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At least 212 land and environmental defenders were murdered last year — the highest number since the group Global Witness began gathering data eight years ago. Some 40% of those killed were Indigenous peoples. Today on Democracy Now!, we get an update from Honduras, where the Afro-Indigenous Garífuna community continues to demand the safe return of five Garífuna land defenders who were kidnapped by heavily armed men who were reportedly wearing police uniforms and forced them into three unmarked vehicles at gunpoint. This was the latest attack against the Garífuna community as they defend their territory from destructive projects fueled by foreign investors and the Honduran government. “We are in danger daily — all the leaders of the Garífuna community, all the defendants of the land in Honduras,” says Carla García, international relations coordinator at the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFANEH).
News Article
Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio (OH-09) is among 28 US House members who signed a letter (authored by Rep. Ilan Omar) opposing US investment in large-scale development projects in Honduras that are surrounded by serious human rights, worker rights, and environmental concerns. In their letter to Adam Boehler, chief executive officer of the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the US representatives call the DFC’s planned investment in Honduras “a grave mistake.” They find it “deeply alarming” that Boehler (along with the US Embassy’s chargé d'affaires and the National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere) posed for a photograph with President Hernández and announced “an investment in the same region of the country where …disappearances – and years of human rights violations – have taken place.” They make astute criticisms of both the president of Honduras and the energy company behind the Jimalito River hydropower project. “President Juan Orlando Hernández has a record that includes gross human rights violations, credible accusations of electoral fraud, deep connections to narcotrafficking and organized crime, and corruption.” “The company in charge of the project, Inversiones de Generación Eléctricas, S.A. (“Ingelsa”), is credibly accused by local community leaders of corruption, intimidation, and violence [and] the river that is being dammed is the only source of clean drinking water for the communities in the area.” They further note that community members active in organized resistance against the hydropower project have been assassinated, including the young lawyer Carlos Hernández in 2018.
News Article
Although the effects of climate change reverberate around the globe, its effects vary from region to region, continent to continent, and Central America is no exception. // Aunque los efectos del cambio climático repercuten en todo el mundo, sus efectos varían de una región a otra y de un continente a otro, y Centroamérica no es una excepción.
News Article
The Jesuit-sponsored Reflection Research and Communication Team (ERIC) in Honduras reported on Radio Progreso (Aug 10) that “Model Cities” are at the root of the territorial dispossession and violence against Garífuna communities. While he was president of the National Congress in 2013, Juan Orlando Hernández (now president of Honduras) pushed through legislation to create “Zedes,” (Zones of Economic Development and Employment), also referred to as “Model Cities.” Economic forces interested in creating these territorial and administrative divisions (which, by the way, are not subject to the laws of the central government saw a green light for more land grabs of Garífuna ancestral lands along the Atlantic coast. And even though Honduras has been a signatory to the American Convention on Human Rights, it routinely ignores the rulings of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights. This blatant snubbing of international rulings by the State of Honduras is also a blatant discounting of its own constitution: the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, the body that interprets the Constitution, says that international judgments are mandatory and must be complied with. The kidnapping of its leaders [on July 18] and the vulnerability that surrounds the Triunfo de la Cruz Garifuna community is the product of structural violence promoted by the State that is expressed in threats, death, cultural and territorial dispossession, according to Dr. Joaquín Mejía, a lawyer and researcher for ERIC. If the State had complied with the sentence in due time, many of the violent atrocities waged in recent years against Garífuna leaders and residents could have been avoided.

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