Five Honduran Campesinos Killed in Forced Eviction

Murdered by Private Security Force in Forced Eviction

On Monday morning, November 15, five campesinos in the Aguán region of Honduras were killed during a violent, forcible eviction action carried out by the 300 member private paramilitary force of Honduran businessman Miguel Facussé.  These killings were not carried out by police with a court order backed by government land reform agencies, but outside the rule of law. 

 

To read more about this incident, follow these links:  http://www.resistenciahonduras.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1556:violence-and-death-in-the-aguan-valley&catid=99:official&Itemid=348 and http://hondurasresists.blogspot.com/2010/11/massacre-of-members-of-peasant-movement.html

 

CRLN Letter to State Department

In response, CRLN program director Gary Cozette sent the following letter to the State Department:

Ms. Maria Otero
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C St, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Under Secretary Otero,

It was an honor to join with other Latin America focused human rights organizations in the USA to speak with you by conference call on August 19, 2010 to discuss your personal human rights fact finding visit to Honduras. 

As I mentioned in our conversation and in subsequent correspondence, I too visited Honduras with a human rights delegation from Chicago in June 2010.  We visited the Aguán river region, where we met with leaders from the MUCA and MCA regarding their longstanding land rights struggle, intimidation of campesino farmers on these lands by wealthy businessman Miguel Facussé.  We also learned of the June 20, 2010 torture and assassination in Aguán by police of 17-year-old campesino youth Oscar Yovani Ramírez the week before our arrival.  We were presented with a photo of his tortured body which we sent to you following our conversation.

Today we write requesting clarification and action regarding the ongoing murders of campesino farmers taking place in the Aguán region of Honduras by unaccountable security guards of wealthy business leader Miguel Facussé linked to the local police.  Five campesinos were murdered on Monday morning, November 15, 2010 as they were attacked in a violent, forced eviction, not by police with a court order backed by government land reform agencies, but by private paramilitary forces hired by Mr. Facussé.

Subsequent to a conversation with Greg Maggio on Tuesday evening, November 16, our delegation from Chicago contacted members of the CNTC and the MCA with whom we met last July.  We were told that the attack began at 5:00 am and ended around 9:00 am on Monday, November 15. The campesino farmers were first threatened and then attacked by about 50 private paramilitary forces who are employed by Mr. Facussé.  The number of paramilitary then grew to more than 150 - this includes 25 who are known to be Colombian paramilitaries and 30 brought from Olancho by Mr. Facussé.  The campesinos fled but were pursued onto land that is clearly titled to the campesinos by the paramilitary guards armed with heavy weapons who fired indiscriminately, killing and wounding the campesinos who were no longer on the land that Mr. Facussé has seized from the community (550 hectares).   Five men were killed, at least 3 wounded.  This report differs sharply with initial reports offered to me by Mr. Maggio in our phone conversation.

For more than 10 years, MCA has been in struggle for the land that was part of an abandoned military base.  A more thorough accounting of that history can be found below. Through that struggle, the campesinos won title to much of the land through land reform programs of the Honduran government. 

However, Mr. Facussé one of the primary organizers of the 2009 coup, has long been the leader of the landowners trying to evict the campesinos from these lands.  His goal appears to be to destroy the campesino cooperatives in the Aguán with longstanding legal claims under government land reform programs.  It was reported that as of Tuesday afternoon, more of the private guards had appeared in the zone, with no sign of police or army troops.   

CRLN laments this violent new attack carried out by Mr. Facussé and his paramilitary forces which foments injustice, creates instability and expands violence throughout the Aguán region.  We call upon the State Department to:

  • Hold the Honduran government responsible for this continuing violence and intimidation against campesino farm cooperatives in the Aguán, and for the prompt arrest Miguel Facussé and his paramilitary forces that are terrorizing agrarian reform cooperatives in the Aguán region,
  • Publicly denounce this and all human rights violations in Honduras immediately when they occur in addition to documenting them in an annual State Department report,
  • Support the call of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) and signed affidavits of well over one million Honduran citizens for a fully inclusive Constituent Assembly to draft a new national Constitution, and
  • Secure an indefinite suspension of all military and police aid to Honduras until human rights abuses are halted in Honduras and accountability is secured for current and past abuses under the Lobo government - the U.S. should not be funding security forces that extra-judicially torture and murder its own citizens.

Please let us know what steps that the State Department will take to hold the Honduran government responsible for the immediate arrest Miguel Facussé and his paramilitary forces that intimidate, torture, and kill campesino cooperative farmers in the Aguán with complete impunity.   We would also like to know if charges have been filed or an arrest made in case of the assassination of Oscar Yovani Ramírez as well as the unlawful detention and torture of five campesinos from La Aurora cooperative that same day police. 

Respectfully, 

 

Gary L. Cozette
Program Director
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America