Source: Tico Times
This Sunday, Hondurans will mark the 6th anniversary of a military coup that catapulted the Central American nation into becoming the region’s murder capital – with targeted killings of journalists, political activists and labor leaders rising to unprecedented levels. One of the alleged orchestrators of that coup, Miguel Facussé Barjum, died late this past Monday night of causes not yet disclosed, just two months shy of his 91st birthday. His death was first announced on the website of the consumer products manufacturing company he founded in July 1960, Dinant Chemicals of Central America, S.A. At the time of his death, Facussé still served as its executive president and is reputed to have been one of the richest men in the country – and perhaps its most ruthless. His sudden death may mean that many of the murders and other crimes of which he has been accused will remain unpunished.
Although a death at that age is not unusual, it is odd that no cause of death has been reported in any of the press. But then, Miguel Facussé did not live a “usual” life. He was born in Tegucigalpa on Aug. 14, 1924, the seventh of nine children. His parents were Christian Palestinian immigrants to Honduras. He went to Notre Dame University in the United States, where, according to the biography on his company website, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He later moved to Costa Rica where he served for a time as general manager of Taca Airlines. Shortly thereafter, he moved back to Tegucigalpa and launched Dinant Corporation.
Facussé rapidly rose to political prominence in Honduras. His business tenacity, commended by some, meant that Facussé would stop at nothing in dealing with his opponents. His legacy is one of both business acumen and violence.
A statement from his company called him “a pioneer with unflinching spirit”; that spirit often led to less than peaceful means, and he has been termed by many as “cold-blooded” and “ruthless.”
In 2012, Facussé was accused of “crimes against humanity” in the International Criminal Court for his role in a bloody land conflict raging in northeastern Honduras between his company, Dinant, and the peasant farmers of the area. Dozens – and likely hundreds – of peasants and solidarity workers have been killed in that conflict. Most prominently, Facussé was accused of orchestrating the 2012 murder of human rights lawyer Antonio Trejo, who was working with displaced families and against Facussé in the lower Aguán River valley, also known as Bajo Aguán.
In an interview with The Los Angeles Times he talked about the accusations that he was behind the killing of Trejo. Facussé reportedly told the Times reporter, “I probably had reasons to kill him.” However, he denied it, continuing, “but I’m not a killer.”