Entradas etiquetadas como Compliance Advisor/ Ombudsman (CAO)

IFC investments through financial intermediaries linked to human rights abuses in Honduras, again – Bretton Woods Project

A new complaint was lodged with the CAO regarding an IFC financial intermediary investment in Honduras, while another financial intermediary case, previously linked to the IFC, escalate into violence.

 

In October 2015 a Honduran indigenous Garifuna community, with support of local NGO the Black Fraternal Organisation of Honduras (OFRANEH), lodged a complaint with the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the accountability mechanism of the International Finance Corporation (IFC, the World Bank’s private sector arm). The complaint alleged a number of breaches stemming from the Tela Bay Tourism development project in Indura, including “land grabbing, community displacement, lack of economic benefits and environmental degradation”. The CAO found the complaint eligible for further assessment in December and is currently assessing the case further. One of the project’s financiers is Banco Ficohsa, Honduras’ third largest bank, in which the IFC has made several investments since 2008, including trade finance, housing and SME loans as well as an equity investment in May 2011. The IFC’s investments through financial intermediaries (FIs) have been repeatedly criticised by the CAO and NGOs claiming that the IFC is unable to determine the development impact of the investments and to ensure they do no harm (see Observer Spring 2015, Winter 2015, and  Spring 2014).

In the complaint OFRANEH sets out the deleterious impact of World Bank involvement in Honduras since the 90s in promoting the “restructuring of land registration systems and cadastre through [development] programmes that affect the rights of Garifuna communities”. OFRANEH concluded “that a set of World Bank projects promoted massive encroachment of Garifunas’ land on the north coast, facilitating illegal [land] titles to third parties of ancestral Garifunas’ land and the IFC financed investments in private sector projects built on this stolen land.” It requested that the CAO investigate the IFC investment in Ficohsa and undertake a “broader review of the World Bank policies and practices that have contributed to the dispossession of large-scale land in Honduras and in particular the Garifunas communities”.

Repeated human rights concerns, same suspects

This is not the first time that the IFC’s investments in Ficohsa have come under scrutiny by the CAO. In August 2013 the CAO initiated a compliance appraisal, triggered by Ficohsa’s significant exposure to Corporación Dinant, a controversial palm oil producer in Honduras, also subject to a CAO audit that was initiated in 2012 due to allegations of human rights violations (see Observer Winter 2014, Bulletin Aug 2014, Update 86).  In January 2016 the CAO released its monitoring report of the Ficohsa investigation, citing repeated concerns about IFC’s management of environmental and social risk in relation to Ficohsa’s lending to Dinant. The CAO concluded that “to date IFC has not assured itself that Ficohsa’s ongoing financing for Dinant is contingent on binding commitments to implement the performance standards, either through its loan agreements or the environmental and social action plan.” The CAO will continue to monitor the IFC’s supervision of Ficohsa and aims to release a follow up monitoring report no later than December 2016.

World Bank projects promoted massive encroachment of Garifunas’ land…, facilitating illegal [land] titles… and the IFC financed investments in private sector projects built on this stolen land.OFRANEH complaint letter to CAO

Honduran activists murdered

In early March Berta Cáceres, leader of Honduran NGO the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (COPINH), was murdered. Cáceres had led the peaceful opposition to the construction of the Agua Zarca dam, arguing it would destroy local indigenous Lenca communities’ farmland and limit their access to drinking water, and received continuous threats, harassment and persecution by the state and others. In October 2013 COPINH registered a complaint with the CAO concerning the Agua Zarca hydropower project, carried out by the company DESA, following the killing of an indigenous protestor, allegedly by the army and the building company, and intimidation of activists and local communities opposing the project (see Bulletin  Dec 2013, Observer Autumn 2013). However, the case did not come to conclusion, as CAMIF, IFC’s client, pulled out its investment in DESA and the Agua Zarca project. CAMIF’s withdrawal was followed by China’s Sinhydro, which cited publicly that its withdrawal was due to conflicts between the company and communities.

Following Cáceres’ murder numerous CSOs, such as COPINH, and  Both ENDS, called on all investors to pull out of the Agua Zarca project and do everything in their power to stop the violence and intimidation against activists. The Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) and the Finnish Finnfund suspended their support for the project one day after Nelson García of COPINH was also shot and killed in late March. On the website ‘Justice for Berta’, her children and COPINH demand “immediate cancellation of the Agua Zarca project, justice for the Berta’s murder, an end to the persecution of the Lenca community and justice for projects that threaten the environment and the lives of indigenous communities in Honduras”.

Killings of environmental activists a global trend

In April 2015 Global Witness, a UK based NGO, argued in its report How many more? that 2014 saw an increase in the killings of environmental activists. At least 116 environmental activists worldwide were killed, 40 per cent of which were from indigenous communities, with most working against hydropower, mining and agribusiness projects. The report described Honduras as “the most dangerous country to be an environmental defender” and “emblematic of the systematic targeting of defenders”. Three-quarters took place in Latin America, with South Asia the second-deadliest region. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, urged governments to give protection to environmental defenders. In March she told Climate Home, a global news agency: “The pattern of killings in many countries is becoming an epidemic definitely.” Tauli-Corpuz called for recognition of land rights and a robust legal system to prosecute perpetrators.

In late March the UN Human Rights Council approved a new resolution on the protection of human rights defenders addressing economic, social and cultural rights. An earlier draft version included a paragraph highlighting the human rights obligations of international financial institutions. This paragraph was removed in the final version due to calls for removal from the EU, China and Canada.

Origen: IFC investments through financial intermediaries linked to human rights abuses in Honduras, again – Bretton Woods Project

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World Bank support for mining expansion criticised

31 March 2015

Mining protest in Haiti, November 2014.    Credit: Peterson Derolus

Mining protest in Haiti, November 2014. Credit: Peterson Derolus

Despite civil society criticism of World Bank-supported large-scale mining activities, the Bank is still involved in controversial extractives projects (see Observer Summer 2014, Bulletin Dec 2013). Local and international campaigners argue that, through technical assistance, the Bank facilitates the opening up of countries’ extractive industries to transnational companies over supporting domestic industry; and doing so without providing governments with the tools to adequately protect marginalised communities against harmful social and environmental consequences of projects originating from Bank technical support.

Haiti: CSOs concerned by Bank’s role

Since 2013 the Bank has provided technical assistance to the Haitian government in drafting new mining laws intended to increase foreign investment in the sector under the Extractive Industries Technical Advisory Facility (see Bulletin Dec 2013). In March, a letter to Bank president Jim Yong Kim, signed by 92 civil society organisations and individuals, expressed deep concern that the Bank “is helping to develop Haiti’s mining sector, an inherently high-risk industry, without applying any social or environmental standards to ensure transparency and meaningful public participation.”

The letter follows an appeal filed in January to the Bank’s accountability mechanism, the Inspection Panel (IP), over concerns that the new legislation had been drafted without public consultation, in violation of its own policies. The request by the Haiti Mining Justice Collective and mining-affected communities argued that “mining exploitation has never contributed to the development of Haiti,” and express concern about the “exclusion of Haitian people from the law reform process, particularly when contrasted with the reported regular participation of the private sector.”

While acknowledging the concerns as “serious and legitimate”, the IP rejected the appeal in February because the Bank support is financed through a Bank-Executed Trust Fund (BETF) “to which Bank operational policies and procedures … including the safeguard policies, are not applicable”, rather than a Recipient-Executed Trust Fund (RETF), where the Bank’s policies apply (see Observer Spring 2015). The IP noted that the Bank’s “decision to execute a complex TA [technical assistance] such as this one under a BETF as opposed to a RETF … does not seem to be proportional to the level of environmental and social risks involved in the TA.”

The March letter demanded that a policy review be “undertaken with a view to closing the current loopholes in World Bank policies, to ensure that the application of social and environmental standards is mandatory and never left to the discretion of the Bank’s project teams or dependent on the particularities of the funding vehicle.”

Honduras: mining agreement challenged

The Bank, alongside the Canadian International Development Agency is also facilitating the expansion of the mining sector in Honduras. It signed an agreement in February with the government that will double mining exploration in the country, a move projected to increase private profits from $300 million to $5 billion annually.

The Honduran National Coalition of Environmental Networks and Organisations (CONROA) demanded that the Bank prioritise investment in local coffee farmers over mining companies. They also demanded that community consultation be made binding before any mining activities take place in an area. A public declaration released at the time of the agreement stated: “Far from protecting mining-affected communities, the mining law puts them at a disadvantage compared to the freedom with which companies operate … [the Bank] support[s] an industry that has created social conflict as a result of how mining competes for space, water and territorial control. … Mining has not contributed to development in any country, given that the income and few jobs that this activity generates do not compensate for the environmental and social impacts.”

Armenia: second mining case filed

In July 2014, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the accountability mechanism of the International Finance Corporation (IFC, the Bank’s private sector arm), received a second complaint regarding the IFC’s investment in the Amulsar gold mine in Armenia operated by UK Channel Islands-based Lydian International (see Observer Summer 2014). IFC is a 7.9 per cent shareholder in Lydian and has invested over $16 million in stages since 2007.

According to the IFC, the project is expected to move into the development and construction stage with first gold production expected in early 2017. It is classified as Category B, meaning it is “expected to have limited adverse social and/or environmental impacts that can be readily addressed through mitigation measures.” The complaint, filed by 148 local residents, includes allegations of lack of information about land acquisition and resettlement plans; potential cyanide contamination; dust pollution affecting agriculture; and insufficient community engagement. The community demanded “that the IFC stops sponsoring this felonious operation, since it has destructive effects on the population of Gndevaz. We demand that our opinion be considered and our rights not be violated.”

In early March the parties agreed to participate in a CAO dispute resolution process, seeking a collaborative solution. The first complaint moved to the CAO compliance function in December 2014, the purpose of which is to review the IFC’s environmental and social due diligence.

Fuente: http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/2015/03/world-bank-support-for-mining-expansion-criticised/

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Palm Oil and Extreme Violence in Honduras: The Inexorable Rise and Dubious Reform of Grupo Dinant

Monday, 08 December 2014 11:11 By Jeff Conant, Truthout | News Analysis

2014.12.8.PalmOil.mainA Corporation Dinant worker repairs an irrigation system for oil palms in the Bajo Aguan region of Honduras’ northern coast, August 26, 2011. The violence over land titles in Bajo Aguan is the most volatile example of the social divide that burst into view a few years ago. (Photo: Edgard Garrido Carrera / The New York Times)

As one of the fastest growing global commodities, palm oil has recently earned a reputation as a major contributor to tropical deforestation and, therefore, to climate change as well.

About 50 million metric tons of palm oil is produced per year – more than double the amount produced a decade ago – and this growth appears likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Because oil palm trees, native to West Africa, require the same conditions as tropical rainforests, nearly every drop of palm oil that hits the global market comes at the expense of natural forests that have been, or will be, burned, bulldozed and replaced with plantations.

Owned by Miguel Facussé, one of the wealthiest men in Honduras, (Grupo) Dinant has been associated with the killings of over 100 peasant farmers,

With deforestation garnering headlines due to forests’ crucial role in regulating the climate, global commodity producers, from Nestle and Unilever in Europe, to Cargill in the United States to Wilmar International in Indonesia, are recognizing the need to provide products that are “deforestation-free.” Other corporate-led initiatives like the public-private Tropical Forest Alliance that promises to reduce the deforestation associated with palm oil, soy, beef, paper and pulp, and the recent New York Declaration on Forests signed at the UN Climate Summit in New York, suggest that saving the world’s forests is now squarely on the corporate sustainability agenda.

To see more stories like this, visit “Planet or Profit?”

But what is being left behind is the other significant impact of palm oil and other agro-industrial commodities – namely human rights. Commitments to protect forests and conservation areas can, if well implemented, address environmental concerns by delimiting the areas of land available for conversion to palm oil. But natural resource exploitation is inextricably linked to human exploitation, and such commitments do little to address this.

A case in point is Grupo Dinant, a Honduran palm oil company that declared last month that it has been awarded international environmental certifications for its achievements in environmental management and occupational health and safety. Dinant has also been making overtures toward joining the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), including hosting the RSPO’s 4th Latin American conference in Honduras in 2013. But, Dinant, which produces about 60 percent of the palm oil in Honduras, is at the center of what has been called “the most serious situation in terms of violence against peasants in Central America in the last 15 years.”

Owned by Miguel Facussé, one of the wealthiest men in Honduras, Dinant has been associated with the killings of over 100 peasant farmers, and appears to be involved in a virtual terror campaign to ensure control of a large swath of land in the Lower Aguan Valley near the Caribbean coast of Honduras.

While credible human rights groups like Human Rights Watch denounce the killings and note that “virtually none of the crimes are properly investigated, let alone solved,” Dinant continues to enjoy financing from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, support from the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism, and brand relationships with multinational consumer goods companies such as Mazola Oils.

The Aguán Valley and the Introduction of Palm Oil

The Bajo Aguán Valley, one of the most fertile regions in Honduras, has long been a center of agrarian conflict. In her book Grabbing Power: The New Struggles for Land, Food and Democracy in Northern Honduras, researcher Tanya Kerssen reaches back to the 1950s to show how a struggle between farmers’ associations and multinationals Standard Fruit and United Fruit Company set the scene for the land concentration that reigns today. Decades of peasant struggle led to a brief period in the 1970s when the government distributed land to smallholder farmers from other parts of the country, who then formed cooperatives to bring crops to market. The embattled region became briefly known as the “capital of land reform” – but these reforms have long since been rolled back, in part due to the country’s need to pay back its foreign debt.

In a few years in the early ’90s, more than three quarters of the land in the Aguan Valley was re-concentrated into the hands of a few Honduran oligarchs.

In the 1980s, a combination of loans from the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) and bilateral aid allowed the Honduran government to construct a road network in the Aguan, as well as three palm oil processing plants and a modern port. Hoping to pay down its large debts to the IDB, the state-controlled mills bought palm from peasant cooperatives at rock-bottom prices, in return promising peasants eventual control over the processing plants. In the early ’90s, an “agrarian modernization law” was passed with support from the World Bank and the US Agency for International Development that again stimulated large land purchases and made the Aguan Valley the national poster child for re-concentration of land.

Land Re-concentration, Rise of Grupo Dinant

Over the next several decades, cooperatives and smallholders were coerced into selling their land to powerful landlords, often through intimidation and manipulation, from bribes of peasant leaders to threats and outright violence – tactics that continue to reign in the region to this day. Peasant farmers in the Aguan again found themselves as day laborers on large plantations, working hard for little pay. In a few years in the early ’90s, more than three-quarters of the land in the Aguan Valley was re-concentrated into the hands of a few Honduran oligarchs. One of these landlords was Miguel Facussé.

Human Rights Watch confirms that government security forces themselves have committed human rights violations including arbitrary detentions and torture.

Among the wealthiest men in Honduras – and now the richest – Facussé established a series of food commodity businesses, culminating in 2005 with Grupo Dinant. Dinant produces cooking oil, snacks, and other food products, as well as biofuels. To do this, the company took a $30 million loan from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and a $7 million loan from the InterAmerican Investment Corporation (IIC). Trade liberalization also enriched Facussé: Both Unilever and Proctor & Gamble gained important footholds in Central America by acquiring distribution networks and brands owned by Facussé. The profits and the status conferred on Dinant through such purchases enabled more land purchases in the Aguan Valley, furthering the concentration of land.

In 2001, farmers in the region organized as the Unified Peasants Movement of the Aguán Valley (MUCA), with the aim of reclaiming their land rights through the courts. With legal routes exhausted, in 2006 they began land occupations. In June 2009, they occupied one of the palm oil processing plants of Exportadora del Atlántico, part of Grupo Dinant, provoking then-President Manuel Zelaya to promise to investigate the land rights issue. However, Zelaya was removed in a coup later that month.

The Killing Years

While violence had long been present in the region, the months following the coup saw a dramatic increase in killings. As of October 2010, a year after the coup, 36 small-scale farmers had been killed. None of these cases were resolved or brought to court, but as a result of the escalating violence and murders, the government militarized the area. During this time, Dinant became implicated in the murder of dozens of peasants.

In 2011, FIAN, an international NGO working for food rights, produced a report on human rights violations in Bajo Aguán, documenting “evidence of the involvement of private security forces hired by Dinant and other companies owned by Miguel Facussé in human rights abuses and, in particular, in the murder of peasants in Bajo Aguán.”

The government was eventually forced to convene both MUCA and the company to negotiate a deal in June 2011. The government agreed to distribute some 30,000 acres to the farmers, including 12,000 acres where oil palm has been planted by Exportadora del Atlántico – not by giving the land back, but by selling it at market prices. The company agreed to the proposal, but later announced it wanted to renegotiate it. In protest, other peasant groups began land occupations, exposing themselves to violent evictions by state security forces.

A 2012 public hearing on the human rights situation in the peasant communities of the lower Aguán concluded that the agrarian conflict there is the “most serious situation in terms of violence against peasants in Central America in the last 15 years.” By April 2013, at least 89 peasant farmers had been killed in the Aguan Valley.

Killings have continued with complete impunity, the region around the plantations has been heavily militarized, and long-standing peasant communities have been violently evicted.

Precise numbers are difficult to verify however; to quote Human Rights Watch, “Honduras is notorious for ineffective investigations.” Former Attorney General Luis Alberto Rubi told the Honduran congress in 2013 that 80 percent of homicides go unpunished; of 73 killings recognized by the government to be linked to land conflicts, seven have been brought to trial, and none has resulted in conviction. Human Rights Watch affirms that government security forces themselves have committed human rights violations including arbitrary detentions and torture.

The Role of International Financiers

In 2008, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank approved a $30 million loan to Dinant, to be delivered in two tranches of $15 million each. When the June 2009 military coup ousted the democratically elected president and violence in the Aguán Valley escalated, the IFC put disbursement on hold, but the first tranche was eventually distributed.

In its assessment of the potential concerns under IFC’s Policy on Social and Environmental Sustainability, the IFC noted that “a limited number of specific environmental and social impacts may result which can be avoided or mitigated by adhering to generally recognized performance standards, guidelines, design criteria, local regulations and industry certification schemes. Land acquisition is on a willing buyer-willing seller basis, and there is no involuntary displacement of any people.”

This proved to be far from the case, as the IFC could have easily foreseen.

The Inter-American Development Bank approved a loan for $7 million in June 2009, but never signed the agreement with the company and never paid anything out. A spokesman for the IADB said at that time, “In the case of Dinant, there was a significant shift in a number of matters surrounding the project that led us to reconsider. The political turmoil Honduras experienced in 2009 was one of the aspects affecting this decision. Other considerations included . . . a controversy over real estate ownership.”

Following the coup, Dinant became implicated in the murder of dozens of peasants. Killings have continued with complete impunity, the region around the plantations has been heavily militarized, and long-standing peasant communities have been violently evicted.

When FIAN’s 2011 report was brought to the German development bank DEG, the bank confirmed FIAN’s findings and canceled a $20 million loan to Dinant, “with a view to the evolving agrarian conflict in the Bajo Aguán region.” French company EDF Trading also cancelled a contract to buy carbon credits from Dinant, indicating that it was “taking the situation in Honduras very seriously.”

Private security guards outnumber police in Honduras by a ratio of 5 to 1.

By contrast, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation has been stubbornly defensive about its $30 million relationship with Dinant. IFC claimed in 2008 that: “Dinant understands the importance of having good relationships with their neighboring communities and are quite proactive in this regard.”

In April, 2010, the IFC requested that Dinant hire an international security consultant to assess its security program and to provide training for the company’s security forces. The IFC said that the consultant would “work with Dinant to develop a Corporate Security Policy and Code of Ethics based on the UN Voluntary Principles for Business and Human Rights.”

Given the impunity that reigns in the region, reform of Dinant’s security force would prove to be a challenge. Human Rights Watch investigated 29 killings in the Aguan Valley and reports that 13 of the 29 killings, and one disappearance, suggest the possible involvement of private guards. The same report notes that Honduras has more than 700 registered private security firms, and numerous unregistered firms; the UN working group on the use of mercenaries reports that private security guards outnumber police in Honduras by a ratio of 5 to 1.

In December of 2013, an independent audit by the CAO Ombudsman of the IFC, a semi-independent body charged with overseeing the environmental and social safeguards applied to IFC loans, issued a stinging critique of the IFC for having failed to follow its own requirements.

“According to civil society source,” the CAO investigation states, “there were at least 102 killings of people affiliated with the peasant movement in the Bajo Aguán between January 2010 and May 2013, with specific allegations being made linking 40 of these to Dinant properties, Dinant security guards or its third-party security contractor. Allegations in relation to the killing of at least nine Dinant security personnel by affiliates of the peasant movement have also been made.”

A lucrative agro-industrial crop like palm oil, in a context of entrenched corruption and an authoritarian regime, lends itself to land grabbing and agrarian violence.

Still, the IFC rejected several of the CAO findings. Despite a list of demands sent to the World Bank by 70  civil society groups, the World Bank has yet to withdraw funding from the project. Instead, the IFC put in place an “enhanced action plan,” which requires Dinant to adopt voluntary security protocols and to “engage stakeholders” in order “to better understand the issues currently impacting communities and to bring strategic focus and overall coordination to Dinant’s existing corporate social responsibility programs, such as funding for school teachers, clinics, and conservation programs.” Nothing in the plan considers turning over land to local communities, and there is no mention of sanctions, or loan withdrawal for failure to comply.

The problem is not the crop, but the agro-industrial model; decades ago with Standard Fruit, Honduras was the archetype of the banana republic; today with Dinant it’s an oil palm republic.

The IFC’s refusal to disengage is especially troubling in light of the World Bank’s recent safeguards review, which seeks to weaken the bank’s environmental and social safeguards and to shift responsibility toward borrowing governments themselves. In October, 2014, over 100 civil society groups denounced the World Bank’s efforts, but no concrete response has been forthcoming.

Flex Crops and Consumer Campaigns

The rise of Corporacion Dinant as a leading palm oil producer in Central America is inseparable from its history as part of a long, violent and ongoing backlash against agrarian reform in Honduras. But it is also indicative of the ways in which a lucrative agro-industrial crop like palm oil, in a context of entrenched corruption and an authoritarian regime, lends itself to land grabbing and agrarian violence.

Anecdotal sources suggest that most of Dinant’s palm oil is exported to Mexico, where it is bought by Grupo Bimbo . . . largely responsible for a vast increase in Mexican consumption of palm oil in junk foods.

Palm oil production relies on cheap labor and large expanses of land to turn a profit. In order to be economically viable, nearly 10,000 acres of land are required to feed a single palm oil mill. But the economy of scale that palm oil demands to reap a profit is generally true across commodities – while palm oil is the particular villain in the case of Grupo Dinant, the problem is not the crop, but the agro-industrial model; decades ago with Standard Fruit, Honduras was the archetype of the banana republic; today with Dinant it’s an oil palm republic. Researchers have recently introduced the term “flex-crops” for crops that can be used for food, feed, fuel or industrial materia, and which lend themselves to land grabbing due to growing demand and the land area required to grow them.

Thanks to years of campaigning by environmental and human rights groups, the palm oil sector is undergoing what may be a sea-change: Palm oil producers and traders like Wilmar International, Golden Agri-Resources, and Unilever are adopting voluntary policies to improve their practices; consumer-facing companies including Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills, Kellogg’s and Procter & Gamble have strengthened their palm oil sourcing policies.

But the pressure to make these companies change comes from consumer companies who fear the brand damage that comes from sourcing palm oil that threatens orangutans and Sumatran tigers, and from financiers who have certain, albeit minimal, standards to uphold.

Anecdotal sources suggest that most of Dinant’s palm oil is exported to Mexico where it is bought by Grupo Bimbo – the commodity food conglomerate largely responsible for a vast increase in Mexican consumption of palm oil in junk foods. A campaign targeting Grupo Bimbo could gain some ground, but given the massive crisis of instability and conflict in Mexico, it seems unlikely. Dinant holds the license to use the Mazola trademark in Central America, but it is unclear whether the North American Mazola brand has any legal ties to Dinant that make it susceptible to consumer pressure.

Dinant is financed largely by a Honduran bank also backed by the IFC, and no US and EU financiers appear to hold shares in the company. As long as the IFC refuses to withdraw its financing and to push the company toward reforms that are unlikely to address the root problem, Dinant will maintain some credibility and will continue to produce some of the world’s bloodiest palm oil.

Fuente: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/27864-palm-oil-and-extreme-violence-in-honduras-the-inexorable-rise-and-dubious-reform-of-grupo-dinant

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Watchdog warns World Bank private-sector lending reforms show progress, but still fall short

4 November 2014

The watchdog of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s private sector lending arm, has released a new report into the IFC’s lending to banks and equity funds, prompting civil society to renew calls for urgent reforms.

The watchdog, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), released the report on 16 October after monitoring the IFC’s response to its 2012 audit of IFC investments made using financial intermediaries (FIs). The 2012 audit was highly critical of IFC’s use of FIs, saying the IFC did “not have a systematic methodology for determining whether the implementation of a SEMS [Social and Environmental Management System] actually achieves the objective of doing no harm or the objective of improving E&S [environmental and social] outcomes at the sub-client level” and that “the end use of IFC funds by FI clients was opaque and as such that IFC knew little about the potential E&S impacts of its financial sector lending.” The results of the audit prompted IFC to develop an Action Plan to try to respond to the findings.

According to the CAO “IFC’s FI business continues to grow, with new commitments amounting to more than $10 billion in a disbursed portfolio of more than $14 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2014” – making this a significant and growing part of the World Bank Group’s activities.  The report highlights areas where the IFC has made progress but warns that major concerns remain, particularly regarding the institution’s ability to ensure the outcomes of its investments through third parties and the lack of transparency around the majority of its FI portfolio. Reacting to the report, civil society calls for the IFC to take further steps to ensure its projects do no harm.

Welcome steps in the right direction

The new CAO report shows positive steps in a variety of areas, noting that the “quality and intensity of IFC’s E&S processes with regard to FIs have improved in recent years” and that some of the IFC’s actions “engage with many of the key findings from the FI Audit and have the potential to improve the quality of E&S outcomes in relation to IFC FI investments over time.” This represents an acknowledgment of some important problems highlighted in the initial audit report, also raised repeatedly by CSOs.

Specific elements, such as promoting market capacity in the E&S consultancy sector and increased engagement at the sub-client level on validation and supervision are welcome. IFC’s openness to a broader discussion about disclosure is also welcome, as steps toward greater disclosure are urgently needed. CAO’s investigation into IFC’s investment through Ficohsa, Honduras largest bank, found that “absent disclosure of information related to the end-use of funds from its FI investments… systems designed to ensure that IFC and its clients are accountable to project-affected people for delivery on their E&S commitments [are] effectively diluted”.

One of the most significant positive changes noted by the new report is the detailed and broad set of additions made to internal staff guidance notes on the Environmental and Social Review Procedures (ESRPs), which, if implemented, would place environmental and social risk on a more even footing with the assessment of financial risk.

Impact of billions of dollars of investments remains unknown

Despite these positive steps , the report finds that reforms have yet to address the main problem highlighted by the CAO’s original audit – that the IFC cannot determine the full impact of its investments through FIs and therefore cannot ensure they do no harm to the communities they are mandated to support. The CAO’s central finding “that the measurement of outcomes that correspond to IFC’s higher-level E&S commitments relevant to its FI business appears to be beyond the scope of the changes that IFC has proposed” is deeply problematic. Worryingly, despite progress made on staff guidance on ESRPs, the CAO also notes that the IFC has taken a step backwards by limiting the application of its protection policies to only certain loans. The CAO expressed concern that “this represents a narrowing of the application of the Performance Standards”.

The CAO also points out that the majority of sub-project investments financed by the IFC remain untransparent. This failure to disclose not only deprives communities of the knowledge of where the funding for projects is coming from, but also inhibits IFC accountability and prevents communities from seeking recourse to justice for harms done.

Nicolas Mombrial of Oxfam International said: “For high-risk investments of the World Bank Group to remain potentially unaccountable, untraceable and unable to guarantee they do not cause harm to communities is problematic, and will hinder the institutions from achieving the twin goals of eradicating extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity. While we welcome the IFC’s steps taken to address this, the watchdog’s latest report shows that the reforms still have a way to go.”

Luiz Vieira of the Bretton Woods Project said: “While progress made by the IFC is certainly welcome, its persistent inability to determine the development impact of its investments through FIs remains deeply problematic. If despite its considerable resources and efforts the IFC has over the past two years been unable to develop a system that identifies the impact of its investments through FIs, what leads it to believe that it can quickly build the capacity of local FIs to do so in much more challenging and resource-constrained circumstances?”

María José Romero of Eurodad said: “Some concrete actions taken by the IFC are welcome steps in the right direction. However, much more needs to be done to address all the problems highlighted in the initial audit report. CSOs have been calling on the IFC to rethink its strategy for IFC lending to the financial sector through a process that allows for independent input, participatory consultation with affected communities, and broader stakeholder engagement.”

Given the persistence and gravity of concerns raised by the CAO’s report, and the lack of a “systematic approach” to assess whether its investments have a positive impact and do no harm to the communities it is mandated to support, we urge shareholders to recommend:

  •  that the IFC undertakes fewer investments in the financial market sector, and dedicates more resources to ensure their positive outcome
  • that the World Bank Group develop a new group-level strategy for investments in the financial sector to fundamentally rethink the nature, purpose, modalities and limits of these investments

Fuente: http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/2014/11/watchdog-warns-world-bank-private-sector-lending-reforms-show-progress-still-fall-short/

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Honduras: Asesinatos, desalojos violentos y criminalización en un entorno de propuestas para la posible solución del conflicto.

viernes, 24 de octubre de 2014

Comunicado
Ante los últimos hechos violentos ocurridos en la región. La Plataforma Agraria Regional del Valle del Aguán nos pronunciamos ante el pueblo hondureño, la comunidad internacional, organismos defensores de derechos humanos nacionales e internacionales de la manera siguiente:

 
Los diferentes movimientos que aglutina la Plataforma Agraria Regional del Valle del Aguán continúa proponiendo posibles soluciones al conflicto agrario, ante autoridades nacionales y organismos internacionales (CAO y Merrick Hoben consultor del Banco Mundial), por lo que solicitamos lo siguiente:
a)     Solicitamos que  una comisión de expertos agraristas independientes internacionales para que se investigue el origen del conflicto agrario  en el Bajo Aguán.

b)    Solicitamos que un equipo de mucha credibilidad de expertos forenses internacionales independientes revisen los procedimientos de las exhumaciones realizadas hasta el momento en el Bajo  Aguán y que participen directamente en cualquier nuevo procedimiento.

c)     Solicitamos que una comisión de juristas internacionales, para que revise el mecanismo utilizado en los procedimientos de investigación de los crímenes en el Bajo Aguán.
d)    Solicitamos que  organismos internacionales defensores de derechos humanos investiguen las presiones violentas que enmarcaron los procedimientos de la negociación de las compras de las tierras realizadas del 2010 al  2012.
e)    Que el sector campesino del Aguán ha demostrado voluntad y paciencia histórica en la búsqueda de solución del conflicto y creemos que un punto importante para entrar a un proceso de dialogo trasparente, es  que se desmilitarice la zona del Aguán.
f)      Solicitamos que se investigue los daños ambientales provocados por las corporaciones terratenientes como Dinant, Oleopalma y otros.
g)     Solicitamos al Congreso Nacional la aprobación de la Ley de Transformación  Agraria con Equidad de Género para la Soberanía Alimentaria y el Desarrollo Rural presentada el 9 de abril del presente año.
Ante este  entorno el sector campesino continúa siendo víctima de asesinatos, desalojos violentos  y campaña de criminalización.
1. Condenamos el asesinato de Daniel Santos Otero asesinado el 15 de Octubre en la comunidad de Salamá miembro del MUCA, dos campesinos miembros del MCA asesinados el 05 de Octubre carretera a Trujillo a la altura del desvió el Tumbador.
2. Condenamos los desalojos violentos ocurridos a las familias campesinas de la Empresa Nueva Esperanza en la comunidad de Rigores y la Empresa Fuerzas Unidas en la comunidad de Ocotes Altos el pasado 9 de Octubre, donde les destruyeron al menos 60 manzanas de tierra cultivadas en su mayoría de maíz.
3. Condenamos el plan de criminalizar nuestra autentica y justa lucha por la tierra, al pretender vincularnos  a un hecho violento ocurrido el pasado 12 de Octubre en la comunidad de los Leones en el municipio de Trujillo, por parte de la inteligencia militar a través de diario la Tribuna, donde vinculan al señor Sergio Cálix como directivo de la Plataforma Agraria.
No Somos Pájaros, para Vivir en el Aire, No Somos Peces para Vivir en el Agua, Somos Hombre y Mujeres que Vivimos en la Tierra.
Dado en la Ciudad de Tocoa, Colón a los 24 días del mes de Octubre del 2014  

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Conflict-affected states, IFC’s final frontier

29 September 2014

Summary

  • IFC plans to expand operations in FCS
  • Doubts raised about suitability of IFC’s approach to investments in FCS such as Burma
  • Structural issues identified by CAO investigation of IFC investment in Honduras remain unaddressed

In July, the International Financial Corporation’s (IFC, the World Bank’s private sector arm) executive vice president Jin-Yong Cai asserted in a World Bank blog that the “extraordinary” progress made during the past two decades in poverty reduction requires that similar results be achieved in “the world’s most difficult corners.” This is in line with the World Bank Group’s new approach to fragile and conflict-affected states (FCS, see Bulletin Dec 2013).

Cai expressed confidence in the IFC’s ability to deal with the risks associated with these environments and to quickly rectify mistakes. He used the IFC’s 2009 investment in Dinant, a palm oil company with alleged links to murders and other human rights abuses in Honduras (see Observer Winter 2014), to show that the IFC now recognises that it must consider a variety of risks such as “political instability and the prospect of conflict and violence over land rights.” He committed the IFC to measuring its success by “the development impact of projects – not by the dollar volume of investments.” This commitment follows a February World Bank Group staff survey which revealed that less than half of staff consider development their priority.

A December 2013 Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO, the IFC’s accountability mechanism) audit on Dinant criticised the IFC’s incentive structure, noting that identified failures arose, in part, from staff incentives “to overlook, fail to articulate, or even conceal potential environmental, social and conflict risk”, and that staff felt pressured to “get money out the door” and were discouraged from “making waves” (see Observer Winter 2014).

Cai’s remarks indicate a continued unwillingness to acknowledge that Dinant and other well-documented cases such as Tata Mundra (see Observer Summer 2014), reflect structural problems at the IFC. Concerns have also been raised about the lack of accountability in the IFC’s investments in financial intermediaries (FIs), such as the Honduran bank Ficohsa (see Bulletin Sept 2014). Civil society organisations (CSOs) have repeatedly attempted to engage with the IFC on the need for systemic changes in IFC investments, including through four letters specific to Dinant, co-signed by over 50 local and international organisations.

Cai did admit that “highly charged” environments, such as Honduras, require a different approach and that investment decisions contrary to the IFC’s vision to ‘do no harm’ cannot be justified. His admission is particularly significant given his call for the IFC to “ramp up” its work in FCS.

The World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group’s (IEG) 2013 report on assistance to low-income FCS noted that World Bank Group country assistance strategies “have lacked tailoring to fragility and conflict drivers and realism, and do not currently have contingencies based on political economy and conflict risks” and that “IFC performance incentives are not well aligned with supporting its strategy of increasing engagement in FCS” (see Bulletin Dec 2013). While the IFC has made some efforts to adapt its programming in FCS, such as through its pilot Conflict Affected States in Africa project, the case of Burma, also known as Myanmar, suggests that the IFC’s approach remains problematic.

Burma’s fragile environment

The World Bank has recently stepped up its activities in Burma, pledging $2 billion to the country in January (see Bulletin Feb 2014). In late June, a group of 23 Burmese CSOs sent a letter to the executive directors of the World Bank Group demanding that environment and social safeguards are in place to ensure that “investment through Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will not involve illegal land acquisition, violate core labour standards, avoid the basic occupational health and safety standards, and violate the IFC investment exclusion list.” In May, the NGO US Campaign for Burma criticised the IFC’s contentious $30 million investment in Yoma Bank, as the banks’s designation as a financial intermediary would exempt it from due diligence standards and safeguards. The IFC’s resident representative justified the exemption by stating that “SME [lending] is considered to have very little social and environmental impact.”  While the majority of the country’s population lives in rural areas and 70 per cent rely on agriculture for livelihoods, three of the IFC’s five investments in Burma involve the construction of hotels, which have been criticised for their dubious developmental value (see Observer Autumn 2014).

In addition to questioning the developmental value of IFC financing decisions, CSOs have raised concerns about the potential impact of World Bank Group support on the country’s fragile peace process. Global NGO the International Crisis Group noted in February that “[t]he peace process with ethnic armed groups is in a delicate phase, with all sides engaged in a concerted effort to bridge gaps and build trust.”

In September, 39 Burmese organisations issued a joint submission to the Bank expressing concerns that its investments  “could easily become focal points of public opposition and conflict if they aggravate the root causes of conflict – such as racial inequity, land and resource grab and forced displacement from traditional livelihood resources”. The organisations also criticised the “lack of systematic approach to analysing the risks of conflict that surround the projects” and the fact that loans were approved “despite legitimate civil society concerns and calls for meaningful consultations with concerned communities.”

Reflecting on the criteria for IFC investment decisions in Burma, its resident representative said companies had been selected because “these are companies with good growth potential … and can return the investment.”

Fuente: http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/2014/09/conflict-affected-states-ifcs-final-frontier/

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Organizaciones campesinas articuladas en la Plataforma Agraria Regional del Valle del Aguàn recuperan su legítimo derecho al acceso a la tierra

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Esta mañana unas 450 familias de los diferentes movimientos campesinos articulados en la Plataforma Agraria Regional del Valle del Aguán recuperaron  nuevamente una gran parte de la Finca Paso Aguàn ubicada en el municipio de Trujillo, departamento de Colón.

Jaime Cabrera coordinador de la Plataforma Agraria Regional manifestó que “la acción fue realizada a las 9:00 de la mañana, las familias campesinas nos  entramos  en posesión de las tierras pero cercados por al menos 250 elementos de seguridad entre  policía nacional y miembros de la operación Xatruch  bajo el mando del coronel René Jovel Martínez y el coronel German Alfaro Escalante”.

“Pese al trabajo realizado por la inteligencia militar a lo interno de las organizaciones pretendiendo dividir las  mismas, es evidente la unidad del sector campesino en la región y de  la solidaridad con la que contamos en este nuevo esfuerzo de recuperar nuestro legítimo derecho al acceso a la tierra” puntualizo Cabrera.

La finca Paso Aguàn ha sido utilizada como cementerio clandestino por la guardia de seguridad de corporación Dinant, donde en los últimos años han sido asesinados y enterrador dos campesinos, tal es el caso de Gregorio Chávez secuestrado el 2 y encontrado enterrado el 7 de julio 2012 y José Antonio López Lara vecino de la comunidad de Rigores quien despareció el 29 de abril 2012 y exhumado el 25 de del 2013, por integrantes de la Fundación de Antropología Forense de Guatemala y Médicos Forenses del país.

Recientemente la oficina del Asesor en Cumplimiento y Ombudsman (CAO) de la Corporación Financiera Internacional (CFI) publicó el lunes  anterior una nueva  investigación sobre el cumplimiento del desempeño ambiental y social de la CFI con respecto a las inversiones en Banco Ficohsa, Este  informe se centra en las inversiones de capital realizadas por la CFI en Banco Ficohsa en el 2011.

La investigación se inició por la CAO al enterarse de que Banco Ficohsa tiene una exposición significativa a Corporación Dinant, un cliente agroindustrial de la CFI en Honduras, que ha sido señalado a nivel nacional e internacional  por participar en una serie de violaciones a los derechos humanos de los y las campesinas en el Bajo Aguàn.

Pese a que la IFC del Banco Mundial estaba enterada del litigio de tierras entre las familias campesinas y Dinant y de los daños ambientales y sociales en relación a la inversión con Ficohsa este facilito un préstamo de 70 millones de dólares.

Las familias campesinas exigen que se les respete el derecho a la posesión de sus tierras, así como también que cese la represión, persecución, criminalización y asesinato en contra de campesinos y campesinas que luchan por la tierra.

Hacemos un llamado enérgico a las organizaciones nacionales e internacionales defensores de derechos humanos a estar vigilantes de cualquier hecho violento que pueda ocurrir en contra de las familias campesinas que se encuentran en posesión de la finca Paso Aguàn.

Fuente: http://www.defensoresenlinea.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3260:organizaciones-campesinas-articuladas-en-la-plataforma-agraria-regional-del-valle-del-aguan-recuperan-su-legitimo-derecho-al-acceso-a-la-tierra&catid=58:amb&Itemid=181

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Accountability mechanism strongly criticises IFC loan to Honduran bank

13 August 2014

Credit: Adrienne Pine

Credit: Adrienne Pine

A mid-August audit released by the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the accountability mechanism of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Bank’s private sector arm has revealed that the IFC failed to adequately address environmental and social risks when it approved a $70 million loan to Ficohsa, Honduras’ largest bank, in 2011.

The CAO found that the IFC excluded serious allegations from its project documents about Ficohsa’s investment in palm oil producer Dinant, the bank’s third biggest client, which made this information “effectively secret and thus divorced from systems which are designed to ensure that IFC, and its clients are accountable to project affected people for delivery on their environmental and social commitments”. A January CAO audit report strongly criticised the IFC for its $30 million loan to Dinant, alleged to have been involved in human rights abuses, including the killing, kidnapping and forced eviction of farmers in the Bajo Aguán region (see Observer Winter 2014).

The CAO audit questioned the IFC’s investment in financial intermediaries finding that “through its banking investments, [it has] an unanalysed and unquantified exposure to projects with potential significant adverse environmental and social impacts” (see Bulletin May 2014).  The case of Ficohsa’s investment in Dinant, along with other controversial cases in India and Cambodia, has seen on-going challenges from civil society. CSOs have called on the IFC to learn lessons, and to rethink its strategy for investment in financial intermediaries to ensure environmental and social risks are addressed and investments lead to positive development outcomes. Over 60% of IFC funding is now channelled through financial intermediaries such as banks and private equity funds.

In response to the CAO audit the IFC defended its investment in Ficohsa and said it was implementing already-announced action plans, which included measures to review clients environmental and social management systems, and increase the number of client visits. The IFC said Ficohsa had recently committed to expand its staff and training on environmental and social risk management. The IFC did acknowledge there had been gaps in how it dealt with Ficohsa, including “a lack of due consideration of the potential environmental and social risks in the bank’s portfolio”.

Civil society organisations called on World Bank Group president Jim Kim to address these scandals and develop an action plan to ensure they do not happen again. In reference to Dinant Miriam Miranda, Coordinator of the Fraternal Organization of Black Hondurans (OFRANEH), said “we call on all multilateral financial institutions to stop providing millions of dollars in loans to corporations that have been accused nationally and internationally of responsibility for serious human rights violations.”

Fuente: http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/2014/08/accountability-mechanism-strongly-criticises-ifc-loan-honduran-bank/

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IFC statements welcome but concrete action needed

12 August 2014

Credit: Rainforest Rescue Germany

Summary

Bretton Woods Project comment on IFC’s Executive Vice President Cai’s blog on the World Bank’s website challenges the IFC’s commitment to address systemic problems brought to light by Compliance Advisor/ Ombudsman (CAO) audit.

The Bretton Woods Project joins Oxfam in welcoming IFC executive vice president Cai’s commitment to ensuring that the IFC will measure its success “by the development impact of our projects — not by the dollar volume of our investments” and to change the institutional culture to that end.

It is encouraging that Cai is committed to aligning staff incentives with the IFC’s purpose as a development institution. Action to that end is certainly important given that according to a recent World Bank Group staff survey, only 30 per cent of IFC staff said they consider development as their main objective, and regard loan volume as more valued by the institution.

The December 2013 Compliance Advisor/ Ombudsman (CAO) report on the Dinant case clearly identifies the systemic nature of the challenges faced by the IFC, noting that the failures identified arose, in part, from staff incentives “to overlook, fail to articulate, or even conceal potential environmental, social and conflict risk”, and that staff felt pressured to “get money out the door” and discouraged from “making waves.” Therefore, while Cai’s sentiments are welcome it is notable that his stated commitment to change is framed by a continued unwillingness to acknowledge that the Dinant, Ficohsa, Tata Mundra, GKEL, Dragon and Wilmar cases are not the result of case-specific oversights but reflect institutional problems within the IFC.

CSOs have repeatedly attempted to engage with the IFC on this issue, including through four letters co-signed by over fifty local and international organisations. As outlined in the Bretton Woods Project’s ‘Follow the Money’ report , the findings of the IFC’s own internal audit found that “The result of [the] lack of systematic measurement tools is that IFC knows very little about potential environmental or social impacts of its [financial market] lending.” CSOs have therefore called for extensive consultations on the nature and impact of the IFC’s lending and for the joint development of specific mechanisms to address the problems identified by the CAO audit and CSOs. Specific action is required to address these systemic issues and to ensure that IFC lending results in positive developmental impact for the communities it is mandated to support. It is clear that Cai’s blog, while containing some positive statements, is not an adequate response to the important concerns raised on multiple occasions by CSO partners and substantiated by the CAO audit.

Cai’s admission that ‘highly charged’ environments such as Honduras require a more comprehensive and long-term assessment of project risks and consequences is particularly relevant, given his call for the IFC to ‘ramp up’ its work in areas suffering or transitioning from violent conflict. As Cai himself implies in his statement on the Dinant case, the complexities of the IFC’s operational environment cannot serve to justify decisions and projects that are contrary to the IFC’s vision to ‘do no harm.’ The extensive literature documenting the unintended negative consequences of the activities of the World Bank and the international community generally in these settings makes clear the inherent difficulties of working in conflict and post-conflict environments even for organisations that are dedicated to the task. Unfortunately, as Daniel Runde and Conor Savoy note in the 12 October 2012 US-based think thank Center for International and Strategic Studies, article, the “IFC remains largely culturally and institutionally unequipped to work in these areas. It may require entirely separate vehicles and personnel to staff these opportunities.” It is therefore imperative that before ‘ramping’ up its activities in complex conflict settings the IFC ensures that its oversight mechanisms, incentive structures and choice of financing vehicles are fit for purpose.

The inadequacy of Cai and the IFC’s response is clear when one considers the years of engagement by CSOs with the IFC’s own ombudsman on the issue, as briefly outlined below:

Date Activity
February 2013 October 2012 CAO audit report released
March 2013 A CSO letter co-signed by 45 organisations called for immediate actions to address the shortcomings outlined by the CAO audit. The letter called for increased transparency and disclosure, accountability and changes to financing procedures. It also called on the IFC to revise its strategy for investment in the financial sector.
September 2013 The IFC proposed an action plan in response to the CAO audit report
November 2013 CSO letter with more than 20 signatories containing a technical briefing and specific recommendations, called for the revision of the proposed action plan to address the CAO’s audit findings before its implementation; and the launch of a review to develop a new ground-level strategy for investment in the financial sector in order to allow for a fundamental reconsideration of the nature, purpose, modalities and limits of these types of investments.
March 2014 CSO letter with more than 20 signatories containing a technical briefing and specific recommendations, called for the revision of the proposed action plan to address the CAO’s audit findings before its implementation; and the launch of a review to develop a new ground-level strategy for investment in the financial sector in order to allow for a fundamental reconsideration of the nature, purpose, modalities and limits of these types of investments.
April 2014 During April World Bank spring meetings CSOs made several requests, including disclosure of documents and the convening of regional meetings similar to those organised in Europe and the United States. Unfortunately, despite commitments made at the time, no action was forthcoming.
The IFC delivered a presentation on the lessons learned on the Dinant case. The Bretton Woods Project published an analysis of the presentation, widely considered to be inadequate.
June 2014 A CSO letter expressed concerns about the lessons learned presentation and its implications for the imminent decision on the Ficohsa loan. The letter underscored the need for a significant cultural shift within the IFC and requested that proposed changes be developed through an inclusive process with CSOs. The letter also stressed that something more substantive than a Powerpoint presentation, a blog or a public acknowledgement of a case-specific error is required.

To date, despite the repeated efforts outlined above, the IFC’s response has been limited to Cai’s blog.

This comment appeared on the World Bank’s  Voices blog, responding to IFC executive vice president Cai’s post “Achieving impact in development requires us to venture into tough places” (Published on 12 August 2014)

http://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/comment/2666#comment-2666

Fuente: http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/2014/08/ifc-statements-welcome-concrete-action-needed/

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World Bank again criticized for investments in Honduras

WASHINGTON Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:12pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The World Bank’s private sector arm did not pay enough attention to environmental and social risks when it lent to Honduras’ largest bank, Ficohsa, an internal bank watchdog said on Monday.

The finding marks the second time this year that the International Finance Corporation’s own ombudsman has chided it for flaws in Honduran investments.

The IFC acknowledged some problems with its initial investment in Ficohsa, which has also drawn fire from non-profit groups, but said it has since improved.

The IFC approved $70 million for Ficohsa in 2011 despite the bank’s risky operating environment and clients, including a palm oil company linked to multiple killings and drug trafficking, the IFC’s Office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) said in the report.

In fact, the IFC had itself earlier approved a $30 million loan to the palm oil company, called Dinant, despite the firm’s troubling history, the CAO found in a previous report.

Honduras, one of Central America’s poorest countries, is embroiled in one of the thorniest land disputes in the region. Human rights groups have accused Dinant and its guards of human rights violations, including killings and forced evictions of peasants occupying disputed land.

The CAO said IFC had “at best, a superficial understanding of the environmental and social risks that are attached to Ficohsa’s client base,” even though some IFC employees who lent to Dinant knew about the risks and the wider problems in Honduras.

The IFC said the report correctly focused on past problems, but that it has since improved its practices, which the CAO acknowledged. It hired three full-time people to focus on environmental and social risks with Ficohsa, compared with one part-time employee before.

The IFC also said it now visits risky projects more often, better shares information among different parts of the organization, and by the end of the year plans to train all its employees in environmental and social risk management.

“When there are gaps in our approach, as was the case with our investments in Ficohsa, we remain committed to acting quickly, learning from our mistakes and making the necessary course corrections,” the IFC said in a letter.

The IFC aims to develop the private sector in poor countries to reduce poverty and boost economic growth.

But the organization’s growing loans to financial intermediaries – which now make up more than half its portfolio – have come under fire from non-profit groups, which say IFC lacks a good way of tracking their impact on development.

The CAO also said the IFC may put financial considerations first, generally focusing more on the credit risks of its portfolio rather than on environment and social risks.

It said its findings “raise concerns that IFC has, through its banking investments, an unanalyzed and unquantified exposure to projects with potential significant adverse environmental and social impacts.”

(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov)

 

Fuente: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/12/us-worldbank-honduras-ficohsa-idUSKBN0GC04D20140812

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Exigen que exhumaciones de cadáveres víctimas del conflicto agrario, sean serias y eficientes

Jul 11, 2014

Las organizaciones campesinas y de derechos humanos en el Bajo Aguán, exigen que la segunda etapa de exhumaciones de cadáveres de campesinos asesinados en el marco del conflicto agrario de la zona, que iniciará en los próximos días, se lleve a cabo con mayor eficiencia y transparencia para que los crímenes no queden en total impunidad como hasta ahora.

“Como campesinos abogamos para que se conozca quienes son los responsables de los más de 130 asesinatos cometidos en los últimos cinco años. Lo que más queremos es que se dé con el paradero de los autores materiales e intelectuales de todos estos hechos sangrientos  sin importar de donde son ni su posición social y política”, indicó Vitalino Álvarez, del Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán, MUCA.

En la primera etapa se realizaron 15 exhumaciones de personas que supuestamente han muerto en el marco del conflicto agrario, y se desarrolló entre el 16 y el 20 de junio, en distintos lugares de la región. Sin embargo, serán 40 cadáveres los que se desenterrarán en las próximas semanas, a petición de la Unidad de Investigación de Muertes Violentas en el Valle del Aguán.

De acuerdo con el coordinador de esa Unidad de Investigación, el abogado Javier Guzmán, “el objetivo del Ministerio Público es exhumar los cadáveres a los que no se les había practicado la autopsia respectiva como lo establece la Ley”. Esa acción busca probables elementos de prueba al momento de presentar los requerimientos fiscales contra los responsables de los asesinatos.

Desconfianza en el proceso

De acuerdo a Vitalino Álvarez  “el proceso de exhumaciones de osamentas de los compañeros campesinos no ha sido transparente,  participativo ni consultado con los familiares de las víctimas, por lo que consideramos que el proceso carece de legal y transparencia”.

Alvárez asegura que esto ser realiza para limpiar la imagen de la Corporación Dinant ante el Banco Mundial y la comunidad internacional, luego de la publicación de los hallazgos del Ombudsman y Asesor en materia de Observancia (CAO por sus siglas en inglés), mecanismo independiente para proyectos respaldados por los Banco Mundial, evidenciando la participación de guardias de seguridad de Dinant en una serie de asesinatos y violaciones a los derechos humanos de los campesinos y campesinas en el Bajo Aguán.

Lo anterior también fue manifestado a través de un comunicado firmado por la Plataforma Agraria Regional del Valle del Aguán, el  movimiento social  y organizaciones de derechos humanos  quienes además aseveraron que la  Unidad Especial de Investigación recién creada para investigar los asesinatos en el Bajo Aguán, tiene el único propósito de limpiar la imagen de la empresa de palma africana y criminalizar el sector campesino como lo han hecho por más de tres años.

“Existen casos claros de la participación de los guardias de seguridad y declaraciones públicas  del señor Miguel Facussé gerente general de corporación Dinant, dadas a  medios de comunicación el 16 de noviembre del 2010 un día después de la masacre suscitada en el sector del Tumbador donde fueron asesinados cinco campesinos del Movimiento Campesino del Aguán, MCA,  expresando: -porqué el oso negro(Cesar Ham) había mandado a los campesinos a meterse a sus tierras si sabía que ahí tenía sus hombres armados- casos como este gozan de total impunidad”, indicó el dirigente Vitalino Álvarez.

Contexto histórico

En Honduras, en 1974, algunas organizaciones campesinas fueron beneficiadas por un  débil programa de reforma agraria. Recibieron, para que las trabajaran,  unas tierras en la región del Bajo Aguán, un valle muy fértil al norte del país, en el departamento de Colón.

Sin embargo en  la década de los  90,  se aprobó la Ley para la Modernización y el Desarrollo del Sector Agrícola de 1992, promulgada  durante el gobierno de Rafael Leonardo Callejas (1990–1994)   y reemplazó  la Ley de Reforma Agraria de 1972, abriendo paso al gran poder económico y político de los industriales, de los  latifundistas, y de los  importadores y exportadores del sector agropecuario, decretando el fin de las cooperativas  agrícolas e iniciando a implementar  en el país el modelo de los monocultivos.

El desarrollo y la implementación de las políticas neoliberales, a través de diferentes mecanismos, unos violentos como la expropiación de las tierras por medio de la fuerza, otros más solapados  como la concesión de créditos agrarios con tasas de interés de usura,  determinó que las organizaciones campesinas perdieran las tierras y que estas volvieran, poco a poco,  a manos de los terratenientes del país.

El golpe de Estado de junio de 2009, que derrocó y sacó del país al presidente Manuel Zelaya,  ha contribuido a profundizar un conflicto preexistente, pero sobre todo ha marcado con el sello de la  impunidad la violencia y los crímenes perpetrados contra los campesinos organizados

Fuente: http://radioprogresohn.net/index.php/comunicaciones/noticias/item/1170-exigen-que-exhumaciones-de-cad%C3%A1veres-v%C3%ADctimas-del-conflicto-agrario-sean-serias-y-eficientes

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Honduras: Exhumación de campesinos asesinados y el negocio palmero de Dinant

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Tocoa, Colón (Conexihon).- El viernes pasado (20/6) la Plataforma Agraria Regional del Valle del Aguán difundió un comunicado, en el cual califica de “ilegítimo, turbio y manipulado” el proceso de exhumación de osamentas de campesinos, que han sido asesinados en el marco del grave conflicto agrario que ha ensangrentado esta región al noreste de Honduras.
La exhumación de los primeros 15 cadáveres está a cargo de la Unidad especial de investigación de muertes violentas en el Bajo Aguán, que fue creada en abril de este año por el Fiscal general Óscar Chinchilla y que está dirigida por Javier Guzmán, jefe de la Fiscalía de Homicidios de Tocoa, con el propósito declarado de esclarecer decenas de asesinatos cometidos durante los últimos 5 años y que han quedado en total impunidad.
“Ya no podemos hablar de que hay impunidad, porque se están investigando los casos. De hecho, vamos a ver resultados muy pronto”, dijo Guzmán a medios nacionales. El sorprendente optimismo mostrado por el jefe de la Fiscalía de Homicidios de Tocoa choca con la trágica realidad del Bajo Aguán, donde los intereses de unos pocos terratenientes y productores palmeros han privado a miles de familias campesinas del derecho al acceso a la tierra, a la alimentación y a una vida digna.
De acuerdo con la Plataforma Agraria, detrás de esta maniobra de la Fiscalía se ocultaría la intención de satisfacer intereses mezquinos de los grandes acaparadores de tierra, limpiando su imagen a nivel nacional e internacional, para que puedan volver a tener acceso a los fondos millonarios de la cooperación. “Es claro que el único propósito de esta Unidad especial es limpiar la imagen de Corporación Dinant ante el Banco Mundial y la comunidad internacional, criminalizando el sector campesino como lo han hecho por más de tres años”, denunciaron las organizaciones campesinas.
Los ojos del mundo centrados en el Bajo Aguán 
El año pasado, el Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), el órgano fiscalizador interno de la Corporación Financiera Internacional (CFI), entidad adscrita al Banco Mundial, realizó una profunda investigación en la zona del Bajo Aguán.
En su informe final evidenció la grave situación del Bajo Aguán, y pidió a la CFI suspender el desembolso de 15 millones de dólares a Corporación Dinant, cuyo presidente es el terrateniente y productor palmero Miguel Facussé Barjum, para la expansión del cultivo de palma africana. Unas 70 organizaciones, tanto nacionales como internacionales, respaldaron dicho planteamiento.
Durante los últimos años, estas organizaciones han venido monitoreando constantemente la situación de derechos humanos en el Bajo Aguán, entre otros, a través de una misión de verificación internacional de derechos humanos en marzo de 2011, una audiencia temática ante la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) en Washington en octubre de 2011, una audiencia pública internacional sobre la situación de derechos humanos en mayo de 2012, y varias gestiones de apoyo a las diligencias realizadas por el CAO en 2013 y 2014.
La denuncia de la grave crisis de derechos humanos en el Bajo Aguán hizo que, el 14 de abril de 2011, la empresa EDF Trading, subsidiaria en Londres de la sociedad anónima francés de capital público EDF SA e integrante de EDF Group, renunciara a la compra de créditos de carbono en el Bajo Aguán a la empresa Exportadora del Atlántico SA, división agrícola de Corporación Dinant.
Esta decisión del gigante energético francés representó un segundo duro golpe en pocos días para las empresas de Miguel Facussé. Pocos días antes y después de analizar en profundidad la situación del conflicto agrario en el Bajo Aguán, la Sociedad Alemana de Inversión y Desarrollo (DEG) -que es parte del estatal Banco de Crédito para la Reconstrucción (KfW Bankengruppe)- decidió retirar un financiamiento de 20 millones de dólares a la Corporación Dinant.
“Existen casos claros de la participación de los guardias de seguridad en el asesinato de campesinos y existe desesperación por parte de Corporación Dinant en limpiar su imagen. Por lo tanto, los movimientos campesinos del Aguán desconocemos y rechazamos  cualquier informe presentado por la Unidad especial de investigación, ya que conocemos su confabulación con los terratenientes”, cita el comunicado de la Plataforma Agraria.
Las organizaciones campesinas pidieron la suspensión inmediata de las exhumaciones “hasta tener el  consentimiento y acompañamiento de los familiares de las víctimas, y la participación de médicos forenses internacionales propuestos por las organizaciones campesinas y los familiares”.
Asimismo, exigieron transparentar las fuentes que están financiando la Unidad especial de investigación, y denunciaron el aparato de inteligencia militar, asesorado por el Comando de Operaciones Especiales del ejército de Estados Unidos, que tiene el propósito de “seguir criminalizando la lucha de las organizaciones campesinas por el acceso a la tierra”.
Finalmente, la Plataforma Agraria hizo un llamado a los organismos nacionales e internacionales defensores de derechos humanos, para que se mantengan en alerta ante la estrategia de manipulación que pretende hacer creer a la comunidad internacional que el asesinato de campesinos “no es producto de la represión policial, militar y paramilitar”, ni que está relacionado con los terratenientes y productores palmeros./Honduras: Exhumación de campesinos asesinados y el negocio palmero de Dinant.

Fuente: http://conexihon.info/site/noticia/derechos-humanos/conflicto-agrario-y-minero/honduras-exhumaci%C3%B3n-de-campesinos-asesinados-y

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Organizaciones campesinas rechazan proceso de exhumaciones de la Fiscalía

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Tegucigalpa.

Mediante un posicionamiento divulgado a través de los medios de comunicación,  la Plataforma Agraria del Valle del Aguán, el Frente Nacional de Resistencia y el movimiento social de la zona, calificó las exhumaciones practicadas por la Unidad Especial de Investigación como un proceso que no ha sido transparente, participativo ni consultado con los familiares de las víctimas.

Las organizaciones consideraron que las exhumaciones ejecutadas por la Unidad de Investigación buscan limpiar la imagen de Corporación Dinant ante el Banco Mundial “luego de la publicación de los hallazgos del Ombudsman y Asesor en materia de Observancia (CAO por sus siglas en inglés), mecanismo independiente para proyectos respaldados por el Banco Mundial que han evidenciado la participación de los guardias de seguridad de Dinant en una serie de asesinatos y violaciones a los derechos humanos de los campesinos y campesinas en el Bajo Aguán”.

La Unidad Especial de Investigación surge debido a la presión ejercida por la comunidad internacional dados los múltiples asesinatos cometidos en esta zona que suman más de cien, en su mayoría campesinos y campesinas, producto del conflicto de tierras que los gobiernos no han podido solucionar.

“Es claro que la fiscalía del Ministerio Publico y ahora la Unidad Especial de Investigación recién creada y dirigida por el fiscal Javier Guzmán, para investigar supuestamente los asesinatos en el Bajo Aguán, solo pretende limpiar la imagen de la empresa de palma africana y criminalizar el sector campesino como lo han hecho por más de tres años, por lo tanto los movimientos campesinos del Aguan desconocemos y rechazamos cualquier informe presentado por la unidad de investigación ya que conocemos su confabulación con los terratenientes”, asegura el posicionamiento.

Añade que existen casos claros de la participación de los guardias de seguridad y declaraciones públicas del señor Miguel Facussé gerente general de corporación Dinant, dadas a medios de comunicación el 16 de noviembre del 2010 un día después de la masacre suscitada en el sector del Tumbador, donde fueron asesinados cinco campesinos del Movimiento Campesino del Aguán, expresando “ que porque el oso negro  (Cesar Ham) había mandado a los campesinos a meterse a sus tierras si sabía que ahí tenía sus hombre armados”, casos como este gozan de total impunidad.

Las organizaciones suscritas en el posicionamiento exigen que no continúen las exhumaciones hasta que exista el acompañamiento y consentimiento de los familiares de las víctimas y la participación de expertos forenses internacionales.

“Exigimos aclaraciones por parte de la cooperación que financió la Unidad Especial de Investigación que se instaló en el Bajo Aguán para investigar el asesinato de más de 115 campesinos y campesinas en el marco del conflicto agrario, hemos escuchado que la misma fue financiada con fondos de la USAID a través del Organismo de Estados Americanos (OEA)”.

Las organizaciones denunciaron que el proceso de exhumaciones se está llevando a cabo con un patrón de inteligencia militar asesorado por el Comando de Operaciones Especiales del Ejército de los EEUU, que pretende criminalizar a las organizaciones campesinas del Aguán que luchan por el acceso a la tierra.
El posicionamiento también denuncia “que algunas de las osamentas exhumadas por la Unidad Especial de Investigación no corresponden a campesinos que han sido asesinados en el marco del conflicto agrario y que están realizando una investigación apresurada bajo una serie de irregularidades en el proceso”, señalaron las organizaciones.

“Llamamos a los organismos nacionales e internacionales defensoras de derechos humanos a que se mantengan en alerta, así como también una comisión internacional acompañe todo el proceso para poder resguardar las evidencias”, demandaron las organizaciones campesinas en el posicionamiento emitido el 20 de junio de 2014.

Fuente: http://www.defensoresenlinea.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3193:organizaciones-campesinas-rechazan-proceso-de-exhumaciones-de-la-fiscalia&catid=42:seg-y-jus&Itemid=159

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Proceso de exhumaciones en el Bajo Aguàn están siendo manipuladas por el Gobierno de Honduras, los terratenientes y el Banco Mundial.

viernes, 20 de junio de 2014

Posicionamiento Público
 
Ante un proceso ilegitimo y con falta de transparencia por parte de la unidad especial de investigación dirigida por el fiscal Javier Guzmán para realizar exhumaciones de osamentas de campesinos que han sido asesinados en el marco del conflicto agrario, La Plataforma Agraria Regional del Valle del Aguán, el  movimiento social,  el Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular de Colon y organizaciones de derechos humanos y  nos pronunciamos ante la comunidad nacional e internacional, medios de comunicación nacional e internacional de la manera siguiente:
1-    Que el proceso de exhumaciones de osamentas de los compañeros campesinos iniciado el pasado 16 de junio por la Unidad especial de investigación no ha sido transparente,  participativo ni consultado con los familiares de las víctimas, por lo que consideramos el proceso ilegal.

2-    Que existe desesperación por parte de Corporación Dinant en  limpiar su imagen ante el Banco Mundial y la comunidad internacional, luego de la publicación de los hallazgos del Ombudsman y Asesor en materia de Observancia (CAO por sus siglas en inglés), mecanismo independiente para proyectos respaldados por los Banco Mundial han evidenciado la participación de los guardias de seguridad de Dinant en una serie de asesinatos y violaciones a los derechos humanos de los campesinos y campesinas en el Bajo Aguàn.

Es claro que  la fiscalía del Ministerio Publico  y ahora la  Unidad Especial de Investigación recién creada y dirigida por el fiscal Javier Guzmán, para investigar supuestamente los asesinatos en el Bajo Aguàn, con el único propósito  solo pretende limpiar la imagen de la empresa de palma africana y criminalizar el sector campesino como lo han hecho por más de tres años, por lo tanto los movimientos campesinos del Aguan desconocemos y rechazamos  cualquier informe presentado por la unidad de investigación ya que conocemos su confabulación con los terratenientes.
3-    Que existen casos claros de la participación de los guardias de seguridad y declaraciones públicas  del señor Miguel Facusee gerente general de corporación Dinant, dadas a  medios de comunicación el 16 de noviembre del 2010 un día después de la masacre suscitada en el sector del Tumbador donde fueron asesinados cinco campesinos del Movimiento Campesino del Aguàn, expresando “ que porque el oso negro(Cesar Ham) había mandado a los campesinos a meterse a sus tierras si sabía que ahí tenía sus hombre armados”, casos como este gozan de total impunidad.
4-    Exigimos que no continúen  las exhumaciones de osamentas de campesinos  en la región del Bajo Aguàn, hasta tener el  consentimiento y acompañamiento de los familiares de las víctimas y la participación de médicos forenses internacionales propuestos por las organizaciones campesinas y los familiares en este proceso.
5-    Exigimos aclaraciones por parte de la cooperación que financio la Unidad Especial de  Investigacion que se instálalo en el Bajo Aguàn para investigar el  asesinato de más de 115 campesinos y campesinas en el marco del conflicto agrario, hemos escuchado que  la misma fue financiada con fondos de la USAID a través del Organismo de Estados Americanos (OEA).
6-    Denunciamos públicamente que todo este  proceso  se está desarrollando con un patrón de inteligencia militar asesorado por el Comando de Operaciones Especiales del Ejército de los EEUU, pretendiendo criminalizar las organizaciones campesinas del Aguàn que luchan por el acceso a la tierra.
7-    Denunciamos que algunas de las osamentas exhumadas por la unidad especial de  investigacion  no corresponden a campesinos que han sido asesinados en el marco del conflicto agrario y que están realizando una investigacion apresurada bajo una serie de irregularidades  en el proceso.
8-    Llamamos a los organismos nacionales e internacionales defensoras de derechos humanos a que se mantengan en alerta, así como también una comisión internacional acompañe todo el proceso para poder resguardar las evidencias.
Plataforma Agraria Regional del Valle del Aguàn
Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular de Colón
Movimiento Social
Dado en la ciudad de Tocoa, Colón a los 20 días del mes de junio 2014
 Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán
Facebook: Movimiento unificado Aguán
Skipe: movimiento.unificado

Fuente: http://www.hondurastierralibre.com/2014/06/proceso-de-exhumaciones-en-el-bajo.html

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IFC: Learning lessons or institutional amnesia?

20 June 2014

The International Finance Corporation (IFC, the World Bank’s private sector arm) published an early April briefing for the Bank’s executive board on “IFC’s environmental and social lessons learned”. The briefing was developed in response to the controversy over the IFC’s investment in Dinant, a palm oil company alleged to have links to murders and other human rights abuses in Honduras (see Bulletin May 2014, Observer Winter 2014). It is the most comprehensive admission of fault by the IFC ever made public. The briefing follows numerous IFC failures and bad publicity over damages to communities and the environment (see Observer Spring 2014, Update 86), as well as criticisms of its lack of poverty focus (see Update 84).

The briefing, in the form of a PowerPoint presentation rather than a document, argued that, despite the eight year old IFC performance standards, “clients and IFC are still learning, [the] implementation record [is] mixed”, and that “we are learning from tough cases, including Dinant, and mainstreaming lessons to improve process”. It claims that there is a “concerted effort to improve procedures, guidance for staff, clients and training”.

The document focusses on how the IFC is learning from the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the IFC’s independent accountability mechanism. It presented six categories where lessons were said to have been learned and IFC responses implemented: understanding the broader context, stakeholder engagement, land and water issues, supply chains, labour and financial intermediaries.

In conclusion, it highlighted many implementation challenges, focussing on external obstacles rather than the IFC’s own systems, including “weak client capacity combined with weak regulatory implementation”, “varying client commitment” and the “resource implications” of increased oversight. It states that “challenges will remain and results will not be perfect” but that the IFC “will report to the board (via CODE) more regularly regarding emerging problem projects”.

A separate early April presentation, from the Bank’s spring meetings, more clearly identified the projects that have resulted in these lessons. Aside from the Dinant case in Honduras, the civil society presentation includes references to investments in Wilmar, Agrokasa, Tata Mundra, Maple Energy, Nicaragua Sugar, Yanacocha, Oyu Tolgoi, Bujagali, Tata Tea, Avianca, Cambodia Airports and Standard Profil. The Chad-Cameroon pipeline is specifically mentioned in the briefing to the board. However, neither briefing contained any formal targets, benchmarks, or follow-up procedures for how the IFC will improve its performance.

NGOs criticise “serious omissions”

Civil society organisations were on balance unimpressed with the IFC’s efforts. A June letter to the IFC and the Bank’s board, signed by 29 groups including Indonesian NGO Solidaritas Perempuan and Oxfam International, welcomed positive elements in the briefing, but argued “this exercise will not produce the changes needed to avoid future harm to communities and the environment from IFC investments. This concern arises from two specific issues: a number of serious omissions in the content of the lessons learned document; and a lack of clarity about the future process of how these lessons will be followed through, to implementation, as well as monitoring and evaluation.”

The letter argued that the lessons learned document fails to address institutional culture and incentives, the mis-categorisation of risk and the need to prioritise human rights, among other issues. The signatories found “a degree of institutional amnesia each time things go wrong”, and called for “a public commitment to a time bound plan for the lessons learned exercise”, which should include benchmarks to assess progress, consultation with communities and civil society organisations, proposals for sanctions and other means to hold staff accountable and a risk re-assessment of the current portfolio. Finally, the letter demanded proposals “to ensure that IFC only invests in projects and sub-projects with a genuine poverty reduction rationale based on local and national sustainable development priorities.”

In January, more than 70 international organisations called for the IFC to commission “an independent investigation of the underlying systemic reasons identified by the CAO for the repeated and serious failures to adhere to standards by IFC staff.” This April IFC briefing falls far short of that demand. An audit report into an IFC financial intermediary investment linked to the Dinant case is expected this summer. Recent reports have criticised the IFC’s investments in financial intermediaries for lacking evidence of a tangible pro-poor development impact.

Fuente: http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/2014/06/ifc-learning-lessons-institutional-amnesia/

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El caso Tumbador suma en la larga lista de impunidad en el Aguán

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El equipo del Cofadeh visitó a Marta Julia López esposa de Ciriaco Muñóz

Tocoa, Colón.

En un sector tan violento donde los defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos arriesgan las vidas para defender los derechos de los campesinos y campesinas, la impunidad gana terreno cada día que pasa.

Se trata de la zona del Aguán localizada en el departamento de Colón al norte de Honduras. El 15 de noviembre de 2010, guardias de seguridad que trabajaban para el terrateniente Miguel Facussé asesinaron a 5 campesinos en la finca de palma africana conocida como Tumbador.

Un fallo emitido por el tribunal de justicia dictó sobreseimiento provisional para los supuestos victimarios, aumentando con ello la desconfianza en la aplicación de justicia y perpetrando la impunidad de los victimarios en el Bajo Aguán.

Un equipo de procuradoras de derechos humanos del Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH) que visitó la zona, constató que la Fiscalía no presentó ningún recurso de apelación para contrarrestar la decisión del tribunal, proporcionando libertad para quienes dispararon y mataron a 5 campesinos.

Las consecuencias de estos hechos han derivado en situaciones precarias para las familias de las víctimas, cuando las viudas perdieron la fuente de ingresos que proporcionaban sus compañeros de hogar y en el presente afrontan grandes dificultades para alimentar a sus hijos e hijas que quedaron sin padres.

Uno de esos casos es de María Concepción Membreño, esposa de Teodoro  Acosta. Cuando su compañero de hogar fue asesinado, su hijo menor apenas tenía 10 meses de nacido y ahora después de 4 años lucha por la vida para alimentar a sus 5 hijos.

Membreño dijo a defensoresenlinea.com que los que mataron a su marido fueron guardias de seguridad del terrateniente Miguel Facussé y que esa muerte junto a la de otros cuatro campesinos, cegó las intenciones de recuperar tierras y los anhelos de cultivar para sobrevivir.

“Uno de pobre, por eso es que necesita las tierras para cultivar, porque yo soy pobre y para mí es difícil todo esto, yo ya no soy como antes como cuando él estaba (Teodoro Acosta), encuentro todo diferente y no tengo amparo de nadie, solo de Dios”, expresó con tristeza Membreño que vive con sus hijos e hijas en una pequeña parcela de tierra en la comunidad Guadalupe Carney, municipio de Trujillo, en el departamento de Colón.

María Concepción Membreño dando declarciones al periodista Marvin Palacios

La situación que vive María Concepción Membreño no difiere mucho de las otras cuatro viudas que demandan justicia al Estado de Honduras, al perder a sus compañeros de hogar en condiciones violentas y a manos de guardias de seguridad, que de acuerdo a denuncias operan con total impunidad en el Aguán.

A cuatro años de los trágicos eventos para estas familias campesinas, el caso se encuentra en un punto muerto, no hay avances y mucho menos, esperanzas de alcanzar justicia.

En febrero de 2014 la organización internacional Human Rights Watch publicó un informe sobre Honduras titulado: “‘Aquí no hay investigaciones’: Impunidad de homicidios y otros abusos en el Bajo Aguán, Honduras”.

Las autoridades hondureñas no han investigado adecuadamente la ola de homicidios y otros abusos presuntamente vinculados a conflictos por la tierra en la región del Bajo Aguán, señaló Human Rights Watch.

El informe examina 29 homicidios y dos privaciones ilegales de la libertad ocurridos en el Bajo Aguán desde 2009, así como violaciones de derechos humanos cometidas por soldados y policías. Human Rights Watch determinó que fiscales y policías ignoraron sistemáticamente medidas de investigaciones oportunas y exhaustivas que permitieran esclarecer estos delitos, y dicha omisión ha sido reconocida en entrevistas por fiscales, policías y militares hondureños.

“Incluso tratándose de un país con alarmantes niveles de violencia e impunidad, la situación en el Bajo Aguán es particularmente grave”, observó José Miguel Vivanco, Director para las Américas de Human Rights Watch. “La ausencia de las medidas más básicas para llevar a los responsables de crímenes ante la justicia, ha perpetuado un clima de impunidad que estimula nuevos delitos, e incrementa la desconfianza en las autoridades”.

En ninguno de los 29 homicidios documentados por Human Rights Watch en el Bajo Aguán se ha dictado condena, según surge de información proporcionada por funcionarios gubernamentales. Solamente un caso llegó a juicio: El asesinato de cinco campesinos, ocurrido en noviembre de 2010.
Pero en enero de 2013 se dictó el sobreseimiento provisional hasta que se presentaran nuevas evidencias, luego de que la justicia no encontrara elementos suficientes para seguir adelante con la causa, y desde entonces no se ha reanudado. Se trata del caso conocido como Tumbador, ocurrido en Trujillo, departamento de Colón.

En 13 de los 29 homicidios y privación ilegal de la libertad que investigó Human Rights Watch, las evidencias apuntaban a la posible intervención de guardias de seguridad privada. Los guardias privados están sujetos a las leyes nacionales sobre uso de la fuerza y están obligados a respetar los derechos de los ciudadanos.

Las investigaciones de casos en que las víctimas indicaron que había guardias privados involucrados han estado marcadas por reiterados errores y omisiones, como situaciones en que los fiscales no exigieron los registros laborales donde consta qué guardias estaban trabajando cuando se cometió un delito.

Debido a la presunta participación de guardias de seguridad que trabajan para empresas agroindustriales del Bajo Aguán en delitos vinculados a conflictos por tierras, la Oficina del Ombudsman (CAO) —el mecanismo de rendición de cuentas de la Corporación Financiera Internacional (IFC)— ha iniciado una investigación sobre préstamos otorgados por esta última a la Corporación Dinant, propiedad del terrateniente Miguel Facussé.

La IFC, organismo de préstamo al sector privado del Banco Mundial, cuenta con normas sobre las prácticas de sus clientes relativas a contratación, utilización y supervisión de guardias de seguridad privada, en particular ante denuncias creíbles de abusos. La Corporación Dinant indicó a Human Rights Watch que realiza investigaciones internas de todas las denuncias de abusos que afectan a su personal y coopera plenamente con las autoridades en relación con cualquier denuncia penal.

El informe del Ombudsman del Banco Mundial, que se difundió en enero de 2014, identificó graves problemas en el modo en que el personal de la IFC había manejado la situación, que incluyeron subestimar los riesgos relativos a seguridad y conflictos por tierras, y no actuar con la debida diligencia a pesar de que se había planteado públicamente la situación relativa al proyecto y los riesgos que suponía. Según concluye el informe, el personal de proyectos de la IFC tampoco informó a otros especialistas de IFC en este tipo de riesgos ambientales y sociales sobre los problemas que sabían que estaban sucediendo. La IFC ha reconocido públicamente que hubo falencias en la implementación por la IFC de sus propios estándares.

Durante su gobierno, de 2010 a 2013, el presidente Porfirio Lobo adoptó ciertas medidas tendientes a mitigar los conflictos por tierras en el Bajo Aguán a través de mediación y compra de tierras. Pero, en general, la estrategia de su gobierno para abordar la violencia en la región consistió en incrementar la presencia de fuerzas de seguridad y atribuir su origen a grupos delictivos. No obstante, esta estrategia no contribuyó a reducir los delitos ni mejorar la rendición de cuentas, sostuvo Human Rights Watch en su informe-

El gobierno del presidente Lobo tampoco adoptó medidas preventivas para proteger a personas que se encontraban en riesgo a causa de conflictos por tierras en el Bajo Aguán, incluso en casos en que las evidencias sugerían de manera persuasiva que era probable que se produjeran hechos de violencia. En al menos dos ocasiones desde 2010, fueron asesinadas personas que previamente habían sido beneficiadas formalmente con “medidas cautelares” por la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos en razón de las actividades que desarrollaban en el Bajo Aguán, y que exigían al gobierno hondureño brindarles protección inmediata.

Estas víctimas fueron un periodista y un activista campesino. En un tercer caso, un abogado de derechos humanos a quien el gobierno hondureño había prometido protección fue asesinado. Ninguna de estas tres víctimas contaba con protección del gobierno en el momento en que fueron asesinadas, concluyó Human Rights Watch.

En otras instancias de amenazas creíbles a comunidades o personas, los funcionarios no han investigado los hechos ni han ofrecido medidas de protección efectivas. Reiteradamente en 2013, militares en la región agravaron el riesgo al cual estaban expuestos ciertos activistas que trabajan en el Bajo Aguán, al hacer declaraciones difamatorias y cuestionar la credibilidad de su trabajo.

 

Fuente: http://www.defensoresenlinea.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3187:el-caso-tumbador-suma-en-la-larga-lista-de-impunidad-en-el-aguan&catid=71:def&Itemid=166

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Company Linked to Death Squads Addresses World Bank Panel

Family members weep over the body of a peasant killed in the Bajo Aguán community of Panamá in Honduras.

Family members weep over the body of a peasant killed in the Bajo Aguán community of Panamá in Honduras.

 

The World Bank hosted a Honduran agribusiness company to speak at a bank conference in Washington on security and human rights matters last week, months after the bank’s own audit findings linked the company to scores of killings and a violent land conflict.

The company, Corporación Dinant, appeared at an annual conference on sustainable business practices, despite intense controversy over the bank’s support for the company, which human rights groups have tied to death squads.

The appearance came as Dinant announced it had built barracks to house Honduran military forces on one of its plantations, while disarming its own private company guards. Last year, one human rights organization cited witnesses who said that state security forces and company guards had acted interchangeably.

Roger Pineda, the spokesman for Dinant, did not respond to requests for comment. But the company has long denied targeting its opponents for violence.

A spokeswoman for the International Finance Corporation, the bank’s private-sector lender, said Pineda had been invited to discuss the company’s efforts to improve its human rights practices.

In January, auditors reported that the I.F.C. had violated its own rules in extending a $30 million loan to the company — suppressing information about risk and ignoring the “acutely violent” land conflict surrounding the company’s plantations.

Pineda appeared as part of a panel to discuss his company’s adoption of voluntary guidelines on security and human rights.

In light of the audit findings, “Mr. Pineda was able to share Dinant’s progress in implementing the voluntary principles in a conflict-affected area,” Serene Jweied, an I.F.C. spokeswoman, wrote in an email.

Pineda was scheduled to be joined by representatives of the Bermuda oil company Kosmos Energy, the Canadian miner Barrick Gold and the Fund for Peace, an organization in Washington that seeks to resolve conflicts, according to an agenda.

Krista Hendry, executive director of the Fund for Peace, who appeared on the panel, said all of the companies on the panel had partnered with her organization in adapting their conduct.

Panelists generally spoke of the importance of adhering to the voluntary principles on security and human rights, a set of guidelines for companies seeking to avoid human rights violations while securing their operations, according to Hendry.

The panel was held under the Chatham House Rule, meaning that remarks during the event may not be attributed to the individuals who make them.

The two-day “Sustainability Exchange” drew people from over a hundred companies and organizations, such as Nestlé, the mining giant Rio Tinto and the Worldwide Fund for Nature. Subjects included “food, water, minerals and energy,” as well as “integrating local farmers into supply chains.”

The World Bank’s governing board in January rebuked the I.F.C. for its response to the Dinant audit and the organization pledged to improve its proposed “action plan,” which was widely seen as inadequate.

The plan called for the I.F.C. to ask Dinant to cooperate with local law-enforcement investigations, even though the rule of law is widely seen as weak in Honduras.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Secretary of State John F. Kerry, more than a hundred U.S. lawmakers cited Associated Press reporting on continuing “death-squad style killings by Honduran police” and said “indigenous and campesino activists are being targeted and killed.”

Signatories to the letter, which called on the State Department to enforce restrictions on U.S. military aid to Honduras, were led by the Illinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky, a chief minority whip.

Dana Frank, a professor at the University of California Santa Cruz and critic of U.S. policy toward Honduras, said Pineda’s presence at the conference was unseemly.

“There are widespread allegations including a lot of documentation that Dinant security guards have killed, threatened or intimidated land rights activists in the Aguán valley for the last five years with complete impunity,” said Frank, who said she was not present at the panel.

“This is clearly part of a P.R. offensive that Dinant is coordinating right now,” she said. “I find this terrifying.”

“Is the World Bank legitimating what Dinant is doing here?” Frank asked. “Or are they using the occasion to put this guy on the carpet and say, ‘What’s going on here?’”

Fuente: http://100r.org/2014/05/company-linked-to-death-squads-addresses-world-bank-panel/

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HONDURAS: Comunicado ante firma de convenio entre el Gobierno de Honduras y Dinant‏

miércoles, 14 de mayo de 2014


Comunicado
Ante la firma de un convenio suscrito entre corporación Dinant y la Secretaria de Agricultura y Ganadería (SAG), las 32 organizaciones que conformamos la Plataforma Agraria nos pronunciamos de la siguiente manera:
1-   Lamentamos que instituciones gubernamentales como la SAG suscriban convenios con industrias palmeras que no cumplen con los estándares en materia del respeto a los Derechos Humanos hacia las comunidades campesinas ubicadas en la zona del Bajo Aguán, desconociendo los hallazgos de la auditoria de la Oficina del Ombudsman del Banco Mundial (CAO) publicada en enero del 2014.

2-   Además de la auditoria de la CAO, diversos informes de organizaciones nacionales e internacionales han señalado que corporación Dinant violenta los Derechos Humanos e irrespetan el  derecho inherente a la vida de los campesinos y campesinas y sus comunidades.
3-   Con la firma de dicho convenio es evidente que las instituciones del Estado prefieren colocar los intereses de empresas trasnacionales por encima del derecho a la vida de los y las campesinas en el Bajo Aguán, convirtiéndose al mismo tiempo en cómplices del irrespeto a las garantías fundamentales de la población campesina.
4-   Es incoherente que corporaciones involucradas en graves violaciones a los derechos humanos y daños al medio ambiente gocen del  financiamiento de organismos nacionales e internacionales que tienen como fin combatir la pobreza. Asimismo el gobierno de Honduras debe tomar en consideración los niveles de dependencia en materia de granos básicos, los niveles de concentración de tierras por corporaciones como Dinant que en muchas ocasiones  ha provocado el desplazamiento de comunidades.
Dado en la Ciudad de Tegucigalpa a los 14 días del mes de Mayo 2014
Cosechemos Justicia en el Campo

Fuente: http://www.hondurastierralibre.com/2014/05/honduras-comunicado-ante-firma-de.html

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World Bank Group investing in banks before poverty reduction

8 May 2014

Lafarge cement project, photo credit Atikul Islam

Lafarge cement project, photo credit Atikul Islam

New research shows the World Bank Group favours investing in the financial sector despite numerous negative cases which cast doubt on whether investing in financial intermediaries is an effective poverty reduction strategy. In late April the IFC’s proposed $15 million loan to the Honduran commercial bank Davivienda was criticised by 28 civil society organisations including the Movement of Unified Campesinos in Aguan (MUCA) and Oxfam International.

They called on the World Bank board to question the financial intermediary loan which has a focus on small and medium sized enterprises but has been identified as having environmental and social risks,  including “biodiversity impacts, and pollution” and in “some instances child labour, land disputes, and impacts on indigenous and other vulnerable communities.” The board was due to discuss the investment end April but did not. Board sources indicated that it is likely the project will be ‘streamlined’ in a few months time meaning it will not come before the board for discussion. The CSO letter states: “we find it disturbing that this project is not classified as high risk despite the IFC admitting it could provoke land disputes and affect vulnerable communities.”

The letter continues, “given that a similar IFC loan to Banco Ficohsa is under audit by the CAO, and only this month the IFC released a revised Dinant action plan, it would seem to undermine the IFC’s recent commitments to learn lessons and put right its mistakes in the Dinant case to go ahead with investments that have not looked at the contextual risks of an investment in Honduras” (see Bulletin May 2014). The letter states: “we believe there is a strong likelihood that Banco Davivienda has financial ties to Corporación Dinant and other companies involved in conflicts related to land acquisitions.” In January the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the IFC’s accountability mechanism, published an audit report strongly criticising the IFC for its $30 million loan to palm oil producer Dinant which is alleged to have been involved in human rights abuses, including the killing, kidnapping and forced eviction of farmers in the Bajo Aguán region (see Observer Winter 2014).

World Bank Group prioritises financial intermediaries

Bretton Woods Project April report Follow the money found that the financial sector is now the largest beneficiary of World Bank Group investment, receiving $36 billion between July 2009 and June 2013 from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Bank’s private sector arm. Over the same period the World Bank’s public sector arms committed $22.1 billion to health and $12.4 billion to education. Investments in trade finance and other financial intermediaries represented 62 percent of total IFC investment in the last fiscal year.

Assessing the IFC’s portfolio of financial sector investments, the report revealed a trend for funding to commercial banking rather than small and medium enterprises, and towards upper-middle-income countries, such as Russia, Brazil, China and Turkey, despite the poor living predominantly in low-income and lower-middle-income countries. The report follows civil society criticism of IFC financial intermediary lending to client banks linked to alleged land grabs in Cambodia and Vietnam, and a dam in Guatemala which has led to intimidation and assassinations (see Observer Spring 2014).

World Bank prioritises financial sector instead of poverty (Fiscal years 2010-2013). Bretton Woods Project

Controversial financial intermediary investments in India

In February a report from Indian civil society group the Research Collective (PSA) analysed commercial bank financing of projects that are causing severe problems for local communities, including two projects supported by the IFC via financial intermediaries. In the case of the Kamalanga coal thermal power plant (see Update 85), “the affected communities contend that the project has violated basic environmental and social norms leading to loss of livelihood, loss of land and damage to environmental and natural resources.” In the case of the Lafarge Surma Cement project (see Bulletin Feb 2014), the company’s “blatant violation of environmental and social norms of the country, even while being financed by international financial institutions and banks which have independent safeguards to alleviate social and environmental harm, goes to show that we cannot rely on international mechanisms to protect our human and environmental life.”

The Research Collective concluded: “Exploiting this gap in lending regulation in India, international financial institutions are making use of national financial institutions as financial intermediaries to channelise unaccountable and non-transparent lending to projects which are in violation of their internal safeguard principles” and that “without a firm, democratically accountable and transparent system to regulate and oversee the rapid flow of finances into projects, the price we pay as a country for the interim damage can be far heavier than the benefits of growth itself”.

Fuente: http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/2014/05/world-bank-group-investing-banks-poverty-reduction/

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World Bank loan to Honduran bank comes under scrutiny

Criticism of multimillion-dollar loan to private sector comes after internal bank report censured funding of another Honduran firm
MDG : Members of Honduran peasant groups in Bajo Aguán  demonstrate over land rights

Honduran peasant groups protest over land rights in Bajo Aguán. Photograph: AFP

The World Bank‘s commitment to change its lending practices to the private sector has been called into question by campaigners over a proposed multimillion-dollar loan to a Honduran commercial bank. It comes months after a damning internal investigation into the bank’s dealings with a palm oil company in the country.

In January, the bank’s internal auditor said its private sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), failed to comply with its own policies and ethical standards when it loaned millions of dollars to Dinant, a Honduran palm oil company with alleged links to assassinations and forced evictions.

The bank’s compliance adviser/ombudsman (CAO) said staff had been, in effect, encouraged “to overlook, fail to articulate, or even conceal potential environmental, social and conflict risk”.

After a relatively unapologetic initial response, the IFC, which lends to companies in developing countries, acknowledged there had been “shortcomings” in how it had implemented its policies. It said it would not disburse further funding to Dinant until the company strengthened its environmental and social standards and reviewed its security practices. It also accepted that it must look in greater detail at the wider context of its investments.

Campaigners say a proposed $15m (£9m) loan to commercial bank Davivienda in Honduras suggests the IFC has not learned its lessons from the Dinant affair. Twenty-eight international and Honduran NGOs and civil society groups have written to the World Bank’s board expressing concerns over the proposed investment, which has been classified by the lender as “medium risk”, despite admissions that potential impacts could include child labour and land disputes.

“Given the highly sensitive context in the wake of IFC’s Dinant investment, the risk of human rights violations and the history of land conflicts in Honduras, we find it disturbing that this project is not classified as high risk,” says the letter, whose signatories include Oxfam, ActionAid, Madre Tierra and Eurodad (European Network on Debt and Development). “This loan proposal provides a test case for the IFC to demonstrate that it is learning lessons from the Dinant experience.”

The organisations point to IFC project documents that list, as potential risks associated with the investment, pollution, child labour, land disputes, and impacts on indigenous and other vulnerable communities.

They say the lender should fully investigate and disclose whether there are any links between Davivienda and Dinant, noting that the CAO is investigating another Honduran bank and its relationship with the agribusiness giant.

Dinant is the largest landowner in the Bajo Aguán valley, where it has been accused of links to assassinations and forced evictions. The CAO cites allegations that 102 members of peasant associations in the Bajo Aguán have been murdered in the past five years. Dinant has repeatedly denied any connection to the killings.

The CAO is investigating IFC lending to Banco Ficohsa in Honduras, through which it may have had significant exposure to Dinant as the company is one of Ficohsa’s biggest borrowers. The CAO is expected to issue its report this year.

Peter Chowla, of the London-based Bretton Woods Project, said the IFC seemed to be ignoring reports from auditors and NGOs that the organisation was “systematically flawed with an institutional culture that ignores environmental and social risks”.

“The IFC’s systemic failures are leading to people losing their lands and livelihoods all over the world. Claims that these are isolated incidents are attempts at wilful blindness to the realities of an organisation that fundamentally is not compliant with its mandate of poverty reduction,” he added.

Serene Jweied, a spokeswoman for the IFC, said: “The proposed $15m loan to Davivienda in Honduras is focused on providing much-needed access to finance for small and medium enterprises and will not be used to support large, high-risk operations. IFC is disclosing the environmental and social risks relevant in the country context, even though risks associated with this investment are limited.

“The risk categorisation is fully consistent with our policy. We remain committed to making a difference in one of the poorest countries in Latin America, while continually improving our practice based on lessons learned and an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders.”

Fuente: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/may/01/world-bank-loan-honduras

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Honduras: Sin justicia en la ola de homicidios vinculados a conflictos por la tierra

La inacción de las autoridades agrava la impunidad en el Bajo Aguán
February 12, 2014

(Tegucigalpa) – Las autoridades hondureñas no han investigado adecuadamente la ola de homicidios y otros abusos presuntamente vinculados a conflictos por la tierra en la región del Bajo Aguán, señaló Human Rights Watch en un informe divulgado hoy.

El informe de 78 páginas, “‘Aquí no hay investigaciones’: Impunidad de homicidios y otros abusos en el Bajo Aguán, Honduras”, examina 29 homicidios y dos privaciones ilegales de la libertad ocurridos en el Bajo Aguán desde 2009, así como violaciones de derechos humanos cometidas por soldados y policías. Human Rights Watch determinó que fiscales y policías ignoraron sistemáticamente medidas de investigación oportunas y exhaustivas que permitieran esclarecer estos delitos, y dicha omisión ha sido reconocida en entrevistas por fiscales, policías y militares hondureños.

“Incluso tratándose de un país con alarmantes niveles de violencia e impunidad, la situación en el Bajo Aguán es particularmente grave”, observó José Miguel Vivanco, Director para las Américas de Human Rights Watch. “La ausencia de las medidas más básicas para llevar a los responsables de crímenes ante la justicia, ha perpetuado un clima de impunidad que estimula nuevos delitos, e incrementa la desconfianza en las autoridades”.

En ninguno de los 29 homicidios documentados por Human Rights Watch en el Bajo Aguán se ha dictado condena, según surge de información proporcionada por funcionarios gubernamentales. Solamente un caso llegó a juicio: el asesinato de cinco campesinos, ocurrido en noviembre de 2010. Pero en enero de 2013 se dictó el sobreseimiento provisional hasta que se presentaran nuevas evidencias, luego de que la justicia no encontrara elementos suficientes para seguir adelante con la causa, y desde entonces no se ha reanudado.

La región del Bajo Aguán, en el norte de Honduras, ha sido escenario de prolongadas y a menudo violentos conflictos por la tierra, muchas de ellas surgidas tras la reforma de la ley agraria del país en 1992. Grandes extensiones de territorio en la región han sido disputadas entre organizaciones campesinas y empresas agroindustriales, que se dedican en su mayoría al cultivo de palma africana para la producción de aceite. Según un informe del Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, 92 personas murieron en el contexto de conflictos por la tierra en el Bajo Aguán entre 2009 y 2012. Si bien la mayoría de las víctimas han sido campesinos, también fueron asesinados guardias de seguridad empleados por empresas privadas.

En casos en que la evidencia sugería que soldados y policías del Bajo Aguán cometieron violaciones de derechos humanos, los investigadores no cumplieron pasos básicos para determinar si se habían producido abusos, según comprobó Human Rights Watch. Frente a hechos en que las evidencias indicaban que miembros de las fuerzas de seguridad participaron en torturas y detenciones arbitrarias, los fiscales no se constituyeron en hasta el lugar de los hechos ni entrevistaron a testigos y presuntos responsables. Las autoridades también postergaron la búsqueda de personas que, según indica la evidencia, fueron llevadas contra su voluntad, aun cuando había indicios sobre dónde podrían ser encontradas. En uno de estos casos que fue examinado por Human Rights Watch, la víctima posteriormente fue hallada muerta, y dos aún están desaparecidas.

La falta de transparencia por parte de fiscales y policías con respecto al estado de las investigaciones en curso mantiene desinformados a los familiares y socava la confianza en el sistema judicial, expresó Human Rights Watch. Sumados a la falta de avances en el juzgamiento de estos delitos, estos factores provocan un círculo vicioso que disuade a quienes podrían aportar pruebas que permitan procesar a los responsables.

En 13 de los 29 homicidios y privación ilegal de la libertad que investigó Human Rights Watch, las evidencias apuntaban a la posible intervención de guardias de seguridad privada. Los guardias privados están sujetos a las leyes nacionales sobre uso de la fuerza y están obligados a respetar los derechos de los ciudadanos. Las investigaciones de casos en que las víctimas indicaron que había guardias privados involucrados han estado marcadas por reiterados errores y omisiones, como situaciones en que los fiscales no exigieron los registros laborales donde consta qué guardias estaban trabajando cuando se cometió un delito.

Debido a la presunta participación de guardias de seguridad que trabajan para empresas agroindustriales del Bajo Aguán en delitos vinculados a conflictos por tierras, la Oficina del Ombudsman (CAO) —el mecanismo de rendición de cuentas de la Corporación Financiera Internacional (IFC)— ha iniciado una investigación sobre préstamos otorgados por esta última a la Corporación Dinant.

La IFC, organismo de préstamo al sector privado del Banco Mundial, cuenta con normas sobre las prácticas de sus clientes relativas a contratación, utilización y supervisión de guardias de seguridad privada, en particular ante denuncias creíbles de abusos. La Corporación Dinant indicó a Human Rights Watch que realiza investigaciones internas de todas las denuncias de abusos que afectan a su personal y coopera plenamente con las autoridades en relación con cualquier denuncia penal.

El informe del Ombudsman del Banco Mundial, que se difundió en enero de 2014, identificó graves problemas en el modo en que el personal de la IFC había manejado la situación, que incluyeron subestimar los riesgos relativos a seguridad y conflictos por tierras, y no actuar con la debida diligencia a pesar de que se había planteado públicamente la situación relativa al proyecto y los riesgos que suponía. Según concluye el informe, el personal de proyectos de la IFC tampoco informó a otros especialistas de IFC en este tipo de riesgos ambientales y sociales sobre los problemas que sabían que estaban sucediendo. La IFC ha reconocido públicamente que hubo falencias en la implementación por la IFC de sus propios estándares.

La falta de progreso en las investigaciones en el Bajo Aguán ha exacerbado la desconfianza en el gobierno y el temor entre la población de la región, sobre todo las organizaciones campesinas.

Durante su gobierno, de 2010 a 2013, el presidente Porfirio Lobo adoptó ciertas medidas tendientes a mitigar los conflictos por tierras en el Bajo Aguán a través de mediación y compra de tierras. Pero, en general, la estrategia de su gobierno para abordar la violencia en la región consistió en incrementar la presencia de fuerzas de seguridad y atribuir su origen a grupos delictivos. No obstante, esta estrategia no contribuyó a reducir los delitos ni mejorar la rendición de cuentas.

El gobierno del presidente Lobo tampoco adoptó medidas preventivas para proteger a personas que se encontraban en riesgo a causa de conflictos por tierras en el Bajo Aguán, incluso en casos en que las evidencias sugerían de manera persuasiva que era probable que se produjeran hechos de violencia. En al menos dos ocasiones desde 2010, fueron asesinadas personas que previamente habían sido beneficiadas formalmente con “medidas cautelares” por la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos en razón de las actividades que desarrollaban en el Bajo Aguán, y que exigían al gobierno hondureño brindarles protección inmediata. Estas víctimas fueron un periodista y un activista campesino. En un tercer caso, un abogado de derechos humanos a quien el gobierno hondureño había prometido protección fue asesinado. Ninguna de estas tres víctimas contaba con protección del gobierno en el momento en que fueron asesinadas, concluyó Human Rights Watch.

En otras instancias de amenazas creíbles a comunidades o personas, los funcionarios no han investigado los hechos ni han ofrecido medidas de protección efectivas. Reiteradamente en 2013, militares en la región agravaron el riesgo al cual estaban expuestos ciertos activistas que trabajan en el Bajo Aguán, al hacer declaraciones difamatorias y cuestionar la credibilidad de su trabajo.

“El nuevo gobierno tiene la oportunidad de superar el fracaso de sus antecesores y, de una vez por todas, sancionar los asesinatos y abusos en el Bajo Aguán”, señaló Vivanco. “Si la actual administración no hace un esfuerzo serio, desde el primer día, para investigar estos crímenes, el gravísimo ciclo de violencia en el Aguán continuará”.

Human Rights Watch instó a las autoridades hondureñas a adoptar las siguientes medidas:

  • Conformar una unidad especial con un mandato de varios años integrada por fiscales, policías e investigadores, que inicie investigaciones oportunas, exhaustivas e imparciales de los homicidios, privaciones ilegales de la libertad y otros delitos graves ocurridos en el Bajo Aguán en los cuales las evidencias sugieran que existe una conexión con el conflicto por la tierra, así como en todos los casos de presuntas violaciones de derechos humanos cometidas por autoridades en el Bajo Aguán.
  • Fortalecer los mecanismos y la legislación conexa para ofrecer protección oportuna y efectiva a personas o grupos en riesgo de sufrir violencia en el marco del conflicto por la tierra, especialmente defensores de derechos humanos, periodistas y miembros de organizaciones campesinas que hayan recibido reiteradas amenazas.
  • Asegurar que todas las empresas de seguridad privada se inscriban ante el gobierno, y que las listas de personal empleado y armas de fuego en poder de tales empresas estén actualizadas, de conformidad con las leyes nacionales.

Ejemplos de casos tomados del informe sobre falencias en la investigación de homicidios, impunidad de violaciones de derechos humanos cometidas por miembros de las fuerzas de seguridad del Estado y medidas de protección inadecuadas para personas en riesgo:

  • Cinco miembros del Movimiento Campesino del Aguán (MCA) fueron asesinados durante un enfrentamiento por tierras en la plantación El Tumbador el 15 de noviembre de 2010. En la causa iniciada por este hecho contra cinco guardias de seguridad privada, se otorgó el sobreseimiento provisional, en un proceso en que los fiscales no recogieron evidencias esenciales, como realizar pruebas de balística en armas presuntamente utilizadas en el incidente y confeccionar un inventario completo de las armas asignadas a los guardias.
  • El agricultor y predicador laico Gregorio Chávez desapareció el 2 de julio de 2012 cerca de su vivienda en la comunidad Panamá. Transcurrieron varios días sin que la policía inspeccionara una plantación cercana a su propiedad, y esto provocó que se perdiera la oportunidad de recabar evidencias cruciales. Cuando la policía finalmente realizó una búsqueda en la plantación el 6 de julio, encontraron el cuerpo sin vida de Chávez. Ninguna persona ha sido imputada por este hecho.
  • Santos Bernabé Cruz —un joven que entonces tenía 16 años y es hijo del líder de una organización campesina— denunció que fue detenido arbitrariamente por policías el 19 de septiembre de 2011 y acusado de participar en un atentado en el cual perdió la vida un policía, si bien Cruz negó estar implicado. Cruz indicó que los policías lo golpearon con sus cascos, lo azotaron con una manguera, saltaron varias veces sobre su cuerpo mientras yacía tendido en el suelo, y luego lo rociaron con gasolina y le advirtieron que lo quemarían vivo si no confesaba. Dijo haber permanecido incomunicado toda la noche bajo custodia policial, y que fue liberado al día siguiente sin que se formularan cargos. La investigación penal sobre estos abusos se encuentra paralizada.
  • El 22 de septiembre de 2012, agresores armados emboscaron y asesinaron al abogado de derechos humanos Antonio Trejo en Tegucigalpa, afuera de una iglesia. Tres días después de su muerte, la Ministra de Justicia y Derechos Humanos Ana Pineda reconoció que Trejo había informado al gobierno que temía por su vida debido a amenazas, e indicó que el gobierno le había otorgado “medidas de seguridad”. Sin embargo, al día siguiente, un vocero de la Secretaría de Seguridad indicó que, según había podido determinar, Trejo no había recibido protección a través de la secretaría. Ninguna persona ha sido acusada en relación con el asesinato de Trejo, que aún está siendo investigado.
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Fuente: http://www.hrw.org/node/123189

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On Those Misguided World Bank Loans

  • Written by  Wendy Griffin

There is a Chinese curse which says, “May you live in interesting times.” Living in Trujillo, next to the lower or Bajo Aguán area which include the highway between Trujillo and the nearby Tocoa and the Garifuna area in the municipalities of Santa Fe, Trujillo, Santa Rosa de Guana, Limón and Irionia which includes Ladinos, Garifunas and Pech Indians, the foreign residents of Trujillo have had front row seats in a number of conflicts. These include the conflict with Miguel Facussé and his Dinant Corporation with the peasants of the Bajo Aguán valley and with the Garifuna towns which extend east of Trujillo, such as Limón/Vallecito. Since 2004, there have also been a significant and surprising stream of international and Honduran anthropologists who have shown up at my door in Trujillo associated with a minor part of this World Bank loan, a cohune nut oil processing project of Dinant in nearby Pech communities and the Garifuna communities of Limón and Guadelupe, also part of the financing of the World Bank oil palm project and supported also by SNV, a Dutch development organization.

Janaury 10, 2014 New York Times article about the criticizing of the World Bank for loans made to Hondurans was primarily about the US$30 million loan to Dinant. In the news monitoring reports by the Ombudsman of the World Bank who reacted to formal complaints filed by international organizations accompanying the Hondurans who were affected, it shows that a significant part of the financing for Dinant involved in these conflicts, both directly to Mr. Facussé and indirectly through the Honduran bank FICOHSA of which he is the largest client, is coming from a part of the World Bank that handles private company loans — the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The actual reports of the Ombudsman are linked to the New York Times  piece. This was described as one of the strongest reproaches of the Ombudsman office ever.

 

In the two reports, one for Dinant’s US$30 million loan to invest in African palm cultivation and its processing, of which they have already received US$15 million, and a separate one for FICOHSA which is now partly owned by IFC through an equity deal, the Ombudsman found that the IFC neither performed good due diligence prior to authorizing the loans, violating rules regarding evaluating social and environmental risk, nor did good follow-up to see if the social, economic, or security situation had changed or deteriorated after the 2009 coup against President Manuel Zelaya, which they judged had grown significantly worse. As a bank, FICOHSA was also concerned that it unknowingly had a great deal of exposure to the problems of Mr. Facussé and his companies. In other words, the bank’s officials must have been thinking, “We are worried we could lose our shirts if things go badly for him.”

 

Indeed, things have not gone well in the Bajo Aguán since Hurricane Mitch in 1998, when the area saw widespread destruction. In 2000, Mr. Facussé, who sold his Cressida company — maker of Natura-brand tomato paste, fruit drinks and packaged nacatamales  — to the British company Unilever for around US$15 million, said at the time that he planned to put invest the money in African palms. He was already in conflict with Garifunas, for example, in the Limón/Vallecito area about African palms and in the Limón, Farallones area about a proposed resort where the Garifunas and Ladinos of Limón had had their cattle, but this resort did not open due to the drop in tourism after Mitch. He also bought just prior to Hurricane Mitch a ranch, Hacienda Tumbador, which during Mitch flooded so badly that the alligators at his alligator ranch all escaped and many cattle drowned. That area is now all planted in African palms and Ladino workers said the excavators made a cracking sound breaking and digging up all the ceramics and green stone carvings at the archaeological site there, which had previously been visited by archaeologists such as Gordon Willey of Harvard University.

 

According to the Honduran Cultural Patrimony law which is on the UNESCO Honduras page in English, it is illegal to knowingly destroy an archaeological site and there is a significant fine, but most Hondurans have never heard of this law, don’t read English, don’t access the Internet, and who would you report it to anyway if you wanted to? Where are they and what is their phone number? How would you know? And who would protect you if the person doing the developing got angry at you? Garifunas report similar destruction of archaeological sites now located in Garifuna villages for tourist developments such as in the Triunfo de la Cruz area, and remained silent for similar reasons. Betulia, the area currently being developed west of Trujillo for Canadian investors has been a source of archaeological finds for years, and the pre-Columbian path over the mountains in the municipality of Santa to the larger archaeological sites in the Aguán valley is now blocked by Canadian housing and a new road planned in the area to connect Betulia directly to La Ceiba, being able to bypass Trujillo and Tocoa.

 

The Ombudsman report said the IFC knew, or should have known, that releasing significant levels of funding like US$30 million to Dinant’s owner, Mr. Facussé, could have significant social and environmental impact in the area. If the people at the IFC had read the Tegucigalpa newspapers, for example, they could have read the reports of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) students regarding the water quality of the Choluteca rivers over the years — often performed near where Dinant had outlets for chemical waste from its factories. The waste gave the water the appears of some combination of shampoo, soap, and tooth paste. These university biology students were led in their analysis by Becky Myton, an American who came to Honduras as a Peace Corps worker and stayed as a UNAH professor of ground water until her daughter grew up and married. At one point, Mrs. Myton even worked as an employee of the Honduran Ministry of Natural Resources. Not only was the chemical waste a problem for example killing fish in the river, but since the women along the river drank the water as well as bathed in it and so the lead got in their breast milk to the point that it was measurable as to being too high for the babies’ health.

 

The land struggles in the Bajo Aguán, including in Silin and Guadelupe Carney outside of Trujillo, and Limón, are not struggles that have gone unnoticed in books, newspaper articles in Spanish and English newspapers in Honduras. And they were known to the consultants who were being paid by the World Bank, because some of these consultants in their expensive cars with tinted windows came to my house and said to me, “Oh, I read your article in in the paper about the land problems in Silin”. I responded by saying, “People are dying here over land, as if we were at war.” These World Bank and SNV consultants took copies of my books like Los Garifunas de Honduras  (The Garifunas of Honduras), published in 2005, and Los Pech de Honduras  (The Pech of Honduras), published in 2009.

 

In Los Garifunas de Honduras, I documented, for example, the death of Euquerio Bernardez, a Garifuna craftsman who was also a composer of Garifuna music and the person who was in charge of the Garifuna warehouse at Vallecito outside of Limón. Those who murdered him has found him alone at Vallecito, proceed to kill him and cut off his ear — probably to go and demonstrate to their employers that they carried out the job. They did not steal a Lps 3,000 radio that was in the room. The rooms of Garifuna leader Horacio Martinez, formerly a president of OFRANEH and later a teacher in Limón, were also ransacked, and it was assumed that he had ultimately been the real target. Not finding him, the killers went after Euquerio.

 

This problem of the terrorizing of the Garifunas of Vallecito and Limón had continued ever since the Garifunas obtained land titles to five Garifuna cooperatives in the area of Vallecito following a protest march in Tegucigalpa during the administration of President Carlos Robert Reina (1994-1998). But despite having had the required signatures of those within the Inter-Ministerial Commission, the Garifuna organizations, and President Reina himself, the Garifuna people were unable to protect their lands from Mr. Facussé, who had planted the land title to the Garifuna cooperative Ruguma in African palm anyway and placed armed guards on it.

 

The Garifunas of Limón took Mr. Facussé to court and won in the Appeals Court of La Ceiba, but the harassment continued — a warehouse was burned down, a tractor destroyed, watermelon crops were cut up with machetes. In the book Los Garifunas de Hondurasthere is a photo of the house of the former Mayor of Limón, Lombardo LaCayo. The house who was set on fire while Mayor LaCayo’s family was inside. The family, which managed to survive, are shown in the photo standing next to the ruins of their home. The fire also destroyed supplies that had been donated to the community. No one was ever found guilty. The World Bank and SNV anthropologist consultants took that book with them, and the violent problems of the Bajo Aguán, where at least 100 campesinos have died, have been covered by La Prensa  and other independent sources since then.

 

Dr. Sharlene Mollett, now a geographer at the University of Toronto’s Center for Development, has also published writings on the land conflict in Silin, and Dr. Sarah England, now at Soka University in California, has published on the Limón land conflict. So yes, the World Bank should have known there was a problem with Miguel Facussé and the human rights and environmental issues, and that there was considerable social and environmental risk in giving such as a large loan to him.

 

I stated plainly in Los Garifunas de Honduras  that one of the major menaces to Garifuna lands in Colón are African palm plantations, and there are photos of African palm plantations on the road to Santa Rosa de Aguán. These plantations have also seriously disrupted land holding of the Ladinos in the area south of Trujillo, which is one reason they either invade Garifuna land or become vulnerable renters in San Pedro Sula, and widespread destruction of forest that still had wild peccaries in it in the 1980’s has been reported being associated with new African palm plantations.

 

The agro-chemicals from the African palm plantations is probably the reason there are no fish in streams and rivers near Trujillo, and it is possible that the agricultural runoff is also what causes sea lice in the Trujillo Bay some years around the time of Holy Week. Mr. Facussé was also behind a proposal to build a Super Refinery in the Trujillo area on land claimed by the Garifunas near Puerto Castilla. Had the idea materialized, the project would have been an environmental hazard waiting to happen.

 

About three years ago, my Pech friends who had family in Las Marias said African palm company employees began buying in the Las Marias area in the center of the nuclear zone of the Rio Platano Biosphere. They were not sure if they were Facussé employees, but that they were definitely buying land for African palms. Now there are no peccaries within two days walk of Las Marias in Gracias a Dios and no Carrizo in the mountains above 1,500 feet due to the destruction of the forest in this remote area. Jeanette Kawas, the environmentalist who fought for the Punta Sal National Park near Tela, was fighting people who wanted to plant African palm in the wetlands of that park when she was murdered.

 

Some Dutch friends of mine in Trujillo have told me that African palms are expanding everywhere in their area and that the plantations are destroying the rain forest. Stories published on the Internet seem to confirm this, so it is extremely disingenuous of the World Bank IFC employees to say they thought they could give US$30 million loan to anyone for African palm expansion and it would not have dire environmental and social consequences, especially given the well-documented and long-term environmental and social problematic history of Mr. Facussé’s business ventures. One Honduran taxi driver whose family lost their land to African palm expansion asked me, “If Honduras has 100,000 hectares of African palm plantations, and it is expanding, where are we going to be to grow food? How are we going to be able to eat?”

 

Despite the strongly worded and well-publicized Ombudsman report, the World Bank originally chose to take no action, preferring to leave it to Mr. Facussé and the Honduran government to work out the issues, even though Mr. Facussé’s business projects and security forces and the Honduran government are all implicated in the deaths of Ladinos in the Bajo Aguán. The new World Bank statement saying that it would consider cancelling the rest of the US$15 million dollars in the loan is an improvement over the earlier statement. But the new statement is odd, as it only mentions tensions in the Bajo Aguán in the last five years. The fact is that the land conflict — the violence and the injustices — in that zone all date to before 2005, so the World Bank knew the problems and, as the report said… simply may have chosen not to care and opted to issue the loan anyway.

 

Many people ask me, “Aren’t Americans turning away from palm oil? Isn’t this market disappearing?” While parts of the world are turning away from palm oil as a source of cooking oil (especially the pale bleached palm oil produced in Mr. Facussé’s factories and in the those owned by Los Cachiros drug lords in Bonito Oriental in the Bajo Aguán, which has neither the good taste nor the additional nutrients of red palm oil as produced in West Africa or Brazil or Jamaica for cooking), the bleached palm oil is popular for bio-diesel and soap products. Further, palm oil in Honduras is now the main ingredient in “manteca”  (vegetable shortening), having replaced coconut oil, cooking oil — replacing corn oil even in Mazola brand oil, and even processed cheese slices in Honduras known as “queso kraft”. In some places in Honduras, there have been reports by dairy company employees that they even add palm oil to the milk they sell. (2/10/14) (photo courtesy Bretton Woods Project)

 

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Note: Wendy Griffin is the co-author of the book “Los Garifunas de Honduras” (1995) and was previously a reporter for Honduras This Week about Honduran ethnic groups including the Garifunas and an anthropology professor for the UPN in La Ceiba. Since 1996, she has split her time between living in the US and volunteering and living in Trujillo… in or near the Garifuna neighborhoods there.

Fuente: http://www.hondurasweekly.com/editorial/item/20651-on-those-misguided-world-bank-loans

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Honduras: Sobrevivientes y familiares de víctimas condenan impunidad en Bajo Aguán

domingo, 9 de febrero de 2014

MUCA
Cinco años de asesinatos y represión y no hay nadie investigado, judicializado o condenado
Por Giorgio Trucchi | Rel-UITA
Cuando en víspera de las elecciones generales del noviembre pasado, el entonces Fiscal General, Luis Rubí, admitió que en Honduras el 80 por ciento de los casos de asesinato nunca llegan a ser judicializados y que, del restante 20 por ciento, solamente una mínima parte llega a una sentencia condenatoria, nadie se sorprendió de verdad.
La grave crisis institucional y de derechos humanos desatada después del golpe de Estado de 2009, llevó rápidamente a Honduras a tener la tasa de homicidios más alta del mundo.

En este contexto, el Valle del Aguán se transformó muy pronto en un lugar donde el grave conflicto agrario desatado por la expansión de la palma africana y la falta de acceso a la tierra por miles de familias campesinas, dejó un saldo de varias decenas de campesinos asesinados, heridos, encarcelados y hasta desaparecidos.

Ante la falta de respuestas concretas de parte de las autoridades de gobierno, el incremento de la represión, la impunidad y la judicialización de la protesta, en el marco de una creciente militarización de la zona, las organizaciones campesinas dieron vida a la Plataforma Agraria Regional del Valle del Aguán.

Las víctimas no olvidan

Recientemente, sobrevivientes y familiares de las víctimas de este grave conflicto decidieron levantar su voz, y condenaron públicamente “la impunidad de parte del aparato judicial”, así como la participación de paramilitares, guardias de seguridad de corporaciones y terratenientes, confabulados con los aparatos represivos del Estado, en el asesinato de decenas de campesinos y campesinas.

Entre los casos mencionados en un comunicado publicado este 5 de febrero por la Plataforma Agraria, destaca el del joven Santos Bernabé Cruz, de la comunidad de Rigores, quien en 2011 fue capturado, golpeado y torturado por policías, los que empaparon su cuerpo de gasolina, amenazándolo con prenderle fuego.
Durante una conferencia de prensa que se realizó en Tegucigalpa, los presentes pudieron escuchar también los dramáticos testimonios de Doris Pérez, herida gravemente por guardias de seguridad del terrateniente Miguel Facussé, y de Neptali Esquivel, herido de bala y golpeado salvajemente por policías durante una protesta pacífica, hasta provocarle lesiones irreversibles en una pierna.
“Los hechos antes expuestos reflejan los niveles de impunidad que gozan corporaciones como Dinant y Oleopalma, que acaparan tierra mediante el desplazamiento de las comunidades”, aprovechando de la debilidad institucional y la colusión con los entes encargados de impartir justicia”, se lee en el comunicado.
De acuerdo con las organizaciones campesinas que integran la Plataforma Agraria Regional del Valle del Aguán, estas corporaciones no solamente violentan el derecho a la vida de enteras poblaciones, sino que atentan contra el medio ambiente.
“Es por eso que pedimos al Banco Mundial que termine con el financiamiento a estas empresas, las cuales no cumplen con los deberes sociales, ambientales, ni con los derechos humanos fundamentales”, apuntan.
El año pasado, el Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), el órgano fiscalizador interno de la Corporación Financiera Internacional (CFI), entidad adscrita al Banco Mundial, realizó una profunda investigación en la zona del Bajo Aguán. En su informe final evidenció la grave situación que se vive en la zona, y pidió a la CFI suspender el desembolso de 15 millones a Corporación Dinant para la expansión del cultivo de palma africana. Unas 70 organizaciones, tanto nacionales como internacionales, respaldaron dicho planteamiento.
Finalizando su intervención, los familiares de las víctimas y los sobrevivientes de la represión hicieron un llamado a las organizaciones defensoras de derechos humanos, tanto nacionales como internacionales, a que estén vigilantes ante cualquier hecho que pueda darse en los próximos días en los asentamientos campesinos del Bajo Aguán.

Fuente: Rel-UITA

Publicado por Américo Roca Dalton en 22:08

Fuente: http://www.hondurastierralibre.com/2014/02/honduras-sobrevivientes-y-familiares-de.html

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World Bank Arm Admits Wrongs in Honduras Loan

  • Written by  Jim Lobe

In an unusual statement, the World Bank’s private-sector arm has threatened to cancel a controversial investment in a Honduran palm oil company that has been implicated in serious human rights abuses, including numerous killings, over the past five years. The statement came two weeks after the release of a damning report by the Office of the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) that concluded, among other things, that Bank officials should have raised serious questions about the alleged complicity in those abuses by Corporacion Dinant before approving a US$30 million loan to the company in 2008.

The company, which is owned by Miguel Facussé Barjum, “the wealthiest, most powerful businessman in the country,” according to a State Department cable obtained by Wikileaks, is based in the lower Aguán Valley, a region populated by hundreds of campesino cooperatives established there as a result of a far-reaching land-reform programme initiated in the 1960s. Conflicts over Dinant’s efforts to buy up these communities’ lands under a 1992 law designed to favour the country’s burgeoning privately-owned agro-export industry, account for many of the abuses.

 

Since the 2009 military coup, which ousted a pro-reform president and which was reportedly backed by Facussé, nearly 100 people — mostly campesinos, as well as some Dinant employees — have been killed in the valley, according to press reports, although Rights Action, a Washington-based group that has closely monitored the conflict, estimates the campesino death toll at “well over one hundred.”

 

“IFC has not disbursed funds to Dinant since 2009, and will not disburse further funding until Dinant fulfills its commitments in the Action Plan (worked out between the IFC and Dinant in light of the ombudsman’s report), including strengthening its community engagement and environmental and social standards, and reviewing its security practices,” the IFC said. “Should Dinant fail to meet these commitments, IFC stands prepared to exercise all remedies available, including cancelling the loan,” according to the statement, which also promised to “refine” its action plan to take account of recent criticism by international and Honduran civil-society organisations (CSOs) and “reflect on” internal problems that led to mistakes.

 

While many CSOs welcomed the IFC’s latest statement, comparing it favourably to the agency’s initial, more ambiguous reaction to the CAO report, they said it still fell short of what is required to redress the situation. “The only real difference from its previous statement is that they explicitly said the possibility of cutting off the loan remains open if the action plan is not complied with,” Annie Bird, who directs Rights Action, told IPS. “The action plan that the IFC is proposing is completely inadequate. People are going into hiding, afraid of being killed, and entire communities remain in constant fear of being evicted from their land. And the IFC really isn’t doing anything to do about it. It’s just calling on the Dinant Corp to work with the government.”

 

Her disappointment was echoed by Berta Cáceres, co-ordinator of the Honduras-based Indigenous Lenca organization (COPINH). “There is a risk that the situation of violence and impunity which exists in the Bajo Aguán will repeat itself in the future, if the World Bank does not investigate this company’s activities nor consult indigenous communities, farmers, and Garifunas,” she said.

 

The original US$30 loan — part of a US$100 million package that included Germany’s development bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration — was signed in April 2009 to fund expansion of Dinant’s snacks and edible-oils processing facilities. In November 2009 — four months after the military coup that ousted elected President Manuel Zelaya — the IFC disbursed US$15 million in support of the project. One year later, a coalition of CSOs asked the CAO to audit the project and its implementation in light of the human-rights situation in the valley.

 

The German development bank cancelled its US$20 million loan in 2011 after one rights group, Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN), submitted “evidence of the involvement of private security forces hired by Dinant and other companies owned by Miguel Facussé in human rights abuses and, in particular, in the murder of peasants in Bajo Aguán.”

 

In its 72-page report, the CAO concluded that IFC staff had violated the agency’s own rules by failing to undertake due diligence in assessing and responding to risks of violence and forced evictions and to consult adequately with the agency’s environmental and social specialists on the project. These deficiencies, it found, were in part due to its culture and incentive system that effectively encouraged staff to “overlook, fail to articulate, or even conceal potential environmental, social, and conflict related risks.”

 

“IFC has important policies to protect human rights and the environment,” noted Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW). “But the Dinant case shows that staff treat them as optional. That needs to avoid more tragic outcomes.” In response, the IFC took issue with some findings but agreed with others and set forth an “Action Plan” which was immediately denounced by most of the CSOs, including HRW, as inadequate. Their reaction, as well as negative international media coverage, reportedly triggered the Bank board’s demand that the agency revise its plan — details of which have not been disclosed — and issue a new statement.

 

The statement differs mainly from the IFC’s initial reaction in the apologetic tone it assumes, stressing, for example, that it “acknowledges that there were shortcomings in how we implemented our environmental and social policies and procedures… “As noted in the audit, IFC must take a broad view of the country and sector risks when considering projects. Additionally, we need to pay more attention to a client’s security practices and preparedness in fragile country situations,” it said. But its contrite tone failed to appease the CSOs or some Honduras experts.

 

The IFC’s reliance on the Honduran government in resolving the land conflicts and addressing the human-rights situation made little sense, according to Dana Frank, a Honduras specialist at the University of California at Santa Cruz. “There’s a reason why the national government is not intervening in the Aguán valley to stop these killings of campesinos and why there’s complete impunity for the security forces and private security guards who have been killing them,” she told IPS. “It’s because Facussé is a formidable power in the national state.” Indeed, the Facusse family, of which he, at age 90, is considered the partriarch, is widely seen as the most important and influential in what is essentially an oligarchic system.

 

Rights Action’s Bird also complained about the inadequacy of the response, insisting that the IFC should not only cancel the loan but also work with the affected communities to redress the abuses they have suffered. She also complained that the IDB, whose own private-sector facility, the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), had participated in the loans to Dinant, has never audited its own performance. “Instead, the IDB is initiating a US$60 million loan to create a police intelligence unit that human rights organisations in Honduras are screaming aboute because the security forces there are out of control,” she said. (1/30/14)

 

Note: This article was reprinted with permission. It was originally published by the Inter Press Service in New York, New York.

Fuente: http://www.hondurasweekly.com/national/item/20636-world-bank-arm-admits-wrongs-in-honduras-loan

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Informe Mundial 2014: Honduras

Eventos de 2013

Existen en Honduras gravísimos índices de criminalidad e impunidad por violaciones de derechos humanos. El índice de homicidios, que aumentó consistentemente en la última década, fue el más alto a nivel mundial durante 2013. Los responsables de asesinatos y otros delitos violentos pocas veces son llevados ante la justicia. La actuación de las instituciones a cargo de la seguridad pública sigue siendo en gran medida ineficaz y ha estado asociada con numerosos señalamientos de corrupción y abusos, mientras que las iniciativas que procuran reformar estas fuerzas no han conseguido avances importantes.

Entre las personas más vulnerables a ataques se encuentran periodistas, activistas campesinos y personas LGBTI. Aun así, el gobierno no juzga a los responsables ni brinda protección a quienes se encuentran en riesgo.

Tras despedir arbitrariamente del cargo a cuatro magistrados de la Corte Suprema de Justicia en diciembre de 2012, el Congreso sancionó una ley que habilita a este poder a destituir jueces y al fiscal general, una medida que profundiza el debilitamiento de la independencia judicial y fiscal.

Abusos y corrupción policial

La impunidad en casos de graves abusos policiales representa un problema crónico. Entre enero de 2011 y noviembre de 2012, 149 civiles murieron a manos de policías, incluidas 18 personas de menos de 19 años, según surge de un informe de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras. El entonces Comisionado de Policía Nacional Preventiva Alex Villanueva confirmó las conclusiones del informe e indicó que posiblemente haya habido muchos más asesinatos cometidos por policías que nunca fueron denunciados. El gobierno no respondió a reclamos del rector de la universidad de que informara cuántos de estos asesinatos habían sido investigados o permitieron la imposición de condenas.

Evidencias convincentes recabadas por una investigación de Associated Press en mayo de 2013 sugieren la participación policial en al menos cinco ejecuciones extrajudiciales o desapariciones de presuntos miembros de pandillas en Tegucigalpa. Las autoridades han aportado versiones contradictorias con respecto a los avances de iniciativas para erradicar la corrupción policial. La implementación de estos esfuerzos ha sido lenta e ineficaz. En abril de 2013, el entonces jefe de la Dirección de Investigación y Evaluación de la Carrera Policial comunicó al Congreso que, de 230 policías que fueron evaluados según parámetros sobre corrupción, 33 no superaron la prueba. No obstante, solamente siete de estos fueron suspendidos, y algunos fueron reincorporados posteriormente.

Intervención de militares en operativos de seguridad pública

En noviembre de 2011, el Congreso sancionó un decreto de emergencia que permitió a militares llevar a cabo funciones de seguridad pública, y desde entonces se ha prorrogado periódicamente. En agosto de 2013, el Congreso sancionó una ley que autorizó la creación de una fuerza de policía militar con atribución para controlar barrios donde haya violencia y efectuar detenciones, entre otras funciones, a pesar de los antecedentes de abusos militares contra civiles.

Independencia judicial y fiscal

En diciembre de 2012, la Sala Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de Justicia determinó la inconstitucionalidad de una ley sobre vigilancia policial, que había conseguido el apoyo de la mayoría en el Congreso y del presidente. Poco después, el Congreso destituyó a cuatro de los cinco miembros de la sala por “conducta administrativa” impropia. En enero de 2013 se designaron los reemplazantes, y en febrero la Corte Suprema desestimó un recurso interpuesto por los jueces destituidos. El Consejo de la Judicatura, un órgano independiente creado mediante una reforma constitucional en 2001 para designar y destituir jueces, podría contribuir con su trabajo a frenar la interferencia policial en procesos judiciales, pero al momento de la redacción de este documento sus miembros aún no habían sido designados.

En abril de 2013, el Congreso suspendió en funciones al Fiscal General Luis Rubí y a su adjunto, y nombró en reemplazo a una comisión interventora, mientras se encontraba pendiente una investigación sobre la efectividad de esta fiscalía y presuntos actos de corrupción cometidos en su ámbito, una potestad que se confirió al Congreso tras una reforma constitucional en 2002. Rubí y su adjunto renunciaron en junio, antes de que concluyera la investigación.

Impunidad de abusos posteriores al golpe de Estado

Luego del golpe militar de junio de 2009, el gobierno de facto suspendió varias libertades civiles fundamentales, incluida la libertad de prensa y de reunión. En los días siguientes, las fuerzas de seguridad respondieron a manifestaciones mayormente pacíficas con un uso excesivo de la fuerza y clausuraron medios opositores, lo cual derivó en varias muertes, numerosos heridos y miles de detenciones arbitrarias. La comisión de la verdad establecida por el Presidente Porfirio Lobo publicó en julio de 2011 un informe que documentó 20 casos de uso excesivo de la fuerza y asesinatos cometidos por miembros de las fuerzas de seguridad. Honduras obtuvo avances muy limitados en el juzgamiento de abusos durante 2013.

Ataques contra periodistas

Sigue siendo habitual que periodistas sufran amenazas, agresiones y asesinatos en Honduras. Las autoridades no investigan estos delitos eficazmente. Según el Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CONADEH), 36 periodistas fueron asesinados entre 2003 y mediados de 2013, y otros 29 desde que el Presidente Lobo asumió la presidencia. En junio de 2013, el presentador de noticias de televisión Aníbal Barrow fue llevado por la fuerza mientras circulaba con su vehículo en San Pedro Sula, y restos de su cuerpo desmembrado fueron encontrados varias semanas después. Si bien varias personas han sido acusadas por su presunta participación en el secuestro y homicidio de Barrow, ninguna ha sido condenada.

Violencia rural

Más de 90 personas han sido asesinadas en los últimos años en relación con controversias de tierras en la región del Bajo Aguán, la mayoría de ellas a partir de 2009, conforme indica un informe publicado en marzo de 2013 por el CONADEH, y muchas más han sido víctimas de ataques y amenazas. Las controversias a menudo enfrentan a empresas agroindustriales internacionales y organizaciones campesinas que reclaman ser legítimas propietarias de tierras transferidas tras una reforma de la ley agraria del país. Si bien la mayoría de las víctimas han sido campesinos, también guardias de seguridad fueron asesinados o sufrieron lesiones. Ninguna de las investigaciones sobre los asesinatos relevados en el informe del CONADEH ha dado lugar a una condena.

Violencia contra personas LGBTI

Los ataques dirigidos específicamente a personas lesbianas, gais, bisexuales, transgénero e intersexuales (LGBTI) constituyen un grave problema en Honduras. Según organizaciones locales de derechos, más de 90 personas LGBTI fueron asesinadas entre 2009 y 2012, y muchas más sufrieron agresiones y hostigamiento. La presunta participación de policías hondureños en algunos de estos violentos abusos constituye un dato particularmente alarmante. En 2011 y 2012, el gobierno creó fiscalías especiales para investigar estos delitos, pero pese a ello en general estos hechos quedan impunes.

Condiciones en centros de detención

Existen en las cárceles hondureñas condiciones inhumanas sistémicas, que incluyen sobrepoblación, nutrición inadecuada y salubridad insuficiente. Según el CONADEH, en mayo de 2013 había más de 12.600 presos en las cárceles del país, que tienen capacidad máxima para aproximadamente 8.200 internos. La corrupción es particularmente pronunciada entre los funcionarios penitenciarios. Un informe publicado por la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) en agosto de 2013 determinó que el gobierno no había asignado suficientes recursos para abordar estos problemas crónicos, ni tampoco había investigado exhaustivamente distintas tragedias, como el incendio ocurrido en la Penitenciaría Nacional de Comayagua en 2012, durante el cual murieron 362 personas.

Defensores de derechos humanos

Continúan los hechos de violencia y las amenazas contra defensores de derechos humanos. En julio, dos observadores internacionales de derechos humanos que acompañaban a activistas amenazados por oponerse a un proyecto minero en Nueva Esperanza afirmaron haber sido llevados por la fuerza y amenazados por hombres armados, quienes les advirtieron que iban a desaparecer si no se iban de la comunidad.

Si bien en agosto de 2013 el gobierno presentó un proyecto legislativo ante el Congreso para proteger a defensores de derechos humanos, periodistas y profesionales del derecho, diversas organizaciones de derechos humanos de Honduras indicaron que el proyecto no prevé medidas de protección adecuadas. A la fecha de elaboración de este documento, la ley aún no había sido sancionada. El gobierno tampoco ha cumplido su compromiso de crear un mecanismo nacional de protección para defensores de derechos humanos y periodistas en riesgo, que según informó a la CIDH en febrero de 2013 se encontraba en “proceso de consulta”.

Actores internacionales clave

Estados Unidos destinó más de US$ 50 millones de asistencia a objetivos de seguridad en Honduras entre 2010 y 2012, y mantiene esta ayuda a través de la Iniciativa Regional de Seguridad para América Central (Central America Regional Security Initiative, CARSI). La normativa estadounidense que prevé la ayuda militar y policial a Honduras indica que el 20 por ciento de los fondos estarán disponibles recién cuando el Departamento de Estado de los Estados Unidos informe que el gobierno hondureño ha cumplido una serie de requisitos de derechos humanos.

En su informe de 2012 sobre tales requisitos, el Departamento de Estado de los Estados Unidos dispuso la entrega de los fondos condicionados, pero estipuló que no se debía destinar asistencia al director de la Policía Nacional de Honduras, Juan Carlos Bonilla, ni a otras personas bajo su supervisión directa, debido a una investigación sobre presuntos abusos cometidos en el pasado. No obstante, ha trascendido en la prensa información que indica que continúa llegando asistencia estadounidense a policías que actúan bajo el mando de Bonilla. En una entrevista realizada por Associated Press en noviembre de 2013, Bonilla afirmó que recibía apoyo logístico continuo de la Embajada de Estados Unidos para operativos policiales. Al momento de redacción de este informe, el Congreso de Estados Unidos retenía aproximadamente US$10 millones de los fondos correspondientes a 2012 a la espera de que se resolvieran investigaciones sobre abusos graves.

En enero de 2013, la Relatora Especial de las Naciones Unidas sobre la independencia de los magistrados y abogados expresó que la destitución de cuatro magistrados de la Corte Suprema por causas administrativas constituía una violación del derecho internacional y “un grave atentado a la democracia”.

En febrero, el Grupo de Trabajo de Naciones Unidas sobre la utilización de mercenarios expresó que el gobierno no había regulado adecuadamente a las empresas de seguridad privada y manifestó preocupación ante su presunto “involucramiento en violaciones de derechos humanos, […] incluidos asesinatos, desapariciones, desalojos forzados y violencia sexual”.

En abril de 2012, la Oficina del Asesor en Observancia/Ombudsman de la Corporación Financiera Internacional (International Finance Corporation, IFC), el organismo de préstamo al sector privado del Grupo del Banco Mundial, inició una investigación sobre un préstamo otorgado en 2008 a Corporación Dinant, una empresa hondureña dedicada a la producción de aceite de palma y alimentos. El informe de la IFC, que aún no se había divulgado al momento de la preparación de este documento, evaluará si la IFC cumplió de manera suficiente sus propias políticas sobre seguridad y derechos humanos en relación con el préstamo, y si respondió adecuadamente al “cada vez más grave conflicto social y político” tras otorgarlo.

Fuente: http://www.hrw.org/es/world-report/2014/country-chapters/122020

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