|Honduras: Aguán Massacres Continue to Support Production of Biodiesel|
|Written by Annie Bird, Rights Action|
|Sunday, 28 August 2011 19:19|
Campesinos Killed, August 20th and 21st, Following on Massacre of 11 People, August 14th and 15th
According to reports, around noon on Saturday, August 20, 2011 Secundino Ruiz Vallecillo, vice president of the Movimiento Campesion Unificado del Aguan del a Margen Derecha (MUCA-MD), and president of the San Isidro Empresa Campesina Cooperative, was shot and killed while in a taxi in the town of Tocoa by a masked gunman aboard a passing motorcycle.
That afternoon Arnoldo Portillo, member of the 5 de Enero Empresa Campesino Cooperative, of the La Concepcion community, left his home, and did not return. His neighbors began a search early the morning of August 21, 2011. His badly brutalized body was found in the dump of the La Lempira campesino community; he had been killed by machete strikes and gunfire.
Later on August 21, 2011, at approximately 8pm, Pedro Salgado, the president of the 5 de Enero cooperative and his wife, Irene Licona, were murdered in their home by machetes and gunfire. Salgado, like the presidents of all the cooperatives claiming rights to land used by African palm oil businessmen in the Aguan, had been subject to constant death threats. Salgado had recently met with the commander of the Xatruch operation, asking for protection.
OVER 50 CAMPESINOS KILLED, & counting ...
These killings occurred amidst a military occupation, called the "Xatruch II" operation, that was launched after two massacres on August 14th and August 15th that left 11 dead.
Since training of African palm oil company paramilitary security forces reportedly began in January 2010, over 50 campesinos have been killed, the majority in drive-by shootings.
On July 21, 2011 it was reported that the United Nation's CDM board "undertook an investigation and after full consideration found that the consultation met the CDM requirements under the parameters of its mandate. It's a matter for Honduras to deal with outstanding land disputes and responsibility for violence in the region."
This decision is a complete abdication by the United Nations of the United Nations' mandate to protect human rights - the UN is complicit in violence in the Aguán.
The complicity - direct or indirect - extends to the governments of Canada and the US. Just days before the August 14 massacre, Canadian Prime Minister Stephan Harper signed a so-called "free" trade agreement on August 12th with Honduras, ignoring the systemic repression carried out by the Honduran regime since the June 2009 military coup. The newly appointed US ambassador to Honduras, Lisa Kubiske, has focused her career on promoting biofuel investment and free trade agreements.
ARMED FORCES "TRAIN" PRIVATE SECURITY FORCES!
Witnesses report that African palm plantation security forces are trained at the 15th Battalion of the Honduran Armed Forces and in private African palm plantations by men in Honduran military uniforms.
There are reports that 40 to 60 Colombians, who wear Honduran army uniforms, are training the paramilitaries. There are reports that US Army Rangers have engaged in training activities, and that the US donated military equipment that has been used in the repression.
Poor campesinos in the Aguán region, in need of a means of survival, are reclaiming lands that have been illegally and violently taken from them by wealthy land-owners backed by the regime. These campesino communities are thus in direct conflict not only with police, military and paramilitary forces, but also organized crime networks (including drug traffickers) who reportedly maintain close collaboration with the police, military, and private security forces.
Extreme corruption of the justice system has not only helped create the conflicts that exist today, by not resolving the legal actions through which campesinos have attempted to regain land rights for over 15 years, but also contributes to the repression through the criminalization of land rights defenders and enforcing total impunity for killers.
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