Shots were fired when the police drove away the small farmers on the 13th January 2017. For seven years, the group "9 de Julio" had occupied land because it held the opinion that the authorities had illegally privatised and sold it. Several people were seriously injured during the eviction, among them also Victor Vesques, leader of the Indigenous Council of the Simpinula and member of the Lenca Independent Peace Movement.
According to the organisation Centro Nacional de Trabajadores del Campo (CNTC), this practice of compulsory expropriation occurs on a daily basis in Honduras. More than 5000 people committed criminal acts in 2017 alone because they defended access to their land. More than 1,000 people were intimidated, persecuted or murdered because of their activities.
CNTC has been fighting for decades in Honduras for a fair distribution of land. This farmers, unions and inquiry organisation was the result of the restructuring of five farmers unions in 1985. It is a member of the association of trade unions Confederación Unitaria de Trabajadores de Honduras and part of the international movement of small farmers and land workers, Via Campesina.
The grass roots movement is represented in 14 of the 18 regions of the country and has currently 10,000 members, including 4,000 women. During a national congress held every year, delegates evaluate the work of the board of directors. Every four years they elect the members of the National Council.
CNTC aims to support farming families so that they can keep their land and can legally use it for forestry and farming. They research and accompany cases for the legalisation of land, help in the case of forced evictions and advise farmers who are legally prosecuted. To date, the affiliated farmer organisations have been able to regain more than 70,000 hectares of land and forest.
In addition, the association organises events such as symbolic marches and provides further training for members in areas such as human rights and food law. The organisation has also initiated various projects, for example in the fields of livestock farming and in the cultivation and processing of sugar cane. Moreover, it has participated in making a law for the solidarity programme "Credimujer", which was passed in 2015. It is designed to allow women living in rural areas access to loans for agricultural production. According to reports, 80% of the women living in the rural areas of Honduras do not own their own land, and 60% live below the poverty line.
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