Thursday, January 19, 2012

URGENT ACTION request re. New Proposed Mining Law in Honduras (English & Spanish)

Please see the Urgent Action request below (and sample letters here) from Pedro Landa of CEHPRODEC, who along with other groups (including the Environmental Committee of the Siria Valley, who has been fighting against the activities of Goldcorp for years and who's leaders have visited Canada a number of times regarding this issue), are closely monitoring and strongly oppose the new proposed Mining Law. Pedro Landa also testified in front of a Parliamentary Committee in Ottawa last March urging the Canadian government to not go ahead with the Honduras-Canada Free Trade Agreement because of the human rights situation in Honduras, particularly as related to practices of mining and other natural resources exploitation.

We are also requesting that Canadians and Canadian organizations sending these letters copy representatives of the Canadian Embassy in Costa Rica, who are responsible for Honduras:

Ambassdor Cameron MacKay:
Political Officer Léonard Beaulne:
Office of the Canadian Embassy in Honduras:

The law could be approved at any time - it could be days or weeks, so it is important to begin sending letters as soon as possible. There have been experiences in Honduras in the last year or two of new controversial laws being approved in the middle of the night, in secret votes, without warning.

Thank you for your support!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dear colleagues,

As many of you know, the Honduran National Congress is preparing to approve a new mining law in the next few weeks in order to reopen the processes for granting concessions and beginning operations for over 300 mining projects. Despite the efforts on Honduran organizations, the Congress' Mining Commission has closed their doors to citizen participation.

In a meeting with the President of this Commission, he stated they "have great pressure from investors" and that they have incorporated the majorit of the proposals of social organizations into the new law. However, in reviewing the new proposed law, we have found that many of our proposals - the most important ones (such as the requirement for binding consultations, the banning of open pit mining and the use of toxic substances such as cyanide and mercury, and the possibility to expand areas currently off-limits to mining, and the characterization of environmental crimes) - have been left out, and there appears to be no disposition on the part of Congress to create a process to come to an agreement with social organizations.

We are here organizing ourselves and struggling against this process, and it would be of great help to have support from sister organizations such as yours in sending letters to the President of the National Congress (see attached sample letter), with a copy to the caucus leaders of the various political parties in Congress, and a copy to us as well.

The email addresses of the President of the National Congress, Juan Orlando Hernandez, are y

With a copy to caucus leaders at:

Toribio Aguilera: Caucus Leader for the Innovation Party and the Social Democratic Unity Party PINU-SD:
Marvin Ponce: Caucus leader for the Democratic Union Party (UD):
José Alfredo Saavedra: Caucus leader for the Liberal Party:
Celin Discua Elvir: Caucus leader for the National Party:
Augusto Cruz Ascencio: Caucus leader for the Christian Democrat Party:

We thank you in advance for your support.

Pedro Landa
Coordinator, Human Rights and Environment Program


Estimadas compañeras y estimados compañeros:

Como muchos de ustedes sabrán, el Congreso Nacional de Honduras se esta preparando para aprobar una nueva ley de minería en las próximas semanas para abrir nuevamente los procesos de concesionamiento y operación de mas de 300 proyectos mineros. A pesar de los esfuerzos realizados por las organizaciones hondureñas, la Comisión de Minería del Congreso ha cerrado las puertas a la participación ciudadana.

En una reunión sostenida con el presidente de la Comisión del Congreso, argumento que "tienen grandes presiones de los inversionistas" y que en la nueva ley se han incorporado la mayoría de las propuestas de las organizaciones sociales. Sin embargo al revisar el proyecto de ley encontramos que muchas de nuestras propuestas, las mas importantes (como la obligatoriedad de las consultas y el carácter vinculante, la prohibición de la minería a cielos abiertos, el uso de sustancias toxicas como cianuro y mercurio, la posibilidad de ampliar las zonas de exclusión para la minería y la tipificación de delitos ambientales) han sido dejadas por fuera y no existe la disposición del Congreso para generar un proceso de concertación con las organizaciones sociales.

Aquí estamos organizándonos para dar la pelea y seria de gran ayuda contar con el respaldo de organizaciones hermanas como ustedes, a través del envió de cartas al presidente del Congreso Nacional (ver modelo de carta aquí), con copia los jefes de bancada de los partidos pliticos en el Congreso y una copia para nosotros.

La dirección electrónica del presidente del Congreso es y

Con copia a los jefes de Bancada:

Toribio Aguilera: Jefe de Bancada del Partido Innovación y Unidad Social Demócrata PINU-SD correo electrónico:
Marvin Ponce: Jefe de Bancada del partido Unificación Democrática:
José Alfredo Saavedra: Jefe de Bancada del Partido Liberal:
Celin Discua Elvir: Jefe de bancada del partido nacional:
Augusto Cruz Ascencio: Jefe de Bancada del Partido Demócrata Cristiano:

Agradeciendo de antemano su apoyo,

Pedro Landa
Coordinador del programa de Derechos Humanos y Medioambiente

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Urgent Action (Honduras): Attacks by Police on Civilians Continue in Honduras

Original version in Spanish was posted by COFADEH here on Defensores en línea.

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras

Urgent Action: Attacks by Police on Civilians Continue in Honduras

The Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (Cofadeh) express our concern for repeated abuse committed by the Honduran police against the population. In the last two weeks at least three people have reported assaults and assassination attempts by police officers.

January 7, 2012, around 8:00 p.m., Gonzalo Cruz, 42 years old and resident of the community of San Antonio, in the village of Taragual, municipality of Iguala, department of Lempira, was returning from buying medicine when he was shot by police officers Amado Jovel Díaz and Danilo Jovel Díaz, who were drinking alcoholic beverages at the time. Both officers demanded that Gonzalo Cruz provide them with more drinks, and since Gonzalo did not have any alcohol with him they repeatedly shot at him. According to reports from physicians who attended him at the Santa Rosa Hospital, he suffered 14 wounds in different parts of his body. One of the bullets resulted in severe damage to one of his lungs. The police officers, who were dressed in civilian clothing, abandoned the scene on a motorcycle.

Gonzalo Cruz is an active member of the Comprehensive Coordinating Committee of Taragual (Coordinadora Integral del Taragual) and the Network in Defence of the Right to Common Property (Red en Defensa de los Derechos de los Bienes Comunes), which is currently engaged in a struggle to defend natural resources, particularly against the concession of rivers for hydroelectric projects.

In the first half of the month of December, 2011, these same police officers were taking photographs of the houses of active members in the community, especially those who had been identified as members of the Resistance.

Other Acts of Police Aggression:

On December 26, 2012 at around 8:30pm, Marco Aurelio Lorenzo, parish priest of the catholic church of Macuelizo, Santa Bárbara, was attacked along with two of his brothers by eight members of the Police near the turnoff towards El Rosario, near kilometre 24 on the highway between San Miguelito and Yamaranguila in the department of Intibucá. He lost consciousness due to his injuries and required sixteen stitches in his head. His younger brother suffered a broken rib.

On December 22 at around 9:30pm, members of the police force ordered journalist and correspondent for Colombian television station NTN24, Leonel Espinoza, to get out of his vehicle. They pointed their regulation weapons at him, handcuffed his hands behind his back with so much force that his wrists nearly bled, and began to beat him. He was held by the police for close to an hour. Although he requested the help of high-ranking police officials, the patrol assigned to aid him failed to do so, and instead humiliated him and falsely accused him of public disorder/disturbing the peace. The incident occurred when the journalist was driving his car to the San José de la Peña district in Comayagüela.

Cofadeh is concerned about the systematic pattern of attacks against civil society activists by police officers, and asks the national and international community to demand that the State of Honduras adopts the necessary measures and effective mechanisms to guarantee the life of Gonzalo Cruz. It should also demand a thorough and impartial investigation into the facts surrounding these incidents and appropriate punishment of those responsible.

Please direct letters, calls and faxes to Honduran Justice officials:

Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés
President of the Supreme Court
Tel (504) 269-3000 269-3069

Luis Alberto Rubí
Attorney General
Fax (504) 221-5667
Tel (504) 221-5670 221-3099

And copy to:

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH)
Barrio La Plazuela, Avenida Cervantes, Casa No. 1301
Apartado Postal 1243
Tegucigalpa, HONDURAS
Fax:+504 220 5280 (call and ask for: "tono de fax")