Sr. Juan Orlando Hernández
President of the Republic of Honduras
Sr. Oscar Chinchilla Banegas
Attorney General of Honduras
We are writing to express our outrage at the recent attack on Alfredo López, correspondent for Radio Progreso and the network of Garifuna community radio stations. On June 26 he photographed a team of topographers from the Hisopo Resort of Tela Bay who were doing a topographical survey on a plot of land which the women’s cooperative El Esfuerzo had cultivated in the Garifuna community of Triunfo de la Cruz in Atlántida Department. A tractor was clearing, deforesting and completely flattening the land, including all the food crops the women’s cooperative had planted.
As he was returning to his vehicle to leave the site, López saw the tractor coming towards him. He quickly jumped out of the way, but the tractor stopped in front of him to block his way and then accelerated with the intention of running into him. He was able to outrun the tractor and to take a few more close-up pictures. He filed a complaint with the authorities.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has granted precautionary measures to The Triunfo de la Cruz Community because of land conflicts the Garifuna communities have experienced for many years. The tourism industry projects develop land and construct projects without the consent or input from the indigenous townspeople.
At the present time the Garífuna communities of Triunfo de la Cruz, Barra Vieja, Tornabé and San Juan suffer constant threats of being displaced from their land by the Hisopo Resort project in Tela Bay. Because it is backed by the government and international financial groups, there is intense hostility and danger for those, such as Alfredo López, who oppose such projects.
Therefore, we strongly urge that you
- carry out an immediate and thorough investigation into the attack on Alfredo López described above, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice;
- fully implement the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights precautionary measures ordered for members of Radio Progreso, in line with the beneficiaries’ wishes
- ensure that journalists and human rights defenders are able to carry out their activities safely and without fear of reprisals, as set out in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
Brian J. Stefan Szittai Christine Stonebraker-Martínez