The Minister of Security of Honduras, Pompeyo Bonilla, notified peasant leader Rafael Alegria that the government has information about a plan to plot against his life. President Porfirio Lobo confirmed the information provided by the Minister. Several social organizations of the country are extremely alert to defend the coordinator of Via Campesina Honduras.
On Monday, several social groups issued a press release expressing their concern. They also called on the human rights protection mechanisms to investigate the reports of the victims of persecution and death threats and to identify and prosecute the responsible. The organizations also called for solidarity with the Honduran people.
“We are deeply concerned”, Secretary General of the National Rural Workers’ Central, Jose de Jesus Ponce, told Real World Radio. “This has been the result of the conflict over land in Bajo Aguan and the lands we are taking back in the north of the country”, he added and explained that Alegria “has supported those struggles, he is always in the media exposing the injustice, the deaths, the imprisonment of peasants”. Jose said the organized land owners “think that they will stop our fight by eliminating a peasant leader, but they are wrong”.
On October 4, the Honduran government told Alegria that they had information about a plot to kill him. Death threats were also issued against the Minister of the National Agrarian Institute, Cesar Ham and the Minister of Human Rights, Ana Pineda. President Lobo met with the peasant leader and underlined the alert issued by the minister and confirmed by the head of the Police, Juan Carlos Bonilla. Prensa Latima reported that Ham and Pineda agree with Alegria in the defense of peasants’ rights, who confront businessmen in the struggle for land in Bajo Aguan. Over 50 rural workers were murdered in the area since December 2009 after the coup d’état staged by Roberto Micheletti and the military forces in June of that year.
“We know who is to blame here. Let’s call them by their name: Miguel Facusse Barjum, René Morales, Reynaldo Canales and other people who own lands illegally” in Bajo Aguan, said Jose. “They meet to make bad decisions against the peasant movements”, he added. Facussé, Morales, Canales and Óscar Nájera are the businessmen pointed by the peasant movements of Bajo Aguan as the plotters of the persecution and murder of rural workers.
De Jesus Ponce said Alegria “has never instigated violence, he has always resorted to dialogue, to debate and that is why this death threat against him is so painful. The secretary General of the National Rural Workers Central, of which Alegria is a member, also highlighted that the leader of La Via Campesina had already received death threats and had been previously persecuted. “He has been the only person so far in Honduras who, after so much struggle, has stood up for the peasant movement”, said Jose.
He regretted that “laws do not apply in favor of the peasant movement” in Honduras and he expressed his lack of confidence in the national human rights institutions and the police. Social organizations do not trust in the police security offered by Lobo to Alegria. “What is the point of them sending six or more police officers if we know they are not on our side. The president himself told him he wanted to provide Alegria with his own security guards, but we do not trust him”, said de Jesus Ponce.
Real World Radio interviewed Rafael Alegria on Tuesday. The leader said he was “confident that the police’s credibility has been completely lost” and added that he has opted to rely on the members of social movements, who are protecting his security. However, he does not rule out police security as well and he is in touch with the State’s security agencies.
Jose called international human rights organizations to influence the countries that provide financial aid to Honduras, especially the United States, so that they will stop granting funds to support businessmen, the police and the army. “We are aware that we live in a poor country, but all the funds for development end up in the hands of the police, so that they continue killing our brothers”. The peasant leader also asked the international community to issue a statement in defense of Alegria.
This podcast was produced and first published by Real World Radio.