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No Light At End Of Tunnel: Summary conclusions of Rights Action delegation to Honduras 

Over the course of seven days, our delegation – 5 Canadians, 4 US citizens, 1 US-Argentinian, 1 Australian – travelled to and met with:
  • The family of Berta Caceres in La Esperanza, Intibuca;
  • COPINH, the Lenca-campesino organization co-founded by Berta Caceres, at their “Utopia” solidarity center in La Esperanza, Intibuca;
  • The Azacualpa Environmental Committee, in Santa Rosa de Copan, resisting harms and violations caused by the Canadian Aura Minerals gold mining company;
  • CODEMUH (Collective of Honduran Women) working with women whose rights are being violated by the garment “sweatshop” industry, including the Canadian company Gildan Activewear, the US company Hanesbrand Inc, and more;
  • OFRANEH (the Honduran Fraternal Organization of Black and Garifuna peoples) working in defense of Garifuna Indigenous rights and territorial control along the north coast of Honduras, resisting violent and illegal evictions and human rights violations carried out in the interests of Canadian and US tourism operators, the African palm industry (including the World Bank funded Dinant corporation);
Summary Conclusions: No Light At End Of Tunnel In Honduras
In the foreseeable future, there will be no remedy to human rights violations, poverty, repression and impunity in Honduras.  The country is characterized by systemic exploitation, poverty and racism; by government sanctioned repression; by government tolerated and induced crime and violence; and by corruption and impunity in all branches of the government, police and military and most aspects of the economy, particularly the dominant national and international business and investment sectors.

During our short, but intense and moving road trip to visit communities and organizations around the country, we were able to confirm:

  • No justice has been done in the political murder of Berta Caceres and attempted murder of Gustavo Castro, even as members of Berta’s family are targeted with threats and harassment;
  • COPINH member continue to be criminalized and threatened, as they carry on with their Lenca community and territorial defense struggles, and as they support efforts for justice for Berta and Gustavo and for the multiple victims of political murder and government repression since 2009;
  • The Aura Minerals Canadian mining company continues, direct supported by the military, police and government, is applying huge and even threatening pressure on Azacualpa community members to force them to “agree” to allow Aura Minerals to move a 200 year old cemetery, to continue with their mountain-top removal, cyanide leaching, gold mining operation;
  • CODEMUH continues its courageous work with exploited garment industry workers (mainly women), even as labor and health rights violations have further increased since the 2009 military coup;
  • OFRANEH members continue to be victims of criminalization, threats, attacks and killings, all of which have worsened since the 2009 coup, as they organize and work to defend their territories, collective rights and culture against forced and illegal evictions and human rights violations caused by US, Canadian and other international tourism companies and investors.
There will be no end to this situation as long as the “international community” – particularly the US and Canadian governments, the World Bank and IDB, a host of international companies and investors – maintain mutually beneficial military, economic and political relations with the post-coup regimes and dominant economic sectors in power.

Forced Migrancy: This situation took a serious turn for the worse after the US and Canadian-backed military coup in 2009, and is directly causing the highest rates of forced migrancy in Honduran history.

Over the next weeks, Rights Action – as well as delegation members and their organizations – will publish information related to the community, environmental and life defense struggles that we directly learned about.

More Information: Grahame Russell, Rights Action director, grahame@rightsaction.org, 416-807-4436

Origen: No Light At End Of Tunnel: Summary conclusions of Rights Action delegation to Honduras 

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Aguan, Honduras: World Bank Backs Death Squads and Displacement

17 April 2015 – 12:31 PM
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In Honduras, the World Bank has funded a known coup-backer, murderer, and narcotrafficker, while escalating a decades-long land conflict and undermining local food security.

Campesinos in  the Rigores community in the Aguán look on as houses burn during a violent eviction in 2011.

In November 2009, just months after the military coup ousting President Manuel Zelaya shook Honduras, the World Bank delivered a US$15 million loan to the Honduran corporation Grupo Dinant, despite obvious human rights concerns.

The US$15 million, paid through the World Bank’s private sector lending arm the International Financial Corporation (IFC), was the first installment of a US$30 million loan to be paid to to the palm oil processing and snack food company owned by Honduras’ largest landowner Miguel Facusse.

Though the World Bank approved the US$30 million loan prior to the coup in 2008, the first payment was made in the post-coup context of political repression, widespread human rights abuses, popular protest in Honduras, and regional condemnation of the coup regime. Honduras had been suspended from the Organization of American States (OAS), with the regional body encouraging both member states and international organizations to “review their relations” with Honduras in light of the coup. The World Bank did not take heed.

What’s more, Grupo Dinant’s founder and owner Miguel Facusse – palm oil magnate, member of the Honduran oligarchy, suspected narcotrafficker, and one of the wealthiest men in the country – was a key backer of the coup who has long been implicated in violent land conflicts in the Northern Aguan Valley region where Dinant’s African oil palm plantations and processing facilities are located.

“In Honduras, the main problem is a complete lack of democracy and violent repression of all those who oppose the pillaging of the country’s resources by a handful of elites, such as Miguel Facussé.”

Nevertheless, in spite of the precarious and dangerous  political situation in Honduras and dubious track record of Facusse and Dinant, the World Bank plowed ahead with the hefty loan, financing death and dispossession in the Aguan as a result.

As Annie Bird of Rights and Ecology explains, “If the Bank staff had done certain mandated due diligence and database searches they would have found news reporting implicating Dinant’s owner and the Dinant company in the use of its land for drug trafficking, misuse of political influence, murder, and environmental crimes.”

Instead, the World Bank has blood on its hands from the more than 120 murders in the Aguan region related to the land disputes in which Dinant is implicated.

According to Tanya Kerssen, Research Coordinator for Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, this follows the typical World Bank practice of promoting capitalism within business-friendly but highly repressive political environments.

“In Honduras, the main problem is a complete lack of democracy and violent repression of all those who oppose the pillaging of the country’s resources by a handful of elites, such as Miguel Facusse,” she said. “If the Bank were truly to engage in meaningful transformation, it would simply not operate in countries with such a savage disregard for democracy, instead of propping up corrupt governments that operate with impunity.”

International human rights organizations and Honduran social movements have pressured for the loan to be cancelled, calling attention to the despicable conduct of Dinant and the World Bank’s failure to even comply to its own rules. However, despite the evidence of a brutal human rights situation and the negative impact of the loan in the Aguan, the World Bank initially denied accusations and was slow to respond to international backlash.

Under ongoing pressure and a scathing internal audit conducted by the Bank’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) made public in 2014, the second US$15 million installment of the loan has been suspended as the World Bank undertakes further review of Dinant.

Related: Report: World Bank Loan in Honduras Ignores Environmental and Social Risks

As Haydee Saravia, Secretary General of the Coordinator of Popular Organizations of Aguan (COPA), explained, local campesino communities are clear on their demands with respect to Dinant. “They are demanding that the World Bank not continue financing business owners like Miguel Facusse, who has caused a lot of pain and death for campesino families,” she said, noting movements’ long-held key demand for land access and as well as the demand for immediate demilitarization of the region.

In the meantime, Dinant continues “business as usual,” which is not just the business of producing and processing palm oil, but also of repressing campesinos.

Campesino Resistance: From Land Grabs to Post Coup Repression

The Aguan Valley has a decades-long history of agrarian conflict, which has intensified since the coup. In the 1970s, agrarian reform legislation – won through the struggles of powerful campesino organizations – distributed land in the Aguan to landless workers, establishing the first peasant cooperatives and expanding the agricultural frontier. It was also through agrarian reform that African oil palm was first promoted in the region, sewing literal and metaphorical seeds of today’s conflicts.

In the early 1990s, a political turn to neoliberalism aided by an IMF structural adjustment package reversed agrarian reform and shifted the agrarian paradigm from land redistribution to marketization. The new Agricultural Modernization Law enabled a wave of manipulative land grabs resulting in a gross re-concentration of land throughout the country, but especially in the Aguán.

One of the principal beneficiaries of this neoliberal land grab was Facusse. While campesino cooperatives were systematically undermined, manipulated, threatened, and otherwise pressured into selling their land titles, large landowners swept up huge swathes to build agribusiness empires. In some cases, campesino cooperatives were outright robbed of their land, and many of those conflicts remain unresolved.

Prior to the coup, campesino mobilization and direct action successfully pressured former President Zelaya to launch a commission to investigate land conflicts, with the potential of putting agrarian reform back on the political agenda. However, Zelaya’s ouster meant the promise of settling land disputes was never realized – a major setback for campesino movements, while large landowners like Facussé benefited immensely.

As Bird explained, “The convoking of that commission (to investigate land disputes) was a huge threat to the Dinant corporation because they were looking into the validity of land holdings, and this could have potentially led to annulling illegal title. They clearly benefited by the coup in assuring that their land holdings were not going to be questions and they would retain control.”

And in addition to direct political benefits, private interests that supported and enabled the coup, like Dinant, afterward benefited economically from the World Bank, Bird added.

The fertile land of Aguan River valley is highly coveted. While expanding African oil palm plantations of wealthy landowners stretch far and wide, campesino communities wage a resilient land reclamation movement to secure access to land, promote food sovereignty, and resist the repression of large landowners and the hostile post-coup government. Facing landowner and state enabled violence, the human rights situation is dire.

Honduras Police agents detain peasant leaders from Bajo Aguan at a protest in the capital, Tegucigalpa. Photo: AFP

Blood Money: Displacement, Dispossession, and Death in the Aguan

The human rights crisis has deepened in the Aguán since the coup, furthered by widespread political corruption, heavy militarization of the region that functions to protect private interests by criminalizing campesinos, and a state culture of impunity.

COPA’s Saravia explained that while the agrarian conflict in the Aguán has deep historical roots, the situation has intensified. “Since the coup in 2009, the violation of human rights is much greater,” she said. “There is a heavy militarization campaign that began in 2010 when they militarized the region. Assassinations started, violent evictions started in the African palm farms, and there is criminalization, kidnappings, death threats, illegal detentions – a series of violations of the rights of campesinos.”

Since the coup, human rights organizations such as Rights Action have documented over 120 murders in the Aguan, as well as countless other cases of human rights violations such as those mentioned by Saravia.

In addition to funding physical and deadly violence against campesinos, the World Bank loan promotes forced displacement and landlessness of campesinos through backing evictions carried out by and at the behest of Facussé’s Dinant.

RELATED: The World Bank’s Long War on Peasants

Rights and Ecology’s Bird, who has rigorously documented human rights abuses in the Aguan, outlined the situation in the Aguan and the central role of Dinant in violence against campesinos.

“In the Bajo Aguan there are groups of death squads or assassins that operate with impunity and with the collaboration of state security forces,” she said. “There’s widespread denouncements from many different sectors and witnesses that implicate both the Dinant company and its security forces directly in killings, kidnappings, and other abuses, but also very frequently the abuses are happening through joint operations with state security forces, the military and the police.”

The bankruptcy of Honduran democracy, U.S.-backed militarization, and World Bank investment in a company with a history of violence, manipulation, corruption, and drug trafficking, make for a perfect storm of alarming human rights violations and ongoing impediments to democracy in the Aguan.

World Bank Capitalism: Making a Killing from Human Rights Abuses

Unfortunately, both the World Bank and the Honduran government have failed to respond seriously to the grave human rights situation in the Aguan, and instead continue to enabled it.

“In the Bajo Aguan there are groups of death squads or assassins that operate with impunity and with the collaboration of state security forces.”

According to Saravia, the World Bank has taken nominal steps toward investigating claims against Dinant, but no tangible outcomes have come of the process. “The World Bank has sent a negotiator to see if there have indeed been violations by Dinant corporation, and they have given a series of recommendations for Dinant, such as that security guards in the farms be disarmed,” she explained. “But the truth is that the security guards are still in the farms and the military are also still in the farms, guarding the property of Dinant corporation and other business owners.”

According to Bird, the issue is structural, not just in terms of structural issues in Honduran politics and economy, but the World Bank itself.

“There’s a widespread problem that World Bank funding around the world does not take into account human rights issues, and has consistently argued that human rights is somehow a political issue as opposed to a governance issue, and it has argued that the world bank can’t be involved in politics,” said Bird. “Whereas advocates for human rights are clear that a nation’s compliance with human rights standards is a governance issue as much as fiscal policy is and has a very direct implication on the development outcomes of funds.”

This is why internationally, organizations are pressuring the World Bank not just to de-fund Dinant, but to give central priority to considering the danger of adverse effects when approving loans to ensure financing doesn’t back human rights violations like in Honduras. Unfortunately, devastating outcomes of World Bank-funded projects are all too common.

“It’s not just Dinant, this is a very grave case, but there are dozens of other loans just in the region, just in Central America, which cause conflict and cause violence,” explained Bird. “There are governance issues surrounding the loan and the kinds of activities that the loans are funding – like hydroelectric dams, palm oil and sugarcane, which compete for land and force people off of their land and pollute their livelihood.”

As Kerssen points out, the negative consequences of World Bank funding aren’t accidental, but fundamentally related to the kinds of projects and investment the institution prioritizes. The World Bank’s stated mandate is to combat poverty, but in reality it is in the business of promoting capitalism in ways that in fact exacerbate poverty and inequality, destroy the environment, and forcibly displace communities.

Fuente: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/analysis/Aguan-Honduras-World-Bank-Backs-Death-Squads-and-Displacement–20150417-0013.html

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Dos mujeres frente al terrorismo de estado

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EDITORIAL

Dos mujeres frente al terrorismo de estado

Annie Bird, lobista estadounidense y Miriam Miranda, lidereza garífuna hondureña, enfrentaron esta semana ataques de actores violentos en la zona norte de Honduras, en distintas circunstancias.

Primero el martes fue el coronel Alfaro, quien compareció por diversos medios junto al gerente de la empresa Dinant del agroindustrial Miguel Facussé. Es reincidente en sus ataques públicos.

Comparecieron juntos en la televisión de Rosenthal y en las radios de Ferrari para vociferar en mancuerna contra la gringa clandestina que denigra a Honduras en el mundo entero y azuza a los campesinos a tomarse las tierras que los empresarios adquieren con el sudor de su frente.

Después el jueves fue el Ministerio Público que pronto sabía la ubicación del crimen organizado que atacó a Miriam Miranda, en Vallecito, Colón. Está viva, dijeron. Pero sigue en la zona controlada por esos barones.

La propia organización que preside Miriam, la OFRANEH – Organización Fraternal Negra de Honduras – acusó al narcotráfico de promover el despojo territorial en Vallecito y de realizar el secuestro contra su principal símbolo de lucha negra en el litoral, que rechaza pistas clandestinas en la zona.

Y la acusación al narcotráfico  no es suelta, no es para disculpar al Estado ni al gobierno de JOH, porque es de sobra conocido el vínculo directo entre los susodichos sujetos, ya sea disfrazados de empresarios, de operadores de justicia, funcionarios públicos o militares.

En el caso de Annie, mujer bien informada sobre las acciones de los círculos políticos, diplomáticos y militares de Washington, ha sido incisiva en sus investigaciones contra Alfaro en el Aguán como jefe de las operaciones Xatruch y ahora como responsable regional de la Fuerza de Inteligencia Inter institucional que llaman FUSINA.

No queda duda en los escritos de la defensora estadounidense que las fuerzas militares son protagonistas en las violaciones a los derechos humanos de los campesinos y sus organizaciones, y un escudo mercenario de los terratenientes.

Y Annie tampoco ha ocultado en sus denuncias la responsabilidad del Pentágono, la DEA y el Departamento de Estado en esa estrategia de control militar y terror en los campos verdes del Aguán y más acá y allá de sus límites.

Entonces, la presencia en Honduras de Annie Bird, de la organización norteamericana Derechos en Acción, ha sido presentada al público como furtiva y clandestina, para criminalizar sus acciones de defensa de las y los luchadores por la tierra en este país.

Por eso, desde esta columna de opinión expresamos nuestra solidaridad a ella, a su familia y su organización, esperando que un Estado fracasado como el actual no cometa la atrocidad de atentar contra su derecho a locomoción, libertad e integridad física.

A Miriam Miranda, igualmente, le repetimos nuestro respeto por lo que hace junto a las comunidades en defensa de los territorios ancestrales del pueblo negro opuesto al modelo monocultivista, desplazador y criminal.

Hacemos nuestras las palabras del comunicado público de OFRANEH al afirmar que “la impunidad con que actúan los grupos armados en la zona de Colón, demuestra que la estrategia del desarme es imaginaria, ficticia, porque los sicarios que raptaron a Miriam y a 20 compañeros garinagus en Vallecito, estaban armados, tenían el rostro descubierto y el semblante de personas sin ley ni control de nadie”.

Que siga el campamento negro para defender las 980 hectáreas  del territorio de Vallecito tituladas a su favor por el INA en 1997, hoy amenazadas por empresarios de la muerte que son al mismo tiempo capos de bandas organizadas para delinquir.

Y que siga la solidaridad del pueblo hondureño con esta lucha, hasta vencer a los enemigos de la vida y de la paz de la nación, que la despedazan con sus ridículas ciudades modelo en el mes de la soberanía nacional.

Buenas noches

Fuente: http://www.defensoresenlinea.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3225:dos-mujeres-frente-al-terrorismo-de-estado&catid=42:seg-y-jus&Itemid=159

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Honduras: Extranjeros avivan conflicto en el Aguán

16 de Julio de 2014

10:53PM   – Redacción:  redaccion@laprensa.hn

ONG lanza campaña con información falsa para afectar labor de las Fuerzas Armadas. Vándalos destruyen fincas.

Plantaciones de palma africana fueron destruidas en un rancho del Bajo Aguán y el daño se les atribuye a campesinos.
Plantaciones de palma africana fueron destruidas en un rancho del Bajo Aguán y el daño se les atribuye a campesinos.

Bajo Aguán, Honduras.

El Instituto Nacional Agrario (INA) señaló que un grupo de personas que recibe apoyo del Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán (Muca) destruyó parte de una finca en el Bajo Aguán, Colón.

Los labriegos, identificados como grupo Gregorio Chávez, cortaron plantaciones de palma africana y les prendieron fuego en la hacienda Paso Aguán días atrás, según hace constar en un correo electrónico Francisco Milla, jefe de Divulgación y Prensa del INA.

Este incidente sucede en medio de un reclamo formulado por el Muca para que el Gobierno readecue la deuda de más de 500 millones de lempiras que recibieron los miembros de ese movimiento para financiar el pago de fincas de palma africana que invadieron en predios del empresario Miguel Facussé, en el Bajo Aguán.

El gobierno y el Muca suscribieron un crédito de 526 millones de lempiras, bajo históricas condiciones preferenciales, para la compra formal de 3,900 hectáreas que los campesinos habían tomado a la fuerza en 2009.

El crédito, suscrito por medio del Banco Hondureño de Producción y Vivienda (Banhprovi), establece que los campesinos pagarían el mismo en 15 años, con tres años de gracia y con intereses del 2 al 6%. Pero dirigentes del Muca sostienen que, pese a las cláusulas preferentes que no se le otorgan a ninguna otra organización agrícola, ya no se puede honrar el préstamo y por eso piden que sea readecuado. La codirectora de la ONG Rights Action, Annie Bird, acusada de lanzar una campaña de desestabilización en el Bajo Aguán, publicó recientemente un artículo en el que señala que el jefe de la Fuerza de Seguridad Interinstitucional Nacional (Fusina), coronel Germán Alfaro, paga sobornos a periodistas y testigos protegidos para que testificaran contra líderes campesinos.

Alfaro, según Bird, “comenzó un intenso esfuerzo para influir en la cobertura de la prensa” contra grupos campesinos y “según los informes ha establecido un constante diálogo con los periodistas, ofrecido sobornos, ha amenazado con reportar a los periodistas no amigables a la inteligencia militar”.

De igual manera, afirma Bird, como parte de su campaña en contra de Honduras, se “ha coordinado la capacitación para periodistas locales trayendo por vía aérea a periodistas colombianos en los aviones de la Corporación Dinant”.

“También se ha reportado ampliamente que en ese momento Alfaro ofreció entre $2,500 y $5,000 y visas al Brasil, Canadá o Estados Unidos para dar testimonio en contra de los líderes campesinos, en calidad de “testigos protegidos”, se acota en la nota.

 

Fuente: http://www.laprensa.hn/honduras/729994-96/honduras-extranjeros-avivan-conflicto-en-el-agu%C3%A1n

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Campesinos del Aguán denuncian plan para debilitar su labor de defensa por la tierra

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Tegucigalpa.

Miembros de la Plataforma Agraria Regional del Valle del Aguán, denunciaron este día que continúa el plan para debilitar y desaparecer a organizaciones campesinas de la zona que defienden el derecho a la tierra.

Según el comunicado público en los últimos cuatro años se registran más de 4,500 campesinos y campesinas que enfrentan procesos judiciales en su lucha por el acceso a la tierra. Este derecho constitucional no se respeta y en cambio el Estado criminaliza a la población campesina.

Además denunciaron que 140 campesinos campesinas han sido asesinados a nivel nacional y los actores materiales e intelectuales gozan de total impunidad.

Para el caso, el asesinato del apoderado legal del movimiento Auténtico Reivindicador Campesino del Aguán, MARCA, abogado Antonio Trejo en septiembre de 2012, fue parte del plan para despojar de la tierra a los campesinos de esa organización, denunciaron este día. Y este hecho se complementó con los desalojos ilegales  de la cooperativa San Isidro en septiembre del 2013 y de las cooperativas El Despertar y La Trinidad  el pasado 21 de mayo del  presente año, en donde  las fuerzas de seguridad  del Estado de forma violenta  detuvieron a  15 personas  entre  menores  de edad, mujeres embarazadas y personas de la tercera edad.

Siguiendo los acontecimientos para desestabilizar al movimiento campesino, el 24 de junio  los campesinos del MARCA tomaron  posesión de forma pacífica  de la finca El Despertar,  como una acción para  hacer prevalecer su  derecho  legítimo  como propietarios de la tierra según    establece los títulos de propiedad  que se encuentran registrados en el  instituto  de  la Propiedad, y ese día  cinco se sus miembros fueron  encarcelados  y están siendo criminalizados.

Durante los desalojos violentos ejecutados por los aparatos represivos del Estado  dirigidos por el coronel Jovel Martínez, fueron detenidos y agredidos  27 compañeros y compañeras entre ellos los  líderes  campesinos  Jaime Cabrera, Walter Cárcamo, José Chávez, Antonio  Rodríguez    y Jeremías Cruz, a  quienes  la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) otorgó medidas cautelares el pasado 8 de mayo, donde  también  fueron gravemente heridos de bala disparada por el  ejército  dos  compañeros, asimismo  fueron agredidas  por los militares las compañeras Glenda Chávez y Digna Idalia Perdomo Díaz  a quienes las despojaron  de su teléfono, cámaras y chalecos que las identificaban como defensoras de derechos humanos, denuncia le comunicado público.

Y denuncia que la Finca Paso  Aguán  de la comunidad de  Panamá  que está en disputa, ha sido utilizada como cementerio clandestino por los guardias de seguridad del señor Miguel  Facussé.  En esta ubicación, el 7 de julio 2012 fue exhumado el cadáver de Gregorio Chávez, secuestrado el 2 de julio de  ese  mismo año mientras el 25 de abril 2013 se exhumó el cuerpo de José Antonio López Lara, desparecido desde el 29 de abril del 2012.

Además que el Ministerio Público a través de la Unidad Especial de Investigación  para los asesinatos en el Bajo Aguán,  dirigida por el fiscal Javier Guzmán, no ha realizado un proceso trasparente, participativo, ni autorizado por los familiares de las víctimas de las campesinas y campesinos asesinados,  por  lo que este proceso se vuelve dudoso e irregular.

La crisis agraria y alimentaria que actualmente vive nuestro país fue generada por la Ley de Modernización y Desarrollo del Sector Agrícola  la que ha provocado la concentración de un 56% de la tierra para el desarrollo del monocultivo y biocombustible  por encima de la  necesidad alimentaria de la población,  priorizando en los intereses de terratenientes y corporaciones como Dinant que sólo buscan limpiar su imagen ante  Organismos financieros internacionales, para continuar acumulando capital, denunció está mañana frente a las instalaciones del Ministerio Público en Tegucigalpa, representantes de la Plataforma Agraria del Bajo Aguán.

Y es que según los y las campesinas, las acciones señaladas obedecen a un plan estructurado por el Gobierno de Honduras  a través del Ministerio Publico y los aparatos represivos del Estado quienes  persiguen, encarcelan y criminalizan  al sector campesino  desde la  infiltración  de la inteligencia militar,  así como  también  protegen a los actores intelectuales de los  crímenes  de los campesinos manipulando los procesos de investigación.

Finalmente denunciaron la  creación  de grupos de choque a lo interno de las organizaciones campesinas con el objetivo de desestabilizar e introducir  paramilitares, y luego generar masacres a lo interno del asentamiento aduciendo la existencia de grupos armados.

Además aprovecharon la oportunidad para solidarizarse con la defensora de derechos humanos  Annie Bird, de la organización  Rights Acction, ante la campaña de desprestigio y  criminalización encabezada por  el  coronel  German Alfaro Escalante y    Roger Pineda representante de corporación Dinant.

Y de ese modo hacen un llamado  a los organismos nacionales  e internacionales  defensores  de derechos humanos  para que protejan  a  las familias campesinas que luchan por  su derecho  a la tierra  ya que el Estado de Honduras ha fallado en proteger al campesinado por encima de los intereses de terratenientes y buscar una solución al conflicto agrario en el país.

Los y las campesinas, aseguran que ante las intimidaciones y descrédito por su labor, no cesaran en la lucha de la defensa de su tierra pues es lo que poseen para vivir y sostener a sus familias, así que continuaran defendiendo sus derechos como hasta ahora lo han hecho, además pro reivindicar la lucha de los que han dado la vida por sus ideales.

Miembros del Observatorio Permanente de Derechos Humanos del Aguán, también se hicieron presentes, pues son afectados ante los ataques de parte de la tropa XATRUCH III, por su labor de defensa de derechos humanos.

Y en base a esta labor, la próxima semana el Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras, COFADEH, y junto a las organizaciones de FIAN y Centro Hondureño de Promoción al Desarrollo Comunitario, CEHPRODEC, presentaran el proyecto “Apoyo y protección a los defensores/as de derechos humanos trabajando en conflictos por tierra y recursos naturales en las zonas rurales de Honduras” financiado por Oxfam y la Unión Europea.

Fuente: http://www.defensoresenlinea.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3222:campesinos-del-aguan-denuncian-plan-para-debilitar-su-labor-de-defensa-por-la-tierra&catid=54:den&Itemid=171

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Roger Pineda, de Corporación Dinat, y German Alfaro, comandante de FUSINA, impulsan amenazas para imponer terror contra la defensora e internacionalista Anny Bird de Rights Action / Derechos en Acción.

CONSEJO CÍVICO DE ORGANIZACIONES POPULARES E INDÍGENAS DE HONDURAS COPINH
 
Barrio Las Delicias, Intibucá, Intibucá; Honduras C.A,  Tel: 2783-0817
copinh@copinh.org;  copinhonduras.blogspot.com; www.copinh.org,
Facebook. Copinh Intibucá;  twitter: @copinhhonduras
 
COMUNICADO URGENTE DEL  COPINH
Roger Pineda, de Corporación Dinat, y German Alfaro, comandante  de
FUSINA, impulsan amenazas para imponer terror contra la defensora e
internacionalista Anny Bird de Rights Action / Derechos en Acción.
 El COPINH rechaza y condena las acusaciones que han vertido Germán
Alfaro, comandante de FUSINA, y  Roger Pineda, representante de la
Corporación Dinat -de Miguel Facusse-,  de manera mal intencionada,
violenta,  atentatorias contra la integridad de la compañera  Anny
Bird, ciudadana estadounidense, defensora internacional de derechos
humanos, reconocida por su compromiso con las causas históricas,
justas, por la paz y el respeto a los derechos individuales y
colectivos.
 
Es clara la política de terror, criminalización e intimidación, que
despliega el gobierno de Juan Orlando Hernández contra las misiones
internacionales de derechos humanos, solidaridad y humanitarias    en
Honduras. Esta hoy se expresa contra nuestra compañera Anny Bird,
quien ha acompañado no sólo al COPINH, sino a muchas organizaciones
sociales en Honduras, desde hace muchos años.
 
Exigimos a Roger Pineda y a German  Alfaro que se retracten y se
disculpen públicamente ante este ataque de odio, que pone en alto
riesgo la vida, la integridad física y emocional de la compañera Anny
Bird. Exigimos a las instancias correspondientes políticas y
judiciales de Honduras, que procedan de oficio contra estos dos
individuos, por acusar de manera  calumniosa  y manipuladora.
Igualmente exigimos  a la embajada estadounidense que dé explicaciones
públicas  si es con su visto bueno que se  perpetra este ataque
sistemático y peligroso.
 
Sabemos que los señores Facusse, Pineda y  Alfaro, han estado
inquietos ante el avance del proceso que desnuda, incluso ante la
banca financiera internacional como el Banco Mundial, sus proyectos de
saqueo, violadores de derechos humanos, plagados de ilegalidades, que
ponen en duda el otorgamiento de financiamientos. Esto sucede también
ante las denuncias de violaciones graves de derechos humanos en el
Aguan y en la Moskitia hondureña. La compañera Anny ha estado como
observadora de derechos humanos en estos procesos, actuando de manera
cuidadosa y responsable  en beneficio de la vida, de la integridad y
de la seguridad del campesinado y de la población en general en esos
sectores.
 
Demandamos que se ponga fin a estas campañas de odio. Exigimos al
Gobierno de Honduras y al Gobierno de Estados Unidos el  respeto al
derecho de acompañar la observancia de derechos humanos en Honduras,
con garantías  plenas y cooperación, reconociendo que es una
contribución al derecho a la vida, a la transparencia y que es un
aporte universal a los derechos humanos establecidos en el derecho
internacional.
 
Hacemos responsable al Gobierno de Honduras por los daños físicos,
síquicos, emocionales o políticos que pueda sufrir esta defensora de
derechos humanos.
 
Llamamos a la solidaridad nacional e internacional a pronunciarse
ante el Gobierno de Honduras y de Estados Unidos frente a  este hecho
lamentable que amenaza  hoy a la compañera Anny Bird. Les pedimos que
puedan impulsar y realizar acciones urgentes para denunciar y frenar
esta política de terrorismo de Estado.
 
Dado en Intibucá, a los 16 días del mes de julio del 2014.
 
¡Solidaridad con Anny Bird, compañera y hermana en las luchas del
pueblo hondureño!
 
______________________________________________________________________
Peligrosas declaraciones del Comandante de la FUSINA, sobre la
Co-directora de Rights Action, Annie Bird
 
Esta mañana, por el canal 11 de Honduras, el coronel German Alfaro,
comandante de la Fuerza de Seguridad Interinstitucional Nacional
(FUSINA), hizo delicadísimas declaraciones acerca de la presencia y
trabajo de la activista y defensora de los derechos humanos
estadounidense, Annie Bird, en Honduras.
 
En una notoria y grave manipulación de información, Alfaro acusó a
Bird de haber ingresado ilegalmente al país, de promover invasiones de
tierra en el Bajo Aguán y de desprestigiar internacionalmente a
Honduras a través de decenas de organizaciones y medios de
comunicación de todo el mundo, incluso a través de Al Jazeera, agencia
de noticias según el, bajo el control de Al Qaeda, organización
terrorista responsabilizada por el gobierno de Estados Unidos, de los
atentados a las Torres Gemelas de Nueva York.
 
Alfaro compareció en el programa televisivo junto a Jorge Pineda, alto
ejecutivo de la Corporación DINANT propiedad de Miguel Facussé, uno de
los tres empresarios más ricos del país, con grandes intereses en la
región del Bajo Aguán, quien compartió la acusación de que la
defensora de derechos humanos promueve las invasiones de tierras en la
zona.
 
No es la primera vez que el coronel Alfaro se refiere a ella en esos
términos. A finales del 2013 expresó como Comandante de la Fuerza de
Tarea “Xatruch”, instalada en la región del Bajo Aguán, que ella "anda
haciendo unas labores de desestabilización en el sector del Aguán”, lo
que provocó de inmediato, una cascada de pronunciamientos de rechazo a
esas acusaciones, de organizaciones nacionales e internacionales
dedicadas a la defensa de los derechos humanos.
Annie Bird es co-directora de la organización defensora de derechos
humanos "Rights Action", que desde hace varios años monitorea las
violaciones los derechos humanos en la región centroamericana y de
manera particular, de los de sectores de la población altamente
vulnerables de la población hondureña, tal es el caso del campesinado
del Bajo Aguán, que vive permanentemente en una especie de estado de
sitio.
 
Su actividad se intensificó a partir del golpe de estado de junio del
2009, en la misma medida en que se multiplicaron las violaciones a los
derechos humanos en esa región, que suma ya más de un centenar de
muertes derivadas del conflicto de tierras.
El trabajo de Bird incomoda porque descubre lo que las autoridades
civiles y militares quieren que se mantenga oculto.
 
Algunos ejemplos
 
Caso Ahuás
Un informe alternativo sobre una fracasada operación antidrogas
realizada en el municipio de Ahuas, departamento de Gracias a Dios, el
s11 de mayo del 2012, de cuya investigación y elaboración fue parte en
representación Rights Action junto Alex Main, del Centro de
Investigación en Economía y Política (CEPR), concluyó que la
investigación del Ministerio Público presentaba graves irregularidades
, incluyendo omisiones de testimonios claves de la policía hondureña
que señalan que la DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) estaba a
cargo del operativo y podría tener la responsabilidad final por las
muertes que ocurrieron, dos mujeres (por lo menos una de ellas estaba
embarazada), un hombre, y un adolescente de 14 años.
 
 
 
Los investigadores concluyeron que "“El informe del Ministerio Público
ni siquiera intenta establecer quién es el responsable final de los
asesinatos. En vez, parece estar enfocado en absolver a la DEA de
cualquier responsabilidad directa en los asesinatos, particularmente a
través de omisiones de testimonios claves.”
 
 
 
En la presentación del informe, Annie Bird manifestó “La investigación
de los asesinatos fue, en el mejor de los casos, parcial, o en el peor
de los casos, manipulada intencionalmente... En cualquiera de los
casos, es sumamente preocupante que el Departamento de Estado y la DEA
defiendan la investigación, a pesar de que un detective de la policía
de Estados Unidos empleado por la embajada estadounidense debe haber
estado bien al tanto de sus defectos.”
 
 
 
Nueva Esperanza
 
En julio del 2013, Bird denunció a través de una alerta de Rights
Action que dos acompañantes del Proyecto de Acompañamiento
Internacional en Honduras (PROAH), de nacionalidades suiza y francesa,
fueron secuestrados en la comunidad de Nueva Esperanza, del
departamento de Atlántida, durante dos horas y media, por hombres
armados que vigilan las obras de la empresa Minerales Victoria
propiedad de Lenir Pérez, yerno del Miguel Facussé.
 
Señaló igualmente, que los hombres armados llevaban casi dos meses en
esa comunidad campesina, atemorizando a los pobladores y amenazando a
los que no quieren vender su tierra a la minera. Y que algunos
pobladores han tenido que huir de sus casas por temor, sin respuesta
alguna de parte de las autoridades, alertadas oportunamente.
 
Para muestra un botón. El caso de El Tumbador
 
Para nadie es desconocido que también en el Bajo Aguán hay grandes
intereses del todopoderoso empresario Miguel Facusse.
 
Este logró quedarse con una buena parte de las tierras del productivo
Valle del Aguán, gracias a que durante el gobierno del expresidente
Rafael Leonardo Callejas, se aprobó un decreto que permitió que los
campesinos que las habían obtenido durante el abortado proceso de
reforma agraria, se las vendieran.
Armas en mano, hombres que pertenecen a Orión, la empresa de seguridad
que protege los intereses de Facusse y otros grandes terratenientes,
intimidan permanentemente a los grupos campesinos que aún se mantienen
en la zona, con el propósito de que se vayan, igual que los pobladores
de Nueva Esperanza.
Estos responsabilizan a esos hombres, supuestamente entrenados por
paramilitares colombianos, de las muertes de muchos de sus compañeros
que hasta ahora se mantienen en la impunidad.
En un informe sobre la situación, elaborado y presentado por Annie
Bird a finales de febrero del 2013 bajo el nombre “Violaciones de los
derechos humanos atribuidas a las fuerzas militares en el valle del
bajo Aguán en Honduras”, registro 34 actos de violencia y otros
crímenes atribuidos a los militares hondureños de 15 ª Batallón de
Infantería (Fuerzas Especiales), con sede en el departamento de Colón.
El documento señala que 88 miembros del movimiento campesino han
muerto como consecuencia de los mismos.
 
También registra entre muchos otros hechos lo que sucedió el 15 de
noviembre del 2010, en la finca El Tumbador, de municipio de Trujillo,
cuando entre 150 y 200 guardias de seguridad de Facussé Barjum,
propietario de la Corporación Dinant, atacaron con armas de grueso
calibre a miembros del Movimiento Campesino del Aguán (MCA), con el
trágico saldo de cuatro labriegos muertos en el sitio y un quinto, que
apareció ejecutado en otro lugar, con tres disparos de fusil AR-15 de
uso exclusivo de las Fuerzas Armadas, en su rostro.
 
El informe hace señalamientos relevantes sobre este caso:
· Los campesinos informaron que las fuerzas de seguridad que los
atacaron eran vestidos con uniformes color negro de Orión
pasamontañas.
 
· Informaron que se arrojaron a los matorrales para cubrirse, cuando
se inició el ataque con una ametralladora montada en un trípode que
identificaron como un M-60, un arma automática cuestión militar.
· La base del 15 Batallón de Río Claro se encuentra a pocos minutos
del lugar del tiroteo, pero no acudieron para saber que estaba
sucediendo
 
 
· Los testimonios recibidos indican una muy estrecha relación de
trabajo entre el 15 Batallón y la empresa de seguridad empleado por
Orión.
 
Estos tres, de los muchos casos sobre los que ha informado Rigths
Action, ponen de manifiesto la delicada labor del Annie Bird y los
grandes intereses que hay detrás de sus investigaciones y denuncias,
permitiendo comprender mejor, las razones de la campaña que se ha
montado en su contra.
-- ____________________
escuchenos en vivo:
http://giss.tv:8000/guarajambala.mp3.m3u
web:  copinh.org
blog:  copinhonduras.blogspot.com
fb:     Copinh Intibucá
twitter: @COPINHHONDURAS
 

Fuente: http://www.hondurastierralibre.com/2014/07/honduras-comunicado-urgente-roger.html

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Honduras: CIDH otorga medidas cautelares a 123 líderes y lideresas campesinas del Bajo Aguán

lunes, 19 de mayo de 2014

El pasado 8 de mayo la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), otorgo medidas cautelares a 123 líderes y lideresas  de los movimientos campesinos que luchan por la tierra del Bajo Aguàn.  Por considerárseles amenazados, perseguidos  y en una situación de urgencia, puesto que sus vidas e integridad personal estarían en riesgo.
En los últimos cuatro años el Bajo Aguàn ha sido escenario de las constantes violaciones a los derechos humanos  en contra las familias  campesinas que habitan en diferentes comunidades, Miguel Facusse gerente Ejecutivo de  Corporaciones  Dinant y Rene Morales gerentes de la  Empresa Oleopalma han sido los principales actores en materia de violación a Derechos humanos y el derecho Inherente a la vida en contra de campesinas y campesinos que luchamos por la tierra.

 En octubre del 2013 las organizaciones campesinas  representadas por  Rights Action enviamos una solicitud de medidas cautelares a favor de 123 campesinos y campesinas ante la CIDH, para  que requiriera a la Republica de Honduras la protección de la vida y la  integridad de líderes y lideresas pertenecientes al Movimiento Campesino Refundación Gregorio Chávez (MCRGC), Movimiento Campesino Recuperación del Aguan (MOCRA), Movimiento Autentico Reivindicador Campesino del Aguàn (MARCA) y el Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguàn (MUCA), quienes  hemos sido objetos de una serie de amenazas, hostigamientos y actos de violencia en el marco del conflicto agrario en sector del Aguàn ubicada en el departamento de Colón.
La CIDH considero que la información presentada por las organizaciones campesinas y su representante Rights Action demuestra prima facie  que los miembros de las organizaciones señaladas se encuentran en una situación de gravedad y urgencia, puesto que su vida e integridad personal estarían amenazadas y en grave riesgo. En consecuencia al Artículo 25 del Reglamento de la CIDH, la comisión requiere al Estado de Honduras que:
A). Adopte las medidas necesarias para garantizar la vida y la integridad personal de los miembros de las organizaciones campesinas MOCRA, MCRGC, MUCA y MARCA;
B).  Concierte las medidas a adoptarse con los beneficiarios y sus representantes;
C). Informe sobre las acciones adoptadas con el fin de investigar los presuntos hechos que dieron lugar a la adopción de la medida cautelar y así evitar su repetición.
El 3 de marzo del 2014, la CIDH solicito información al Estado de Honduras sobre los hechos ocurridos en el Bajo Aguàn en el marco del conflicto Agrario, a la fecha el Estado no ha contestado a su solicitud,  nunca respondió sobre resultados o acciones realizadas para evitar el derramamiento de sangre y las constantes violaciones a los Derechos Humanos realizadas por la guardia de seguridad de las empresas terratenientes y las  fuerzas de seguridad del Estado en contra de líderes y lideresas campesinas del Aguàn.
Los beneficiarios de estas  medidas otorgadas por la CIDH están, tres personas pertenecientes a MOCRA, cinco personas a MCRGC, 83 personas a MUCA y 32 personas a MARCA, todas líderes y lideresas de los movimientos campesinos. Sabemos el otorgamiento de estas medidas no garantiza de la vida de 123 campesinas y campesinos. Pero si evidenciamos la situación de vulnerabilidad en que se encuentran sus vidas.
Las organizaciones campesinas exigimos castigo a los actores materiales e intelectuales de los asesinatos de campesinos y campesinas en el Bajo Aguàn, quienes  gozan de total impunidad. 
 
No Somos Pájaros para vivir en el Aire, No somos Peces para vivir en el Agua, somos campesinos y campesinas que  vivimos de la tierra.
Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán (MUCA).
Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán
www.movimientomuca.blogspot.com
Facebook: Movimiento unificado Aguán
Skipe: movimiento.unificado
 
                    

Fuente: http://www.hondurastierralibre.com/2014/05/honduras-cidh-otorga-medidas-cautelares.html

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New Bajo Aguan Military Commander

Monday, January 20, 2014

Colonel German Alfaro Escalante, announced that the Chairman of the Honduran Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Freddy Santiago Diaz, has decided to replace him in his role as head of the Fuerza de Tarea Xatruch, running military operations in the Bajo Aguan.

His replacement will be Colonel René Martínez.  Alfaro said this was part of a larger shake-up of command around the country.

Tensions between campesinos and human rights activists and the military in the Bajo Aguan may have been eclipsed by the election, but they did not disappear.

Alfaro, a 1984 graduate of at least one School of the Americas course (Infantry Official Basic Training), was an outspoken critic of Rights Action co-director Annie Bird. On December 12, Alfaro, following up on dubious claims made by Ambassador Lisa Kubiske on December 10, accused Bird of inciting campesinos to invade African Palm plantations in the Bajo Aguan. He said that the military was investigating her for allegedly subversive action with the campesinos, and for supposedly filing false claims of human rights violations by the military in the Bajo Aguan.

It remains to be seen whether Alfaro’s replacement signals any change in the posture of the Armed Forces, or just a change in the face of the military operation.

Posted by at 7:00 AM

Fuente: http://hondurasculturepolitics.blogspot.ch/2014/01/new-bajo-aguan-military-commander.html

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Honduras and the dirty war fuelled by the west’s drive for clean energy

The palm oil magnates are growing ever more trees for use in biofuels and carbon trading. But what happens to the subsistence farmers who live on the lucrative land?
Honduras: peasant protests

Honduran police agents detain peasant leaders from Bajo Aguán at a protest in the capital, Tegucigalpa. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The west’s drive to reduce its carbon footprint cheaply is fuelling a dirty war in Honduras, where US-backed security forces are implicated in the murder, disappearance and intimidation of peasant farmers involved in land disputes with local palm oil magnates.

More than 100 people have been killed in the past four years, many assassinated by death squads operating with near impunity in the heavily militarised Bajo Aguán region, where 8,000 Honduran troops are deployed, according to activists.

Farmers’ leader Antonio Martínez, 28, is the latest victim of this conflict. His corpse was discovered, strangled, in November.

Peasant farmers say they are the victims of a campaign of terror by the police, army and private security guards working for palm oil companies since a coup in June 2009 ended land negotiations instigated by the deposed president, Manuel Zelaya.

Witnesses have implicated Honduran special forces and the 15th Battalion, which receives training and material support from the US, in dozens of human rights violations around the plantations of Bajo Aguán.

They say private security guards regularly patrol and train with the soldiers, and have even been given military uniforms and weapons for some operations.

The military denies the allegations, blaming the United Peasant Movement (Muca) for escalating violence in the region. Repeated requests for comment from the US embassy in Honduras failed to elicit a response.

Land occupations

The Bajo Aguán dispute dates back almost 20 years, to a World Bank-funded land modernisation programme. The farmers say thousands of hectares of land used for subsistence farming were fraudulently and coercively transferred to agribusinesses that grow African palms, which are lucratively exported to the west for biofuel, and are traded in the carbon credit market.

Since then, they have tried to reclaim the land using the courts, as well as roadblocks and illegal land occupations.

Zelaya launched an investigation to resolve the conflicts, but this came to an abrupt halt when he was toppled in a coup in 2009 that was backed by the business, political, military and church elites.

In December 2009, groups of subsistence farmers started large-scale illegal occupations on disputed land also claimed by the country’s biggest palm oil producer, the Dinant Corporation, which is owned by Miguel Facussé, one of Honduras’s most powerful men.

Dinant says 17 of its security guards were killed and 30 injured in clashes with farmers.

Map - Aguan Valley, HondurasThe region was heavily militarised in early 2010, and the farmers who were occupying the land were forcibly removed by soldiers enforcing contentious court orders. Accusations of human rights violations have escalated ever since.

In one incident, in 2012, Neptaly Esquivel, 32, a father of five, was permanently disabled by a bullet to the hip fired at close range by a soldier, whose face was hidden by a balaclava, during a peaceful protest against education reform. His case is with the inter-American court of human rights.

In another incident, Matías Vallé, 51, a founder member of Muca, was shot dead by two masked men on a motorcycle as he waited for a bus. Witnesses said a car full of private security guards was parked a few metres away.

His wife, Dominga Ramos, said he had rejected money from Dinant employees to stop the farmers’ movement, after which he was told there was a price on his head.

Ramos said: “I witnessed one police officer trying to hide a bullet shell in the ground with his foot. We buried him in a secret place so they couldn’t remove his head. I am tired and scared.

“My two sons left because of threats. We just want to work our land in peace.”

Dinant strongly denies any direct or indirect involvement in death squads or human rights violations.

It denies collusion between its security guards and government security forces to target peasant groups, and says it is committed to corporate social responsibility. The company says government security forces have been deployed against trespassers, who Dinant says are guilty of murder and other crimes.

A spokesman said Dinant was “not familiar” with the cases of Martínez, Esquivel or Vallé, and it had never been investigated for any suspected involvement. The company said it remained committed to “a quick and peaceful resolution to the Aguán conflict”.

Another recent case is the disappearance of Josbin Santamaría Caballero, who was allegedly shot and taken away in an army helicopter on 30 October 2013 as his wife and two young daughters cowered in their kitchen of their home.

The Dinant spokesman said the company was ignorant of his case, too.

Caballero, 25, son of a prominent peasant activist, had been publicly denounced as a violent criminal by Colonel German Alfaro, commander of the joint police-military Xatruch operation in the region.

Alfaro, trained at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly the School of the Americas) in Fort Benning, Georgia, denied any military involvement and said Muca, the most organised peasant group in the region, was responsible for the current violence.

Alfaro said: “Muca and other groups encourage farmers to confront agro-industrialists, maintain constant tension and insecurity, and commit crimes to destabilise the area with armed groups.”

Wider struggle

The Aguán conflict mirrors a wider struggle over land and natural resources across Honduras that for decades has pitted the poor majority against the country’s 10 oligarch families. Honduras became the world’s most violent country outside a war zone in 2011, and it is one of the poorest and most unequal in the Americas.

Activists say the use of state security forces to suppress protests against landgrabs, dams, mining and oil concessions has intensified since the 2009 coup. Over the same period the US has built up its military presence, with several bases in the country, which has become a major transit point for the international drugs trade. Between 140 and 300 tonnes of cocaine are believed to pass through Honduras every year en route from South America to the US and beyond.

Elections late last year boosted the status quo when the rightwing National party returned to power on a pro-business, pro-security manifesto amid allegations of electoral fraud and voter intimidation.

Bertha Oliva, director of the Committee of the Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared, said: “The police and military are using the cover of the US-led war on drugs in Honduras to eliminate many people, maybe including me: I am on the death list again.”

An investigation published in February by the Canadian group Rights Action (pdf) detailed 34 acts of violence and other crimes directly implicating the 15th Battalion. It said these typically occurred “in co-ordination with private security forces of palm oil corporations, Honduran national police agents and other military units … in what can only be characterised as death-squad activity.”

Karen Spring, from Rights Action, said: “The role of the military in terrorising and criminalising communities in the Bajo Aguán shows the complicity of the Honduran state and US government in supporting big business regardless of the killings.”

The use of private security has increased exponentially across Honduras, which now has five private security guards to every police officer.

The UN working group on mercenaries described consistent reports of guards using illegal weapons to carry out with impunity human rights violations including killings, disappearances, forced evictions and sexual violence.

Patricia Arias, who led the UN group, told the Guardian: “The most worrying information is about private security guards acting together with the police and army, for example the Xatruch operations in Bajo Aguán.”

Héctor Castro, vice-president of the Federation of Palm Growers, said both sides had committed abuses and broken the law. He added: “We don’t have a government or authorities which look for conciliation or apply the law equally.”

Vitalino Alvarez, a Muca leader who survived an assassination attempt in November 2012, said: “Each threat, disappearance and murder is part of the campaign of terror against us. We are blamed for killing each other and publicly called assassins, drug traffickers and drunks. We live, work and negotiate with guns pointed to our heads.”

From bananas to biofuels

Honduras was the original, archetypal banana republic: a small, poor, fertile country controlled by a small group of wealthy families with ties to transnational business interests such as Chiquita, formerly the United Fruit Company.

Bajo Aguán, with its lush terrain, sunny climate and myriad rivers, was once dominated by banana trees. In this landscape, poor campesinos barely scraped a living from back-breaking work.

Banana companies withdrew from the region in the 1930s, and its population declined. But by the 1980s the Aguán was one of the most diverse crop regions in Honduras, producing coconuts, pineapples, grapefruits and almost half of all the country’s bananas.

But African palm plantations have increased by almost 50% in the past three years, and now dominate the Bajo Aguán landscape, having replaced bananas and other edible crops. African palms, the saturated oil of which is a staple ingredient in processed foods and biodiesel, are now the most profitable crop in Honduras.

• This article was amended on Tuesday 6 January 2014. Josbin Santamaría Caballer was allegedly shot and taken away on 30 October 2013, not 2012 as we said. This has been corrected.

Fuente: http://www.theguardian.com/global/2014/jan/07/honduras-dirty-war-clean-energy-palm-oil-biofuels

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Activists accuse World Bank of deadly dealings in Honduras

Kate Woodsome January 4, 2014 01:17

An internal report is set to raise the lid on funding for an industry that’s forcing farmers off the land.

Honduras african palmEnlarge

Honduran workers harvesting African palm trees. (Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON — A recent political coup. Drug trafficking. One of the world’s highest murder rates. With attributes like those, Honduras may not sound like an easy sell for international investment.

But that hasn’t dissuaded the World Bank, whose mission is to encourage development in the countries that need it most.

The bank’s private lending arm, the International Finance Corporation, is spearheading several multimillion-dollar projects in Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Americas. However, some are questioning whether the money is doing more harm than good.

Human rights groups accuse the IFC of ignoring warnings that its funding for the Honduran palm oil industry is helping fuel a deadly land conflict that’s turning the fertile Aguan Valley near the country’s northern coast into a virtual military zone.

Farmworkers say they’ve been forced off land that’s mostly taken up by oil palm tree plantations. The controversy is casting doubts about whether the bank and its 182 member countries can respect their own code of ethics while doing business in politically unstable, corrupt societies.

Concerns about the social and environmental impacts of the IFC’s investment in Honduras have triggered an internal investigation that activists are anxiously awaiting.

“It’s going to be very sensitive,” says Peter Chowla, coordinator of the London-based Bretton Woods Project, which monitors World Bank projects. “We’re talking probably explosive findings of the IFC’s continuing support after they knew death squads were operating in the region.”

Hondurans describe a state of terror in the Aguan Valley, according to testimony recorded by Rights Action, the International Federation for Human Rights and other advocacy groups. They say police, military and landowners’ security forces are working together to blockade roads, burn farmers’ homes and hunt down, torture and murder land activists, lawyers and journalists.

At least 92 people have been killed in land disputes in the Aguan Valley between 2009 and 2012, most of them land activists, according to the country’s human rights commissioner.

At the heart of the issue is the IFC’s client, Corporacion Dinant, an African palm oil and food giant run by one of Honduras’s most powerful men, Miguel Facusse.

Although Facusse says he’s committed to the community’s welfare, human rights groups accuse the 89-year-old and his security forces of possible crimes against humanity related to the killing, kidnapping and forced eviction of farmers in one of Central America’s bloodiest recent agricultural conflicts.

Some of the allegations came in a submission to the International Criminal Court.

Dinant spokesman Roger Pineda rejected accusations the company’s security forces have been involved in violence against anyone claiming rights to Facusse’s property.

“The most common incidents in which violence have taken place have always been against our security personnel during the trespassing events against our properties by the invaders that always carried heavy weapons such as AK-47s to perform the illegal invasions,” he said.

But Rights Action co-director Annie Bird — who wrote the original report raising concerns to the World Bank — says landowners’ private security forces, military and police on Honduras’s Caribbean coast have “completely militarized” the area where Dinant operates.

“It’s basically like a war zone,” she says. “And there’s an absolutely non-functional justice system.”

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim recently acknowledged the concerns in a rare statement that pledged an action plan to respond to the findings of the internal investigation. However, he was short on specifics and did not say when the audit would be published.

The audit has been in the works since April 2012, when the World Bank’s internal watchdog, the Office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, said it would look into whether the IFC’s funding had negative social or environmental impacts on and around Dinant’s plantations.

The resulting inquiry revealed the IFC was involved in an elaborate funding program that kept millions pouring into Dinant even after the bank registered concerns about the violent land conflicts.

Internal IFC documents quoted in the watchdog report show the IFC characterized Facusse in July 2010 as a “very respected businessman” and said nothing about the violent land conflict.

Nevertheless, the IFC held back the second half of a $30 million loan to Dinant in mid-2010 following violent clashes over land in the Aguan Valley.

In December 2010, the IFC urged Facusse to use restraint after the Washington-based group Rights

Action sent a letter to the World Bank calling the situation a “human rights disaster” and accusing the financial institution of “gross negligence.”

But that didn’t stop the IFC from approving a $70 million investment in one of Dinant’s major lenders, Banco Financiera Comercial Hondurena (Ficohsa), the following May. It gave the IFC a 10 percent stake in Ficohsa — increasing the IFC’s exposure to Dinant — and enabled the Honduran bank to loan millions more to the troubled palm oil company.

Those circumstances triggered calls for a second investigation the CAO has promised will examine “Ficohsa’s significant exposure to Dinant and other potentially high-risk sectors and projects.”

The crisis stretches back to the 1970s, when the government distributed land occupied by indigenous people to farmer cooperatives. After the cooperatives went bankrupt, the government and the cooperatives sold much of the land to a few rich Hondurans, including Facusse, in the 1990s.

The US-educated son of Catholic Palestinian immigrants and uncle of a former Honduran president, Facusse evicted the farmers and indigenous community using private security forces with the help of the military and police.

The land conflicts worsened after a July 2009 coup d’etat overthrew the left-leaning President Manuel Zelaya. He was forced out of Honduras days after visiting the Aguan Valley, scuttling a controversial land-reform effort that rural farmers had celebrated but the country’s economic and political elites opposed.

Confidential US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks indicate the coup was backed by powerful figures including Facusse, whose plane transported Zelaya’s foreign minister out of the country.

Dinant spokesman Pineda said Facusse didn’t know about the plane’s use during the coup until the following day. He said the pilot, summoned by the air force, “did not use his best judgment and should not have participated in such acts.”

Pineda also rejected as baseless allegations that Facusse’s landing strips were used to transfer drugs.

The IFC’s critics say problems often arise because more than half of its global lending portfolio is handled though financial intermediaries. The “hands-off lending” creates problems because the IFC “doesn’t have a clue” about what happens to its money, Chowla says.

“There’s very little transparency on the side of the financial institutions in what they’re investing in,” he said in an interview. “Taxpayer money from around the world is financing what ends up in many cases with negative results.”

The World Bank has declined to comment on what ethical standards the IFC has applied to its investments in Honduras until the internal investigation into Dinant is published. However, an IFC spokesman admitted the group is concerned about the land disputes.

“We have been in close contact with Dinant since 2010, when the land occupations began, and have worked with the company to improve its policies and practices, particularly in security and community engagement, in an effort to address the more volatile security environment,” the spokesman, who asked not to be named, said in an email.

Regarding Ficohsa, the spokesman said the IFC has supported the Honduran bank since 2008 in order to help expand its lending to small- and medium-sized enterprises.

“Our work through financial intermediaries provides much-needed access to finance for millions of individuals that we would never be able to reach directly,” the spokesman said.

Although human rights groups suggest World Bank and IFC officials have lost their moral compass in Honduras and other developing countries, insiders say the issue is more complicated because it’s far from clear what actions to take in corrupt societies.

Katherine Marshall, who worked on international development for the World Bank for 35 years, says it operates on the assumption that it’s possible to make changes from within institutions.

“There’s a whole level of cocktail party discussions about who’s corrupt and who’s taking payments,” she says. “But if you don’t have evidence, it’s difficult to operate on that if you’re an external partner.”

Now a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, Marshall says international finance groups must weigh the costs and benefits of taking on each client.

“You don’t want to be naive and stupid, but if you’re involved in these countries,” she says, “you’re missing a major point if you’re not ready to have a discussion about the dark side.”

Last December, World Bank director Kim said the agency plans to hire more rule of law experts to fight corruption in international development.

“You have a cancer and you have to treat it,” he said. “And by the way, we know it’s treatable. If you don’t treat it, it’s malpractice on our part.”

But Rights Action’s Bird says the Aguan Valley’s farmers are tired of such abstract talk. They want the IFC to stop funding Dinant directly and indirectly.

“If international investors were held responsible for the consequences of their investments,” she says, “it would go a long way in putting a rein on some of the abuses.”

Fuente: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/140103/world-bank-honduras-dinant-african-palm

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The Bajo Aguan Region – A Laboratory for the New Global Counterinsurgency, and a Laboratory for Neoliberalism: Honduran Military Commander Accuses Annie Bird And Other Human Rights Activists of Destabilizing Honduras

Saturday, January 4, 2014
Posted by Rights Action Team | 0 comments

By Annie Bird, January 3, 2014

On Thursday, December 12, Colonel German Alfaro, commander of the Xatruch III operation in the Bajo Aguan region, made statements to Honduran press that Xatruch III is investigating my activities, documenting denouncements of human rights violations, accusing me of “destabilizing” the Aguan.

This is just the latest in a series of actions by Honduran officials intended to obstruct access to justice for the victims of human rights abuses, deter victims from denouncing abuses, and criminalize human rights defenders.

The Xatruch III Joint Task Force has been carrying out a particularly intense campaign to criminalize land rights movements and human rights defenders. Xatruch III hosts embedded public prosecutors, immigration officers and other justice operators.

Inter-American Development Bank Funding Xatruch III

This is the model of “stabilization policing” which was outlined in the June 2012 law proposal to create an intelligence police unit called the TIGRES.  Though the bill was shelved for over a year, after widespread outcry against the melding of police and military in one unit, newspapers reported that the first group of TIGRES was already being trained and was set to graduate in August 2012, and that the unit already had $60 million in funding from the Inter-American Development Bank.

The TIGRES were not legally constituted until a year later, June 2013.  The proposal was adapted to become solely a police unit, though mandated to collaborate with the new Military Police for Public Order (PMOP). There are grave concerns that the PMOP and TIGRES violate fundamental democratic protections. For example, judges assigned to the PMOP are allowed to preside over hearings via internet while located outside of the country.

It is unclear what happened to the initial group of TIGRES newspapers had reported would graduate in August 2012.  However in August 2012 the Xatruch III joint task force was sent into the Aguan region, a coincidence of dates suggesting that the first generation of TIGRES may have become Xatruch III.

U.S. Led Global Counterinsurgency and the Inter-American Development Bank

The PMOP and the TIGRES are stabilization policing operations, a model for security promoted by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan based on US counterinsurgency operations in Vietnam and El Salvador.  Colonel David Kilcullen, the top counterinsurgency advisor to General David Patraeus in Iraq and Afghanistan, in 2004 called for a “Global Pheonix Program.” The Pheonix Program was a counterinsurgency initiative in Vietnam that combined mobile, intelligence focused, rapid response armed units, similar to stabilization police forces, with local militias, similar to the ‘community police’ models currently being promoted. Inter-agency intelligence centers pooled and processed information.

This counterinsurgency policing model is precisely the “police reform” the Inter-American Development Bank is promoting in Honduras, drawing on experiences from Colombia. Colonel Kilcullen’s Caerus Associates, a consulting firm that advises governments and private sector, according to its website, is working in two countries in the Americas, Colombia and Honduras.

The US Special Operations Command (USSOC), the unit of the US military most directly responsible for counter-insurgency, has maintained a consistent presence at the 15th Battalion military base in Bajo Aguan since 2010.  Both USSOC and the Southern Command have funded improvements to the 15th Battalion base, from which the Xatruch forces operate.  It is notable that the first Honduran Task Force names Xatruch were the troops sent to Iraq in 2004.

Counterinsurgency Without Insurgents: Securing Markets And Resources

It seems clear that Xatruch III is a counterinsurgency operation. The question is, what insurgency is being countered in Honduras?  Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, matched with similarly high impunity rates.  Drug traffickers and organized crime are blamed for a large part of the violence, and for the networks of corruption in the justice system, and is the most frequently stated justification for international support for Honduran security forces.  Security is without a doubt a big issue.

However, in the Bajo Aguan, apparently a testing ground for the new global counterinsurgency, it is clear that Xatruch is not focused on citizen security, or on dismantling drug trafficking networks, but rather protecting palm oil agri-businessmen by combatting social movements demanding respect for land rights, respect for and reform of agrarian reform laws, and an end to violence against them from palm oil corporations.

Col. Kilcullen’s website is similarly clear: the counter-insurgency firm provides “strategic design for a world of overlapping forces – urbanization, new market horizons, resource scarcity and conflict.”  In the Aguan, the counterinsurgency is not aimed at reducing violence or fighting organized crime, it is about new markets and resource scarcity – the growing demand for biofuels and the competition for land between transnational businessmen and hungry farmers.

Why did Colonel Alfaro Target Me?

On December 10, I interviewed a local television journalist, Carlos Lara, regarding death threats against him, including one he had received from an employee of Dinant palm oil corporation, and the later kidnapping of his son.  The kidnapping was part of a rash of kidnappings which according to victims the Xatruch Operation has shown no interest in investigating, not even searching a house kidnapping victims identified as the place they had been held.

Lara then asked to interview me, an interview in which I described my activities documenting human rights abuses, and the dissemination of the documentation to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the International Criminal Court, the World Bank and other policy makers.

Alfaro’s statements also closely followed two announcements by the World Bank Group that could impact the interests of a palm oil corporation from whom Colonel Alfaro is reported to receive payments.  Dozens of testimonies in the town of Panama report that Xatruch forces harvest the palm fruit in the Paso Aguan farm, what appears to be in-kind payment from the World Bank-funded Dinant Corporation.

On Wednesday, December 4, 2013, the Compliance Ombudsman Advisor (CAO) of the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group released an appraisal report that determined the need to audit the IFC’s 2011 loan to the FICOHSA Corporation for potential violations of the World Bank’s social and environmental safeguard policies.  The CAO referred specifically to potential environmental and social impacts of FICOHSA’s financing to the Dinant Corporation.  This was closely followed on December 9 by statements from World Bank President Jim Kim, asserting that the World Bank Group is currently outlining an action plan in response to an audit conducted by the IFC’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman of the 2009 loan by the IFC to the Dinant Corporation, and audit spurred by a 2010 letter from Rights Action.

However, Alfaro’s statements to the press apparently came most directly in response to several legal complaints filed with the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights in La Ceiba by residents of the communities of Rigores and Panama in Trujillo, Colon on December 11.

On October 28, 2013, Rights Action and the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan (MUCA) submitted a petition and a request for protective measures to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights related to human rights violations impacting several campesino movements in the Aguan, including the Gregorio Chavez Refoundation Campesino Movement (MCRGC) in the Panama community.  The community reported a series of extremely alarming human rights abuses related to the situation, and I agreed to accompany the victims to make complaints to the Regional Office of the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights locate in La Ceiba.

Criminalization and Violence Against the Panama Community

In the end of November, the Aguan River flooded the Panama farm, causing Xatruch and Dinant security guards to abandon the farm.  Tired of years of murder, rapes, attacks threats, shootings and other violence that the Panama community describe as having endured at the hands of Dinant security, on May 20, 2013 the community had come to an agreement with Alfaro that security forces would not use the road through their town. Following the flooding, the armed forces again began using the road, the community reacted by blocking the entry to the town.

At 1 a.m. on December 1, 2013, multiple witnesses stated that a truck recognized as one of the vehicles that transports Dinant security forces, approached the entrance to the Panama community with the truck’s bed covered by a canvas.  When denied access to the community, the truck continued down the highway approximately 100 meters and then stopped for a few minutes.  The following day community members found an unidentified dead body and reportedly contacted local police immediately.  Before police reached the scene, Xatruch forces arrived and recovered the body without undertaking the investigative procedures mandated by law, and then turned the body over to the local police.  A neighboring community then informed Panama residents that the police then summarily buried the body in their cemetery, without an autopsy.  That same day, on Sunday, December 1, Colonel Alfaro reportedly made statements on the local radio claiming residents of Panama had killed the person whose body had been discovered.

Two further complaints were filed in relation to incidents surrounding a shooting near a primary school in the Panama community, that neighbors report to have occurred at approximately 10 a.m. on Monday, December 2, forcing school children to throw themselves to the floor. Neighbors report that Colonel Alfaro then made statements to the media that a Xatruch patrol with three agents had been shot at, injuring a police officer, and that Panama community leader Santos Torres had participated in the shooting.  Torres and his neighbors explain that at the time of the shooting he was in the National Agrarian Institute office in Tocoa.  Neighbors suspect that the shooting incident was carried out by the security forces themselves, as it was in an area normally inaccessible to anyone but security forces.

A complaint was also filed by Mario Rivera of the Panama community, reporting that approximately two hours after the December 2 shooting, without a warrant or cause presented, Rivera had been forced into a Xatruch patrol car with another young man, and that the two were questioned about community leaders while being driven around with Xatruch forces cocking their guns in a threatening manner.  The Xatruch forces then drove them into a palm plantation, an action understood to be a threat to kill or torture them there.  Perceiving the same threat, neighbors gathered to follow the truck, which then turned around and released the young men, threatening to arrest the neighbors concerned about the safety of the men illegally detained.

Neighbors identified the Xatruch patrol as a green Ford F350, a vehicle which matches the description of a fleet of green Ford F350s donated by the U.S. government to the Honduran armed forces in July 2010.  A similar vehicle was used in the killing of teenager Ebed Yanes in Tegucigalpa.

A separate complaint came from Mario Licona, a baker from the town of Rigores with no connection to campesino movements, who had visited the town of Panama to purchase a used car part.  While leaving town he was arrested without evidence and is charged in the shooting.

Psychological Operations: False Accusations Against Human Rights Defenders

The false accusations against me are just the latest in a pattern of intimidation and criminalization of human rights defenders. On December 1, Honduran press published statements by Alfaro accusing Jonny Rivas, campesino leader, and Wilfredo Paz, newly elected congressman, of having met with the Panama community on November 30 to incite the community to take actions against the military. On that date both Rivas and Paz were in Tegucigalpa participating in LIBRE political party activities.

Last February, Colonel Alfaro made threatening statements directed at Wilfredo Paz of the Aguan Human Rights Observatory, as well as Jonny Rivas and Vitalino Alvarez of the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan, MUCA, in reaction to their complaints of a campaign of violence against campesino organizations and their supporters.

This occurred just days before my organization, Rights Action, released the report “Human Rights Violations Attributed to Military Forces in the Bajo Aguan Valley in Honduras”, the report had been extensively reviewed via internet and telephone with all three of those mentioned.  Witnesses later accused Colonel Alfaro of offering to pay campesino movement members as ‘intelligence sources’ and assembling a group of witnesses to supposed criminal activities by movement leadership, but which were reported to have received promises of visas to the United States, an incentive with a significant financial value in Honduras.

Since the February press conference, Alfaro has constantly reached out to media and particularly local media.  It is highly unusual that a regional task force commander engage with the press to such a high degree, and would appear to be an element of a psychological operation.  Psyops are a specialty of USSOC, which has had significant presence on the Rio Claro military base.   Interesting US military manuals explain that the US Ambassador is the person ultimately responsible for psychological operations carried out in a country not at war, but that the ambassador must always deny the existence of the operation.

Counterinsurgency Laboratory, “Development” Laboratory

The Bajo Aguan, now a testing ground for the new global counterinsurgency model, has long been a site of social experimentation by Multilateral Development Banks.  In the 1970s and 1980s, World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank programs promoted the colonization of the Aguan.  In the 1960’s the Banks had identified the expansion of agricultural frontiers, ie, converting forests into farmlands, as a principal development goal for Central America, alongside the development of mines and hydroelectric dams. Campesinos labored to pioneer the production of African palm oil, creating approximately 40 African palm cooperative plantations in the Aguan through the Agrarian Reform program.

Miguel Facusse, reported to have been a director of the World Bank funded, Honduran government owned, National Investment Corporation (CONADI), promoted these industrial endeavors in Honduras.  CONADI owned wholly and/or partially enterprises and served as the guarantor for loans to corporations.  Many of these enterprises processed or added-value to agricultural production from the Aguan.  In the 1970’s Facusse had founded Quimicas Dinant, a soap and detergent factory, with over $13 million in loans from Bank of America and Lloyds Bank, guaranteed by CONADI.

Reviving Battalion 3-16: Business and Military Generated Death Lists in the Aguan

Facusse founded the Association for the Progress of Honduras (APROH), together with General Gustavo Alvarez – the infamous military dictator and founder of Battalion 3-16 – and Rafael Callejas, among many other politically influential businessmen.  APROH is accused of identifying targets for the death squad activities of Battalion 3-16, targeting those considered threats to the commercial interests of the businessmen.

It is concerning that a similar grouping of businessmen and military is being created in the Aguan.  Meeting under different names, such as the ‘Sala Tecnica’ (technical room) or ‘Crisis Table,’ Colonel Alfaro and other military commanders are reported to meet with representatives of the business council, Dinant and influential politicians like National Party Oscar Najera, including some of the same people reportedly associated with Battalion 3-16 in the 1980s.  On at least one occasion a list of social movement leaders to be targeted for killing was reported to have been produced in a meeting.  Reports also claim that a military intelligence squad of 12 people was set up in a house in Tocoa, a chilling likeness to a death squad.

Accusations that Facusse Looted Millions from Honduras

APROH is credited with being the key force that brokered the 1980 Constitutional Assembly. APROH then advocated for a development strategy of promoting loans for which CONADI became the guarantor in 1985.  Later APROH was a principal promoter of the structural adjustment program in Honduras, heavily supported or promoted by the World Bank, which took place principally between 1985 and 1992.

Structural adjustment loans to the state of Honduras were used to liquidate CONADI and other state owned banks and investment funds.  Debts to CONADI were declared unrecoverable and CONADI’s debts to foreign banks were paid off apparently by World Bank structural adjustment loans.  Dinant’s $13 million loan guaranteed by CONADI was written off.

In the same process, companies owned by CONADI were auctioned off to private investors. Another company owned by Facusse, Comercializadora Galaxia, purchased the state owned Mejores Alimentos from CONADI for a promissory note for over $25 million lempiras.  In 1988 CONADI wrote off the debt owed by Galaxia in exchange for ‘services rendered’ and a supposed debt by Mejores Alimentos to Quimicas Dinant.  Later that same year the CONADI board brought suit against Galaxia for the fraudulent and corrupt sale, a suit which did not prosper.  A 1991 suit was filed by the General Procurator of the Nation charging Facusse and other directors of CONADI with fraud suffered a similar fate.

In 1992 and 1994, laws that regulated the Agrarian Reform program were altered as part of the World Bank sponsored structural adjustment program, allowing agrarian reform lands to be resold under a specific set of conditions.  Miguel Facusse, through various legal entities including the Cressida Corporation, began acquiring African palm plantations from cooperatives in 1993.  There are widespread reports that coercion and fraud leveraged these purchases.  In mid-1997 the  World Bank’s IFC provided a loan to Cressida to expand and improve their operation, and on October 18, 1997 beloved Tocoa environmentalist Carlos Escaleras was killed; his opposition to a new Cressida Corporation palm oil processing plant is generally considered the motive.

During this time Facusse and his various corporate expressions expanded aggressively across the north coast.  It is widely reported that armed thugs assisted in the process, and frequently used the ‘modernized’ agrarian reform, do counter-agrarian reform, as a means of taking lands from Garifuna communities and local farmers and then passing it to Facusse and other palm oil businessmen.

Given corporate legal structures, it is difficult to know if Miguel Facusse is the sole owner of the corporations he is credited with owning.  Many suspect other investors may also participate in the companies, which might explain why the United States Embassy has been such a staunch supporter of Facusse, despite many incidents which suggest his participation in drug trafficking, corruption of the justice system and violence, precisely the conditions that are used to justify US support for security initiatives in the region.

Endnote

The accusations directed at me must be understood, firstly, in the context of endemic threats and repression against community and human rights defenders across Honduras. Secondly, the threats and accusations are made against those persons and organizations that investigate and denounce the corruption and impunity, repression and violence that characterize Honduras, all of which is supported by countries like the United States, and institutions like the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

*******

Rights Action

Annie Bird is co-director of Rights Action.  Rights Action funds and works with grassroots organizations in Guatemala and Honduras, as well as in southern Mexico and El Salvador, that are struggling for community controlled development and environmental protection, for disaster and repression relief, for truth, memory, justice and human rights, and for democracy and the rule of law.  Rights Action does extensive education and activism work concerning how the United States and Canada contribute to and benefit from endemic harms and violations in Guatemala and Honduras.  Rights Action (Canada), founded in 1999, is independent from and works in conjunction with Rights Action (USA).

Fuente: http://www.rightsaction.org/action-content/bajo-aguan-region-laboratory-new-global-counterinsurgency-and-laboratory

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Outrage Following Honduran Colonel‘s Attack against U.S. Human Rights Defender

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Written by Dan Beeton
Friday, 20 December 2013 17:44

Last week, Colonel German Alfaro, the commander of Operation Xatruch III in Honduras’ Aguan Valley, personally denounced Annie Bird, co-director of the U.S. and Canada-based human rights NGO Rights Action, on TV and radio, alleging among other things that she is engaging in “destabilization work” in the Aguan. The accusations, which were also covered in La Tribuna and Tiempo newspapers, came just after Bird accompanied campesinos in the Aguan to the Attorney General’s office to file human rights complaints, including some against Honduran soldiers. Alfaro also said he was opening an investigation into Bird’s activities.

In response, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement yesterday condemning Alfaro’s accusations. This was followed by a statement today signed by representatives of 33 human rights, labor, faith-based and other organizations, including the AFL-CIO, Sisters of Mercy, and the Washington Office on Latin America calling on the State Department to denounce Alfaro’s comments.

HRW’s Americas Director Jose Miguel Vivanco also urged the U.S. government to condemn Alfaro’s accusations:

Given its ongoing cooperation with Honduran security forces, the US government should use all the tools at its disposal to call a halt to verbal attacks on activists by senior Honduran military officials[.] Whether directed at human rights defenders or campesino leaders, such accusations only add to a climate of fear and intimidation.

Alfaro’s statements fit into an ongoing pattern of violence, intimidation and threats against human rights defenders in Honduras, both foreign and domestic, that has including the kidnapping by armed men of two European human rights defenders in July; threats and public accusations against American and Canadian human rights defenders and electoral observers ahead of and during the elections; and threats and public denunciations of Honduran human rights defenders like Bertha Oliva and Victor Fernandez.

The accusations against Bird, which as HRW noted “attracted comments from readers that include death threats against Bird,” follow “similar attacks” against campesino leaders and a larger effort to criminalize the activities of campesino groups opposing violence and land take-overs by palm oil magnates such as Miguel Facussé and other large landowners. Unfortunately, as we have previously noted, U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske’s recent remarks have fed into this criminalization campaign, rather than expressing concern over the violence and threats.

Alfaro’s statements are also chilling in the context of ongoing violence against journalists, lawyers, LIBRE members, trade unionists and others, just since the elections:

November 30 – LIBRE activist José Antonio Ardon was shot and killed by four unknown gunmen close to his home. Ardon was well-known as a LIBRE supporter, frequently riding with LIBRE’s “Motorizada.”

December 3 – a lawyer, José Armando Martínez Motiño was killed by unknown gunmen, the 17th lawyer murdered in Honduras in 2013 and the 70th in the past three years.

December 6 – COFADEH revealed that following death threats, journalist and congressional candidate Edgardo Castro had fled Honduras.

December 7 – mayoral candidate for the LIBRE party Graciela Lozano was gunned down in the Los Maestros neighborhood of the Caribbean coastal city of La Ceiba by unidentified gunmen.

Also December 7, Radio Globo journalist Juan Carlos Argeñal “a 43-year-old Radio Globo [and TV Globo] correspondent in the eastern city of Danli, was also shot to death by unknown gunmen who forced their way into his home,” the Latin American Herald Tribune reported. According to press reports, Argeñal was a LIBRE member and brother of the coordinator of the National Resistance Front against the Coup (FNRP) in Danli. The murder was denounced by several international human rights and press freedom groups, including Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Reporters Without Borders.

December 9 – The Committee for Free Expression (C-LIBRE) issues a statement about a supposed “hit list” of 36 human rights defenders, journalists, LIBRE leaders, trade unionists and activists who may be targeted for murder. The International Human Rights Observatory (FIDH) also expresses concern about the list. Included on the list are Berta Caceres, general coordinator of indigenous rights group COPINH; Bertha Oliva of human rights organization COFADEH; and LIBRE leaders Patricia Rodas (also former foreign minister for the Zelaya government) and Juan Barahona, among many others.

December 12 – Carlos Fernando Posadas Soto, son of trade union president SITRAPANI Dagoberto Posadas was reported as having disappeared after attending a LIBRE rally. He was found alive on December 14, semi-conscious and apparently drugged.

Fuente: http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/outrage-following-honduran-colonels-attack-against-us-human-rights-defender

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Honduras: acusaciones del Ejército ponen en riesgo a activista

El gobierno debería repudiar señalamientos expresados por un coronel

19 de Diciembre de 2013

(Washington, DC)– El gobierno hondureño expone a activistas de derechos humanos a riesgos al no repudiar los peligrosos comentarios manifestados por un alto funcionario militar, señaló hoy Human Rights Watch. Un coronel del Ejército aseveró recientemente que el trabajo realizado por Annie Bird, codirectora de la organización no gubernamental Rights Action, con sede en Estados Unidos, procuraba desestabilizar la región del Bajo Aguán, donde se han producido hechos de violencia vinculados con conflictos por tierras.

El comandante de la Operación Xatruch III, una fuerza de tarea conjunta integrada por policías y militares en la provincia de Colón, en la región del Bajo Aguán, acusó públicamente a Bird de desestabilizar la zona al “cuestionar el procedimiento de la justicia hondureña” y realizar señalamientos falsos sobre la actuación de las fuerzas de seguridad. El 12 de diciembre de 2013, el periódico La Tribuna citó declaraciones del coronel Germán Alfaro Escalante, en las cuales presuntamente manifestó: “Estamos en un proceso investigativo de una denuncia sobre una supuesta norteamericana de nombre Annie Bird, quien anda haciendo algunas labores de desestabilización aquí en el sector del Aguán, ya que se está reuniendo con algunos dirigentes de grupos campesinos”. Los comentarios de Alfaro han sido reproducidos por medios de comunicación, simultáneamente con la difusión de fotografías de Bird, de nacionalidad estadounidense.

“En Honduras, donde defensores de derechos humanos y líderes comunitarios han sido agredidos e incluso asesinados por el trabajo que realizan, las acusaciones del coronel demuestran un manifiesto desprecio por la seguridad de una activista con una larga trayectoria”, observó José Miguel Vivanco, director para las Américas de Human Rights Watch. “El Presidente Porfirio Lobo y el secretario de defensa deben dejar en claro que no corresponde a los militares investigar denuncias contra activistas, ni mucho menos difamarlos a través de los medios de comunicación”.

Según informó La Tribuna, el coronel Alfaro indicó que Bird había presionado a campesinos de la región para que se rebelaran contra las fuerzas de seguridad.

La región del Bajo Aguán, en el noreste de Honduras, ha sido escenario de prolongadas y a menudo violentas controversias 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 controversias por la tierra en el Bajo Aguán entre 2009 y 2012.

Desde hace 12 años, Bird trabaja en la cobertura informativa de la situación de derechos humanos en Honduras, y ha escrito varios informes sobre el país para Rights Action.

Bird dijo a Human Rights Watch que consideraba que las declaraciones del coronel Alfaro se debían a que estaba documentando abusos que supuestamente habrían sido cometidos recientemente por miembros de las fuerzas de seguridad del Estado. El 11 de diciembre, Bird acompañó a un grupo de residentes locales hasta la Fiscalía Especial de Derechos Humanos para denunciar abusos que supuestamente estos habían sufrido a manos de miembros de la fuerza de tarea Xatruch, destinada formalmente al mantenimiento de la seguridad en la región. El 10 de diciembre, había ofrecido una entrevista a una estación de radio local, en la cual explicó que trabajaba en la documentación de abusos, que luego informaba a organismos internacionales.

Un artículo sobre los señalamientos del coronel, que se publicó en Internet, ha recibido comentarios de lectores en los cuales se realizaron amenazas de muerte contra Bird.

Las acusaciones del coronel Alfaro contra Bird se produjeron luego de un comunicado difundido el 18 de febrero por la fuerza de tarea Xatruch que incluía acusaciones similares. En el comunicado se acusó a conocidos líderes campesinos, entre ellos Yoni Rivas y Vitalino Álvarez, de llevar adelante una “campaña de desinformación bien concebida” con el propósito de “denigrar” al equipo de tarea mediante acusaciones falsas que “deterioran la imagen de la nación hondureña”. En su declaración, la fuerza de tarea instó a la “laboriosa población en general del departamento de Colón” a organizarse contra un “sector minoritario” que, según se afirmó, provocaba inestabilidad e irrespeto a la ley. La declaración se produjo luego de que organizaciones campesinas denunciaran una campaña de violencia en su contra, en el marco de las actuales controversias por tierras.

Es habitual que defensores de derechos humanos en Honduras sean objeto de amenazas y hechos de violencia, observó Human Rights Watch. Tras el asesinato en septiembre de 2012 del destacado abogado y defensor de derechos humanos Antonio Trejo Cabrera, la Alta Comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, Navi Pillay, manifestó: “Existe un clima amenazante de inseguridad y violencia en Honduras, y los defensores de derechos humanos son blanco de amenazas, intimidación, agresiones físicas y asesinatos. La impunidad ante estas violaciones es inaceptable”. La Alta Comisionada exhortó al gobierno de Honduras a “adoptar urgentemente medidas para hacer frente a la vulnerabilidad que sufren los defensores de derechos humanos”.

Estados Unidos destinó más de US$ 50 millones de asistencia a objetivos de seguridad en Honduras entre 2010 y 2012, a través de la Iniciativa Regional de Seguridad para América Central (Central America Regional Security Initiative, CARSI)– un programa de asistencia en materia de seguridad a países de la región que aún se encuentra en ejecución– y casi US$ 17 millones de asistencia en materia de seguridad del Departamento de Defensa de Estados Unidos durante 2011 y 2012. 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 vista de su cooperación continua con las fuerzas de seguridad de Honduras, el gobierno estadounidense debería emplear todas las herramientas a su disposición para instar a que cesen las agresiones verbales de altos mandos militares hondureños contra activistas”, manifestó Vivanco. “Independientemente de que sean vertidas contra defensores de derechos humanos o líderes campesinos, tales acusaciones profundizan el clima de temor e intimidación”.

Fuente: http://www.hrw.org/es/news/2013/12/19/honduras-acusaciones-del-ejercito-ponen-en-riesgo-activista

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Ante persecución a líderes populares, defensa de DDHH no es tema político

Wednesday, 18 December 2013 19:00 Sandra Rodríguez
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Tegucigalpa.

Esta mañana se denunció una serie de persecuciones y ataque contra líderes sociales y defensores internaciones de derechos humanos, en algunos de los casos, la experiencia nos indica que hacer para salvar la vida de los amenazados, dijo Bertha Oliva, coordinadora del COFADEH, como sucedió con el periodista Edgardo Castro, quien hace dos semanas recibió amenazas contra su vida, desde el gobierno.

En su momento, el periodista y diputado electo del partido Libertad y Refundación, LIBRE, por el departamento de Cortés, denunció que debía abandonar el país, porque un alto funcionario del régimen de Porfirio Lobo Sosa, le mandó advertir que se movilizara porque había un plan contra su vida.

Acudí a poner mi denuncia ante el Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras, COFADEH, donde la compañera Bertha Oliva, me atendió y aconsejó que debía salir por unos días del país, estuve en Estados Unidos, allá aproveché para denunciar lo que sucede en el país, y poner el tema de que se elimine la ayuda militar asignada a Honduras, manifestó Edgardo Castro.

Castro, aseguró a la prensa que no tiene porqué, ni de qué esconderse, porque no es delincuente, ni narcotraficante, y que las amenazas provienen por el simple ejercicio de su profesión periodística en Honduras.

“Cualquier situación que me suceda, desde ya responsabilizo al “súper” ministro Arturo Corrales Álvarez, titular de la Secretaria de Seguridad, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, titular del poder Ejecutivo,  y juan Orlando Hernández, presidente electo por una clase superior en este país y por un tribunal Supremo Electoral contaminado”.

“Mi único pecado es trabajar al servicio de las clases sociales hondureñas, denunciando las injusticias sociales, así que ellos son los responsables de garantizar la seguridad y vida de la población”, aseguró el periodista.

Envió el siguiente mensaje a Arturo Corarles, que ponga a trabajar a su gente, y que así como anoche pidieron más dinero para el súper tasón  (Tasa de Seguridad) para mantener estos grupos elitistas de la Policía Militar, que se den cuenta que la seguridad no se necesita en los grandes edificios y atrás de empresarios de este país, sino en los pueblos, barrios y colonias donde a diario se sigue matando a los hondureños.

Enfatizó que la Policía Militar no garantiza la seguridad, antes se justificaban las acciones de los escuadrones de la muerte, aduciendo ajustes de cuentas o más fácil decir por robo de un celular, “dejen de justificar esas acciones, no maten al pueblo de esa forma tan descarada y que quieran justificar otro tipo de situaciones”.

Y dijo que, como periodista seguirá aquí, porque no tengo miedo, si salió de Honduras por unos días, fue a denunciar lo que aquí sucede, y esa será su función en el curul legislativo, denunciar los actos ilícitos, por lo que su visión será firme.

Por su parte la defensora de DDHHH, Bertha Oliva, dijo que al recibir en la oficina del COFADEH, a Edgardo Castro, se percibió que la gravedad era muy próxima para convertirse en otra víctima más, por lo que se evaluó la denuncia y compartieron algunas acciones que él había realizado, la información que tenían, por lo que no era desconocida en absoluto ese tipo de información.

Y no es precisamente en el caso del periodista, pero ya se había dado y generado que la información sale de la institucionalidad del gobierno y del Estado, y eso es preocupante, dijo Oliva, cuando alguien nos informa y avisa que hay un plan de muerte para determinada persona política o activista de derechos humanos.

Y es que los y las defensoras de DDHH que trabajamos en favor de la vida,  lo primero que hacemos es convocar a la posible víctima, y empezamos a ver que hay un patrón establecido para estos hechos, y citamos casos como el de Rafael Alegría, (también recibió amenazas contra su vida) eso es altamente delicado y peligroso y además fue confirmado, al igual que el caso de Edgardo Castro, -ambos diputados electos al Congreso Nacional, en la bancada de LIBRE, para los próximos cuatro años-.

La experimentada defensora hondureña, dijo que ya se está generando un patrón, en principio podemos decir que gracias a esa información que se nos hace saber, es que podemos actuar a tiempo, y en el caso de Edgardo, creemos que hemos hecho algunas cosas para desactivar ese plan de muerte que se estaba gestando en contra de él.

En las primeras acciones, fue hablar con él, saber el nivel de credibilidad que le daba a esta información, del plan contra su vida, y además en nuestro caminar hemos notado cuando a una víctima le puede ocurrir algo, y en este caso, sí era notable que a Edgardo le podía suceder algo, después interpusimos las respectivas denuncia en las instancias del Estado y vimos prudente que estuviera fuera del país unos días, al tiempo que activamos redes de apoyo internacional, Explicó la Coordinadora del COFADEH.

En torno a este caso, el periodista, habló sobre su caso a autoridades como el ministro de Seguridad, Arturo Corrales, pues tiene la libertad de informar a quien estime conveniente. CODFADEH dará seguimiento a las denuncias que se interpusieron, y solicitó la reactivación de medidas cautelare que ya tenía Castro, y se informó que hoy se dio seguimiento a una de las medidas cautelares que tiene el dirigente campesino Rafael Alegría.

COFADEH seguirá realizando acciones en favor de la vida, de la libertad y de la protección. No podemos decirles que estamos derrotadas, porque cualquier cantidad de denuncias que recibimos las tomamos, asumimos y hacemos lo que corresponde, con esto decimos a los violentos que nosotros no respondemos con violencia, que queremos fortalecer el Estado de Derecho, el cual deviene cuando sus autoridades cumplen lo que les compete, afirmo Bertha Oliva.

Operan escuadrones de la muerte contra los luchan por la vida

En la conferencia de prensa, también se exigió investigación en el caso del secuestro temporal del hijo del compañero sindicalista Dagoberto Posadas, presidente del Sindicato de Trabajadores del Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, SITRAPANI, quien vivió tres días de conmoción, porque no es fácil enfrentar esa situación, con esto podemos decir que hay escuadrones de la muerte, y están operando, aseguró Oliva.

Y este tipo de denuncias, también las realizó en los años 80, cuando se ejecutaban asesinatos políticos, exilio político, desapariciones forzadas, y al igual que ahora, habían voces oficiales que decían que nosotras mentíamos al mundo, pero los hechos demuestran lo contrario, la historia nuevamente se repite, para COFADEH pasa más allá de sólo un discurso en DDHH, es más allá, dar acompañamiento y que no se den más violaciones, ni ataques a las personas que luchan por una vida digna.

Nos toca más difícil, explicó Oliva, porque nos ven como las inadaptadas, sólo porque no hacemos “lobby” (antesala) político, somos cuestionadas a nivel público y han dicho que nos encargamos de ir a difamar a Honduras en el extranjero, pero tenemos los hechos, y mientras existan graves violaciones a derechos humanos como  persecución, asesinato y desaparición política, no vamos a decir lo contrario.

Las violaciones a DDHH  no son negociaciones políticas, se cumplen o no se cumplen, y no podemos  estar, ni siquiera dando reconocimientos a funcionarios públicos, porque ese es su trabajo y para eso se les paga, apuntó Bertha, no somos de ese criterio y eso nos coloca en condiciones muy difíciles.

Y como parte de las muestras de solidaridad de parte de organismos internacionales para el COFADEH, su coordinadora compartió con la prensa que Amnistía Internacional, AI, ha seleccionado esta organización, dentro de todas las organizaciones de DDHH en el mundo, para ser parte de una campaña por mes y medio para apoyo a la labor que realiza desde hace 31 años, en defensa de la vida, la libertad y contra la impunidad.

Y esta campaña ha tenido fuertes connotaciones con personajes reconocidos del mundo a nivel internacional, por el trabajo que COFADEH realiza, y es por la preocupación que Amnistía Internacional tiene en el mundo, por lo que nos pueda ocurrir, porque estamos como en una voz en desierto, pero vendrán días mejores, en los que convocaremos a la prensa para decirle que ya no hay violaciones a DDHH y que ya no hay periodistas asesinados, como sucedió al comunicador social Juan Carlos Argeñal, en Danlí, el pasado 6 de diciembre, quien denunció actos de corrupción en su municipio.

Mientras tanto, la denuncia continuará, porque no podemos decir que hay avances, sino crisis y emergencia en materia de DDHH,  vean que se establece un patrón de seguridad y seguimiento a acompañantes internacionales, eso levanta y despierta las alarmas a nivel internacional, denuncio Oliva.

Amenazas contra defensores internacionales

Se dio el caso previo a las elecciones del 24 de noviembre, donde secuestraron a dos acompañantes internacionales, gracias a las oportunas intervenciones salvamos sus vida, pero condenamos la acción de los entes encargados de impartir justicia, que no han hecho nada, pese a tener conocimiento de los hechores, y se denunció los hechos durante el proceso electoral, donde encapuchados interrumpieron los lugares donde dormían los y las acompañantes internacional.

Y ahora la defensora Annie Bird, co-coordinadora de Rights Action, está seriamente señalada por el comandante de la fuerza de Tarea Xatruch II, German Alfaro, de ser una persona que viene a hacer hostigamiento y hostilidad a nuestro país, eso ha sido el mayor detonante para que la comunidad internacional esté alerta y saber qué hacer en  reclamación a la autoridades locales, aseguró Bertha Oliva.

También estuvo presente en la comparecencia, el dirigente magisterial Edgardo Casaña, quien a nombre de la Federación de Organizaciones Magisteriales de Honduras, FOMH, se solidarizó con el compañero Edgardo Castro, porque es alguien que goza de la estima y reconocimiento del magisterio, porque siempre alza la voz junto a su hermano Mario Castro, también periodista, en favor de las luchas magisteriales.

Casaña, dijo que en representación de seis colegios magisteriales, nos solidarizamos con el gremio periodístico, que al igual que el magisterio ha sido duramente atacado, y que hace unas semanas enterraron a una compañera maestra, a causa de este sistema opresor.

Agradecemos a COFADEH que le esté tendiendo la mano a un amigo del sector popular, así como lo ha hecho con el magisterio, porque ha sido un techo en la cual nos hemos acobijado ante tanto represión, recalcó el también candidato electo a diputado por el partido LIBRE, en representación del departamento de Santa Bárbara.

Los y las defensoras de derechos humanos en Honduras, están criminalizadas, estigmatizadas y se sabe que existen perfiles, que no los hace alguien de la calle, sino inteligencia militar, es la realidad que viven, y que refleja la gravedad y crisis en materia de DDHH.

Y por estar conscientes de la situación que se vive,  es que desde el CODAFEH a diario se les estará comunicando estos hechos, además que impera el trabajo para que se unifique el pueblo hondureño, pero no queremos que haya paz del silencio. No vamos a dejar que haya silencio, concluyó Bertha Oliva.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 December 2013 19:07 )

Fuente: http://www.defensoresenlinea.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2910:ante-persecucion-a-lideres-populares-defensa-de-ddhh-no-es-tema-politico&catid=94:articulos&Itemid=329

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HSN-USA Rechaza la Intimidación y las Amenazas en contra de DDHH

HONDURAS SOLIDARITY Network

18 de Diciembre 2013

HSN-USA http://www.hondurassolidaritynetwork.org!
honsolnetwork@gmail.com

La Red de Solidaridad con Honduras denuncia y expresa su grave preocupación con las
acusaciones falsas en contra de la representante de una organización internacional de
derechos humanos y solidaridad, Derechos en Acción, hechas por el Coronel Germán
Alfaro, comandante de las fuerzas militares Xantruch II del Bajo Aguán.
Derechos en Acción como organización es miembro de esta red y tiene una trayectoria
larga de trabajo con las comunidades centroamericanas de alto riesgo. Annie Bird es bien
conocida y respetada en Estados Unidos y Centroamérica por su trabajo desde hace
muchos años en defensa de los derechos humanos. Las acusaciones son completamente
falsas y están destinadas a desprestigiar a las defensoras y los defensores internacionales
y nacionales de derechos humanos. Además, denunciamos estas declaraciones como una
amenaza implícita en contra de la integridad física de Annie Bird, y responsabilizamos al
Coronel Alfaro y las autoridades hondureñas de todo nivel por su bienestar.
Las declaraciones del Coronel Alfaro forman parte de una campaña orquestada de
desprestigio e intimidación en contra de las organizaciones internacionales de derechos
humanos y solidaridad, con fin de aislar a los movimientos políticos y sociales opuestos
al golpe de estado y su continuidad, especialmente a las comunidades indígenas y
campesinas más desprotegidas y vulnerables.
Otra de nuestras organizaciones miembros fue sujeto a intimidación mientras servían
como Acompañantes Electorales con credenciales del TSE durante las elecciones del 24
de noviembre. Los servicios de inmigración, los cuales están militarizados actualmente
en Honduras, hicieron una redada en el centro de El Progreso donde las y los
internacionales estaban recibiendo capacitación por el Tribunal Electoral, además de las
oficinas de la organización hondureña jesuita ERIC-SJ. Cuando nuestros miembros se
presentaron a las oficinas de inmigración en San Pedro Sula como se les habían
solicitado, el oficial encargado allí también repitió acusaciones absurdas sin fundamento
alguno de que habían observadores internacionales cuyo intención era intimidar a la gente
y provocar sublevación. Sus declaraciones y actitud claramente tuvieron la intención de
intimidar a nuestros miembros. Él dijo que las redadas fueron parte de una operación
ordenada al nivel nacional con apoyo de la embajada estadounidense, así que sus
declaraciones tienen que ser interpretadas como declaraciones oficiales.
La campaña en contra de los defensores de derechos humanos también está dirigida en
contra de los defensores de derechos humanos hondureños tales como la organización
internacionalmente reconocida COFADEH y su personal, incluyendo su directora, Doña
Bertha Oliva. Doña Bertha Oliva ha sido públicamente acusada por oficiales de traicionar
el país por llevar a cabo sus responsabilidades como defensora, tales como la
comunicación de información y las denuncias del deterioro de la situación de derechos
humanos en Honduras.
Desde el día de la elección (el 24 de noviembre), 5 dirigentes y seguidores de LIBRE han
sido asesinados, un periodista recién electo al congreso por el partido LIBRE se vio
obligado a huirse del país ante un plan de asesinarle, y el hijo de un dirigente sindical de
LIBRE fue secuestrado y su vida amenazada. Hay amenazas todos los días en contra de
los miembros de LIBRE y los activistas sociales. Las comunidades campesinas e
indígenas y sus defensores son blanco de difamación y violencia.
Frente estas condiciones, la Red de Solidaridad con Honduras sigue con su compromiso
de “caminar junto al pueblo hondureño” y de oponerse al entrenamiento y ayuda militar y
de seguridad de los Estados Unidos hacia las fuerzas responsables por la violencia.
Declarado por las organizaciones que forman la Red de Solidaridad con Honduras
(HSN)
Alliance for Global Justice
Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Committee (BALASC)
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)
Colectivo Honduras USA Resistencia=LIBRE
Friendship Office of the Americas
Hondureños En Resistencia – Northern California
La Voz de los de Abajo-Chicago
Latin America Solidarity Committee-Milwaukee
Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas
Portland Central America Solidarity Coalition (PCASC)
SOA Watch (National)
SOA Watch San Francisco
SOA Watch Oakland
St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America
U.S. – El Salvador Sister Cities
Witness for Peace Southwest

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Polémica presencia de defensora de DDHH en zona del Bajo Aguán

Lunes, 16 Diciembre 2013 23:55

Annie Bird, de Rights Acction
Annie Bird es miembro de la organización Rights Acction y es acusada por miembros de la Fuerza de Tarea Xatrux por estimular a la violencia a grupos campesinos del Bajo Aguán.

Annie Bird es miembro de la organización Rights Acction y es acusada por miembros de la Fuerza de Tarea Xatrux por estimular a la violencia a grupos campesinos del Bajo Aguán.
Tegucigalpa, Honduras

El comandante de Fuerza de Tarea Xatruch, German Alfaro, denunció que la estadounidense defensora de los derechos humanos, Annie Bird, miembro de la organización Rights Acction, “anda haciendo unas labores de desestabilización en el sector del Aguán”, Colón.

Alfaro indicó que Bird se está reuniendo con algunos dirigentes de grupos campesinos con el propósito de cuestionar el procedimiento de la justicia hondureña, ya que acusa que una de las operaciones de las Fuerzas Armadas, realizada recientemente, fue un secuestro y una captura.

El coronel señaló que la estadounidense desconoce todo el procedimiento que se realizó a través de las autoridades de la Fiscalía para la operación y captura de los supuestos delincuentes.

“Ella dio unas declaraciones en un noticiero local con posibilidades de ser transmitidas a nivel nacional donde también cuestiona las donaciones militares que supuestamente ha hecho su gobierno a Honduras y que según ella están siendo utilizados para atacar a grupos subversivos”, indicó.

En ese sentido, expresó que las declaraciones no son correctas, ya que “aquí nosotros no estamos manejando ese tipo de organizaciones, sino que lo que estamos tratando de enfrentar y capturar son delincuentes armados con armas ilegales”.

DERECHOS HUMANOS
Por su parte, la Alianza por los Derechos Humanos (ADH), a través de un comunicado, rechazó las declaraciones del coronel Alfaro, indicando que ponen en riesgo la vida de la defensora de los derechos humanos, Annie Bird.

“Nos preocupa que siempre que el coronel (Alfaro) aparece en los medios de comunicación es para lanzar ataques contra los campesinos y contra las organizaciones defensoras de los derechos humanos”, indica el documento.

Por tal razón, denunciaron que el jefe de la Fuerza Xatruch ha lanzado una campaña difamatoria y de persecución en contra de los dirigentes del Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán MUCA, Johny Rivas, Vitalino Álvarez y Juan Ramón Chinchilla.

LA FRASE
“Ella (Annie Bird) dio unas declaraciones en un noticiero local con posibilidades de ser transmitidas a nivel nacional donde también cuestiona las donaciones militares que supuestamente ha hecho su gobierno a Honduras y que según ella están siendo utilizados para atacar a grupos subversivos”: German Alfaro, comandante de la Fuerza Xatruch.

Fuente: http://www.tiempo.hn/portada/noticias/polemica-presencia-de-defensora-de-ddhh-en-zona-del-bajo-aguan

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Honduras: COPINH: Condenamos las acusaciones del coronel Alfaro en contra de Annie Bird, defensora de Derechos Humanos.‏

domingo, 15 de diciembre de 2013

Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de HondurasCOPINH.

Barrio Las Delicias, Frente la Llantera Lempira, Intibucá, Intibucá Honduras. CA
Copinhonduras.blogspot.com;  FB Copinh Intibuca;  Web: copinh.org;
 Twitter: @copinhhonduras
El COPINH rechaza y condena las irreflexivas, peligrosas  e irresponsables declaraciones  del Coronel German Alfaro, Comandante de la Fuerza de Tarea “Xatruch”, instaladas en la región del Aguán al acusar a la compañera Annie Bird, defensora internacional de Derechos Humanos y Co-directora de la organización Rights Action.
Lo anterior se suma a las estrategias del Ejército   y demás fuerzas represivas  de esconder las violaciones a los derechos humanos, de criminalización de los movimientos sociales,  de  hostigamiento  dirigido al acompañamiento internacional en materia de derechos humanos que se desarrolla en Honduras  por distintas organizaciones, mismas  que ya han sufrido secuestro, detenciones, violación del derecho al  libre tránsito, a la  información, al ejercicio de la comunicación y amenazas  pretendiendo con ello que no  salga a la luz pública toda la situación de terror, impunidad e injusticia que vivimos en este país.
Sr. Alfaro, reunirse con campesinos y campesinas, denunciar el proyecto de dominación y militarización de los Estados Unidos en Honduras, con financiamiento, ocupaciones y bases  militares,  entrenamiento, como el que usted recibió en el año 84 en la Escuela de las Américas mejor conocida como Escuela de Asesinos; denunciar a nivel internacional la barbarie que sucede en Honduras, cuestionar la injusticia y hacer labor de defensoría  humanitaria ,  NO SON ACCIONES DE DESESTABILIZACION, NI TERRORISTAS, NI PROHIBIDAS,  NI TAMPOCO ILEGALES. En todo caso, si tiene que cuestionar a alguien por desestabilizadora es  a la misma Embajada de Estados Unidos que no se limita a opinar, sino que ordena lo que se tiene que hacer en este país.  Sr. Alfaro: ¿de qué “sociedad civil”  y sectores privados hablan ustedes cuando dicen que piden que se “ejerza control” sobre organizaciones como Rights Action? Seguramente son de  los que han violado los derechos humanos,  de los que han sometido al pueblo hondureño,  de los que explotan y saquean este país, de los que han ultrajado las luchas campesinas del Aguán.
Le exigimos le ponga fin a la persecución y acusaciones contra la compañera Annie Bird, a quien conocemos por muchos años con su labor humanitaria en distintos países y particularmente en Guatemala, en la lucha contra el genocidio y los genocidas terroristas, y por supuesto   en Honduras que incluye  acompañamiento al COPINH por más de 13 años.
Igualmente exigimos al Estado  de Honduras que desaparezca a la fuerza militar “Xatruch” y otras estructuras represivas y ponerle fin  a la criminalización de las luchas campesinas y demás movimientos y procesos sociales, indígenas y populares.
                                                                       Dado en Intibucá, Intibucá, a los 15 días del mes de diciembre del 2013.
¡A MÁS REPRESIÓN, MÁS LUCHA Y ORGANIZACIÓN!
 
¡Con la fuerza ancestral de Iselaca, Lempira, Mota y Etempica se levantan nuestras voces llenas de vida, justicia, dignidad,libertad y paz!
                                                                       COPINH
 escuchenos en vivo:

http://giss.tv:8000/guarajambala.mp3.m3u
web:  copinh.org
blog:  copinhonduras.blogspot.com
fb:     Copinh Intibucá
twitter: @COPINHHONDURAS

Publicado por Américo Roca Dalton en 21:05

Fuente: http://www.hondurastierralibre.com/2013/12/honduras-copinh-condenamos-las.html

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HONDURAS: : Comunicado ante acusaciones del Coronel Alfaro Escalante jefe operacion Xatruch‏

domingo, 15 de diciembre de 2013

Alianza por los Derechos Humanos ADH
CODEH Tel. 2221-8488 Correo Electrónico codeh@codeh.hn, página WEB http://www.codeh.hn
CIPRODEH Tel. 2232-3572 Correo Electrónico wilmendez@hotmail.es, página WEB http://www.ciprodeh.org
CPTRT Tel. 2232-0516 Correo Electrónico comunicacioncptrt@gmail.com página WEB http://www.cptrt.net

                                         Comunicado

La Alianza por los Derechos Humanos (ADH), rechaza las declaraciones del Comandante de Fuerza de Tarea Xatruch, el coronel German Alfaro, las cuales ponen en riesgo la vida de la defensora de los derechos humanos Annie Bird, de la organización Rights Acction.
Nos preocupa que siempre que el coronel aparece en los medios de comunicación es para lanzar ataques contra los campesinos y contra las organizaciones defensoras de los derechos humanos.
Denunciamos que en este momento el jefe de la Fuerza Xatruch ha lanzado una campaña  difamatoria y de persecución en contra de los dirigentes del Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán MUCA, Johny Rivas, Vitalino Álvarez y Juan Ramón Chinchilla.
Las acciones emprendidas por el coronel recuerdan la guerra de operaciones sicológicas puesta en práctica en Irak.
Reafirmamos que los y las defensoras, defendemos los derechos humanos sin discriminación, no importa el credo, la raza o la nacionalidad.
Hacemos del conocimiento de la comunidad nacional e internacional, sobre la situación que se vive en el Aguán y alertamos a la comunidad nacional e internacional sobre la delicada situación de la defensora Annie Bird.
Hacemos un llamado a las organizaciones nacionales e internacionales, a solidarizarse con nuestra compañera y la organización Rights Acction.

Tegucigalpa, M.D.C. 13 de diciembre del 2013.

Alianza por los Derechos Humanos

Publicado por Américo Roca Dalton en 19:12

Fuente: http://www.hondurastierralibre.com/2013/12/honduras-comunicado-ante-acusaciones.html

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Where Will the Children Play? Neoliberal Militarization in Pre-Election Honduras

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Written by Adrienne Pine, Photos by Jesse Freeston
Tuesday, 05 November 2013 09:31
Pro-Corporate State Violence

On Thursday, October 24th I attended the late-night wake for 32-year-old journalist Manuel Murillo, whose body had been dumped in an alleyway the previous day with three gunshots to the face. I was with two international journalists and Honduran activist Edwin Espinal. As we walked past the truckload of military police outside the hall, one of them said “tienen huevos.”

In the months leading up to the first national elections since the 2009 coup in which members of the Resistance movement will participate, state-led terror and the criminalization of social protest have intensified. Juan Orlando Hernández, the presidential candidate for current president Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo’s National Party, has made the promise of security through militarization his central campaign theme. “Voy a hacer lo que tenga que hacer para derrotar a la delincuencia y recuperar la paz,” [“I will do whatever I have to do to crush criminality and bring back peace”] Hernández’s voice intones on his omnipresent campaign spots. The new military police force is an initiative of Hernández, which has significant support among the Honduran population. This is due in part to a complete lack of trust in the Honduran national police force which is widely seen as irremediably corrupt and murderous. In this context, the military appears to many to be a more reliable force to confront rampant criminality in the most murderous country in the world.

However, Honduran soldiers have also murdered several civilians in recent years. In one case that gained international attention last year, 15-year-old student Ebed Jassiel Janes was shot dead by soldiers while riding his motorcycle to meet a girl he had befriended on Facebook. Most of victims of the military have been engaged in grassroots struggle against national and international corporations exploiting lands, water, and subsoil resources of which their communities claim ownership. On July 15th of this year, Tomás García, a leader of the National Council of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), was shot and killed by soldiers who also seriously wounded García’s son in the same attack. The soldiers who killed García were protecting the Chinese-owned DESA corporation against the indigenous Lenca population who oppose DESA’a construction of a hydroelectric dam on their ancestral territory.

Honduran soldiers are also linked to murders of numerous campesino land rights activists in the Aguán. Just last Wednesday, following numerous death threats, Osbin Nahum Caballero Santamaria was allegedly killed by an operation of approximately 70 soldiers, who then abducted his body along with his still-alive wife and two small daughters by helicopter. Caballero’s mother, campesina leader Maria Digna Santamaria, denounced the murder and kidnapping on Radio Globo the following morning, holding the commander of the regional operation, former battalion 3-16 death squad member and School of the Americas graduate Col. German Alfaro Escalante, personally responsible. For his part, Colonel Alfaro—also on Radio Globo—asserted that Caballero himself had been involved in criminal activity and denied any military involvement in Caballero’s death. Instead, he repeated the commonly-employed refrain (used also by police) that criminals—not soldiers—often don army uniforms in order to carry out crimes.

Overall, in the Bajo Aguán region, more than 110 campesinos have been killed since the coup, primarily by security guards and soldiers employed by Miguel Facussé and three other large regional landowners. Facussé owns Dinant corporation, which specializes in products derived from his mono-cropped African Palm plantations, many of which are planted on ill-gotten, disputed agricultural reform lands. Like AZUNOSA, Dinant flaunts its ties with World Wildlife Fund in promotional materials while downplaying its role in the criminalization and murder of social activists.

The Honduran military and the judiciary both were primary institutional state actors in the 2009 coup against president Manuel Zelaya, whose wife Xiomara Castro is running for president against Hernández on the Resistance-affiliated LIBRE (Liberty and Refoundation) Party ticket. The two institutions have joined forces in the repression and criminalization of social movement leaders. Trumped-up charges including usurpation, coercion, and continued damages against DESA (which Tomás García was killed while opposing) have been leveled against COPINH leaders Berta Cáceres, Aureliano Molina and Tomás Gómez. The judge on the case ordered Cáceres to jail while the decision is pending; Cáceres has stated that the charges against her amount to political persecution and is currently in hiding. A similar case is pending against National Committee for Agricultural Workers (CNTC) leader Magdalena Morales, who has fought to reclaim agrarian reform lands from the British-owned sugar corporation AZUNOSA. The Honduran military has joined AZUNOSA’s private security guards in violently evicting campesinos on land disputed by AZUNOSA, and there has been no police investigation of campesinos murdered by AZUNOSA guards.

Military and judicial violence are necessary and central components of the imposition of neoliberal economic policies in post-coup Honduras. In order to legitimate and secure the economic violence effected against Honduran citizens by corporations like AZUNOSA, Dinant, and DESA, the judiciary actively criminalizes opposition to them while the military (along with other state security forces) goes after citizen-“criminals” with an iron fist.

Patterns of Political Violence

In a country where so-called “random,” “street,” “gang,” and “terrorist” violence is rampant and used to justify the criminalization of social activism and the corresponding militarization of public space, it is crucial to keep careful track of the patterns of political violence (keeping in mind that all violence in in some sense political). Following the coup, reports published by Amnesty International and the Inter-American Human Rights Commission found over 4,000 human rights abuses, including arbitrary detentions, torture and targeted assassinations that had been carried out between the June 28th coup and August of the same year by military and police forces against coup opponents. The Resistance movement, for its part, staunchly rejected in theory and practice the use of any violence that could have resulted in bodily harm to the enforcers or supporters of the coup.

Despite the incendiary labeling of social justice and human rights campaigners as “terrorists” and “insurgents” by Honduran armed forces, police, and their allies in the media, no credible evidence has emerged to substantiate claims of armed leftists using violence to destabilize the country. There have been very few instances of violence perpetrated against members of the military, police, or private security companies in recent years. In the Bajo Aguán region, where some such cases have occurred, no investigations have taken place. As such it is impossible to say who was responsible for the killings. Campesino communities, meanwhile, are under siege—terrorized by state and private security forces’ campaigns of systematic rape, harassment and targeted assassinations, and criminalized by a corrupt judiciary. A February 20, 2013 report by Annie Bird of Rights Action includes a exhaustive tally of murders in the Bajo Aguán region carried out between January 2010 and the date of the report’s publication. Bird counts a total of 89 campesinos, their supporters and neighbors killed during that period, whereas only 16 members of security forces were killed in the region during the same period.

Similarly, journalism is one of the most dangerous professions in Honduras. But according to Hector Becerra, director of the Honduran press freedom organization C-Libre, it is more dangerous for journalists whose reporting is critical of state abuses and police corruption than for those whose reporting is complicit with the same. Proving this in individual cases is complicated because of the levels of generalized violence and the context of impunity. Becerra states that of the 31 actively-employed journalists murdered since the coup, it is possible to demonstrate in 15 cases that the murders were directly related to the journalists’ exercise of freedom of expression. In each of the cases where enough evidence exists to determine that a journalist was killed in direct relation to his or her reporting, the reporting in question was critical of the coup, the Lobo administration, government corruption on the local or national level, or police ties to organized crime. On the other hand, there are no known cases of journalist murders that have been linked to reporting critical of social movements or coup opponents.

Numerous local candidates from the LIBRE political party have been killed in targeted assassinations in recent months. As Karen Spring of Rights Action notes in a recent report analyzing an exhaustively-researched list of pre-election violence, 18 LIBRE candidates and immediate family members of candidates were murdered between May 2012 and October 19, 2013, and 15 more suffered armed attacks. Spring writes:

“According to the list…LIBRE party…pre-candidates, candidates, their families and campaign leaders have suffered more killings and armed attacks than all other political parties combined. The disproportionate number of killings of LIBRE candidates seems a clear indication that many of the killings have been politically motivated.”

Many more non-candidate LIBRE activists have been killed in targeted assassinations, the most recent being photojournalist Manuel Murillo, who was working for LIBRE congressional candidate Rasel Tomé at the time of his murder. On Thursday, October 31st, LIBRE congressional candidate Beatriz Valle announced she was leaving the country after receiving numerous death threats. LIBRE leaders have told me that in an effort to maintain a positive message to attract voters, they until recently avoided politicizing what other party members have referred to as the “extermination campaign” against them.

In pre-election Honduras, the numbers make clear that overtly political violence is predominantly uni-directional, carried out by State security forces and death squads on behalf of powerful individuals and corporations, and against those who stand in their way, or appear to do so. And as the November 24th elections approach, that violence is intensifying.

 

The Case of Edwin Espinal

At 7 a.m. on Wednesday, October 23rd (the day before I attended Manuel Murillo’s wake) I received a call from a human rights activist. She told me that Edwin Espinal’s house in the Flor del Campo neighborhood of Tegucigalpa had been broken into and was being ransacked by military police. Five minutes later, I was racing across town in a car with her, Edwin, one of his family members, and Canadian journalist Jesse Freeston.

I first met Edwin on July 1st, 2010, in the offices of the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH). He arrived after having been tortured by police officers from his neighborhood, his eyes swollen from the pepper gas they had sprayed directly into them 12 hours earlier after dragging him out of his parked car with no explanation. He had been refused medical attention and tortured with tasers (on his back, stomach, and ears) throughout the night, which he spent in a prison cell. I knew of Edwin at the time from his public statements following the death of his partner, Wendy Ávila, from tear gas inhalation nearly a year earlier. Since our first meeting Edwin has been continuously harassed by his neighborhood police who, he states, oppose his Resistance and community organizing activities. The same police have violently assaulted and arbitrarily detained him on multiple occasions.

Following local police officers’ repeated use of arbitrary detentions and torture against Edwin, the World Organization Against Torture and the OAS’s Inter-American Commission on Human Rights both requested that the Honduran government provide him precautionary measures. But the Honduran state response has been far from satisfactory. In a judgment declaring the officers involved in Edwin’s torture innocent, judge Marta Marlene Murillo Castro claimed his torture represented a “legitimate use of force” and accepted the police claim that spraying pepper gas in Edwin’s eyes had been an accident (Judge Murillo is the same judge who determined that the military had acted legally in violently raiding two radio station and one television stations on the day of the 2009 coup against Zelaya confiscating and/or destroying nearly all their equipment in the process).

Two of the Flor del Campo police officers who repeatedly harassed and tortured Edwin, José Luís Alemán Pérez and Walter Isaías Burgos Vargas, have since been implicated in different crimes. Alemán is currently serving a jail sentence for illegal arms possession and extortion. Burgos was named by the Police Reform Commission (formed in 2012) for his involvement in corruption. However, the commission—formed largely in response to the police murder of the son of powerful National University Rector Julieta Castellanos—has failed to tie Burgos’s “corruption” to (or hold him accountable for) Edwin’s torture.

After receiving numerous death threats, Edwin and his family fled their Flor del Campo home on October 9th and went into hiding. Human rights workers involved with the case and Edwin’s neighbors suspect that the threats, which were delivered by local gang members, originated from National Party activists in the community. When National Party candidate Hernández rolled out his military police with great fanfare days later on October 14th, Flor de Campo (infamous for its violence and gang activity) was the new state security force’s first and primary target. Driving into Flor del Campo on the morning of October 23rd, we took detours around several roadblocks that had been set up throughout the neighborhood. Dozens of heavily-armed balaclava-wearing military police stood around each one.

The largest concentration of military police we saw was outside Edwin’s house. In addition to the troops storming his house (which sustained significant structural damage in the raid), between 50 and 60 heavily armed troops were assigned to different strategic tasks. Some blocked off vehicle and pedestrian traffic to Edwin’s dead-end street; others sat facing out on either side of the converted pickup beds of several military vehicles, guns ready; others directed traffic on the street perpendicular to Edwin’s alley; others guarded each of the neighbors’ homes and businesses and walked back and forth patrolling the block; and still others took video and pictures of everyone who came to the scene, in particular those of us who arrived with Edwin. The military police were accompanied by a contingent of embedded television, radio and print journalists. At one point a group of journalists and military police officers worked themselves into hearty laughter imitating Juan Orlando Hernández’s campaign refrain, “Voy a hacer lo que tenga que hacer para derrotar a la delincuencia y recuperar la paz.

Military Police directing local traffic away from the area where the raid of activist Edwin Espinal’s Flor del Campo home was taking place.

 

Military Police arriving to Edwin Espinal’s house in one of several pickup trucks. In the background is aluminum fencing surrounding the newly-privatized Flor del Campo community soccer field, and another military police truck with three dog cages. Two other military police vehicles also came loaded with dogs.

 

Members of the the military police used video and still cameras to record neighbors, friends, and human rights workers who arrived at the scene.

 

Militarized Neoliberal Sport

On the far side of the street where we stood, blocked by military police from entering the alleyway to Edwin’s house, sits an enormous gated construction site slated to become a private soccer field. This soccer field—the “campo” in Flor del Campo—was until recently the only open, public green space for neighborhood residents. But earlier this year, CONAPID, a Honduran public-private government commission, was brought on to redesign the field as part of its privatization. CONAPID receives funds from the Inter-American Development Bank and the controversial Honduran “tasa de seguridad”—a tax on businesses created after the coup to pay for public security initiatives. Many neighborhood residents argue that the privatization of the field is illegal. Since the field is collectively maintained, paid for and administered by the community, Honduran law requires that the community be consulted in the event of a transfer of administration or ownership. No such consultation ever took place; instead, neighbors say, two Flor del Campo residents who had no authority to do so signed away the development rights to the field. One of the signatories is a National Party member who assumed de facto leadership of a defunct community council after its elected president was murdered for what neighbors claim are political reasons.

The president of CONAPID is Reinaldo Sánchez, currently a Congressional candidate with Juan Orlando Hernández’s National Party, the party behind the military police. Part of CONAPID’s public relations strategy (in keeping with its tasa de seguridad funding) is that the organization’s work is central to crime and violence prevention in Honduras. A March 2010 article celebrating the inauguration of a privatized soccer field (replacing another public one) states (my translation):

Reinaldo Sánchez, head of CONAPID, said he felt proud to collaborate in something that will keep young people away from vices.

 

Sánchez reiterated this sentiment in a press release the following year:

[Sánchez] noted that society as a whole should take an active role in the processes of change developed by the Government, in order to create an atmosphere of peace among the citizenry. “These works create progress, development and opportunities for children and youths, since they enable us to distance them from taking on bad habits,” he stated.

 

Community members in Flor del Campo take a markedly different view of CONAPID’s involvement, and of the privatization of their communal land. Neighborhood residents, including Edwin, began organizing to oppose the venture and to maintain the public space that has defined their neighborhood as soon as they heard about the irregular transfer, even as the field was being dug up in preparation for the installation of artificial turf. Today, the site is only visible through small gaps in the approximately 8-foot high aluminum fence erected around the entire field. Once community members began to engage in actions that included the attempted removal of the fence and spray painting it with slogans protesting the venture, the military was brought in to protect the field. Slogans visible on the morning of the raid included:

●      “We the poor also have a right to public spaces”

●      “La Flor Sin Campo” (“Flower Without a Field” a play on the neighborhood’s name Flor del Campo)

●      “+Profit, -Sports, =Crime”

●      “Primero los Pobres?” (The slogan of the National Party mayor of Tegucigalpa and strong CONAPID ally, Ricardo Álvarez, “The Poor Come First,” framed sarcastically as a question)

Graffiti opposing the privatization of the Flor de Campo community soccer field, sprayed on the aluminum fencing surrounding the field. The field has been guarded by members of the Honduran military since the graffiti appeared. More recently, the newly-formed military police have been patrolling the area.

 

Since members of the community began organizing against the privatization of their field, several of them have received direct and credible death threats from the same few neighborhood residents who signed away the community’s rights and who stand to profit from the field under its new management. On the weekend after Edwin fled his home in Flor del Campo, a public report-back of the activities of community members opposing the CONAPID venture had been planned. It was canceled because the neighborhood activists feared for their lives.

 

Impunity and Elections

The terrorizing of activists like Edwin Espinal falls within the context of criminalization of social movement leaders like Berta Cáceres and Magdalena Morales. It is also part of a recent pattern of apparently politically-motivated military police-led home invasions. In the past two weeks, military police “allanamientos” (technically, forcible home raids) have been carried out against union leader Marco Antonio Rodríguez, Vice-President of the National Child Welfare Agency Workers’ Union and an international journalist who chose not to publicize their case. According to Rodríguez, when he asked the military police ransacking his home to show him their warrant, their response directly reflected the impunity they enjoy. “What search warrant?” they answered, “We can do whatever we want here.”

In Edwin’s case, there was in fact a search warrant, administered on site by public prosecutor Ricardo Adolfo Núñez (cited in the same document as having requested a search warrant), who wore a ski mask and a bulletproof vest. In the days following the raid, Edwin attempted to locate Núñez, a public figure who works for the Public Ministry and has been assigned to the Military Police. He was told that there was no phone number or office at which Núñez could be located. The signature on the search warrant was that of “juez ejecutor” (judge executor) Santos Alberto Reyes Castillo, a sergeant working directly for the military police. According to COFADEH journalist Dina Meza (herself a victim of ongoing harassment and death threats directly related to her work), who arrived at the scene later in the morning, Reyes Castillo was also present at the raid.

COFADEH journalist Dina Meza leaving the scene of the military police raid of activist Edwin Espinal’s home.

 

When a journalist from the Honduran newspaper El Tiempo later questioned the legality of allowing a judge executor within the military police to authorize the same military police to raid a citizen’s home, the president of the Honduran Supreme Court stated it was perfectly legal (though this interpretation was disputed by the Attorney General). On the eve of Honduran elections, what is in effect a parallel security force with its own internal legal structure has been created. And it appears to be entirely unaccountable to Honduran citizens.

Outside Edwin Espinal’s home (Espinal is in the foreground), public prosecutor Ricardo Adolfo Núñez, wearing a blue plaid shirt, balaclava and bulletproof vest, confers with members of the military police in charge of the raid. One carries on his back a large mallet used in the operation.

 

The search warrant itself highlighted Edwin’s alleged LIBRE activism, and authorized the raid in order to confiscate “Objects related to Illegal Drug Trafficking, Prohibited Weapons, and Cash from Crimes of Theft and Extortion.” While we waited down the street from his house, the military police broke down Edwin’s doors (external and internal) and illegally remained inside the house for two hours before the evidence-gathering inspection team went inside with three large drug-sniffing dogs, giving them ample time to contaminate the scene. Edwin photographed the search warrant of his house and gave a brief statement to the press denouncing the political nature of the raid.

Edwin Espinal giving a declaration to the press, in which he stated that the destruction of his home by military police was part of an ongoing campaign of harassment and political persecution meant to terrorize his family and political activists.

 

The following day, Manuel Murillo’s body was identified. Murillo, like Edwin, had been granted precautionary measures after suffering arbitrary detention, torture, and death threats against himself and his family at the hands of police. I joined Edwin and the same group of colleagues who had accompanied him to his house the previous day to Murillo’s service in a community hall in the Kennedy neighborhood, right next to a police station. We arrived late, close to 11 p.m. A LIBRE flag hung from Murillo’s coffin, and a couple prominent party members stood around in the aisle, their expressions unreadable to me. Family members walked around offering us coffee and cake. I only glanced momentarily at the young man’s face, which was crudely sewn together with black thread in an attempt to mask the disfigurement caused by his murderers.

Part of the nature of living in a context of state repression and impunity coupled with the highest homicide rate in the world is that it is difficult to assert political motives for state violence in any given case with certainty. Is there proof that Murillo’s murder was carried out by the police who tortured and threatened him with death three years ago, or by the new military police force comprised of former members of the national police and military, who now enjoy even greater power and impunity than before? Not at the moment. Is there proof that that the military police’s raid of Edwin’s home was an act of individual and collective intimidation tied to his resistance activities, and most recently to his fight to retain a public green space where neighborhood children could play? His multiple experiences of arbitrary detention and torture at the hands of police who enjoy full impunity for the harm they have caused him, and the inclusion of his alleged LIBRE affiliation in the search warrant indicate the possibility of a political motive, but do not qualify as definitive proof. The military police saying “tienen huevos” as we passed them on the way to pay our respects to Manuel Murillo and his family seemed to us to be a clear message. But can we prove that? Absolutely not.

For community organizers, democracy activists, LIBRE candidates, and potential LIBRE voters, the pre-election context in Honduras is one of extreme everyday violence amplified by a campaign of state terror carried out in the service of neoliberal policies and politicians. The criminalization and persecution of individuals and groups who oppose Honduran state policies—while difficult to prove in any individual case thanks to the near total impunity that exists for human rights violators—is nonetheless in the aggregate a clear example of what sociologist Emile Durkheim called a social fact. As 20 senators recently pointed out in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, this persecution is being carried out by police and military (and now military police) forces that receive funding and training from the United States. These are the conditions under which Honduran elections will take place later this month, and only the most cynical of observers could call those conditions “free and fair.”

Many thanks to Karen Spring for her extensive research help on this article.

Adrienne Pine is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at American University, and author of Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras. She is currently on leave to teach at the National Autonomous University of Honduras, and blogs at http://quotha.net.

 

Fuente: http://upsidedownworld.org/main/honduras-archives-46/4542-where-will-the-children-play-neoliberal-militarization-in-pre-election-honduras

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