Aguán peasants surrounded and attacked by military and police forces

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Aguán peasants surrounded and attacked by military and police forces
A strong contingent of military and police forces, backed by security guards hired by landowner and palm producer René Morales has more than 300 peasants surrounded. The peasant belongs to La Trinidad cooperative, a member of the Authentic Movement for the Rights of Aguán Peasants (Movimiento Auténtico Reivindicador de Campesinos del Aguán, or MARCA). Last April 30, these peasant families recovered the land they claim as their own, and since then they have suffered several attempts to evacuate them, with two people injured so far.
“They stopped shooting 15 minutes ago. Troops from the 15th Infantry Platoon, police officers, and security guards under hire by René Morales attacked us at 5 a.m. and tried to clear us out, but failed.”
“They shot at us with high caliber guns and two of us were wounded. One of the wounded is Antonio Rivas.”

“They’re keeping us surrounded and it’s been a week since we were able to leave the cooperative. We’re running out of food and water, and we fear that at any moment they’re going to start attacking us again,” a very concerned Julián Hernández, MARCA leader, told SIREL.

Sixteen years ago, the cooperatives member of MARCA initiated a legal action to recover the lands they claim as their own and which, they assure, were illegally seized by Nicaraguan landowner and palm producer René Morales.

In view of the inefficiency of the Courts –and in many cases its collusion with large landowners– on April 30, MARCA members decided to occupy the lands of La Trinidad cooperative, located on the left bank of the Aguán river in Trujillo.

“We’ve been repressed ever since we took back our lands. The first violent attempt to clear us out was on May 1st. They attacked us with guns, and since then they’ve maintained a military cordon that prevents us from going anywhere.”

“The harassment and attacks have been constant, but we have no other choice. These lands are ours and they’ve been snatched away from us. We tried to do it through judicial means, but it’s been 16 years and we haven’t gotten anywhere, because the Courts respond to landowner René Morales.”

“The only solution left,” Hernández continued, “is to take what belongs to us. And we’re prepared to hold our ground. We’d rather die defending our lands than go on suffering hunger and poverty,” the MARCA leader concluded.

In view of this difficult situation, FIAN Honduras issued a press release condemning the police and army operation, accusing them of serving the interests of the large landowners in the region, and calling for solidarity from social organizations “to prevent any further violent actions, which often result in the death of our fellow workers and their families.”