PBI-Honduras accompanies CEHPRODEC at meeting with Tolupan peoples protecting ancestral lands from mining
On July 13, PBI-Honduras posted: “PBI accompanies CEHPRODEC in Las Vegas de Tepemechín visiting the Indigenous Tolupan community.”
It adds: “They held a meeting together with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras (OACNUDH) to learn about the risk situation and threats facing tribal defenders.”
On July 9, OACNUDH posted on Facebook: “After meeting with human rights defenders of the Tolupan Tribe of Las Vegas de Tepemechin to learn about the risk situation they face, OACNUDH urges competent institutions to ensure the rights of Indigenous peoples and the protection of their defenders.”
PBI-Honduras further notes: “The Tolupan community lives a constant struggle to protect ancestral lands from extractive projects. ‘As Indigenous people we are alone in front of the world.’ They express concern over the pollution of rivers and the fear of being removed from territory by mining exploration.”
The Tolupan Tribe of Las Vegas de Tepemechín is situated in the municipality of Victoria in the department of Yoro, about 140 kilometres north of Tegucigalpa.
Canada and extractivism in Honduras
The Conversation has reported: “In the early 2000s, Canadian investment [in Honduras] surpassed $100 million, much of it concentrated in mining and exploration.”
General Mining Law
MiningWatch Canada has stated: “The General Mining Law was developed with technical assistance paid for with Canadian overseas development aid. Its passage in 2013 lifted a seven-year moratorium on any new mining projects.”
It has also noted: “This law was developed and passed with strong diplomatic support from the Canadian embassy, and with contributions from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the former Canadian International Development Agency.”
Among the concerns expressed by Honduran groups including CEHPRODEC: “The law fails to ensure the protection of natural areas and water sources vital for human consumption and other uses health” and “imposes limits on citizen participation and contradicts provisions for environmental conservation by prohibiting areas free of mining from being created for any length of time.”
Canadian investment, free trade agreement
In May 2014, CEHPRODEC contributed to the report The Impact of Canadian Mining in Latin America and Canada’s Responsibility that was submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. That report noted:
“The political and economic support Canada gives Canadian companies (through mechanisms such as Export Development Canada (EDC), the Investment Board of the Canadian Pension Plan, and the Canadian International Development Agency) is provided without adequate controls to prevent the violation of human rights in the countries where the companies that receive these benefits operate.”
“Trade agreements usually contain clauses on human rights and environmental protection. However, they lack the legal bases to force the parties — and, fundamentally, Canada — to comply with the obligation to respect and guarantee the human rights that are violated in the host countries by the actions of Canadian mining companies.”
The Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement and parallel agreements on labour and environmental cooperation entered into force on October 1, 2014.
PBI-Honduras has accompanied the Honduran Centre for the Promotion of Community Development (CEHPRODEC) since May 2014.