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Updated 11/10/2005

Honduras News in Review—November 10, 2005

1. Honduran government to pay reparations for human rights violations in 1990s

2. Investigation finds illegal logging crisis in Honduras, fueled by U.S. import of wood

3. Indigenous Hondurans fight for sustaining collective land titles

4. Liberal Party member murdered

5. Supplies arrive for damaged Caribbean coast

6. Honduran journalist publishes book on Honduran leftist movements in the 1980s 

1. Honduran government to pay reparations for human rights violations in 1990s

The Honduran government, recognizing its responsibility in a number of cases of human rights abuse in the 1990s, has agreed to pay nearly $1 million in reparations to the victims or their families. The settlement was the result of mediatory hearings before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington. Human rights violations in these cases included extrajudicial killing, arbitrary detention, and torture that left some survivors with life-altering wounds. Among the victims were Francisco Javier Bonilla, a member of the Honduran Social Security Institute Union, who was shot to death in 1990, and Kenner Javier Andino, who was kidnapped and lost a lung as a result of physical abuse. Honduran police or military agents were identified as perpetrators. [Hondudiario, 10/25/05] 

2. Investigation finds illegal logging crisis in Honduras, fueled by U.S. import of wood

The Center for International Policy and the Environmental Investigation Agency released a joint report on Nov. 3 documenting how illegal logging, fueled by U.S. and E.U. demand for cheap wood products, is devastating ecosystems and communities and increasing poverty and corruption. The report, entitled “The Illegal Logging Crisis in Honduras,” is the result of a year-long undercover investigation by the EIA. The investigation revealed corruption around illegal logging at the highest levels of society, including police, business and government officials. The report identified U.S. retailers, including Home Depot, that are profiting from the illegal logging, though perhaps unknowingly. According to EIA President Allan Thornton, the United States is the biggest importer of Honduran wood. The report concludes with suggestions to the U.S. government, the Honduran government and U.S. retailers on how to curb the trade of illegal wood. [CIP press release, 11/3/05; full report]   

3. Indigenous Hondurans fight for sustaining collective land titles

Indigenous groups in Honduras are speaking out against a World Bank-funded project that may end collective land titles in Honduras. The project, known as the Program for the Administration of Lands in Honduras (PATH), and a new Honduran property law enacted to administer lands under the PATH project, would eliminate collective land titles in favor of individual titles. The individual land titles would make it easier for investors to buy land, and the northern coast of Honduras, inhabited mostly by the indigenous Garifuna, is especially attractive to tourism investors. The Garifuna and other groups maintain that the eradication of commonly held lands would be detrimental to their culture, which uses common lands for medicinal plants, building and crafts. The groups were never consulted about the PATH project and the new property law, which they say is a violation of the International Labour Organization Convention 169. The convention, which Honduras ratified in 1995, calls for governments to consult with indigenous groups before implementing development programs in their area. Garifuna and other ethnic group leaders have been meeting to propose changes to the property law and other legislation that would protect indigenous land rights. [Honduras This Week, 10/24/05] 

4. Liberal Party member murdered

Liberal Party member and president of the municipal council in Tegucigalpa, René Arturo Madrid Chinchilla, was murdered while parking his car in a lot close to his home on Oct. 16. None of his valuables were taken, and investigators have not determined the motive for his murder. However, Mel Zelaya, Liberal Party leader and presidential candidate, suggested the murder was a political assassination. “We don’t know what happened, but we are sure that the assassin who committed the crime knew full well what he did, he knew who he was killing and he knew the consequences this would have on liberalism and the area that our companion coordinated,” he said. [El Heraldo, 10/17/05] 

5. Supplies arrive for damaged Caribbean coast

U.S. and Honduran helicopters began distributing food and supplies on Nov. 5 to those affected by recent storms on the Caribbean coast of Honduras. Rains and winds from Hurricane Beta, which directly hit Nicaragua, and subsequent storms have caused around $9 million in damage to houses, roads, bridges and water systems, according to Honduran President Ricardo Maduro. No one was killed as a result of the damage. [ACAN-EFE, 11/5/05] 

6. Honduran journalist publishes book on Honduran leftist movements in the 1980s Honduran journalist Edgardo Rodríguez publicly presented his book "La izquierda hondureña en la década de los ochenta“(“The Honduran Left in the 1980s”). The book gives historical accounts and perspectives of the leftist movements active during the 1980s, including the Communist Party of Honduras, the Morazanista Liberation Front and the Movement for Revolutionary Unity. To write the book, Rodríguez obtained documents and interviews from prominent party leaders. [EFE News, 11/2/05]


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