Honduras: campesino ecologists under threat

Tierramérica reports [April 21] that grassroots organizations in the department of Olancho, Honduras, are fighting both for the enforcement of a partial ban decreed to stop illegal logging, as well as justice punishment of the assassins of two Honduran environmentalists on December 20, 2006. Six environmentalists have been killed in the Olancho region since 1998, and more than half of the original 2.5 million hectares of forested land has been cut.

“This relative peace could be interrupted at any moment because impunity persists and the partial ban decreed to halt logging continues being made a mockery,” says resident and Committee of Families of the Detained-Disappeared (COFADEH) founder Bertha Oliva. Anti-deforestation groups signed a pact in February after Heraldo Zúñiga and Roger Murillo, of MAO, the Olancho Environmentalist Movement, were killed. Pressure from internal and external organizations such as Amnesty International led authorities to detain the police officers accused of the killings in March.

An uneasy truce between the cooperative representing the lumber companies (Primero De Mayo), the MAO, the Environmental Ministry and the military is threatened by the continued impunity of the assassins and continued illegal logging. Residents of the area say that the logging industry does not provide lumber for local use, and is destroying farmers’ water supplies.

April Howard for Upside Down World, April 25

See our last posts on Honduras and Central America.