Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Two updates from Honduras: Siria Valley environmental activists detained; more on the women's assembly

I've written about the Siria Valley and resistance to environmental destruction there. This is from an open letter from civil society organizations to the Honduran, US, and Canadian governments:
The below-signed international civil society organizations write to express our deep concern about the criminalization of environmental defenders in the case of eighteen members of the Siria Valley Environmental Committee of Honduras.

On July 5th 2011, we learned that three members of this committee, including Carlos Danilo Amador, Marlon Hernández and Juan Ángel Reconca, were temporarily detained and that warrants were out for the arrest of fifteen others. All face serious charges for allegedly having obstructed a forestry management plan, which could lead to possible jail sentences of four to six years. On July 5th and July 8th, the other fifteen members of the committee with warrants out for their arrest voluntarily presented themselves to the judge in Talanga, with legal support from the Committee of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH). They were released with precautionary measures until their preliminary hearing on August 2nd.

The Siria Valley Environmental Committee is internationally recognized for its role in the defense of the right to a healthy environment for local communities. They actively oppose the expansion of Goldcorp's San Martín mine (operated by Goldcorp’s subsidiary Entre Mares Honduras), which after only nine years in operation, and now in the process of closure, has left a legacy of acid mine drainage as confirmed by highly regarded researchers from Newcastle University....
Margaret Thompson has another great piece about last week's constitutional assembly of indigenous and Afro-Honduran women. It provides good information on the struggles of the Garifuna and other groups, and I found this point about their working for diversity and cooperation across resistance movements, including international feminism, important:
As the 300 women at the event worked through dialogue and strategy sessions to strengthen alliances with each other, they also called for more active inclusion of their voices and experiences in their communities, in the national and international feminist movements and in the overall popular resistance movement of their country.

This deeper assessment on the inclusion of diversity is key to confronting the literal assault by radical neoliberals and corporations who are determined to exploit the ongoing crisis and take control of the biggest “booty” in Honduras today, which are the vast natural resources that are mostly located in indigenous communal lands.

In an interview with Escribanas, Miranda described the Constitutional Assembly by noting, “We met as indigenous and Afro women to talk about what we want as a country, as a nation, and also to talk about the problems that we confront as women. As indigenous women, as Garifuna women, as Afro women, we have our own problems that at times aren’t taken into account in large measure by the feminist movement.”

She explained that at the national and regional level, the “women’s movement” is discussed as if it is one sector, “but the result is that we as indigenous and Afro women are made invisible. We are so isolated from the national and international debate and all of the decisions made that directly affect our lives, that directly affect our territories, that directly affect our future as indigenous and Afro women.”

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