October 25, 2011
An Update from the Aguán Valley in Honduras
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The Aguán Valley region of Honduras has been the site of intense repression and violence in recent months, as large landholders attempt to consolidate control over land for palm oil plantations and U.S.-funded police and military collaborate with private guards to violently destroy entire communities. Seventeen campesinos have been murdered in just the past few months in a human rights emergency that has received little international attention. The government of Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo, meanwhile, continues to receive accolades from the U.S. government for its supposed “progress” on human rights--despite the fact that the killers in the Aguán have gone unpunished and military forces are responsible for much of the repression.
Representatives of campesino and human rights groups in the Aguán, and Honduras experts from the U.S., provided an update on the human rights and political situation in the Aguán Valley and beyond.
Luis Guillermo Pérez, secretary general for Latin America of the International Federation for Human rights [FIDH], a network of 164 human rights organizations from around the world is a Colombian lawyer and member of the Laywers Collective "José Alvear Restrepo" (CCAJAR). Perez was forced to leave Colombia in 2002 due to death threats but returned in July 2010.
Rudy Hernández, a leader from the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MUCA). Mr. Hernandez has focused on denouncing the killings of land rights movement leaders.
Felix Valentín López, coordinator of the Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), an organization of indigenous Garifuna Afrodescendent communities bordering the Aguán.
Martin Wolpold-Bosien, the Central America Director for FoodFirst International Action Network (FIAN International) based in Germany. He has spent significant time investigating human rights abuses on the ground in the Aguán.
Dana Frank, Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of many books, including Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America, which examines the banana workers' unions of Honduras, and Buy American: The Untold Story of Economic Nationalism. Her work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, San José Mercury News, and regularly in The Nation magazine, as well as many other publications and scholarly journals. For the past five years she has been researching the history of the AFL-CIO's Cold War intervention in the Honduran labor movement. Since the June 28 coup, she has spoken widely in the media in the U.S. and beyond, on the situation in Honduras, including NPR, Free Speech Radio News, and Al-Jazeera English TV. Her most recent article, "Zelaya Returns, but Justice is Still Not Done," appeared in The Nation online.
Annie Bird, Co Director of Rights Action is now based in Washington, DC but had lived and worked in Central America for 15 years. Rights Action focuses on denouncing human rights violations by U.S. and Canadian governments and corporations in Central America and Mexico. Annie is currently focusing on monitoring the re-militarization of Central America and the implementation of the Central American Regional Security Initiative, a replica of Plan Colombia for Central America and the human rights impact of false climate change mitigation policies.
Sponsored by Rights Action and the Center for Economic and Policy Research. For more information, contact 202-239-1460.