La Nueva Esperanza: Villagers Flee Homes in Fear

Below is a translation of an urgent alert issued by the National Coalition of Environmental Networks on 20 June (Coalición Nacional de Redes Ambientales) about the increased intimidation of villagers by armed men employed by Lenir Pérez, who is carrying out mining exploration in the area against the community’s wishes (see article Mining project in La Nueva Esperanza: Alarming escalation in intimidation of the community and Mining in Atlántida: The Diocese of La Ceiba issues a public statement). He is trying to intimidate villagers into selling land for the mining operations, forcing some to flee their homes in fear.

Meanwhile, the mining exploration continues, with the rivers now so contaminated by mud from the excavations that they can no longer be used by the villagers, who are living under a curfew imposed the armed men (see photo below). The school has been closed since early June, because of the security situation which led in the end to the teacher being forced to leave the area with his family due to death threats, leaving 35 children without classes.

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URGENT ALERT IN LA NUEVA ESPERANZA, TELA

Reliable sources have reported that at about 5.30 pm on Saturday 20 July, two armed men with Mr. Wilfredo Fúnez, an employee of the mining company owner Lenir Perez, visited the communities of El Zapote and La Nueva Esperanza to threaten families who are refusing to sell their land to the mining company. We have also been informed that families have had to abandon their homes and take refuge in the countryside or in the homes of neighbours, for fear of the constant phone calls being made by the outsiders who have come to the community, and of the dozen armed men, who have kept the community in a virtual state of siege for over a month.

We call on social movements and organizations to report these abuses and to demand urgently that the security is provided to the families at risk and under threat in El Zapote and La Nueva Esperanza, Tela municipality.

We also demand the presence of the Office of the Human Rights Public Prosecutor (Fiscalía de Derechos Humanos) in order to safeguard the life and physical integrity of the people at risk.

 We urge the national police to provide the security currently required by the families of these communities and to evict the people who are spreading terror and fear in these communities.

We demand that Aldo Santos, the Director of INHGEOMIN (Honduran Geology and Mines Institute), settles once and for all the lawsuits filed to cancel the concession granted to Lenir Perez, so that the natural resources that form the basis of the rural economy of these villagers can be safeguarded.

We request that this alert is publicized and that the authorities are called upon to halt the harassment, persecution and threats targeted at those defending their right to live in peace and with dignity on the land which is theirs as of right.

NATIONAL COALITION OF ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORKS

(COALICION NACIONAL DE REDES AMBIENTALES)

ORIGINAL SPANISH TEXT

¡ ALERTA URGENTE!  EN NUEVA ESPERANZA, TELA.

Fuentes de entera confianza nos han informado que a eso de las 5.30 Pm de este sábado 20 de Julio,  2 hombres armados junto al señor Wilfredo Fúnez, empleado del empresario minero Lenir Pérez,   han llegado a las comunidades de El zapote y Nueva Esperanza, para amenazar a las familias que se resisten a vender sus tierras al empresario minero. Se nos informa igualmente que las familias han tenido que abandonar sus casas y refugiarse en el monte o en casas de vecinos, por temor a las continuas llamadas telefónicas que están realizando los extraños que han llegado a la comunidad y se teme que estén llamando a la docena de hombres armados que desde hace más de un mes mantienen prácticamente un Estado de sito en la comunidad.

Hacemos un llamado a las organizaciones y movimientos sociales a denunciar estos atropellos y exigir de manera urgente que se brinde seguridad a las familias en riesgo y bajo amenaza de las comunidades de El Zapote y Nueva Esperanza, en el municipio de Tela.

 

De igual forma exigimos la presencia de la Fiscalía de Derechos Humanos para que garantice la vida y la integridad física de las personas en riesgo.

 

Hacemos un llamado urgente a la policía nacional para que brinde la seguridad que en estos momentos requieren las familias de las comunidades antes mencionadas y que desalojen a las personas que están sembrando el terror y la zozobra en estas comunidades

 

Al abogado Aldo Santos, Ministro Director de Inhgeomin le exigimos que resuelva de una vez por todas las acciones judiciales interpuestas para que se cancele la concesión otorgad al empresario Lenir Pérez y se salvaguarden los Bienes Naturales que constituyen la base de la economía campesina de esos pobladores.

Se solicita Difundir esta alerta y llamar a las autoridades para el Cese del Hostigamiento, la persecución y las amenazas a quienes defienden su derecho a vivir en paz y con dignidad en las tierras que les pertenecen por Derecho Propio.

COALICION NACIONAL DE REDES AMBIENTALES

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