Gains in well being in honduran land settlements

and more in


Tocoa, Bajo Aguán, Colón, Honduras – February 16th- 20th 

In Tocoa, under a sun foretelling a hot summer, with grief in our outraged hearts following the most recent events that took place in Comayagua, Comayaguela and El Progreso, where fires have ended the lives and means of subsistence of hundreds of people, which makes us think of a premeditated planned terror against the people, we have gathered. Amidst the tireless joy of rebellion and solidarity, more than one thousand people from North to South, which includes many people from Our America and activists from Europe, the USA and Australia, hundreds of greetings from people and organizations from the entire continent arrived to this gathering to express their solidarity. 
With the presence of a great diversity of social movements, and organizational, cultural, artistic and politic initiatives, mobilized from several parts around the country to support the call and the goals of the International Gathering for Human Rights in Solidarity with Honduras, for four days discussions, denunciations, exchanges, debates and proposals occured, made public through this Declaration. 
We begin our words opening the way to the living MEMORY of the women and men who fought and gave their lives, who are now part of our struggle towards justice… To them, we pay homage. To their families, friends and comrades we let them know we won’t forget them, that their words live in our battles, that they’re still there in all our voices and in all of our hands.
The assembly embraces every child from the campesino settlements of this zone, who in their own workshop expressed that they wanted to live without fear, in safe houses with plenty of food, painted schools and to play and play, a lot. We make a COMMITMENT to keep on fighting for the childhood of this country and the world.
From the workshop "Bodies, Struggles and the Resistance of Women," there came a strong demand to support the growing movement of women in this zone, in this country and throughout the whole world against all forms of violence and aggression against women for being women, within and outside organizations and homes, and we encourage their participation in all of the spaces and movements as protagonists, with financial resources and the power to make decisions and not just as cooks and mothers.
Once again, with a powerful collective voice we DENOUNCE to the world the growing and unceasing violations of Human Rights in Honduras, a denunciation which expresses itself with all bluntness through the speakers of a large number of organizations that work to defend life and justice. Particularly we listened to multiple women's, men’s, girl’s and boy’s testimonies from the Bajo Aguán. The ongoing war against the people of Honduras carried out with savagery after the Coup is manifested in murders, persecutions, criminalization of organizational activities, kidnappings, sexual aggressions towards women, a climate of intentional terror against the children who live in campesino settlements and communities in struggle, attacks against popular media, imprisonment, exile and lately attacks with fire against different populations in the country. In a particular way we want to DENOUNCE and send an alert of the enormous peril due to direct eviction threats against the community of Rigores, and the growing and strengthened militarization going on in the community of Guadalupe Carney.
We declare ourselves in ACTIVE SOLIDARITY with the victims of repression in this country, and we understand that they are victims and that the harm inflicted against their lives has authors, people who are responsible; therefore we demand JUSTICE in Bajo Aguán and many other places in Honduras. One of those who is responsible is called Miguel Facussé Barjum.
WE UNDERSTAND that this situation that deteriorates each day can only be explained due to the interests of the capitalist, patriarchal and racist system, a system that seeks to subjugate the people, expropriate their natural and cultural resources and place them at the service of Northern nationals and their transnational businesses. To make this expropriation possible a process of militarization is utilized which is growing in Honduras through the foreign military occupation that guarantees colonization and the violation of Human Rights, which we experience in Honduras with great crudity and brutality.
We REAFFIRM our local, national and international will to keep on fighting against domination and colonization, through every organizational form that we promote to re-found this Motherland. In this fight we are propelled forward by the indigenous and black peoples of the country, with their profound understanding and strength to stop the plundering of lands, territories, water, forests, and with the theft of cultural and other common goods of nature.
WE HOLD RESPONSIBLE those international financial organisms allied with the coup-supporting oligarchy for promoting the plundering and privatization of the lifeways of our people.

The Assembly at this event is challenged to keep on fighting, and to demand:
- The definitive solution to the agrarian conflict in the Bajo Aguán without the outrageous sale and purchase negotiations, for this land belongs to the campesinos and campesinas.
- The immediate release of our brother José Isabel Morales, unjustly imprisoned in the penal farm of La Ceiba.
- The dismissal of more than 500 warrants on people for being in the land struggle.
- The total and immediate de-militarization of the Aguán region and of the entire national territory.
- Jail and punishment for the aggressors of the Honduran people who fight for life, justice and freedom for all.
-We support the consolidation of the Permanent Human Rights Observatory of the Aguan so that all of the proposals arising from this encounter will be pursued in the struggle for a dignified life in this area.
- The immediate investigation and punishment for the massacres against the inmates of Comayagua.

Those Assembled here return home, with equal measures of strength and commitment, to resist the death that capitalism is trying to impose everywhere, and in particular we manifest:
- The demand for freedom for the Cuban anti-terrorists imprisoned in the jails of the empire.
- We demand the exit of the military troops in Haiti.
- We express our solidarity with the indigenous people of Panamá in their struggle for the autonomy of their people and territories.
- We support the struggle for the land of the indigenous people in all of Mesoamerica and Abya Yala.
- We repudiate so-called "green" capitalism and demand climate justice in the world.
- We greet the peoples of the world, that with their outraged cries from within the guts of the capitalist "First" World, this day denounce a predatory system that condemns majorities to misery.
- As Honduran people we continue to call ourselves to this re-foundational process that strengthens with  events where the words and solidarity reign above the silence of death.
-We call for strong solidarity with all peoples supporting the international events to be carried out in Haiti in the month of July of this year, where our journeys will continue.
The agreements approved in the plenary of the encounter are:
- To create solidarity committees with the Honduran people in countries, cities and communities of those who participated in the encounter.
- To create the international day of solidarity with the Honduran people, to be set for June 28th. Activities will be carried out in front of embassies…
- To create communal, national and international networks for Human Rights.
- To promote a communal, national and international campaign for Human Rights framed within a practice of active non-violence.
- To create a network of community radios to denounce violations of Human Rights.
- To create a committee of Hondurans to be ambassadors to denounce violations of Human Rights in other countries who might be victims of repression and militarization.
- To create an informative dossier with violations of Human Rights (translated in every language)
- To have the alternative media gather all possible testimonies from the victims of violations to Human Rights and spread them through the world.
- To create a gender-equitable popular school of Human Rights.
- To provide national and international follow-up to these agreements.
- To support the Human Rights Observatory in the Bajo Aguán and the Human Rights Observatory of the Indigenous and Black peoples of Honduras.
- To carry out a campaign of international mobilization for the release of Isabel Morales.
- To create conditions in each country for the reception of Honduran refugees.
- To spread materials on the security measures for people who defend Human Rights.
- To create networks of safety and community protection.
- To strengthen the Permanent Human Rights Observatory in the Aguán.
- Contribution with the establishment of community radios in the territories of the Aguán. 
Tocoa, Colón, February 19th of 2012.


Confronting fear and terror: Women’s voices at International Conference on Human Rights of Bajo Aguan in Honduras


“Alone we feel alot of fear, but together we are brave”: Women’s workshop in La Confianza of Aguan, Honduras

The daughters and sons of the Earth and the sea issue the following statement regarding the International Encounter of Human Rights in Tocoa, Colón, Honduras Central America:
1.      We declare our deep sorrow and consternation for the tragedy that occurred in the penal Farm of Comayagua that ended with the lives of 372 Hondurans, and we express our solidarity with the families of the victims. Furthermore, we demand an objective investigation about the facts that occurred in the cells and that all the weight of the law falls upon those who are responsible.
2.      We declare our solidarity with the victims of the repression in Honduras, and demand for it to cease immediately.
3.      We condemn the capitalist system that promotes violence, the expropriation of Mother Nature’s goods, exclusion, patriarchy and racism.
4.      We declare our support towards any initiative promoting human rights, particularly the Human Rights Observatory of the Indigenous Peoples of Honduras ODHPINH.
5.      We declare that we continue the struggle for the rights that we as Black and Indigenous People of Honduras have to the previous, free and informed consultation, which has to be framed within the Agreement 169 of the International Organization of Work (OIT), the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other law instruments in favor of human rights and procedures proposed from our peoples and worldviews.
6.      We declare that we proceed with the assembly process aiming towards the refounding of Honduras to build a country that’s multicultural, multilingual and multinational, therefore we self convoke to a second large assembly to be carried out in Gracias a Dios during August 6th, 7th and 8th of the current year.
7.      We declare our solidarity with the indigenous and black peoples of the world, that suffer from the attacks of expulsion, expropriation, colonization and re-colonization.
8.      We declare our repudiation to the war plans promoted by empires and condemn the militarization and armament, a business of multinational corporations that only spreads hate, terror and death.
9.      We declare that we will proceed with the struggle and monitoring against the invaders who pretend to expel us from our homes, to blind and to gather the richness of Mother Earth and impose their model of savage capitalism.
10.  We declare our solidarity with the campesinos and campesinas of the Aguán, condemning the oil palmers of death headed by the landlord Miguel Facussé, who promote monoculture that inflicts great damage to biodiversity and life.
The struggle of the indigenous and black peoples of the world, continues building the road to unity, solidarity, respect and equality, promising a world of peace for all the daughters and sons of the Earth and the sea, according to the mandate of our Ancestors.
Issued in the city of Tocoa, Department of Colón, on February the 17th of 2012.

Children Workshop
Settlement of Marañones, February 17th
We arrived to Marañones in the morning and we got more than a hundred children together. They were happy and curious. They had lots of questions, they jumped and screamed. In several teams the women comrades of the Forum of Women for Life and the Paso a Paso Program, both organizations from San Pedro Sula, created dynamics to introduce, to build necklaces, paper crafts, drawings, paint their faces, listen stories and singing.
The children of Marañones spoke about their desires for happiness:
We want to play, that’s our biggest demand, the most important issue for the majority of them, since it seems that they’re hard working children; they expressed the desire to have a family with no fighting or punishments, pretty and safe houses with plenty of food, a painted school where they could learn good and fun stuff. They manifested the desire that their fathers, mothers and they could have the opportunity to grow old, very old. A girl said she wanted to be a teacher who truly teach, and a bout said he wanted a land to be with his family, and a car to go to Tocoa.
In the beginning it was hard for the girls and boys to express themselves, they were shy and fearful but little by little they were incorporated to the recreational activities with enthusiasm, at the end several girls thanked us for having a great time and invited us to come back because they said nothing fun happened there.
Like any child from the country they want everything at the same time, the small ones were excited with the candy and brushes, the older wanted to paint other things, their creativity, the access to simple materials but with the ability to create things allowed several reactions, fighting, stories about their houses and desires and above all an enormous artistic and creative ability; an enormous potential to have fun.
Some of them were afflicted because they had a hard time getting the paint out of their faces and told us they were beaten really hard; some girls arrived late because they had to work, boys help their fathers in the hard field activities. We were told about the fear they have of police and security guards, when they go to school, when they play. The adults at the gates protect them and also their mothers.
We saw how they invented the game of Hired Assassin, a kid goes running with his index pointing at others while shooting with his mouth, bang, bang, and the rest runs to hide. The children of Rigores arrived in uniforms because they went to school, and they were very quiet. Almost everyone was afraid to discrimination when they showed their drawings, since they mocked the others very aggressively. In many of their words there are threats to beatings and you can hear a lot about death and weapons.
Through a dynamic of games a common motto was created, which they speak and send to the encounter since they couldn’t come, they scream: FOR THE AGUAN, MY HEART.


Us women that are here in this land of the Aguán, in the settlement of La Confianza, women of freedom, of hope, of Earth, of strength and struggle self-convoke to this workshop because we understand the importance of meeting and conversing to organize, feel and have more strength, to know and to learn from our struggles, to understand and to fight against patriarchy, to confront the struggle from all of our perspectives, to feel appreciated, to lose fear and defend ourselves. We work to increase the confidence between us, to identify common issues and above everything else we gather because we rejoice in the common strength and knowledge and we like to be together. United we shall overcome everything that harms us, causes pain and takes life and the pleasure of living life away.
Only a few of us have come to this workshop and this encounter, because some of us will be cooking instead of participating. Some cannot come because they don’t have the money and not all organizations support them, some have husbands who prevent them from meeting with other women even if they’re peers in the struggle, they tell them they only talk rubbish and that they’ll blow their heads off when they come back. We do not find anything funny in this, we feel anger and fear. But we know all struggles are difficult and we have the courage to go on with them. Everyday more and more women will join these spaces, not only as cooks but as thinkers, organizers, artists, all of us being political.
We dream and with our dreams we have thought of an ideal community with dignified houses, good education, energy, joy, autonomy, without having a few in power, with freedom, with no repression or assault, with respect towards Earth.
Many times we live in situations of violence from our life partners, from insults to death, and sometimes we don’t know how to denounce because we don’t want to seem like we are against our own partners, but we also cannot endure the violence from our landlords, police, the army, and at the same time from the ones who struggle with us, be our husbands, couples, brothers and fathers. There are many cases of men from the campesino companies who gather some money and leave their women and children and flee with other women, who they also leave and so on refusing to comply with their responsibilities. If we fight against injustice we cannot allow injustice.
We women provide efforts, knowledge, intelligence and creativity, the time and care-taking for our families and organizations. We know we have a lot to learn because sometimes we make ourselves trip, or refuse to unite with other women to become stronger, but we are willing to learn, that’s why in the workshop of Bodies, struggles and hopes we created a blue net, a strong cobweb where all of us who were there from within and outside the country can support with all of the strength and possibilities that we have and that we can continue to investigate despite the issues that might show up.
La Confianza, Colón, February 16th of 2012

Women from the Settlements of La Confianza, La Nueva Confianza, La Lempira, Guadalupe Carney, CDM, Orica, CNTC, SITRAINA, FNRP, CEMH, Popol Nathun, COPINH, Forum of women for life, Network of Human Rights Defenders, No Estamos Todas from Chiapas, Escribanas de Costa Rica, Pañuelos en Rebeldía.


The demands of peasants in the Aguan Region have been responded to with terrorism. 
In order to continue fulfilling the sacred mission of protecting human life in this northern coastal region of Honduras, the permanent international human rights observatory for the Aguan Region hereby REPORTS the following to the international community and to the Honduran people in particular, DEMANDING JUSTICE from the government of Porfirio Lobo Sosa, the heir to the coup d’etat in Honduras, for the following reasons:

1.- After murdering the peasant leader Matias Valle, the assassins who murdered him continued to harass members of his family and members of the peasant organization MUCA. The burial site was originally set up in the community of Quebrada de Arena, where the leader had lived and was murdered; however, the hired assassins called the victim’s family members and told them over the telephone that they knew where he was going to be buried, and this would make it easier for them to chop the head off the cadaver in order to deliver the head and collect the bounty for him which, according to accounts, was set at two million Lempiras. For this reason, a different burial site was set up at the La Suyapa cooperative; however, the assassins once again informed them that they were making it easier for the assassins to do what they needed to do. As a result, MUCA decided to begin digging a new burial site on land nearby the regional facilities of the National Agrarian Institute in the community of Sinaloa, municipality of Tocoa, where the victim was finally buried two days after he was murdered.

2.- The peasant leader Florinda Rodrigues has continued to suffer harassment and threats. On January 15 of this year, she was kidnapped; the assassins have reported that they will finish what they started. According to accounts of the peasant leader, her kidnappers spoke with Colombian accents.
3.- On January 20, ten men wearing ski masks appeared at the entrance to the peasant settlement of Rigores, riding five motorcycles; the men were visibly brandishing handguns and high-caliber heavy weapons. They moved around the settlement for approximately thirty minutes; this community has faced threats of armed attack since the end of last year, as has the settlement of Marañones.
4.- On January 26, armed men wearing ski masks attacked two peasants from MUCA, in the community of Marañones. The peasants were leaving the community of Ilanga for their peasant base located just five minutes away; they were followed and shot at several times with AK-47s and 9 millimeter pistols. As a result, they were forced to leave their motorcycle behind and jump down the mountainside; they were followed through the wilderness. They appeared in their community alive and well two hours later. Meanwhile, the peasants’ attackers (who had been sent by a local landowner) took the motorcycle, with the help of four patrols of the national police force from Tocoa. An hour later, the landowner who had ordered the attack was escorted to Tocoa by police patrols and two units of the Xatruch military.
5.- Over the past two weeks, 60 peasant men and women from the peasant movement “MARCA”, who are forced to cross the detour towards San Esteban in order to work on the land assigned by the government, have been detained by a Xatruch patrol unit with daily registries and had their photographs taken; this information can later be used by hired assassins. At the end of last year, the organization’s president was murdered, and other leaders are continuing to receive death threats from the landowners of palm tree groves on the left bank of the Aguan River.
 6.- Residents of the peasant settlement Buenos Aires are being besieged by groups of armed men who cross through the land they are occupying on a weekly basis. They are afraid of suffering armed attacks related to the issue of land.
7.- With the aim of blaming the peasants of the peasant settlement of La Lempira, before the security checkpoint at the exit from Tocoa towards Saba run by the businessman Miguel Facusse, two peasants who worked for the La Guapinol cooperative were shot to death on Saturday, January 28 and Monday, January 30 of this year.
8.- Two independent peasants from the Rigores region suffered gunshot wounds after the landowner Miguel Facusse’s guards and paramilitaries attacked them, shooting after them several times after mistaking them for peasants from the National Recovery Movement of Rigores (Movimiento Nacional Recuperación Rigores) on January 28 in the afternoon / evening.
9.- On February 2 this year, a commission of MUCA (right bank) of 13 peasants, which included Orlando Romero, president, Juan Chinchilla, vice president, Jhony Rivas, secretary general, Omar Cano, Leonel Cruz and Juan Angel Rodriguez from the settlement of La Lempira, Enemias Ortega and Raul Ramirez from the settlement of La Aurora, whose names we were able to obtain, were detained by a military operation in Arizona, Atlantida, where men wearing ski masks participated, arguing that Juan Angel Rodriguez had an arrest warrant out for him. They were then transferred to the police station of Tela, Atlantida. The patrol traveled in private vehicles, one of which was red colored without license plates and the other a red colored Mitsubishi sport white colored [sic]. At the time that this report is being written, Juan Angel Rodrigues [sic] has been taken to the prosecutor's office in Tela and the rest of the peasants are being isolated, surrounded by more than 20 military personnel.
10.- We are reporting and denouncing the complicity of those in charge of the justice system in Honduras with landowners of the region. The peasant Isabel Morales, a political prisoner for more than three years, has been accused of crimes that he cannot be proven to have committed, even with false witnesses, because he has not committed them. In spite of this, the court of appeals in the city of Ceiba, Department of Atlantida, seeks to sentence him without applying the proper evidenciary procedures established by the law. In this case, related to the agrarian conflict of the Peasant Movement of the Aguan Region – MCA, the active colonel of the national police, Henrry [sic] Osorto, is not only exerting influence on the court, but has also seen to it that 28 other leaders were issued arrest warrants, in addition to the death threats against the peasants of the neighborhood Guadalupe Carney, located in Silin, Municipality of Trujillo.
11.- As of January 28 of this year, the transnational company “Standard Fruit Company”, with plantations in the municipality of Bonito Oriental, fired six workers accused of being the leaders who were attempting to organize a labor union of banana workers in the municipality, and are threatening to fire all workers who wish to exercise their right to organize themselves in a labor union.
12.- In the agrarian conflict in the Aguan Region, the government and the INA are negotiating in a demagogic fashion, without making it possible for a solution favorable to the peasant population to be reached. They are attempting to exhaust the process through false negotiations, for the sole purpose of claiming that the peasant population is not interested in negotiations; how could the peasants offer such trickery as a “solution”, which includes attempts to prove that the peasant population is incapable of administering anything and forces them to pay private banks for the lands being recovered? This is entirely contrary to the principle of agrarian reform. The government and the landowners are selling land to the peasants which Miguel Facusse did not buy from either the government or from the peasants; he simply seized the land and took hold of it, and now he wants to be paid 640 million Lempiras for it, with the blessings of Minister Cesar Ham and the rest of those in the government. In this instance, each hectare would cost the peasants nearly half a million Lempiras, paid over 14 years with a 14% interest rate loan, increasing debts threefold. To this end, they are being pressured through terrorism, intimidation, kidnappings and murders. And plans are in the works to continue to shed peasant blood in the Aguan Region in the upcoming days. FOR THIS REASON, WE CONTINUE TO CALL OUT THE HONDURAN GOVERNMENT AND THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, WHICH ARE USING THEIR RESOURCES TO KEEP THIS REGION MILITARIZED AND ALLOW HIRED ASSASSINS TO RULE THE REGION, AS THE PARTIES RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATHS WHICH HAVE TAKEN PLACE IN THE MIDST OF THIS AGRARIAN CONFLICT IN THE AGUAN REGION AND FOR ALL OF THE DEATHS WHICH MAY TAKE PLACE IN THE FUTURE, ACCORDING TO DEATH THREATS WHICH HAVE BEEN MADE. It is of high priority that true dialogue needs to take place, with international organizations present as observers, which will lead to a definitive solution to this conflict, giving priority to respect for human life and all of the fundamental rights of the peasant communities and other communities of Honduras.

The peasant population of the Aguan Region needs the domestic and international solidarity of others. For this reason, attending the International Human Rights Conference in the Aguan Region from February 17 through 20, 2012, is an act which makes it more possible that the Honduran government will resolve this agrarian conflict in the Aguan Region as soon as possible, with the fundamental condition that the fundamental rights of our peoples be respected, in particular, the rights of the peasant communities who are fighting for their land.
It is a shame that, as concerns the Aguan Region, the current government cares more about the African palm trees in the region than it does about the lives of peasant families. It is a shame, and it goes against all universally accepted values and principles, for a human's life to be valued only if he is a multimillionaire and finances the campaigns of extreme right wing political parties and coups d'etat, to the detriment of the rights of thousands of human beings who are fighting with all they have to escape from poverty and hopelessness. 

Out of respect for human life, and for the freedom of the political prisoners,
Let us put a stop to the violations of our communities' human rights.
Wilfredo Paz, spokesman of the permanent international human rights observatory for the Aguan Region.


In the Aguán a baby Jesus will be born in the midst of repression

The Permanent International Observatory for Human Rights in the Aguán once again denounces the climate of repression prevailing in the Aguán Valley on the north coast of Honduras.
In the region there has been no truce in the implementation of repression and uninterrupted military operations against the community of Rigores and the campesino settlements of Marañones on the left bank of the Aguán river. There has been an increased number of private security guards traveling in national police patrol vehicles, as part of Honduran army commands, and in civilian vehicles without license plates along highways throughout the Valley.

In the last several days at least five campesinos from various organizations have been detained even when they have proved the legality of their activities, and justice officials have attempted to send them to jail. The mayor of Bonito Oriental and various citizens from different social sectors were also detained in an effort to show that the Xatruch Commands were in fact doing something, in light of the failed military operation Tumbador, which until today has not found the guerrillas that they insisted were in the Aguán, nor the heavy armaments that they assured were in the campesinos' possession. Feliciano Castellanos was the last campesino detained, on December 22nd in the afternoon, and they could not decide which municipality to try him in. First they transfered him to Tocoa, then to Bonito Oriental, and finally they took him to Trujillo, all in the same department. They did not wait 24 hours to investigate the detainee in order to present him to a judge.

Since the beginning of November of this year, the campesinos of Rigores have denounced that the businessman Miguel Facusse is building a canal in the upper part of their communities and lands where he intents to divert the Juaniquilapa river, a strong branch of the Aguán river, which would affect them in the future by leaving them exposed to floods, something that has not been taken into account despite experience with these types of situations in the area.

Today, December 24th, in the morning, campesino Juan José Peralta, president of the Luz y Esperanza cooperative of the nacional recuperation movement of Rigores, who was recently detained by the police, was victim of an attempt on his life while traveling with his family. A vehicle came upon his car with the intention of knocking it into the Rigores river, which they were crossing at the time near the exit of the community of Rigores, towards the municipality of Sonaguera. Juan José was left injured and required hospitalization. Most campesino leaders on the left and right banks of the Aguán river are not able to leave to buy food because of the hired assassins, such as in the case of Juan José.

Another story that the hired killers and guards have circulated is that the Resistance and the campesinos would be left to mourn their dead during Christmas and New Years, while for the community of Nueva Vida of the campesino movement of Rigores, the threat of eviction persists over the next few days.

Today while children across the world play freely, on this piece of land our children are locked inside waiting for the moment that their settlement could be attacked or the moment when they could be evicted and thrown in the street. Today in any one of these settlements a baby Jesus might be born, and tomorrow he will be persecuted along with his parents in order to remove him from the land where he was born. But these acts depend also on your solidarity with the Aguán. Here there is no Merry Christmas in the midst of a climate of repression and fear, but we persevere and resist with the hope that there will be a better tomorrow.

Our greatest hope is that Christmas Eve will bring bread and water to the thousands of families in Honduras and in the world who don't have anything on their plates, and that they may reestablish a peaceful existence despite the enormous difficulties generated by living in poverty and misery.

May next Christmas Eve trully be a Christmas for all.

Because the barefoot also deserve justice.

Because feelings of love and solidarity this Christmas can reach your heart and convert us all into better human beings.

Tocoa, Colón, December 24th, 2011

Wilfredo Paz

Spokesperson for the Permanent International Observatory for Human Rights in the Aguán, on the north coast of Honduras.

Greetings to all of you!
With hope and the desire to continue building a Honduras in which we will NOT be among the growing statistics of the violation of human rights, we are seeking a solution to the grave humanitarian situation in the Valley of Aguan. This is a region of struggle for communities of family farmers, who have united once again to take up unified efforts to achieve justice, dignity and life. We are counting on international solidarity to bring us relief, affection and to strengthen us to confront the systematic violation of human rights, militarization and pillage.
With great pleasure we hereby invite you to participate in the International Gathering for Human Rights in Solidarity with Honduras, which will take place in Bajo Aguan, Colon department, from February 17 –20, 2012.
During this International Gathering we propose:
· Making it understood that the Coup d’Etat of Honduras continues, in terms of the government institutions, the impunity and the deepening of state violence against the people.
· Strengthening the ties of solidarity among the peoples’ struggles of the world, by means of common actions to confront the grave situation of human rights violations in Honduras.
· To spotlight and denounce the situation of human rights violations in Honduras and especially in Bajo Aguan.
· To understand the links between militarization, transnational corporate domination, the struggle for land and human rights violations in the region and in the country.
Before and after the Gathering, as part of this invitation, National and International Solidarity Brigades will be organized, based on the belief that creativity, mutual affection and collective action has the power to dismantle the culture of violence and military logic.
These brigades will undertake the task of preventing and protecting human rights in the settlements of the different farmer organizations currently experiencing a campaign of repression aimed at their extermination. These brigades will remain for durations determined by the delegates and the International Observatory.
We remind you that the arrival in Tocoa, the principle city of Bajo Aguan, is scheduled for February 17; the work days of the Gathering will be the 18th and 19th, and the 20th will be the departure date. For those staying to participate in the Solidarity Brigades, these will be coordinated by the Observatory.
For more information, you can communicate by email:
For the Solidarity Brigades contact:


Brothers and Sisters:
We are deeply concerned about the seriousness of the increasing conflict facing the farmers’ movement in the northern region of Honduras -- the Lower Aguan Valley .
          Each and every day we hear new reports of unconscionable crimes committed against farmers in the region.  With a heavily armed police and military presence, a presence that has intensified in recent days, the government continues their repression of these farming communities.  We are convinced that urgent action is needed to avoid even worse outcomes.
We are particularly concerned about the situations of terror experienced by the children of the Lower Aguan .   The trauma generated by the constant repression and fear under which they live will endure and affect their lives permanently. Under the new military offensive “Operation Lightning,” the armed forces recently attacked a group of families who were returning from the cemetery, where they had been visiting the graves of their loved ones.  The boys and girls who were present witnessed the brutal attack in which many of their relatives and neighbors were murdered and others injured.  Because of these disturbing reports, we raise our voices in protest and request a prompt and effective response from the people, governments and institutions of the American continents to defend the right to life in Honduras and to lay the foundation for a just resolution to this conflict.

Some Background:
The severity of the problem was denounced this past October 24, at the 143rd Session of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR).  There, the increase in the number of murders was publicly documented.  From September 2009 to October 2011, forty-two members affiliated with various farmers’ organizations were killed.  Some 3,500 peasant families have farmed and lived in these communities for many years.  The Honduran oligarchy, closely linked with the political regime established after the coup of 2009, plans to convert these lands into African Palm plantations.  To this end they have continually subjected these farmers to a life of persecution, threats and intimidation.  They have hired the military, security guards and private mercenaries to murder farmers, to destroy the homes, farms, schools and churches these families built many years ago when the first established their communities.  
Along with the murders and forced evictions, the Honduran government has criminalized the peasants’ struggle and initiated court actions, starting in July 2011, against more than 160 farmers.  According to publicly available reports and complaints, there are now more than six hundred thousand (600,000) landless families.  The Honduran state does not have an agricultural strategy to address this serious social problem. The agrarian conflict in Honduras is exacerbated by the Agricultural Modernization law of 1992, which removed previously existing caps on land ownership. The passage of this law enabled large ranch owners including Miguel Facusse, Reynaldo Canales and Rene Morales Carazo to expand their operations and to create huge concentrations of palm oil plantations.  To help these landholders, the current government deployed, in August 2011, one thousand police and naval battalion forces to the Aguan area in a joint operation entitled “Xatruch II.”.  In November they launched the new “Operation Lightning,” under the justification of "decreasing the wave of killing and kidnappings in the country."  It should be noted here that such killings and kidnappings have been perpetrated not by the struggling farmers but by those working in the interests of plantation owners.
          In this context, some grave and disturbing allegations have surfaced in the area.  There are indications of involvement by agents of Operation Xatruch II in the torturing of farmers; these agents include members of the Honduran Army, private guards in the employ of plantation owners, members of the U.S. Marines and Colombian paramilitaries. There have also been reports of the presence of paramilitaries linked to the drug cartel “The Zetas of Mexico”.  
Ironically, while the Honduran regime continues to condone the murder and repression of its own citizens, President Porfirio Lobo claims to be committed to the pacification and reconciliation process required for the reinstatement of Honduras into The Organization of American states (OAS) as an active member with full rights. This would give free rein to ambitious investment plans, budget deficits, and to territorial redistribution of the country resulting in further looting and pillaging of Honduran resources. Far from reaching peace and reconciliation, the Honduran people will suffer the ravages of a collapsed system.
Even the national police cannot effectively respond to this continuing problem.  The National Police, responsible for protecting the population from criminals, is undergoing the deepest crisis in its history.  With many of its members working as hired assassins or involved in drug trafficking or organized crime, it is incapable of prosecuting the criminal human rights violations taking place daily in its jurisdiction.
Instead of ending crime, crimes are multiplying by the thousands every year -- placing Honduras among the most violent countries in the world, according to a survey by the Global Homicide office, a part of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).  The Honduran police ruthlessly attack defenseless citizens, members of Aguan farmers’ movements, due to their commitment to their struggle for land.

Against this background, the response from the international community has tended to aggravate these conflicts rather than resolve them.  The full reinstatement of Honduras to the Organization of American states ignores the wave of repression that has been unleashed, and the loss of legal recourse for ordinary citizens which resulted from the collapse of legal system after the coup.   US military presence has also increased, notably with expensive training to the Honduran Military. The US has also established three different military bases in the aftermath of the coup of 2009.

Also, since June of this year the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB,) the US, and other countries, under the auspices of the new Central American Regional Security Initiative (created to aid in the fight against drug trafficking as well other forms of organized crime,) are consolidating strong support and providing technology precisely to the sectors most involved in drug trafficking.  This new trans-nationalization of a very particular concept of security, always under U.S. control, already has numerous precedents in Honduras and in the region.  These include the “Security Section” incorporated into NAFTA, whose results -- for example in Mexico -- are obvious. Neither can we ignore their lies concerning investment policies, debt and territorial control in the Lower Aguan and the Costal Garifuna Zone, among other parts of Honduras .   Under the guise of “renewable energy”, “reforestation” and sustainable tourism” their projects will ravage the soil of our country at too great a cost, on the backs of citizens whose lives depend on our land, whose rights are increasingly violated.

For the above reasons: 

We address this letter to the presidents of Latin American and Caribbean countries, including those who approved the reinstatement of Honduras to the OAS.
·We ask that their governments be present in the Lower Aguan, by appointing a representative of their embassies in Honduras to observe the area and to make the effort required to halt the systematic persecution and killings of farmers.

·We ask that they suspend all financial aid to the Honduran government, especially those directed toward the Departments of Defense and Public Security, to suspend all international cooperation aimed at strengthening the National Army and National Police, and to hold back foreign investment whether through loans or donations.

·We ask that the Organization of American States proceed with urgency to convene a special committee to investigate the situation in the Lower Aguan , with support from the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR.)

·We ask that the United Nations appoint and send to  Honduras a special investigator to verify the claims of the affected population in the region.

·We ask that International financial institutions, as well as investors and so-called international “donors” to suspend all operations in the affected regions until their necessity and legitimacy can be shown to be in the best interest of the affected communities.

·We also demand that the Honduran authorities respect the commitments they have made to the international community including:

1       That they fight for human rights: 

-Provide protection for individuals and communities at risk.
-Investigate and prosecute the crimes committed, punish those responsible, and end the criminalization of farmers’ movements and the impunity enjoyed by powerful landowners. 

2      That the State work toward a solution to the serious agrarian problems affecting the Honduran peasantry:
-Halt forced evictions. 
-Guarantee the right of all people, including members of farmers’ organizations, to land, education, health and housing.
-Prevent the imposition of agribusiness over small food-producing farms and the confiscation of territory without prior consultation with those affected.
3       That they demilitarize the region:
-Suspend military operations in the area.
-Put an end to foreign military presence.

 Finally we turn to the people of the continent and ask that they remain on alert in the face of the grave dangers present in Honduras and particularly in the Lower Aguan region; that they remain active in solidarity with our farming communities; that they participate in the various initiatives of the grassroots organizations in the region, such as the International Center for Human Rights Observatory in Lower Aguan, and Solidarity Brigades.