TEGUCIGALPA – A private security guard was shot Friday in a clash with peasants trying to occupy a palm-oil plantation in Aguan, a region on Honduras’ Caribbean coast.
The incident took place at the Dinant corporation’s Los Laureles plantation, the firm’s lawyer, Roger Pineda told reporters.
“We have been invaded, a group of more than 200 heavily armed peasants, they wounded a security guard,” he said.
Dinant is owned by magnate Miguel Facusse, one of the richest people in Honduras.
“We are open to dialogue, we don’t want any more bloodshed, but these lands belong to us because they are our patrimony,” said a spokesperson for the peasant movement, Maria Rodriguez.
Police commander Amilcar Mejia said a contingent of police and soldiers are carrying out an operation in the area of the Los Laureles property.
“I don’t think any estate is worth a drop of blood from any of them or from any member of the armed forces,” Mejia said, without disclosing whether authorities plan to evict the peasants.
Three farmers have been killed in Aguan so far this month.
The Permanent Human Rights Observatory of Aguan blames security forces for the killings and demands the withdrawal of the army from the area, which lies in Colon province.
An accord signed more than a year ago by the Honduran government, plantation owners and an organization representing the peasants called for more than 4,000 hectares (9,876 acres) of land to be distributed among landless families in Aguan.
The agreement has yet to be implemented and around 60 people have died in Colon during the last four years in the conflict pitting peasants against private security guards employed by the palm-oil barons, according to the National Human Rights Commission.
Most of those killed have been peasants.
The fighting continues despite a Feb. 17 pact among the government, landowners and peasants meant to resolve the issue once and for all.
The dispatch of extra police and troops to Colon last October also had little impact on the level of violence, and the Human Rights Observatory accuses the security forces of siding with the landowners. EFE