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RRN Letters Summary - SEP 2023

Rapid Response Network (RRN) letters this month


21 SEP 2023


assassination attempt: Miriam Miranda, general coordinator of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH)

On September 19 in the early morning, four armed men entered the home of Miriam Miranda, general coordinator of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), in the Garifuna community of Vallecito, Colón, with the apparent intent of causing her physical harm.

For many years, the list of attacks on Miriam has grown to be quite extensive, while the list of those punished for such attacks is non-existent. In February 2022, Miriam received death threats by telephone. Months later in August 2022, the Attorney General’s (AG) office announced they were opening a criminal investigation against Miriam and other defenders for protesting in front of the AG’s office demanding justice and action related to the forced disappearance of four Garífuna land defenders from the community of Tríunfo de la Cruz. Years ago, Miriam was also abducted by armed men in Vallecito, despite having protective measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights since 2011.

The recent attack on Miriam Miranda exemplifies the danger facing Garífuna community leaders who are defending their lands across the north coast of Honduras

You can read the full letter at .



22 SEP 2023


assassinated: Johan Ferney Aguilar González, son of outspoken environmental defender. ¡presente!

A judicial ruling issued by the First Court of the Honda Circuit in Tolima, Department, ordered Colombia’s National Mining Agency to suspend the execution of 13 concession contracts that involve the exploration and exploitation of minerals, due to environmental concerns. The mining area in Tolima covers 5,000 where several mining companies hope to extract natural asphalt, gold, copper, silver, and platinum. One of the companies, Miranda Gold (now known as Outcrop Silver and Gold), based in Canada, has four concessions.

Johan Ferney Aguilar González is the son of outspoken environmental defender Wilder Antonio Aguilar Rodríguez. Hitmen killed Johan on September 3, just hours after a public hearing of the National Mining Agency (Agencia Nacional de Minería, or ANM), where both he and his father were present, among 700 others. In the public hearing his father made a public complaint about death threats he had received prior related to the resistance against the mining project of Miranda Gold.

You can read the full letter at  .



23 SEP 2023


assassinated: Benicio Beltrán Borja, ex-combatant, signer of Peace Accords ¡presente!

According to INDEPAZ (Institute for the Study of Development and Peace), at least 123 social leaders and 30 ex-combatant signatories to the 2016 Peace Accords have been killed thus far in 2023. One of the more recent victims is Benicio Beltrán Borja.

Benicio Beltrán Borja—an ex-combatant, signer of the peace agreement, and active participant in the government’s reintegration program—was dedicated to agricultural production in Cañaveral Chicamoqué village, Segovia municipality, Bolívar Department. During an armed incursion in the village on September 22, witnesses say that Clan del Golfo paramilitaries seized Benicio Beltrán Borja, killed him, and burned his body.

You can read the full letter at   .



24 SEP  2023


criminalized: anti-corruption attorney Claudia González Orellana


The Public Ministry of Guatemala (Office of the Attorney General) continues to act arbitrarily, without any legal basis, in retaliation against Claudia González, the former lead prosecutor with the International Commission Against Impunity (CICG). On August 28, Claudia González Orellana was arrested on the grounds of “abuse of authority” by the Internal Affairs Prosecutor’s Office of the Public Ministry (MP). Nine days after her arrest, the case brought against her was declared “under reserve,” preventing public access to her proceedings, which is a direct violation of due process. On September 22, Judge Jimi Bremer denied her freedom for at least three months longer. She was ordered to be held in pre-trial detention until at least late December.

The policy of selective prosecution implemented by the Public Ministry continues to escalate, especially against independent justice officials, journalists, litigants and human rights defenders who have worked in the fight against corruption and impunity and in the defense of human rights in the country.

You can read the full letter at  .




25 SEP 2023


assassinated: Juana María Martínez, Pech Indigenous community leader. ¡presente!


The Pech Indigenous peoples were the original inhabitants of the Bay Island of Roatan but were relocated to the mining areas of the mainland by the Spanish during the early colonial period. The total population of Pech Indigenous peoples in Honduras today is only about 6,000, and they are divided into nine communities. About 90% of the Pech live in Olancho Department; others are in Colón and Gracias a Dios Departments. Resisting total assimilation, about half still speak their native Pech language. 

Residents of the community of Pueblo Nuevo Subirana in Dulce Nombre de Culmí, Olancho Department, found the bodies of Juana María Martínez and an unidentified companion the morning of September 23. Both had gunshot wounds and their bodies had been burned.

Julián Mass, Pech Indigenous chief of the Vallecito community in Dulce Nombre de Culmí, told the media that Juana María Martínez was a local leader of entrepreneurship projects who was dedicated to working on behalf of the Pech, actively participating in assemblies of Indigenous organizations.

You can read the full letter at   .


26 SEP 2023


assassinated: José David Fortín, leader of campesino cooperative  ¡presente!

There has been a blood bath of assassinations in the Aguán Valley this year. Among the land defenders assassinated so far: Alí Dominguez and Jairo Bonilla (cf our letter 24 JAN 2023), Omar Cruz Tomé and his father-in-law Andy Martínez Murillo (cf our letter 22 FEB 2023), Santos Hipólito Rivas and his son Javier Rivas (cf our letter 24 MAR 2023), Emerson Martínez (cf letter 24 APR 2023), José Gilberto Martínez Cardona (cf letter 12 MAY 2023), and Oscar Oquelí Domínguez Ramos (cf our letter 21 JUN 2023).

In this letter we express our outrage to learn of yet another land defender brutally killed—in his home on a Sunday afternoon! José David Fortín, general secretary of the Cooperativa Agropecuaria Campesina Tarros Limitada, was murdered on September 24 in his home in the village of Los Tarros in Trujillo, Colón Department. Two hitmen arrived on a motorcycle at 2:00pm, entered his home, and shot him. With serious wounds he was transferred to a hospital in Tocoa, where he died.

According to the peasant rights organization Plataforma Agraria, there are strong rumors in the community that third parties who claim ownership of the disputed land hired hitmen.

The government of Honduras made a commitment in February 2022 to install a Tripartite Commission with the mandate to investigate violence and human rights violations against the peasant movement. We join our voices with those of campesino cooperatives in demanding that the comission be implemented. We also echo the call to dismantle the criminal structures that operate alongside organized crime in the Bajo Aguán, many in conjunction with corrupt officials.

You can read the full letter at .