Honduran peasant leader's life under threat
By Saulo Araujo
October 2nd, 2012
Yesterday, Grassroots International received the alarming news that our partner Rafael Alegria, a leader of La Via Campesina in Honduras, has been moved to a safe house in fear for his life, following the murder of his closest legal advisor, Antonio Trejo Cabrera.
This comes as the violence in Honduras against farmers and Afro-descendent leaders continues to escalate. Politically motivated killings, kidnappings and death threats have increased steadily since the 2009 coup in the country and the installation of a post-coup regime. In the Aguan Region alone, more than 65 landless farmers have been killed.
Mr. Cabrera, 41 years old, was providing legal support to landless farmers who are embattled in a dispute with a powerful, wealthy landowner. He had dedicated himself to help impoverished landless and small-scale farmers and those working to defend human rights. Our allies in Honduras report that Mr. Cabrera had filed complaints with Honduran authorities, in which he had stated that his life was in danger “due to permanent threats from the big landowners Miguel Facusse and Rene Morales” – the same landowners who are allegedly involved in disputes with landless farmers in the Aguan. Mr. Cabrera’s murder, along with those of other human rights defenders, leaves a huge gap. His assassination and the ongoing and escalating threats against Rafael Alegria are examples of the deterioration of Honduras' human rights record.
As a close ally with the U.S., the Honduran government has implemented militarization policies that have contributed to human rights violations, and threaten the lives of nonviolent community leaders, including Rafael Alegria. An internationally recognized leader, Rafael is a founding member of La Via Campesina International, the world's largest network of small-scale farmers, pastoralists, Indigenous Peoples, and fisherfolk, now represented in 70 countries worldwide. Threats against Mr. Alegria endanger all human rights defenders and undermine democracy in Honduras.
In La Via Campesina: Globalization and the Power of Peasants, Rafael says:
I think what really unites us is a fundamental commitment to humanism, because the antithesis of this is individualism and materialism. For us in the Via Campesina the human aspect is a fundamental principle, so we see the person, man and woman, as the centre of our reason for being and this is what we struggle for -- for this family that is at the centre of all. Common problems unite us...But what also unites us are great aspirations... What unites us is a spirit of transformation and struggle... We aspire to a better world, a more just world, a more humane world, a world where real equality and social justice exist. These aspirations and solidarity in rural struggles keep us united in the Via Campesina.
Join Grassroots International, the Via and other human rights activists to call for an end to violence in impunity in Honduras, protection for Rafael and all human rights activists, small farmers and indigenous leaders. Take action now!