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 ›