Five Killed in Honduras Land Dispute

Posted on April 16, 2012

MUCA en Bajo Aguán

Familias del MUCA en Bajo Aguán

TEGUCIGALPA – An ongoing struggle over land in the Caribbean coastal province of Colon claimed five more lives this week, Honduran police said Friday.

Three employees of agribusiness firm Quimicas Dinant, owned by mogul Miguel Facusse, were fatally shot on Thursday while driving between the towns of Olanchito and Saba, the National Police said in a brief statement.

That attack came a day after a peasant was found slain on a dirt road in the conflictive Bajo Aguan area, where one peasant was killed and four others wounded in an ambush on Tuesday.

More than 50 people have died in Colon during the last four years in a conflict pitting landless peasants against private security guards employed by the province’s palm-oil barons, according to the National Human Rights Commission.

Most of those killed have been peasants.

The fighting continues despite a Feb. 17 pact among the government, landowners and peasants meant to resolve the issue once and for all.

The dispatch of extra police and troops to Colon last October also had little impact on the level of violence.

Human rights groups say the answer to the problem in Bajo Aguan lies not in deploying security forces, but in providing the peasants with land and social services.

An accord signed almost a year ago by the Honduran government, plantation owners and an organization representing the peasants called for more than 4,000 hectares (9,876 acres) of land to be distributed among landless families.

The agreement has yet to be implemented.