From Socialist Voice, October 2010

International

Honduran peasant leaders continue to be murdered


Over the last few months there has been a stepping up of attacks against workers and social organisers in Honduras. On 10 September, Francisco Mirando Ortega from La Aurora was murdered. As he was travelling on his push bike a number of snipers opened fire on him.
     Ortega was an active member of the Unified Campesino Movement of Aguan. This murder was the fifth killing of a peasant leader or organiser in the region in the last ten weeks. As with the other four murders, no investigation into his murder has been carried out.
     All these murders have a number of similarities, not least regarding those who are thought to be behind them. In all five murders, numerous eye witnesses have seen a grey vehicle in the area. This vehicle is well known to local people as being the property of Miguel Facusse.
     Facusse is an extremely shady and dangerous character. He is one of Honduras’s richest business men and is thought to have influenced every election in Honduras over the last twenty-five years. He is constantly wining and dining within the Honduran elite, in government, military and business circles. The media refuse to criticise anything he does, afraid of a man who wins endless awards and prizes in recognition of his “achievements.”
     By what is surely more than coincidence, those who dare criticise Facusse, or who compromise his business interests, end up dead. Carlos Escaleras of the left-wing Democratic Unification Party was murdered after running for mayor because of his opposition to a factory that Facusse was building in the area. Escaleras had gone on record as arguing that the factory would destroy the livelihoods of neighbouring villages with the chemicals that would be used. There is little doubt that he was killed by Facusse’s men, after he had refused to allow himself to be bought off.
     Since then there have been many murders that Facusse is suspected of ordering. However, he has never had charges laid against him, nor has he ever been investigated for the murders. Facusse is allowed to operate with impunity by the Honduran state. He has murdered five peasant leaders in the last two-and-a-half months alone, and many more, like Carlos Escaleras, over the last decade and more.
     Despite the oppression and threats of death, the people of the Aguan region in Honduras are continuing their struggle against the privileges and impunity that the “corporate masters” like Facusse enjoy, and, regardless of how many of their members are murdered, they will continue to demonstrate against and resist a system that is designed to favour the rich and powerful, the oligarchs.
[JM]

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