In a 2002 report on Honduras to the fifty-ninth session of the Commission on Human Rights, United Nations Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir called attention to the strategic mentality of social cleansing as espoused by politicians, business leaders, and journalists “who deliberately incite public sentiment against street children.” Her conclusion: “In the end, every child with a tattoo and street child is stigmatized as a criminal who is creating an unfriendly climate for investment and tourism in the country.”
By pinning the blame for Honduras’ violence on gangs, leaders have obscured the state’s role in creating a climate where extrajudicial police execution of tattooed people and other alleged potential gang members is relatively common. Also obscured is the state’s role in overseeing the socioeconomic deprivation that boosts gang membership.
In a country ruled by a ten-family oligarchy, where a president was recently overthrown for raising the monthly minimum wage to $290 in certain sectors and attempting to hold a referendum to rewrite a constitution that sanctifies elite interests, it’s unsurprising that some citizens turn to alternate support networks.
During my own time in Honduras, I started looking for safety in one of the very causes of my insecurity. In the aftermath of the intruder’s appearance in my room, I would catch myself attempting to coordinate my outdoor movements with those of military and police deployments — except, obviously, when they were firing tear gas, water-cannon-propelled pepper spray, and other items at peaceful anti-coup protesters.
A decade after Jahangir’s report mentioning the allegedly detrimental impact on investment and tourism of the ugly surplus of street children in Honduras, the coup has paved the way for the establishment of aseptic neoliberal enclaves called “special development regions” or charter cities. These city-states will be severed from Honduran territory without the consultation of the nation’s citizens and will be unaccountable to Honduran law, governed instead by foreign corporate interests. Extricated from the violent trauma of Honduras proper and from any pretenses to democracy, capital will thus be free to flourish in fulfillment of Lobo’s pledge: “Honduras is open for business.”
A bit of additional trauma is probably required to get the ball rolling, perhaps involving the forced displacement of Afro-indigenous communities living in supposedly uninhabited zones. The 2012 DEA-assisted murder of four Afro-indigenous civilian canoe passengers — including a pregnant woman and a fourteen-year-old boy — in the Mosquitia region underscores the danger of increased US militarization of the country under the guise of fighting narcotrafficking. A review of past US-Honduran partnerships such as the Contra War–era alliance between the CIA and top Honduran drug lord Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros further calls into question US qualifications for such projects.
The charter city concept, hailed as a visionary solution to poverty, has meanwhile been greeted with such euphoria — at the New York Times, the Economist, the Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Policy magazine — that one might forget the whole sweatshop phenomenon and the fact that Honduras has already functioned as a free-market oasis for quite some time.
Expanding on the utility of violence to the neoliberal adventure in the country, Pine emphasizes that structural adjustment programs have amounted to an assault on the population’s security, ensuring corporate enrichment at the expense of public education, healthcare, and government oversight. “At the same time,” she argues, “people have been distracted by the extremely high levels of violent crime, often carried out by agents of the state and private industry. Thus, many call for a different kind of security than that offered by education and healthcare.” [read]
The U.S. State Department, which spends millions of taxpayer dollars a year on the Honduran National Police, has assured Congress that money only goes to specially vetted and trained units that don’t operate under the direct supervision of a police chief once accused of extrajudicial killings and “social cleansing.”
But The Associated Press has found that all police units are under the control of Director General Juan Carlos Bonilla, nicknamed the “Tiger,” who in 2002 was accused of three extrajudicial killings and links to 11 more deaths and disappearances. He was tried on one killing and acquitted. The rest of the cases were never fully investigated.
With 91 murders per 100,000 people, the small Central American nation is often called the most violent in the world. An estimated 40 percent of the cocaine headed to the U.S. — and 87 percent of cocaine smuggling flights from South America — pass through Honduras, according to the State Department.
The allegations against Bonilla, along with other concerns about police and military killings, prompted the U.S. Congress to freeze an estimated $30 million in Honduran aid last August. Most has been restored under agreements with the U.S. Department of State over the monitoring of Honduran operations receiving U.S. money.
Dozens of U.S. Congressmen, Leahy chief among them, have been raising concerns for many years about abuses of authority and human rights violations by the Honduran police, a force of 14,000 officers that is considered among the most corrupt in the world.
The AP reported on Sunday that two gang-related people detained by police in January have disappeared, fueling long-standing accusations that the Honduran police operate death squads and engage in “social cleansing.” It also found that in the last three years, Honduran prosecutors have received as many as 150 formal complaints about death squad-style killings in the capital of Tegucigalpa, and at least 50 more in the economic hub of San Pedro Sula.
The country’s National Autonomous University, citing police reports, has counted 149 civilians killed by police in the last two years, including 25 members of the “18th Street” gang, one of the largest and most dangerous in the country.
Eagerly awaiting all the denunciations of Honduras’s human rights record — and US support of it — from the liberals and conservatives who spilled so much ink, and vented so much spleen, on the (by comparison) veritable paradise of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, which of course receives no military aid from the US at all and in fact was the target of a US-supported coup. Eagerly awaiting a “haunting” piece of reportage from Jon Lee Anderson. Eagerly awaiting…oh Christ, what’s the point?
I mean seriously, folks: are you surprised Chomsky can sound like a broken record? The guy has been doing God’s work for over a half-century, confronting this kind of deep corruption, moral and political, in our chattering classes. How would you sound after 50 years? I’d have simply given up.
Here’s a thought: if you don’t like the record, change it.
… In remarks to World Politics Review, Bertha Oliva, founder of the Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared (COFADEH) called for
“a dramatic change in U.S. policy toward Honduras,” ahead of the country’s 2013 presidential elections. “It is also important that important actors in the U.S. are monitoring the situation, to help moderate the behavior of the revived death squads, which are alive and extremely active in Honduras right now.”
Oliva also noted that “there is ‘more focused and targeted violence and more complete impunity’ in Honduras now than when she founded the group,” and that the June 2009 coup against the democratically-elected government of Manuel Zelaya had resulted in “an intensification of violence that is growing dramatically.”
… [E]xtra-judicial killings of drug suspects in the Moskitia region – and infamously of four civilians – have raised questions over protocol, procedure, chain of command and the precise nature of U.S. government cooperation with Honduran police and military forces in anti-drug trafficking efforts elsewhere in Honduras. It was “vetted” police that were involved in the killings of the civilians. A recent report [PDF] from Rights Action examines the activities of death squads in the Bajo Aguan region as well.
CEPR’s Alex Main explained to World Politics Review’s Catherine Cheney that vulnerable sectors with no known links to drug trafficking are the object of increasing attacks:
Opponents of the government or of powerful figures linked to the government have also been victims of what appear to be targeted assassinations, Main said, as have journalists, gay rights activists and others.
According to press materials from the State Department and Honduran press reports, the U.S. government is committing an additional $10.3 million to help train and equip police, including for anti-gang activities, for a total of $16.3 million.
… Honduras is one of the latest countries to experience the terror familiar in Colombia and Mexico. In late June 2009, the Honduran military, led by two School of the Americas (SOA) graduates, overthrew President Manuel Zelaya. There were few illusions about the ouster: the Honduran military lawyer who advised the coup plotters—and who was himself an SOA alumnus—admitted Zelaya’s removal was a crime. The State Department agreed, explaining to New York Times, Washington Post, and other reporters immediately after Zelaya’s expulsion that he remained Honduras’ “constitutional president,” meaning his removal from power was “an attempt at a coup.” But none of the reporters on the call relayed this assessment to their readers; instead, they hewed closely to the official State Department line that emerged shortly thereafter, when Secretary of State Clinton stated only in-depth study could determine, at some point down the line, what had happened. A WikiLeaks document reveals U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens completed this close analysis about a month later, confirming the initial assumption: it was an illegal coup. Meanwhile, one U.S. businessman in Honduras exhorted Llorens “to have Washington recognize the new government of [Interim] President Micheletti,” warning that “if Zelaya is allowed to return to power with Chávez supporting him, we see NO future for American investment here[.]” He need not have panicked: in November 2009, Porfirio Lobo won an election “complete with state violence against dissidents in the run-up to voting, ballot irregularities, and manufactured turnout numbers,” NACLA’s Michael Corcoran observed. Eighteen months later a conference announced—in English—that the country was “open for business.” When Lobo visited the White House two years later, the headlines told the story: “Obama hails return of Honduras to democratic fold.”
Lobo’s rise has coincided with the country’s quick descent into a kind of hell. [more]
[…] The Resistance movement [the multi-faceted National Front of Popular Resistance] is ardently opposed to the government’s plan to build “Model Cities” along the Caribbean coast, enclaves free from Honduran laws that would be planned and run by private entities and meant to stimulate business and foreign investment. On January 24, the Honduran Congress again passed legislation enabling the Model Cities plan to move forward, with a vote of 110-13 with 5 abstentions.
The Honduran Congress originally set the plan in motion in early 2011 by passing constitutional amendments permitting the cities. Human rights leaders and others filed challenges, and in September one of the lead attorneys in opposition, Antonio Trejo Cabrera, was shot dead in Tegucigalpa. In October, four out of five Supreme Court justices on the constitutional commission ruled the measure unconstitutional, leading to its consideration by the full Supreme Court, which agreed 13-2. But by January, four of the justices had been fired, and legislators said they had tweaked the Model Cities law to make it constitutional.
Critics in Honduras and abroad describe the Model Cities concept as violating labor rights, civil rights and the Constitution. The plan would essentially allow private entities—likely foreign interests—to create and enforce their own laws, ignoring labor, environmental and other protections enshrined in Honduran law (even if those laws are regularly violated by the ruling government). Cruz notes that Model Cities would also violate Honduran laws that prevent foreign ownership of land within 40 kilometers of the coast—a hot topic given the potential monetary value of the lovely beaches and coastal land currently claimed by the Garifuna and other indigenous and campesino groups. [++]
Two more peasants were assassinated by paramilitary units on Feb. 2 in Honduras. This brings the murder of subsistence farmers and indigenous leaders to over 60 since the Honduran coup d’etat in 2009.
Juan Peres and Williams Alvarado were members of the Peasant Movement for the Recovery of the Aguán (MOCRA), an organization that seeks to protect peasant cooperatives from the rash of land grabs being carried out in Honduras.
In a country where a quarter of the arable land—the best land—is already monopolized by less than 1% of the farmers, the Honduran “agro-oligarchs” want to acquire the 10% of Honduran land still owned by its peasantry (who make up 70% of the country’s farmers).
It is easy to understand their voracity. The global demand for palm oil has tripled from two million to over eight million tons over the last decade. Thanks to renewable fuel targets in the U.S. and Europe (that neither can fill with their own stock) lucrative markets are opening for agrofuels. Financial investors view agricultural land as an $8.4 trillion market. The planet’s land rush is heating up and Honduran elites are not going to be left behind in their own backyard. The Aguán Valley—where the two peasant activists were murdered—is the theater for relentless grabs of peasant land. [continue]
… Colombia remained the country with the largest amount of Pentagon contracts in continental Latin America, with $77 million. A multi-year contract shared by Raytheon and Lockheed for training, equipment and other drug war activities accounted for more than a third of Pentagon contract spending in Colombia. Honduras, which has become a hub for Pentagon operations in Central America, is the site for more than $43 million in non-fuel contracts signed last year.
The US Southern Command (SouthCom), responsible for US military activities in Central and South America and the Caribbean, is assisting the Panamanian border police, known as SENAFRONT, by upgrading a building in the SENAFRONT compound. The force was implicated in killings of indigenous protesters (PDF) in Bocas del Toro in 2011, and fired indiscriminately with live ammunition (PDF) on Afro-Caribbean protesters last October.
Many countries that host US military activities hope to receive economic benefits and jobs as a result. But more than five of every six Pentagon dollars contracted for services and goods in the region went to US-based companies. Only nine percent of the $574.4 million in Pentagon contracts signed in 2012 (including fuel contracts) were with firms in the country where the work was to be carried out. In the Caribbean, there were virtually no local companies that benefitted from the $245 million in Defense Department contracts.
A few corporations dominated Pentagon contracts in the region. CSC Applied Technologies, based in Fort Worth, Texas, received more than $53 million in contracts to operate the Navy’s underwater military testing facility in the Bahamas. Lockheed Martin received more than $40 million in contracts, almost entirely for drug war training, equipment and services in Colombia and Mexico. [++]
The doctrine of national security imposed by the United States on Latin America, which fostered the dictatorships of the 1970s and 1980s, is making a comeback in Honduras where a new law is combining military defence of the country with police strategies for maintaining domestic order.
The law created the National Directorate of Investigation and Intelligence (DNII), a key agency in the security structure that does not appear to be accountable to any other body, and does not appear to be under democratic civilian control.
“This bill unites or fuses military defense and internal security, which is dangerous, because one of the aims after the Cold War was to separate these fields, due to the negative effects (their union had) on systematic violation of human rights” in the region, sociologist Mirna Flores, an expert on the issue, told IPS.
When the Honduran President and Congress, under pressure from the US to clean up a corrupt and violent police force following a string of well-publicized murders, passed a law in 2012 to purge the police, they got it wrong: they suspended basic legal guarantees of due process for those under suspicion. The “Sala Constitucional”, a subgroup of the Supreme Court, heard an appeal of the law, and ruled that it was unconstitutional for that reason. Under Honduran legal procedure, the decision had to be reviewed by the entire court, because it was not unanimous: four justices saw the law as unconstitutional, while one approved.
This was not the only decision taken by the court recently that went against the president and Congress. As in previous instances, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa spoke angrily against the court, accusing them of failing in a duty to support the rest of the government in its righteous mission. Not coincidentally, on the day the Sala Constitucional issued its opinion, the Lobo Sosa administration had announced it was going to seek congressional extension of the police cleanup for another six months. The court clearly presented the Honduran President and Congress with opposition they found unacceptable. Lobo Sosa stated the position most clearly: the different branches of government, he said, “are independent, but complementary”, and “the first power of the State is the Legislative branch because it is the one elected”.
Leave aside whether the Honduran police should be reviewed, and the worst offenders removed. Leave aside whether those under review should have the same rights to due process as any other Honduran citizen is promised in the Constitution. For Lobo Sosa, and for the head of Congress and close political ally Juan Orlando Hernández, the court wasn’t doing its job in a system of checks and balances: it was being insubordinate in an imagined hierarchy.
In retaliation for this independence, on December 12, Congress heard a hastily manufactured “report” accusing the court of administrative error. Among other points, the report argued that the opinion of the Sala Constitucional of the Supreme Court “is not in keeping with the security policy implemented by the Executive and Legislative powers”, making it clear that for the congressional authors, the role of the court is to go along, not to act as a balancing branch of government.
As they deliberated, the Honduran armed forces and police surrounded the congressional building. At the end of the night, congress members, led by the National party of Lobo Sosa and Juan Orlando Hernández, passed a law giving Congress the power to fire Supreme Court justices. As soon as the congressional measure was passed, the four justices who opposed the police purification law were removed from office, and four replacements were sworn in.
Many justices who remained on the court spoke out in favor of their ousted colleagues. An appeal of the statute created to allow the firing was launched— in the Sala Constitucional of the Supreme Court, the body from which the four had been removed. It was thus destined to be heard by the four justices appointed in their place (plus the sole justice who kept his job by agreeing with the president and Congress).
This year promises to be a good one for mining companies in Honduras, if everything goes according to plan. A new mining bill up for approval in the coming months would allow as many as 40 companies—4 or 5 were in the country last year—to begin operations. The increased business could triple the sector’s profits, and would successfully erase from the books a 2006 Supreme Court ruling, which found the country’s 1998 mining law unconstitutional. The earlier law, decreed in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch, permitted open-pit mining, and was a gift to extractive industry. It went unchallenged until “an extreme leftist group…poisoned the national dialogue,” Ambassador Charles Ford fumed on September 29, 2006, using their “vitriolic anti-mining rhetoric” in an attempt “to conquer and decapitate mining in Honduras,” actions that could only “worsen an already shaky investment climate.”
Ford’s rant is available via WikiLeaks, thanks in part to the efforts of Julian Assange, that “high-tech terrorist” (Joe Biden) who should be “hunted down” (Sarah Palin)—much like the Occupy Wall Street activists, considered “terrorists” by the FBI since their protests began in September 2011. Al-Qaeda, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily belong in the same category, as the Council on Foreign Relations’ Ed Husain explained last summer, writing that the Syrian opposition—Washington’s ally—“needs al-Qaeda” to boost morale, and to deliver the “deadly results” required to topple Assad. These examples reveal much about what liberal intellectual Joseph Lelyveld, writing in the New York Review of Books, called one of Obama’s “big foreign policy achievements”: “compressing his predecessor’s expansive, grandiose-sounding ‘Global War on Terror’ into a narrowly-focused, unremitting campaign against the remnants of the al-Qaeda network.” Lelyveld’s observation conforms to reality about as much as, say, Sarah Palin’s analysis of foreign affairs, but his baseless assertion had little effect on his status as a prominent commentator—a revealing indication of what it takes to qualify for “serious intellectual” status in the U.S.
Returning to Honduras, we can note that Ambassador Ford’s diatribe was directed at attorney Clarissa Vega and her clients. In March 2006, two months after President Manuel Zelaya was inaugurated, Vega brought the case against the 1998 mining law to the Supreme Court on behalf of a number of environmental groups; the Court decided in her favor that autumn, ruling unconstitutional the “tax breaks for mining companies” and eliminating “the forced expropriation of lands for mining use,” Carolina Rivera reported at Latinamerica Press. Additional victories followed: in May 2009, Jennifer Moore explained at CIP Americas, a new mining bill—which would have further increased taxes, banned open-pit mining, “and required prior community approval before mining concessions could be granted”—was drafted. Congress planned to debate it starting in mid-August 2009. But then Zelaya was overthrown on June 28, and the plan was shelved.
The fact that Zelaya’s ouster was a coup seemed beyond debate, though readers of the U.S. press were encouraged to think otherwise. Writing in the Washington Post a couple of days after it happened, for example, Mary Beth Sheridan explained that Obama thought Zelaya’s removal illegal, while Hillary Clinton believed it was too early to decide whether or not the event was really a coup. A few days later, Marc Lacey wrote in the New York Times that “American officials are…studying whether Mr. Zelaya’s ouster fits the legal definition of a coup,” noting in a separate article that the Honduran military did not think it met the necessary criteria. Never mentioned in these stories was the fact that, when Sheridan, Lacey and other journalists participated in a conference call with two senior State Department officials on the day of the overthrow, the first official stated unambiguously, “I would certainly characterize a situation where a president is forcibly detained by the armed forces and expelled from a country an attempt at a coup. We…still see [Zelaya] as the constitutional president of Honduras. So it was an attempt at a coup.”
Reporters knew where State Department officials stood on the coup question, in other words, but chose not to make this information public. This example of press subservience to power is reminiscent of countless others, though the period leading up to the 1954 Guatemalan coup provides an especially revealing illustration. Nick Cullather, staff historian at the CIA from 1992-1993, published Secret History, his account of the Guatemalan coup, in 1999. In it, he explains how the Árbenz government’s purchase of Czech weapons “revealed the limits of the Communist Bloc’s willingness to aid an ally in the Western hemisphere. The Czechs would provide arms, but on a cash and carry basis.” But the transaction “handed [Washington] a propaganda bonanza,” and the State Department claimed “that the shipment revealed Guatemala’s complicity in a Soviet plan for Communist conquest in the Americas.” “The press…responded on cue,” Cullather shows, with the Washington Post determining the threat of Communist imperialism to be “no longer academic,” and the New York Times claiming Communist weapons would soon travel along “secret jungle paths,” spreading like a plague across the Americas. In the 21st-century version, the Times hoped the democratically-elected Zelaya’s forced removal from power would leave him with “a greater respect for democracy,” and an aversion for the Chavista virus infecting the continent.
The former president’s feelings on democracy ultimately proved irrelevant, as Washington backed the illegitimate election bringing Porfirio Lobo Sosa to power, which “neither the OAS nor the European Union would observe,” and which demonstrated “that the Obama administration had as weak a commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law as the preceding U.S. presidency,” Julia Buxton explained in Latin American Perspectives. In the ensuing years, Honduras has remained a country where private companies are nurtured, while poor farmers, members of the LGBTTI community, journalists, and human rights lawyers are murdered with impunity. And the coming year seems auspicious not only for mining companies, but also for femicide, as crime statistics indicate that the number of women murdered in 2012 was 30% higher than the same figure for 2011. This figure seems unlikely to fall, given the prevailing impunity—the real virus infecting the country, carefully cultivated by U.S. and Honduran elites and the powerful interests they serve.
The latest Coup d’Etat perpetrated in the early hours of December 12 in Honduras, when the National Congress voted to remove four Supreme Court justices, places front and center once again the dictatorship the country has experienced since June 28, 2009. The ultra-right of Honduras has been offering up to us for the last three years lessons on their cannibalistic practices.
The local reality is macabre: Honduras is considered the most violent country in the world with 92 assassination for each 100,000 inhabitants, and at the same time Honduras was the country most impacted by climate change between 1991 and 2010, and to add to these woes, is also the poorest country in the hemisphere. In the meantime, the elite in power is dedicated to the destruction of this weakened democracy to maintain their privilege at any cost.
Leading up to the action taken by the Congress which was pushed through by the majority from the nationalist party, the current “head of state” Pepe Lobo denounced a supposed Coup d’Etat cooked up by Jorge Canhuati Larach, owner of various media outlets that are members of the Inter American Press Society (SIP), which recently conferred to him (Jorge Canhuati) an honorific mention in the category of “Human Rights and service to the community.”
As with Canahuati Larach, along with Pepe Lobo and the illustrative crowd of representatives that demolished the Constitutional Court, they were all implicated in the Coup d’ Etat of 2009. Of course the Supreme Court participated fully in the gutting of democracy in 2009, which was categorized by the Library of Congress in the U.S. as a “Constitutional Succession.”
From Charter Cities to the Application of the Polygraph Test
The Constitutional Court came to be questioned, as with the rest of the Supreme Court, by the Executive and Legislative branches, after having declared unconstitutional the Ley of Special Development Regions (RED), alias Charter Cities, a project cut from neocolonial cloth, that was intended to auction off slices of Honduran territory to U.S. investors known as libertarians and ultra-right. Among other issues, the RED included transferring the application of justice to third parties, located on the island of Mauritius and finally the British Court of appeals.
The furious reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision on Charter Cities, by Pepe Lobo and his protegé Juan Orlando Hernández, President of the Congress and candidate picked to be the future president of Honduras, demonstrated that the independence of the branches of government in Honduras finds itself under attack.
The situation was worsened even more, when the Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional the Law of Purification of the Police, which included psycho-metric, socio-economic, toxicological and polygraph tests, with this last test being questioned as a method that violates national laws as well as international human rights treaties.
The collapse of the National Police, with its absolute corruption and association with organized crime has the country in a sorry state, living under the yoke of security organisms that are implicated in multiple assassinations and sales of weapon arsenals. The so-called “purification” of the police initiated about a year ago has not generated measureable results, and has aggravated the situation with the suspension of aid to the police by the U.S., surrounding evidence about Juan Carlos Bonilla, current director of the police, who was named in having participated in death squads from 1998 to 2002.
When the Constitutional Court voted four to one as to the unconstitutionality of the Law of Purification of Police, the same episode occurred as following the Charter City decision, where the judge Oscar Chinchilla took the side of the Legislative branch. Despite Chinchilla having said that the use of the polygraph test was a violation of fundamental rights, he did not vote for unconstitutionality emitted by the majority of the Court. Lacking a unanimous decision in the Constitutional Court, the plenary of the Supreme Court would meet to take a final decision. Just hours before the Supreme Court plenary was to meet to consider the matter, the National Congress removed the four magistrates who had voted against the law in the Constitutional Court. [read whole]
The Dinant Corporation and subsidiaries of the Jaremar Corporation, both Honduran African palm oil corporations blamed by campesino movements for the murder of approximately 80 campesinos in the Aguan river valley region since the June 2009 military coup, have received millions of dollars from the World Bank since the coup. Most recently, on November 2, 2012, Orlando Campos, Reynaldo Rivera Paz, and José Omar Paz - all former members of a campesino movement which contests rights to the “ Panama farm” against Dinant Corporation’s illegitimate claims - were killed in a drive-by shooting as they waited for a bus. The following day, in an unprecedented arrest of a death squad member, police officer Marvin Noe García Santos was arrested for these assassinations.
On August 13, 2012, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman [CAO] - internal agency of the World Bank that monitors compliance with Bank standards and safeguards - published its appraisal of a $30 million loan from the World Bank’s private financing arm, the International Finance Corporation [IFC], to the Dinant Corporation palm oil corporation of Honduras, and found that an audit of the Dinant loan should be conducted. This appraisal was “initiated by the CAO Vice-President in response to a letter submitted in November 2010 by Rights Action to the President of the World Bank Group in November 2010, and conversations between CAO and local NGOs.” It determined an audit of the World Bank loan’s social and environmental performance will be conducted.
On November 17, 2010, two days after five campesinos from the Movimiento Campesino del Aguan (MCA) were killed by security forces employed by the Dinant Corporation owned by Miguel Facusse, Rights Action sent a letter to the president of the World Bank charging that the Bank shared responsibility for the killings given that, one year before, on November 5, 2009, the World Bank released $15 million dollars to Dinant, the first half of the $30 million loan. This World Bank loan disbursement occurred while a military-backed junta controlled Honduras , in the aftermath of the June 2009 military coup, and brutal State repression was again becoming systematic throughout Honduras . For months on end, every single day, peaceful pro-democracy protests against the military coup took place in the streets of Honduras , and were violently repressed by the junta. Death squads began operating again in Honduras , targeting pro-democracy activists.
Faccuse’s Dinant Corporation has been involved in land rights disputes with campesinos since 1994 when, through violence and fraud, it began acquiring land titles to African palm cooperatives. Since January 2010, Dinant security forces have been accused of participation in death squad activities and are likely responsible for the murder of approximately 80 campesino land rights activists and bystanders. [continue]