HONDURAS: America’s great foreign policy disgrace / Goldcorp report

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/nov/18/honduras-america-foreign-policy-disgrace

Foreign policy is directly connected to investment and exploitation of resources so this information from Rights Action about Gold mining in Honduras adds to the disgrace presented in the Guardian article.

Impunity and Injustice in Honduras:   http://www.resistenciahonduras.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3958:impunity-and-injustice-in-honduras&catid=98:opinions&Itemid=347

Rights Action – November 22, 2011    Goldcorp: Harms, Violations and Impunity in Honduras

Rights Action – December 1, 2011

Letter to the CBC Radio’s “The Current”

Re: Your Potato-head Coverage of Repressive Honduran Regime & Canadian Corporate and Investors Interests in Honduras

The Current, CBC Radio

P.O. Box 500 Station A

Toronto, ON, Canada, M5W 1E6

Telephone feedback line: (877) 287-7366

I was both positively surprised and then depressingly flabbergasted listening to your November 23, 2011 coverage of on-going State sponsored repression in Honduras carried out by the illegitimate, military-backed government.

(“THE DAY TO END IMPUNITY: HONDURAN JOURNALISTS & CANADIAN RELATIONSOver four years in Honduras, 23 journalists have been killed.  Others face detention, censorship and intimidation.  Journalists in Honduras criticize a culture of impunity in the government of Porfirio Lobo, the newly-elected president who has just cut a free trade deal with Canada.  Critics say Canada should be using its clout to force the Honduran government to confront such killings and other human rights violations.  TO LISTEN:http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2011/11/23/day-to-end-impunity-honduran-journalists-canadian-relations/)

POSITIVELY SURPRISED

The first part of your report – an interview with Frank Larue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of right to freedom of opinion and expression – was positively surprising.  In general, the North America media has done, in my view, a terrible job reporting on the situation of State sponsored repression in Honduras since the June 28, 2009 military coup ousted the democratically elected government.  Hundreds of people have been killed (see partial list below), including the targeted killing of journalists that you were reporting on.

Your interview with the UN Special Rapporteur gave listeners a clear picture of how brutal the repression against journalists in Honduras is and how the powerful sectors in Honduras act with complete impunity.

DEPRESSINGLY FLABBERGASTED

The second part of your report – an interview with Carlo Dade, formerly with FOCAL (the Canadian Foundation for the Americas) – was dumbfounding and, in my view, censors the real reasons why Canada supports and legitimizes the post-military coup regime.

Simplistically promoting “free trade” as a development-economic model that is somehow good for the impoverished majority of Hondurans, Dade came up with the export of PEI potatoes as his example of why Canada’s so-called “free trade” agreement (FTA) with the Honduran regime was good.

Potatoes!  Really?  I am not a member of Prime Minister Harper’s inner circle of political and economic advisors, but I can assure you Canada did not sign the FTA with the Honduran regime in order to export potatoes to Honduras.

The Current’s coverage completely left out major Canadian corporate and investor interests in Honduras – the real reasons why the Canadian government signed this FTA.

Since the 2009 military coup, Rights Action and many Honduran and North American groups and investigators (example: Canadians Jeff Webber and Toddd Gordon) have reported on economic interests in Honduras that are of far greater actual value to Canadian corporate and investor interests, than the potential sale of potatoes.  Rights Action has regularly sent to our listserv and media list (including the CBC) information concerning health and environmental harms and other human rights violations being directly and indirectly caused by:

  • Canadian mining companies – notably Goldcorp Inc’s open-pit / mountain-top removal, cyanide leaching mine in the Siria Valley
  • Canadian textile companies – notably the Gildan clothing company
  • Canadian tourism interests – notably those of Canada’s “Porn King”, Randy Jorgensen, in indigenous Garifuna communities along Honduras’ north coast

(On request, we can forward you information about all these issues)

The point I make is not that the CBC would automatically agree with information Rights Action has published out about repression, impunity and growing Canadian economic interests in Honduras.  Rather, the blatant problem is that the CBC did not even address the major Canadian investor and corporate reasons as to why the Canadian government signed the FTA with Honduras.

The CBC has done a disservice to listeners.  Canadian companies and investors in Honduras benefit from this lack of coverage and attention.  The majority of Hondurans, living in conditions of poverty, repression and impunity, suffer from this biased coverage.

Honduras is not a “failed state”, as Carlo Dade suggests (even as he extols the virtues of a “free trade” agreement!).  Honduras is an exploited State – used and abused by its own economic elites in conjunction with US and Canadian military and economic interests.  The CBC owes it to Canadian listeners to provide a full and balanced discussion about the repressive regime in Honduras and of expanding economic interests in Honduras being promoted by the Canadian government, benefiting from and turning a blind eye to repression and impunity.

Grahame Russell, Rights Action director

info@rightsaction.org

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Since 1995, Rights Action has been funding and working to eliminate the underlying causes of poverty, environmental destruction, repression, racism and impunity in Guatemala and Honduras, as well as in Chiapas (Mexico) and El Salvador.  The Canadian Rights Action Foundation, founded in 1999, is independent from and works in conjunction with Rights Action (USA) that was founded originally in 1983.  Grahame Russell is a non-practicing lawyer, author, Adjunct Professor at the University of Northern British Columbia and, since 1995, co-director of Rights Action.

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LIST (Updated: 12 November 2011)

ASSASSINATIONS IN HONDURAS UNDER MILITARY-BACKED REGIME HEADED BY “PEPE” LOBO

Dear Colleagues – I send you this updated comprehensive list of politically related assassinations in Honduras.  The list also includes an incomplete list the names of disappeared and severely wounded.  If you know of cases that are not included, please email me the information at gcozette@crln.org so I can further update the list.  Special thanks to FIAN Honduras, whose reports have offered the most timely and comprehensive updates and analysis – and for the larger team of you that translates documents and urgent actions from Spanish into English.

Gary L. Cozette, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)

4750 N. Sheridan Road #429, Chicago, IL 60640, 773.293.2964, gcozette@crln.org, www.crln.org

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2011: 59 Assassinations

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05 November 2011 – José Luis Lemus Ramos, age 32 and the father of two children age 4 and 7, died at 2:00 a.m. en el Hospital Catarino Rivas, in San Pedro Sula, Cortés, from gunshot wounds fired by security guards of René Morales on 01 November 2011 in the Aguán. (FIAN)

01 November 2011 – A group of campesinos farmers and children belonging to the Authentic Struggle Organization of the Campesinos of Aguán (MARCA) were attacked by a patrol of heavily armed security guards of René Morales. The campesinos were returning from a cemetery having visited the graves of family members on the Day of the Dead. As the campesinos neared the palm oil processing plant owned by René Morales, guards began firing against the group of farmers who were traveling in a vehicle, assassinated Catalino Efrain Lopez, the father of six children who died instantly, while Jose Luis Lemus and Nilda Funez were wounded by bullets. Jose Luis Lemus is hovering between life and death. Nilda Funes was shot but her life is not at risk. Nilda Funez is liaison for the Human Rights Commission of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) in the municipality of Trujillo for the campesino sector. On one of the occasions in which the Honduran army violently evicted the settlement of La Despertar, they took Nilda’s vest that identified her as a defender of human rights, tore it, stomped on it and burnt it. They told her that if she didn’t disappear from the scene of the eviction the same thing that happened to her vest would happen to her; the same thing happened on that day to two other human rights defenders. (FIAN)

22 October 2011 – Alejandro Rafael Vargas Castellanos, age 22, the son of National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) president Julieta Castellanos, and his friend Carlos David Pineda Rodríguez, age 24, were found murdered in Tegucigalpa at kilometer 8 on the highway that leads from Tegucigalpa to southern Honduras. Rafael Vargas and Carlos Pineda left a friend’s birthday party called their relatives to say they were heading home, the police spokesman told reporters. Relatives began to search for the young men when they failed to arrive home. AlejandroVargas was in his last year of law school. Carlos Pineda was finishing a degree in sociology. The motive for these murders remains unclear. However, since these murders have subsequently been shown by video to have been carried out by uniformed police, and one of the victims is the son of the national university rector who is a member of the government’s own Truth & Reconciliation Commission, it is reasonable to conclude at this time that political motives may be behind these two murders. Photos: Alejandro Vargas – above; Carlos Pineda – below. (El Tiempo, Latin American Herald Tribune)

15 October 2011 – Segundo Mendoza, age 26, from the La Consentida farming community and an activist in the campesino movement of Rigores, was disappeared during an attack by armed guards working for Miguel Facussé, police and soldiers from the Xantruch command who arrived at the settlement of Paso Aguán and began firing on men, women and children. The previous day, October 14, members of Operation Zatruch and private guards of the big landowners surrounded the campesinos of this settlement. The campesinos complain that the operatives were charging them money to be allowed to pass. On Sunday, October 16, the body of Segundo Mendoza was found in the morgue of the City of La Ceiba in the Department of Atlántida, 60 kilometers from his settlement. His body shows various bullet wounds from the heavy caliber weapon which killed him. (FNRP-Colón)

11 October 2011 – Santos Sefeino Zelaya, age 35, from the La Aurora campesino settlement was murdered at about 8:00 am by private guards of Miguel Facussé as he and other members of the Aurora coop were working near the property line of Miguel Facussé’s land. Witnesses say Santos Seferino was hit and died instantly as others ran to take cover. Seferino leaves two young children, ages 8 and 10. La Aurora is one of the settlements of Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MUCA) that was selected to be part of an agreement between the government and the landowners following intense negotiations. (FNRP-Colón)

02 October 2011 – Carlos Martinez, age 23, from the Cooperativa Lempira on the right bank of the Aguán was assassinated. A relative of Martinez claimed he was killed by a security guard from a nearby plantation belonging to Miguel Facussé, the wealthy and powerful Honduran landowner. (Rights Action, KairosPhotos)

29 September 2011- Miriam Emelda Fiallo was gunned down and died. Her husband Germán Castro was hospitalized with wounds. The attack as they were traveling by car occurred near Tocoa in the district of Prieto. Germán was the President of Prieta, one of the 15 or so co-operatives that make up the COAPALMA federation. Shooting began from the vehicle pursuing them before entering Prieta until the car of Germán crash in the curb. They shot him again. Miriam Emelda told Germán: “I was shot too. I love you. Take care of the children”. She died immediately. Germán was taken to hospital in La Ceiba. Germán was elected president after then-president Rigoberto Funez was assassinated in February 2011. Germán’s brother Fredy, then treasurer, was also killed in the attack. (Real News; Proyecto Hondureño, photo from profile at soncio.com)

15 September 2011 – Political and sporting leader Dennis Montoya was assassinated in front of his mother´s home in Choloma, Cortés Department. Dennis is father of Dennis Muñoz Bonilla of Agents of Change. (FIAN)

15 September 2011 – Juan de Jesús Figueroa, murdered in the community of Matarras, Arizona municipality, Department of Atlántida. Juan was the president of the community Patronato (community council) of Matarras, a faithful watchdog and monitor of the administrative conduct of various regional authorities and energetic environmental defender of the department’s natural resources. (MADJ)

08 September 2011 – Medardo Flores, a 61-year-old journalist with Radio Uno was shot dead near his home in Puerto Cortés when he drove into an ambush and his car was sprayed with bullets. Flores was a supporter of ousted former president Manuel Zelaya and was a regional treasurer for a pro-Zelaya group. Irina Bokov, Director-General of UNESCO, condemned the murder: “The number of journalists killed in Honduras over the last two years is very worrying. These crimes must be investigated and their perpetrators must be brought to justice…” Arnulfo Aguilar, Radio Uno’s founder and director, told the local press that Flores spent the 1980s in exile “to escape from persecution by the repressive forces of the state”. Radio Uno has often been the target of harassment and raids by the police and army since the coup. Aguilar narrowly escaped an armed ambush outside his home on 27 April 2011. Sixteen journalists have been killed in Honduras since February 2010. (UNESCOPRESS, The Guardian)

10 September 2011 – In the evening, unknown persons assassinated student Ramón Antonio Cruz Lara, age 17, with gunshots. Ramón was a resistance activist and son of the teacher Héctor Cruz, member of Copemh and FNRP of La Lima, Cortés Department. The youth had no problems. (FIAN)

07 September 2011 – An unidentified man shot and killed Honduran activist Mahadeo “Emo” Sadloo at his small automobile tire shop in eastern Tegucigalpa. Sadloo had been active in the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) from the time when the grassroots coalition was founded to oppose the June 2009 military coup against former president José Manuel (“Mel”) Zelaya. He was also a strong supporter of teacher and student demonstrations in defense of public education. Zelaya called Sadloo’s death a “political assassination” and a “declaration of war” against him and his supporters; the FNPR said it was “a political crime intended to demobilize and demoralize the Popular Resistance.” Sadloo, a naturalized Honduran citizen of Indian origin, immigrated to Honduras from Suriname more than 35 years ago. In August 2010 Lobo’s government reportedly considered deporting Sadloo as a “foreigner who meddled in Honduran politics”. (Weekly News Update on the Americas)

02 September 2011- Olvin David Gonzalez Godoy, 24 years old, married and a father of an 8-month-old girl was assassinated today. He was a member of the July 21st Cooperative affiliated to the MUCA –MI. He was found dead near the turn off to the MUCA cooperative Las Marañones at 5 am. (FIAN, El Tiempo)

01 September 2011 – A couple, both teachers of the school Instituto 18 de noviembre, – Juan de Dios Palencia Mejía, age 55, who is also a pastor, and Dunia Suyapa Sánchez Zapata were killed by gunshots in Catacamas, Olancho Department, by unknown persons while driving. They tried to escape and kept driving until they fainted. They were taken to emergency but died on the way. (FIAN)

22 August 2011 – Nahúm Alexander Guerra, age 17, in his second year of agronomy studies at the “Pompilio Ortega” Agricultural School in Macueliso, Santa Barbara, was assassinated at 7:00pm while on shift with other student colleagues at the front gate of his college on the international western highway. Nahum and his student colleagues had taken over the agricultural school with the purpose of defending public education. A vehicle was circulating along the highway, and upon seeing the students, its occupants shouted “Strikers, Strikers!” and opened fire on them. The bullets struck Nahum. (ResistenciaHonduras.net)

21 August 2011 – Pedro Salgado, vice-president of the Unified Campesino Movement of Aguán (MUCA), was shot then beheaded at about 8:00 pm at his home in the La Concepción empresa cooperative. His spouse, Reina Irene Mejía, was also shot to death at the same time. Pedro suffered a murder attempt in December 2010. Salgado, like the presidents of all the cooperatives claiming rights to land used by African palm oil businessmen in the Aguán, had been subject to constant death threats since the beginning of 2011. Salgado had recently met with the military commander of the Xatruch operation, asking for protection. (ResistenciaHonduras.net, Rights Action)

20 August 2011 – Arnoldo Portillo, member of the “5 de Enero Empresa” campesino cooperative, of the La Concepcion community in the Bajo Aguán, left his home, and did not return. His neighbors began a search early the morning of August 21, 2011. His badly brutalized body was found in the dump of the La Lempira campesino community; he had been killed by machete strikes and gunfire. (Rights Action)

20 August 2011 – Secundino Ruiz Vallecillo, president of the Cooperative San Isidro as well as president of the Authentic Peasant Protest Movement of Aguán (MARCA), was murdered in the style of a paid assassin at 10:30 am in Tocoa. MARCA is member organization of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (FNRP). Mr. Ruiz was shot as he and the treasurer of MARCA, Eliseo Pavón Ávila, were leaving a local bank where they had withdrawn $10,000 to pay workers in their organization. Mr. Pavón was also shot, but apparently suffered only a minor wound. The assailants were reportedly riding a black motorcycle and wearing ski masks. MARCA, along with the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguán (MUCA), is one of the main groups representing peasant farmers living in the Bajo Aguán Valley, struggling to obtain titles to lands they believe were stolen from their families. On 24 May, the Lobo government signed an agreement with MARCA granting it 2,151.4 manzanas, which equals 3,715 acres. (COFADEH, DefensoresEnLinea.com, Rights Action)

18 August 2011 – At 1:00 pm, Victor Manuel Mata Oliva, age 40, Sergio Magdiel Amaya, age 18, and a child Roldin Marel Villeda, age 15, were massacred in the area between El Bridge and the Panama Cooperative in the municipality of Trujillo, department of Colon. The assassination was an ambush from the side of the highway, it has been relayed that AK-47s were used and that the assassins are Miguel Faccusé’s guards, who were driving a blue vehicle with a double cabin. (CODEH, FIAN, In These Times)

15 August 2011 – In Tocoa, Colón department, five more people were massacred in a pick-up truck that left the Honduran National Agrarian Institute (INA) headquarters, where hundreds of campesino farmers currently live in temporary huts, after being illegally evicted from their homes and lands. The August 15th shooting occurred in front of a palm plantation controlled by the Dinant Corporation, and security guards had been seen at the location moments before the massacre. (Rights Action)

14 August 2011 – Early in the morning, campesinos from the Movimiento Campesino Colonia Nueva Vida de Rigores (MCCNVR) occupied the Finca Panama, ten minutes from the community of Rigores in Trujillo, Colon. This peaceful action was part of their on-going efforts to claim lands they feel they have legal, legitimate claim to. According to local sources, the campesinos were quickly surrounded by approximately 120 soldiers from the 15th Army Battalion and approximately 40 security guards from the Orion Security Company employed by Dinant palm oil corporation. The security forces opened fire, killing 17-year-old campesino Javier Melgar – and also five security guards! Campesinos believe the soldiers confused the security guards and the campesinos, as some security guards were dressed as civilians and, also, the security guard uniform is difficult to distinguish from civilian clothing. Local informants report that all of the victims were killed by shots fired from military issued RPG-15 rifles. The same day in the nearby community of Guadalupe Carney, home to the Campesino Movement of the Aguán, 17-year-old

Lelis Lemus Martinez and 18-year-old Denis Israel Castro were beaten by police, arrested and charged with murder in what their neighbors claim are false, politically motivated charges. (Rights Action)

25 July 2011 – Carlos Maradiaga was entering the Revenue Department building in La Ceiba with other leaders of the farmers´ cooperative Coapalma-Ecara of which he was president, to do paperwork, when 2 individuals on a motorcycle approached him and one of them snatched a chain he carried and then immediately killing him with 2 gunshots. (Resistencia Honduras)

23 July 2011 – Julián Alvarenga García, the 45-year-old father of 7 children and president of cooperative Isla I of the Nueva Marañones settlement (MUCA), on the left bank of Aguán River, was assassinated at about 11 am by unidentified individuals on a yellow motorcycle. Another farmer, Santos Dubón, who was with Julián was gravely wounded with gunshots. Julián’s relatives said Julián had received repeated death threats by phone telling him to leave the farmers organization or they will kill him. (Rights Action)

16 July 2011 – Luis Alonso Ortiz Borjas, age 52 (father of five, three of them minors) and Constantino Morales Enamorado, age 32 (father of two toddlers). They were both members of the Cooperative Nueva Marañones, affiliated to the Unified Farmer Movement of Bajo Aguán (MUCA). There bodies were riddled with 14 and 12 gun shots respectively. The peasants of the Bajo Aguán area denounce that masked men with AK-47 and R-15 rifles patrol the region with impunity. These people are troops dressed as civilians. (FIAN, Rights Action)

14 July 2011 – Radio journalist Nery Jeremías Orellana, age 26, was riding to the radio station Candelaria, Lempira Province near Honduras’ border with El Salvador when unknown persons waiting for him shot him in the head. He was taken to emergency and died hours later. He was the director of Radio Joconguera (a anticoup commercial radio station), reporter for Radio Progreso, member of Honduras Community Radios Network, and was active in the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (FNRP) since the coup in June 2009. Minutes before he was murdered, he talked to Radio Progreso confirming he will go to the community radios meeting the next day. He was a member of the National Front of People’s Resistance. The local priest, José Amílcar Lara, denounced through Radio Globo that he, Manuel Bonilla the town’s mayor, and Hernán Castro, who also works in that Radio Station, have received death threats. (UNESCO, ABC News)

05 June 2011 – Campesinos José Recinos Aguilar, Joel Santamaría and Genaro Cuesta were murdered in the Aguán Valley by paramilitaries employed by landowners shot as they were driving a few meters from the San Esteban cooperative, of which they were members. The victims belonged to the Authentic Claimant Movement of Aguán Campesinos (MARCA), one of several campesino groups claiming land in the Aguán valley. The paramilitaries then went to the local offices of the government’s National Agrarian Institute (INA) and shot at campesinos who had taken refuge there the year before. Five people were wounded, including the campesina Doris Pérez Vásquez, who was shot in the abdomen and had to be rushed to a hospital in the city of La Ceiba. (Adital (Brazil) 6/6/11, with information from FIAN, FNRP, Comuna Ataroa and Tiempo-San Pedro Sula)

24 May 2011 – Rock band musician Juan Angel Sorto, age 19 and a member of Artists in Resistance, was murdered at 9 pm in El Progreso, Yoro, by two men driving a motorcycle. Artists in Resistance attributed this murder to death squads. In 2010 COFADEH identified 34 political assassinations, 34 murders of campesinos in the context of land disputes, 28 murders from police abuse and 309 deaths of suspicious authorship. (Artists in Resistance, Western Sydney Peace Group/Westpeace)

18 May 2011 – Denis Moisés Lara Orellana, age 37 and Regional Secretary of the Asociación Nacional de Campesinos Hondureños (ANACH), was assassinated at 8:00 am as he left home in the Colonia Flor del Campo of Villanueva, Cortés. His body was riddled with bullets fired from an AK-47. His assassins drove a grey pick-up truck, which they abandoned. (La Tribuna, Westpeace)

18 May 2011 – Sixto Ramos, age 45, the Coordinator of the Aguán Popular Organizations (COPA) from of Nueva Suyapa Cooperative of the Campesino Movement the Aguán (MCA), was shot dead while driving when he was intercepted by unknown persons in another car. (Rights Action, Western Sydney Peace Group/Westpeace)

15 May 2011 – In the Aguán region, Francisco Pascual Lopez, a farmer from the MCA community of Rigores, was tending his cattle when, according to an eye witness, security guards working for Miguel Facussé shot Pascual in his land, and then dragged him alive into the Finca Panama. The witness ran for help, and even though community members found a trail of blood police refused to enter the Finca Panama to locate the injured man. The Finca Panama belongs to Honduran palm oil businessman Miguel Facussé who over the past twenty years has acquired enormous extensions of land in the Aguán often through fraudulent, illegal and violent means. Campesino organizations in the region had been immersed for decades in legal and political processes for the recognition of their land rights. Following the June 28,

2009 military coup the political and legal processes hit the wall of impunity created as part of the coup, and communities began occupying lands. (Rights Action)

10 May 2011 – TV Journalist Héctor Francisco Medina Polanco, age 35, was shot dead as he was leaving Channel 9 news, Omega Vision, where he was General Coordinator. At the end of the news broadcast at 7:00 pm, Medina was followed by two men on a motorcycle and was shot three times in the back in front of his house in the neighborhood of Buenos Aires, in the municipality of Morazán, Yoro Department. A fourth shot hit his arm. He had worked for Omega Visión television station for six years reporting on the political and social situation in the area and had implicated public officials in acts of corruption. According to other sources consulted by C-Libre, the DNIC knows the names of the alleged hit men that murdered Héctor Medina Polanco as well as the amount of money they were allegedly paid for carrying out the assassination. In August 2011, this assassinated journalist’s brother, Carlos Alberto Medina Polanco, reported that he has been receiving death threats via messages on his mobile phone. In the messages he has been told to stop demanding an investigation into his brother’s death or he will “meet the same fate.” He also noted that he has been followed by individuals on a motorcycle when he leaves the radio station for which he works in the city of San Pedro Sula. As a result, he has taken a temporary leave of absence from his position at the station. In addition, he reported that, on 10 June 2011, his 16-year-old daughter was kidnapped, assaulted and questioned about his activities for three hours. He said the National Criminal Investigations Department (Dirección Nacional de Investigación Criminal, DNIC) is aware of the incident involving his daughter. (C-Libre/IFEX)

10 May 2011 – Campesino José Paulino Lemus Cruz, of the “Brisas de Aden” cooperative belonging to the Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MCA) was shot dead from a passing motorcycle as he was walking to sell fish to sell fish in Rio Claro. Other members of the group discounted robbery as a motive; none of the victim’s belongings appeared to have been taken. Supporters of the campesino movements say the two latest deaths bring the number of activists killed in the valley over the last 15 months to 27. (defensoresenlinea.com, Rights Action, News Update on the Americas)

07 May 2011 – Honduran campesino Henry Roney Díaz was killed on when soldiers, police and private guards tried to remove campesinos occupying an estate in the Aguán River Valley in the northern department of Colón. Díaz was a member of the El Despertar cooperative, one of the groups forming the Authentic Claimant Movement of Aguán Campesinos (MARCA). Manuel Vásquez, another member of the cooperative, was wounded in the same clash. Security guards were working for the wealthy Nicaraguan René Morales, one of the largest landowners in the region. Morales’ farms have been the target of several land occupations since April 30, when campesinos from MARCA and the larger Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MUCA) decided to take over the La Trinidad, El Despertar, San Esteban and Guanchías estates to protest what they consider the government’s failure to comply with agreements signed in April 2010 [see Update #1029]. (Weekly News Update on the Americas, FIAN, Rights Action)

19 April 2011 – The bodies of Tarin Daniel Garcia Enamorado, age 26 years old and father of three children, was found decapitated, as was that of his father-in-law, Carlos Alberto Acosta Canales, father of five children, with his hands tied, were found in Ocotes Altos on the left bank of the Aguán River in the municipality of Trujillo. Both campesinos were members of the Movimiento Autentico Campesino del Aguan (MUCA). Tarin Daniel was a member of the cooperative, Productores de Colon, one of the four that make up the settlement “La Concepcion”. According to the spouse of one of the victims, they had left to go fishing on Thursday, April 14th at 3 pm with the promise to return the next day. When they did not return, their families and friends communicated with the police in Tocoa, Trujillo and in La Ceiba to find information. Reports from neighbors in the locale say that the victims had been captured by security guards of Reynaldo Canales and Rene Morales at the place where the lands of these businessmen meet the Aguán River. (FIAN, Rights Action, hondurashumanrights.wordpress)

18 March 2011 – Ilse Ivania Velásquez Rodríguez, a 59-year old elementary school teacher and former principal in Tegucigalpa, was deliberately targeted with tear gas canister that directly hit her face at close range while participating in a massive teachers demonstration Tegucigalpa protesting the privatization plan for public education. She fell to the ground, unconscious, into an asphyxiating cloud of gas. The driver of a passing television truck, himself affected by the fumes, ran over her right side. She lay face down in a pool of blood seeping out from her body. Three hours later, she died in a hospital. She had rushed to the Presidential Palace to defend Zelaya the morning of the coup. She was one of hundreds of thousands of Hondurans who took to the streets for weeks to protest the new coup government of de facto President Roberto Micheletti — who Honduras’ oligarchs hoped would roll back Zelaya’s mild leftward moves and resistance to further neoliberal privatization. Last summer she was one of thousands in the Honduran opposition who circulated petitions — eventually signed by 1.25 million people, roughly one in three adults — demanding a Constitutional Convention to re-found the country from below. (COFADEH)

19 February 2011 – Reina Elizabeth Veliz Varela, age 39 and FNRP leader living in the Colonia Las Pavas in Comayagüela, was killed at 9:30 pm by 2 gunmen after they invaded her home. According to an anonymous relative, Reina was at home fixing up her clothes when unidentified persons entered and fired shots at her without saying anything. She was killed in front of her 6-year-old daughter. (Sidney Says No to Honduras Coup)

11 February 2011 – Two influential campesino leaders in Honduras’ Aguán valley were killed during a mid-afternoon attack on the region’s principal highway. Freddy Gonzalez Castro, treasurer, and Rigoberto Fúnez, president, were leaders of the campesino Cooperative Prieta, which cultivates African palm for biofuel production. Both men died immediately after 15 heavy caliber bullets were fired into their truck.

Initial statements from the Honduran National Police say the men were returning from the bank with a large amount of money and the attack was a robbery. MCA leaders have told us that the Prieta co-operative is the model they wish to emulate due to its democratic decision-making model and the benefits which its members receive: health insurance, better salaries, university scholarships for all children, etc… (Real News)

31 January 2011 – At 6pm, Dr. Jose Maria Turcios was assassinated when he travelled from an organizing meeting of the Resistance, at Quimistan, Santa Barbara. They waited for him and riddled him with bullets. His body was found the next morning with a shot in the forehead. Dr Turcios is ex director of the IHSS hospital. (Sydney Says No to the Honduras Coup)

15 January 2011 – Resistance member Jose Ricardo Dominguez Hernandez, age 42, was assassinated with his body found with several stab wounds. It looked like he was killed with an ice-cutter, his hands were a different color to the rest of his body and would have been tied with hemp or rope. He was previously detained on February 2010 with other resistance members after a protest and was a court witness in a kidnapping and torture case for 2 Globo TV journalists. He applied to the IACHR for cautionary measures and IACHR requested the Supreme Court for information about his situation but never received a response. (COFADEH, Sydney Says No to Honduras Coup)

02 January 2011 – Ermin Nabarro, Cooperativa La Aurora (MUCA) murdered on highway close to La Aurora Cooperative. (Rights Action, FIAN)

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61 Assassinations in 2010

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01 December 2011 – José Luis Sanabria, age 45 and a teacher from Copan who was active in the labor movement and resistance, was kidnapped and disappeared on 30 December 2010 when he was driving to Quimistan, Santa Barbara. He was found dead two days later with a shot in the head and a decomposed body in Florida Copán. He was director of Carlos Roberto Reina School of Youth Western Institute, an educator of the regional pedagogical university, and a resistance activist. Police claim it was a car robbery; they have been dubbing literally all killings against resistance members as common delinquency, without investigation. (Sydney Says No to Honduras Coup)

29 November 2010 – Adelson Díaz Estévez was fishing in a river with his brother-in-law, a boy, when they were attacked by the private security guards of Miguel Facussé, who fired on them killing the young Adelson Diaz and wounding the boy, a minor, who was later taken to the hospital. The family presented themselves personally at the offices of the DNIC and the police. (COFADEH)

15 November 2010 – Raul Castillo, age 48, of the Cooperative 14 de mayo, Jose Luis Sauceda, age 25, of the Cooperative 14 de mayo, Ciriaco Munoz, age 50, of the Cooperativa Nueva Esperanza, Teodoro Acosta, age 39, of the Cooperativa Nueva Esperanza, Ignacio Reyes Garcia, age 50, of the Three United Families Cooperative – shot to death by Dinant security guards on the Finca El Tumbador. All of the victims were members of the MCA. (Rights Action, FIAN)

30 October 2011 (unconfirmed) Luís Antonio Hernández, leader in the teachers movement and active member of the FNRP, was stabbed to death in Sinuapa, Ocotepeque.

17 September 2010 – Trade unionist Juana Bustillo, age 49, a nurse for 20 years and 11 year president of the social security workers union SITRAIHSS, was shot by unknown assailants after leaving a union meeting in the city of San Pedro Sula and shortly following her participation in a demonstration organized by the resistance movement. (COFADEH)

15 September 2010 – Efraín López, who for many years sold lottery tickets in the central park of San Pedro Sula, was killed by teargas fired by the police as they attacked a concert and non-violent rally of the National People’s Resistance Front FNRP in the San Pedro Sula central park (Rights Action)

10 September 2010 – A group of six men shot and killed campesino Francisco Miranda Ortega, age 55, at the place known as Cacho Guey as he rode his bike headed on the road from the La Aurora encampment where he lived to the city of Tocoa in the northern department of Colón. Miranda was a leader in the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MUCA), which represents thousands of campesinos in a land dispute in the Aguán River Valley. He is reportedly the 12th campesino to be murdered since December 2009. (Weekly News Update on the Americas, Rights Action, FIAN)

10 September 2010 – Enrique Alfredo Larios Cruz, of the peasant association company “Unión Catracha” (MCA). Murdered alongside his companion Rodríguez Valdés, by firearm near the village Honduras Aguán, in the municipality of Trujillo. (FIAN)

28 August 2010 – Santos Remigio Ávila, age 45, General Secretary of the National Peasants Association of Honduras (ANACH) and a member of the National Popular Resistance Front, was murdered in Guaymaca, Francisco Morazán, at 10:00 pm as he arrived home from visiting his 5-year-old daughter at the Guaymaca hospital. He was murdered with a single shot to the head in front of his 14-year-old son as they were exiting their car. (Via Campesina, Friendship Office, defensoresenlinea.com)

24 August 2010 – Journalist Israel Zelaya Diaz, age 62 and host of a radio show which reported on national issues broadcast on Radio International, was found shot to death next to a sugarcane field near Villanueva along a rural road near the northern city of San Pedro Sula. Unidentified gunmen shot him twice in the head and once in the chest, leaving his money and personal belongings untouched. Rights Action reports that prior to being murdered, Zelaya Diaz had suffered threats for his opposition to the coup. (CPJ, Rights Action)

18 August 2010 – Victor Manuel Mata Oliva, age 40, Rodving Omar Villegas, age 15, Sergio Madiel Amaya, age 18, and a boy Roldin Marel Villeda, age 15 from the La Aurora Cooperative were assassinated the left bank of the Rio Aguán between El Bridge and the Panama Cooperative in the municipality of Trujillo, department of Colon as they drove to Tocoa for a meeting. According to witnesses, they were fired upon by security guards riding in blue double cabin pick up truck. AR-15 and AK-47 bullet shells were found at the crime scene. The assassinated men were members of the Campesino Corporation of San Esteban and of the Unified Campesino Movement of Aguán (MUCA). MUCA attributed these murders to security guards of wealthy landowner Miguel Facussé. (Rights Action, MUCA, FIAN)

09 August 2010 – Esteban García Cruz, age 45, from the Cooperativa 25 de Abril (MUCA) was murdered by unknown individuals driving a white SUV vehicle. (FIAN, Rights Action)

04 July 2010 – Roger Antonio Fúnez Flores was shot to death at about 6 am in El Progreso as he was bicycling to the agricultural market as he did each Sunday morning. Two men on a motorcycle fired at him, hitting him in the leg, and then killing him with 4 bullets to the head. Funes was a leader of the FNRP in El Progreso, and a regular commentator on Radio Progreso. Roger was president of the neighborhood council (patronato) of La Colonia 18 de Septiembre. He had two daughters. (Radio Progreso)

30 June 2010 (unconfirmed) – Jorge Alberto Castro Ramírez, age 41, a horchata vendor in the numerous FNRP marches of 2009, was assassinated. (Honduras Culture & Politics, COFADEH)

20 June 2010 – Oscar Yovani Ramírez, age 17, belonged to the San Esteban cooperative (MARCA). He was tortured and murdered in the midst of an assault on the Aurora MUCA land reform community carried out by National Police Cobra agents, the Preventative Police and the Orion company´s security guards of wealthy businessman Miguel Facussé. The attached photo of Mr. Ramírez’ tortured, dead body was personally presented to CRLN by a leader of the six MUCA land reform communities. That same day, five others from the community were taken captive by the police, and at least some of them reportedly tortured before being released some time later after the Aguán communities amassed at the police station. (CRLN, FIAN, Rights Action)

20 June 2010 – Mauricio Nahún González Coello, son of labor leader Mauro Francisco González, was killed by unknown men as he went through a car wash. (May I Speak Freely)

15 June 2010 – Rolando Valenzuela, former minister of the National Program for Sustainable Rural Development under Manuel Zelaya and an active member of Liberals in Resistance, was shot and killed as he left a restaurant. The shooter was identified as Carlos Alberto Yacamán Meza, a businessman with whom Valenzuela allegedly had a dispute over money. The prosecutor’s office eventually released an order of capture for Yacamán Meza on June 23. (May I Speak Freely)

10 June 2010 – Unknown gunmen shot and killed Oscar Molina, brother-in-law of Beverages Workers’ Union (Stibys) Vice President Porfírio Ponce. Stibys is active in the FNRP Resistance leadership. Molina was in a car with Ponce’s sister and father, neither of whom was gravely injured under the hail of bullets. Members of Stibys have been consistently harassed since the coup. (May I Speak Freely)

29 May 2010 – Agustín Bustillo, age 40, from the Cooperativa Camarones (MUCA). Disappeared on May 24 and found dead five days later on the banks of the Aguán River. (FIAN)

18 May 2010 – Olayo Hernandez Sorto, 38, a member of The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and comunal secretary of the Popular Resistance Front against the coup in the community of Pueblo Viejo, Colomoncagua Municipality, Department of Intibucá, was assassinated at about 6.00 pm in Llano Grande, Colomoncagua, Intibucáby, by hit men with three 3.80-caliber pistol shots. One struck him on the chest, the other on the knee and the other on the back. The body of Olayo found in Los Quebrachitos also showed a stab wound to the head probably perpetrated with a machete. It should be noted that he had been accused of being in the resistance and taken up arms because his job was repairing weapons for which he had the relevant permit. Olayo Hernandez Sorto leaves behind a wife and five children. (COPINH, hondurashumanrights.com, defensoresenlínea.com, COFADEH)

13 May 2010 – Gilberto Alexander Nuñez Ochoa, age 27, and José Andrés Oviedo, age 26, were shot dead inside a home in the Colonia Cruz Roja 2 at kilometer 11. Since June 28, 2009, Nuñez consistently participated in mobilizations of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), serving in the Security and Discipline Committee, where he helped identify military or police infiltrators whose goal was to 1) photograph protesters and 2) provoke the police commandos by attacking private and public facilities and establish chaos. Nuñez had also spent two months accompanying President Manuel Zelaya in the Embassy of Brazil, where Mr. Zelaya took refuge after he returned to the country on September 21, 2009 (IACHR, HRW)

08 May 2010 – Masked gunmen killed Adalberto Figueroa, an environmentalist and local resistance leader in the Olancho region, while he was collecting firewood a kilometer from his house. On May 03, Figueroa had filed a complaint with the National Institute on Conservation and Forestry Development against an illegal logging operation on protected lands as well as threats with illegal weapons made by logging companies against local community members. The Olancho Environmental Movement, of which Figueroa was a part, suspects that the logging companies affected by the complaint hired Figueroa’s killers. (May I Speak Freely, Junta Directiva Movimiento Ambientalista de Olancho, SOA Watch)

29 April 2010 – Miriam Yaneth Romero Domínguez, age 44, a media education teacher living in the Colonia San Carlos de Sula de San Pedro Sula, was assassinated in front of her home as she was closing the outside door (el portón). The unknown assailant had hidden himself behind an electric post. He shot her twice before fleeing. (COFADEH)

26 May 2010 – Unknown gunmen shot and killed in Tegucigalpa Pedro Antonio Gomez and Oscar Tulio Martinez, respectively the brother and brother-in-law of Arcadia Gomez, minister of social affairs in the government of former president Jose Manuel “Mel” Zelaya. The NGO Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras (CODEH) reported that Antonio Gomez and Martinez were active in the

Resistance, and that gunmen had entered the house asking for Arcadia Gomez. CODEH attributed the murders to “death squads,” saying it had information that there were groups within the state security agencies who were following opponents of the current government. (May I Speak Freely, US State Dept HR Report)

20 April 2010 – Television journalist Jorge Alberto Orellana, age 50, also known as “Georgino,” was shot by an unidentified gunman as he was leaving Televisión de Honduras studios around 9:00 p.m in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Orellana hosted the program “En Vivo con Georgino” (Georgino Live), which focused on local news, mostly related to cultural events, José Peraza, a reporter with Radio Progreso in San Pedro Sula, told CPJ. Orellana did not report on sensitive stories such as organized crime, Tiempo Editor Rubén Escobar said. Before joining Televisión de Honduras, Orellana had worked for the newspaper La Prensa and the country’s leading network Televicentro. After the coup in June 2009, Orellana left Televicentro because of discomfort with the station’s editorial position in support of the coup government. Orellana was also a journalism professor at the National University of Honduras in San Pedro Sula. (CPJ)

13 April 2010 – W105 radio journalist Luis Antonio Chévez Hernández, age 22, was assassinated as he got out of his car in front of his home by unidentified gunmen in the city of San Pedro Sula. He was the sixth Honduran journalist killed this year. Robbery was ruled out as a motive. (UNESCO, Reporters w/o Borders)

07 April 2010 – José Leonel Guerra Alvarez, age 32, from La Confianza Cooperativa (MUCA) in the Aguán was shot to death by 5 bullets. Two individuals got off a motorcycle and shot him inside his house in front of his wife and children. (Rights Action, FIAN, CEJIL)

01 April 2010 – The body of Edy Gabriel Betancourt, age 23, was found in El Paraiso, and kidnapped in Comayaguela on 27/12/10. He was outside his home when a double-cabin pick-up with polarized windows and no number plates parked in front of him and 4 hooded men came out saying they are police and came to capture him. His family rushed out to stop them from taking him but they showed the family a capture order and took him to an unknown place. His family searched for him everywhere. Edy is a first year university student at UNAH. No further information is available because his family is afraid to denounce; his death is denounced by FNRP as political. (Sydney Says No to Honduran Coup)

01 April 2010 – Miguel Angel Alonso Oliva, age 22, from the Cooperativa Guanchias in Aguán was shot in the back at 6:00 am by a security guard of the oil palm plantations in the Aguán Valley, when a peasant group from the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguán (MUCA) was occupying land in the Boleros farm held by René Morales. The Aguán Valley is living under extreme tension caused by the mobilization of military, police, and security guards hired by businessmen involved in the land dispute with the MUCA. According to information obtained so far, farmers fear that the mobilization of military, police, and heavily armed guards plans to evict people from the land on the left bank of the Aguán River. The threatened settlements include: Suyapa del Aguán, Guanchías, Buenos Amigos, Remolino, Despertar, Trinidad, San Esteban, Quebrada Honda, Paso Aguán, El Plantel, Islas 1 and 2, Marañones, and Bolero. (Rights Action, FIAN, Honduras Human Rights WordPress)

28 March 2010 – Dr. Yorleny Yadira Sánchez Rivas, age 33, who was wounded with hit men murdered journalist Nahún Palacios in Tocoa on 14 March, died at a clinic in San Pedro Sula which she had entered because of convulsions. (voselsoberano.com, COFADEH)

 

27 March 2010 – Journalists José Bayardo Mairena Ramírez and Manuel Juárez working on the news program “This is Olancho” on Channel 4, were shot by men in another vehicle on the highway while they were driving to work. The two reporters strongly questioned the coup d’etat carried out June 28, 2009 and also had systematically denounced the human rights violations carried out by the army and police against citizens in resistance on their Olancho radio program. (United Nations, Comité por la Libre Expresión/C-Libre)

23 March 2010 – Jose Manuel Flores, a prominent FNRP member and a Social Sciences teacher, was assassinated at the San Jose del Pedregal High School in front of his students by a death squad comprised of heavily armed men wearing ski masks and civilian clothes. This incident left behind key evidence for investigation, arrest and prosecution, since as the assassins fled, the ski mask of one of the attackers became entangled in the razor coil over the fence which they had cut open to look for their victim. (COFADEH)

17 March 2010 – Francisco Castillo, age 50, a member of the FNRP, and a friend and associate of priest Fr. Andres Tamayo, was assassinated in La Residencial Las Uvas de Comayagüela, Tegucigalpa. Fr. Tamayo was expelled from Honduras by the Michelleti coup government in 2009. Previously, Mr. Castillo and his spouse had been unlawfully detained in September 2009 and harassed again in December 2009. (COFADEH)

17 March 2010 – Jose Antonio Cardoza and Jose Concepcion Carias, both around age 50, were killed at noon by unidentified individuals who opened fire with a shotgun as the campesinos were driving home after a day’s work in the Carbonal community, Bonito Oriental, Colon Department. The two farmers were leaders in the Brisas Cooperative of COHDEFOR, and had received death threats from the alleged land owner, Carlos Diaz, who is represented by a legal representative, said officials of the National Agrarian Institute (INA) in Tocoa, Colón department, on Friday, March 12. The INA presented a complaint before the Public Prosecutor’s Office. About 25 families occupy and inhabit the past 4 years about 60 acres that were once property of the Honduran Forest Development Corporation, or COHDEFOR. (COFADEH)

14 March 2010 – Journalist Nahún Ely Palacios Arteaga, age 36, was killed instantly after assassins in two vehicles fired 47 bullets into his car – with 14 striking him. His partner, Yorleny Yadira Sánchez Rivas, was also seriously injured and died two weeks later as a consequence of the attack (see 28 Mar 11 above). Nahún Palacios was news director of Channel 5 in the Aguán Valley, and hosted a news program on Radio Tocoa. He covered drugs, politics, and an ongoing conflict between landowners and peasant farmers in the Aguán. In the weeks before the murder, Nahún Palacios, who had been granted precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR), reported on the agrarian conflict in Bajo Aguán from a balanced perspective, openly questioning several media outlets´ campaigns to stigmatize and defame the peasant movements. Palacios reportedly received threats from members of the Honduran military in June 2009 for critical coverage of the 2009 Honduran coup. (COFADEH)

12 March 2010 – Ramón Ulises Castellanos and Miguel Sauceda, field workers in the Naranjo neighborhood in the Department of Atlántida, were assassinated by death squads working for wealthy landowners trying to re-occupy lands that President Zelaya had redistributed to small farmers. (WFP)

COVER-UP #2: “COVER-UP OF EVIDENCE OF ACID WATERS IN THE SIRIA VALLEY”

BELOW:

  • Article:  “COVER-UP OF EVIDENCE OF ACID WATERS IN THE SIRIA VALLEY”
  • Report:  “GOLDCORP (ENTRE MARES) & THE GOVERNMENT OF HONDURAS HIDE INFORMATION ABOUT POISONING OF CHILDREN AND ADULTS”

BACKGROUND

  • 10 minute film, by Steven Schnoor, about health and environmental harms caused by Goldcorp in Honduras’ Siria Valley, “All that glitters isn’t gold – a story of exploitation and resistance”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tmqXc5rX8s
  • 30 minute interview – “Face to Face with Grahame Russell” – concerning health and environmental harms and other human rights violations caused by Canadian mining companies in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and about the impunity with which companies are operating: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71mB0JuJSpE

NEEDED

Funds for health relief for Siria Valley villagers, and funds for education and activism work to demand that Goldcorp provide reparations to the health harmed communities of the Siria Valley. (To support: see below)

MORE INFORMATION  Grahame Russell, info@rightsaction.org                                     Dr. Juan Almendarez, almendarez.bonilla@gmail.com

www.cafod.org.uk, article: “Honduras: Evidence of severe water contamination at Goldcorp mine”

Please re-distribute this information all around

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COVER-UP #2   COVER-UP OF EVIDENCE OF ACID WATERS IN THE SIRIA VALLEY

La Tribuna (Honduran newspaper), November 14, 2011  (Translated for Rights Action by Rosalind Gill)

TEGUCIGALPA.- British experts in acid mine drainage carried out a study for the Catholic Overseas Development Agency (CAFOD) headquartered in London, and uncovered official documents demonstrating water contamination caused by the Minerales Entremares company of Honduras, a subsidiary of the Canadian mining company, Goldcorp.  The company must now agree to long-term monitoring of the site to prevent acid mine drainage and erosion problems in the future.

According to British experts in the field, who carried out the study alongside Honduran counterparts from Caritas Tegucigalpa, results of the water sample taken by DEFOMIN (state body regulating mining) should have led to immediate action on the part of the government and the company. To the contrary, evidence of high concentrations of acidity and heavy metals was covered-up by DEFOMIN.

The cover-up was revealed in a document posted on the CAFOD web page (www.cafod.org.uk) in an article entitled, “Honduras: Evidence of severe water contamination at Goldcorp mine”.

In June 2009, CAFOD and Caritas Tegucigalpa carried out a study for the Honduran Environmental Prosecutor. The investigation uncovered official documents demonstrating contamination of water by the Minerales Entremares [Goldcorp] company. CAFOD and Caritas Tegucigalpa submitted this evidence of contamination caused by Goldcorp to the Honduran Environmental Prosecutor. They have now been waiting for seven months for authorities to decide who should take civil or criminal responsibility in this case, be it by action or omission.

The report revealed that at two sites, there is acid water at Ph levels between 2.5. and 3, which is very harmful to the biology of streams. As well, there are high levels of cadmium, copper and iron. These findings are consistent with a denouncement made by the Siria Valley Environmental Committee to the Environmental Prosecutor on September 24, 2008, concerning de-coloration of water in water sources originating within the mine perimeter.

The CAFOD report indicates that members of the community had also complained that the water was a reddish colour and smelled strongly of sulphur, which clearly shows that contaminated water from the mine area had entered the streams used by people living in the valley for domestic and agricultural purposes.

HIGH CONCENTRATIONS

The CAFOD report also states that in their June 2009 inspection of the Siria Valley mine site, Adan Jarvis and Jaime Amezaga of the Newcastle University found clear evidence that in the past, high levels of iron had flowed from the Tajo “Palo Alto” pit.

The experts observed that despite the fact that mine personnel had taken temporary measures to prevent future occurrences of contamination and were taking other measures, Goldcorp was still refusing to admit that the site had caused water contamination.

Paul Younger, an international expert on water administration, was asked by CAFOD to carry out a reconnaissance investigation of the Goldcorp mine closure plan. He had been able to document evidence on the mine drainage during a previous visit to the Siria Valley: “Despite all the evidence on acid drainage from the mine, in a live television broadcast, the company refused to take responsibility for the contamination. Besides the fact that this position is exasperating, it does no favours for the company itself.”

“If [the company] had been honest about problems it has encountered in the San Martin mine, independent observers could have some degree of confidence that steps that have been taken to find solutions to this problem will be effective, but when they deny what they have done, it is impossible to resolve the situation and they simple abandon the area that has been mined”, said Younger, who has 25 years experience in the field of acid mine drainage.

The report concluded that the company should agree to long-term monitoring of the site to prevent future acid mine drainage and erosion problems. Considerable investment will be required to eliminate the root of the problem. At the present time, only short-term remedies are being implemented.

HONDURAS – Goldcorp and Mining Health Harms, Cover-up #3

 GOLDCORP EX-EMPLOYEES PROTEST IN FRONT OF SUPREME COURT ABOUT BLOOD POISONING AND HEALTH HARMS

Over last few weeks, Rights Action has distributed articles and reports about how Goldcorp Inc. has been covering up and/or denying any causal links to widespread and continuing health and environmental harms caused by its open-put / mountain-top removal, cyanide leaching gold mine in Honduras.  Here is a 3rd story, previously reported on, previously ignored.

(Lesly Yaritza died at the age of five, on September 25, 2010.  Lesly, from the community of Nueva Palo Ralo, had blood levels of 173 mg/dl of lead and 263 mg/dl of arsenic.  From birth, Lesly suffered from progressive and increasing acute motor paralysis in the lower limbs.  Photo 2007, by Gwendolyn Meyer, while on a Rights Action delegation to visit with communities and families harmed by Goldcorp’s open-pit, mountain-top removal, cyanide leaching mine, in the Siria Valley, Honduras.)

BELOW:  Article (La Tribuna newspaper): “SICK EX-MINING COMPANY EMPLOYEES PROTEST IN FRONT OF THE SUPREME COURT OF JUSTICE”

Please re-distribute this information all around

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SICK EX-MINING COMPANY EMPLOYEES PROTEST IN FRONT OF THE SUPREME COURT OF JUSTICE

19 noviembre, 2011, La Tribuna

(Translated by Rights Action)

http://www.latribuna.hn/2011/11/19/enfermos-y-exempleados-de-minera-protestaran-frente-a-csj/

TEGUCIGALPA.  Siria Valley inhabitants, whose wellbeing was affected by their jobs at the EntreMares mining company [subsidiary of Goldcorp Inc] will protest next Wednesday at the Supreme Court, to demand compensation from the State for damages caused to their health.

Those who worked for the mining company in Siria Valley are demanding compensation due to the presence of heavy metals in their blood, which will keep them out of work for the rest of their lives.

Those who will protest “are employees and ex employees of the EntreMares [Goldcorp] company, many worked in extraction, others with heavy machinery and due to their contact with the chemicals used by this industry, such as cyanide, they became ill, but have not yet received compensation”, informed the representative of the Association of Environmentalist Journalists of Honduras, Eduardo Yánez.

He added that “these people have heavy metals in their blood. That is why they have been demanding compensation for two years now, since now they are all disqualified from working elsewhere”.

He commented that when the company they worked for “realized how sick they were, they fired them and although they had labor rights, they didn’t pay their compensations – despite the fact they showed that their health problem was caused by a work related illness”.

Accordingly, this group of people will be at the entrance of the Supreme Court demanding justice from the Judges and Magistrates “so that in Honduras the laws start to be applied, once and for all, because the health of human beings is priceless. There should be punishment in this case”.

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COVER-UP #1 Rights Action – November 8, 2011    Goldcorp Impunity Watch in Honduras

 COVER-UP: GOLDCORP (ENTRE MARES) & THE GOVERNMENT OF HONDURAS HIDE INFORMATION ABOUT POISONING OF CHILDREN AND ADULTS

(Lesly Yaritza died at the age of five, on September 25, 2010.  Lesly, from the community of Nueva Palo Ralo, had blood levels of 173 mg/dl of lead and 263 mg/dl of arsenic. From birth, Lesly suffered from progressive and increasing acute motor paralysis in the lower limbs.  Photo 2007, by Gwendolyn Meyer, while on Rights Action delegation to Siria Valle, Honduras)

BELOW:  Report by Dr. Juan Almendares, translated for Rights Action by Rosalind Gill.

BACKGROUND

  • 10 minute film, by Steven Schnoor, about health and environmental harms caused by Goldcorp in Honduras’ Siria Valley, “All that glitters isn’t gold – a story of exploitation and resistance”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tmqXc5rX8s
  • In May 2011, Rights Action published two articles about this “cover-up”.  Background articles available on request.

NEEDED

Funds for health relief and demands for comprehensive reparations and compensation, paid for by Goldcorp and the government of Honduras, for the Goldcorp harmed communities of the Siria Valley. (See below)

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COVER-UP:  GOLDCORP (ENTRE MARES) & THE GOVERNMENT OF HONDURAS HIDE INFORMATION ABOUT POISONING OF CHILDREN AND ADULTS

By Dr. Juan Almendarez, September, 2011 (former Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences and former Vice-President of the National Autonomous University of Honduras)

As a doctor, physician and scientific researcher, as a member of the Medical College of Honduras and as a believer in the principle of a science with social and ethical conscience, I present our analysis of the conclusions of the Forensic Report on the levels of metal and other substances in the blood and urine of a part of the population of the Siria Valley, Honduras, resulting from the operation of the Goldcorp Inc. (Entre Mares) gold mine.

The Forensic Report, commissioned by the Honduran Government, is based on blood and urine analyses carried out by the Government itself in 2007.  It was not until four years later that the Government started releasing the results.

1- OBJECTIVE

Analyze the Forensic Report (Number 4046-2007, Crime and Forensic Sciences Laboratory, Number 1669-2007, Chemical Toxicology Laboratory of the Government of the Republic of Honduras) based on laboratory data from 61 people of the community of El Pedernal, and one person from the community of Nueva Palo Ralo, in the Siria Valley, Honduras, all of whom were exposed to cyanide-based open-pit industrial mining – the “San Martín” mine, owned by Goldcorp Inc. (Entre Mares).

2- INTRODUCTION

Mining exploration and exploitation in the Siria Valley (municipalities of San Ignacio, Cedros and El Porvenir), began in 1995 and intensified after Hurricane Mitch (1998).  The General Mining Law was approved on November 30, 1998, one month after Hurricane Mitch. It was published in the official “la Gaceta” on February 6, 1999 and came into force in 2000.

This General Mining Law was approved without any public participation or debate, in a special session of the Congress of Honduras during the crisis caused by Hurricane Mitch.

The mining operation in the Siria Valley, the “San Martín” mine, was originally owned by Glamis Gold Ltd. Subsequently, it was taken over by Goldcorp Inc. In Honduras, the San Martín mine (intensive open-pit, cyanide-based, mining exploitation) is registered under the name of Entre Mares Honduras Ltd, a subsidiary of Goldcorp Inc. The mining concession contract was signed on January 10, 2000.

Clause #10 of the San Martin mining concession states the following:  “This contract will be cancelled under the following circumstances: Any effect on or harm to water, air quality, flora, fauna, the community and the national ecological system will be considered sufficient grounds for the Dirección de Fomento a la Minería to deem the present Mining Contract cancelled.”

The area conceded to Goldcorp (Entre Mares) consists of 23,000 hectars in the Siria Valley, which includes the municipalities of San Ignacio, El Porvenir y Cedros.

ONE OUNCE = 20 TONS OF ROCK AND SOIL

To extract an ounce of gold, mining moves 20 tons of rock and soil; it uses between 200 and 320 gallons of water per minute. In its operations, the company has used up to 60 thousand gallons of water daily. This has caused contamination of water and scarcity of water in neighbouring communities, negative impact on human and animal health and increased poverty.

PREVIOUS STUDIES

In 2004, arsenic poisoning (as determined by a study carried out by the government DEFOMIN office regulating mining, 2004) was detected in Nueva Palo Ralo, over a period of four years. The poisoning was traced to a well providing water for human consumption. Local community members had been consuming water containing levels of arsenic that significantly exceeded levels set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Nueva Palo Ralo is a community that had been relocated by Goldcorp (Entre Mares); as part of the forced relocation of Nueva Palo Ralo, Goldcorp had constructed this well. Some 4 or 5 years later, the company simply closed the well without notifying the community.

A 2006 analysis of water used for human consumption in the community of El Pedernal (study done by F. Bianchini, 2006) produced the following data on levels of metal:

Arsenic 330 mg/L (WHO acceptable level = 10 mg/L)                                                            Lead 160 mg/L (WHO = 10 mg/L)                                                                                 Hexavalent chromium 220 mg/L (WHO = 50mg/L)                                                                Lead and arsenic were also found in the blood of 10 people in El Pedernal and Nueva Palo Ralo. 100% of these cases presented levels considered dangerous by the WHO.

One girl from Nueva Palo Ralo had blood levels of 173 mg/dl of lead and 263 mg/dl of arsenic. (F. Bianchini 2006). The child was suffering from progressive and increasing acute motor paralysis in the lower limbs. She died at the age of five on September 25, 2010.

(Lesly Yaritza died at the age of five, on September 25, 2010.  Lesly, from the community of Nueva Palo Ralo, had blood levels of 173 mg/dl of lead and 263 mg/dl of arsenic. From birth, Lesly suffered from progressive and increasing acute motor paralysis in the lower limbs.  Photo 2007, by Gwendolyn Meyer, while on Rights Action delegation to Siria Valle, Honduras)

In September 2006, in response to studies carried out by Bianchini, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (SERNA) officially confirmed that the Siria Valley was contaminated.

On July 25, 2007, as per administrative ruling 30-R 2007, SERNA fined Entre Mares (Goldcorp) for one million Lempiras, for contaminating the environment.

As well, in 2008, water samples studied by the Government (Water Quality and Chemical Contaminant Laboratory (CESCO)) in January, February and March of 2008, and by Caritas (Catholic Church) indicated the existence of higher than acceptable levels of lead, cadmium and calcium in water used for human consumption in El Pedernal and in Escanito. There was no analysis of arsenic levels.

THERE HAVE DENOUNCEMENTS OF THE CONTAMINATION AND HEALTH PROBLEMS SINCE THE SAN MARTIN PROJECT WAS APPROVED

Since the San Martin mining Project was approved, the Siria Valley Environmental Committee, and a number of Honduran organizations, have protested against it through activism and formal complaints to the National Congress, the Public Ministry, the Secretary of Health, the Secretary of Natural Resources and the Environment (SERNA); however, the complaints have been ignored and no information has been supplied on the poisoning of human beings and the contamination of the environment.

Since 2004, Rights Action and other international organizations have denounced the various harms to the environment and the health of the community to Goldcorp Inc., Goldcorp stockholders and investors (including the Canada Pension Plan), the press and the Canadian Parliament, as well as officials from former Canadian governments; in these cases as well, the denouncements have been ignored.

THE STUDY CARRIED OUT BY THE GOVERNMENT OF HONDURAS – 2007

In 2007, pressure from the national and international community concerning the impact of mining on health and the environment forced the Honduran Government to carry out a study of 62 people … but the results of these analyses would not be revealed to the victims until April, 2011!

In February 2008, Goldcorp (Entre Mares) announced its Mine Closure Plan, and formalized the process in April without taking into account the opinions of the communities with regard to harms to the environment and health of community members; as well, Goldcorp ignored the results of the study the Government of Honduras had carried out in 2007 – these results were covered up until 2011.

(Even though the Mine Closure Plan had been widely discussed, almost everyone believes that in 2008 and to this day, Goldcorp (Entre Mares) wants to continue mining in Honduras and in the Siria Valley.)

The way the Mine Closure Plan was implemented was strongly criticized in November 2008, when the mining impacted area was visited by Dr. Paul Younger, Professor of Geochemical Engineering at the University of Newcastle, England. Professor Younger declared that dangerous acid drainage produced by Goldcorp (Entre Mares) was causing heavy metal contamination that would last for more than a century.

3- SYNTHESIS OF THE FORENSIC REPORT – 2007

On October 16, 2007, Luis Vidal Ramos Reina, Director of Forensic Medicine at the Criminal and Forensic Sciences Laboratory, released a Forensic Report on the analysis of blood and urine simples of 61 people of El Pedernal and of one case from Nueva Palo Ralo. The study aimed to determine levels of heavy metal contamination and other chemical substances.

The analyses were carried out on August 16, 2007 and … results were not given to the people examined until four years later.

The analysis indicated the presence of dangerous concentrations of: cyanide, mercury, lead and arsenic. Two groups were identified for the purposes of the study:

The “case” group, or people showing clinical symptoms of illness, and the “reference” group, or those showing less serious symptoms.

The data was based on samples from 61 “case” and “reference” people from El Pedernal and one person from Nueva Palo Ralo. A total of 62 people were studied – 67% of whom were children (girls and boys). Adults (men and women) represented 33% of the population of El Pedernal. Some levels of lead in children were found to be higher than 30 mg/dl.

We are providing data on lead only, as this was the only metal studied in blood samples.  We do not know why arsenic and mercury levels were not analyzed.

In both groups, concentrations of lead exceeded WHO acceptable levels by 10 mg/dl (see figures 1 and 2 below).

FIGURE NO. 1                                                                                                             Results of samples taken from children (Pedernal)                                                             Number of samples taken: 41 (20 boys, 21 girls)                                                                   Number of “cases”: 18 (8 boys, 10 girls)                                                                             Number of “references”: 23 (12 boys, 11 girls)

CATEGORIES    AVERAGE LEVEL OF LEAD IN THE BLOOD, MG/DL

  •  “Cases”                       13,61
  • “References”                12,97
  • Girls                              14,08
  • Boys                             12,38
  • Girls/Cases                   14,17
  • Boys/Cases                  12,90
  • Girls/References           13,99
  • Boys/References          12,04

FIGURE NO.2

Results of adult samples (Pedernal)

  • Total number of samples taken: 20 (6 men, 14 women)
  • Number of cases: 14 (5 men, 9 women)
  • Number de references: 6 (1 man, 5 women)

CATEGORIES    AVERAGE LEVEL OF LEAD IN THE BLOOD, MG/DL

  • “Cases”                       12,47
  • “References”                11,47
  • Women                        11,33
  • Men                             14,12
  • Women/Case              11,30
  • Men/Case                   14,56
  • Women/Reference      11,39
  • Men/Reference            11,87

In samples taken from Palo Ralo (authorization has been given to provide this information), levels of lead in the blood are 13.4 mg/dl; however, levels in previous studies had been deemed dangerous to health according to WHO acceptable levels for both lead and arsenic in the blood. (F. Bianchini 2006).

The clinical evaluation of Palo Ralo samples found cases of hyperpigmentation, coordination difficulties, and pins and needles, which are indicative of chronic arsenic and lead poisoning.

The Forensic Report made the following conclusions with regard to lead:

“The average level of lead detected in the blood of the “case” group is 13,33 mg/dl, and this is not significantly different from the level found in the blood of the “reference” group, which showed an average level of 12,38 mg/dl.”

“Some patients in both groups surpassed the levels of external references, according to their age and other conditions.”

“Reference levels quoted by the Forensic Report include those of the Centre for Disease Control in the United States and those of the WHO for adults.”

4- OBSERVATIONS AND INTERPRETATION OF THE FORENSIC REPORT

There is no baseline study of the concentrations of heavy metal, semi-metals and other chemical substances in the Siria Valley before Goldcorp (Entre Mares) began its mining exploitation.

Both the DEFOMIN (state body regulating mining) and the CESCO (state-run centre for the control of pollutants), as well as studies by F. Bianchini and the Forensic Report (2007) in question, provide evidence of the presence of heavy metals in water used for human consumption, as well as in the blood of people exposed to the mining industry in the Siria Valley. These levels of heavy metals exceed limits set by the WHO and are harmful to the health of local people.

The Forensic Report only analyzed the level of lead in the blood samples and that of arsenic and mercury in the urine samples. However, the technical criteria for the report included analysis of mercury and arsenic in blood samples and of other metals such as cadmium magnesium, chromium and nickel, which had previously been detected in drinking water.

The fact that cyanide, metals and semi-metals were not detected and that there was no follow-up on the health of the affected people indicates that the sample testing was inadequate and as well, that the Government and Goldcorp (Entre Mares) have been irresponsible with respect to human life and the environment.

Above and beyond the irresponsibility, they participated in a cover-up. For four years, they hid this information, further aggravating the bad health of the people affected by the Goldcorp mining operation.

Our own clinical studies, carried out over the last 10 years in communities affected by Goldcorp’s gold mining operation, have revealed serious skin and hair loss problems, respiratory track, nervous system and eye problems – all of which can be attributed to contamination by heavy metals that are dangerous to the health of the present and future generations.

Goldcorp’s Mine Closure Plan was implemented post factum, in other words, after the mining disaster that had lasted for almost ten years. The results of all preceding studies were ignored. The results of the government’s 2007 study were ignored (and concealed). There was no consultation with the Siria Valley Environmental Committee nor with health and ecological professionals.

Apart from all of the above, national and international scientists all agree that there is acid drainage caused by the mining company and if not rectified, it will affect the Siria Valley for more than a century, as more heavy metals are released into the environment.

Nonetheless, Goldcorp (Entre Mares) was fined a million Lempiras (just 50 thousand dollars) for pollution by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment. But the company was exempted from paying by the Supreme Court because DEFOMIN did not provide evidence of pollution! This is a clear indication of corruption on the part of both the company and the State institution.

THE PAINFUL COVER-UP OF THE LABORATORY DATA

Recommendations made by the CDC and the WHO indicate that the data on lead levels was sufficient to warrant a more serious, responsible study and follow-up on the cases,  above all on those of children, who are still growing and more vulnerable to exposure, especially to lead.

5- CONCLUSIONS

The Forensic Report, according to recommendations of the CDC and the WHO, indicates that the people from Pedernal who were examined have serious lead poisoning.

The Government’s failure to carry out blood sample analysis of mercury, arsenic and other metals and semi-metals is incomprehensible and appears to be intentional negligence – it is urgent that these studies be carried out.

The Government of Honduras and Goldcorp are socially, judicially and ethically responsible for concealing information for almost four years from people who were subjects of laboratory examinations.

Based on previous laboratory and clinical studies, and given the existence of acid drainage, it is evident that there has been serious harm to the environment and human health and that the harms will be more severe with time.

6- RECOMMENDATIONS

Carry out an epidemiological and ecotoxicity study of the population and the environment of the Siria Valley, measuring levels of heavy metals, semi-metals and other chemical substances in surface as well as underground water and in wells.  As well, there should be systematic monitoring of the inhabitants of San Ignacio, El Porvenir and Cedros and areas that have been affected by mining.

Carry out a longitudinal epidemiological study to evaluate harms to physical and mental health caused by lead, arsenic, and other metals and semi-metals.

Investigate the premature death of the little girl from Nueva Palo Ralo who presented high levels of lead and cyanide.

On behalf of Goldcorp Inc., compensate the population of the Siria Valley for harms to their health and to the flora and fauna of the valley, as well as for other social, environmental and economic harms. The compensation plan must be a combination of economic compensation to harmed families and communities and a short and long-term medical attention plan, based on symptoms and medical, psychological and social needs of every person and family affected.

By Dr. Juan Almendarez, September, 2011   almendarez.bonilla@gmail.com

* * * * * * * * * *

TO MAKE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS

To provide funds to health harmed people in the Siria Valle, and to support demands and struggle for complete reparations and compensation, make check payable to “Rights Action” and mail to:

UNITED STATES:  Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887                                          CANADA:  552 – 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8

CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS: www.rightsaction.org

In Canada: https://www.canadahelps.org/DonationDetails.aspx?cookieCheck=true           In USA: https://npo.networkforgood.org/Donate/Donate.aspx?npoSubscriptionId=488

FOR DONATION OF STOCK: Stock donations can be done anonymously.  Have your stockbroker contact info@rightsaction.org)

WHAT TO DO – A “CANADIAN” PROBLEM

Please keep on sending copies of this information, and your own letters, to your local media, to Canadian politicians and government officials, and to Goldcorp that – like most North American resource extraction companies around the world – is operating with the full support of North American governments.

Please send copies to pension funds across North America – like the Canada Pension Plan – that are invested in Goldcorp and in most North American resource extraction companies around the world, with no concern for environmental, health or human rights concerns.

MORE INFORMATION Grahame Russell, info@rightsaction.org                                        Dr. Juan Almendarez, almendarez.bonilla@gmail.com

www.cafod.org.uk, article: “Honduras: Evidence of severe water contamination at Goldcorp mine”