Friday, March 7, 2014

Attempted Murder of Indigenous Leader and Family in Rio Blanco

Report from SOAW Observer in Honduras Brigitte Gynther with additional information added by La Voz de los de Abajo. Original Spanish communique from COPINH linked above.
Yesterday (March 5, 2014)  7 people tried to kill Maria Santos, seriously attacking her, her 12-year old son Paulo, and her husband Roque, with a machete.  Maria is a vocal leader in the struggle in Rio Blanco and member of the Indigenous Council.  Maria has received numerous death threats because of her vocal opposition to the Agua Zarca Dam.  Yesterday, around midday, she was on her way home from making food at the school when 7 people who were hiding in wait came out, surrounded her and attacked her with machetes, rocks, and sticks.  Her husband had been calling her as she walked home because of the constant threats she received, and when he heard she was surrounded, he and her son ran out.  Her husband pled with them not to kill her and when her son ran to try to help his mom, the people attacked her 12-year old son as well, cutting off his right ear and part of his face.  His cranium is fractured.  They also attacked her husband who was also seriously injured.  All three are in the hospital.  Maria is a strong member of COPINH Rio Blanco resistance, despite receiving death threats including threats from the people who attacked her yesterday.  

The indigenous community in Rio Blanco has been fighting for  2 years against the construction of a dam that privatizes and destroys the  Gualcarque River  and will flood lands that are part of the indigenous patrimony in the region. The DESA Company (Honduran) , first in partnership with Chinese state owned company SINOHYDRO which has now withdrawn from the project, has used private paramilitary guards, paid assassins, Honduran military and National Police to attack, murder and intimidate the community. In August of 2013 another community activist Tomas Garcia was shot and killed by soldiers. Indigenous leaders and members of the Lenca organization COPINH have faced criminal charges for their involvement in the struggle for environmental and indigenous rights. 

Rio Blanco community meeting with La Voz delegation July 2013

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