Friday, November 27, 2015

Canada’s Aura Minerals Terrorizing Honduran Communities For Protecting Their Cemetery

Photo caption: Standing at the edge of the sharp cut in the mountain, less than 100 meters from the edge of the community cemetery

In the evening on Monday, November 23, ten leaders from the mining-affected communities of Azacualpa and San Andres Minas were stopped at a police checkpoint as they left Santa Rosa de Copan in western Honduras. Three of the leaders – Miguel Lopez, Genaro Rodriguez and Orlando Rodriguez – all part of the Azacualpa Environmental Committee were held overnight at the police station on charges of usurpation. Lopez, Rodriguez, and Rodriguez are expected to appear before a judge for a hearing scheduled for December 17th.

Upon returning to Azacualpa after their release, dozens of residents from the community greeted the three leaders at the entrance with a caravan and setting off firecrackers in celebration. The community also reaffirmed its support to maintain a blockade that they started on November 9th, located at the base of a steep cut in the side of Cemetery Mountain (Cerro Cementerio). Without access to the mountainside, Aura cannot continue to encroach on the perimeters of the community cemetery, now located less than 100 meters from the steep slice in the side of the mountain.
The recent detentions and provocation are part of a criminalization and repression campaign against the communities and the Azacualpa Environmental Committee. Tired of Aura’s broken promises and failure to fulfill a 2012 agreement with mining-affected communities in the municipality of La Unión, residents of Azacualpa and San Andres Minas have decided to protect what is left of the two mountain tops – Cerro Cementerio and Cerro Los Hornillos – closest to their communities, both of which are in Aura Mineral’s expansion plans.

Using Corruption and Impunity To Force The Closure of Community Cemetery

At the service of the Canadian mining company, Honduran institutions including the Permanent Contingency Commission (COPECO) and the Ministry of Public Health have recently attempted to declare the cemetery unfit citing that it is dangerous, susceptible to land slides, unsanitary, and fails to meet public health standards. Their sudden interests in the conditions of the cemetery coincide with Aura Minerals’ interests in expansion.

Community members argue that the mining operations in close proximity to the cemetery, against the wishes of the local residents, have created some of the conditions being used to justify its destruction. Other justifications are just flat-out inventions. They argue that the corrupt Honduran state – security forces, public prosecutors’ offices, and other state institutions – are simply protecting and acting on the interests of the mining monster in their backyard.
In an effort to stop the expansion of the mine, in April 2014 local residents blocked a public road outside one of the entrances of the San Andres mine. It was violently evicted by military and police and charges were pressed against nineteen community members, who are still required to appear before a judge every month. In January 2015, residents of Azacualpa held a community consultation (cabildo abierto) in coordination with the mayor’s office. Azacualpa declared that they were against the closure and relocation of their cemetery and demand that Aura Minerals respect their wishes. The consultation is another effort by the community to demand respect for their gravesites where local communities bury their loved ones.

Photo caption: Standing at the base of the mountainside at the location of the community-led blockade to prevent expansion of mining operation

Photo caption: Community cemetery

Drones, Military Intelligence and Shady Business Contacts: Aura Mineral’s Tactics in Honduras

Immediately following the release of the three leaders of the Azacualpa Environmental Committee early this week, affected communities denounced the presence of a drone hovering over the location of the blockade. They believe that the drone is being utilized by Aura Minerals and its’ private security company, Servicios Especiales de Seguridad (SESER) to provoke the community and to take pictures of and identify individuals participating in the blockade.

Contributing to the fear and tension, the local communities are aware of Aura Mineral’s business relationships in the region. Its private security company, SESER is owned by Angel Rene Romero, a former military commander and congressional candidate for the National Party in the Department of Copan. Rene Romero was part of the infamous military Battalion 3-16 in the 1980s, an intelligence unit inside the Honduran military responsible for political assassinations and torture of state opponents.

Another contract that Aura Minerals holds at its’ San Andres gold mine, is with a Honduran transportation company called INCOBE. The contract involves various machinery and dump trucks that move crushed rock to the location of the mine’s leaching pads. Owned and operated by the Benitez family based in Santa Rosa de Copan, INCOBE holds the concession for the iron ore mine in El Nispero, Santa Barbara, Honduras, where anti-mining and community leader Rigoberto Lopez Hernandez was brutally murdered in May 2014. Lopez Hernandez’s throat had been slit, his tongue cut out, and his murdered body publicly displayed as a clear message to environmentalists around the country in resistance to mining operations.

Canada’s Complicity in Aura Minerals’ Tactics and Operations in Honduras

Aura Minerals was one of few mining companies that operated through the violent and repressive aftermath of the June 28, 2009 military coup in Honduras. Eight months after the coup in February 2010, and in clear support of the post-coup Honduran regime and its economic interests, then President of Aura Minerals, Patrick Downey visited Honduras accompanied by mining and corporate investors and the Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder. The visit was centered on encouraging the Honduran government to approve a new mining law that would lift the 2006 moratorium that prevented new concessions from being granted.

Years later on January 23, 2013, the Honduran Congress passed and ratified a new mining law without any consultation with mining-affected communities, environmental and human rights groups. Mining Watch Canada publicly denounced that the development of the new Honduran mining law received assistance from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), thus reaffirming the strong support that the Canadian mining industry receives from the Canadian government.

With no respect for community consultations, local discontent, and the protection of a community cemetery, Aura Minerals, supported by the Canadian government is generating more violence in Honduras – one of the most violent countries in the world. As drones snap pictures of the faces of local residents protecting their community cemetery, and former military intelligence commanders protect the interests of foreign investment, Honduran communities are placed in increasingly vulnerable circumstances to the benefit and profit of the Canadian mining industry.

Photo caption: Approximately 120 houses built by Aura Minerals as part of an agreement with the community of Azacualpa. Aura agreed to build three different housing styles and 396 houses in total. Both the number, the styles, and additional community projects as part of the relocation process were violated by the mining company.

Photo caption: Climbing up to the community blockade, La Unión, Copan.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Two Educational Videos: ZEDEs & Tourism Projects on Garifuna Land


A new film about ZEDEs has been released on YouTube titled, “ZEDEs: neocolonialism and land grabbing in Honduras.” The 20-minute film was produced by members of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) with filmmaker Lazar Konforti and HSN Honduras Coordinator Karen Spring. The film highlights the personal struggles and the legal battles that are beginning to materialize now that ZEDE projects are being planned and developed in Honduras. Please disseminate this film to your contacts, social media, and add it to your organization's website or newsletter. There is no need to obtain permission for screenings. The Spanish version is available here. For further information, see the NLG International Committee website at


On November 13th, 2015, Canadian tourism developer Randy Jorgensen, aka “The Porn King”, appeared in court on charges of illegally appropriating ancestral Garifuna lands. The court ruled partially in Jorgensen’s favour, choosing not to go to a full trial for the time being, but local communities smell corruption and vow to appeal this ruling in Honduran courts and keep on fighting all the way to international tribunals, meaning that Jorgensen’s and others’ investments remain in legal limbo and could still be in jeopardy.

Check out the website Los Despojados for more great work by filmmaker Lazar Konforti

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Canadian Tourism and Real Estate Developer Appears Before Honduran Judge

On November 13, 2015, Canadian tourist and real estate investor, Randy Jorgensen appeared before a judge in Trujillo, Honduras. Jorgensen is being accused of illegal possession of approximately 81 manzanas of land where his company Life Vision Developments has developed the gated-community of Campa Vista. The lots inside Campa Vista are being sold to North Americans seeking vacation homes on the beautiful Caribbean coast of Honduras. Jorgensen illegally obtained the land through fraudulent sales of land inside the ancestral land title of the Garifuna community of Rio Negro and Cristales.

The Honduran judge overseeing the hearing ruled 'sobreseimiento provisional' or a provisional stay which means that there is insufficient evidence to proceed to trial but that the Honduran state representing the Garifuna community has five years to present further evidence. Given the serious accusations against Jorgensen and the threat that the gated-community Campa Vista presents to the cultural integrity and land rights of the Garifuna in Trujillo Bay, the community of Rio Negro and Cristales intend to appeal the decision. The Garifuna communities were not entirely surprised by the judge's decision on the case. Corruption and impunity is rampant in the Honduran judicial system and more likely than not to sway the ruling in favour of a foreign investor with strong political connections.

Over 150 Garifuna gathered outside of the courthouse as the hearing was underway. Marching first from the Cristales neighbourhood, we arrived to the courthouse shortly after the hearing begun. Drumming, singing, holding signs declaring their indigenous rights under the International Labour Organization (ILO) 169 convention, and a banner that read "Randy Roy Jorgensen out of Garifuna territory", the Garifuna communities showed their determination to defend their ancestral rights.

Photo caption: Banner reads "Randy Roy Jorgensen out of Garifuna territory." All photos by Karen Spring

Photo caption: Marching from the Garifuna neighbourhood of Cristales in Trujillo to the courthouse

Photo caption: Protesting outside of the courthouse

Photo caption: Canadian "Porn King" Randy Jorgensen charged with illegal possession of land arrives to the courthouse in Trujillo, Honduras.

Photo caption: Randy Jorgensen (left) waving obnoxiously to the Garifuna community waiting outside the courthouse to hear the results. Hernan Batres (middle), the General Manager of the cruise ship terminal constructed by Jorgensen's second company in Trujillo, Banana Coast, accompanied Jorgensen to the hearing.

Friday, November 6, 2015

National Day of Protest 4/11

On Wednesday, November 4th, social movements and organizations around the country organized protests, blocked off roads, and occupied public universities. Below is a communique (first in English and then Spanish) signed by 52 organizations that outlines why the National Day of Protest was organized and what the movements are demanding. Throughout the communique, I have posted pictures of the protests.

Photo caption: San Pedro Sula. Photo by: Radio Progreso



In light of the deep political, economic, and social crisis affecting the country due to the grim neoliberal, pro-imperialist, Zionist policies applied by Juan Orlando Hernandez, exacerbated by the monstrous cases of corruption with participation by a government that has hijacked the institutionality of the state in collusion with powerful groups with links to drug trafficking and organized crime.
The immediate, occurring effect is a panorama of hunger and death for Honduran society and in particular, the most impoverished sectors. However, the economic and social policies of JOH are based on privatization, the sacrifice of the people, the indebtedness and use of public funds to buy the conscience of the population in greatest need; coupled with the trafficking of influences in the quest for re-election at any cost, thus generating an environment of uncertainty and of State violence. However, for JOH, everything is going wrong, the chaos that he has created in the country not only expels thousands of countrymen and women to forced migration but discredits the country at the international level placing it not only as the most violent in the world but with the largest inequality gap.
Photo caption: Comayagua, Honduras. Photo by: COPINH
The agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has come to increase the ranks of the unemployed and the violations of rights, tax increases, and budget reductions for the most basic services that has generated a situation of social pressure that will explode with more force at any time. This is why the Movements of Resistance and Popular Indignation, after various months of permanent struggle to free ourselves from the cancer of corruption and of the person in charge of this crisis that has reached unimaginable levels, we have found ourselves organizing this November 4th, a national day of protest on the way to a National Strike, protest actions as the only way to remove this murderous, corrupt government and enemy of the people, transgressor of the most elementary rights and, that has as its only intention to extend its term in power through political party supporters and political favoritism to the detriment of all male and female workers.
Photo caption: El Progreso. Photo by: Unknown
Our struggle is also for self-determination and, we condemn imperialist intervention either through the Organization of American States (OAS), or the U.S. government, an expert in making all of our people slaves, and to fill our families with mourning in the name of the supposed fight against drug trafficking that they themselves promote. This by no means signifies that we support any drug trafficker, we denounce the lies of the empire, since its only interest is to recolonize then to plunder our common goods of nature, using any advantage to manipulate through its government foot soldiers and historical executioners.
Photo caption: Tela area. Photo by: Unknown
From this space of national articulation, we do not recognize any dialogue initiated by the Organization of American States (OAS), from now on we question the legitimacy of any decision that any indignant movement or, from the poorly named civil society that claim, for personal interests to be representatives before these organizations and other subsidiaries and servants of the Empire. In this regard, we do not recognize institutions that are instrumentalized that assign themselves representation in the name of the people that have not been delegated to do so and that do not represent us. To all the workers of Continental Group, we give our solidarity and we ask that you not trust in the government’s demagogy. The only way to defend your rights is to struggle in the streets, while we consider you part of all the demands from the popular movement.
Photo caption: Students occupy the public National Autonomous University, Tegucigalpa. Photo by: Karen Spring


- The immediate departure of Juan Orlando Hernandez and his cabinet, for their proven acts of corruption that links them as one of the main architects of the plunder of the Honduran Institute of Social Security (IHSS); above all, we are protesting for an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anti-racist and anti-patriarchal political system.
- The prompt installation of the International Commission Against Impunity (CICIH) – without the interference of the United States – a CICIH as an external and independent body that exposes to the world the decomposition of Honduran institutions.
- The installation of an original, popular and refounding National Constituent Assembly that brings together all social, popular, political and diverse sectors for a true social pact that directs us to a true and one-of-a-kind independence.
- The abolition of the new Social Security Law, a law which puts a price on a right acquired by its affiliates and that passes the consequences of the embezzlement of that institution to the workers with the same indifference that they treated the relatives of the 3,000 compatriots who died as a result of this barbaric act and injustice.
- For territorial defense and care for life, the right of indigenous and Garifuna peoples to defend their culture, water, land, their seeds, and self-determination as native peoples: for a Honduras free of mining concessions, hydroelectric dams, and the Zones for Employment and Economic Development (ZEDEs)
- Stop the criminalization of social protest and the persecution and prosecution of campesino leaders, indigenous peoples, students, women, etc. that struggle in legitimate defense of their rights: in defense of the rest of the population that survives before the disastrous, repressive policies of JOH.
- Respect for the freedom of expression and freedom of the press, the right for free emission of thoughts of journalists and media, that have brought to public light all of the corruption scandals that connect to the government, not only with acts of corruption but with money laundering and narco-politics. Contrary to what the crooked media does, whose work is to hide the crimes of their masters and commanders of communication.
- We denounce the imposition of the will of Juan Orlando Hernandez in the election of the new Supreme Court of Justice, violating the independence of powers and due process, which from now on we condemn and denounce the same process as a media circus, a farce, an abuse of power that should be paid with jail time.
- For the defense of public education; secular, humanistic, and of quality, which has life and the person at its center and no the interests of capital and its forms of domination and exploitation.
For a reform of the electoral system with principles of independence, transparency, and autonomy from the government and any other power, a more participatory, collegial, and trustworthy system, which proceeds through a new Electoral Law, a new Supreme Electoral Tribunal, applying electronic voting and the strict control of the origin of campaign funds of each party.


HONDURAS, 4/11 – 2015


Coalición de Movimientos de indignación
Plataforma de indignados
Mesas Nacionales de indignación
Indignados de Comayaguela
Indignados Unidos por Honduras
Honduras Indignados somos todos
Indignados Comayagua
Indignados Intibucá
Indignados Danlí
Indignados El Paraíso
Indignados Jesús de Otoro
Indignados Puerto Cortés
Indignados Santa Rita
Mesa amplia de estudiantes indignados
Indignados Somos Todos, sector maquila
Plataforma de Movimientos sociales y populares
Organización Fraternal Negra de Honduras, OFRANEH
Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Bebida y similares, STIBYS
Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia, MADJ
Concejo de Organizaciones populares e Indígenas de Honduras, COPINH
Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores, PST
Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular, FNRP
CUTH – FNRP Progreso
Coordinadora Indígena de Poder Popular de Honduras, CIPH
Instituto ecuménico de servicios a la comunidad, INEHSCO
Equipo de Reflexión, investigación y comunicación, ERIC
Movimiento 5 de Julio
Vía Campesina
Observatorio ecuménico internacional
Iglesia cristiana AGAPE
Movimiento Morazán Vive
Movimiento Amplio Universitario
Partido Libertad y Refundación, LIBRE
Resistencia Colectiva Las Mercedes
Taller Pedagógico “Paulo Freire”
Movimiento País
Red de Jóvenes Morazanistas
Colectiva Bacteria
STYBIS Seccional #3 La Ceiba
Juventud Casa del Pueblo
Unión Revolucionaria del Pueblo, URP
Escuela de formación política para Movimientos Sociales
Plataforma Sindical Olancho
Colectivos de Barrios y Colonias
Central Nacional de Trabajadoras del Campo, Progreso CNTC
(Translated by Karen Spring)

POSICIONAMIENTO POLITICO: Movimientos de Resistencia e Indignación Popular


Ante la profunda crisis política, económica y social que atraviesa el país debido a la nefasta política neoliberal, pro-imperialista y sionista que aplica Juan Orlando Hernández, la cual se agudiza con los monstruosos casos de corrupción en los que participa un gobierno que ha capturado la institucionalidad del Estado en componenda con grupos de poder vinculados al narcotráfico y al crimen organizado.

El efecto inmediato que se presenta es un panorama de hambre y muerte para la sociedad hondureña y de las capas más empobrecidas en particular. No obstante, la política económica y social de JOH está basada en la privatización, el sacrificio del pueblo, el endeudamiento y el uso del erario público para comprar la conciencia de la población más necesitada; aunado a lo antes expuesto se suma el tráfico de influencias para la búsqueda de la reelección a como dé lugar, generando un ambiente de incertidumbre y de violencia de Estado. Sin embargo, a JOH todo le va saliendo mal, el caos que ha creado en el país no solo expulsa a miles de compatriotas a una migración forzada sino que descalifica al país a nivel internacional ubicándolo no solo como el país más violento del mundo sino con las mayores brechas de desigualdad.

El efecto inmediato que se presenta es un panorama de hambre y muerte para la sociedad hondureña y de las capas más empobrecidas en particular. No obstante, la política económica y social de JOH está basada en la privatización, el sacrificio del pueblo, el endeudamiento y el uso del erario público para comprar la conciencia de la población más necesitada; aunado a lo antes expuesto se suma el tráfico de influencias para la búsqueda de la reelección a como dé lugar, generando un ambiente de incertidumbre y de violencia de Estado. Sin embargo, a JOH todo le va saliendo mal, el caos que ha creado en el país no solo expulsa a miles de compatriotas a una migración forzada sino que descalifica al país a nivel internacional ubicándolo no solo como el país más violento del mundo sino con las mayores brechas de desigualdad.

El acuerdo con el FMI solo ha venido a incrementar las filas de desempleados y las violaciones a los derechos, el aumento de los impuestos y la reducción del presupuesto para los servicios más básicos han generando una situación de presión social que estallará con más fuerza en cualquier momento. Es por eso que: Los Movimientos de Resistencia e Indignación Popular, después de varios meses de lucha permanente por librarnos del cáncer de la corrupción y del responsable de que ésta crisis haya alcanzado niveles impensables, nos hemos encontrado para hacer de éste 04 de Noviembre una jornada Nacional de Protesta de camino a un Gran Paro Nacional, acciones de protesta como la única vía para sacar del poder a este gobierno asesino, corrupto y enemigo del pueblo, transgresor de los derechos más elementales y, que tiene como único propósito prolongarse en el poder desde la política partidaria y clientelar en perjuicio de todos los trabajadores y trabajadoras.

Nuestra lucha es también por la autodeterminación y, condenamos la intervención imperialista ya sea por medio de la OEA, o del propio gobierno norteamericano experto en volver esclavos a todos nuestros pueblos y, llenar de luto a nuestras familias en nombre del supuesto combate al narcotráfico que ellos mismos promueven. Esto, de ninguna manera significa que respaldemos a ningún narcotraficante, solo denunciamos la falsedad del imperio, ya que su único interés es recolonizar para luego saquear nuestros bienes comunes de la naturaleza, usando cualquier ventaja para manipular a través de sus peones gobiernistas y verdugos históricos del pueblo.

Desde este espacio de articulación nacional no reconocemos ningún dialogo iniciado por la OEA, desde ya deslegitimamos cualquier decisión que algún movimiento de indignación ó, de la mal llamada sociedad civil pretendan, por intereses particulares ser interlocutores ante estos organismos y otras subsidiarias y mandaderas del imperio. En tal sentido, no reconocemos organizaciones instrumentalizadas, que se atribuyen una representación en nombre de un pueblo que no les ha delgado y que tampoco representan.
A todos los trabajadores del Grupo Continental les damos nuestra solidaridad y les pedimos no confiar en la demagogia del gobierno, la única forma de defender sus derechos es en la lucha en las calles, al tiempo que los consideramos parte de todas las demandas del movimiento popular.


La salida inmediata de Juan Orlando Hernández y su gabinete, por sus comprobados actos de corrupción que lo vinculan como uno de los principales artífices del saqueo al Instituto Hondureño de Seguridad Social, IHSS; nos movilizamos sobretodo, por un cambio de sistema político, anti imperialista, anti capitalista, anti racista y anti patriarcal.

La pronta instalación de la Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad, CICIH -sin la injerencia de EEUU-, una CICIH como instancia externa e independiente que ponga al descubierto ante el mundo la descomposición de la institucionalidad hondureña.

La instalación de una Asamblea Nacional Constituyente originaria, popular y refundacional que auto convoque a todos los sectores sociales, populares, políticos y diversos para un verdadero pacto social que nos encamine a la verdadera y única independencia.

La derogación de la Nueva Ley Marco del Seguro Social, ley que pone precio a un derecho adquirido por las y los afiliados y que, traslada a las y los trabajadores las consecuencias del desfalco de dicha institución con la misma frialdad que tratan a los parientes de las y los tres mil compatriotas fallecidos a causa de este acto de barbarie e injusticia.

Por la defensa de los territorios y el cuidado de la vida, el derecho de los pueblos indígenas y pueblo Garífuna a defender su cultura, el agua, la tierra, sus semillas y su autodeterminación como pueblos originarios; por una Honduras liberada de concesiones mineras, hidroeléctricas y de Zonas de empleo y desarrollo económico, ZEDE.

Un alto a la criminalización de la protesta social y a la persecución y procesamiento de dirigentes campesinos, indígenas, estudiantiles, mujeres, etc. que luchan en legítima defensa de sus derechos; en defensa del resto de la población que sobrevive ante la nefasta política represiva de JOH.

Por el respeto a la libertad de expresión y libertad de prensa, el derecho a la libre emisión del pensamiento de las y los periodistas y medios que han sacado a la luz pública todos los escándalos de corrupción que vinculan al gobierno no solo con actos de corrupción sino con el lavado de activos y la narco-política. Contrario a lo que hacen los medios tarifados, cuya labor es esconder los crímenes de sus amos y caudillos de la comunicación.

Denunciamos la imposición de la voluntad de Juan Orlando Hernández en la elección de la nueva Corte Suprema de Justicia, violando la independencia de poderes y el debido proceso, por lo que desde ya condenamos y denunciamos el proceso mismo como un circo mediático, una farsa y un abuso de poder que debe ser pagado con cárcel.

Por la defensa de la educación pública; laica, humanística y de calidad, que tenga como centro la vida, la persona y no los intereses del capital y sus formas de dominación y explotación.

Por una reforma al sistema electoral con principios de independencia, transparencia y autonomía del gobierno y de cualquier otro poder, un sistema más participativo, colegiado y confiable, lo cual pasa por una nueva Ley Electoral, un nuevo Tribunal Supremo Electoral, aplicando el voto electrónico y el estricto control de la proveniencia de los fondos de campañas de cada partido.


HONDURAS 04/11 – 2015


Photo caption: Students facing the Police water tank. Photo by: Karen Spring