honduras: the popular struggle against mining
They extract and export the minerals, and leave behind a poison that contaminates the soil, water, plants, animals and human beings. Cyanide and nitrates are their legacy, while the companies accumulate capital with the gold and other minerals they take away.
The aim of the project was to train community, environmental and human rights leaders and students about the impacts of mining in Honduras, and its negative implications for the sustainable development of the country. Thus 50 leaders from urban and rural communities were trained on health and environmental impacts of mining activities, and the consequences of such activities in relation to human rights abuses. The training also reached 10 students from 5 educational institutions, who were able to analyze those impacts and how they undermine any potential for sustainable development in Honduras. Popular education methodologies were applied and educational materials were produced on the basis of previously published articles and studies, so the leaders and representatives of social organizations could read them in their homes and share them with neighbors and friends.
One of the methodologies was that of participatory research – following the collective analysis among the participants, a series of mobilizations were organized to put pressure on the authorities and to raise public awareness. Key problems associated with mining were identified by the communities, the depletion and pollution of water sources, and the high rates of sicknesses in the nearby population, particularly affecting women and children. The training led to a big demonstration against mining on December 9 in front of the Congress.
Furthermore, as a result of the process, two communities got organized to fight for their rights. One community demanded a water project from the government, which is now being implemented, and the neighborhood Mary de Flores demanded the improvement of their community roads.
It is important to avoid having a reductionist approach to mining. All dimensions of sustainability should be considered and analyzed while assessing the impacts of mining in the communities and their territories, as well as at the national level. The struggle against mining is not only about fighting against pollution, but about a holistic approach, which implies a deep understanding of all factors undermining sustainability and justice, and the right to a healthy environment.
In order to mobilize against mining, the strong involvement of grassroots movements and communities is crucial. Communities start to mobilize as soon as they find the appropriate tools to understand the problems they face and the root causes of such problems.
At the local level. FoE Honduras has identified the need to continue its capacity building efforts to further reach the communities, particularly with kids and young people. Another key area of work for future initiatives is for communities to be able to design a future in the context of their collective history and the root causes of current social/environmental problems.
There is a need to systematize the different experiences in the region and worldwide in the struggle against mining. Community exchanges are also key as they allow communities to share their experiences and concerns. Alliance building is the third aspect that needs to be further developed at the local, national, regional and international levels.
with thanks to our funders: the dutch ministry of foreign affairs (dgis)