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Talking About Human Rights in Honduras

July 02nd, 2014
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News from Berlin - On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the putsch in Honduras which ousted president Manuel Zulaya, on June 26th, the Heinrich Böll Foundation in cooperation with the Honduran Initiative for Human Rights CADEHO held a conference in Berlin focusing on the current HR situation in Honduras, through a specific focus on the indigenous issue.

On June, 28th 2009, the Honduran Army under the orders of the Honduran Supreme Court ousted and exiled President Manuel Zelaya following his violation of the constitution as he attempted to hold a non-bonding referendum to convene a constituent assembly rewriting the constitution. Speaker of the Honduran Congress Roberto Micheletti was then appointed as successor, while the international community hardly condemned the coup. Indeed, for the first time in its history, the Organization of American States suspended Honduras from membership.

Five years later, the conference held in Berlin invited to a reflection on the current state and development of the Human Rights issue in the country, with a particular focus on its most marginalized population and weakest link, the indigenous populations.

Indeed, the paradigm of universalistic democratic citizenship relying on the principle of equality before the law is challenged when it comes to indigenous rights in Latin American democracies. Suffering severe socio-economic marginalization, they are embedded in a power ratio differential, detrimental to their ability to be an active and integrated part of national citizenry, suffering Human Rights violations the more natural ressources come into play.

Indigenous communities are suffering the most severe HR violations because of relentless extraction of natural resources displacing them from and expropriating their lands, most prominently with the example of large dams projects. The livelihood and the rights of indigenous communities are severely hurt as the recognition of equality before the law is not granted de facto. The indigenous claim for Human Rights protection therefore relies primarily on collective rights to land not seen as property but as an ecosystem ensuring livelihood and cultural subsistence of the community as a whole. The Human Rights corpus indeed acknowledges the ecosystem interactions as cultural heritage, displacement as disruptive and endangering culture as a good of humanity; while enabling to judicialize the right for safe life, health and life free from threat.

The two CADEHO speakers Paola Reyes and Domingo Marin therefore made a thoughtful and appealing portrayal of the current Human Rights situation in Honduras, presenting their work, as they followed daily for one year Human Rights activists and endangered populations in Honduras.

News from Berlin - Berlin Global