Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Reflections on Rigores: Evictions in Honduras

By WFP Nicaragua Team

Last June, Honduran police forcibly evicted over 100 families from their homes in the community of Rigores. Not only were they evicted, but their homes, schools and churches were burned and bulldozed. Families did not have time to recover many of their belongings. Documentarian Jesse Freeston captured footage of the violent eviction and the aftermath.

This past February we met with families who had lost their homes several months ago in that incident. In front of the half-constructed school, I spoke with Maritza, pictured right. While progress is slow, Maritza showed me the reconstruction efforts of a school that was destroyed in the eviction. The home she had lived in with her family for 11 years had also been burned down last June.

Rigores remains in a precarious position. Residents still do not have a resolution regarding the titles of their land and have continued to face repression. Another resident of Rigores, Rosa Santa Maria, stated, “[The government] shouldn’t treat campesino groups like this. We need them to listen to us, not for them to see us like worthless objects.”

She went on to say, “The Honduran police are corrupt…They have treated us campesino groups very badly. We have been their victims. We have been psychologically and physically abused by them. We have been destroyed.”

In another reported event, a 16 year old boy was detained last September by Honduran military and tortured. Community members recounted that security forces covered the boy in gasoline as if they were going to burn him alive, but spared his life.

Reporting on these events has proved deadly to Honduran journalists. Nahum Palacios, originally from the community of Rigores, was assassinated in March 2010. When we heard testimony from his father, Eriberto Palacios, he reported that there has been almost no progress on the investigation into his son’s murder. Palacios stated, “In Honduras there is no justice for the poor.”

The U.S. funding of Honduran military and police is not the answer to quell the violence, rather human rights defenders in Honduras see it as fueling it. In a recent op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, Adrienne Pine, an anthropology professor at American University writes, “Hondurans do not need more militarization; they need justice.”

And as Rosa Santa Maria stated, “We don’t want more conflicts. We have suffered enough.”

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