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On February 17 and 18, three Honduran peasant organizations decided to occupy lands after a long and unsuccessful process to recover them, which was met with violent evictions and imprisonments.
The members of the Association for Peasant Development of Progress (ADCP) re-occupied on Sunday night the lands that had been expropriated by the State through the National Agrarian Institute (INA), and were being exploited by Azucarera del Norte SA (AZUNOSA).
These are over 3 thousand hectares of land that had been occupied last year by the families that claim them, after which they were repressed and some of their members where imprisoned.
2500 families started the occupation.
At the same time, also to the north of the Central American country, other 1500 families organized in the San Manuel Cortez (MOCSAM) Peasant Movement occupied almost 3 thousand hectares to produce food.
Meanwhile, on Monday 18th, other organized peasant families of La Paz department (to the west of Honduras) belonging to the Empresa Asociativa Campesina “Juan Almendarez Bonilla” of the Santa Maria community, occupied 70 hectares of land.
The occupations aim to ensure basic food production means for the families, while denouncing the negative consequences of the Agricultural Development and Modernization Law –which is deemed unconstitutional by the peasants- and the creation of the so-called “model cities” through which entire sectors of the territory are granted to foreign investor companies, thus limiting the state sovereignty over those territories.
“Our goal is to create peasant model cities” in response to the lack of official will to provide a solution to the needs of the Honduran countryside population, reads a public declaration issued on Monday by the organizations involved and gathered in La Via Campesina Honduras.
A few hours before the occupation, two members of the peasant movement of Bajo Aguan were murdered, adding up to nine people murdered in that region in 2013. In this case, the victims were Santos Cartagena, member of MUCA and Jose Trejo Cabrera, brother of a lawyer of peasant cases who was murdered last September in the capital city.
Magdalena Morales, secretary general of ADCP told Real World Radio how the land occupation process has been carried out since last July, with evictions and several death threats. As an example, she said that the judge who ordered the eviction was armed and had his face covered.
“On February 17, the 2500 families decided to occupy the lands, although we know that there will be repression, because it is something common for us while the true invaders of this country receive economic benefits and their rights are protected”, said Magdalena.
The leader regretted the new deaths in Aguan and said that “peasants feel outraged knowing that the people who truly want to defend the land are killed” as a way to damage peasant organizations.
Magdalena said her organization expressed its solidarity with all those who are implementing processes to recover lands and that they will continue occupying them until their situation is regularized.
While the peasants blame the Congress for the generation of measures that worsen the agrarian and food crisis, Magdalena demanded actions by the Honduran state for the protection of peasant families against the constant threats by businesspeople and landowners.
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