Ag Missions Climate Change, Agroforestry and Land Rights Brigade

Ag Missions Delegation to Honduras:  Climate Change, Community Agro-Forestry & Land Rights Brigade:  October 17-25 or 27, 2014

“Sustainable Life on the Land:  the future of the Garifuna and Indigenous Peoples is not Mass Migration.”

Why? Timely Solidarity with OFRANEH (National Fraternal Black Org of Honduras) and the Garifuna people defending their ancestral homelands and livelihoods.  Education and practice with agro-forestry as coastal mitigation strategy in the face of climate change.

What?  Work alongside Garifuna communities, and together plant trees to halt coastal erosion, provide food and habitat, plant seeds in tree nurseries,  learn about medicinal plants, meet with leaders of various allied organizations to discuss human rights and agricultural challenges, and document this experience (writers, photographers, videographers welcomed!)

Cost?  $700 plus airfare to San Pedro Sula.  Limited scholarships available.  Minimum 7-8 participants for trip to make.  Max:  15

Who?  People willing to act in solidarity.  Aspiring Tree planters.  Defenders of Human Rights.  Diverse People of Good Will.  Alternative Media Makers.To register, contact Stephen Bartlett, Latin America Liaison for Agricultural Missions and delegation leader.

sbartlett@ag-missions.org

502 896 9171

Honduran Security Forces Criminalize and Defame International Human Rights Observers and Journalists

versión en español sigue el Inglés.

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Honduran Security Forces Criminalize and Defame International Human Rights Observers and Journalists

August 18, 2014

Contact: Vicki Cervantes 312-259-5042  and Tanya Cole 805-421-9708

An eleven-person international delegation, including U.S. and Canadian human rights observers and a journalist with The Nation, visited various regions of Honduras from August 11- 20, 2014, receiving testimony of human rights violations and conducting interviews.  Members of the Honduras Solidarity Network, which consists of over thirty organizations from the United States, were part of the delegation. 

From August 13- 15, our delegation visited various campesino communities in the Aguán Valley  and documented human rights violations attributed to Honduran state forces and the Dinant Corporation. These violations, based on first-hand testimonies of victims, included a violent eviction of the community La Panamá by the Honduran military on July 3, 2014 involving tear gas, live bullets, and physical aggression in public spaces in close proximity to houses and schools. One man was killed, two were gravely injured, various were beaten, and seven were detained inside their homes, charged, and later released. Various testimonies also drew attention to the direct role of the Honduran military in guarding private land claimed by Dinant blurring the lines between the role of Honduran state forces and private security guards.

The day after our visit to the Aguán Valley, our delegation was accused by Coronel Germán Alfaro of FUSINA (National Inter-institutional Security Force) of “encouraging campesinos to launch attacks” and causing “instability” in the region. He also said the delegation was being investigated for being in “a practically restricted area of the country.”  These accusations are similar to those made against human rights defender Annie Bird of Rights Action in December 2013 and July 2014 when Roger Pineda of Dinant and Coronel Alfaro accused Bird of “causing chaos” attempting to “destabilize” the Aguán region and, on a local television channel in Tocoa, Colon, accused Bird of conducting “illicit activities.” We denounce that these accusations and defamation in the press are part of a systemic effort to threaten, criminalize, and silence the documentation of human rights violations by national and international human rights observers, defenders, and journalists. 

The need to expose human rights violations in the Aguán Valley is urgent and the violations we heard while in La Panamá and the Aguán were similar to others that have been widely documented by human rights organizations such as Rights Action, Human Rights Watch, and the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries. Over 100 campesinos have been killed in the Aguán Valley since 2009 and very few cases have been investigated and tried. Accusations of abuses and violations committed by Honduran state forces and Dinant against campesino communities in the Aguán also led the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private arm of the World Bank, to initiate an internal audit of their 30 million dollar loan to Dinant. 

Additionally, during our visit to La Panamá on August 15, 2014, we heard gunshots in close proximity to where we were taking testimonies, and later discovered that four community members had been detained by the Honduran military. At this moment, we notified the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa of our location and concern for the safety of members of La Panamá. We were also deeply concerned for our safety particularly since international delegations have previously experienced intimidation by Dinant’s private security guards who fired shots at close range in the direction of delegates and the campesino community. 

The defamation and attacks against against international observers, human rights defenders, and journalists investigating human rights abuses in the Aguán Valley is an attempt to cover up the human rights violations committed by Honduran state forces and Dinant in the Aguán Valley.  We demand: 

1. An immediate end to the campaign of criminalization and defamation against international and national human rights defenders and journalists in the Aguán and other regions of Honduras.  

2. An end to all US aid to Honduran security forces, especially in light of the on-going and well-documented abuses of the Honduran military in La Panamá and the Aguán Valley. 

3. That the Honduran-government appointed Unidad Especial de Investigacion de Muertes Violentas en el Bajo Aguán (Special Unit for the Investigation of Violent Deaths in the Lower Aguán) be accompanied by an independent, impartial, international commission with investigative and forensic experts in investigating assassinations and human rights abuses.

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Fuerzas de seguridad hondureñas criminalizan y difaman observadores de derechos humanos internacionales y periodistas

18 de agosto de 2014

Contactos: Vicki Cervantes [en EEUU], 312-259-5042  y Tanya Cole 805-421-9708.

Una delegación internacional de once personas, incluyendo observadores de derechos humanos de Estados Unidos y Canadá y un periodista de The Nation, visitaron varias regiones de Honduras entre el 11 y 20 de agosto del 2014, tomando testimonios de violaciones de derechos humanos y realizando entrevistas.  Miembros de la Red de Solidaridad con Honduras, lo cual consiste de más de treinta organizaciones de Estados Unidos, formaron parte de la delegación.

Del 13 al 15 de agosto, nuestra delegación visitó varias comunidades campesinas en el Bajo Aguán y documentó violaciones a derechos humanos atribuidas a las fuerzas estatales hondureñas y la corporación Dinant.  Estas violaciones, basadas en testimonios personales de las víctimas, incluyeron un desalojo violento de la comunidad de La Panamá por las fuerzas armadas hondureñas el 3 de julio de 2014, con gases lacrimógenos, balas, y agresión física en espacios públicos cerca de casas y escuelas.  Un hombre murió, dos fueron gravemente heridos, varios fueron golpeados, y siete fueron detenidos dentro de sus casas, accusados, y luego fueron puestos en libertad. Varios testimonios hicieron hincapié al rol directo de las fuerzas militares hondureñas en propiedad privada de Dinant, borrando las líneas entre el papel del estado hondureño y guardias privadas de seguridad.

Al día siguiente de nuestra visita al Bajo Aguán, nuestra delegación fue acusada por el Coronel Germán Alfaro de FUSINA de “alientan a los campesinos lanzar ataques” y “causar dispensión” en la región.  También dijo que nuestra delegación estaba siendo investigada por estar en “un área prácticamente restrictiva del país.” Estas acusaciones son similares a las que se hicieron en contra la defensora de derechos humanos Annie Bird de Rights Action en diciembre de 2013 y julio de 2014 cuando Roger Pineda de Dinant y el Coronel Alfaro acusaron a Bird de “causar caos,” intentar “desestablizar” la región del Aguán, y la acusaron de estar involucrada en “actividades ilícitas” en un canal local de televisión en Tocoa, Colón.   Denunciamos estas acusaciones y difamación en la prensa como parte de un plan estratégico sistemático para amenazar, criminalizar, y silenciar la documentación de violaciones de derechos humanos de observadores nacionales e internacionales y periodistas.

La necesidad de exponer las violaciones de derechos humanos en el Bajo Aguán es urgente y las violaciones que nosotros escuchamos en La Panamá y en el Aguán son similares a otros que han sido ampliamente documentados por organizaciones de derechos humanos como Rights Action, Human Rights Watch, y el Grupo de Trabajo sobre el uso de Mercenarios de las Naciones Unidas.  Mas de cien campesinos han sido asesinados en el Bajo Aguán desde el 2009 y muy pocos casos han sido investigados o juzgados.  Acusaciones sobre abusos y violaciones cometidas por las fuerzas estatales hondureñas y Dinant contra comunidades campesinas en el Aguán motivaron a la IFC, el brazo privado del Banco Mundial, a iniciar una auditoría interna de su préstamo de 30 millones de dólares a Dinant.

Además, durante nuestra visita a La Panamá el 15 de Agosto de 2014, escuchamos tiros de bala cerca del area donde tomábamos los testimonios, y después descubrimos que cuatro miembros de la comunidad habían sido detenidos por las fuerzas militares hondureñas.  En ese momento, notificamos a la Embajada de Estados Unidos en Tegucigalpa sobre nuestra localización y preocupación por la población de La Panamá. También estábamos muy preocupados por nuestra seguridad dado que otras delegaciones internacionales habían sufrido intimidación por parte de las guardias privadas de Dinant quienes dispararon cerca de los delegados y comunidad campesina.

La difamación y los ataques contra observadores internacionales, defensores de derechos humanos y periodistas que investigan abusos de derechos humanos en el Bajo Aguán es un intento de encubrir las violaciones de derechos humanos cometidos por las fuerzas estatales hondureñas y Dinant en el Bajo Aguán.  Exigimos:

1.  El cese inmediato de la campaña de criminalización y difamación contra defensores de derechos humanos tanto nacionales como internacionales y periodistas en el Aguán y otras regiones de Honduras.  

2. El cese a toda ayuda económica de Estados Unidos a las fuerzas de seguridad hondureñas, especialmente antes la documentación de abusos por parte de las fuerzas militares en La Panamá y en el valle Aguán.

3. Que la Unidad Especial de Investigación de Muertes Violentas en el Bajo Aguán sea acompañada por una comisión independiente, imparcial, e internacional con expertos forenses para investigar asesinatos y abusos de derechos humanos. 

Take Action: Ask US gov to Oppose Fraudulent Electoral Process

Agricultural Missions, Inc.

A Faith Response to Rural Poverty and Injustice 

Abajo hay versión español de un análisis de coordinadora internacional de OFRANEH, Carla Garcia.

 

Please circulate widely!  Contact your Congressional Representatives AND use and/or sign on to this letter addressed to the U.S. government:  specifically to the State Department and President Obama.  (Contact information is below.) Also, consider writing letters to editors of local newspapers and media outlets asking that the U.S. not endorse the fraudulent Honduran vote count.  Advocate that the U.S.  government should allow for Hondurans to build democratic processes that benefit the majority, most importantly by ceasing to send aid to the Honduran military and police forces, known for their complicity in repression of peaceful democratic activities.    Hondurans are struggling courageously against the stolen electoral process and need our solidarity!  Many lives are at stake and the blood of many has already been sacrificed in this struggle, including 4 more political murders during the last 7 days surrounding the vote.    (See this link for an article about the political killings in Honduras:  http://dissidentvoice.org/2013/11/political-repression-intensifies-ahead-of-honduran-presidential-election/ ) Please cc  sbartlett@ag-missions.org when you take action.  Thanks.

 

Main talking points:

     1)  Evidence is emerging that the electoral vote count following the November 24 elections in Honduras was fraudulent, to the point of changing the outcomes.  Adherence to democratic process would require a transparent vote recount.

     2)  Since the coup of 2009 there have been 229 documented political killings, including 30 candidates of the newly created LIBRE party that is contesting the results and whose presidential candidate Xiomara Castro (wife of deposed president Manuel Zelaya) may be the victor of these elections if all the votes are tallied fairly.  (I have a full report I can send… with photos and descriptions of each tragic death…)

     3)  The U.S. government needs an attitude change in its cozy relationship with the Honduran coup successor regime:  the Honduran coup successor regime has violated human rights systematically, corruption is rampant and death squads have re-emerged, while U.S. aid for the police and military bolster this regime.

      4)  Violence against social movements and those opposing the coup successor governments must end.  The candidate favored by the U.S. government and Honduran elite, National Party and National Congress head Juan Orlando Hernandez is a foremost architect of the coup successor government and proponent of the undemocratic processes and corruption that plagues Honduras.  He has promised to militarize the country even more, a terrifying prospect in a country known as the most violent in the hemisphere. 

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Letter to be Sent to the State Department and White House:  (also see below English translation of OFRANEH partner statement post election).

 

Thanksgiving Weekend Message! 2013

 

Dear President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry,

 

We (the undersigned organizations and individuals) ask for your consideration of the widespread evidence of fraud emerging around the electoral process of Honduras, and for a change in attitude and policies regarding the U.S. relationship with the government and people of Honduras.

 

Reports from many accredited election observers present during the November 24 presidential and municipal elections in Honduras have put in doubt the credibility of the vote count being overseen by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.   As follow up to the November 13 letter sent by Senator Tim Kaine and signed by a dozen other Senators to Secretary of State John Kerry asking for the U.S. to uphold the fairness of the Honduran elections, we note that many of the conditions mentioned in that letter have not been fulfilled.  Senator Tim Kaine mentioned that candidates from the LIBRE party have been killed during the campaign.   In fact, approximately 30 such candidates have been murdered!   He mentions that there should be transparency, and fair access to the election results.  As of this moment, it appears that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (itself packed with protagonists and supporters of the Coup) is going to declare a winner of this elections, ultra right militarist and darling of the elite Juan Orlando Hernandez, despite the blatant fraud that has taken place at many levels, from outright vote buying, to alteration of voting results from many polling stations, and possibly at the national level as well.  The LIBRE party analysis of the situation puts the volume of fraud at more than 800,000 votes, enough votes by far to change the outcome of the presidential and many other races.    All in all, this outcome is not surprising as the whole apparatus of the Honduran State has since the Coup of 2009 been wholly co-opted by a very small elite of powerful and extremely wealthy families, and the candidate of choice for these interests is the presumed victor of the elections Juan Orlando Hernandez.  This man as head of the illegitimate National Congress that resulted from the largely boycotted and internationally criticized elections following the coup, has authored many unconstitutional acts, including the overturning of the Honduran Supreme Court by fiat when judges there did not ratify bills that would have privatized “Model Cities” or virtual foreign enclaves within Honduran territory.  

 

We insist on a U.S. government attitude of Non-Intervention and Non-Cooperation with the ruling post-coup elite of Honduras.   We demand a  respect for life and human rights and of non-cooperation with the undemocratic process and context of the current electoral process.  We ask that the State Department cease premature statements endorsing the National Party candidate that would consolidate and strengthen the effort to impose Juan Orlando Hernandez as the next president of Honduras, who we know from his track record as President of the illegitimate National Congress, would consolidate a right wing ruling regime of impunity, violence and corruption.  Presidential candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez was an active protagonist of the Coup of 2009,  the unconstitutional overthrowing of the Supreme Court of Honduras, and the impunity that reigns in the apparatus of oppression, assassination and judicial persecution taking place in Honduras.   His campaign calls for soldiers on every street and for the military to take on duties normally reserved for police, a form of Marshal law.  To our shame, Juan Orlando Hernandez is being treated as the candidate of choice of the U.S. government, as statements by the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras and the State Department make clear.   

 

Some 30 candidates of the LIBRE party were assassinated leading up to these elections.   This fact alone should raise serious doubt as to the credibility of these elections as free and fair. The appearance of armed men in vehicles without license plates to intimidate and repress has been a commonplace around activities of the LIBRE party, most recently just a day before the election itself.  Since the coup of 2009 death squads (heavily armed men with military grade weapons and boots, moving in expensive SUVs or on motorcycles, often with faces covered) as well as uniformed police and military (in the case of the killing in Rio Blanco as just one example) have been responsible for hundreds of assassinations, most notably among journalists, lawyers, teachers, farmers, indigenous people, and members of organizations opposed to the post-coup regime, including approximately 110 family farmers involved with agrarian reform efforts in Bajo Aguan.    (Please read the latest documented report on these politically-motivated assassinations, attached.) 

 

U.S. Congressional letters sent to you previously asking for credible investigations of human rights violations and a moratorium on aid to the Honduran military and police forces have been largely ignored, to our shame as a nation and people of good will.  By supporting the Honduran post-coup government, the U.S. government is complicit in this repressive violence and suffering, a complicity financed by U.S. taxpayers, mostly unbeknownst to them due to a withholding of knowledge and a white washing of the reality of Honduras by the U.S. government and mainstream corporate media that uncritically feed off government communications.

 

Due to widespread irregularities during the electoral process itself (including vote buying, chaotic and corrupted vote counts without fair representation among poll workers, massive vote “audits”, and credible accusations that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal that oversees this process is led by figures complicit in the post coup regime and its violations), the U.S. government should not recognize the alleged projected victor of this process, which many believe is fraudulent at its core and at its periphery.

 

We respectfully demand that the U.S. government reconsider its cozy relationship with the ruling elite of Honduras, most particularly in its favorable portrayal of that elite, we believe for the purpose of benefitting U.S. economic and hegemonic interests in the region, and on the pretext of the “war on drugs.”   Evidence has shown that elements of the ruling elite itself are complicit and even actually protagonists in drug trafficking.  This hypocrisy must stop.   Many members of the U.S. Congress have pronounced their concern and opposition to continuing U.S. support for the Honduran security forces.   It is time for the bloodletting in Honduras to end.   It is time to implement a moratorium on aid to the Honduran military and police forces, as should have been done according to U.S. law following the coup itself!

 

Sincerely yours,

 

 

Agricultural Missions, Inc (AMI)

 

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Please consider using talking points in the above letter to send messages to Congress, the department of State and to the White House:  see contact info below.  If you would like to sign onto that letter drafted by Ag Missions, please RSVP: sbartlett@ag-missions.org

 

Congress: http://www.house.gov/ to get info for your member of Congress, and call:  202-224-3121

Senate: http://www.senate.gov/ to get contact for your Senator, and call: 202-224-3121

 

The Honorable John Kerry

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street NW

Washington, D.C. 20520

Secretary John Kerry 7th Floor 202-647-5291

Dept of State Main Switchboard: 202-647-4000 
TTY:1-800-877-8339

Dept of State:  Honduras Office desk: 202 647-3482

 

President Barack Obama

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

 

 

Statement at this Political moment by OFRANEH international coordinator Carla Garcia.  (Translated to English by yours truly)

 

Since 2009 at the time of the Coup D’Etat against then president Manuel Zelaya Rosales, a savage dictatorship has taken hold dedicated to pillaging the modest resources that the Honduran people depend upon to meet its basic needs.  These uncouth politicians have been busy selling our country Honduras piece by piece, together with multi-millionaire corporations from countries allied with this dictatorship.  These corporate interests do not intend to lose now.  That is why they have put in motion a Machiavellian machinery to undertake the electoral fraud this past November 24.  This is no more than an unmistakable confirmation that the Coup has only been whitewashed with the complicity of international entities and that the elections emerging from that crisis are nothing more than the perpetuation of the dictatorship of the oligarchy which today shamelessly and cynically laughs in the face of the increasingly impoverished Honduran people. 

 

The Honduran populace has waited patiently for the past four years to undertake a peaceful and profound transformation of those governing and of the laws, because we have understood that a social convulsion would only worsen the already unsustainable economic crisis we have all be experiencing.  Nevertheless, with this last criminal act of the dictatorship, it is no longer possible to wait for more deterioration and hunger in every Honduran household. 

 

The organized people will take the streets to tell the world that there has been an electoral fraud in Honduras and that our families cannot wait any more for work, for social security, for warm food on the table, for health, for education and above all else for the right to live in a country in which basic freedoms are real and not mere window dressing on the savage system in place. 

 

The organized people will take to the streets to ask for true cooperation with Honduras; that the electoral fraud perpetuated by the political dictatorship of Honduras NOT be endorsed. 

 

The organized people will take to the streets to demand that the sovereign will of the people be respected, to elect persons they choose to govern and manage the public institutions.

 

But above all, the organized people will take to the streets to show that despite our lethargy, we still breath, we are human beings like the rest of the continent, and we have enough dignity to struggle for our right to recover our territory. 

 

No more assassinations, no more intimidation, no more electoral fraud, no more perpetuation of an unjust Coup D’Etat, no more stomping of our Rights underfoot, no more hunger, NO MORE, NO MORE!

 

Versión en español:

 

Desde el año 2009 en que se dio Golpe de Estado al entonces presidente de Honduras, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, se ha instalado en el País una dictadura salvaje que se ha dedicado a saquear los pocos recursos que el pueblo hondureño tiene para su subsistencia, estos políticos desalmados han vendido el nuestra Honduras en pedazos asi como muchos negocios millonarios con países aliados a esta dictadura, mismos negocios que no pretenden perder en este momento, por lo que han echado andar toda su maquinaria maquiavelica para hacer efectivo el fraude electoral del pasado 24 de Noviembre, que no es más que la confirmación inequívoca de que el golpe de estado solo fue blanqueado con la complicidad de organismos internacionales y que las elecciones que se derivaron de aquella crisis no eran mas que la perpetuación de la dictadura oligárquica que hoy con descaro y cinismo se ríe una vez mas en la cara del cada vez mas empobrecido pueblo hondureño.

 

La población de Honduras ha esperado pacientemente durante estos últimos 4 años por hacer de forma pacifica una transformación profunda de las autoridades y leyes, ya que entendemos que la convulsión social solo agravaría mas la ya insostenible crisis económica por que que atravesamos todos, sin embargo con esta ultima acción criminal de la dictadura, no es posible esperar por mas deterioro y hambre en cada una de los hogares hondureños.

 

El pueblo organizado saldrá a las calles a decirle a los países en el extranjeros que avalan el fraude electoral en Honduras que nuestras familias no pueden esperar mas por un trabajo, por seguridad social, por comida caliente en la mesa, por salud, por educación y sobre todo por el derecho a vivir en un país en el que las libertades sean reales y no un maquillaje sobre el salvaje sistema que impera.

 

El pueblo organizado saldrá a las calles a solicitar a los países que cooperan con Honduras, que no reconozcan el fraude electoral que perpetua la dictadura política en Honduras.

 

El pueblo organizado saldrá a las calles a exigir se respete su decisión soberana de elegir las personas que desea gobiernen y manejes las instituciones publica.

 

 

Pero mas que nada, el pueblo organizado saldrá a las calles a mostrar que aunque moribundo, aun respira, que somos seres humanos como los del resto del continente, y que tenemos dignidad para luchar por nuestro derecho a recuperar nuestro territorio.

 

No mas asesinatos, no mas intimidación, no mas fraude electoral, no mas perpetuación de un injusto golpe de estado,no mas pisoteo de nuestros derechos, no mas hambre, no mas NO MAS…. 

 

Ag Missions Communique from Vallecito on Indigenous Land Rights

 

COMMUNIQUE FROM VALLECITO, HONDURAS

FROM AGRICULTURAL MISSIONS, INC (AMI)

MAY DAY, 2013

 

http://img89.imageshack.us/img89/9195/encuentrosolidaridadvaliy.png

Captions:  Our Garifuna territory is Not For Sale  / OFRANEH

International Solidarity Gathering for the Claiming of theTerritorial Rights of the Garifuna People

 

From April 26 to 29, 2013 in Vallecito, Municipalidad de Limón, Dept. Colón, Honduras the International Solidarity Gathering for the Claiming of the Territorial Rights of the Garifuna People took place, as a collaboration between Agricultural Missions, Inc (AMI) and the Garifuna organization OFRANEH (the Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras) with the presence of representatives of the indigenous peoples of the Pech, Lenca, Miskito, Maya-Chorti, Tolupan and Garifuna Peoples, along with international representatives from  Agricultural Missions, Inc (AMI), from a diverse Salvadoran delegation including social activists, students, and indigenous community leaders coordinated by Siglo XXIII, with volunteers from School of the Americas Watch and the Alliance for Global Justice, and from alternative media organizations.  Delegates to this gathering hailed from the U.S.A., Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Germany, Spain, Haiti, Mexico, and France together with the Honduran First Peoples and select allies.  Together we analyzed, discussed and took positions on themes of interest for our peoples and in particular for the Garifuna people.  The Gathering studied the interrelated themes of Land, Culture, Climate and Sustainability. 

     We are grateful for the excellent hospitality of the OFRANEH hosts who prepared comfortable living conditions and excellent food for the more than 220 people gathered.  We were impressed by the infrastructure improvements on what began as a humble encampment last September during the intensive campaign to re-survey the land, and which will serve to host the first permanent inhabitants and future visitors to the 2,500 acres of land in process of recuperation, 83% of which is still encircled by the fences erected by the land usurpers. 

          The Agricultural Missions´ delegation affirms our solidarity with the First Peoples of Honduras, and with the effort to recover and defend ancestral lands from usurpation and destructive forms of development.  We understand the huge challenge of claiming ancestral land rights in a context of widespread impunity following violent crimes against the Honduran people following the 2009 coup d’etat.  Large Honduran landlords as well as transnational and national corporations are taking control or more and more land, for the purpose of expanding already vast monocultures of African Palms to produce bio-diesel, for various mining and mega-construction projects and dams, and for forms of mega-tourism that callously displace people from their ancestral coastal lands. We understand the tremendous commitment and effort required to maintain and restore cultural integrity within the Garifuna and other Indigenous communities, at a time where youth and adults are increasingly enticed to migrate to urban areas where money flows more readily, many leaving Honduras altogether.  At the same time, we rejoice at witnessing the powerful spiritual connection expressed by the traditional Garifuna ceremonies involving drums, maracas, singing voices, incense and a willingness to let the spirits of the ancestors flow through the bodies of the participants.  This spiritual practice, we believe, is an essential and powerful, unifying and inspirational force for the maintenance of the traditional Garifuna culture and ways of life.    We were also witness to the power of non-violent resistance. Miriam Miranda, the Coordinator of OFRANEH stated, “They had their guns, but we had our drums and our ancestors.”

We encourage the Garifuna people to pursue their strategy of resettlement upon these reclaimed lands, whether in Vallecito or in places like Trujillo and Tela and in all of the 34 Garifuna communities on the Honduran coast.  We applaud the examples we witnessed in other Garifuna communities where agricultural production that is small-scale, low-input, diverse and aimed at feeding the community first before producing for sale and profit, is being developed and practiced.  We challenge our sisters and brothers of OFRANEH and ourselves to follow through with solidarity actions and collaborations, including training and education and sharing of best practices in agro-ecology that will further a resurgence of traditional agricultural production, processing and distribution of grain, fruit and root crops, including the traditional elaboration of cassava bread, as well as, fishing and animal husbandry practices.  We praise the vision of the Garifuna leaders to understand that secure land and fishery tenancy and access is an absolute prerequisite for the long-term sustainability of Garifuna culture itself.

     We have proposed helping OFRANEH and the Miskito people send representatives to partner peasant organizations in Haiti to learn from their considerable experience with and knowledge of agro-ecological practices, and of their efforts to promote agrarian reform and to defend and pursue food sovereignty in all aspects, including prohibiting transgenic seeds in their communities.  Like OFRANEH, the Haitian peasants are also fighting the development of agro-fuel monocultures that would supplant food production.

   Echoing our Indigenous Sisters and Brothers we DENOUNCE the following: 

-Violations of the International Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization and of the UN Declaration of Indigenous Peoples, denying previous, full and free consent before land is used or abused in any way, or people are displaced, sometimes violently;

-The increase in land grabs occurring across Honduras, followed by repression of family farmers attempting to re-occupy such lands for their survival, in practically all the departments of Honduras;

-The prevailing impunity, corruption and false witness experienced in the security and judicial systems of Honduras as well as in the oligarchy-controlled media;

-The unquestioning support of the U.S. government for the coup-successor government of Pepe Lobo and the National Congress, who ignore human rights violations including assassinations, violent repression and the jailing of those opposing the wealthy families’ arrogant plunder across Honduras;

-The concessions of territories, rivers, forests, sub-soil minerals to transnational corporate interests for destructive profit-taking and in particular the hydro-electric dam by Agua Zarca corporation that the Lenca sisters and brothers of Rio Blanco are currently stopping through a rural road blockade;

-The pursuit of the ¨Charter Cities¨ (Ciudades Modelos) agenda and the remaking of Honduran law to accommodate such foreign enclaves within Honduras not subject to Honduran governance, security or taxation, that are slated to be located on indigenous lands without consultation and in violation of the international treaty enshrined in Convention 169;

-The displacement and theft of 14,000 hectares of land belonging to the Maya-Chorti people and their exclusion from ceremonial centers (Copan Ruinas) which now cater to tourists and to which Maya-Chorti people themselves are denied access;

-The massacre of four civilian Miskito people in Ahuas and the white-washing of that crime that was committed from a helicopter manned by US officers of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA);

-The implementation of false solutions to climate change such as the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Forest Degradation and Destruction) which serve to commodify the life in forested areas and subject it to capitalist markets and credit schemes that do nothing to stop the destruction and empower those with wealth and power to earn more profits from their harmful land practices;

-The continuing loss of cultural identity among indigenous peoples due to a State that is racist, classist, and discriminatory;

Therefore, we echo the calls of our Honduran partners and DEMAND that:

-There will be a cessation of land usurpation against indigenous peoples and family farmers of Honduras, and of collusions for that purpose with the Honduran government;

-There will be an annulment of laws such as the Special Economic Development Region (Charter City) law, the Mining law, the Hydrocarbon law, and Decreed Concessions of Rivers for Hydro-electric dams that impact the integrity of the Indigenous Peoples´ Territories;

-There will be government actions for mitigation and adaptation to climate change that go beyond the false solutions pushed by international financial institutions particularly for the coastal peoples Garífunas, Misquitas, Pech  and Tawakas already severely impacted by storm surges and loss of coastal fringe lands;  

-That the Honduran government respect Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization and that professional lawyers stop confusing the Honduran people by denying that international Conventions hold precedent over national laws, a principle made explicit in Article 18 of the Honduran Constitution;

-That protection orders be emitted to physically and psychologically protect community leaders of Indigenous organizations defending our lands and biodiversity, whose lives are under threat;

-We demand that once and for all the Honduran government cleanse and settle the title dispute of the lands that belong to the Garifuna people in Vallecito delivering to them access to all the fruits of this land; 

-We stand in solidarity with our Lenca sisters and brothers impacted by open-pit mining on the lands slated for the Hydro-electric dam by Agua Zarca corporation;

-We demand justice for the families of those killed and wounded by DEA agents from the U.S. on the Patuca River in Miskita territory.

-We demand the release of José Isabel Morales, known as Chabelo from Guadalupe Carney, Aguan who is a political prisoner convicted and sentenced in a flawed judicial procedure.

 

Together with our Garifuna sisters and brothers we invoke the spirits of our ancestors, and prophets, from Abraham to Esther and Moses, from Isaiah to Martin Luther, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Cesar Chavez,  from Jesus Christ to Sitting Bull and Malcolm X, and in respect of our very gracious hosts and partners, we amplify praise and respect for their historic heroes, namely Lambardo Lacayo who first envisioned a Garifuna place of sanctuary in Vallecito and who was assassinated for his struggle, to those who fought and resisted the yoke of those who would have enslaved them, among them the Garifuna and Indigenous leaders of Satuyé, Baráuda, Itaca and Lempira, and whose emancipatory sacrifices live on in the hearts of their descendants living today.   As the Garifuna celebrate 216 years of presence in Honduras, they declare once again on April 30, 2013: Victory will be Ours!!

 

Congressional Letter Jan 25 calls for investigation of DEA killings in Ahuas, cites OFRANEH denunciations (version en español abajo)

Contact:  Andy Phelan at 404-593-9126

Jan. 30, 2013


Rep. Johnson, 57 colleagues call for investigation into DEA-related killings in Honduras

Members call for review of counter-drug operations affecting Afro-Indigenous communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) and 57 colleagues sent a letter today to Secretary of State John Kerry and Attorney General Eric Holder calling for the investigation of alleged abuses by Honduran security forces and the possible role DEA agents played in a shooting incident that led to the tragic death of four indigenous villagers on the Patuca River in northeastern Honduras.

The State Department and the DEA have acknowledged involvement in the May 11, 2012, incident. A pregnant woman and a 14-year-old boy were among the four villagers killed. Several other innocent bystanders were injured.

Johnson and his colleagues are urging theseU.S.government agencies to “press ahead with a full investigation to better determine exactly what occurred and what role was played byU.S.agents,” as “official inquiries into the matter have been perfunctory, and deeply flawed.”

They also voiced their concern regarding the worsening human rights situation of Afro-indigenous communities since the June 2009 military coup inHonduras. These communities have been hit particularly hard by drug-related violence from both drug-traffickers and U.S.-backed drug war inHonduras.  

“The rate of impunity of alleged abuses perpetrated by state security forces has risen to unprecedented heights” and consequently, they strongly recommend “a review on the implementation of counternarcotics operations carried out by our government in Honduras taking into account the unique conditions and high vulnerability of Afro-descendent and Indigenous communities,” the letter states.

The text of the letter to Sec. Kerry. Mr. Holder received the same letter:

January 30, 2013

The Honorable John Kerry

Secretary of State

U.S.Department of State

2201 C Street NW

Washington,DC20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

We write to express our concern regarding the grave human rights situation inHonduras, and in particular the dire situation of Afro-Indigenous Hondurans in the aftermath of the June 2009 military coup.  

We request a thorough and credible investigation on the tragic killings of May 11 in Ahuas to determine what exactly occurred and what role, if any, was played by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents.  We also call for an immediate investigation into alleged abuses perpetrated by Honduran police and military officials in the country.

We are troubled to hear of the threats and repression targeting Afro-Hondurans who have bravely voiced their alarm over the steady deterioration of democracy in their country.  We are also concerned regarding acts of violence and intimidation against Afro-Indigenous people defending their historic land rights.  We are particularly disturbed to learn of the effects of a militarized counternarcotics policy on Afro-Honduran communities, and the participation ofU.S.agents in operations that have led to the deaths of Afro-indigenous civilians.

On May 11, 2012, four Afro-Indigenous villagers, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed during the course of a drug interdiction raid inAhuas,Honduras.  Three others were seriously wounded.   At least ten U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents participated in the mission as members of a Foreign-Deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST), a DEA unit first created in 2005 inAfghanistan.  According to the New York Times, Honduran police agents that were part of the May 11 operation “told government investigators that they took their orders from the D.E.A.”

We understand that this tragic incident has been extremely traumatic for the otherwise peaceful and tightly knit community of Ahuas.  Although Honduran human rights groups and international organizations such as Human Rights Watch have demanded thatU.S.and Honduran authorities conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of this incident, the investigation has not been properly conducted.   For instance, official inquiries into the matter have been perfunctory, and deeply flawed.  Credible testimony indicates that the victims were innocent bystanders and not drug traffickers.  As Honduran authorities have yet to address the issue, our government should press ahead with a full investigation to better determine exactly what occurred and what role was played byU.S.agents. 

On June 22, the Fraternal Organization of Black People of Honduras (OFRANEH), one of the most prominent groups representing Afro-Indigenous Hondurans, objected to what it views to be racially biased, “outrageous and dangerous” statements given to the New York Times and the Washington Post byU.S.officials following the May 11 killings.  OFRANEH claimsU.S.officials made unsubstantiated accusations of drug trafficking against the entire Afro-indigenous communities in the Moskitia region ofHonduras.

OFRANEH states that since the coup, drug traffickers have been increasingly targeting Afro-Indigenous communities, claiming their traditional lands, and killing those who stand in their way.  Human rights groups confirm that the Honduran judiciary has done little to defend the basic rights of these communities.  For instance, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States has ordered the State of Honduras to cease and desist from approving any title transfers on land in the Afro-Indigenous community of Triunfo de la Cruz in order to protect its vulnerable population from attacks by drug traffickers anxious to secure access to theCaribbean.  Currently, many more Afro-Indigenous communities seek similar protection.  We note that, even in this context, Afro descendent and Indigenous leaders assert that theU.S.-backed drug war inHondurashurts their communities.

In addition, since the country’s June 2009 military coup, according to numerous reports, the rate of impunity of alleged abuses perpetrated by state security forces has risen to unprecedented heights.  According to Honduras’ leading human rights organization, the Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), over the last three years, more than ten thousand complaints have been filed regarding police and military abuses, very  few of which have been investigated.  Furthermore, State security forces are also directly carrying out repression against government critics. For instance, Afro-indigenous leader, Miriam Miranda, president of OFRANEH, was physically attacked and arrested by a departmental police chief in May 2011.

Finally, we strongly recommend a review on the implementation of counternarcotics operations carried out by our government inHondurastaking into account the unique conditions and high vulnerability of Afro-descendent and indigenous communities, who are disproportionately affected by drug trafficking activities.

Sincerely,

Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.                                                                      Gregory W. Meeks

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

John Conyers, Jr.                                                                                              Karen Bass

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

James P. McGovern                                                                                        Barbara Lee

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Sam Farr                                                                                                              Luis V. Gutierrez

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Michael M. Honda                                                                                           John Lewis

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Bobby L. Rush                                                                                                    Peter DeFazio

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Frederica Wilson                                                                                              Janice D. Schakowsky

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Sheila Jackson-Lee                                                                                          Danny K.Davis

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Lacy Clay                                                                                                              Edward J. Markey           

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Raúl M. Grijalva                                                                                                Charles Rangel

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Jared Polis                                                                                                           John Tierney

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Emmanuel Cleaver II                                                                                      Yvette Clarke

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

JoseE. Serrano                                                                                                 Gary Peters

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Anna G. Eshoo                                                                                                  David Cicilline

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Paul D. Tonko                                                                                                    Chaka Fattah

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Jackie Speier                                                                                                      Michael E. Capuano

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Rosa L. DeLauro                                                                                                Jim Langevin

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

George Miller                                                                                                    Michael H. Michaud

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Zoe Lofgren                                                                                                        Maxine Waters

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

DorisO. Matsui                                                                                                 James P. Moran

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Peter Welsh                                                                                                       Eleonor Holmes-Norton

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Carolyne B. Maloney                                                                                      Bill Foster

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Earl Blumenauer                                                                                               Lois Capps

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Keith Ellison                                                                                                        Marcy Kaptur

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Alcee L. Hastings                                                                                              John Yarmuth

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Louise M. Slaughter                                                                                        Chellie Pingree

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Donna F. Edwards                                                                                            Jim McDermott

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Al Green                                                                                                              Ed Pastor

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

David Price                                                                                                          Chris Van Hollen

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Cc Michele M. Leonhart, Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration

Cc Lisa J. Kubiske, U.S. Ambassador toHonduras

Cc Ricardo Zuñiga, Senior Director for theWestern Hemisphere

Spanish version

 

Jan. 30, 2013

 

Rep. Johnson y 57 otros congresistas hacen llamado para una investigación de asesinatos relacionados con la DEA en Honduras

 

Congresistas hacen llamado para análisis de operaciones anti-drogas afectando a comunidades afro-indígenas

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.- El representante Hank Johnson (GA-04) y 57 colegas mandaron hoy una carta a el Secretario de Estado, John Kerry y al Fiscal General Eric Holder pidiéndo una investigación sobre supuestos abusos por fuerzas de seguridad hondureñas y el posible papel jugado por agentes de la  Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) en un incidente que resultó en la trágica muerte de cuatro indígenas en el Río Patuca en el noreste de Honduras.

 

El Departamento de Estado y la DEA han reconocido su participación en el incidente del 11 de mayo de 2012. Una mujer embarazada y un niño de 14 años fueron entre los muertos. Varias otras personas inocentes fueron heridas.

 

Johnson y sus colegas están instando al gobierno estadounidense a que “avance con una investigación completa para mejor determinar exactamente lo que ocurrió y que papel fue jugado por agentes de Estado Unidos,” ya que “investigaciones oficiales sobre el tema  han sido perfunctorias y profundamente falladas.”

 

También hicieron saber su preocupación en cuanto a la situación de derechos humanos que viene empeorando para comunidades afro-indígenas desde el golpe militar de junio de 2009 en Honduras. Estas comunidades han sido fuertemente golpeadas por violencia relacionada al tráfico de drogas y a la guerra anti-droga en Honduras apoyada por Estados Unidos.

 

“la tasa de impunidad en los casos donde las fuerzas de seguridad del Estado han cometido presuntos abusos se ha elevado a niveles sin precedentes.  —-“ y consecuentemente, se les recomienda hacer “una evaluación de las operaciones en contra del narcotráfico realizadas por el Gobierno de EE.UU. en Honduras, teniendo en cuenta las condiciones singulares y la alta vulnerabilidad de las comunidades afro-indígenas“ dice la carta.

 

El texto de la carta:

 

January 30, 2013

 

Estimado Secretario Kerry / Estimado Fiscal Gerente Holder:

 

Nos dirigimos a usted para expresar nuestra preocupación ante la grave situación de derechos humanos en Honduras, en particular la situación dramática de los hondureños afro-indígenas desde el golpe militar de junio de 2009.  Solicitamos una investigación exhaustiva y fiable de los asesinatos trágicos del 11 de mayo en Ahuas para determinar exactamente lo que ocurrió y qué papel tuvo la Administración de control de drogas de los EE.UU. (Drug Enforcement Agency—DEA), si es que tuvo alguno.  También pedimos una investigación inmediata sobre los presuntos abusos cometidos por la policía hondureña y por militares en ese país.

 

Nos preocupa enterarnos de amenazas y represión dirigidas a afro-hondureños que han estado advirtiendo valiosamente sobre el deterioro constante de la democracia en su país.  También estamos preocupados con respecto a los actos de violencia e intimidación contra los afro-indígenas que defienden derechos históricos sobre sus tierras.  Nos preocupa particularmente los efectos, en las comunidades afro-hondureñas, de una política de lucha contra el narcotráfico que sea de carácter militar, y de la participación de agentes estadounidenses en operaciones que han resultado en la muerte de civiles afro-indígenas. 

 

El 11 de mayo de 2012, cuatro campesinos afro-indígenas, entre ellos un niño de 14 años, fueron matados en el transcurso de una operación antidrogas en Ahuas, Honduras.  Otras tres personas fueron gravemente heridas.  Por lo menos diez agentes de la DEA participaron en la misión como miembros del Equipo asesor y de apoyo en el extranjero (Foreign-Deployed Advisory Support Team—FAST), una unidad de la DEA creada en 2005 en Afganistán.  Según el New York Times, agentes de la policía hondureña que participaron en la operación el 11 de mayo “contaron a los investigadores del gobierno que sus órdenes provinieron de la DEA.”

 

Entendemos que este incidente trágico ha sido extremadamente traumático para la comunidad tranquila y unida de Ahuas.  Aunque grupos hondureños de derechos humanos y organizaciones internacionales como Human Rights Watch han exigido que las autoridades estadounidenses y hondureñas conduzcan una investigación exhaustiva e imparcial sobre este incidente, la investigación no ha sido realizada adecuadamente.  Por ejemplo, las investigaciones oficiales sobre el incidente han sido superficiales y deficientes.  Testimonios creíbles indican que las víctimas eran personas inocentes y no narcotraficantes.  Dado que las autoridades hondureñas no han realmente abordado este tema, nuestro gobierno debe seguir adelante con una investigación exhaustiva para determinar exactamente qué fue lo que ocurrió y cuál fue el papel desempeñado por agentes estadounidenses. 

 

El 22 de junio, la Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH), uno de los grupos más importantes representando a hondureños afro-indígenas, se opuso a declaraciones de funcionarios estadounidenses publicados en el New York Times y el Washington Post días después de las matanzas del 11 de mayo considerándoles  prejuiciosas del punto de vista racial y “escandalosas y peligrosas.”  OFRANEH afirma que funcionarios estadounidenses hicieron acusaron falsamente a comunidades afro-indígenas en La Moskitia de estar involucradas en el narcotráfico. 

 

OFRANEH afirma que desde que ocurrió el golpe de Estado las comunidades afro-indígenas han sido victimizadas por los narcotráficantes, reclamando sus tierras tradicionales, y matando a aquellos que interfieren con ellos.  Grupos de derechos humanos confirman que el sistema judicial hondureño ha hecho poco para defender los derechos fundamentales de estas comunidades.  Por ejemplo, la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos de la Organización de los Estados Americanos ha ordenado que el Estado de Honduras cese la aprobación de transferencias de títulos de tierra en la comunidad afro-indígena de Triunfo de la Cruz, con el fin de proteger su población, que es vulnerable a los ataques de narcotraficantes que desean obtener el acceso al Caribe.  Actualmente, muchas otras comunidades afro-indígenas buscan protecciones similares.  Tomamos nota de que, incluso en este contexto, los líderes afro-descendientes e indígenas afirman que la guerra contra las drogas en Honduras, apoyado por los EE.UU., perjudica a sus comunidades.   

 

Además, desde el golpe militar de junio de 2009, según numerosos informes, la tasa de impunidad en los casos donde las fuerzas de seguridad del Estado han cometido presuntos abusos se ha elevado a niveles sin precedentes.  Según el Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH), una de las organizaciones de derechos humanos más importantes de Honduras, en los últimos tres años más de diez mil denuncias se han presentado en relación con abusos cometidos por la policía y los militares, pocos de los cuales han sido investigados.  Además, hay represión en contra de críticos del gobierno por las fuerzas de seguridad del Estado.  Por ejemplo, Miriam Miranda, una líder afro-indígena y dirigente de OFRANEH, fue agredida y detenida por un jefe de policía departamental en mayo de 2011.

 

Por último, recomendamos una evaluación de las operaciones en contra del narcotráfico realizadas por el Gobierno de EE.UU. en Honduras, teniendo en cuenta las condiciones singulares y la alta vulnerabilidad de las comunidades afro-indígenas, que se ven desproporcionadamente afectadas por las actividades de tráfico de drogas.

 

Atentamente,

Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.                                                                      Gregory W. Meeks

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

 

John Conyers, Jr.                                                                                              Karen Bass

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

James P. McGovern                                                                                        Barbara Lee

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Sam Farr                                                                                                              Luis V. Gutierrez

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Michael M. Honda                                                                                           John Lewis

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Bobby L. Rush                                                                                                    Peter DeFazio

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Frederica Wilson                                                                                              Janice D. Schakowsky

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Sheila Jackson-Lee                                                                                          Danny K.Davis

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Lacy Clay                                                                                                              Edward J. Markey           

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Raúl M. Grijalva                                                                                                Charles Rangel

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Jared Polis                                                                                                           John Tierney

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Emmanuel Cleaver II                                                                                      Yvette Clarke

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

JoseE. Serrano                                                                                                 Gary Peters

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Anna G. Eshoo                                                                                                  David Cicilline

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Paul D. Tonko                                                                                                    Chaka Fattah

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Jackie Speier                                                                                                      Michael E. Capuano

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Rosa L. DeLauro                                                                                                Jim Langevin

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

George Miller                                                                                                    Michael H. Michaud

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Zoe Lofgren                                                                                                        Maxine Waters

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

DorisO. Matsui                                                                                                 James P. Moran

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Peter Welsh                                                                                                       Eleonor Holmes-Norton

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Carolyne B. Maloney                                                                                      Bill Foster

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Earl Blumenauer                                                                                               Lois Capps

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Keith Ellison                                                                                                        Marcy Kaptur

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Alcee L. Hastings                                                                                              John Yarmuth

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Louise M. Slaughter                                                                                        Chellie Pingree

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Donna F. Edwards                                                                                            Jim McDermott

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Al Green                                                                                                              Ed Pastor

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

David Price                                                                                                          Chris Van Hollen

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Cc Michele M. Leonhart, Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration

Cc Lisa J. Kubiske, U.S. Ambassador toHonduras

Cc Ricardo Zuñiga, Senior Director for theWestern Hemisphere

Letter to US Gov: Blood on US hands in Honduras

THE U.S. FOOD SOVEREIGNTY ALLIANCE CONDEMNS THE KILLINGS OF PEASANTS BY HONDURAN PARAMILITARY FORCES AND DEMANDS A MORATORIUM ON U.S. SUPPORT FOR THE HONDURAN REGIME

 

On February 2, 2012 in the Aguán Valley of Honduras Juán Peres and Willian Alvarado, members of the Peasant Movement for the Recovery of Aguan (MOCRA), were assassinated by paramilitary forces. That same day paramilitaries surrounded the house of Rodolfo Cruz, also of MOCRA, threatening him and his family. These murders were committed by heavily-armed paramilitary units at the service of large landowners. On the 3 of February, with no provocation, a police checkpoint assassinated Naúm Dicua and wounded a companion. On the same day, hundreds of villagers protested in front of the County courthouse in Sabá, Colón and called upon the Mayor and county president to impart justice. Police fired shots and tear gas, repelling the crowd.

 

Close to 60 peasants and indigenous leaders have been assassinated since president Porfirio Lobo assumed power in fraudulent elections following the 2009 coup d’etat that deposed president-elect Manuel Zelaya. Most of these killings have taken place in areas that are subject to large “land grabs” that have been systematically displacing the Honduran peasantry.

 

Women have also been threatened, as a form of intimidation of other peasant women and their families. On October 23, 2012, Carla Yadira Zelaya, spokesperson of the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguan (MUCA) was kidnapped at 6:30am in a bus stop in the area of El Carrizal.  Carla was blindfolded while her captors interrogated her for three hours about whereabouts of MUCA’s leadership, before she was thrown out of the car.

 

We call upon the Department of State and the White House to communicate to the Honduran government the seriousness of the systematic violations of human rights of Honduran leaders and members of organizations involved in land disputes.   

 

We urge you to implement the recommendation in the letter sent by Representative Hank Johnson (GA) and 57 other Congresspersons to the Department of State and the Department of Justice on January 25, calling for a credible investigation into the DEA-instigated killings of civilians in Ahuas, including a youth and two pregnant women. 

 

In addition, the leader of Afro-Indigenous communities also mentioned in that letter, Miriam Miranda, is, we have just learned, under death threat.  The Honduran government must be informed that these threats are intolerable to the U.S. government, and that Honduran officials need to take measures to protect them.

We call upon the U.S. to initiate a moratorium on continued military and security cooperation with the Honduran government until the scandalous violations of human rights can be diminished in that country that now has the highest murder rate in the world, and is considered by many to be a “failed state”.  The blood of innocent Hondurans is staining the hands of the U.S. government and the US people.

Open Letter to Secretary Clinton on Human Rights Delegation

Open letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske regarding human rights delegation to Honduras, Nov 12-21, 2012 

 

U.S. Delegation to travel to Honduras in support of human rights.  Delegation especially vital with recent assassinations, assassination attempts of candidates for office in primary elections.

 

November 12, 2012

 

Dear Secretary of State Clinton and Ambassador Kubiske:

 

From November 12 through November 21, 2012, a delegation of persons active on human rights issues and organized with the Honduras Solidarity Network will travel to Honduras. The delegation includes people from communities across the United States from California, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and a multitude of places in between.  The participants include people as young as 23 years of age and as old as 79. The group will be joined by representatives from other countries, including Canada, Poland, Costa Rica, Norway, El Salvador and Japan.

 

What unites this diverse group of people is their commitment to human rights in general and their concern about the ongoing escalation of human rights violations in Honduras in particular. As you know, since the military coup on June 28, 2009 that ousted the democratically elected government of Manuel Zelaya, there has been a systemic rise in violations of basic human rights in Honduras.

 

This situation has only worsened recently as Honduras enters into the primary elections that will choose candidates for the 2012 national elections.  On November 3, 2012, LIBRE primary candidate for mayor of Morazan, Edgardo Adalid Motiño, was assassinated at LIBRE’s office in Morazan.  On November 2, an attempt was made on the life of María Luisa Borjas, a primary candidate for mayor of Tegucigalpa and Comayaguela. These are just two examples of a wave of repression that has included the murders of other LIBRE organizers and candidates; the continuing murder of campesinos and their supporters-  including four persons killed since November 5 - and threats made this year against human rights activists such as Bertha Oliva of COFADEH.  These and other forms of repression against those viewed as opponents of those who perpetrated the coup have tragically marked the Honduran political scene since June 2009.We also want to note that  members of a September 2012 delegation of members of the Honduras Solidarity Network and La Voz de los de Abajo of Chicago were shot at by armed gunmen in the Aguan region.

 

It is in this context that we travel to Honduras to provide human rights accompaniment to those who feel threatened by these attacks and by the legal impunity that has followed.  The irony of Honduras voting in primary elections in the midst of such repression just after the United States completed its general elections on November 6 is worth considering.  As U.S. leaders who hold their posts either directly through elections or via appointment by the highest elected official of the United States, the office of the president, we trust you understand the value of all people having the opportunity to express their right to suffrage without fear of intimidation and repression.

 

Therefore, our delegation is writing to you, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Kubiske to inform you of our trip and to request the following:

 

·  That you communicate to your colleagues in the current Honduran government of Pepe Lobo Sosa the Honduran government’s responsibility to provide a climate free of fear and repression for all Hondurans at all times and particularly throughout the electoral process over the next year.

 

· That as U.S. officials committed to the principles of democracy and human rights, you express to your Honduran colleagues in the government of Pepe Lobo Sosa that the members of our delegation have the right to travel freely and without fear in Honduras in order to carry out our human rights accompaniment work. If we find that we cannot carry out our work effectively because of acts of intimidation, we will contact you and we expect that you will act quickly and in good faith to protect the rights of all those involved in ensuring Hondurans can freely express themselves.

 

Finally, we also want to make clear the position of the Honduran Solidarity Network that until human rights and democracy are respected by the government of Honduras, we continue to call for the suspension of all U.S. Military and Police Aid to the Honduran government. 

 

On behalf of the Honduras Solidarity Network delegation and all the member organizations of the Honduras Solidarity Network, we thank you for your attention to this matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

Member Organizations of the Honduras Solidarity Network

 

Agricultural Missions

Alliance for Global Justice

Bay Area Latin American Solidarity Committee

Center for Constitutional Rights

Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America

Comite de Solidaridad Graciela Garcia

Colectivo Honduras USA Resistencia

Comite de Solidaridad Seattle

Friends of Honduras

Friendship Office of the Americas

Hands off Honduras

Hondureños por la Democracia

Interfaith Committee on Latin America

Celeveland InterReligious Task Force on Central America

International Action Center

La Voz de los de Abajo

Latin America Grassroots International

Latin America Solidarity Organization

Madre Tierra

Marin InterfaithTask Force on the Americas

Milwaukee Latin America Solidarity Committee

National Lawyers Guild Task Force on the Americas

Portland Central America Solidarity Committee

Proyecto Hondureño

Rhode Island Mobilization Committee to Stop War and Occupation

Rights Action

School of Americas Watch

Tonatierra

U.S. - El Salvador Sister Cities

US Peace Council

Witness for Peace

 

 

Cc: Senate and Congressional Offices

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Latest communique from OFRANEH coordinator Miriam Miranda

 

We succeeded in breaking the gate of shame in Vallecito!!  We are achieving the re-surveying of our lands!!


3:28 p.m.  eastern time, (2:28 Honduran time)  Thursday, September 13, 2012  

Vallecito

 

At this very Moment we have advanced our struggle.  We are almost finalizing the process of re-surveying the lands of the 5 Production Cooperatives of the Garifuna People in Vallecito, lands that were in the hands of the widow of Reynaldo Villalobos, who lives in Icoteas, Limón, Colón department.


By order of the Attorney General and the authorities who accompanied the process the gate of shame was breached that blocked the Garifunas from access to our own lands. 

A Judge of Trujillo emitted a decision against our ancestral and legal rights.  But after great pressure, patience and accompaniment by our ancestors, we were able to open the gate. 

The Struggle Continues because we must all succeed in achieving an eviction order for the widow of Reynaldo Villalobo of the Garifuna lands. 

This lands is to be dedicated to erect the University of the Garifuna People of Honduras.  This land is the promised land to guarantee the food security of the Garifuna people. 

The process of land surveying has not even been concluded, yet the Garifuna people  are already receiving death threats!!  The security guards of the widow of Reynaldo Villalobos have said that after tomorrow they will assassinate any Garifuna person who enters the town of Icotea.  (Icotea is the neighboring town where the widow lives.  It is a non-Garifuna town and where the Garifunas of Vallecito must pass the night en route to the camp and where we buy our food stuffs and where we would go in an emergency.)

So let´s continue sending letters to President Pepe Lobo to guarantee the security of all the Garifuna who remain in the Vallecito camp.

We hold Señora Paula Castro, widow of Reynaldo Villalobos, resident of Icotea, Limón, Colón responsible!

OFRANEH sends its profound thanks to all the persons who individually or as organizations, in Honduras and internationally who have helped and supported us to advance in this first important step.

A special thanks goes to Stephen Bartlett of Agricultural Missions who took up this process as his own.  Thanks to him and many others the authorities of Honduras have received and continue to receive many letters. (Note from translator Stephen B:  Everyone who sent a communication, a prayer or resources for this effort deserves praise!!  Just remember as we celebrate this initial significant victory, we may be called upon again!)

We don´t want death, we do not seek violence, we struggle for what is ours.

 

No to the Charter Cities!

Yes to the agenda of LIFE!

No to the agenda of Death!

September 13, 2012


Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, OFRANEH


 

Alert: Urgent request for solidarity as Day 2 of Land Recovery begins over the presence of armed men in expensive vehicles

Government officials to contact;  (Thus far, international pressure has forced the Honduran government to give lip service to protecting the Garifuna gathered in Vallecito for the land re-surveying and adjudication by the National Agrarian Institute (INA). Let’s keep up the pressure to assure they actually do what they are beginning to say they will do.)

Minister of the National Agrarian Institute (Ministro del Instituto Nacional Agrario), Sr. Cesar Ham: cham@ina.hnhrodriguez@ina.hn; + from US (011 -504)96-69-15-29; 94-55-04-77.
Ministry of Security (Ministro de la Secretaria de Seguridad), Sr. Pompello Bonilla: (011-504) 99-90-17-73.
Police Chief (Director General de Policia), Juan Carlos Bonilla: (011-504) 97-58-17-30.
Spokesman for the Police (Vocero de la Policia), Héctor Iván Mejía: (011-504) 94-62-47-29
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Glaring by their absence are the Honduran authorities overdue in Vallecito (Colon)


Since yesterday, many communications have been sent to the current government administration, about the menace and threats directed at the representatives of the Garifuna communties, awaiting the process of land title remediation, of the associative (Garifuna) businesses of Vallecito.

In the corridor between Trujillo and Moskitia there are numerous bands associated with organized crime, those tied to business interests, African palm plantations and narco-politicians.  The area possesses a high level of assassination that are never brought to justice.  We make a call to the “Authorities” to protect the Garifuna in Vallecito adequately, thus avoiding a possible massacre at the hands of those bands of assassins who seek to hold the people hostage.


OFRANEH
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The Garifunas who were in Vallecito spent the night under a constant chatter of automatic weapons, gathered here in order to accompany a process of re-surveying of the lands adjudicated by the National Agrarian Institute in 1997 for the associative (Garifuna) businesses.
 
As is publically known, the Trujillo-Moskitia corridor has for a decade been in the hands of organized crime, without any governmental administration assuming control of the zone, which has fallen into the hands of Feudal Lords and their bands of assassins.

The Minister of the National Agrarian Institute (INA) committed himself since July, 2010 to re-survey and remediate lands for the six (Garifuna) businesses, lands that have been 70% expropriated by outsiders.  In the 1990s Miguel Facusse took control of Punta Farallones, a Garifuna hamlet of Limon, after which the Palm Man of Death planted 250 acres in African Palm within the lands of the cooperative Ruguma, a situation that following judicial litigation, was ruled by the Supreme Court to be the lands of the Garifuna.

We demand the immediate presence of officials of the INA, and the Ministry of Security to stop the intimidation and menace against the Garifunas present in Vallecito, now that the safety of this territory is in doubt and the remaining Garifuna communities are impacted by the failed state that exists in Honduras.


OFRANEH
Organizacion Fraternal Negra Hondureña
Calle 19, #130.
Barrio Alvarado
La Ceiba, Atlantida,
Honduras
telefax: 504-24432492 
email:garifuna@ofraneh.org/ ofraneh@yahoo.com
http://www.ofraneh.org
http://www.ofraneh.wordpress.com