Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Attacks on the Lenca and Garifuna Communities

Urgent Action Request 
Murder and Repression Target Lenca Communities in Resistance 

On May 26th  community leader, Irene Meza was killed In San Francisco de Opalaca where election fraud in November installed a ruling party (National Party) mayor who was not accepted by the town; the indigenous council then led a takeover of the municipality. A National Party gunman opened fire on Mr. Meza and also wounded another activist. National Party thugs then attacked the car taking Mr. Meza and the other wounded man to the hospital.

The night of May 24th In Rio Blanco, where the community and its indigenous council have been blocking the construction of a hydroelectric project,community activist William Jacobo Rodríguez was murdered. There were also new incidents of threats, detentions, and beatings by the police of community members.

Below in the previous blog post is the recent communique on both incidents from the Lenca organizations, COPINH with the demands of the communities. 

CALLS OR LETTERS ARE NEEDED: The situation in both communities is very insecure and at high risk for more violence against the community members and political opposition. Please contact the US Embassy Human Rights Officer and/or the Attorney General (Fiscal General) of Honduras to express your concern and demand an end to the state sponsored violence, serious investigations of the acts of violence and murders, and an end to the political persecution of COPINH, LIBRE and the indigenous councils in the communities. 

In English:
Amanda Johnson-Miller
Human Rights & Labor Officer
U.S. Embassy Tegucigalpa Honduras
(504) 2236-9320 x473

In Spanish
Oscar Fernando Chinchilla          
Fiscal General de la República.
Fax (504) 2221-5667

Tel (504) 2221-5670  2221-3099 
translation by Marilyn Lorenz

State Violence and eviction in the Garifuna community of Puerto Castilla

Once again the Honduran security forces are using indiscriminate violence against the civilian population, the break-up of a protest demonstration in Puerto Castilla community last Friday May 23 culminated with six children hospitalized in the city of Trujillo.

The use of tear gas as an offensive weapon has become a usual strategy for Honduran security forces, which unfortunately are trained in techniques of aggression rather than deterrence, and have a painful and long history of human rights abuses against the civilian population.

The community of Puerto Castilla is perplexed by the hospitalization of six minors and the evacuation of many of the infants to a ship anchored in front of the community, so as to avoid the poisoning caused by the pepper spray and tear gas bombs. The recent events have given rise to widespread protests among the Garifuna village in the absence of human sensitivity on the part of the repressors and the inability to dialog shown by the Empresa Nacional Portuaria (EPN) and state officials.

The use of chemical weapons for "crowd control¨ 
The use of chemical weapons to dissolve protests and demonstrations has increased in recent years on the planet, especially after the collapse of the world economy of 2008. In Honduras tear gas became part of the usual menu for the Honduran people after the coup.

In Puerto Castilla hundreds of gas bombs CS (clorobenzilideno malononitrilo), which can cause severe lung damage, as well significant damage to the heart and the liver were used indiscriminately. The majority of the bombs of 40 mm were manufactured by ALS Technologies, a company that in its reference sheet on the product indicate that contains a hazardous chemical. In addition to the CS gas, rubber bullets were used by the elements responsible for suppressing in Castilla.

The bombs hit the Garden of Nin@s and insie the community homes, spreading terror among the people before receiving the final onslaught of a disproportionate number of uniformed men.

The civilian dictatorship that Honduras suffers, in addition to the induced failed state, has led to a maze of structural violence, where the claims of the population become a target of criminalization on the part of the State, in addition to a chronic repression.

The community of Puerto Castilla and their historical claims
The Garifuna community of Puerto Castilla received a degree in 1889 from the hands of President Luis Bogran, under the name of "La Puntilla", which included territory12 miles long and three wide. This title was endorsed in 1904 by Manuel Bonilla by awarding the title to the community of Cristales and Rio Negro. Later part of the lands were granted in the year 1921 to the Truxillo Railroad Company and transferred back to the community of Cristales and Rio Negro in 1942. In 1974 General Alvarez Martínez forced the community of Cristales and Rio Negro at gunpoint to lease the land of La Puntilla to the National Port Company (ENP).

Apparently the Garifuna community of Castilla was relocated in 1940 to the south of its original place, for the construction of a US military base, which was returned to Honduras at the end of the war. A number of heliports and moorings (helipuertos y atracaderos) in the US-Honduran military base are currently under construction, part of the metastasis of US military bases on the continent.

The inhabitants of Puerto Castilla face a huge overcrowding, given the absence of available land for the expansion of the community. The village has been demanding for a field of five manzanas, loaned to Mr. Jose Mauricio Weizemblut Olive, representative of Intermares, a Japanese company that tried to establish in Honduras in the 90s. The land in question is apparently for sale by Mr Weizemblut Olive, who has assumed be the purported owner.

Among the commitments cyclically signed by the ENP, is to provide a share of jobs to the inhabitants of Puerto Castilla, point that has never been fulfilled by the company, which has been involved in numerous cases of corruption. There is also an increase in racism toward the Garifuna staff working in the EPN, which in many occasions suffer from harassment, especially those individuals allegedly associated with the community claims.

The dispossession of the Garifuna communities and the territorial claims 
The violent incursion of the security forces in Puerto Castilla are not helping to solve the severe problems faced by their inhabitants . The security policy of the club applied by the current "nationalist" administration resembles more each day the dictatorships of beginnings of the last century, which dilutes the creation of an effective rule of law in Honduras.

In spite of the intensive campaign of the Administration of Juan Hernandez to eradicate the image of a violent country controlled by political narcos, the attack on the civilian population, in particular the fatal assault that led to six juveniles at the hospital as a result of the use of chemical weapons, and the evacuation of a large group of children to a barge to circumvent the effects of pepper spray, increases the image of a failed State where the dialog has been supplanted by the pepper gas, moving away from possible and awaited foreign investment.

Our organization condemns the barbaric actions, and we demand the fulfillment of the accords that have been signed between the National Port Authority (ENP), with the inhabitants of the community of Puerto Castilla, as well as the return of land to the Garifuna community, which by right of ancestral possession belongs to them, which was ratified in the recent hearing held in San Jose Costa Rica before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in relation to the case of Triunfo de la Cruz.

Sambo Creek, 27 de Mayo del 2014
Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, OFRANEH
Sambo Creek, Atlántida.
telefax: 504-24541513 / 504-24490003 / / / Twitter:@ofraneh


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