“Stop environmental destruction and get out of our territories!”

The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, COPINH, issued a statement on Thursday slamming “right-wing invaders” who are allegedly burning crops to intimidate Indigenous Lenca land defenders.

The culprits, according to COPINH, are intentionally setting fire to corn, bean and coffee plantations along Honduras’ Rio Blanco, or “White River.” The river, considered the “cradle” of Mayan civilization in Honduras, is the same one that slain activist Berta Caceres defended from exploitative multinational corporations for decades.

COPINH claims wealthy, right-wing landowning families like the Madrids and the Facusse are behind the burnings. The organization, which claims these families are also hiring armed groups to intimidate Indigenous land defenders, has vowed to take action.

“We call on the authorities to do their duties and bring to justice those who attack the Lencas communities,” COPINH said in the statement. 

“Stop environmental destruction and get out of our territories!”

Last month, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz called on the Honduran government to do more to defend Indigenous peoples and their lands. 

Tauli-Corpuz, addressing systematic violence against Indigenous and environmental activists in the Central American country, said landowners and government officials should consult with affected communities before moving forward with mining and infrastructure projects.

The U.N. official echoed policy suggestions made by the NGO Global Witness, which named Honduras as “the most dangerous country in the world for land and environmental defenders” earlier this year.

 

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