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Another environmental movement leader murdered

It is with deep sadness that we are informing the Honduran and international community of the murder of our companero Adalberto Figueroa. Saturday the 8th of May at about the 8:30 a.m., when he was getting ready to collect firewood in the company of his 11-year-old son and his nephew, barely a kilometre from his house, he was ambushed by people wearing ski masks. They fired several shots which killed him immediately.

Adalberto was a leader inside and outside his community. He always had an extraordinary sense of solidarity and was utterly committed to social causes. He was a directive member of our organisation (the Environmentalist Movement of Olancho) and was originally our spokesperson. He was committed to the environmental struggle and participated in most of the activities we organised. He was the coordinator of the environmental movement in the Municipality of Guata and most recently, a council member in this municipality. In addition to the environmental struggle and his incursion into politics, he was a leader in his community as a delegate of the word of God.

We are sad and outraged that to this day 9 environmentalist companeros have been assassinated with impunity. We have denounced these murders over and over again, but the authorities of our country do not pay any attention. We understand that behind the Honduran justice system is the power of companies who dictate the rules that must be followed and who decide who has to be persecuted. Adalberto leaves behind a widow and four children, two girls and two boys, the oldest is 17 and the youngest is 8.

Our companero did not have any enemies. This is proven by the facts of his life and his involvement in various organisations and institutions, with which he coordinated projects of community development. We know that behind his murder was a well orchestrated plan hatched by logging companies, who he was facing while defending the rights of the communities from unsustainable exploitation of forest resources in this area.

Days before his murder, he had put his demand that logging be stopped in this area to the National Institute of Conservation and Forestry Development (Instituto Nacional de Conservación y Desarrollo Forestal, ICF). In addition, he organised an open council which resolved to take steps towards declaring the area a protected forest. Given the importance of the forest for the Municipality, these actions certainly inconvenienced the exploiters of this resource, who saw their interests threatened and paid contract killers to put an end to Adalberto’s life. It also has to be mentioned that since the coup d’etat, logging operations have intensified. The loggers are taking advantage of the fact that they have friends in the ICF and other public institutions and are ignoring the rights of the communities.

Hence Adalberto and the communities were forced to defend their rights. What can we expect from a blind justice system that punishes the weak and protects the powerful? We call on national and international human rights organisations and organisations of the national front of resistance against the coup d’etat, that they denounce these facts, and we demand a thorough investigation so that the perpetrators will be punished.