Canada and Chile take part in public security reform and proposed mining, oil and gas legislation in Honduras.
In October 2011, the son of the UNAH rector Castellanos was murdered along with a friend by police in the Honduran capital city, Tegucigalpa, which prompted the creation of the Honduran Public Security Reform Commission created by Honduran Congress in January 2012. Aquiles Blu Rodriguez, a retired General from Chile’s Carabineros national police force, Adam Blackwell, Blu Rodriguez and three Hondurans, Jorge Omar Casco, Matias Funes, and Victor Meza, form the committee. Their goal is to design, plan and certify a process of integral reform of public security in Honduras by investigating and evaluating the performance not only of the national police force, but also that of public prosecutors and judges (Spring & Cuffe, 2012).
Goldcorp is a fast-growing senior gold that operates and develops in the Americas. However, activists claim that Goldcorp does not operate in Honduras in the same way it operates in Canada. Activists of Goldcorp’s operations in Central America gathered in a 6,000 km walk to the miners and residents of Trimmin. Reina Gamora, a Honduran school teacher and protester claims that “[Goldcorp workers] operate through utilizing the corrupt government that operates in Honduras. They ignore the human rights and environmental impacts their operations have”.
Moreover, there are 50 million tonnes of contaminated material surrounding the San Martin mine, located in the Siria Valley and over 80% of people living close to the mine have suffered serious sickness. Residents and farm workers discovered they have high levels of lead and zinc in their blood and urine.
To add to the damage, neither the government nor Goldcorp is taking accountability for the health issues.
Honduran civilians’ issues go far beyond those of mining. Since the June 2009 coup that removed President Manuel Zelaya, dozens of murders of journalists and LGTB activists occurred, as many of them were actively involved in the resistance movement to the coup. Most recently, on May 14, Erik Martinez, an LGBT activist, was found murdered. Two days later, journalist Alfredo Villatoro was found dead for which arrests were made last week, one of the people detained being a police officer.
“Since the coup, the State of Honduras has received a lot of recommendations including from the Truth Commission, in which national and international representatives – including a representative from Canada – participated at the service of [President Porfirio] Lobo,” explains Oliva, one of the country’s most prominent human rights activists. “They gave [over 80] recommendations and none have been complied with.”
Honduran and international non-governmental organizations (NGOS) have engaged in their own campaigns on the issue, for law reform and corporate accountability; however, the grassroots movement in Honduras has largely been led by local community members from areas directly affected by mining projects and concessions. A Congressional Committee had also been working on a mining law proposal requiring fifty per cent State involvement in all mining ventures. However, work on draft legislation to that effect, developed by affected communities and NGOs alongside presidential advisors, was cut short by the 2009 coup.
Civilians have no where to turn to when the police do not have public credibility, the government is unresponsive to their needs and large corporations are exploiting their lands.