DonateNow
Stay tuned for something new!
In the coming months, MISF Media will launch a redesigned website. In the meantime, continue to check here for new editions of the "Honduras News in Review" and "Remembering 25 Years Ago" features.
Human Rights
in the Global Community
Overview
Global Bodies & Treaties
Current Issues
Human Rights–War on Terror News Update
Human Rights in Honduras
Overview
History
Current Issues
Honduras News in Review
Remembering 25 Years Ago
Search the Site:
Updated 10/16/2006

Honduras News in Review—October 16, 2006

1. Honduran defense minister denies plans for new U.S. military base

2. Indigenous Lencas protest proposed hydroelectric dam

3. Supreme Court rules Mining Law unconstitutional

4. Ethnic groups protest on Columbus Day

5. Journalists allege threats and intimidation by private security companies

6. Study reveals health problems for factory workers

7. Honduran Congress begins debating forest law

1. Defense Minister denies plans for new U.S. military base

On Oct. 7 Honduran Defense Minister Arístides Mejía denied that the government was allowing the United States to build another military base in the country, in the Mosquitia region. Mejía said that a facility currently being built in Mosquitia will be used for airplane landing and refueling and for stationing patrols as part of a multinational operation against drug trafficking, but he asserted that it would not be a permanent military base. He said he thought deputies of the National Congress had manipulated the story to suggest plans for a permanent base. Mejía noted that at the Soto Cano, or Palmerola, base, where U.S. military have been stationed since the early 1980s, “they have the best facilities and don’t need another one.” [Hondudiario, 10/7/06]

2. Indigenous Lencas protest proposed hydroelectric dam

Hundreds of indigenous Lencas have spent the first weeks of October protesting the proposed construction of a hydroelectric dam. The El Tigre dam would be a joint project between Honduras and El Salvador, and supporters say it would help reduce the countries’ oil dependence. According the Honduran government, the dam would displace about 1,500 people in Honduras, but protestors say the number is closer to 20,000. Protestors blocked highways during a summit of Central American presidents Oct. 2 and 3. They also denounced increased militarism in Central America, neoliberal economic policies such as the Central American Free Trade Agreement, and the presence of Mexico’s president-elect Felipe Calderón, who they say won the election through fraud. The Honduran Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (Copinh) held two protests in Tegucigalpa on Oct. 11. Copinh members protested in front of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration to discourage the institution from providing financial backing for the project. A second protest was held in front of the Salvadoran embassy in Tegucigalpa. Copinh considers Salvadoran President Antonio Saca the primary promoter of the dam project. [Hondudiario, 10/2/06; La Tribuna, 10/3/06; Copinh press release, 10/3/06; AFP, 10/4/06; Hondudario, 10/11/06; EFE News, 10/12/06]

3. Supreme Court rules Mining Law unconstitutional

The Supreme Court of Honduras on Oct. 5 declared 13 articles of the Mining Law unconstitutional. The court sent the law back to Congress, saying it must approve a new law that would require the mining companies to pay taxes and to undertake environmental impact studies, and prohibiting the forced expropriation of land for mining and the transfer of mining concessions. The Metallic Mining Association of Honduras denounced the sentence, saying it created “legal insecurity and fear in investors.” [La Prensa, 10/5/06; Hondudiario, 10/5/06]

4. Ethnic groups protest on Columbus Day

Columbus Day, known in Latin American countries as Día de la Raza, was marked by protests by various ethnic groups across Honduras. Around 300 people protested in front of the U.S. Embassy, arguing that the usurpation and plundering of indigenous lands that began when Columbus came to the Americas continues today. Protestors said that economic globalization, pushed by the United States and other countries, was a form of neocolonialism. Members of the Garífuna community protested at the National Congress, demanding equality and justice. In the Caribbean town of La Ceiba, protestors demanded solutions to the problem of Afrohonduran and indigenous lands that are claimed by developers. [El Heraldo, 10/12/06, Hondudiario, 10/12/06; EFE News, 10/13/06]

5. Journalists allege threats and intimidation by private security companies

Journalists from the Association for a Just Society in Honduras (ASJ) claim they are being threatened and intimidated by security companies since having published articles alleging the companies violated labor rights. One journalist said she was followed and photographed by private security agents, and a paid advertisement by an anonymous source attacks ASJ for not paying social security—one of the claims ASJ has made against the security companies. A manager for the Setech security company said he brought evidence to the journalists disproving labor rights violations and other accusations, but that the evidence was ignored. The company has filed a legal complaint against ASJ for defamation. [Hondudiario, 10/2/06; Hondudiario, 10/5/06]

6. Study reveals health problems for factory workers

A study by the Honduran Women’s Collective shows that women working long hours in manufacturing plants suffer skin and respiratory problems. The study analyzed 53 workers who had respiratory infections, skin rashes and muscular illnesses, and the collective claims these are due to long hours of exposure to chemicals in the plants. [Hondudiario, 10/11/06]

7. Honduran Congress begins debating forest law

The Honduran Congress on Oct. 10 began debate on a new forest law. The draft bill under discussion would penalize those who start forest fires with three to 12 years in prison. Those who illegally cut, transport or export forest products will face a prison term of six to nine years and fines ranging from 300 to 1,200 days of the minimum wage. Officials who authorize the commercialization of forest products without the appropriate licenses will be subject to three to six years in prison. [Hondudiario, 10/10/06]

SUBSCRIBE to the Honduras News in Review e-mail update.

Go to the HNR archive for past editions of the News in Review.