PBI-Honduras observes protest by Lenca community of Tierras del Padre criminalized for “usurpation” of ancestral lands

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On February 20, PBI-Honduras posted:

“We celebrate the closing of the process against the 11 people from the Lenca community of Tierras del Padre criminalized for the crime of usurpation.

On February 16, when the final letters of freedom were granted to the defenders in the Criminal Court in Tegucigalpa, from PBI we observed the sit-in that accompanied the community in the vindication of their ancestral territorial rights.

This indigenous community holds ancestral title dating back to 1739 and approximately 100 families reside and defend their rights in this territory.”

What is usurpation?

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a former UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights, has given the example of “usurpation” as when “Indigenous peoples become trespassers or illegal occupants of their own lands.”

The National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Honduras has also noted that the charges of “usurpation” is “used to criminalize and prosecute actions of social protest and demands for the rights of organizations that defend human rights. human rights, articulated in peasant organizations, indigenous peoples, blacks and social movements.”

Eviction of Lenca community by National Police in February 2022

On February 9, 2022, Once Noticias reported:

With a strong deployment, the National Police executes this Wednesday (9/2/2022) the eviction of the Lenca indigenous community Tierras del Padre, in the southern area of the Central District, Francisco Morazán.

Photo: Police arrive at the community, February 2022. Photo by La Prensa.

Photo: Confrontation with the community, February 2022. Photo by La Prensa.

This action is carried out after this Tuesday (8/2/2022) the Criminal Courts of Tegucigalpa reactivated the eviction order after it was suspended on November 11, 2021.

According to the judge assigned to the case, the legal action establishes that they will vacate the property of Tierras del Padre, including the citizens who are established in that place.

For its part, the Lenca Tierras del Padre Indigenous Community claims to have an ancestral land title since 1739, so this new eviction attempt (the previous one in November 2021) threatens and puts more than 120 families at risk.

Likewise, a statement issued by the women of this population group detailed that eleven of its inhabitants are currently accused of the crime of usurpation.

It should be noted that, until the entrance to the community, the executing judge assigned to the case, agents of the National Police and dozens of residents appeared.

Two years before the eviction, Criterio.hn noted:

Ninety families from the Lenca Indigenous Community Tierras del Padre, 13 kilometers from the Honduran capital, have denounced in recent hours that they are being persecuted and criminalized by the landowner and politician, Mario Facussé.

Facussé who alleges that the land, 502 blocks in total, is his property because he has a supplementary title extended in 2013. Meanwhile, members of the Lenca community invoke an ancestral title, dating back to 1739, registered with the Spanish captaincy.

This is not the first time that landowner Mario Facussé has been involved in conflicts over land tenure, as in the past he has claimed to be the owner of other assets, especially in the Central District, where thousands of families have had to pay him for their usufruct.

The Lenca Indians warned that if the eviction order is executed, it will violate Article 4 of ILO Convention 169, which guarantees respect for the property of indigenous peoples.

We continue to follow this.

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