Óscar Fernando Chinchilla Banegas, Attorney General of Honduras
Lica. Karla Cueva, Secretary of State for Human Rights Affairs
July 16, 2019
Dear Attorney General Chinchilla and Secretary Cueva:
We are outraged and horrified at the destruction of crops that occurred on July 15 at the sites of La Vege del Culatón and El Achotal in the Río Blanco community in Intibucá Department. The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) announced that during the night members of the Madrid family, associates of the Atala Zablah family, destroyed with machetes more than 15 manzanas of the Lenca indigenous community's corn harvest. At least 25 families have lost their principal food and main livelihood.
This occurred on the Lenca ancestral lands that the company Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA), owned by the Atala-Zablah Family, intended to use for the development of the "Agua Zarca" hydroelectric project. Since 2012 COPINH has been organizing resistance to the project because it threatens the environment and their way of life along the Gualcarque River.
In 2016 Leonel Madrid burned an indigenous family’s four manzanas of coffee. In 2017 he burned five manzanas of corn and 15 manzanas of pine and oak forest. That same year, members of the Madrid family, armed with rifles and pistols, brought cattle to the indigenous lands and destroyed at least 20 manzanas of corn and beans.
In April 2017, after multiple threats to the community with firearms, a fire occurred in the Achiotal Valley which completely destroyed corn fields and three manzanas of uncultivated land. All these incidents were reported, but to date, the perpetrators have not been investigated and punished.
We condemn these attacks on the indigenous peoples of Río Blanco and strongly urge that you
- conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into the crop destruction in Rio Blanco, publish the results, and bring those responsible to justice
- provide food and other supplies needed by the Lenca communities affected by the destruction of their crops and livelihood.
Brian J. Stefan Szittai
Marlon R. Tábora Muñoz, Ambassador of Honduras to the US ~ via website or fax, and US mail
Lawrence J. Gumbiner, Chargé d’Affaires, US Embassy in Honduras ~ via email
David Tagle, Honduras Desk, US State Dept ~ via email
Joel Hernández, Rapporteur for Honduras, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email and US mail
Antonia Urrejola, Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email and US mail
Rights Action ~ via email
US Senators Brown & Portman
US Representatives Fudge, Gibbs, González, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Kaptur, Latta, Renacci, Ryan ~ via email