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Criminalization of Protest, Grass Roots Victory, Challenges of Solidarity

The following is a blog post by Paul Fitch, a representative with the 2019 Root Causes of Migration Pilgrimage to Honduras. The content of this guest post is based on the personal witness and opinions of the author and doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters~Grand Rapids or its ministries. 

I have been enormously privileged to witness, to accompany, and to enter into a sense of deep mutual solidarity with the defenders of land and water from the remote village of Guapinol, municipality of Tocoa, Honduras, as they confronted the combined Goliath of big business with their allied politicians who, instead of supporting their just cause, sought to criminalize their protest and thus to silence them. Their sacrifice, their tenacity, the way that so many people and organizations (including from other countries, including four of us from the SHARE Foundation) came together resulted in an amazing victory for the people of Honduras and for all of us. At the same time, this result was a tremendous relief because of the fear establishing of a precedent of the charge of organized crime being applied to
acts of protest.

Back in August of 2012 the Honduran Congress established a national park in the lush tropical Botaderos Mountains, where seven rivers have their source, including the Guapinol River. In December of 2013, Congress modified the park’s extension, removing 537 acres from its core. Inversiones Pinares, a company linked to Facusse family, one of the wealthiest in Honduras, developed plans to strip-mine iron oxide at this same acreage, and did so without the input Honduran law requires from affected communities. By early 2018 the company had bulldozed a broad dirt road deep into the mountains and had removed all vegetation from the mine site. As a result, the formerly pure water of the Guapinol and San Pedro Rivers became contaminated and unusable by the people living downstream. Read more of this blog post by Paul Fitch at SHARE