Vol. 37, No. 2
Honduras: Civil society decries mining law
Two and half years after a coup unseated President Manuel Zelaya, Honduras continues to struggle with increased human rights abuses, disenfranchisement, and environmental degradations. In late February, a coalition of more than a dozen organizations representing civil society, indigenous people and farmers, among others, met in Tegucigalpa to review the Honduran Congress' proposed law on mining and hydrocarbons. According to the Canadian group Mining Watch, this effort by Congress "takes place in the context of targeted threats and attacks on the security and well-being of activists and journalists in the country. [We are] concerned about the implications for further conflict in the country if a full and meaningful public process does not take place." The coalition's statement follows; the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns edited the English translation. The statement in Spanish can be found on the website of the Friendship Office of the Americas.
- We express our disagreement with the way in which more than 50 percent of the 104 articles of this proposed law have been elaborated, which, in addition to incorporating dispositions that are harmful to the Honduran people and the goods of the state, contradicts and ignores the minimum agreements that had been agreed upon with environmental organizations, affected communities, authorities of the state and representatives of mining companies.
- The proposed law is not ready to be debated by the National Congress, unless the desire of the Commission is to punish the communities, resulting in the loss of their historically acquired rights, especially the rights to food, water, health and life.
- In the name of the affected communities ..., we demand that the National Congress cease the process of approving this law and immediately initiate a citizen consultation process, particularly with affected populations.
- Our alliance has integrated legal and technical commissions that are available to immediately enter into debate with the Mining Commission of the National Congress in order to demonstrate the incoherence in the proposed law and the dangers that it implies for Honduran communities; in a similar way we propose changes that would be appropriate to the needs and interests of these populations.
- We have observed with much concern the strategic efforts of people associated with the mining companies within institutions of the state, which appears to us to have the explicit intention of facilitating the hand over of national territory to these companies to the detriment of the population.
- We declare that we are on alert and demand that the institutions of the state … halt the handing over of national territory; from the National Congress we demand the immediate initiation of a consultation process, starting with the Honduran citizenry, to regulate a new mining law.
Signed by: Honduran Centre for the Promotion of Community Development (CEHPRODEC); Madre Tierra Association; Civic Alliance for Democracy (ACD); Fundambiente; Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (ASONOG); Institute for Environmental Law (IDAMHO); Regional Environmental Committee of the Siria Valley; Popol Nah Tun Foundation; Environmental Movement of Santa Barbara (MAS); National Network of Communities Affected and Potentially Affected by Open Pit Mining; National Roundtable on Risk Management; Agricultural Forum; and National Association for the Promotion of Ecological Agriculture (ANAFAE)
Photo of January 24 march against the proposed Mining and Hydrocarbons Law by Greg McCain.