Óscar Fernando Chinchilla Banegas, Attorney General of Honduras
Lica. Karla Cueva, Secretary of State for Human Rights Affairs
February 13, 2021
Dear Attorney General Chinchilla and Secretary Cueva:
We are outraged over the forced eviction of 44 families from the campesino communities “Hombres y mujeres de fe” (Men and Women of Faith) and “Unidos al campo” (United to the field) in Guaimaca municipality in Francisco Morazán Department. On the morning of February 5 police dressed in black came to the campesino (peasant) communities and—without presenting a legal eviction order—began a forced eviction that ended in the destruction of all the collective work the families had built for more than 12 years. The evicted families were left on the street without a place to stay.
To protect their physical safety, the families obeyed police orders and abandoned their homes. The only things they could salvage were sheets of zinc (roofing material) and some of the chickens from their subsistence poultry project. The police officers used excavator machinery to destroy their homes and community buildings. When Luvy Canales, the families’ legal representative, requested to see a legal eviction order, police detained her, which then limited the advocacy she could do for the families. To date (to our knowledge), the families and Lucy Canales have not been given the names of the judge who might have executed the eviction notice and the person who was to formally present it.
The lands that these families inhabited have been designated as communal (ejido). They are used for subsistence purposes only (growing food, raising animals) by families who do not own their own land. The National Central of Rural Workers (CNTC) has initiated an investigation process into this forced eviction. Individuals who are claiming private ownership of this communal land are presenting as their evidence land titles that date back to 2004. The communal land was settled by the campesino families starting in 2009. The CNTC intends to file legal proceedings to repair the damages caused to the families’ property, as well as the violation of the rights to housing, to collective property, to defense, as well as to an adequate level of means of subsistence.
We strongly urge that you
- instruct INA (Instituto Nacional Agrario) to investigate the legal titles of these disputed lands to establish true ownership/possession and make accommodations for the 44 families.
- safeguard the life and security of all citizens of Honduras through the execution of a comprehensive and inclusive agrarian policy that protects the most vulnerable
Brian J. Stefan Szittai and Christine Stonebraker-Martinez