Honduran Organizations Demand Support for Farming Not Mining in Protest of World Bank Sponsored Event

February 9, 2015 | By admin | Filed in: GoldcorpHondurasImpact on Communities.

Last week, the Honduran National Coalition of Environmental
Networks and Organizations (CONROA by its initials in Spanish)
protested a
World Bank-sponsored “Conference on Sustainable Development of
Natural Resources”
in Tegucigalpa.

CONROA urged the Bank – and the Honduran government – to
support coffee farmers instead of national and transnational
mining companies, stating that that farming creates more jobs,
income and better distribution of wealth without the
long-lasting environmental impacts, public health problems and
social conflict that mining generates.

They also demanded that community consultation be made
binding before any mining activities take place on community
territory, meaning before mineral prospection or exploration
activities are approved. The current mining law – passed in
January 2013

with technical support paid for with Canadian overseas
development aid
– only makes provisions for
non-binding community consultation at a late stage, just before
projects get final approval to go into operation. At this
stage, if the results of community consultation are taken
seriously at all, the Honduran state

could be left open to foreign companies suing the
country
under the provisions of trade pacts,
such as the

Canada Honduras Free Trade Agreement
, if
they make a decision that a company doesn’t like.

The
dirty legacy
of Canadian companies such
as Goldcorp and its San Martín mine in the Honduran Siria
Valley continue to be a reference point for many municipalities
in Honduras that are

declaring their territories free of
mining
, despite the risk they run of being
threatened and

even killed
when they do so.

Honduran National Coalition of Environmental
Networks and Organizations

Public Declaration

February 4, 2015

(Tegucigalpa) In the context of the “Conference on
Sustainable Development of Natural Resources,” February 3-4,
2014, in the Hotel Intercontinental, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
hosted by the World Bank Group and the Honduran Government, in
particular the Honduran Institute for Geology and Mines
(INHGEOMIN), the National Coalition of Environmental Networks
and Organizations (CONROA by its initials in Spanish) makes the
following declaration:

According to INHGEOMIN, there are currently 487 mining
oncessions that have been granted to mining companies, 146 of
which are for metallic mining and 114 of these which are for
the extraction stage of mining. They are located in 14 of 18
departments around the country, especially in Santa Barbara,
Olancho, Francisco Morazán, Comayagua and El Paraíso. Another
140 non-metallic concessions for extraction have been granted,
which include iron ore operations, revealing a tremendous
paradox: Only in Honduras is iron not a metal!

All of these metallic and non-metallic concessions pose a
threat to the environment and public health in hundreds of
communities. For this reason, communities are protesting more
and more in defence of their human rights, including for the
right to health, nutrition, and water, or in other words, life,
wanting these to prevail over the business interests of a
handful of people and national and international
companies.

It has been clearly demonstrated to Hondurans that
mining, especially metallic mining, kills both people and other
living things given the toxicity of related contamination and
the use of heavy metals like cyanide, arsenic and mercury.
Communities in the Siria Valley in the department of Francisco
Morazán are witnesses to this hell and as a result, many
municipalities are saying no to mining.

As a result of their protests, human rights defenders and
those who defend their territories are being pursued, denying
them the right to say no in their municipalities. The
government of Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) and complicit
municipal corporations continue to rent and sell off Honduran
territory come what may and refuse to make community
consultations binding.

As we have said many times before, the current mining law
does not serve to regulate mining and its use, rather it puts
communities at a disadvantage given that community
consultations are not binding before prospection and
exploration activities take place, that is before there
commitments are made between the state and transnational
companies.

Far from protecting mining-affected communities, the
mining law puts them at a disadvantage compared to the freedom
with which companies operate, with protections from the
Honduran state to ensure that they can “invest” in the
country.

A recent study demonstrates that the mining industry
displaces other productive activities such as coffee farming in
Honduras. This study shows that, although coffee farming uses
nearly the same surface area in Honduras (2.17%) as mining
(2.85%) that it creates more jobs, income, and distribution of
wealth. So then, why would the World Bank and the state not
support the more than 120,000 coffee farmers whose crops were
seriously affected by a plague and who were abandoned by the
state? Instead, they support an industry that has created
social conflict as a result of how mining competes for space,
water and territorial control, etc.

Mining has not contributed to development in any country,
given that the income and few jobs that this activity generates
do not compensate for the environmental and social
impacts.

For all these reasons, CONROA opposes the event hosted by
the World Bank, INGEOMIN and the government of JOH to promote
an activity that has not only provoked environmental damage,
but also social conflict and displacement of Honduran
communities from their legitimate territory.

We cannot continue supporting the government’s complicity
with mining companies. We cannot continue supporting the
security companies who serve the mining companies and attack
those who think differently, even pursuing environmental and
human rights defenders until they are dead.

We demand that the Honduran state fulfil its
responsibility and that Honduras’ natural commons, including
the territory, is debated in inclusive spaces where communities
themselves can express their point of view, given that at the
end of the day it is they who will suffer the consequences of
extractivism that state administrators are promoting as if it
were a great panacea for national development at the cost of
the impoverishment and death of Hondurans.

Yes to binding community
consultation

No to mining in Honduras

CONROA

Translated from the
original in Spanish
.


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