CEHPRODEC executive director Donald Hernández: “We go to the territories accompanied by organizations such as PBI”

Published by Brent Patterson on

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PBI-Honduras has accompanied the Honduran Center for the Promotion of Community Development (CEHPRODEC) since May 2014.

Spanish RTVE radio-television recently interviewed Donald Hernández, the executive director of CEHPRODEC.

Below is an excerpt from that full interview.

QUESTION: Have you ever suffered threats?

ANSWER: Yes, many. The activism in which we develop leads us to be permanently threatened. They are direct threats from powerful groups that see their economic interests affected by the actions we develop with activists in the field.

Q: Do you take any measures to protect yourselves?

A: Institutionally we are careful and we follow protocols. We go to the territories accompanied by organizations such as Peace Brigades International. Their vests and visibility allow us to be under their umbrella. Imagine how we have lost our dignity. Because I am Honduran, my life does not deserve respect, I am only respected when I am with someone whose ambassador is watching over me. We have also learned to have very direct relations with the UN High Commissioner’s Office. And when they are dangerous places, we have officials accompany us or we request the visit of ambassadors so that there is more visibility of the vulnerable people who are day by day facing these groups of power.

Q: When you talk about indigenous peoples and native peoples, which ones are you referring to?

A: CEHPRODEC works with the Lenca population in the department of La Paz, with the Tolupanes in the municipality of Yoro and with the Pech population in Olancho.

Q: What are the main demands of these native peoples and of the peasants that you also defend from your organization?

A: There are three important things. One is information. This is understood because in Honduras information is vetoed, we do not have access to public information. The government, so far, refuses to sign the Escazú Agreement, which would oblige us to provide public information, mainly on environmental issues. If we do not have information, then there is a lot of speculation. People ask us for information.

Q: There were three important things you were asked for. Information is the first one, and the other two?

A: Once we had the information with the number of hectares granted in the concession – whether for mining, hydroelectric or other projects – we began to provide training. And then we start organizing. We must have the capacity to accompany the leaders with lawyers, because they are going to need them. We must have the capacity to move them within 24 hours the day they are threatened with death and have to be taken out of the country.

Besides, we study the environmental regulations to be able to contribute in the presentation of unconstitutionality appeals on the Mining Law, the Forestry Law… on all those contributions that we make with the peasants and indigenous people to ensure that their rights are respected.

To read the full interview, go to Entrevista – Donald Hernández, abogado de indígenas y campesinos: “Nadie quiere ser líder porque te persiguen y te matan” (RTVE, February 26, 2024).

Further reading: CEHPRODEC lawyer Donald Hernández: “For those whose lands are stolen and poisoned by mining companies, Canada is synonymous with mining” (October 19, 2022).

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