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Honduras, 05/11/2021

Blanca Sarahí Izaguirre Lozano, National Commissioner for Human Rights of Honduras

Lica. Karla Eugenia Cueva Aguilar, Secretary for Human Rights of Honduras


May 11, 2021

Dear Commissioner Izaguirre and Secretary Cueva:  

We are concerned about a death threat against community leader and member of OFRANEH (Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras) Mabel Robledo of the Garífuna community Nueva Armenia, Jutiapa municipality, Atlántida Department. Threats were made against Mabel Robledo and her friend two weeks after Mabel Robledo denounced before local and national officials the appropriation of ancestral Garífuna territories and the extraction of sand from the Papaloteca River.

At around 4:00pm on April 16, an unknown individual entered her business and threatened: "If you keep messing with drug traffickers, we are going to kill you," and then he left. At around 4:30 pm, a close friend of Mabel Robledo was threatened by strangers who assured him that “if you do not want to die, stop hanging around her, because we have already been authorized them to kill her."

Garífuna communities in Atlántida Department have been actively trying to reclaim their ancestral lands which, for the past 80 years, have been occupied by the Standard Fruit Company (Dole) and more recently by owners of African palm plantations (for palm oil). The recent expansion of African palm cultivation along the Atlantic has resulted in 1,000 hectares cultivated with palm in Jutiapa alone; 70 percent of these crops are within Nueva Armenia. African palm plantations are causing destruction of forests, threats to local food sovereignty, and harm to wetlands and the contamination of water sources due to the use of agrochemicals.

Another significant threat to the community is drug trafficking. Heavily armed drug traffickers have taken over the delta of the Papaloteca River for clandestine aircraft landing strips. 

We strongly urge that you

  • conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the threats against Mabel Robledo and her friend, publish the results, and bring those responsible to justice
  • instruct INA (National Agrarian Institute) to cease the legalization of land dispossession in Atlántida (i.e, giving Garífuna tracks of land to palm growers)
  • instruct INA to create a process for transferring Garífuna ancestral lands back to the Garífuna communities, in consultation with OFRANEH and the local impacted communities  


Brian J. Stefan Szittai and Christine Stonebraker-Martinez, Co-Coordinators



Oscar Chinchilla Banegas, Attorney General ~ via email
Luis Suazo Barahona, Ambassador of Honduras to the US ~ via email and US mail
Joel Hernández, Rapporteur for Honduras, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) ~ via email and US mail
Margarette May Macaulay, Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons of African Descent and Against Racial Discrimination, IAHCR ~ via email and US mail
Isabel Albaladejo Escribano, Representative to Honduras of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OACNUDH) ~ via email
OFRANEH:  Organización Fraternal Negra de Honduras ~ via email
HSN: Honduras Solidarity Network ~ via email
US Embassy in Honduras: Colleen Hoey, Chargé d’Affaires; Nate Rettenmayer, Political Officer ~ via email
US State Dept: Honduras Desk ~ via email
US Senators Brown & Portman ~ via email
US Representatives Beatty, Gibbs, González, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Kaptur, Latta, Ryan  ~ via email
19 APR 2021_IM-Defensores_Honduras