Honduras: indigenous protests to protect forests

On Feb. 16 indigenous Hondurans closed off roads in Intibucá department at the beginning of a 12-day mobilization organized by the Civic Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) against the destruction of forests in the territories of the Lenca people. COPINH said the protesters succeeded in maintaining “three strategic takeovers…completely paralyzing the exploitation of timber,” and that the mobilization also resulted in the temporary suspension of authorizations for cutting trees in San Marcos de Sierra municipality and in Wise community in Intibucá municipality.

The mobilization continued on Feb. 22 with hundreds of people gathering in the city of Esperanza to participate in a Grassroots Assembly for the Defense of the Life of Woods and Water Sources (Asamblea Popular por la Defensa de la Vida del Bosque y las Fuentes de Agua). On Feb. 25 COPINH held a march attended by hundreds of youths and supporters from Esperanza and communities throughout Intibucá department. Concluding the mobilization on Feb. 27, COPINH announced that it was preparing “new and more overwhelming actions.”

COPINH is demanding that the forests be exploited for the benefit of the Lenca communities, that the timber be used for local consumption or be exported in finished products, and that the forests be managed in a sustainable manner. Other demands are for decisions on timber and mining concessions to be made with community approval, and for guarantees that water sources will be protected. COPINH rejects US plans to install a military base in Lenca territory in the San Antonio plains, and demands the release of campesino activists Carlos Maradiaga and Isabel Morales. (Adital, Feb. 19; COPINH communiqué, Feb. 27)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 1

See our last post on the struggle in Honduras.