Indigenous Communities Slam Mining Injustice in Honduras

Originally published by TeleSUR on 10/07/15.

 

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Photo: COPINH

Communities condemn the corporate sell-off of land for mining extraction and the creation of a “transnational dictatorship” in Honduras. Indigenous people in Honduras are protesting an international conference on mining in the capital Tegucigalpa to condemn the human rights abuses committed at the hands of transnational corporations in their territories.

While the Honduran government claims to be concerned about the environment and proposes “responsible and ecological” extraction, popular movements have slammed authorities for enabling environmental and human rights disasters through the whole-sale sell-off of Honduran territory to foreign mining companies.

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Honduras: COPINH against mining. Rejecting the International Mining Conference.” Banner reads “For life, no to mining.

“We reject this farce that has been unmasked again, contrasted with the reality of death that mining leaves,” wrote the Lenca indigenous organization COPINH in a statement. “We have seen the true intentions of the mining industry – with 30% of the Honduran territory handed over in concessions to mining companies and more than 870 land grants in the approval process. We know the looting and brutality this means.”

According to COPINH, which representing communities in struggle for the protection of indigenous land and resources, the so-called “First International Conference on Mining in Honduras” represents the Honduran government’s de-facto policy of auctioning off land, resources, and sovereignty in the making of a “transnational dictatorship” over Honduran people.

COPINH has traveled to the capital from Lenca territories in the western provinces of the country to protest the mining conference taking place from July 7 to 11 and call on the government to respect democratic process and the rights of indigenous communities to free and prior consent for any development project to take place on their lands.

“We demand a stop to the expansion of death, pollution and violation of the rights of indigenous people, black people, campesinos and all the Honduran people. We demand an end to their corrupt, illegal and illegitimate actions,” wrote COPINH.

Lenca people, organized through COPINH, in the Rio Blanco community have successfully halted the construction of the Agua Zarca Dam in their territories on the Gualcarque river, considered sacred and essential in Lenca spirituality. While the community maintain a months-long blockade against the transnational company, community leader Tomas Garcia was killed in peaceful protest and several other community leaders received constant threats of violence from state security forces, including 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize winner Berta Caceres.

Members of the indigenous organization COPINH block access to the Presidency, making demands to the CICIH (independent anti-impunity body).

While former President Manuel Zelaya had placed a moratorium on new mining concessions prior to his 2009 ouster, since the coup the government has pursued a development strategy of making Honduras “open for business” for transnational companies to build hydroelectric dams and open mining operations, among other projects.

COPINH played an active role in the resistance movement formed after the 2009 coup in demanding an assembly to rewrite the constitution. The organization continues to call for structural change and national re-foundation of the country based on equality and justice.

Earlier this year, Global Witness declared Honduras the most dangerous country in the world for environmental and land activists, such as those organized through COPINH.

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