From Socialist Voice, February 2011

International

“As if we were vermin”


On Thursday 9 December heavily armed Honduran police and soldiers arrived in Bajo Aguan to forcibly evict dozens of unarmed and defenceless peasant families from their land. Given recent events in the area (reported by Socialist Voice), there can be no doubt of the potential for a bloodbath and the further murder of campesinos. Fortunately, the presence of human rights organisations and national and international journalists helped prevent this.
     Many campesino families are living on the settlement of Paso Aguan on the banks of the River Aguan. At 5 a.m. on 9 December several contingents of soldiers and police arrived, terrifying the inhabitants. They proceeded to force men, women and children to abandon their homes at gunpoint.
     One of the campesinos described what happened. “They arrived at five in the morning, wearing balaclavas or ski masks. They 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.”
     The soldiers were not carrying out the orders of any court, and their actions took place without any judicial order or the presence of an administrative judge. They were merely acting on the orders of a businessman and wealthy landowner. The land that is providing food and work for poor campesinos has been stolen by Miguel Facusse, to enable him to grow more oil palms—just one of his many businesses.
     The same campesino stated: “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.”
     One human rights eye-witness described the scene: “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.”
     The Campesino Movement of the Aguan offered them a place of refuge. It is also suffering at the hands of the Honduran military, with numerous members murdered in the last year.
     A local priest, Fausto Milla, summed the situation up: “In Honduras the law no longer exists. The only law that is carried out is the whim of the powerful, and the defenceless 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.”
[JM]

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