I started this blog to give light to a devastating situation in Honduras, this of course is not limited to the Rio Blanco Community. The blunt force of capitalism and the corruption in most governments globally has lead to the murder and destruction of thousands of indigenous communities world wide. I, however had the privilege of living in the Intibuca community of Rio Blanco Honduras for the first three weeks of their road blockade.
The community of Rio Blanco is remote, rural and poor. The people work hard, starting as children, tending to the fields for their survival. The community is grateful for what they have, yet the majority of the first world people would feel sorry for themselves for having so little. The community is full of life by taking pride in their culture, their families, their blisters, their laughter and blood. The lenca people are direct descendants of Limpera (also currency in Honduras) an indigenous leader in the 16th century that lead an uprising against the Spanish conquistador forces and is considered a hero who defended his people against repression and cultural domination. Their blood line is evident in their actions and bravery, they continue to be a powerful force resisting oppressive forces and cultural domination. The community of Rio Blanco, as all indigenous communities must be heard, and respected. Their rights to the land should not be in question yet, to this day, they continue to defend what little they have from invasion, violence and corruption.
My love and respect for the people and children of the Rio Blanco Intibuca community cannot be described or measured in words. I only hope that we can take a stand to protect this community, and in turn, open ours eyes to a larger international warfare against the poor for water, land and the right to live.
Solidarity with COPINH and Indigenous communities in Honduras and against oppressive land grabbing, criminalization and military brutality
On April 1st 2013, the Indigenous Lenca community of Rio Blanco initiated a road block to stop the construction of the Agua Zarca Dam in their territory. The dam project--involving two companies, DESA and SINOHYDRO--is illegal, violating ILO Convention 169 on "the right of Indigenous peoples to determine their own process of development.” The Honduran government claims to respect indigenous rights but failed to consult or receive the permission for the project by the people who have lived on this land for generations and depend on the land to harvest their corn, beans, yucca, plantains, and other crops to survive. If the dam is constructed it would cause severe environmental damage, including but not limited to flooding of their vital food crops.
Along with death threats, physical attacks, a murder, and a kidnapping in the Rio Blanco community, the company DESA, along with the Honduran government, launched a campaign attempting to frame COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) as criminals, accusing them of being violent and armed usurpers of land. On Sept 12th, three members of COPINH will have a hearing that will decide if the case will go to trial. COPINH has been publicizing this story through their radio station, giving a voice to the community, taking legal steps to defend community members, bringing in volunteers and international watch people, and helping with food and funds to keep the blockade manageable and sustainable.
COPINH and the international community ask for the Honduran Government to:
Drop all judicial charges against Berta Caceres, Tomás Gomez, Aureliano Molina, and others peaceably defending their land
Cancel the damming concession on the Rio Gualcarque, and stop Project Agua Zerca
Respect Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization requiring free, prior, and informed consent by indigenous peoples before development projects may proceed on their lands, and the Honduran constitution requiring protection of the lands and rights of indigenous communities and all ancestral territories
Stop the violence against indigenous communities.
Why is it important to stand in solidarity with COPINH and Indigenous communities in Honduras:
-You are standing up for indigenous rights, a right protected by international law
-you are fighting for freedom of speech and the right to protest and organize
-you are defending families
-you are protecting the land and ecosystem in the region
-you are protecting other communities by standing up to international companies that brutalize and steal land from the poor
-you are taking a stand against brutality and corruption within governments internationally
-you are fighting to kept cultural traditions alive for generations to come
-you are supporting your own humanity and the human rights we all posses
-you are protecting communities globally by taking a stand against violence and repression