Friday, July 30, 2010

ALERT: Increasing Repression in Aguán

The following article is translated by La Voz and reproduced from El Libertador. For background information on the struggle for land in Aguán see report of recent La Voz de los de Abajo delegation to the region.

Today, coinciding with the arrival of Porfirio Lobo Sosa with various of his Ministers of the Aguán Valley, the peasants are denouncing the strong harassment they are being subjected to by the National Army, the police and the DGIC (criminal investigation unit of the Honduran police).

Since the early hours of yesterday, they report that the "San Esteban Limitada" Cooperative has been surrounded by uniformed men from the police and military of Tocoa and Trujillo.

They anticipate that in the coming hours they will execute a violent eviction of the families in the four cooperatives of MARCA: Trinidad, Despertar, San Isidro and San Esteban. The families are on the verge of despair and are making an anguished call for solidarity. They are not being allowed to work or to get their products out to market, in land where they aren't being allowed to hold up any law or right, with the only aim of economically suffocating them so they can't generate income. The peasants denounce the illegal detention yesterday July 28th of the brother Miguel Angel Canales, whose whereabouts are unknown. The brother was taken away by several unidentified people without uniforms and without Orders of Apprehension when he was in his house with his family. At the time of the capture the individuals who took him away said they were doing it on orders of Jorge Bulnes, the manager of the Agropalma company, owned by Miguel Facussè Barjum. Sources linked to the peasant groups have reported to us that several of our peasant brothers have taken refuge in the mountains since it is known that they are being constantly sought after at their houses by groups of armed individuals in vehicles with closed tinted windows and without plates.

Up till now they haven't produced denunciations of the case nationally and internationally, meaning the people of "MARCA" have lacked the necessary resources to maintain fluid telephone communication, transportation or other means that allows them to be in contact with the different sectors in solidarity with their cause such as the Human Rights organizations, the social organizations and the National Front of Popular Resistance.

In summary, there is a complete state of defenselessness which demands action. We call the attention to all the peoples sectors to lend the solidarity asked for by our peasant brothers and sisters in the face of this wave of repression, persecution, harassment, illegal detention and killings to which they are being subjected by the eternal enemies of the peasants and their repressive groups.


ALERTA: Intensifique hostigamiento contra MUCA en Bajo Aguán

El dìa de hoy, coincidente con la llegada de Porfirio Lobo Sosa, con varios de sus Ministros al Valle del Aguan, los Campesinos denuncian el fuerte hostigamiento de que estàn siendo objeto, por parte del Ejercito Nacional, La Policia y la DGIC.

Desde tempranas horas de ayer, se reporta que la Cooperativa "San Esteban Limitada" ha sido rodeada por elementos uniformados pertenecientes a los destacamentos policiales y militares del Sector de Tocoa y Trujillo.

Se prevee que para las pròximas horas se estarìa ejecutando un violento desalojo de las familias asentadas en las cuatro (4) Cooperativas pertenecientes al "MARCA", "Trinidad", "Despertar", "San Isidro y "San Esteban, Ltda. Las familias se encuentran al borde de la desesperaciòn y hacen un angustioso llamado de solidaridad. No les estàn permitiendo trabajar y tampoco les estàn dejando sacar el producto hacia el comercio, en una tierra donde no se les permite reclamar ni elevar ningùn derecho, con el ùnico fin de asfixiarlos economicamente y que no generen ingresos. Los Campesinos denuncian la detenciòn ilegal el dìa de ayer Mièrcoles 28 de Julio/10 del Compañero "MARCA"MIGUEL ANGEL CANALES, quièn se reporta con paradero desconocido. El Compañero fue llevado por varios elementos no identificados y sin uniforme, sin una Orden de Aprehensiòn, cuando se encontraba een su casa con su familia. Al momento de la captura lo manifestado por los individuos que se lo llevaron es que solo obedecìan ordenes del Gerente de la Empresa propiedad de Miguel Facussè Barjum, "AGROPALMA", S.A. de C. V. , Jorge Bulnes. Fuentes ligadas a los grupos Campesinos, nos reportan que varios de los Compañeros Campesinos se han refugiado en las montañas, ya que se conoce que son buscados constantemente en sus casas de habitaciòn por grupos de individuos armados, en vehìculos polarizados, cerrados y sin placas propios para la zona agreste.

Hasta el momento no se han producido las denuncias del caso en el plano nacional e internacional, por cuanto los Compañeros del "MARCA" han carecido de los recursos necesarios para mantener una comunicaciòn fluìda por telèfono, capacidad de movilizaciòn vehicular, u otro que les permita estar en contacto con los diferentes Sectores solidarios con su causa como las Organizaciones de Derechos humanos, las Organizaciones Sociales y El Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular.

En resumen, un total estado de indefensiòn, Urge, una acciòn al respecto.Llamamos la atenciòn de todos los Sectores populares para brindar la solidaridad que claman los Compañeros Campesinos ante esta ola de represiòn, persecusiòn, hostigamiento, detencion ilegal y asesinatos que estàn siendo objeto por los eternos enemigos del Campo y sus grupos represivos.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tell the Organization of American States: NO to re-admission of Honduras's repressive coup-continuing regime

Please send the below letter or one of your own to the following email addresses of the different representatives to the OAS urging them NOT to re-admit Honduras while human rights violations continue:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Esteemed Representatives to the Organization of American States:

As a member of the international community gravely concerned with the ongoing impunity and human rights violations in Honduras, I urge the Organization of American States NOT to re-instate Honduras's membership to the OAS. Such a decision would affect both the Hondurans who continue to live under a regime of terror and repression as well as the rest of the hemisphere whose peoples will be impacted by the precedents set in Honduras.

Conditions have clearly not improved in Honduras, where repression, persecution and systematic human rights abuses against Resistance leaders, popular movement leaders, journalists, judges, human rights activists, independent media, or anyone critical of the coup, have been documented by several independent and international human rights organizations and the OAS Inter American Human Rights Commission has made it clear through its many reports. During Lobo´s administration, more than 10 journalists have been assassinated, as have many more members of the Resistance.

But the OAS Secretary General has turned a blind eye to this reality and has been pushing, with the help of the U.S. and regional allies, for a rushed readmission of Honduras. Furthermore, on July 20th, 2010 SICA Presidential Summit in San Salvador, the Presidents of Central America, with the exception of President Ortega of Nicaragua, readmitted Honduras to the sub-regional organization (against its own rules, which specify the decision must be unanimous) and cynically praised Mr. Lobo’s success in restoring democracy, the rule of law and safeguarding human rights, even if repression, violence and human rights abuses are still being documented.

Confronted by this imminent and false imposition, that would greatly damage the struggle for democracy in Honduras by whitewashing the coup and strengthening the current regime of impunity, as a member of the international community I support the demands of the National Front of Popular Resistance:

1) That the OAS takes the National Popular Resistance Front and its position into account before readmitting Honduras.

2) That the OAS acknowledges the ongoing human rights abuses and systematic repression and persecution that people are subjected to in Honduras, as reports of IAHC, UN and several other human rights organizations have documented.

3) That the OAS helps to dismantle the coup-monger’s total control of Honduran institutions and acknowledges that Honduras is still controlled by the same people who organized and held the coup.

4) That the OAS acknowledge that the Supreme Court, the Attorney General, the Ombudsman and the majority of the judicial and executive branches of government are still controlled by the coup-mongers and should be fully reformed.

5) That the OAS ensures that Ex President Zelaya, who has been appointed as Coordinator of the FNRP and is still in exile may return safely and with full rights.

6) That the OAS ensures that persecution against the Resistance members, judges critical of the coup and the former members of Ex President Zelaya’s cabinet stops immediately.

7) That the OAS acknowledges that Mr. Lobo has himself declared that a coup took place on the 28th of June, 2009 and thus the only way to reestablish constitutional democracy in Honduras is through a National Constitutional Assembly.

8) That the OAS supports the return of democracy and safeguards human rights in Honduras, fighting the current state of impunity and absence of justice and holding the coup-mongers accountable for their crimes against the Honduran people.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Statement of Indigenous organization COPINH against U.S. military intervention in Latin America

Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) - Communiqué

In the face of imperialist invasion, insurrection and defense of our peoples and sovereignties!

Today is a moment of hegemonic reconfiguration of imperialism in our continent, due to its profound crisis, which it tries to resolve at any cost, and in which like a wounded beast it bears its claws invading through its projects of annexation, colonialism and plunder with coup d'etats, military bases, occupation troops, the fourth fleet, Plan Mérida, ASPAN, transnationalization, monopolization, cultural invasion and counter-revolutionary plans.

As people born from the blood of Lempira and in permanent resistance, we raise our voices together with other sisters and brothers who today with just indignation repudiate the occupation of their territories and countries by these forces of death.

In Honduras, also invaded by the U.S. army, where where some of the most important bases of the region are, such as Soto Cano in Palmerola, in May of this year under the current regime, which is the continuity of the coup d'etat, a second military base was inaugurated in the indigenous Miskito community in Barra de Karataska, and as if that wasn't enough they are hurrying to occupy the island of Guanaja, an insular municipality of the Bahía Islands in the Honduran Caribbean, threatening to reactivate ex-military bases that functioned during the "cold war" in the Lenca region and other zones. All of this under the context of the coup d'etat, extention of the "democratic security" that is applied in Colombia, and the systematic repression against the Honduran people.
We energetically condemn this new and old imperialist maneuver, with which they expect to detain the process of emancipation and defense of territories, sovereignty, richness, dignity and life itself that escapes it in our great motherland, America, putting under grave threat our sister people of Costa Rica with an occupation without precedent, which threatens Venezuela, Cuba, Haití, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and other nations of the Southern Cone.

Today more than ever we express our urgency, necessity and desire to march towards the refoundation of our peoples to halt the objectives of the U.S. that counts on the complacency of oligarchic, coup-making, right-wing, criminal regimes and governments like those of Honduras, Panamá, Costa Rica, Colombia and others.

We are in complete solidarity with those peoples who do not renounce their legitimate right to defend sovereignty, self-determination and life, from America to other places on this planet who today have the nightmare of a bloody Iraq.

We make a call to the world and the Honduran people to redouble our efforts along that path chosen by the heroic Resistance that is committed to the construction of a re-founded motherland, without capitalism, without patriarchy, without racism and discrimination, which violate all the forms of dignified life.

At the doors of another world war, let us build justice to create peace.

We bet on life, not on death, so let's all mobilize to struggle against war, occupation, interventionism and domination.

Solidarity with the Costa Rican people and all other people carrying out the battle to expel the troops of occupation.

With the ancestral strength of Lempira, Icelaca and Etempica we raise our voices full of life, justice, dignity, freedom and peace!

End the U.S. occupation and invasion of the world!

Intibucá, Honduras July 13th, 2010

COPINH: Ante la invasión imperialista, insurrección y defensa de nuestros publos y soberanías

Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras COPINH


¡Ante la invasión imperialista, insurrección y defensa de nuestros pueblos y soberanías!

Hoy es un momento de reconfiguración hegemónica del imperialismo en nuestro continente, debido a su crisis profunda, misma que busca resolver a cualquier costo, y en la que como bestia herida saca sus garras invadiendo a través de sus proyectos de anexión, coloniaje y saqueo con golpes de estado, bases militares, tropas de ocupación, IV flota, Plan Mérida, ASPAN, transnacionalización, monopolización, invasión cultural y mediática y planes contrarrevolucionarios.

Como pueblo heredero de la sangre de Lempira, y en resistencia permanente, alzamos nuestras voces junto a otras hermanas y hermanos que hoy con justa indignación repudian la ocupación de sus territorios y países por estas fuerzas de muerte.

En Honduras, también invadido por el ejército gringo, donde se encuentra una de las bases militares más importante de la región como es la Soto Cano en Palmerola, en mayo de este año bajo el actual régimen, continuidad del golpe de estado, fue inaugurada una segunda base en la comunidad Indígena Miskita en la Barra de Karataska, y como si esto fuera poco se apresta a ocupar la isla de Guanaja, municipio insular de Islas de la Bahía en el Caribe hondureño, amenazando con reactivar ex bases militares que funcionaron en la “guerra fría” en la región Lenca y otras zonas. Todo esto bajo el contexto de golpe de estado, extensión de la “seguridad democrática” que se aplica en Colombia, y la represión sistemática contra el pueblo hondureño.

Condenamos de manera enérgica esta nueva y vieja maniobra imperialista, con la que se pretende detener el proceso de emancipación y defensa de territorios, soberanía, riqueza, dignidad y la misma vida que se libra en nuestra matria grande, América, poniendo en grave amenaza a nuestro pueblo hermano Costarricense con una ocupación sin precedentes, lo mismo que amenaza a Venezuela, Cuba, Haití, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador y demás naciones del Cono Sur.

Hoy más que nunca expresamos nuestra urgencia, necesidad y ganas de caminar hacia la refundación de nuestros pueblos para frenar los objetivos de esta ofensiva gringa que cuenta con la complacencia de regímenes y gobiernos traidores, oligarcas, golpistas, de derecha y criminales como son el de Honduras, Panamá, Costa Rica, Colombia y otros.

Nos solidarizamos plenamente con estos pueblos que no renuncian a su derecho legítimo de defender la soberanía, la autodeterminación y la vida, desde América hasta otros lugares de este planeta que hoy tienen la pesadilla de un Irak ensangrentado.

Hacemos un llamado al mundo y al pueblo hondureño para que redoblemos esfuerzos por ese camino elegido de Resistencia heroica que le apuesta a la construcción de una matria refundada, sin capitalismo, sin patriarcado, sin racismo y discriminación, que violentan todas las formas de vida dignas.

Ante las puertas de otra guerra mundial, construyamos la paz que pase por la justicia.

Le apostamos a la vida, no a la muerte, así que todas y todos a movilizarnos para luchar contra la guerra, la ocupación, el intervencionismo y la dominación.

Solidaridad con el pueblo costarricense y demás pueblos que libran la batalla de expulsar las tropas de ocupación.

¡Con la fuerza ancestral de Lempira, Icelaca, Etempica se levantan nuestras voces de vida, justicia, dignidad, libertad y paz!

¡Fin a la ocupación y la invasión gringa en el mundo!

Dado en Intibucá, a los 13 días del mes de julio, del 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

"We are in permanent resistance" - OFRANEH

Report from La Voz de los de Abajo delegation visit with Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH)

The Garífuna have been in resistance since the
founding of their community when they resisted the slave trade as maroons and then resisted domination by multiple colonial empires. Since founding their community in Honduras, the Garífuna have been perpetually facing a struggle to survive. It is no wonder, then that they have played a major part in the resistance against the coup d'etat, sharing lessons gained over centuries of resistance with the rest of the movement. The strongest and most grassroots organization amongst the Honduran Garífuna, the National Fraternal Organization of Black Hondurans (OFRANEH), has been present in the resistance since the first day.

When the delegation arrived at the OFRANEH office in La Ceiba the office was full of young people attending an OFRANEH workshop on community radio, the workshops included technical practice and training and workshops on thinking about oppression based on race, class and gender. It was a lively and enthusiastic atmosphere in which some of the young radio producers interviewed members of the delegation.

The delegation then met with Miriam Miranda, the General Coordinator of OFRANEH and with Alfredo Lopez, the Vice President.

Miriam and Alfredo explained that the Garifuna community has been very affected by the coup because the coup-makers have economic interests in the areas where the Garifuna live. Like many other Hondurans fighting for the right to land, they are in a conflict with Honduran oligarch Miguel Facussé in Vallecito. “He feels that he is the owner of all Honduras and he is a part of the groups that really has control in this country,” explains Miriam.

The groups in power have been strengthened by the coup and have more repressive forces. Military and security people are now in very important positions at the national level much more than before. This is one way that they are strengthening their power.

Miriam talked about how the Garífuna suffer because they live in a strategic zone on the beach. “Previously it was decided that tourism would be key for the country’s economy - a mistaken idea because we do not have the necessary conditions for developing that kind of tourism. The Garifuna live on the beach and our communities are in permanent resistance because government policies protect foreign and international corporate investments. Living in that area is a privilege but also a challenge,” she explained

There is a mega tourism project being developed in Tela that will include a golf course, although not even Costa Rica has been able to make that kind of tourism work. The infrastructure for the project is almost done. The Garifuna community of Barra Vieja with its 117 families is the thorn in the foot of the project. The governmental tourism agency (IHT) can’t negotiate a solution and it seems that there will be a violent eviction of the community. In this case when Zelaya was president he could not oppose the developers. We sent him many letters advising him of the problem throughout the 2 years of attempted negociations. This project would cause the complete disappearance of Barro Viejo.

Other problems faced are the presence of narcotics traffic in the region and climate change that is bringing more storms and damage that also force people to leave their communities.

“Because of the problem of impunity we have gone to the human rights organizations to make our problems visible and to bring international organizations to come to our zone of the country to observe the situation,” she explained. "We are under surveillance because of our participation in the resistance and because our positions challenge the interests of the elite powers in the country.”

For more than 2 months after the coup OFRANEH mobilized to Tegucigalpa to participate in the resistance. “This wasn’t about defending Mel Zelaya - he was a person who in the moment played an important role because he consulted with organizations like OFRANEH about the realities that affect us. The organization went to Tegucigalpa for the restitution of Zelaya, out of respect for constitutionality, and for a participative democracy not just representative,” explains Miriam. Miriam noted that some people call OFRANEH Zelayista but the Garifuna really benefited the least from Zelaya. Zelaya's enemies are even more our enemies because we were in resistance before and permanently. It was OFRANEH together with the indigenous organization COPINH who presented the proposal for reform of the constitution. The national constitutional assembly is important so the people can say what are their priorities. The Garifuna people remain committed to the struggle for a popular constitutional assembly.

This challenge of the coup for OFRANEH is a project that includes everyone and all strategies for struggle. “We are especially focusing on two key sectors: women and youth. Women pass our culture and identity to the youth. If women are not educated and prepared they can’t do that. Women are also the ones resisting in the community and the role of youth is basic.”

OFRANEH also has communication media projects and works with the National Front of Popular Resistance on communication projects because the coup demonstrated the fundamental role of the press, which Miraim explains, “is called the fourth pillar of power but really it is the first because it actually creates opinion.” OFRANEH sees the importance of the communication media and radio not only for culture but also for analysis, struggle and answers to the questions of struggle.

They are working with the Frente in the communication project to create media. Alberto noted that in Tegucigalpa some people have the idea to compete directly with the big coup media which consumes a lot of resources but that OFRANEH believes that the movement has to create its own media. The Frente is moving forward with popular communication projects such as popular radios, for example in Santa Barabara the Federation of Patronatos of the West has a project. Radio Progreso is participating also. Part of the constitutional reform proposal has been the creation of a legal framework to protect the rights to frequencies for community radio and television.

Over time OFRANEH's strategy within the resistance has changed. OFRANEH went to Tegucigalpa to join the people’s resistance and events happened as they happened. As a social movement OFRANEH and others have to define a strategy to live under a regime that is much more dangerous that previously. OFRANEH believes that it is important and fundamental in this moment for debate of all the people to open up about what it means to live in a democracy; to create a permanent process of education, preparation and organization; to strengthen the process of alliances with other forces not only of the Garifuna and indigenous peoples but with other social sections. “This a way to strengthen the struggle so that no one is alone and the problem of one sector is all a problem for all of us.” An example of the possibilities is the campesinos in MUCA and Zacate Grande where Miguel Facusse is defying the agreements reached. He says that the government signed the agreements not him so he won’t respect them. Facussé is the point in common for Colon, Zacate Grande, el Vallecito, etc.

As Miriam pointed out, “There is no recipe for the struggle but we need to continue to develop a strategy for the fight for life.”

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tension remains despite accords at Unified Peasant Movement of Aguán land occupations

Ten to twenty people, from teenagers to older campesinos, stand guard near the gate separating the road from the beginning of the Marañones land occupation of the Movimiento Unificado Campesino de Aguán (Unified Peasant Movement of Aguán, better known as MUCA). Just past them, plastic bags, tarps, sacks and other material stretch between hundreds of trees providing shelter to the over 1,000 families. Though they are direly poor and conditions are harsh, the children and families that emerge are anything but the picture of desperation. Instead, they are national heroes who have re-taken lands formerly controlled by one of Honduras's richest men, Miguel Facussé. They, along with over 2,000 other families at six total occupations along the Aguán river, have withstood brutal killings, torture, arrests, beatings and ongoing intimidation in order to challenge one of Honduras's most powerful men and the coup regime he helped install.

The gates open and the committee guarding the entrance allows the delegation to enter. As the delegation walks towards the encampment, the MUCA activist accompanying it tells one of the men resting in the shade to assemble a few people to explain the situation. Within minutes, dozens of people emerge, with more and more joining them, eager to tell the story of this ongoing confrontation between some of Honduras's poorest and one of its richest. Just ten days ago, they explain, one of their young people, a boy
of just 17 years old, Oscar Yovani Ramírez, was captured, tortured and brutally killed. As insult to injury, the police who came to pick up his body captured and tortured five more members of MUCA.

"We are clear that there is no difference between Miguel Facussé's private guards, the police and the army. They are the same," explains one MUCA member.

The struggle in Aguán dates back at least 15 years to when former President Callejas passed the Law of Agricultural Modernization, known to many campesinos as the "Law of Agricultural Liquidation." That law allowed lands previously designated for agrarian reform to be sold off to large land-owners such as Facussé. In 2005, peasants displaced from the area along the Aguán river in Colón along with other landless peasants who joined with them organized themselves into MUCA and began pressuring the government to turn the land back over to the landless peasants. For years they carried out actions ranging from hunger strikes to mass marches to highway take-overs. Under the Zelaya administration they finally found an ally in the government and on June 12th, exactly two weeks before President Zelaya was kidnapped and exiled by the military, they signed an agreement to get title to the lands for work in agricultural cooperatives. Needless to say, the military-coup regime did not uphold the agreement made under Zelaya.

Members of MUCA immediately joined
the resistance and by December decided to take back the lands in question themselves. From December through April the over 3,000 families of MUCA set up camp on the lands and began cultivating them, amidst ongoing confrontations with the military, the police and the private guards of Miguel Facussé. In April tension reached a precipice as a massive military buildup in the region raised fears internationally of a massacre and bloody eviction. With all eyes turned on Aguán and the coup-continuing Lobo regime desperately striving to gain international recognition and legitimacy, the government finally decided to concede. Negotiations yielded an agreement giving most of the land in question to MUCA members that was elaborated on April 13th and approved by a vote of all MUCA members on April 17th.

But the threats, intimidations, murders and tortures have continued. While MUCA has followed all the provisions of the agreement, it is still waiting on the government to turn over 3,000 uncultivated hectares of land and it is still waiting to see when the aggression and human rights violations will cease.

Pride and resilience ring in the voices that rise from that land despite the ongoing repression. It is the ultimate story of David vs. Goliath. It is a struggle not just over a piece of land, but for the
re-founding of a country where just one year ago the oligarchy and its backers in the U.S. government thought they had finally stopped the rising tide of popular struggle in Latin America. In the eyes of the MUCA members guarding the entrance of these lands and in the playful laughs of the hundreds of children running around them however, one can see and hear that not even a military coup can crush the spirits of an awakened people.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Report from Ciriboya and Vallecito: Garífuna hospital + land reclamation are seeds for a vision of a new Honduras and new world

Building a new world while resisting the old: Garífuna hospital, land reclamation advance despite repression“Health care is a human right, not something to be bought and sold. It's not just about flesh and bone, but about well-being, with all the social, psychological and cultural elements that entails,” explains Dr. Luther Castillo, founder of the first Garífuna hospital, which is located in a small Garífuna town on Honduras's north coast called Ciriboya. Since the founding of the hospital, which is the first Garífuna hospital in the world, over 400,000 patients have been seen completely free of charge. The hospital prides itself on the fact that it provides care to the poorest of the poor without charging anything for medicines or diagnostic testing. Based in a vision of a world where the human right to health care is respected, protected and fulfilled, the hospital does not accept money from any of its patients. The goal, explains Dr. Castillo, is to help develop a consciousness of health care as a human right as part of the ongoing work of the resistance to envision an alternative to the current reality of good care for the rich and poor or no care for the rest.
Dr. Castillo, is a leader within the Garífuna community, a graduate of the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Cuba, a spokesperson for the National Front of Popular Resistance, and is currently coordinating the over 700 ELAM alumni who are in Haiti responding to the medical needs of the Haitian population at 28 sites around Haiti. He has been able to bring Cuban doctors to help staff the hospital, leverage medicine donations from around the world, generate tremendous popular support for and consciousness of the hospital and the vision it represents and survive numerous threats from the coup-installed de facto government. After the coup, the military entered and briefly occupied the hospital under the pretense of searching for drugs. The intimidation, however, has neither stopped nor slowed the work of Dr. Castillo and the rest of the hospital team. They continue to see between 100 and 125 patients per day, in addition to frequent clinical visits to outlying communities.

One of the areas where the hospital hopes to set up a satellite clinic is a nearby land reclamation that helps grow food for the surrounding Garífuna community. The Garifuna people in Honduras live on the Atlantic coast on lands that by Honduran and international law should be protected as indigenous ancestral lands, but their communities and their land have long been in the sights of wealthy landowners and developers who want control of the extremely beautiful beach and coastal areas. On July 2 the delegation visited the Garifuna agricultural cooperatives in the Vallecito area of Colon. The cooperatives are on lands reclaimed by the Garifuna in 1995. There are 6 agricultural coops working the land growing a variety of crops including yucca, coconuts, bananas and other foods. The delegation visited one of the coops, Empresa Industrial Coco. That coop grows bananas and coconuts and has a coco processing plant on site. The members talked about their experiences and plans for their project as well as the threats to their lands.

Although the legal titles to the lands were granted to the Garífuna communities, the largest landowner in Honduras, Miguel Facusse, continues to try and force the Garifuna communities off the land with both violence and fraud. Coop members told us that since their recuperation of the lands, Facusse’s hired guns have assassinated coop members and tried to intimidate the communities into abandoning their claim to the land. He organized attempts to physically seize lands and even planted African palms on part of the land to try and claim it. African palm is a significant cash crop in Honduras because of its use as a biofuel and Facusse owns thousands of acres of African palms and a palm oil processing plant. The Garifuna are opposed to cultivation of the African palm in their lands because it displaces food crops and natural plants in the fragile coastal ecosystem.
In addition, a narco-trafficker recently invaded part of the coop lands and put up an illegal fence cutting the cooperatives off from the beach and ocean and claiming that he owns the land which he calls “Rancho Dorado.” In total 600 hectares of the titled 1,600 hectares have been seized illegally.
The Garífuna communities and organizations are fighting back. In April of this year they organized protests at the National Agrarian Institute (INA) against the illegal land invasions and the lack of action by INA. In response, the INA sent an investigation team to the region - the team was met by around 100 community members supporting the cooperatives. INA has agreed to send a team in August to re-establish the boundaries of the Garifuna lands. The communities are concerned that Facussé will attempt to block the process through political pressure as well as repression and intimidation and are asking for support.
The cooperative members and Garífuna organizations have plans to establish a health clinic and the first Garífuna University on the lands in the future.
All of the members both of the coops on the land reclamation and of the hospital are also active members of the Honduran resistance. Recognizing that achieving land rights and the human right to health care require profound structural changes, the Garífuna of Ciriboya and surrounding areas, like most of the Garífuna throughout Honduras have been active supporters of and leaders in the resistance and its push for a national constitutional assembly.

Military official in unmarked vehicle follows human rights observers during visit to sites of land conflicts with Honduran oligarch Miguel Facussé

Human Rights delegation followed by vehicle, harassed by police

After visiting Peasant Movement of Aguán political prisoner Jose Isabel Morales just outside Ceiba, the La Voz de los de Abajo human rights solidarity delegation was stopped at a police checkpoint and asked to turn over everyone's passports so the police could make a list of everybody in the van. The delegation was stopped again shortly at another checkpoint where the police officers already had the license plate number of the van the delegation was traveling in written down.

After leaving that checkpoint the driver noticed a grey Toyota pickup with license plate PBJ3441 following the delegation. The truck continued following the delegation's van even after the driver pulled over to test if the truck was indeed following. The truck followed all the way to the hotel the delegation stayed at in Trujillo, which it circled three times while the delegation unloaded its luggage.

The same truck continued to follow the next day as the delegation made its way to resistance community Guadalupe Carney and then on towards the land occupations of the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguán (MUCA).

When the delegation saw the truck waiting at the turnoff towards the MUCA land occupation, its van pulled over, unloaded and took pictures of the truck and the person who had been seen driving it (who did not answer when asked if anyone knew who the driver was). The photos of the driver later revealed an insignia on his uniform for the “School of Application for Officials,” a tactical training school of the Honduran army.

In the decade since the establishment of the Guadalupe Carney community on the former site of a U.S. military base famous as the site for torture, detention and killing of Honduran activists in the 1980's, there has been ongoing threats, intimidation and repression against the campesinos who live there by both the hired guns of Honduran oligarch and land-owner Miguel Facussé as well as by the Honduran army and police. This situation has been made even worse in the aftermath of the June 28th, 2009 military coup d'etat, carried out by U.S.-trained general Romeo Vásquez Velásquez at the behest of oligarchs such as Facussé and their allies in the U.S. government and amongst transnational corporations. Facussé is also facing land conflicts at the nearby land occupation of the United Peasant Movement of Aguán (MUCA) as well as from the Garífuna people who have re-taken ancestral lands he had usurped in the region of Vallecito, Aguán. All three were sites visited by the La Voz de los de Abajo Human Rights delegation. The fact that a military officer in an un-marked car was sent to follow and intimidate the delegation during its visits to areas where Facussé's people have been killing and intimidating campesinos is clear evidence of the complicity between the Honduran military, police and large land-owners such as Facussé in the ongoing Human Rights violations in Honduras. It is further worth pointing out that Facussé is a long-time friend of many U.S. officials and that the Honduran army has received and continues to receive extensive training and aid from the U.S. government.

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