria Gómez Cruz a well known transgender activist and member of the resistance was attacked in Tegucigalpa after leaving an event sponsored by the government’s Secretariat for Justice and Human Rights. Victoria was a pre-candidate in the LIBRE party primaries although she did not win a slot on the final slate of candidates. Apuvimeh reported that Victoria was robbed of her belongings including her shoes, and jewelry and that it was clearly a crime motivated by her sexual identity. It was not reported  if it is known whether it was also motivated by her political activism.  Other members of the community have been threatened, attacked and even murdered including resistance activists Walter Troches and Erik Martinez Avila. 

African Palm Conference: Letters of Protest
On August 6th, the RSPO (Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil) in conjunction with the Honduran Government, the Honduran Palm Producers Association and supported by the World Wildlife Fund, SOLIDARIDAD, ProForest and other NGOs held their 4th Latin American Conference. One of the biggest backers of the conference is big land owner Miguel Facussé. Honduran  and solidarity organizations including Rights Action and La Voz de los de Abajo expressed their concern to the NGOs and  protested their support for the conference (see La Voz’s letter below). Campesino organizations in Honduras represented by the Plataforma Agraria of Aguan issued statements noting that the small campesino producers were forced to attend the conference because they cannot get their productis certified without participating, but that they consider the conference and the RSPO project to be another method by which the big land oligarchs are grabbing more land and power and that furthermore they recognize the problem of a lack of incentives for production of food crops and the problem of a concentration of production of mono-cultivations such as palm and demand an agrarian policy that addresses those problems. Here is a link to an article by John Perry in the London Review of Books http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2013/08/13/john-perry/enjoy-your-nutella/ 

-------------Letter from La Voz de los de Abajo----------------
August 4, 2013

World Wildlife Fund USA, Washington DC, Roberto Troya, Latin America and Caribbean VP/Regional Director, roberto.troya@wwfus.org
Solidaridad Network, Michaelyn Bachhuber Baur, Directora Regional Centroamérica, michaelyn.baur@solidaridadnetwork.org
SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, Reintje van Haeringen,  Damien van der Heyden, dvanderheyden@snvworld.org,
ProForest, Oxford, Oxfordshire, South East, England, Ruth Nussbaum,Dr.Ruth.Nussbaum@proforest.netamericalatina@proforest.net,

To Whom it May Concern:

We are writing to you regarding your organization’s involvement in the 4th International Palm Oil conference being held by RSPO in Honduras on August 6, 2013. We have become aware of this conference only in the last few days.  We urge you to withdraw from this event due to the human rights crises in Honduras since the military coup on June 28, 2009, which is most intense in the palm growing region of the country. 

The region with the highest rates of violent repression in Honduras is the Aguan region.  Over 100 campesinos have been killed since 2009. Small communities have been forcibly evicted from their land and their homes and crops burned to the ground. This situation is well documented and tied directly to the African palm production interests of Honduras’ largest land-owners including Miguel Facussé, owner of the Dinant Company which is one of the sponsors of the conference. 

Mr. Facussé, a prominent supporter of the 2009 military coup,  controls 22, 000 acres of land.
In 2011, DEG, the German development bank, cancelled a $20 million loan to Dinant, when FIAN, an international NGO, presented them with a report documenting “evidence of the involvement of private security forces hired by companies owned by Miguel Facussé in human rights abuses and, in particular, in the murder of peasants in Bajo Aguán.”

In May 2012, a public hearing on the human rights situation in Bajo Aguán concluded that the agrarian conflict is the “most serious situation in terms of violence against peasants in Central America in the last fifteen years.”
Our organization has traveled to Honduras many times as human rights observers and documentarians of the situation in the country. We have interviewed numerous survivors of the violence in the Aguan and the families of many of the murder victims, as well as human rights defenders in the country. Everyone tells us the same thing - that the ongoing impunity for perpetrators of human rights violence is increasing the violence. 

It is both urgent and imperative that international organizations such as yours re-evaluate your work in Honduras, and stop endorsing, even indirectly, those who under the slogan of “green, sustainable” development, are building their empires on the bodies of the smallest producers and landless poor. 

I look forward to your response to this email.
 Vicki Cervantes for La Voz de los de Abajo
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