Honduras  DDHH


Contempt for life and other people's sorrow

Climate of persecution persists in Bajo Aguán



Following the vicious murder of United Peasants' Movement of Aguán (MUCA) leader Matías Valle Cárdenas, the campaign of terror against rural families and organizations fighting for their right to land continues.


According to a statement issued by the Permanent International Observatory for Human Rights in Aguán, Matías Valle's relatives have been harassed and threatened by strangers, making it difficult to even bury this peasant leader who was killed on January 20.


As a result of the threats, the site of his burial had to be changed three times, leaving the family and fellow activists of the former MUCA vice president and La Chile peasant company officer dismayed and unable to mourn in peace.


“On the very same day he was killed, we took Matías' body to a funeral home in Tocoa, but right after we got there two vehicles arrived carrying several security guards on Facussé's payroll. We had to change our plans and move the body to the Quebrada de Arena community, where he lived with his family,” MUCA general secretary Yoni Rivas told Sirel.


But the harassment did not stop there. “Valle's wife received several threatening phone calls, and there were rumors that the gunmen were planning to desecrate the body. So we had to change the site of the burial again,” Rivas explained.


Finally, the mortal remains of the peasant leader were laid to rest in an area recovered by MUCA in Sinaloa, where a housing project is being developed by the peasant organization.


In its public statement, the Observatory also reports that on January 26 several armed men wearing face masks opened fire on two peasants from the MUCA Marañones settlement as they were riding their motorcycles.


“Things are still very tense. Both Matías' family and MUCA president Orlando Romero, our spokesperson, Vitalino Álvarez, and myself continue to receive threats. They want to break us by sowing terror, but they're not going to succeed,” Rivas said.


Vitalino Álvarez said recently that he was living in a constant state of great insecurity, with threats being made against him daily. “Everybody is telling me to leave and go someplace safe. But I think that if I'm committed to this struggle I have to be prepared to face whatever comes my way,” Álvarez declared in the local press.


The MUCA spokesperson said that in August 2011 he was almost kidnapped by security guards hired by large landowner and oil palm producer Miguel Facussé Barjum. He also held Facussé's security guards, the state's repressive forces, and the government itself responsible for any future harm that may come to him or his family.


With the aim of reporting and bringing to national and international attention the dramatic situation that thousands of Bajo Aguán families are suffering, on February 17-20 the city of Tocoa will host an International Human Rights Meeting in Solidarity with Honduras, with the participation of IUF Latin America (Rel-UITA).



From Managua, Giorgio Trucchi


February 7, 2012






 Photo: Giorgio Trucchi


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