At least 35 Honduran peasants have been murdered during the last few months in the Valley of Aguán, where for decades there has been a conflict over lands, agrarian organizations have revealed.
The most recent case occurred in a farm called El Tumbador on November 15, when private guards working for entrepreneur Miguel Facussé shot the peasants Ignacio Reyes, Teodoro Acosta, Siriaco Muñoz, Raúl Castillo and José Luis Sauceda. In a press conference Thursday, leaders of the Unified Movement of the Valley of Aguán (MUCA) stated that Facussé and other landowners use Colombian mercenaries to repress families settled there.
Vitalino Álvarez, Yoselyn Avilez and Adolfo Cruz, leaders of the MUCA, said that there are at least 300 armed men with AR-15, M-16, AK-47 and M60 rifles. For several years, MUCA has fought for the return of 20,000 hectares (49,421 acres) of arable earth, appropriated in a fraudulent way by landowners Facussé, Reinaldo Canales and Rene Morales.
In April the government and the MUCA signed an agreement by virtue of which the families settled in the valley will receive 7,413 acres planted with African palm and another 7,413 acres of uncultivated land. The government also committed itself to deliver 12,355 acres to the peasants in the course of a year, with the condition that they could never be used for mortgaging nor sold. However, the process of land deliveries is very slow and the evictions continue.
During the last few days, combined forces of the army and the police evicted another three properties in the well-known sector known as Bajo Aguán and the operations will continue during the weekend. In an official statement published Friday, the National Front of Popular Resistance demanded that the government demilitarize the area and solve the agrarian conflict. The Front will install a permanent international observatory of human rights in the Valley of Aguán to stop the murders of peasants. (PL)