Guapinol water defender Arnold Joaquín Morazán Erazo shot to death in Honduras
Guapinol water defender Arnold Joaquín Morazán Erazo was shot to death in his home in the community of Tocoa on October 13.
Morazán Erazo was one of 32 defenders criminalized in relation to peaceful protests against an open-pit iron oxide mine inside a protected national park in Honduras.
Vice reports: “Guapinol locals have protested the mining project since 2012, when the government granted a mining concession to Inversiones Los Pinares, a company owned by Lenir Pérez and Ana Facussé, a powerful couple linked to alleged human rights abuses. The community says that the permits granted by the government are invalid because the local people were not properly consulted as required by law. They also say the mining project pollutes the nearby river, which provides water to more than 40,000 people.”
On August 1, 2018, a Guapinol Camp in Defence of Water and Life was established in opposition to the Inversiones Los Pinares mine.
It lasted 88 days.
On October 27, 2018, an estimated 1,500 soldiers and police officers fired bullets and tear gas at the camp, injuring eight people and killing Levin Alexander Bonilla.
On February 20, 2019, PBI-Honduras was present at an information event about the impacts of mining on the Guapinol River. PBI-Honduras then accompanied community members to a government office where they filed a complaint about the lack of transparency around the mining concession granted to Inversiones Los Pinares.
PBI-Honduras has also accompanied various court processes in March, August and September 2019 related to the imprisonment of Guapinol water defenders.
On September 15 of this year, Freedom for the defenders of Guapinol tweeted “Our solidarity with the Haudenosaunee people” in reference to the ongoing 1492 Land Back Lane camp on Six Nations territory in southern Ontario, Canada.
The Vice article adds: “Morazán’s killing came just days after the announcement that the 32 defenders from Guapinol were nominated for the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought from the European Parliament, along with Berta Cáceres, the revered Honduran environmentalist murdered in 2016 who was nominated after her death.”
The winner of the Sakharov Prize will be announced on October 22.
Nearly 150 environmental defenders have been killed in Honduras since the June 28, 2009 coup, including 14 defenders in 2019. That makes Honduras the most dangerous country per capita to be a land and environmental defender.
Shortly after the coup, Canada was involved in developing a General Mining Law (passed in January 2013) and a free trade agreement with Honduras (signed in November 2013), both of which favour mining companies. Canada currently provides about $29 million in aid to the Government of Honduras, an increase from the pre-coup level of support.
There has been no public comment on the Guapinol situation from Canadian embassy officials responsible for Canadian affairs in Honduras.
Photo from Democracy Now.