For the residents of the village of Guapinol, in northern
Honduras, their problems began in 2014 when the Honduran government granted a
mining concession within the Carlos Escaleras National Park, not far from
Guapinol. As the mining project got underway, residents say its operations
began to pollute their local water sources with sediment.
Finding themselves without a reliable source of drinking
water due to the mine, and fearing that its continued operation may block the
Guapinol rivers altogether, the community came together to protest the mining
concession and appeal to the authorities to protect their right to clean water.
Yet, in a pattern which is sadly all-too-familiar for land
and environmental defenders, the authorities responded not with genuine concern
for the harm done to the residents of Guapinol or an attempt to mediate the
conflict between them and the mining company – but with intimidation and
On 7 September 2018, a peaceful protest camp set up to
oppose the mine was stormed by armed security guards employed by the mining
company. One of the protestors was shot and seriously injured. The Honduran
police, rather than investigate and prosecute the instigators of this violence,
have instead targeted the peaceful protestors themselves.
At least 18 members of the Guapinol community
have faced arrests and even imprisonment, yet the incident involving the mining
company’s security guards has never been officially investigated. Edy Tabora, a
lawyer for some of the imprisoned protestors, believes that the arrests were
politically motivated – an attempt to intimidate the local community into