Campesinos claim soldiers and police favor the landowners
[Translation of an Agence France Presse article as published in Diario Tiempo of San Pedro Sula for May 13, 2013. See original here an related articles here, here and here.]
A campesino leader was assassinated by armed men in the troubled valley of Aguán, 600 kilometers northeast of the Honduran capital, bringing to 99 the number killed in the region, the scene of a conflict between farmers and landowners, a leader of the agrarian movement reported on Sunday.
“Three heavily armed men assassinated José Omar Pérez, 37, president of the Los Laureles operation, in the La Concepción settlement, which belongs to the Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán (MUCA), around 9:30pm Saturday night,” the spokesman for the organization, Vitalino Álvarez, told AFP.
The attack occurred 100 meters from Pérez’s home as he and his wife were returning from his mother-in-law’s house in the city of Tocoa.
“The assassination of comrade Pérez makes 99 campesinos killed by the deadly bullets of the landowners’ security guards and the paramilitary groups who operate in the region,” stated a MUCA communiqué.
The conflict began in the Aguán in January, 2010, a month after more than 5,000 campesinos occupied 7,000 hectares of land claimed by the landowners.
The campesinos hold that these lands have belonged to them since they were granted to them as part of an agrarian reform in the 1980s.
In 1992, a law allowed the parcels of land to be sold and some leaders of the farmers, behind the backs of their base, sold them to the landowners at low cost.
In August, the government ordered a military deployment, reinforced by the police, to carry out a “general disarmament” but deaths continue and the campesinos hold that the soldiers and the police are backing the landowners.
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