Honduras land occupation

Simon Fairlie chapter7 at tlio.org.uk
Thu Apr 19 01:36:27 BST 2012

Associated press report:
Thousands of Honduran farmworkers occupy land
(AP) – 26 minutes ago
TEGUCIGALPA (AP) — Thousands of farmworkers have occupied 30,000  
acres (12,000 hectares) of land around Honduras as part of a dispute  
with large landowners and the government, activists and officials  
said Wednesday.
Activists say the seized territory is arable public land that small  
farmers have the legal right to grow crops under Honduran law. The  
large landowners who have been farming the land say they bought it  
legally from the government. A land dispute between small farmers and  
landlords in the northern Aguan Valley has led to dozens of deaths  
among farmworkers in recent years.
Mabel Marquez, of the organization Via Campesina, said that the  
largest seizure had occurred on the country's Caribbean coast, where  
roughly 1,500 farmworkers had seized land held by a sugar plantation  
near the city of San Pedro Sula. The movement also took possession of  
several farms on the outskirts of the capital, Tegucigalpa, and in  
the provinces of Cortes, Yoro, Santa Barbara, Intibuca, Choluteca,  
Camayagua and Francisco Morazan.
"We want to avoid any type of confrontation," Marquez said, adding  
that the farmworkers were unarmed and used no force. Marquez said the  
farmworkers didn't rule out an official attempt to dislodge them from  
the fields.
Later Wednesday, police and soldiers read an eviction notice and the  
farmworkers peacefully left the San Manuel sugar plantation of 6,000  
acres (2,500 hectares). The rest of the farms were still occupied  
late Wednesday.
Activists said they were seeking meetings with government officials  
to open a national dialogue on land disputes, make clear that the  
lands were public property and that the farmworkers shouldn't be  
dislodged. According to United Nations figures, 53 percent of  
Hondurans live in the countryside and, according to the Economic  
Commission for Latin America, the residents of 72 percent of rural  
homes are below the poverty line.
Cesar Ham, director of the National Agrarian Institute, said the land  
seizures were politically motivated and aimed at destabilizing the  


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