Guapinol water defender Roberto Antonio Argueta killed
Water defender Roberto Antonio Argueta Tejada, one of the 32 people criminalized for defending the Guapinol River, was killed on August 28 in the city of Tocoa in the department of Colon in northern Honduras.
COPINH and C-Libre, two organizations accompanied by the Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project, have posted about his death.
COPINH stated, “No more murders of defenders of the earth!”
The Municipal Committee in Defence of Common and Public Assets (CMDBCP) and the Coalition against Impunity have condemned Argueta’s murder and demanded an investigation. (On January 20 of this year, PBI-Honduras observed the Municipal Summit for Water and Life that was organized by the CMDBCP.)
In August 2018, area residents set up a ‘Guapinol Camp in Defence of Water and Life’ (see photo above) in opposition to the Inversiones Los Pinares mine.
Argueta and many others oppose this mine inside the Carlos Escaleras National Park because it is causing damage to the Guapinol River, the source of drinking water for 14 nearby communities and about 42,000 people.
Italia Star has reported, “According to the villagers, the dragging of sediments from the opening of the road [for the mine] caused the drinking water plants to fill with mud. The residents of 13 communities had joined the protest because the mine is located in the area where the San Pedro river is born, which supplies them with water.”
In October 2018, 1,500 Honduran military and police officers evicted the camp.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has noted, “Argueta, who despite not being part of the CMDBCP, was sympathetic and had supported the Guapinol defenders, for example, by providing them with food or water, which is why he was one of 32 people criminalized as part of the Guapinol case.”
Twelve of those water defenders (Argueta chose not to present himself) went on trial in late February and early March of this year. PBI-Honduras, along with CEHPRODEC and C-Libre, accompanied that trial.
On August 26, PBI-Honduras were also present at the hearing for 7 more water defenders who have been accused of illegal association, robbery and aggravated fire in the Guapinol case. Those water defenders were referred to judicial detention at the Tamara Penitentiary with a hearing scheduled for August 29.
On August 30, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) posted this update: “The Guapinol water defenders are still being jailed, after their initial hearing was suspended. …The water defenders must be released and all the charges dropped – protecting the human right to water is never a crime.”
#GuapinolResiste #DefenderLaTierraNoEsDelito #NoMasCriminalización
Photo of the Guapinol Camp in Defence of Water and Life from this article by Canadian lawyer, journalist and activist Dimitri Lascaris.