Conversation with Magdalena Morales & CNTC regional leaders - Progreso
Campesino Movement Still Fighting for Justice and Survival
Wednesday October 7th .
At least 200 police and military, accompanied by the government Human Rights Commission, arrived at the community with 12 patrol cars, an ambulance, firemen and armored vehicle. No eviction order was shown, but the troops destroyed 20 homes, an evangelical church and about 350 acres of beans, corn and other food crops which represented all the community's cultivation. Only the intervention by phone of a regional official from the government's Agrarian Institute stopped the violence before the Catholic church and preschool and water purification system were destroyed.
Magdalena said that the government of Juan Orlando Hernandez seems to have new protocols for violence in evictions: using quantities of tear gas, sending in ambulances, firemen and armored vehicles with larger numbers of both military and police troops---as if they were going to war. The group talked about the recent attacks on settlements in Choluteca and Villanueva as examples of how far the government is willing to go in making poor people homeless. Those attacks were documented by social and traditional media so that the whole country could see them, most evictions are not shown on television.
The group also talked about the ongoing intimidations against campesino leaders. In Progreso there was an intense campaign against the CNTC, especially Magdalena during the recuperation of land claimed by the ASUNOSA corporation (part of SAB Miller's operations). Magdalena was criminally charged and all the leadership was threatened. The case against Magdalena was finally negotiated but there remain threats and intimidations, such as surveillance of the leaders' movements. The group felt, in general, that the Hernandez government has unleashed a new campaign against campesino organizations and communities with threats, evictions and the criminalization of the campesino social movement. They said that one of the key fights for the agrarian movement is to fight this criminalization and intimidation.
|Julian, Francisco, Bernabe|
|Magdalena with poster |
for Credi-Mujer Law
Magdalena began talking about the determination of the organized campesino movement to begin the fight again for Congress to pass their project, the Law for Integral Agrarian Reform with Gender Equity. She said that they had not been able to win in Congress over the past two years but are gearing up to fight again because only with a just agrarian reform will it be possible to begin to address the extreme poverty and the agrarian conflicts and violence against communities in the countryside.
Margarita was a founding member of an early campesino organization, the FENACAMH (National Unity Campesino Front) and of the CNTC. She was kidnaped and tortured during the repressive period of the 1980's and had to go into hiding. She returned and after the coup became active in the resistance. At the time of her murder she had protective measures ordered by the Interamerican Human Rights Commission but, as is usual, the Honduran government had not complied with requirements to provide protection. Magdalena said that there is a real need for an independent investigation to find out the facts because otherwise there will not be a serious attempt to know what happened.