Human Rights

“We are under an institutional dictatorship in Honduras”

Real World Radio: Interview with COPINH leader in light of another murder of a member of the organization

2016-03-18-COPINH.jpgThe situation in Honduras is of complete alert. The outrageous and still unpunished murder of Berta Cáceres seems to have intensified the violence and persecution against social activists, indigenous people and peasants in a country whose people continues to be under attack since the Coup d´Etat of 2009. Yesterday, after a violent eviction in Rio Chiquito municipality, Cortés department, the member of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) Nelson García was shot and murdered when returning to the place where he was staying.

(March 16, 2016) Through an excessive use of force including Police officers, the Army, the Anti-Riot Police and the Intelligence and Security Special Response Group Troops (TIGRES), 150 peasant and indigenous families were evicted from the lands they were inhabiting and cultivating their food on for over 10 years. “During the eviction they destroyed bean, maize, yucca, banana crops, as well as their houses”, said Tomas Gomez, member of COPINH. He also said that the families have been left “totally unprotected”.

The community was processing the community titles over the lands before the National Agrarian Institute (INA), but Rio Lindo´s Mayor, through font men, has bought the lands illegally, denounced COPINH. According to the movement, the interests in this region are related to the increase of hydroelectric power generation potential.

After the eviction, Nelson Garcia was returning to the home where he rented a room: “the gunmen who shot at him four times were waiting for him”, said Gomez.

“We say that the one to blame here is the State”, said the COPINH member, and he added: “the State has not resolved the issue with community land titles that COPINH and the Lenca people have been demanding in order to legalize the possession over these lands by the indigenous people”.

With Nelson García, this is the 15th murder of a Honduran activist, including Berta Caceres, in 2016 alone. “This is an avalanche of threats and murders to disappear us, to take all lands away from us. Lands where there are mines, water, natural resources to be granted in concessions”, said Tomás Gómez.

In addition, the member of COPINH is denouncing the lack of progress of the investigations and the search for justice for Berta Cáceres, a case that triggered demands for justice in countries of all continents. “This is an institutional dictatorship. We see fewer people being murdered in countries with declared wars”.

About the current demands of the organization, Tomás said that they want the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project out of Lenca indigenous lands; to stop the criminalization of COPINH members; the demilitarization of the Lenca people; to immediately suspend all mining concessions, hydroelectric and wind projects in Lenca territories.

In order to comply with the precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for indigenous leaders and Berta Cáceres´ family, Tomás said that it is necessary to address the root causes. “And the root causes are the policies of the Honduran government based on the privatization and concession of indigenous territory without prior, free and informed consultation”, he concluded.

Lastly, Tomás Gomez said that there will be mobilizations organized by COPINH, OFRANEH and different organizations in Tegucigalpa, starting today at 4 pm until Friday, March 18, which will be covered by Real World Radio.

Click here to listen to the interview

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