President of Honduras Blocks Indigenous Community’s Eviction

ANDREA GERMANOS
Residents face riot police during an attempted eviction at Tierras del Padre, a Lenca Indigenous community between the municipalities of Ojojona and San Buenaventura, Francisco Morazan department, Honduras, on February 9, 2022. Residents face riot police during an attempted eviction at Tierras del Padre, a Lenca Indigenous community between the municipalities of Ojojona and San Buenaventura, Francisco Morazan department, Honduras, on February 9, 2022. (Photo: Orlando Sierra/AFP via Getty Images)

The Human Rights Ministry called the evictions a “clear violation of the human rights of over 100 families who live in the sector in an ancestral Lenca territory that dates from the year 1739.”

Honduras’ new leftist president on Wednesday intervened to halt a court-ordered eviction of an Indigenous community from their ancestral lands following violent scenes of the attempted forced removal by police earlier in the day.

Human Rights Minister Natalie Roque shared on social media that, with orders from President Xiomara Castro, lawyers and officials from her office went to the Tierras del Padre community, located just south of the capital of Tegucigalpa, to stop the evictions, saying the suspension was in accordance with the law and authorized by the state.

“We are not going to tolerate any aggression or blow against a pregnant woman or against a citizen or against a child,” presidential adviser Pedro Amador said on the scene, according to a video circulated on social media

In a tweet, Roque accused judicial officials who’d approved the evictions of continuing “in the power of the dictatorship.” As Agence France-Presse reported last month, “four of the five judges in the court’s constitutional chamber were named to their posts by the previous Congress, which was dominated by the right-wing National Party of former president Juan Orlando Hernandez.”

A statement from the country’s human rights ministry called the proposed expulsions—performed at the behest of a businessman and land developer who claims ownership of the area—a “clear violation of the human rights of over 100 families who live in the sector in an ancestral Lenca territory that dates from the year 1739.”

Before the federal officials arrived to intervene, community members faced riot police who, according to local reports and photos, intimidated and hit several community members.

The planned evictions sparked concern from the Honduras office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Of particular concern, the office said in a Wednesday Twitter thread, was that a constitutional appeal of the evictions filed by the community had not yet been processed. The U.N. office further urged the state to halt the eviction order, noting threats to “the effective protection of the rights of the community, particularly its right to housing and food.”

Castro, sworn in January 27 following a dozen years of the country being run by the right-wing National Party, is the country’s first female president.

She is also the wife of Manuel Zelaya, Honduras’s former progressive president who was in power from 2006 until 2009 when he was ousted in a Washington-backed coup.