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19 de mayo | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

Interview with Vitalino Álvarez, of MUCA, Honduras: "At times, one is even lucky to be alive. I´ve been attacked four times".

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Peasant leader Vitalino Álvarez, of the United Peasant Movement of Aguán (MUCA) of Honduras, made reference to the frightening situation experienced in Bajo Aguán: criminalization of the social struggle, attacks against leaders and peasants in general, paramilitarism and death squads.

Nothing surprising in a territory where the murder of peasants is not news anymore, especially after the Coup d´Etat of 2009 that ousted constitutional president Juan Manuel Zelaya. Álvarez himself was close to being killed on March 20. Five people were expecting him outside his house to murder him. Someone warned him not to go to his house and so he managed to save his life and the lives of his two children. He had to leave the area to protect himself. According to what he said to Real World Radio, this is the fourth attack against him.

"Apparently Bajo Aguan, according to the lies told by this fascist dictator (Juan Orlando Hernández) is a paradise. This is not true. In Bajo Aguan there is still criminalization, persecution, attacks against activists", said the MUCA leader in an interview carried out in the framework of the "International Peoples´ Meeting - Berta Cáceres Lives On", that took place in Honduras from April 13-15.

"This is sad. Nothing has changed. They want to destroy this resistance and struggle through which we are defending our territories”, he added.

Álvarez explained that the main threats for the Bajo Aguán peasants come from Corporación Dinant, owned by widely denounced businessman Miguel Facussé. Facussé "wants to take away our lands for which we had an agreement with the government". Also "the government itself has promoted these territories for the building of model cities", so there are strong interests in the area to take over the lands that "belong to the peasants" according to Álvarez. The thing is that these lands are included in the agrarian reform packages and the rural workers are the beneficiaries of these agreements, he said.

The leader also stated that over 13 communities are being displaced by mining concessions or projects. He warned about the strong presence of paramilitarism, even with people infiltrated in the peasant movements, and the presence of death squads.

When talking about Berta Cáceres, the Lenca leader murdered on March 2nd, he remembered her as a "sister in the struggle", who "showed solidarity with our struggle in Bajo Aguán and is part of the entire resistance against the Coup d´ Etat".

On April 15, day in which the participants of the "International Peoples´ Meeting - Berta Cáceres Lives On" went to Gualcarque River in Río Blanco community, Intibucá department and suffered an attack by tens of people who were waiting for them with weapons, demonstrating in favor of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, Álvarez was injured. A stone thrown at him reached his forehead, very close to his eyes.

Imagen: Real World Radio

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