Jerico comes tumbling down

Via Campesina and FIAN have sent around this urgent action alert, and they tend not to be the types who call for action if there isn’t some strong chance that it’ll make a difference…

Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform

Emergency Network

0717AHND 12.10.07

Honduras: Landless movement “Jericó” seeks for the implementation of agrarian reform in Colón

The 46 peasant families of the Peasant Associative Business “Jericó” have been living and working for more than 25 years in a lot of 550 hectares of land near the town of Trujillo, in the department of Colón. They entered the land with a land occupation warranty given by the Agrarian National Institute (INA), but in 1995 they came into conflict with a powerful local landowner family that states to own the land and is in possession of land property titles. The peasants have been prosecuted for seizure and have been forced to leave in several occasions, last time in January this year. But a new research by the INA about the legal nature of the land determines that it is national land, so any claim by the so-called “owners” is void.

In this situation, it is very important to draw the attention of the Honduran Government in order to fulfil the right to food of the peasant families. Please, send a letter to the Honduran President in which you express your worries about this case and ask him to adopt the necessary measures to withdraw the illegal titles and to make the peasant movement the legal owners of this land. Please, send one copy of the letter to the Ministry of the INA, and another one to the lawyer of the peasant movement.
Background:
The Peasant Associative Business “Jericó” is currently formed by 46 peasant families. Since 1981 they have been living and working in 550 hectares of land near the town of Trujillo, in the department of Colón, where they own farms with 80 cows and grow corn, coconut, African oil palm and cassava.

They entered the land with a land occupation warranty given by the Agrarian National Institute (INA). However, since 1995, other groups have tried to own the land. The peasant group has been force to leave and have been accused of seizure, especially by a powerful local landowner family. Without having jurisdiction to do so, the Trujillo town council is said to have given property titles to this family and other people: there are allegedly 98 public deeds on different plots, which have always been national land, according to the evidences.

Last year, a new research was carried out by the INA requesting to determine the legal nature of this land. According to the INA decision, it is national land. Therefore, the peasant group wants to immediately get the title of the lands that do not have other public deeds. They also want the illegal titles to be withdrawn, so that they can get these and ensure themselves the land tenancy and, consequently, their access to food.

Emergency Network Mandate:

Honduras is a State Party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It has therefore the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights enshrined in that covenant, particularly the right to food.

End of action: November 30, 2007

Addresses: Copies to:

Lic. José Manuel Zelaya Rosales
President of the Honduran Republic
Colonia Lomas del Mayab
Boulevard Juan Pablo II
Tegucigalpa
Honduras
Fax ++504 – 239-3298
Lic. José Francisco Fúnez Rodríguez
Minister-Director
Instituto Nacional Agrario
Col. Alameda, 4 avenida, entre 10 y 11 calle, # 1009,
Tegucigalpa
Honduras
Fax: ++504 – 239 73-98
FIAN HONDURAS
Apartado Postal Nº 5303
Tegucigalpa,
Honduras, C.A.
E-mail: fian@fian.hn

Please inform FIAN about any response you receive to your letters.

Translation of draft letter:

Dear Mr. President,
I am greatly disturbed about the fact that the 46 peasant families of the Peasant Associative Business “Jericó”, that have been living and working since 1995 in 550 hectares of land near the town of Trujillo, in the department of Colón, came into conflict with a powerful local landowner family that states to own the land and is in possession of land property titles. The peasants have been prosecuted for seizure and have been forced to leave in several occasions, last time in January this year. But a new research carried out by the INA about the legal nature of the land determines that it is national land, so any claim by the so-called “owners” is void.

Honduras is a State Party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It has therefore the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights enshrined in that covenant, particularly the right to food.

I therefore kindly ask you, Mr. President, to adopt – in cooperation with the rest of the competent authorities – immediate and correct measures to ensure the peasant group access to land and land tenancy, so that their right to food is thus fulfilled. I therefore ask you to:

– Immediately give land titles to the peasant group, if there are no other public deeds which may interfere
– Withdraw other land titles –illegally issued–, so that the peasant group can be in possession of legal titles on that land

Yours sincerely,

Su Excelencia
Lic. José Manuel Zelaya Rosales
Presidente de la República de Honduras
Tegucigalpa
Honduras C.A.

Excelentísimo Señor Presidente,

con profunda preocupación he recibido la información de que las 46 familias campesinas de la Empresa Asociativa Campesina “Jericó”, que desde 1981 están viviendo y trabajando en un predio de 550 hectáreas cerca de Trujillo, departamento de Colón, están sufriendo un conflicto con una familia terrateniente de esta zona y con otros particulares que pretenden la tierra presentando títulos de propiedad. Los campesinos han sido procesados por usurpación y desalojados forzosamente, por última vez en enero de este año. Pero según las informaciones recibidas una nueva investigación del Instituto Nacional Agrario sobre la naturaleza jurídica del terreno en disputa determina que la tierra es nacional, por lo tanto al parecer cualquier reclamo por supuestos “dueños” es nulo.
Honduras es Estado Parte del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales. Por lo tanto, toda autoridad del Estado tiene que respetar, proteger y garantizar los derechos reconocidos en estos tratados, en particular el derecho a la alimentación.

Por lo tanto, le solicito, Sr. Presidente, adoptar en cooperación con las demás autoridades competentes las medidas inmediatas y apropiadas para asegurar el acceso y la tenencia de la tierra por parte del grupo campesino y así garantizar su derecho a la alimentación. Por lo tanto le solicito

– titular inmediatamente todas las partes del terreno donde no hay interferencias por otras escrituras públicas a favor del grupo campesino;
– anular todos los títulos ilegalmente extendidos para poder después titulárselas al nombre del grupo campesino.

Atentamente