Posts Tagged ‘mining’

Berta Cáceres, ¡Presente!
When Berta Cáceres Flores was assassinated in a political murder on March 2, she was in the midst of an intense struggle in defense of the Gualcarque River, a sacred river for the Lenca people. She and the Lenca people of Rio Blanco had already blocked the Agua Zarca Dam from being built on the Gualcarque River one time, in 2013-2014 and now DESA was making a second attempt. During the 2013 struggle against the Agua Zarca Dam, Indigenous leader Tomas Garcia was murdered by the Honduran military, other Lenca leaders were attacked, Berta received numerous death threats, and the military detained Berta on trumped up charges. Soon a second set of charges followed, and Berta was ordered to jail. She went underground, and after months international outcry, the charges were eventually dismissed. However, DESA, the company trying to build the dam, appealed and requested the charges against Berta and two other COPINH leaders be reinstated.In approximately August of 2015, DESA began attempting a second time to build the Agua Zarca Dam, this time accessing the Gualcarque River from the opposite side of the river in San Francisco de Ojuera. Berta and many Lenca people again mobilized to defend the Gualcarque River and their ancestral territory.  As they organized to stop the dam, the situation again began to intensify.

On November 4, 2015, when Berta was not home, an unknown man took a laptop with significant COPINH information from her home.

On the night of November 6, 2015, three shots were fired towards Berta as she driving to Rio Blanco.

On November 24, 2015, Tomas Gomez, another COPINH leader, received a phone call from a man known to be a supporter of the dam company, who informed Tomas that they were going to fix things with Berta Cáceres for better or for worse, “a buenas o a malas.”

On November 30, 2015, Berta Cáceres and other COPINH leaders were traveling to request a meeting with the Mayor of San Francisco de Ojuera, who had authorized the dam, when the Honduran police detained their vehicles. While they were detained, machinery dug huge holes across the public roads to prevent COPINH from passing. After Berta and the rest of the COPINH members finally reached San Francisco de Ojuera, municipal employees began to throw rocks at them and threaten them, including a threat that Berta was the one “who had to be killed.” One of the armed men came close to Berta and almost cut her chest with a machete. All of this occurred as the Honduran police and military watched and did nothing, despite Berta requesting their protection. Finally, Berta called the Minister of Security, Julian Pacheco, and requested he relay orders for the police present to provide protection. Still, the police and military did not respond and the harassment continued.

Then in late December 2015, the Honduran police detained two men for illegal possession of weapons. Berta was informed that one of them is reported to have explained he was contracted by DESA because “the COPINH people were f**ing things up a lot.” This man was previously involved in a violent attack on a COPINH member who opposed the dam, and his police files indicate he was involved in a murder. Residents of Rio Blanco report that he had previously stated he was going to kill COPINH members, including Berta and Francisco Javier Sanchez, President of the Indigenous Council of Rio Blanco.  Berta received information that Jorge Avila – the head of security of DESA and former police official – moved money around to secure the release of those detained for illegal possession of weapons despite the murder in police file. Shortly after his release, this man was identified by Rio Blanco residents working with DESA’s security team without a uniform. In February 2016, Berta wrote a communique publicly denouncing the money provided for this man’s release and stated that there were known paramilitary guards working for DESA who made threats against COPINH members.

Early in February 2016, shots were fired in the vicinity of Berta’s home shortly before she arrived.

On February 16, Berta and other COPINH leaders were pursued by armed men as they left Rio Blanco, after visiting with the Lenca people in resistance to the Agua Zarca Dam on the Rio Gualcarque. The armed men pursued Berta’s vehicle on the isolated road for at least 20 minutes until Berta reached a town and stopped.

Then on February 20, 2016, as Berta and COPINH members traveled to San Francisco de Ojuera to protest the dam, employees of DESA and the Mayor’s office threatened, detained, and harassed them as well as vandalized the vehicles and buses as the police and military looked on. COPINH members report that the Vice Mayor of San Francisco de Ojuera threatened Berta, telling her she would never come back there and that she could be killed.

On February 25, as the police and military evicted about 50 COPINH families from their homes in Jarcia, Guinse, Intibuca, a member of the DGIC harassed Berta and told her the security forces would not respond if something happened to her.

On February 26, at 1:45pm, a new, double-cabin truck with polarized windows drove up the road leading to the COPINH office, stopping before reaching the office. A tall man with a military-style haircut got out and went outside the COPIN office and asked for Berta, while another man stayed in the running vehicle. When informed she was not there, he wanted to know where she was and her phone number. When asked to identify himself, he refused and left.

Despite all of this, and many additional threats, Berta and COPINH continued forward in the struggle to defend the Gualcarque River and all Lenca territory. Berta repeatedly denounced the concession of the Gualcarque River by the Honduran government to DESA in violation of the Lenca people’s right to free, prior, and informed consultation. She also spoke against the violence, militarization, hitmen, and repression that DESA and the Honduran state were using to impose the dam. Berta denounced the Dutch Bank FMO and the Finnish Bank Finnfund, majority owned by the Dutch and Finnish governments respectively, for financing DESA for the Agua Zarca Dam project despite having been informed of the human rights violations around the dam. Berta was in the process of planning a trip to Holland and Finland in which she and Rio Blanco Lenca leaders would protest the financing of the dam and request Dutch and Finnish government leaders take action to stop the funding.

On March 2, 2016, DESA’s head of security was spotted in a vehicle with about 16-20 people, at the turn off from Honduras’ main highway to La Esperanza, where Berta lives.  The men were speaking about Berta.  The vehicle headed toward La Esperanza.

That night, two men forced their way into Berta’s home and Berta was assassinated.

Berta was a voice not only for the self-determination of the Lenca people but for all Hondurans. She was a very outspoken leader against the 2009 military coup and the resulting repressive regimes. She led COPINH in supporting numerous Lenca communities struggling against displacement, dams, privatization of their resources, and megaprojects imposed on their territory against their will. She was a national leader in the struggle against the ultra-neoliberal plan being imposed on Honduras, which entails the privatization and exploitation of almost everything possible, and the brutal repression against those who resist. Berta spoke out against the US backed Alliance for Prosperity plan being put in place in Central America, clearly explaining that its militarization and economic privatization and exploitation projects will only bring more destruction and death to Honduras. She was a leader in the Platform of Popular and Social Movements of Honduras, pushing for national articulation of the social movements. She loudly criticized the current regime for its repression of Honduran society, and refused to be silent. No matter how many death threats she received, no matter how many times she was followed, pursued, or threatened, Berta would not be silenced.

And she must not be silenced today. Berta’s voice and struggle must continue to be heard. I can hear her right now, asking us to go to Rio Blanco to accompany the Lenca people as they are criminalized and repressed for resisting the dam. I can hear her asking us to organize to pressure FMO and Finnfund to cut their funding to the dam and to demand that the Honduran military and US-backed TIGRES leave Lenca territory. And I can hear her loudly and clearly telling US Congresspeople, just as she did in meetings barely a year ago, to stop supporting the Honduran regime, to cut all Honduran military funding, to end the Alliance for Prosperity. I can hear her voice denouncing international banks and multinational corporations who together with the current Honduran regime and the support of the US plunder the Honduran territory and its people. I can hear her calling for an end to the criminalization of COPINH and for respect for the self-determination of the Lenca people.

More than anything, I can clearly hear Berta saying that the female spirits of the Lenca people live in the Gualcarque River.

A few numbers begin to reveal why Honduran indigenous leader and global movement luminary, Berta Cáceres, was assassinated on March 3, 2016.

According to the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), more than 300 hydroelectric dams are planned for Honduras, of which 49 are on COPINH lands. Eight hundred seventy-two contracts have been handed out to corporations for mining alone, with many others created for mega-tourism, wind energy, and logging projects. The majority of these are planned for indigenous lands. Of those, all are in violation of International Labor Organization Convention 169, to which Honduras is a signatory, allowing free, prior, and informed consent by indigenous peoples before development may take place in their territories.

The many planned extraction projects – in a country slightly larger than the state of Virginia – add up to the need of the Honduran and US governments to subjugate the population. Quiescence and compliance are essential for the national elite and multinational corporations to make their profits. So here are a few more relevant numbers. Honduras has 12,000 soldiers – one for every 717 people, for a county not expected to go to war. Its 2013 “defense” budget was $230 million. Since 2009, the US has invested as much as $45 million in construction funds for just one of those bases, Soto Cano, commonly known as Palmerola. Last year, US taxpayers footed $5.25 million in direct military aid, and much more in training for 164 soldiers at the School of the Americas/Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Operation. Three hundred seventy-two US military personnel are in the country.

Given that state control is often attained through violence, a few more figures become relevant. One hundred one environmental activists were killed in Honduras between 2010 and 2014, making it the most dangerous country anywhere in which to try to defend the Earth.

Nine land defenders were attacked just yesterday, March 15, between the time we began writing this article and when we completed it. COPINH member Nelson Garcia, who had been helping recover lands on Rio Lindo, was assassinated in his home on March 15 while the Rio Lindo community was forcibly evicted.  This brings to 14 the number of COPINH members who have been murdered since the group was founded in 1993. A member of COPINH’s coordinating committee, Sotero Echeverria, was threatened with capture by police. Echeverria is one of the 3 members of the group who have been framed by the government for Berta’s murder.

Also yesterday, early in the morning, police agents arrested 7 members of United Campesino Movement of the Aguan (MUCA by its Spanish acronym), including the president, Jose Angel Flores. Flores and six other MUCA activists, including his family members, were arrested and taken to the police station. Flores has protective measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights because of the danger he, like all those organizing in the Bajo Aguan region, face. Berta did, too. Protective measures have the weight of toilet paper with the Honduran government.

Despite the ongoing violence, COPINH, MUCA, and other Honduran organizations and movements – workers, campesinos, feminists, and more – have resisted the attempts to subdue them. As Berta loved to say about the movement, “They fear us because we are fearless.”

Photo: The Rio Blanco community at its blockade of the dam. COPINH member Aureliano Molina, one of the three who will go to trial on September 12 for being a danger to the nation, said, “We don’t negotiate life.”

Of the countless Hondurans who put their bodies on the line every day, no individual has more prominently encouraged or strategically organized dissent than Berta. No Honduran has more visibly spread the message of rebellion to the Americas, nor more audibly urged that rebellion to spread throughout the Americas. “Our call to this continent is that we really push the need to unite ourselves and to create strategies between social movements and left governments,” Berta told a large international gathering of prominent leftists in Havana in 2009.

Berta’s last stand was against a dam being illegally constructed on the sacred Gualcarque River in the community of Rio Blanco. In addition to the internationally financed company DESA, behind the dam was the World Bank, and the largest dam company in the world, Sinohydro, which is owned by the Chinese government. For more than a year and a half, the villagers of Rio Blanco were able to halt the dam construction with nothing more than their bodies, a small trench and fence across the road leading to the river, and their political militance. Berta and others, meanwhile, took the case to the world, building worldwide alliances which brought enough pressure to force the World Bank and Sinohydro to pull out.

Adding insult to injury to those seeking to control water, minerals, forests, and lands, for her work in stopping the dam Berta won the 2015 Goldman Prize, the equivalent of a Nobel for environmental defense. With the award, Berta’s prestige skyrocketed, further threatening domination by the political and economic powers that be.  In her acceptance speech, knowing that behind her stood tens or hundreds of thousands of other Hondurans toiling for justice, Berta dedicated her prize in part, to “rebellion.”

This was too much for DESA and the Honduran government. The multi-year efforts to eliminate Berta – through threats, kidnaping attempts, charges of sedition, and more – finally succeeded in the form of a bullet piercing her flesh. Who hired the assassin is unknown. What is known – given very explicit statements and actions of the company and the government in the days and weeks preceding her assassination – is that both were behind the act.

Yet even death cannot subdue Berta. In the days since her murder, the notoriety of her person and her message has multiplied exponentially around the word. The current level of global action against Honduran government impunity, US government’s support for it, and pillaging by transnational capital has reached heights that Berta could only have dreamed of. Click here for actions you can take in solidarity.

 

Beverly Bell is the founder of Other Worlds and more than a dozen international organizations and networks, Beverly is also an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. Beverly has worked for more than three decades as an organizer, advocate, and writer in collaboration with social movements in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the U.S.   She is the author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women’s Stories of Survival and Resistance.

“They Fear Us Because We Are Fearless:” The Life and Legacy of Berta Cáceres

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/11/they-fear-us-because-we-are-fearless-the-life-and-legacy-of-berta-caceres/

 

berta1

I began writing a eulogy for Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores years ago, though she died only last week. Berta was assassinated by Honduran government-backed death squads on March 3. Like many who knew and worked with her, I was aware that this fighter for indigenous peoples’ power; for control over their own territories; for women’s and LGBTQ rights; for authentic democracy; for the well-being of Pachamama; for an end to tyranny by transnational capital; and for an end to US empire, was not destined to die of old age. She spoke too much truth to too much power.

Berta cut her teeth on revolution. She was strongly marked by the broadcasts from Cuba and Sandinista-led Nicaragua that her family listened to clandestinely, gathered around a radio with the volume turned very low; those stations were outlawed in Honduras. Always a committed Leftist, Berta’s mother raised her many children to believe in justice. Doña Bertha – the mother made her youngest child her namesake – was mayor and governor of her town and state back when women were neither, in addition to being a midwife. She was Berta’s life-long inspiration. As a young adult, like so many others from the region who shared her convictions, Berta went on to support the Salvadoran revolution.

In 1993, Berta – a Lenca Native – cofounded the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). At that time in the country, there was little pride and even less power in being indigenous. Berta created COPINH to build the political strength of Lencas, campesinos, and other grassroots sectors to transform one of the most corrupt, anti-democratic, and unequal societies in the hemisphere.

A POLITICAL FORCE: COPINH UNDER BERTA’S LEADERSHIP

Berta loved to say, “They fear us because we’re fearless.” The fearlessness paid off over the years. COPINH has successfully reclaimed ancestral lands, winning unheard-of communal land titles. They have stalled or stopped dams, logging operations, and mining exploration – not to mention free-trade agreements. They have prevented many precious and sacred places from being plundered and destroyed.

In addition to Berta’s remarkable leadership, COPINH’s victories have come through their size, strength, unity, and fierce commitment. Communities have participated in hundreds of protests, from their local mayors’ office to the steps of the national congress. They have occupied public spaces, including several of the six US military bases in their country, and refused to leave. They have shut down the road to Tegucigalpa, strategically blocking goods from moving to the city. They have declared a boycott of all international financial institutions on their lands. They have helped coordinate 150 local referendums to raise the stakes on democracy.

Here is one of many tales that Berta told of strategies and actions. The backstory is that Honduran farmers – which most COPINH members are – wear thick work boots made of unventilated rubber. Over their course of containing sweaty feet, they come to smell horrendously, so bad that campesinos/as refer to them as bombas, bombs. Early in COPINH’s history, a team went from La Esperanza to Tegucigalpa to negotiate with the government on a land titling law. The discussions went on for days. Berta told that, during lunchtime, the government received lavish, catered meals; the COPINH members had no money, and so their side of the table stayed empty. Far less connected in those days, the group had nowhere to sleep or shower, and spent the nights in the streets. At one point, the negotiations were tense and the members of COPINH’s team were shaky on their strategy. They asked for a recess, but the government refused. So someone on the COPINH side gave a discrete signal, and altogether the farmer-activists pulled off their bombas. The smell was so toxic that the government officials fled the room. COPINH was able to regroup and develop a stunning strategy. The indigenous radicals won the law.

The most recent campaign and partial victory are also the proximate causes of Berta’s death: stopping the Agua Zarca dam project on a sacred Lenca river. The COPINH community of Rio Blanco – everyone: elders, toddlers, nursing mothers – formed a human barricade and blocked construction of the dam. Meanwhile, Berta, other members of COPINH, and national and international friends pressured the World Bank and the largest dam company in the world, Chinese state-owned Sinohydro, to pull out. Rio Blanco did not blockade the construction for an hour or for a day, or for a week. They did it for more than a year. They did it until they won. They got the most powerful financial interests in the world to abandon the project. Tragically, because other financial interests are always waiting in the wings to plunder for profit, the dam is still under construction. Forty-eight more are either planned or underway on their lands.

 

Berta’s belief in participatory democracy extended profoundly to her everyday practice. As the unparalleled leader of COPINH, and with a large gap between her level of education and political experience and that of all but a few in the group, it would have been easy for her to act on her own. Yet she always made herself accountable to the communities she worked for.

I saw the degree of this commitment in action one night when Berta called in to Utopia, COPINH’s rural community meeting center, and asked to speak to everyone. Fifteen or so people quickly gathered around the cell phone on the shaky wooden table next to the only light, that of a candle. Berta explained a fairly pro forma request that had come to her from a government office, and proposed a response. When she was finished, she asked the almost exclusively illiterate, campesino/na group, “¿Cheque sí, o cheque no?” All raised their thumbs toward the little cell phone and called out, “Sí!” No joint decision had been required, and yet she had sought consensus.

That’s accountability.

THE WOMAN BEHIND THE MYTH

Berta was unflappable. She was calm in the face of chaos and strategic in the face of disaster. She got right in the face of soldiers and goons when they aggressed her or others, and told them what was what.

Berta was indefatigable, working around the clock with no complaint. When not traveling around Honduras or the world to raise support for the struggle, she would wake early and go straight to her desk to receive updates, often on the most recent attacks on COPINH members, and in those cases to write condemnations – all even before a cup of coffee. She would then jump into her yellow beater truck to pick up other members of COPINH and head off to wherever action or investigation was needed.

I was amazed that Berta drove that noteworthy truck everywhere without protection, and that she lived in a house secured by only a small bolt and a couple of friendly dogs. Then I realized that it made no difference how much security she had. The government and the companies she opposed almost always knew where she was (Berta also spent periods in deep hiding), and how to get her when they were ready to kill her.

Berta took two small breaks in her life. The first was a two-week vacation with a friend in a neighboring country, the second a three-month semi-repose at my house in Albuquerque – though even then she spent most of her days building a continent-wide boycott of the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank.

Even as she served her community, Berta rose in the past decade to become an international people’s diplomat. She was a heroine to many global movements, a critical player in many struggles, a keynote speaker at many venues. She was someone consulted by government officials, by international networks, and even, a few months ago, by Pope Francis.

As we watched Berta’s rise as a global leader, our close friend and colleague Gustavo Castro commented to me, “I hope she never loses her humility.” She never did.

I once asked Berta how to say “integrity” in Spanish. She translated it “coherencia,” coherence between one’s stated principles and actions, coherence amongst all parts of one’s life. Berta had coherence.

She was highly critical of US Americans for our lack of that coherence. She once led an anti-oppression training for an organization I was running, in which she asked us to examine whether we were Caesars or artisans. She meant whether our practice – not just our statements – aligned us with the oppressors or with the oppressed, and whether we were promoting the grassroots or ourselves as leaders. For a long time after, the refrigerator that Berta and I shared held her line drawing of a thonged Roman sandal. She also commented to me once that the problem with US Americans is our attachment to comfort.

Berta herself eschewed comfort. She lived in the modest house in which she was raised, where she cared for her elderly mother. She slept in a bare cement room, more than half of which had been converted to her office, housing her desk with its mountain range of documents and small computer table. Her trademark style – regardless of with whom she was meeting – was jeans, sneakers, and a cotton shirt. She did not shop, go to fancy restaurants, take a plane when a bus was available.

Besides COPINH and the struggle for justice, Berta had another profound commitment: to her mother and her four children. I recall watching the deep pride on Berta’s face when one of her daughters, then only 7 or so, recited a poem “Las Margaritas” (The Daisies) for a group of foreign visitors; it was a very different expression than I had ever seen. She grew prouder as her three daughters and son grew older, all of them holding the flame for justice.

Following Berta’s murder, her children and mother issued a statement in which they said, “We know with complete certainty that the motivation for her vile assassination was her struggle against the exploitation of nature’s common wealth and the defense of the Lenca people. Her murder is an attempt to put an end to the struggle of the Lenca people against all forms of exploitation and expulsion. It is an attempt to halt the construction of a new world.

“Berta’s struggle was not only for the environment, it was for system change, in opposition to capitalism, racism and patriarchy.”

After the Honduran government dropped sedition charges against Berta – one of its countless attempts to silence her – in 2013, someone asked her mother if she were scared for her daughter. Laughing, Berta quoted her mother’s response: “Absolutely not. She’s doing exactly what she should be doing.”

Berta’s humor was legendary. A joke from her, and her soft up-and-down-the-scales laugh, punctuated the most tense of moments and kept many of us going, even as she never strayed from the gravity of the situation. One of her jokes was recirculated this week by radical Honduran Jesuit priest Ismael “Melo” Moreno. He once accompanied her to Rio Blanco, where someone snapped a photo of them together. As she peered at the picture, Berta laughed and said to Melo, “Let’s see which of the two of us goes first.”

When Berta saw a performance of the Raging Grannies, a group of elder women who dress up in outrageous skirts and joyously sing protest songs at rallies and events in Albuquerque, she told me, “I never wanted to live to be an old woman. Now I do.” That chance was just taken from her.

REPRESSION IN THE WAKE OF BERTA’S DEATH

One person witnessed the assassination: Gustavo Castro Soto, coordinator of Otros Mundos Chiapas/Friends of the Earth Mexico, coordinator of the Mesoamerican Movement against the Extractive Mining Model (M4), and co-founder and board member of Other Worlds. A close friend and ally of Berta, Gustavo slept in her house on the last night of her life to provide accompaniment in the hope of deterring violence, something dozens of us have had to do for her over the years. Gustavo was shot twice and feigned death. Berta died in his arms.

Gustavo was immediately detained in physically and psychologically inhumane conditions by the Honduran government, and held for several days for “questioning.” The subsequent days have resembled a bad spy movie, with Gustavo finally given permission to leave the country, only to be seized at the migration checkpoint at the airport by Honduran authorities, then placed into protective custody in the Mexican Embassy, only to be handed back to Hondurans, who took him back to the town of La Esperanza again for “questioning.” The Honduran government has just said that Gustavo must stay in Honduras for 30 days. He is being “protected” by the Tigers, vicious US-funded and -trained “special forces.”

Chillingly, according to the State Department, the US is cooperating with the Honduran investigators. A note from a close colleague, from outside Gustavo’s place of detention yesterday, said that a team of US “FBI types” are actually in the interrogation room. The role of the US government in the attempted destruction of social movements in Honduras is vast. One can also draw a straight line from Washington to Berta’s death. But that is the topic of another article.

Gustavo continues to be in terrible danger in Honduran custody, as what he witnessed is an impediment to the government’s attempts to pin Berta’s murder on COPINH itself. In a note to some friends on March 6, Gustavo wrote, “The death squads know that they did not kill me, and I am certain that they want to accomplish their task.”

The Honduran government also imprisoned COPINH leader Aureliano “Lito” Molina Villanueva for two days just after Berta’s murder, on “suspicion in a crime of passion.” It is interrogating COPINH leaders Tomas Gomez and Sotero Chaverria, while denying them lawyers. This is part of an effort to criminalize COPINH members. Now, COPINH needs more than ever to be protected, to be supported, and to carry on the legacy that Berta helped to build.

¡BERTA LIVES!

Berta touched everyone she met, and even countless ones she didn’t. My young daughter is one of those. The morning of Berta’s death, she wrote this: “Bev tells me that her close friend Berta died last night. I was shocked, because how can somebody kill someone who was only trying to do what’s right? Then I remembered they killed Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. If I die for doing the right thing, that would let me know that I did my part in this world. Just like Berta.”

When Berta received the 2015 Goldman Prize, the most prestigious environmental award in the world, she dedicated the prize to rebellion, to her mother, to the Lenca people, to Rio Blanco, to COPINH – and “to the martyrs who gave their lives in defense of the riches of nature.”

Now Berta is one of these martyrs.

Berta, Gustavo, and I were co-founders in 1999, and have remained active members of, the grassroots network Convergence of Movements of the Peoples of the Americas (COMPA). Early on the horrific morning of March 3, a COMPA listserv note blasted the news of Berta’s assassination. Reading that message, I spotted the posting just prior, dated February 24. It was from Berta. It read simply, “Aqui!” I am here!

She is here. Long may Berta live, in the hearts, minds, passions, and actions of all of us. May all women and men commit themselves to realizing the vision of transformation, dignity, and justice for which Berta lived, and for which she died.

¡Berta Cáceres, presente!

[Many thanks to Jeff Conant and Simone Adler for help writing and posting this article. Thanks, also, to Kate Brown, Lucinda Ellison, Lyle Aufdermeyer, Jeff Conant, Neil Tangri, and Moira Birss for help with this week.]

Beverly Bell is the founder of Other Worlds and an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. 

Canadian mining is murder

Homegrown companies are among the worst human rights offenders on the planet

by

March 9, 2016

Four days after the assassination of Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres captured worldwide headlines, a vigil to remind of the blood on Canada’s hands for all those who have died protesting Canadian mining projects abroad interrupted the mining industry’s annual confab in Toronto on Sunday, March 6.

The vigil held by the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network at the convention of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) was presided over by Anglican priest Maggie Helwig. “We are here to name the dead,” she said.

The vast majority of killings have not been solved or, in many cases, even investigated.

The names of some two dozen victims of such violence were read out at the PDAC vigil. The protesters were then escorted out by police.

Canadian mining companies are among the worst human rights offenders on the planet. The most recent evidence of that is a 2014 report submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. A 2009 report commissioned by PDAC but never made public also detailed targeted assassinations and persecution of activists and union leaders opposing Canadian projects abroad. 

It’s impossible to know exactly who killed each of these people. The vast majority of the cases have not been solved or in many cases even investigated. But they all have something in common: all were assassinated and all resisted Canadian mining projects. 

Merilyn Topacio Reynoso Pacheco The 16-year-old was killed and her father seriously injured in an April 2014 attack. The activists, part of the Peaceful Resistance in Defense of Natural Resources of Mataques-cuintla, Jalapa, had led the fight for a referendum on development of Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine in southeastern Guatemala. 

Adolfo Ich Chamán The respected community leader was hacked by machetes and then shot in the head on September 27, 2009, allegedly by security personnel working for Hudbay’s Fenix mining project in El Estor, Guatemala. A multi-million-dollar lawsuit filed in Canadian court by Chamán’s wife alleges negligence on the part of the company. The ex head of security for the mine is on trial in Guatemala for Chamán’s murder and the wounding of at least 10 others.

Telésforo Odilio Pivaral González The member of the Committee in Defense of Life and Peace in San Rafael Las Flores was killed near Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine in Guatemala on April 5, 2015. According to a statement released by members of the “We Are Human Rights Defenders” campaign, González, who had taken part in protests against expansion of the silver mine, was attacked “by unknown persons with firearms.”

Mariano Abarca Roblero The anti-mining activist was killed outside his home in Chiapas, Mexico, on November 27, 2009. He had blamed Calgary-based mining company Blackfire Exploration for contaminating local rivers, loss of crops and the deaths of livestock. Blackfire’s open-pit barite mine in Chiapas was closed in 2011 over environmental concerns.

Dora “Alicia” Recinos Sorto A member of the -Cabañas Environment Committee, which had been campaigning against the reopening of Vancouver-based Pacific Rim’s El Dorado gold mine in El Salvador, Sorto was shot and killed on December 26, 2009, as she returned home from doing her laundry. She was eight months pregnant. 

Ramiro Rivera The vice-president of the Cabañas Environment Committee was gunned down on December 20, 2009. His anti-mining activities against Pacific Rim in El Salvador were believed to be behind the killing. In an earlier attempt on his life, a would-be assassin shot Rivera eight times in the back and legs, but he survived.

César García Moreno A member of the farmers’ rights group Conciencia Campesina, García was active in the movement opposing multinational gold-mining company AngloGold Ashanti in Cajamarca, Colombia, when he was killed on November 2, 2013.

Rigoberto López Hernández The Honduran activist was found with his throat slit and his tongue cut out on May 3, 2014, an assassination that activists say was clearly meant to send a message over his opposition to the iron oxide mine in Quita Ganas.

José Isidro Tendetza Antún The indigenous leader, vice-president of the Shuar Federation of Zamora, was found bound and buried December 2, 2014 (with signs of torture and strangulation on his body). He was last seen on his way to a meeting of protesters opposed to B.C.-based Corriente Resources’ Mirador copper and gold mine in Ecuador. 

Rafael Markus Bangit An elder of the Malbong tribe in Kalinga province in the Philippines and regional council member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Bangit was at the forefront of opposition to mining activities on indigenous land, including against Calgary-based TVI Pacific. He was gunned down by a hooded assailant on June 8, 2006. 

Kibwabwa Ghati The 23-year-old Tanzanian farmer was shot and killed by police near Barrick Gold’s North Mara mine on November 6, 2012. Police accused him of trying to steal from the mine, but some media -reports suggest he may have been caught in the crossfire as other men tried to get into the facility. 

Emerico Samarca The director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood -Development, which opposed large-scale mining in the Philippines, including by Canadian company TVI Pacific, was killed in Lianga on September 1, 2015, by alleged members of a paramilitary group. 

Demetrio Poma Rosales Killed protesting Barrick Gold’s Pierina open-pit gold mine in Peru’s Ancash region on September 19, 2012. 

Juan Francisco Durán Ayala The student anti–mining activist disappeared after posting flyers as part of a campaign against Canadian mining company Pacific Rim in Cabañas, in northern El Salvador, on June 17, 2011. The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador suspects local mayors with ties to organized crime had a hand in his killing.

José Reinel Restrepo The parish priest of the municipality of Marmato, Colombia, was killed on September 2, 2011, days after travelling to Bogotá to register his opposition to the open-pit gold mine proposed by -Toronto-based Gran Colombia Gold.

Jerónimo Rodríguez Tugri and Mauricio Méndez Both were killed February 8, 2012, when police opened fire against indigenous Ngöbe-Buglé protesting a new Panamanian law allowing Vancouver’s Corriente -Resources access to indigenous lands. 

Henry Tendeke, Taitia Maliapa, Paul Pindi, John Wangla, Pyakani Tombe, Yandari Pyari, Jerry Yope, Jackson Yalo, Joe Opotaro, Aglio Wija, Mina Mulako, Alonge Laswi, Manata Pita and Pyakane Eremi Fourteen of the dozens of people killed since 1993 by security forces defending Barrick’s Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea. 

Alvaro Benigno Sanchez The 23-year-old was killed by two men reportedly employed as security guards by a U.S.-Canada-owned Glamis Gold subsidiary in Guatemala on March 13, 2005. 

Damodar Jhodia, Abhilash Jhodia and Raghunath Jhodia Murdered on December 16, 2000, in the Kashipur region of Orissa, India, reportedly over their opposition to a mining project partially owned by Rio Tinto Alcan. 

Exaltación Marcos Ucelo The community activist, secretary of the Xinca Indigenous Parliament, was kidnapped, tortured and found dead on March 18, 2013, because of his opposition to Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine in Guatemala.

Unnamed mine worker He died of heat exhaustion and dehydration at Nevsun’s Bisha Mine in Eritrea (date unknown). His death is the subject of a Canadian lawsuit against BC’s Nevsun Resources.

Rachel Small is a member of the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network.

Mining Watch Canada declares new Mining Law in Honduras is ‘true Disaster Capitalism’ in which the Canadian government has played an entirely self-interested role.

http://www.miningwatch.ca/news/honduran-mining-law-passed-and-ratified-fight-not-over

Honduran Mining Law Passed and Ratified, but the Fight is Not Over

Thursday, January 24, 2013

(Ottawa) On Wednesday January 23, 2013, the Honduran Congress quickly passed and ratified a new mining law that has been developed with support from the Canadian International Development Agency against the will of important sectors of Honduran society. The law only remains to be published in the official Gazette, which could take place as early as next week. Once published, it will enter into effect and a moratorium on new mining concessions that been in place since 2006 will end. It is anticipated that this will be followed by an accelerated process to approve some 300 mining concessions, and that another 154 concessions that have already been approved will become active.

The following represent some of the most worrisome aspects of the law, as analyzed by the Honduran National Coalition of Environmental Networks:

  • It leaves the door open to open-pit mining,
  • Water sources that communities depend upon are left unprotected, except for those that have been declared and registered, which are a minority. This puts at grave risk the survival and economic sustenance of peasant farmer communities,
  • Mining is not prohibited in populated areas, which will continue to permit forced expropriation and the destruction and displacement of entire communities,
  • The consultation process described in the law theoretically allows communities to say no to mining, but only after the exploration concession has already been granted and after there is a contract established with mining companies. This means that community voices will not be heard because the state of Honduras will be bound by Free Trade Agreements that it has signed – such as the forthcoming agreement with Canada – that give transnational companies access to international tribunals in order to protect their investments,
  • It does not include a civil society proposal to incorporate a schedule of environmental crimes such that the Public Ministry could initiate criminal proceedings against those responsible when these occur, sanctions will only be of an administrative nature,
  • The law denies access to information about technical and financial aspects of projects and companies involved.

This is true disaster capitalism in which the Canadian government has played an entirely self-interested role.

In 2009, Honduran civil society had achieved a proposed mining law that had it passed would have incorporated their proposals. But this was shoved aside following the June 2009 military-backed coup of then President Mel Zelaya and never debated. In the wake of this rupture in the democratic life of Honduras, a country that has since become the murder capital of the world with frequent attacks and threats against human rights advocates, journalists and activists, the Canadian Embassy, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and CIDA have all gotten involved in lobbying for and providing assistance toward a law that would be satisfactory to Canadian industry, such as the one that passed yesterday.

The fight is not over for communities and organizations in Honduras. A November 2011 survey found some 91% of Hondurans opposed to open-pit mining and near unanimity in support of the environmental movement for a more just mining framework. In other words,
despite the repressive environment, we can anticipate that communities will continue to organize to defend their lands and waters supplies. Also, the National Coalition of Environmental Networks plans to fight this Canadian-backed law through the Honduran courts and will once again be calling for international solidarity in order to urge the court to proceed fairly and expeditiously with their case.

In Canada, it’s vital that this attempt on the well-being of communities – in which our government agencies are complicit – not go unnoticed and that the work to build solidarity with affected communities and their allies continue.

Canada – Honduras Free Trade Agreement Part I

March 4th, 2014 – 1:15pm

There has been a great deal of speculation over the past year on various trade agreements Canada wishes to sign.

Although the Conservatives like to brag about the trade agreements they have concluded in the last eight years, the facts tell a different story. In truth, they have concluded a total of six trade agreements with the following countries: Jordan, Panama, Peru and Colombia, as well as a goods-only agreement with four small European countries including Liechtenstein and Iceland.

The question arises therefore, how do we know if a trade agreement is beneficial for our country or not?

My party (NDP) believes that we should apply three important criteria to assess trade agreements:

First, is the proposed partner a democracy that respects human rights, adheres to acceptable environmental standards and Canadian values, and if there are challenges regarding these, can it fairly be said that they are on a positive trajectory toward these goals?

Second, is the proposed partner’s economy of significant and strategic value to Canada?

Third, are the terms of the proposed agreement acceptable?

The proposed free trade agreement with Honduras fails this test.

Honduras is a country with a seriously flawed human rights record; weak institutions; corrupt police and army; and a history, both entrenched and recent, of repressive, undemocratic politics. The last democratically elected government, that of President Manuel Zelaya, was toppled by a military coup in June 2009. This coup was staged by the Honduran army under the pretext of a constitutional crisis that had developed between the supreme court and the president. Following the coup, the government suspended key civil liberties, including freedom of the press and assembly. In the ensuing days, security forces responded to peaceful demonstrations with excessive force and shut down opposition media outlets, causing deaths, scores of injuries, and thousands of arbitrary detentions. The coup was widely condemned around the world, including by all Latin American nations, the European Union, the United States, and the UN General Assembly.

In January 2010, Porfirio Lobo Sosa assumed the presidency through what has overwhelmingly been deemed undemocratic and illegitimate means. Most foreign governments and election-monitoring agencies refused even to send observers, and many countries rejected the results of the election. The recent election held in November 2013 has similarly been condemned by independent observers.

Since 2009, there has been documentation of serious human rights abuses; extra-judicial killings; kidnappings of political figures; intimidation of citizens; severe restrictions on public demonstrations, protest, and freedom of expression; and interference in the independence of the judiciary are well established in Honduras.

Transparency International ranks Honduras as the “most corrupt country in Central America”, which is no small feat. It is a major drug-smuggling centre, and it has the worst income equality in the region. The U.S. state department estimates that 79% of all cocaine shipments originating in South America lands in Honduras.

In 2012, Honduras became the murder capital of the world, reaching a record high of 7,172 homicides, or 81 per 100,000 people.

By signing a free trade agreement with Honduras, we basically give Honduras repressive regime a legitimacy that it does not deserve.

Part II of this column will provide more of an update on the political situation in this country.

Honduras: Mining Law Reform  – 2010-2012

In the wake of the 2009 military-backed coup in Honduras, a coup that Canada tacitly supported such as by refusing to consider sanctions against the de facto regime and pressuring other OAS members to do the same, the Canadian Embassy began lobbying for a new mining law. Several years earlier, in 2006, thirteen articles in the existing mining law were declared unconstitutional and a moratorium put in place on all new mining projects pending the passage of a new law. Honduran civil society had been lobbying for a ban on open pit mining and stronger protections for community participation in decision making over mining projects, among other reforms. At the time that then President Mel Zelaya was ousted in 2009, a draft law was ready to be debated that incorporated their proposals. But the debate never took place. From January 2010 to January 2013, Canadian representatives worked hard to help pave the way for a law that would be more favourable to the interests of Canadian companies. For example, in early 2010 then Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder travelled to Honduras and arranged meetings between Canadian mining executives, President Lobo and members of his cabinet. They also “discussed with a Breakwater Resources executive possible strategies to influence the development of a new mining law.” Later, in early 2012, when a Honduran legislative committee announced that a new mining law had been drafted sparking outcry from Honduras civil society, Ambassador Cameron MacKay organized a meeting of government officials, companies and NGOs under the banner of Corporate Social Responsibility at which MacKay emphasized the positive relationship between Canada and Honduras. This and other Canadian support to get a new mining law passed in January 2013, including a technical support project funded by the Canadian International Development Agency, run contrary to the interests of Honduran society, who according to one public opinion survey undertaken in the fall of 2011 are 90% opposed to open pit mining.

Sources: http://www.miningwatch.ca/sites/www.miningwatch.ca/files/Canada_and_Honduras_mining_law-June%202012.pdf; http://www.miningwatch.ca/article/canada-s-development-aid-dollars-odds-communities; http://www.miningwatch.ca/news/honduran-mining-law-passed-and-ratified-fight-not-over

Honduran Mining Law Passed and Ratified, but the Fight is Not Over

Thursday, January 24, 2013

(Ottawa) On Wednesday, January 23, 2013, the Honduran Congress quickly passed and ratified a new mining law that had been developed with support from the Canadian International Development Agency against the will of important sectors of Honduran society. The only step that remains is for the law to be published in the official Gazette, which could take place as early as next week. Once published, it will enter into effect and a moratorium on new mining concessions that been in place since 2006 will end. It is anticipated that this will be followed by an accelerated process to approve some 300 mining concessions, and that another 154 concessions that have already been approved will become active.

The following represent some of the most worrisome aspects of the law, as analyzed by the Honduran National Coalition of Environmental Networks:

  • It leaves the door open to open-pit mining,
  • Water sources that communities depend upon are left unprotected, except for those that have been declared and registered, which are a minority. This puts at grave risk the survival and economic sustenance of peasant farmer communities,
  • Mining is not prohibited in populated areas, which will continue to permit forced expropriation and the destruction and displacement of entire communities,
  • The consultation process described in the law theoretically allows communities to say no to mining, but only after the exploration concession has already been granted and after there is a contract established with mining companies. This means that community voices will not be heard because the state of Honduras will be bound by Free Trade Agreements that it has signed – such as the forthcoming agreement with Canada – that give transnational companies access to international tribunals in order to protect their investments,
  • It does not include a civil society proposal to incorporate a schedule of environmental crimes such that the Public Ministry could initiate criminal proceedings against those responsible when these occur, sanctions will only be of an administrative nature,
  • The law denies access to information about technical and financial aspects of projects and companies involved.

This is true disaster capitalism in which the Canadian government has played an entirely self-interested role.

In 2009, Honduran civil society had achieved a proposed mining law that had it passed would have incorporated their proposals. But this was shoved aside following the June 2009 military-backed coup of then President Mel Zelaya and never debated. In the wake of this rupture in the democratic life of Honduras, a country that has since become the murder capital of the world with frequent attacks and threats against human rights advocates, journalists and activists, the Canadian Embassy, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and CIDA have all gotten involved in lobbying for and providing assistance toward a law that would be satisfactory to Canadian industry, such as the one that passed yesterday.

The fight is not over for communities and organizations in Honduras. A November 2011 survey found some 91% of Hondurans opposed to open-pit mining and near unanimity in support of the environmental movement for a more just mining framework. In other words,
despite the repressive environment, we can anticipate that communities will continue to organize to defend their lands and waters supplies. Also, the National Coalition of Environmental Networks plans to fight this Canadian-backed law through the Honduran courts and will once again be calling for international solidarity in order to urge the court to proceed fairly and expeditiously with their case.

In Canada, it’s vital that this attempt on the well-being of communities – in which our government agencies are complicit – not go unnoticed and that the work to build solidarity with affected communities and their allies continue.

 

For more information:

Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, (613) 569-3439

(I include this article which while not specifically about Honduras provides insight into Canada’s push for a Free Trade Agreement with Honduras)
January 8, 2014

Commercial motives driving Canada’s foreign aid, documents reveal

By KIM MACKRAEL

Internal CIDA analysis of bilateral aid programs suggests Canada’s commercial interests have become a key consideration in determining how much aid a developing country will receive

The federal government is evaluating trade and investment opportunities in dozens of developing countries to help determine how foreign aid should be disbursed, raising questions about whether Canada’s push for “economic diplomacy” is an effective way to reduce global poverty.

An internal analysis of bilateral aid programs, produced by the Canadian International Development Agency and obtained by The Globe and Mail, suggests Canada’s commercial interests have become a key consideration in determining how much aid a developing country will receive. The report, titled Reviewing CIDA’s Bilateral Engagement, was written shortly before CIDA was merged with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in June.

The CIDA assessment is the clearest sign yet that Canada’s development objectives were shifting even before the merger was announced in the 2013 federal budget. And it comes as Foreign Affairs has instructed officials to make opening new markets to Canadian goods and services the dominant focus of Canada’s foreign policy.

A majority of the three dozen countries included in the foreign aid report are promoted as destinations for Canadian aid in part because of the commercial benefits they can offer to Canada.

For example, Indonesia is “an important commercial and political partner” for Canada in Asia, and growing commercial interests in Egypt and Jordan mean those countries should both continue to receive foreign aid, the document says.

Benin is favoured because it provides a stable political and investment climate, while Ghana is a “promising economic partner.”

More than a dozen countries are identified as having mineral resources that are of interest to Canadian firms, including Mongolia, Peru, Bolivia and Ghana. The conflict-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo is of “strategic interest” to Canada, the document notes, because of significant investments in that country’s extractive sector by Canadian companies.

Stephen Brown, an aid expert at the University of Ottawa and author of a book about CIDA, said the document suggests that trade interests are increasingly winning out over development values.

“Over all, the government seems to have forgotten that Canadian law defines the purpose of Canadian foreign aid as poverty reduction,” he said. “Even before the merger, we’re seeing huge emphasis – not in every country, but in the majority of countries – on what Canada has to gain and especially what Canadian private companies have to gain.”

Margaux Stastny, a spokeswoman for International Development Minister Christian Paradis, wrote in an e-mail that Canada’s development work remains focused on improving the lives of those who are most in need. But she added that the goal of reducing poverty cannot be addressed in isolation, meaning security, governance and trade must also be taken into account.

Mr. Paradis has noted that the “vast majority” of global markets the federal government is targeting for trade and investment are located in developing countries. “By stimulating the economy in these countries and helping them create an environment conducive to investment, we are contributing to the well-being of people living in poverty,” he told an audience in Montreal late last year.

Poverty, aid effectiveness and other considerations, such as domestic politics and regional security, are also considered but appear to receive less attention over all in the partly redacted document. In the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the assessment notes that that there is “tremendous need” in the African country, which is among the poorest countries in the world, and points out that Canada has worked there to prevent sexual and gender-based violence.

The report was produced in March, 2013, less than two weeks before the government announced it would eliminate CIDA as a standalone agency. It was provided to The Globe in response to an access-to-information request.

The decision to merge CIDA’s development work with the Foreign Affairs and International Trade department prompted criticism from some international development experts and non-governmental organizations, who worried Canada’s commitment to poverty reduction and humanitarian aid would be diluted. Others welcomed the amalgamation, saying it would reduce conflicting messages in Canadian foreign policy and could help increase overall resources for poverty-reduction efforts.

Although commerce and politics have played a role in Canada’s development decisions in the past, aid experts say the emphasis on favouring developing countries that offer trade and investment benefits to Canada is a more recent shift.

Diana Rivington, a former director of human development and gender equality at CIDA, said the change shows a greater focus on the short-term benefits Canada can gain from development work. “What I see in these choices is a vision of Canada that is not as broad as it was,” she said.

Scott Gilmore, founder of a development organization called Building Markets, said he does not see a problem with Canada’s foreign aid benefiting domestic interests when it is also helping people in developing countries.

“It’s not a zero-sum game,” said Mr. Gilmore, who is also a member of an external advisory group that is being consulted about the CIDA merger. “There are lots of things that Canada can do that maximize our ability to reduce poverty which also – simultaneously – are of benefit to Canada, either [to] our foreign policy interests or our trade interests.”

In 2011, the federal government announced it would launch a series of jointly funded pilot projects involving Canadian mining companies and non-governmental organizations – a move often cited as an example of CIDA’s work with the private sector. The agency also established a new institute aimed at providing regulatory advice to developing countries with significant mineral potential.

The projects were criticized for providing what was seen by some as indirect subsidies for mining companies’ corporate social responsibility programs. Proponents argued CIDA’s work with the extractive sector can help harness those companies’ resources to help improve the lives of people in poverty.

Hélène Laverdière, the NDP’s international development critic, said the CIDA assessment demonstrates that Canada is increasingly using foreign aid to further its trade interests. “That’s not the job of our international assistance, and the ODA Accountability Act is very clear that [aid] should focus on poverty reduction, taking into account the perspectives of the poor and human rights, of course.”

The handful of countries where commercial interests do not appear to be a significant factor include Haiti, which is of “long-term foreign policy interest” because of its large diaspora community in Canada and past commitments. Aid to Afghanistan is important to honour past sacrifices and commitments, and to “burden share” with Canada’s allies, and development efforts in the West Bank and Gaza should continue because they have been welcomed by Israel as crucial support for peace in the region.

Kim Mackrael is a parliamentary reporter in Ottawa.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/globe-politics-insider/commercial-interests-taking-focus-in-canadas-aid-to-developing-world/article16240406/#dashboard/follows/

IDAMHO: Inconstitucionales 25 artículos de la Ley de Minería en Honduras

Escrito por Luis Vallecillo en Mié, 02/05/2014

http://conexihon.info/site/noticia/derechos-humanos/derechos-humanos-conflicto-agrario-y-minero/idamho-inconstitucionales-25

Tegucigalpa, Honduras (Conexihon).- El Instituto de Derecho Ambiental de Honduras (IDAMHO) presentó el Recurso de Inconstitucionalidad contra la Ley General de Minería ante la sala de lo Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (CSJ).
“Los problemas ambientales son mucho más profundos pues que hay un mayor  deterioro ambiental  que en otros países en donde hay más control y estamos convencidos que la realización de los derechos fundamentales en honduras no solo tenemos que verlo desde el punto de vista colectivo y no de forma individualmente que están afectando estos derechos así como las víctimas de la minería a nivel de todo un país”, indicó Clarisa Vega, directora de IDAMOH.
La Ley General de Minería, contenida en el decreto legislativo número 238-2012 y publicado en el diario oficial la Gaceta el 2 de abril del 2013, fue cuestionada antes de su aprobación y ahora que se encuentra plenamente vigente, contiene vicios de constitucionalidad y por lo tanto debe ser derogada tanto por razones de forma, como de fondo o contenido.
Argumentos 
En las razones de forma se encuentran no hubo participación ciudadana en la aprobación de la Ley, no se respetó el proceso legislativo (dispensa de 2 debates), no se remitió al Presidente de la República en el plazo establecido (debido proceso).
En las razones de contenido se encuentra también se explica cómo cada artículo de la Ley violenta los preceptos constitucionales y tratados, se pretende la inconstitucionalidad de al menos 25 artículos de la Ley, se exponen ejemplos de hechos anteriores (experiencia).
Agregado a esto también se constató que hubo  explotación sin límites de tiempo, no se prohíben métodos extremos, profundidad indefinida, monopolio/área concesión, adicionar o sustituir sustancias, explotación en áreas protegidas y el abierto irrespeto a la autonomía municipal.
El recurso, preparado por el Instituto de Derecho ambiental de Honduras y con el apoyo de líderes comunitarios y demás miembros de la sociedad civil, pretende que los magistrados de la sala de lo Constitucional, declaren inconstitucional de al menos 35 artículos de la referida Ley, por violentar directamente los preceptos y garantías constitucionales y también los protocolos, tratados y convenios internacionales de las que Honduras forma parte y que contienen derechos humanos fundamentales reconocidos mundialmente.
Vega agregó que “muchas de estas áreas afectadas  han estado desprotegidas y ha habido casos interesantes ya que hay una asociación de comunidades afectadas por la minería y que tiene su paralela de comunidades que apoyan la minería así que nos espera una gran tarea en relación de que tenemos que hacer conciencia”.
Documental 
La organización también presentó su documental “La Mina San Martin en el Valle de Siria: un ejemplo de los impactos de la minería en Honduras” donde expuso parte de las consecuencias de una explotación minera sin controles efectivos, evaluaciones de impacto ambiental, medidas de reparación de daños y participación pública.
En este documental, Juan Almendares Bonilla, representante del movimiento ecologista Madre Tierra señaló que “los argumentos que se han dado para justificar esta Ley de Minería no me parecen que tienen una base científica, técnica, además no estamos no solo es de documentar esto si no de ver los seres humanos del valle de siria que están enfermos y yo los he visto y los ha visto gente de otros países y da terror aprobar una Ley Minera que favorezca a las empresas multinacionales”.
En los últimos 30 años el Estado de Honduras ha concedido en concesiones a compañías mineras, el 30% del territorio, estas compañías primordialmente son de Estados Unidos y Canadá.
“La socialización fue una farsa ya que al final fue reafirmar la explotación minera a base de cianuro y a cielo abierto y eso lo que hace indudablemente es reproducir el modelo de explotación minera”,  lamentó Bonilla, al destacar que el interés de las transnacionales en la extracción minera en Honduras es comprensible por la ventaja competitiva de ser un país con leyes y reglamentos muy permisivos, muchas exoneraciones, bajos cánones de por pago territorial, la falta de rigor en cumplimiento de estándares ambientales, nulo compromiso con las poblaciones locales”.

Uso de sustancias tóxicas
La minería genera y emplea en sus procesos, productos y sustancias tóxicas y se puede considerar una actividad de alto riesgo para la salud humana y la vida al utilizar sustancias como el cianuro, el plomo, el arsénico, el cadmio, el mercurio, y otros potencialmente tóxicos.
Dependiendo de la utilización de dichos elementos, ligados a la aparición de enfermedades como el cáncer, enfermedades pulmonares, dermatológicas, respiratorias, neurológicas; daños en los riñones, daños en el sistema reproductor, encelofatías  agudas, problemas gastrointestinales, cardiovasculares, disfunciones del aparato nervioso, afección del sistema inmunológico alteraciones genéticas, desarrollo anormal de embriones entre otros.
Los miembros de la IDAMHO concluyeron que “la leyes aprobadas por el Congreso Nacional deben responder la anhelo de los hondureños de una Honduras mejor, sustentada en los principios de la democracia participativa y desarrollo sostenible, considerando la situación de vulnerabilidad del país y el respeto a los derechos humanos a la vida a la integridad física, a la salud a la libertad de asociación, acceso a la información, a la propiedad, a un medio ambiente sano e igualdad ante la ley”.