At least 12 people were injured and 59 arrested July 17 when Honduran police violently cleared several roadblocks set up by protesters demanding a new mining law. Salvador Zuniga, consultant to the Coordinator of Peasant and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), told AFP, “They came at us wielding clubs; we have several injured and 10 arrested.” COPINH led the protest at a roadblock 120 kilometers north of the capital, Tegucigalpa.
The protesters are demanding a law that forbids open pit mining, including the use of cyanide, mercury and other toxic substances. They also call for community meetings so the people can decide if they want the mining operations or not, and to obligate the companies to carry out measures to mitigate the impact on the environment, among other demands. Goldcorp (formerly Glamis Gold) was a special target of the protests. (Rights Action, July 4)
The Honduran legislature began discussing a mining law in 2006 but suspended the process to hold more consultations with the executive branch. Concessions to mining companies currently cover some 34% of Honduran territory, according to Francisco Machado, one of the protesters and head of the Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (IASONOG). (La Prensa, San Pedro Sula, July 17, via Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 22)