Top peasant leader kidnapped


MUCA leader Juan Ramón Chinchilla’s life is feared to be in danger after disappearing last Saturday

Archivo Fotográfico del Aguán






The Honduran peasant organization Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán (MUCA) denounced yesterday the kidnapping and disappearance of  Juan Ramón Chinchilla, one of its leaders and a member of the Executive Committee of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP). Chinchilla was stopped by strangers as he returned home from an activity in one of the peasant communities of Bajo Aguán. His motorcycle was found with bullet holes on it. MUCA and FNRP are demanding his safe return.



Wilfredo Paz, a teacher union leader and FNRP Executive Committee member, told SIREL that on Saturday, Jan. 8, after spending the day at a meeting with members of the peasant undertaking Buenos Amigos, Juan Chinchilla headed on his motorcycle to his home in the community of La Concepción, where his wife was waiting for him.


“He called his wife to tell her he was on his way. Then, at around 8:30 p.m., he spotted a car and a motorcycle following him and called a fellow MUCA member. As he was talking, shots were heard in the background and the call got cut off,” Paz said.


All MUCA communities were alerted immediately and at dawn his motorcycle was found near the road to Elixir. It had two bullet holes.


Juan Chinchilla is a spirited leader who is 100 percent committed to the Resistance Front. He’s been actively involved in the struggle against the militarization of Bajo Aguán and formed part of the MUCA Negotiating Committee that in April 2010 signed the agreements with the government of Porfirio Lobo.


“When police and army forces lifted the roadblock of the Atlantic coastal highway and began the militarization of the Guadalupe Carney community, Chinchilla clashed with police and army officers who accused him of being responsible for everything that was going on in Valle del Aguán,” Paz continued.


“But he continued his tireless efforts to help organize and support different peasant groups. In fact, he was coming back from one of these activities when he was snatched by strangers on the road. And we haven’t heard from him since,” the FNRP member said with concern.


MUCA immediately launched a region-wide search and issued an alert publicly demanding the safe return of its leader .


“There’s a real possibility that the kidnapping was perpetrated by security guards hired by African palm producers from the region, with the support of repressive forces of the state. We’re very concerned for his safety and fear he’s been murdered.”


Things in Bajo Aguán are still very difficult and repression has not stopped.


“This kidnapping,” Paz said, “is part of a long series of attacks against peasant organizations committed over the past few months.”


Vitalino Álvarez, MUCA public relations secretary along with Chinchilla, expressed deep concern over his disappearance.


“We’ve been looking for Chinchilla nonstop since he went missing and he’s nowhere to be found. They’re playing with us. We’ve received tips from anonymous callers telling us they’ve found a body, but when we get to where the body’s supposed to be, there’s nothing there. They’re trying to throw us off track.”


“We’re very worried,” Álvarez said, “and we know that when Juan was picked up he had on him a great deal of information on people who’ve participated in FNRP political training workshops.”


Vitalino Álvarez told Sirel that MUCA would continue its search until the missing leader is found.


FNRP also called on national and international organizations to pressure state bodies to intervene.


“We condemn this act and demand the safe return of Juan Chinchilla, an activist who has shown extraordinary courage in the struggle for a new Honduras.”


“We call on national and international organizations to pressure this repressive regime, which falsely claims to seek national reconciliation and unity, while it continues to support and participate in crimes against people and popular organizations,” the FNRP statement concludes.



From Managua, Giorgio Trucchi


January 10, 2011





Photos:  Giorgio Trucchi 



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