May 23, 2013 info@rights
Urgent Action and Support Needed
By Karen Spring, May 23, 2013, Rights Action
MORE REPRESSION AGAINST ‘LA PANAMA’ COMMUNITY IN HONDURAS:
Starting last night (May 22), the Honduran military headed by Operation Xatruch Commander, Coronel German Alfaro and private security guards contracted by Dinant Corporation (controlled by Honduran oligarch Miguel Facusse) have been inside the Paso Aguan finca firing automatic weapons in what appears to be attempts to intimidate and scare the community of ‘La Panama’ that lives inside and adjacent to the finca.
The ‘La Panama’ community has been occupying the Paso Aguan plantation for over 9 months since community member Gregorio Chavez's tortured body was found in a shallow grave inside the plantation on July 6th, 2012.
The community occupied the finca to demand justice for the disappearance, assassination and torture of Chavez, one of over 99 campesinos that have been targeted and killed in the Aguan Valley since the military coup in June 2009.
It is also widely believed by human rights and campesino organizations that the plantation is the clandestine burial site of other campesinos and individuals that have disappeared in the region. This was confirmed in April 2013 when the community found the body of Jose Antonio Lopez, who was reported missing on April 29th, 2012 after he left the community, Rigores, to go fishing. More graves inside the finca are speculated by the ‘La Panama’ and campesinos organizations in the region.
Earlier this week on May 21st at 5:00 am, the military headed by Xatruch commander, Coronel Alfaro occupied by private security guards entered the community to evict the community and have remained inside the finca since then.
The community fears for their safety and security. They continue to demand justice for the death of Gregorio Chavez and fear repression and violence against them.
THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA
The United States government trains, funds and sends special forces, such as the U.S. Army Rangers, to assistant and train the Honduran military in the 15th Battalion, located in the Aguan Valley. The 15th Battalion is the location where many of the military operations against the campesino movements in the Aguan are supplied and coordinated.
The same private security guards attempting to intimidate ‘La Panama’ and involved in dozens of reported human rights abuses in the Aguan Valley, are contracted by Dinant Corporation that receives millions of dollars in loans from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the Inter-American Development Bank.
Canada signed a Free Trade Agreement with Honduras in August 2011 and the Canadian Parliament is expected to approve the FTA in the Fall 2013.
It is, therefore, very pertinent that American and Canadian representatives hear about these human rights violations as they are considering expanding their economic interests in the country while outright ignoring extensive reports of grave human rights abuses. North American governments have played a critical and supportive role in state policies of repression, violence and impunity particularly since the June 2009 military coup.
Please call your Congressional representative / Member of Parliament, the US Embassy (Tegucigalpa) and the Canadian Embassy (Costa Rica) and respective Honduran authorities (in Spanish) to demand:
1. An end to the intimidation and repression against the community of ‘La Panama’ and the immediate removal of private security guards and the Honduran military from the Paso Aguan finca.
2. Disclosure of the medical forensic results of Gregorio Chavez exhumation by the Public Prosecutor’s Office to the Chavez family and an immediate investigation of his death.
3. Thorough, independent investigation of all human rights abuses committed against the campesino movements in the Aguan Valley including over 99-targeted assassinations.
4. Immediate suspension of all military and police aid and assistance to Honduran forces.
Canadian Embassy in Costa Rica (responsible for Canadian embassy offices in Honduras)
PO Box: 351-1007, Centro Colon
San Jose, Costa Rica
Fax: (for Political affairs) 011-506-2242-4411, (for commercial affairs) 011-504-2242-4415
Honduras Office of the Canadian Embassy
Centro Financiero Banexpo, 3 Piso, Boulevard San Juan Bosco, Colonia
Payaquí, Tegucigalpa, (504) 232-4551; firstname.lastname@example.org
John Baird (MP Ottawa West-Nepean)
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Diane Albonczy (MP Calgary-Nose Hill)
Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americans and Consular Affairs)
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.
T: (403) 282-7980
F: (403) 282-3587
Julian Fantino (MP Vaughan)
Minister of International Corporation
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
T: (613) 996-4971
F: (613) 996-4973
NDP Human Rights Critic, Wayne Marston
T: (613) 992-6535
F: (613) 992-7764
NDP Foreign Affairs Critic, Paul Dewar
House of Commons, Ottawa ON K1A 0A6
NDP International Trade Critic, Don Davies (MP Vancouver Kingsway)
T: (613) 943-0267
F: (613) 943-0219
Liberal, Justice and Human Rights Critic, Irwin Cotler (MP Mount Royal)
T: (613) 995-0121
F: (613) 992-6762
Liberal, Foreign Affairs Critic, Bob Rae (MP Toronto Centre)
Tel: (613) 992-5234
Fax: (613) 996-9607
Liberal, International Trade Critic, Wayne Easter (MP Malpeque)
Tel: (613) 992-2406
Fax: (613) 995-7408
Xatruch military Commander, Coronel German Alfaro
Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Ana Piñeda
Honduran President, Porfirio Lobo
Tel: 011-504-9978-2138 or 011-504-9990-0878
Vice Minister of Security, Marcela Castañeda
WHITE HOUSE: http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT/, 202-456-1111, Comment Line:
CONGRESS: Go to http://www.house.gov/ to get info for your member of
Congress, and call: 202-224-3121
SENATE: Go to http://www.senate.gov/ to get contact for your Senator, and call: 202-224-3121
STATE DEPARTMENT - Office of Western Hemisphere Affairs: 202 647-0834, WHAAsstSecty@State.Gov
BENJAMIN GEDAN, Honduras Desk Officer, (202) 647-3482, GedanBN@state.gov
NATHAN ANDERSON, email@example.com
Stephen Moody, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, (202) 647-8301, MoodySE@state.gov
PAUL MONTEIRO, Office of Public Engagement, Darron_P._Monteiro@who.eop.gov
U.S. EMBASSY IN HONDURAS
Silvia Eiriz, Political Counselor, firstname.lastname@example.org, (504) 2236-9320 (x4356)
Simon Henshaw, HenshawS@state.gov, 504-2238-5114
U.S. AMBASSADOR to the OAS
H.E. Carmen Lomellin
Communique from the Campesinos in Panamá, Colon Honduras
(March 6, 2013 )
We the inhabitants of the community of Panamá, 300 campesino families who are organized into a Campesino Associative Enterprise which is named after Compañero “GREGORIO CHAVEZ” who died at the hands of the Guards of Mr. Miguel Facusse on June 2 of 2012 and was buried on the plantation of the same gentleman. So therefore to the President of the Republic, to the National and International Human Rights Organizations, CODEH, CPTRT, FIAN HONDURAS, as well as to the Human RIghts Institutions of the Government, CONADEH, the MINISTRY of HUMAN RIGHTS, The EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES IN HONDURAS, the MINISTER OF DEFENSE, MARLON PASCUA and to the international community in general we communicate the following: there exists a persecution of the inhabitants of this campesino community both in our work areas and in our own homes as well as a psychological intimidation of the children an adults and in general, death threats by the security guards, the military of Operation Xatruch and the Police from the Department of Colón, because of which there is a constant instability for the inhabitants of this community and we believe that the children will lose the school year because of the anxiety that exists.
Therefore, we, as campesinos, ask Mr. President Porfirio Lobo Sosa and the Minister Director of INA, Cesar Ham, to put an end to the problem created by Miguel Facusse and one and for all find a solution to the agrarian conflict that has already shed so much blood, we are disposed to enter into negotiations if and when it will benefit the population of this community and the Aguan region.
We also say to the President that it is not militarizing the campesino communities that will solve the agrarian problem in the Aguán but rather searching for peaceful solutions without aggression against those who are weaker; the government is paying the salaries of the military and the benefits are received by the big land owners of this country because the military provide security to the big plantations and not to the inhabitants of this region, and our harvests are at the point of being lost which will leave our children with more hunger and malnutrition.
We also ask for an end to the persecution of the inhabitants of this community, we need to live in peace as we lived before this big landowner arrived with his paramilitary army to take this land and to bring destruction and death to our campesino compañeros.
Declared in the Campesino Community of Panamá, Municipality of Trujillo, Department of Colón on the Sixth day of the month of March in 2013.
The communique is signed by the President and Secretary of the Campesino Associative Enterprise “Gregorio Chavez”; the President and the Secretary of the Village Association of Panamá; the President of the Society of the Parents of Families; the President of the Panamá Water Board; a Representative for the Catholic Church and of the “Catholic Union” Homemakers’ Club.
It is copied to: The U.S. Embassy; the Venezuelan Embassy; CONADEH; CODEH; Fian Honduras and the Communication Media.