Honduras: three campesinos killed at mine protest

Three members of Honduras’ Tolupan indigenous group were shot dead on Aug. 25 near an anti-mining and anti-logging protest in the community of Locomapa in the northern department of Yoro. According to witnesses the killers were employees of a nearby antimony mine who were themselves members of the Tolupan group. Some 150 Locomapa residents have been demonstrating against logging in their territory and against the mine, which the protesters say is operating without a permit. At the time of the shooting, residents had been blocking the San Francisco Campo highway for 12 days, allowing local traffic to pass through but turning back loggers and vehicles that belong to the mine.

Witnesses said the two mine employees, Selvin Fúnez and Carlos Matute, apparently drunk, rode up to the blockade on a motorcycle the afternoon of Aug. 25; after a verbal dispute with two protesters, the brothers Ricardo Soto Fúnez and Armando Fúnez Medina, they pulled out a gun. Soto Fúnez and Fúnez Medina sought shelter in a house beside the road, but the two mine employees followed them into the house and shot them there. When the house’s owner, María Enriqueta Matute, reproached the killers for the murders, they killed her as well.

As of Aug. 26 the two mine employees were still free, according to Pablo Munguía, the coordinator of the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ), a group that fights against corruption and for the defense of natural resources. “[I]f these individuals, who are part of the same community, dared to murder three members of their own group, let’s not think what other people who are strangers to the village could do,” Munguía said. “For this reason we demand justice, so that these three deaths don’t remain unpunished.” (La Tribuna, Tegucigalpa, Aug. 27; Honduras Accompaniment Project, Aug. 27; El País, Costa Rica, Aug. 31)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, September 1.