Honduras: An Unholy Trinity of Oligarchy, Repression and Extractivism

June 15, 2019

In many ways, the village of Guapinol in northern Honduras is a microcosm of the destructive forces that are laying waste to our planet and imperilling the future of humanity.

For The Real News, I spoke earlier this week to activists in the Aguan River valley in Honduras about their struggle to defend the land against a powerful oligarchy and a repressive, Western-backed regime.

 

 

Honduran Security Forces Tear-Gas Human Rights Delegation

June 14, 2019

On June 7, 2019, I travelled to Honduras to join a six-member delegation for a human rights fact-finding mission.

The focus of our delegation’s fact-finding mission is local resistance to resource extraction in Botaderos National Park.

As I reported on June 9, the Aguan River valley, a fertile region in the north of Honduras, is now suffering from a water crisis due in large part to the presence of vast African palm plantations owned primarily by Dinant Corporation. Dinant is controlled by members of the Facussé family, one of Honduras’s wealthiest and most powerful families. Dinant has been associated with the deaths of over 100 peasant farmers.

Members of the Facussé family also control mining corporation Los Pinares Investments. That corporation has obtained a concession from the Honduran government to develop an iron oxide mine in Botaderos National Park, which is adjacent to the Aguan River Valley.

Local farmers and environmental activists have sought to prevent the construction of the mine, fearing that it will contaminate the region’s dwindling water supplies. The government of Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH), whose current term was procured by means of a brazen electoral fraud, has responded violently to their resistance to the mine.

Our delegation has come to Honduras during a period of heightened political and economic instability in the country. With the blessing of the IMF and Western states, the illegitimate JOH regime has pursued a radically neoliberal economic and social program, resulting in sharp increases in poverty and unemployment. Recent steps to privatize healthcare and education have provoked massive opposition and frequent protests.

One of the main tactics now being used by opponents of the regime is to blockade important roads and highways across the country. Yesterday, while travelling by vehicle from Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, to the Atlantic coast, we encountered two such blockades.

We departed from Tegucigalpa after meeting with representative of the Honduran government, including the Vice-Minister of the Environment, Carlos Pineda Fasquelle.

The first blockade we encountered lay on the highway connecting Tegucigalpa to San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in Honduras. The following video shows the long line of vehicles that were brought to a standstill by that blockade. At the beginning of the video, a woman sitting in the back of a pick-up truck can be heard chanting “Fuera JOH!” (Out JOH!).

 

We encountered the second blockade a short while later, on the outskirts of the city of El Progreso. Our driver, Matias Santiago, got us as close to the blockade as possible. We then exited our mini-van and began walking toward the blockade. Continue Reading ›

Rampant Human Rights Abuses In Honduras: A View From The Ground

[The photograph above shows a vest warn by a human rights defender from the village of Guapinol in Honduras.]

June 10, 2019

On June 7, 2019, I travelled to Honduras to join a six-member delegation for a human rights fact-finding mission.

The five other members of the delegation are: Michael Berghoef, a Professor of Social Work at Ferris State University; Pedro Cabezas, a Coordinator with the Central American Alliance Against Mining; Amanda Grzyb and Bernie Hammond, an Associate Professor and a Professor Emeritus, respectively, of Western University in Canadaand Ainhoa Montoya, a Lecturer at the University of London.

The members of our delegation are pictured below:

Delegation

The focus of our delegation’s fact-finding mission is resource exploitation in a protected, natural park near the town of Tocoa. For years, local residents have resisted mining exploration and development in that park, rightly fearing that mining activity will greatly exacerbate a severe water crisis in their region.

As we have already learned, the corrupt, illegitimate and far-right government of Juan Orlando Hernández has reacted to the concerns of local residents with harsh repression. Continue Reading ›

Yet Another Pro-Israel Circus in Canada’s Parliament

[In the photograph above, former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler (second from left) is shown with Israeli Ambassador Nimrod Barkan, Liberal MP Michael Levitt, Conservative MP David Sweet and NDP MP Murray Rankin.]

June 7, 2019

Yesterday, Canada’s Parliament treated us to yet another, pathetic spectacle of bipartisan adoration for Israel’s apartheid regime.

The impetus for Parliament’s latest travesty was the peaceful disruption earlier this week of a speech given by former Canadian Justice Minister, Irwin Cotler.

On June 3, Cotler spoke at Concordia University in Montreal at a conference of “human security” “thought leaders.”

Yves Engler, Malcolm Guy and I – along with several other supporters of Quebec Movement for Peace – interrupted Cotler’s speech and called him out on his unqualified support for the Zionist entity.

This Week’s Pro-Israel Hysteria

Within hours of our peaceful disruption, Canada’s pro-Israel crowd descended into outright hysteria. Continue Reading ›

Pro-Israel Lobby Launches New Smear Campaign Against Al Quds Day Organizers

June 4, 2019

The pro-Israel lobby is apoplectic.

After pulling out all the stops to end the annual Al Quds Day rally in Toronto, the lobby failed spectacularly to stop it.

Now, in an effort to heighten pressure on Toronto City staff and police to violate the constitutional rights of Palestinian solidarity protesters, the lobby has launched a new and desperate smear campaign.

According to a report issued by B’nai Brith Canada on June 2, 2019 (the day after this year’s rally), the sign pictured above was carried by a protester at the rally.

According to B’nai Brith:

The sign depicts the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and warns that, “The last Khayber is ready,” an allusion to an ancient battle in which a Muslim army defeated and slaughtered Jews in the Arabian Peninsula. It also predicts the coming of “the last Hayder,” a nickname for Ali, the leading figure in Shi’a Islam.

Before I address B’nai Brith’s interpretation of the sign, a few preliminary observations are in order.

First, the organizers of the rally (for whom I act as legal counsel) commissioned a set of placards for use at this year’s rally. The content of those placards was carefully reviewed and considered. The sign shown in B’nai Brith’s report of June 2, 2019 was never approved by organizers. They had nothing to do with it.

Second, at the Al Quds Day rally held in Toronto last year, a pro-Israel counter-protester was photographed carrying a poster which referenced Khaybar:

Khaybar_last_chance

Continue Reading ›