Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Honduras Land Conflict: Militarization Leads to Fears of Deadly Repression

The following communique came across my desk.  Hopefully the attention it is drawing will prevent the sort of violent attack the locals fear.  Unfortunately, the last time a communique from Honduras came across my desk, it was to warn that a coup was about to happen...

Peasants from the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguán (MUCA) do have reason to fear a massacre: over the past three months, eight of their organization's members have been assassinated.  According to the humanitarian organization Ayuda Popular Noruega, attempts to link those murders to guerrilla movements or drug traffickers "arouses the suspicion that propaganda is produced with the goal of justifying the human rights violations that have been unleashed since [the coup that occurred on] June 28."
Here is the communique, reprinted in its entirety from Quotha.net.  In the English version I bolded two words that I changed from the original translation to clarify some confusing wording.

12/04/2010 06:12:00 El Libertador
For several hours now, neighbors of the city of Tocoa and surrounding areas have denounced through El Libertador that they have been under a state of siege, without the authorities responsible having issued any notice or explanation.
Issued at 00:15 Monday April 12
Aguán Region. In the major cities of the department of Colón, in the Northeast of Honduras, a state of siege has been illegally enforced, with the aim of preventing residents of the region from going to the aid of the campesinos who are on the farms, as it is expected that in the coming hours, members of the army, national police, and mercenaries—all working for landowners Miguel Facussé Barjum, René Morales Carazo and Reinaldo Canales—that have invaded the areas in question, to murder everyone they find (children, adults, the elderly and women) in their path.
This act of intimidation arises on the eve of a definitive solution that members of the Unified Campesino Movement of Aguán (MUCA) have been negotiating with the government of "Pepe" Lobo and the National Agrarian Institute (INA), to return the lands that were fraudulently expropriated in the decade of the 1990s, when Rafael Leonardo Callejas was president and Juan Ramón Martínez was director of the INA.
Sources on the campesino farms report that numerous military transport vehicles are bringing motorboats to enter the plantations via the Aguán river. Nonetheless, they have been kept covered with tarps to prevent suspicion, and have been transported toward the region of San Esteban (Northeast Olancho) with the aim of going unnoticed. Also being transported are assault tanks, the same that were used to take over the Presidential House during the military coup d'etat in June, 2009.
The imminent military and paramilitary aggression could leave thousands of dead and gravely wounded people behind, many of them minors, since there is a high concentration of children and elderly on the farms, whose lives have been on the razor's edge since January, when the dictator Micheletti ordered the systematic repression and murder of members of MUCA, which to date has had six people killed, and twelve people in the Guadalupe Carney community, located in Trujillo, which has experienced similar luck.
The National People's Resistance Front (FNRP) holds Presidente Porfirio Lobo Sosa and the current Secretary of Security, Oscar Álvarez Guerrero, responsible for continuing the war against the campesino movement, and for preventing a definitive solution from being reached.
We have uploaded several videos taken from cameras located in various strategic points in Tocoa, so that the population can see the military presence in the zone.
Links:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdL17p_mblM
http://www.youtube.com/user/MUCAtv
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTaIVEIdDQ0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUmbrOdBJoI


APRIL 18 UPDATE: The region remains militarized.  Jesse Freeston from The Real News Network reports that MUCA has signed a deal with the government regarding the disputed land:



¡Urgente! Ejército prevé realizar genocidio en el bajo Aguán en las próximas horas por conflicto de tierras
12/04/2010 06:12:00 El Libertador
Desde hace algunas horas, vecinos de la ciudad de Tocoa y alrededores han denunciado a través de EL LIBERTADOR que se ha implementado el estado de sitio, sin que las autoridades competentes hayan emitido la resolución al respecto.
Redacción Central 00:15 horas lunes 12 de abril
Región del Aguán. En las principales ciudades del departamento de Colón, noreste de Honduras, se ha implementado el toque de queda de manera ilegal, con el propósito de impedir que los residentes en las localidades salgan al auxilio de los campesinos que permanecen en las fincas, a la espera de que en las próximas horas miembros del ejército, policía nacional y mercenarios al servicio de los terratenientes Miguel Facussé Barjum, René Morales Carazo y Reinaldo Canales incursionen en dichos lugares, para asesinar a todo aquel que encuentren (niños, adultos, ancianos y mujeres) a su paso.
Este acto de intimidación surge en la víspera de una solución definitiva que miembros del Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán (MUCA) entablen con el gobierno de “Pepe” Lobo y el Instituto Nacional Agrario, para devolver las tierras que fueron fraudulentamente expropiadas en la década de 1990, cuando siendo presidente Rafael Leonardo Callejas y como director del INA en aquel entonces, Juan Ramón Martínez.
Fuentes consultadas en las fincas campesinas, aseguran que varios furgones militares están trasladando lanchas para ingresar a las plantaciones a través del río Aguán. Sin embargo, han sido cubiertos con toldos para evitar sospecha alguna, y que han sido trasladados hacia la región vía San Esteban (Olancho, noreste), con la finalidad de pasar desapercibidos. Al igual que tanquetas de asalto, mismas que se utilizaron para tomar Casa Presidencial durante el golpe de Estado Militar de junio de 2009.
La inminente agresión militar y grupos de seguridad paraestatal, podría dejar como saldo miles de personas muertas y heridas de gravedad, muchas de ellas menores de edad, debido a que en las fincas hay alta concentración de niños y ancianos, cuyas vidas están al filo de la navaja desde enero anterior, cuando el dictador Micheletti ordenó la represión y asesinato sistemático de miembros del MUCA, que hasta el momento seis personas muertas, doce personas de la comunidad Guadalupe Carney, ubicado en Trujillo, que han corrido similar suerte.
El Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (FNRP) desde ya está responsabilizando al Presidente Porfirio Lobo Sosa y al actual Secretario de Seguridad, Oscar Álvarez Guerrero, de continuar con la guerra contra el movimiento campesino, e impedir que se llegue a una solución definitiva.
Hemos habilitado en la página web www.youtube.com algunos videos tomados desde cámaras fijas ubicados en puntos estratégicos de Tocoa, para que la población pueda observar la presencia militar en la zona.
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