Honduras: Campesinos Expelled Like ‘Vermin’*
By Giorgio Trucchi, Translated by Peter Lackowski
Soldiers and police armed to the teeth violently evict defenseless peasant families. The presence of human rights organizations and national and international journalists prevents, this time, a new blood bath in the Bajo Aguan.
The dawning of Thursday, December 9, brought terror to dozens of campesino families of the Bajo (Lower) Aguan River Valley. Several contingents of soldiers and police, armed to the teeth, evicted them without any judicial order, nor the presence of an administrative judge, from the settlement of Paso Aguan, on the left bank of the Aguan River.
The delegation of human rights organizations and national and international journalists arrived at the place just as the the repressive forces of the state were finishing their “work.”
Dozens of troops, armed with M16 rifles and even with an M60 machine gun were forcing men, women, and children to abandon the place that they had recovered some months ago from the hands of Miguel Facusse, a wealthy landholder who grows oil palms.
A scene of war declared against the struggle of campesinos who ask for, demand, land in order to work and to survive.
An absurd war that has broken out under the branches of thousands of African oil palm trees that is bringing exploitation, violence, and bloodshed, putting an end to food security for the majority of the people who live in those fertile lands of the Bajo Aguan.
Before our eyes there was a scene from Dante: The humble huts made of plastic sheets and palm leaves being destroyed and burned. Air mattresses, cooking utensils, and clothing strewn all around on the ground, muddy from the violent rainstorm of the night before.
The lost looks of the women holding their children in their arms. The angry men shouting their truths, faced by the impassive looks of the uniformed men who tried to justify the unjustifiable.
The dislocated families marched in a line. Every member carried something on his or her shoulders, toward nowhere. They had nowhere to go.
At the end of the day, it was the solidarity of the Campesino Movement of the Aguan (MCA, its initials in Spanish), and the community of Guadalupe Carney, also under siege by the soldiers, that partially mitigated this dramatic situation by offering them a place of refuge.
The Law of the Jungle
“We are following orders given by the judge. We are doing our work, and you should not distort what occurred. There was not a single person injured here, nor were there prisoners, and it was the the campesinos themselves who set fire to their huts,” said Alex Madrid, the public relations agent of the police, trying uselessly to justify himself, while he was taking photos of the journalists and human rights activists.
“They arrived at 5 in the morning, wearing balaclavas–ski masks. The threw us face down on the ground and threatened us. They destroyed and burned our shelters as if we were vermin, they took away our machetes, and now they won’t even let us leave with our things,” one of the dislocated campesinos, who preferred to remain anonymous said angrily.
“We already can’t live, and we are resigned to being killed by the soldiers. We are abandoned in the Bajo Aguan. They burned our houses, we are left with nothing, and we have not the slightest doubt that this is the work of Miguel Facusse.”
“In Honduras the law no longer exists. The only law that is carried out is the whim of the powerful, and the defenseless people are under this deadly law. You have to go to people’s houses and see how they are living. It is total misery. The idea that is destroying the world is that money is more important than life. We can’t go on like this,” said the priest Fausto Milla, member of the Truth Commission, as we walked, leaving behind the disgrace of this attack on a people in resistance and in a struggle for their lives.
*Source: El Libertador (via www.upsidedownworld.org)