Leaders of ethnic groups in Honduras demonstrated on Thursday before the headquarters of the Parliament, in Tegucigalpa, to reject a bill of prior, free and informed consultation that, according to them, seeks to legitimize the appropriation of indigenous territories.
The initiative, which has been supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), is promoted by Deputy Óscar Nájera, of the National Party (in power).
The coordinator of the Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (Ofraneh), Miriam Miranda, told Efe that the bill is “unconsulted” and seeks to “legitimize the appropriation of the territories and natural resources of indigenous peoples.”
“We are in absolute rejection of that law, the only thing that this Government wants is to legitimize itself,” said Miranda, who has distinguished himself for his defense of the Garifuna community.
The draft “has not been socialized” with indigenous peoples, said the activist, who insisted that the proposal is “unqualified and invented” by the Honduran government.
He also said that Nájera “violates the rights of the Garifuna (black) community” and has “expelled communities” from their ancestral territories.
He said that Nájera has “sown African palm in Garifuna territory” and “dared to divert a river to sow African palm.”
The Honduran deputy is now “promoting a law to protect indigenous peoples, that is a great fallacy, it is hypocritical and we reject that,” he said.
The activist demanded the 128 deputies that make up the Honduran Parliament not to approve that bill because indigenous peoples exist since before Honduras was declared a Republic.
“We have ancestral rights,” said Miranda, who said the government should be concerned “to comply” with two sentences of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) for the violation of the State to property rights over the ancestral territory of communities Garifunas Triunfo de la Cruz and Punta Piedra.
“I am worried that they are doing this, it is a drill, it is a political show because in this country the rights of the indigenous people are violated every day,” he said.
Miranda denounced that in 2019 more than twenty Garifuna were killed in the Central American country.
He added that Honduran environmentalist Berta Cáceres was murdered on March 2, 2016 in Intibucá, in western Honduras, for opposing a hydroelectric “death project” in the west of the country by the company Desarrollos Energéticos Sociedad Anónima (Desa ).
Bertha Zúñiga, daughter of the indigenous leader, told Efe that the objective of the initiative is to “make more flexible” the construction of “extractive and energy generation projects” in the territory of indigenous peoples.
“It is a threat to the communities, because what the people think about a project will not be valid, but it will be an instance of the Government that will make the decision,” said Zúñiga, who is also the general coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh).
He noted that the bill has been questioned by the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.
Members of the Ofraneh made a rite using cigar tobacco and an incense based on natural medicines and cane brandy, according to Efe.
The State of Honduras “cannot approve the proposed project because it would go against the provisions of the judgments imposed by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and would constitute a continuous violation of the rights protected by those judgments and would be seriously retreating in cases that are already a thing judged, “the protesters said in a document sent to Parliament.