Statement | 05-07-2012
Bajo Aguan Honduras Peasants' Rights Land Grabbing

International organizations welcome the restitution of land to the peasant movement in Bajo Aguán

Several international organizations have welcomed the ruling in favor of the Authentic Peasant Reclamation Movement of Aguán (MARCA), restoring the land they have been claiming for 18 years.

This decision also insists that the numerous grave human rights violations committed during the rural conflict in the Bajo Aguán will not go unpunished.

On June 29, after the Trial Court of Tegucigalpa decided in favor of the peasants, the public security forces in Honduras confiscated the estates: San Isidrio, La Trinidad, and El Despertar, and turned them over to the members of the Authentic Peasant Reclamation Movement of Aguán (MARCA).

This ruling confirms that the acquisition of these three estates, totaling 1,776 hectares, by businessmen Miguel Facussé and René Morales was illegal.The members of MARCA were evicted from their land in 1994 when, under the pretext of the Modernization and Agricultural Sector Development Act, peasants were pressured into selling their land, which in theory could only be legally granted to persons meeting the requirements established to benefit the Agrarian Reform.

Since then, the members of MARCA and the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguán (MUCA) have been demanding their right to land, and facing constant harassment and aggression from the State security forces and the private security forces working for the landowners´ businesses. Since the coup d'état in 2009, the number of murders, threats and intimidation committed against the peasant community has been on the rise.

And, since September 2009, 48 people affiliated with the peasant organizations have been murdered, including a journalist and his partner, all within the context of the agrarian conflict afflicting this region.

Furthermore, one peasant man has been missing since May 15, 2011; and another peasant was reported missing by his family on July 3, 2012."This decision in favor of the members of MARCA represents a positive sign, opening the way for further restitution for the communities of Bajo Aguán" said Souhayr Belhassen, president of FIDH.

"Nevertheless, we must not forget that the Bajo Aguán peasants are living with violence every day, and that the numerous murders committed against this community have gone completely unpunished," he added.

Our organizations welcome this decision to restore these lands to the MARCA communities, and also would like to remind the Honduran authorities that they must fulfill their obligation to investigate and sanction those intellectual and material authors of the crimes committed in the Bajo Aguán.

"Along with the other international organizations, we would like reiterate our petition for a comprehensive, fair, peaceful, and sustainable solution guaranteeing the right to food and other human rights of the peasant communities", said Flavio Valente, Secretary General of FIAN International.

Signing organizations:

International Human Rights Federation (FIDH)
FIAN International
Copenhague Initiative for Central America and Mexico (CIFCA)
CDM Watch
Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development (PIDHDD)
International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity(CIDSE)
Latin-America Working Group (LAWG)
Rights Action
Popol Nah Tun Foundation

Read the declaration of the public hearing on the human rights situation in the peasant communities of Bajo Aguán, Honduras below.

2012.05.31 Declaracion audiencia publica Bajo Aguan EN238 K