Honduras: campesino leader murdered in Aguán

Juan Angel López Miranda, a campesino leader in the Lower Aguán River Valley in the northern Honduran department of Colón, was murdered on Nov. 11 in the Ilanga Viejo neighborhood of Trujillo municipality, according to a communiqué from the Agrarian Platform, an alliance of campesino groups and nongovernmental organizations. Also known as "Juan Galindo," López Miranda was a leader in the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MUCA) and headed the largest campesino settlement in the valley, with 1,500 campesino residents. López Miranda was attacked by two armed men on a motorcycle, the communiqué said, and was hit by eight bullets.

The Aguán Valley is the center of a longstanding conflict between campesinos and large landowners who the campesinos say acquired their land in contravention of Honduras's agrarian reform program. At least 147 people have been killed, most of them campesinos, since late 2009, when MUCA and other campesino organizations began a series of land occupations to push their claims. López Miranda was detained by the military briefly in April 2012, and he escaped without injuries from a violent attack in April 2013. The Agrarian Platform demanded that the Honduran government investigate both the people who carried out the campesino leader's "vile murder" and those who ordered it. (La Tribuna, Tegucigalpa, Nov. 13, from ACAN-EFE; Adital, Brazil, Nov. 17)

In other news, on Nov. 5 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR, or CIDH in Spanish), the human rights agency of the Organization of American States (OAS), issued a precautionary measure requiring the Honduran Government to suspend a 16-month work ban imposed on journalist Julio Ernesto Alvarado, the director and anchor for a Globo TV news program and a founding member of the Honduran chapter of the British-based human rights organization PEN International. Honduran courts imposed the ban last December in response to Alvarado's 2006 coverage of alleged corruption by a university dean, Belinda Flores. This is the first time that the IACHR has ordered the revocation of a ban on practicing journalism. Carles Torner, PEN International's executive director, called the IACHR ruling "a landmark decision for the protection of the freedom of expression of journalists in the region." (PEN International, Nov. 12; Adital, Brazil, Nov. 19)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, November 23.