Honduras: brother of slain Aguán attorney killed

Unidentified assailants shot Honduran campesino José Trejo Cabrera on the evening of Feb. 16 as he was riding on his motorbike to his home in the San Isidro section of Tocoa in the northern department of Colón. Trejo was taken to a local hospital, where he died a few minutes later. The victim’s brother, Antonio Trejo Cabrera, an attorney who defended campesino activists and fiercely opposed plans for autonomous “model cities” in Honduras, was gunned down the evening of Sept. 22, 2012, in Tegucigalpa near the Toncontín International Airport. Both brothers were members of the Authentic Claimant Movement of Aguán Campesinos (MARCA), one of several collectives seeking the return of land in the Lower Aguán Valley that they say big landowners bought illegally.

The conservative Tegucigalpa daily La Tribuna reported that according to several neighbors the attackers were trying to steal Trejo’s motorbike, but Vitalino Alvarez, a spokesperson for the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MUCA), told the French wire service AFP that the killers had been “waiting for” Trejo. Some 85 campesinos have been killed in the Aguán since the land dispute intensified in late 2009; two were murdered just two weeks earlier, on Feb. 2. The government of President Porfirio (“Pepe”) Lobo Sosa has militarized Colón department, claiming that this would reduce violence both from the land disputes and from common crime, but many campesinos feel the militarization was actually directed against them. “We don’t understand how we can go on being killed in a department that’s under siege by the army and the police,” Alvarez remarked.

Another campesino, Santos Jacobo Cartagena, was gunned down a few hours before Trejo on the afternoon of Feb. 16. Unidentified men riding in a car shot Cartagena, a MUCA member, as he was waiting for a bus at the La Confianza community. “More murders can be expected after the persecution and threats against the campesinos who struggle for land,” the Permanent Human Rights Monitoring Center for the Aguán, a Honduran human rights group, wrote on Feb. 16. (Vos el Soberano, Feb. 16; La Tribuna, Feb. 17; AFP, Feb. 17, via Terra.com; Conexihon.info, Honduras, Feb. 17)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 17.