Stop the Palm Oil Terror in Honduras

In Honduras, the population is protesting against the palm oil plantations encroaching on their land. Armed gangs are terrorizing the inhabitants. Dozens of people have been killed, and the ecologically vital wetlands on the coast are being drained for the monocultures. Please write to the government of Honduras

A frightened little girl in front of a group of paramilitaries Peasant families in particular are suffering the terror of the palm oil industry. Photo: hondurasdelegation/flickr

The global palm oil boom is having a disastrous impact on Honduras. Current demand and high prices on world commodity markets have led to a leap in production in the Central American country. Last year, Honduras exported 200,000 tons of palm oil, mainly to Mexico.

The downside of the boom: the spread of oil palm plantations is destroying untouched nature and peasant agriculture. In the northeast of the country in Colón Department, ecologically vital wetlands along the Caribbean coast and in the Aguán River valley are being drained. The biodiversity of the habitats is giving way to uniform oil palm monocultures.

The industry, which currently covers almost 135,000 hectares, intends to double its acreage. Honduras already has one of the world’s highest annual deforestation rates at three percent. Every year, between 80,000 and 120,000 hectares of Honduran rainforest disappear forever due to illegal logging and the expansion of agricultural land.

The inhabitants are suffering from this hunger for land. Criminal gangs in the service of the palm oil industry are reportedly terrorizing the small farmers and the Afro-Carib and indigenous minorities. Along the lower reaches of the Aguán alone, 60 people have been killed in the past two years. Many of them were leaders of the popular protests and organizers of peaceful occupations of the palm oil plantations.

People along the Aguán River and in the Garifuna (Afro-Carib minority) villages are calling for international support. They demand that the Honduran authorities honor their land rights and protect them from the armed groups.

Please write to the government of Honduras:

Further information:

Gathering in Bajo Aguán: oligarchy and Human Rights Violations in Honduras (upsidedownworld.com)

Honduras: Human Rights Violations in bajo Aguán (Report from NGO FIAN)

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The small farmers and indigenous Garifuna in Honduras are embroiled in violent land conflicts caused particularly by the expansion of oil palm plantations.

Vallecito, Limón, Colón Department:
Heavily armed paramilitaries using motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles have put the Afro-Carib community of Vallecito under siege. The forces are threatening a massacre of the peaceful Garifuna people who are resisting eviction from their legally recognized ancestral land.

In recent days, various Honduran government authorities have been informed of the siege and threats to the representatives of the Garifuna communities. The representatives are waiting at the site of the conflict for the land of Vallecito to be surveyed – as was promised to them by Minister César Ham of the National Agricultural Institute. To date, he has not fulfilled the agreement.

Lower reaches of the Aguán, Colón Department:
53 members of peasant organizations and a journalist and his family have been killed in the course of the land conflict since September 2009.

Investigate and ensure the swift, severe punishment of the perpetrators of all crimes and serious human rights violations that have been committed along the lower Aguán. Condemn those responsible and the instigators of these incidents.
Ensure that the land rights of the peasants are recognized and court decisions are implemented.

I therefore urgently call on you to:
- stop the expansion of oil palm plantations
- protect the Garifuna in Vallecito and the small farmers of the lower Aguán
- prevent the impending massacre and disarm the paramilitary gangs and thugs threatening the farmers
- end the oppression, harassment and violence against members of farming communities and the indigenous Garifuna

You are responsible for the welfare of the Garifuna villages that have joined with the peoples of the Lower Aguán in the human-rights organization OFRANEH.

These conflicts must urgently be resolved in a comprehensive, just and peaceful manner in compliance with human rights. Put an end to the violence, repression and criminalization of the farmers.

Sincerely,

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