Thursday, March 31, 2011



By Karen Spring (Rights Action, Tegucigalpa, March 30, 2011

Today, a National Strike was called in Honduras by the public school teachers and the National Front of Popular Resistance to protest the last two weeks of brutal and fierce repression, the eighteen political prisoners on trial and the attempt of the post-coup regime and international financial institutions to privatize public education.

In various key locations in all areas of the country, thousands of Hondurans occupied major roads, bridges and universities to participate in the National Strike. Most protests and gatherings were repressed and unconfirmed reports say that at least 46 people were illegally detained, many injured and one killed during the violent evictions throughout the country.

In Tegucigalpa, I experienced a snap shot of the repression that occurred throughout Honduras as the police, military and the post-coup Pepe Lobo regime evicted, illegally detained, beat and shot at with tear gas and live bullets the public school teachers and the pro-democracy people’s movement.


In the morning, I arrived at the road occupation in front of the STIBYS (National Drink & Bottling Union) headquarters just as a large line of police in riot gear along with the police water tank marched towards the people and began firing tear gas and drawing their batons.

I walked in the opposite direction and into the rows of transport trucks, cars & impatient drivers in the traffic jam that built up since the beginning of the road occupation earlier that morning. I began running away from the clouds of dispersing gas while being pushed by panicked people scared to get stuck and to breath in the poisonous gas that was still being fired by police a far distance behind us.

After the repression had died down, I went back to the STIBYS building to find a group of men throwing buckets of water on dried bushes, grass and trees in a gulley next to STIBYS that had caught fire during the eviction approximately 50 meters from a gas station and even less from a large propane tank. At that point, the fire had been contained but smoked still rose from the burning bushes.

When I arrived at the STIBYS entrance, I found out that many people had been stuck inside the building (that is roughly 30 metres from the road) during the eviction and that police had shot approximately 30 tear gas canisters inside the STIBYS property, at the entranceway and inside the building.

Many were experiencing severe breathing problems and one young girl, roughly 16 years old, was sitting on the crowded floor, crying and with a large bruise forming on her left arm above her elbow where police had hit her with a baton.

Half an hour later, after speaking with people that had returned after the eviction, I left and headed for the Supreme Court, 10 minutes down the road.


I arrived at the gathering in front of the Supreme Court around mid-day to find a large crowd of public school teachers and various social organizations awaiting the results from the legal hearing occurring at that time in Court.

Eighteen teachers arrested last Friday, March 25th that have been held since then in the National Penitentiary in Tegucigalpa were on trial and being charged with sedition and illicit protest, two charges often laid in Honduras to criminalize protesters.

We were told that results would not be known until later in the afternoon. After hearing of the potential eviction of the road occupation in front of the National Autonomous University (UNAH) on Radio Globo, I decided to go to the University.


At the UNAH, I spent roughly two hours behind a line of police heavily armed (likely by US and Canada military aid to the post-coup regime) and in full riot gear they shot tear gas, threw rocks, sprayed high-pressured water from tanks at student protesters at the National Autonomous University.

As I arrived at the moment the police began to evict the road occupation in front of the University, I stood behind the police line observing the hour and a half battle between heavily armed state forces and protesters.

One young male student that strayed from the protesters was pointed out and chased down by a young man (that was later identified as a police officer dressed in civilian clothes) with riot police close behind him.

The student was first tackled by the infiltrated police officer and seconds later four to six officers dressed in riot gear with their batons drawn. As I arrived metres away, a fight had broken out between two officers near the now hurt student lying tackled and trampled on the ground.

Apparently, one of the officers that had tackled the student had drawn his pistol and was pointing it at the student lying on the ground. The other officer was screaming at him, pushed him away and ordering him to put his gun away. It was a very intense moment particularly as many police arrived to surround the student, most kicking or hitting him with their batons.

The student was violently lifted from the ground, again hit more than a dozen times with the wooden batons that the police carried then dragged and pushed to the police patrol. In the hour and a half I stood behind the police, 5 students were arrested and taken to the police post in the neighbourhood, the Kennedy.

As it is required by law that state forces respect the autonomy of the UNAH, police and military cannot enter the University (even though the University’s autonomy has been violated many times since the June 28th, 2009 military coup), many students who were and were not participating in the occupation, ran into the University to flee the repression and tear gas (even though moments before police had shot tear gas inside and had entered to moment later be chased out by protesters).

One student approached me asking me if I was a journalist and then reported how he had shown up for classes to find the University in chaos. He told me that the Director of the University, Julieta Castellanos, had opened the University, insisting that classes commence despite the repression that had ensued for weeks at the University. He told me he had not been participating in the road occupation and that he had simply arrived to attend his classes to find it impossible to enter or be inside the University safely.

As the police waited for the orders to enter the University, metres from the gates, to arrest, beat up and repress those they could find, a Honduran human rights organization mediated an agreement between the student and the police.

Even though I was there at the University during the day and listening to reports from different areas of the country on radio throughout the day, the actual number of people illegally detained and injured from the UNAH and throughout the country is unknown and difficult to confirm at the writing of this article.

In such chaos, it is difficult for human rights organizations to confirm injuries and deaths. From the protest in northern Colon, it still has not been confirmed the status of the woman that was reported killed by police.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

El Rey Canadiense de la Pornografía, Un Proyecto Turístico de “Desarrollo”, La Represión, y La Violación de los Derechos del Pueblo Garifuna

Por Karen Spring, Derechos en Acción,, 14 de febrero, 2011

Los proyectos turísticos desarrollados por El “Rey Canadiense de la Pornografía”, Randy Jorgensen, están generando conflicto y están destruyendo comunidades Garifunas de Trujillo, en la costa norte de Honduras.

Jorgensen, presidente de la cadena de tiendas de venta de videos pornográficas “Adults Only Video (,, AOV, Suite 8, 2900 Argentia Rd, Mississauga, ON L5N 7X9, Canadá), tras su empresa del desarrollo de bienes raíces Life Vision Properties (con sede en Trujillo Honduras, tiene planificado convertir una zona de la costa atlantica de Trujillo en un proyecto de turismo a gran escala que incluirá una serie de proyectos de viviendas vacacionales y un muelle para cruceros, algo que desplazará y destruirá a comunidades Garífunas.
Desde 2008 OFRANEH (Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña de Honduras), una organización local comunitaria, ha denunciado que el “Rey del la Pornografía” y su empresa Life Vision Properties está comprando ilegalmente terrenos que pertenece y esta titulado a comunidades Garífunas. (Desde 1998 Derechos en Acción ha apoyado el desarrollo comunitario, en la defensa del medio ambiente, y el trabajo por los derechos humanos del pueblo garifuna a través de su organización de base la OFRANEH.)

El pueblo Garífuna son descendientes de pueblos indígenas americano Arawak y Caribes con esclavos Africanos liberados. Por muchos años OFRANEH y las 46 comunidades Garífunas en la costa norte de Honduras han luchado contra “proyectos turísticos” como los que Randy Jorgensen promueve en Trujillo (1).

La tierra comunitaria es un componente esencial de la cultura, los derechos, y el bienestar comunitario del pueblo Garífuna, y su territorio ha estado amenazado por varios intereses, por ejemplo: funcionarios del Gobierno Hondureño, el crimen organizado, instituciones de “desarrollo” internacional (Banco de Desarrollo Inter-Americano) e inversionistas extranjeros (como el “Rey de Pornografía”). Todos ellos han utilizado medios ilegales, brutales, y/o manipulativos para apropiarse de tierra ancestral de los Garífunas, a pesar de la ley nacional e internacional que obligan a todos el reconocimiento y respeto de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas a las tierras colectivos.

Otro motivo de suma preocupación para las comunidades Hondureñas es la historia sórdida legal de Jorgensen. La revista canadiense Maclean’s reportó que en 2001 Jorgensen había sido “acusado de hacer películas clasificadas X con niñas menores en su casa de vacaciones en Honduras” (2).

Esto es preocupante cuando uno toma en cuenta que su casa en Trujillo, ubicada dentro de los límites del proyecto Life Vision, colinda con un orfanato, en un país donde existe un alto nivel de impunidad y una falta de interés político de perseguir a nacionales o extranjeros ricos por sus actividades criminales.


Jorgensen y su empresa Life Vision Development tienen planes de construir una serie de comunidades cerradas, para el mercado canadiense y estadounidense, entre los pueblos de Trujillo y Betulia – Alta Vista, Campa Vista, Coroz Alta y new Palm Beach – y también construir un muelle para cruceros llamado “Banana Coast” en Trujillo, la cual está programada para comenzar la construcción en marzo 2011 (3).

(fotos: Karen Spring. Entrada a una de los proyectos de comunidades encerradas “Campa Vista”. La mayoría de los terrenos fueron vendidos a canadienses.)

Parece que Jorgensen y sus socios se benefician en cada etapa del “desarrollo” de la costa de Trujillo: ellos consiguen la tierra, construyen las casas vacacionales, promueven el proyecto, y venden propiedades en Canadá. Life Vision compra terreno y vende propiedades. La compañía de construcción de Jorgensen, Jaguar Construction, construye las casas.
El muelle “Banana Coast” es propiedad de Grande Trujillo Autoridad (GTA), un consorcio entre Life Vision, la municipalidad de Trujillo, y Global Destinations Developments, una empresa de promoción de turismo de Miami. Jorgensen está en la junta directiva de GTA (4). Se espera que el consorcio de GTA financiará los $15 millones de inversión necesarios para construir el muelle “Banana Coast”.

El 6 de febrero, 2011, un periódico hondureño reveló que GTA había firmado un acuerdo con los últimos Garífunas que hasta entonces se habían negado vender sus tierras, facilitando el comienzo de la construcción. El acuerdo se logro con la asistencia de una comisión de gobierno que incluía a Ramón Lobo, el hermano del presidente suceso del Golpe de estado Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo.

Pepe Lobo ordenó a miles de tropas hondureñas a ocupar la región de la Costa Norte, que incluye Trujillo, en marzo 2010, donde la corrupción en la administración de la justicia (después del golpe de estado militar en junio 2009 que sacó al Presidente legitimo Manuel Zelaya y permitió que el líder del régimen de facto Pepe Lobo lograra ser Presidente) volvió a encender conflictos de tierra que estaban dentro de un proceso de resolución. Otras negociaciones sobre la tierra han sido afectadas por la detención, el secuestro, y la tortura de asesores campesinos, y docenas de campesinos han sido asesinados.

La misma zona donde Life Vision tiene planeado construir casas vacacionales ha sido fuertemente militarizada por las fuerzas del régimen hondureño desde el golpe de estado. A solo 20 minutos de uno de los sitios de un proyecto del Rey de la Pornografía masacraron a cinco campesinos el 15 de noviembre, 2010 por guardias de seguridad privadas del terrateniente Miguel Facusse.

El muelle de cruceros donde Banana Coast será construido en la comunidad Garífuna Río Negro, muy cerca de la casa de uno de seis hombres Garífuna que por muchos años se negaron vender su tierra. Bajo mucha presión, mientras la comunidad desaparece y destruyen las casas de sus vecinos, los residentes de Río Negro se rindieron.

(Comunidad Garífuna de Río Negro lentamente desaparece. Una de muchas casa que han sido destruidas para permitir la construcción, muy cerca a donde se construirá el muelle para cruceros “Banana Coast”.)

Siguiendo el camino de tierra que conecta Río Negro a Trujillo, otras tres comunidades donde viven muchas familias Garífunas y Pech (otro pueblo indígena), esta la comunidad de Guadalupe. En la orilla oeste de Guadalupe, Jorgensen y Life Visions han empezado a vender terrenos para su proyecto “Alta Vista”, después de vender con mucho éxito 200 terrenos en solo 90 días a familias canadienses en su sitio “Campa Vista”, ubicada en el mismo camino de tierra más cercano a Trujillo.

Representantes comunitarios en Guadalupe reportan que “los canadienses” o testaferros (Hondureños que representan a canadienses para comprar terrenos en sus nombres) pasan con mucha frecuencia por la comunidad y han visitado a individuos para preguntarles si quieren vender su terreno.

Hasta hoy, 141 hectáreas dentro el titilo de tierra Guadalupe han sido adquiridos por Life Vision Properties para su proyecto “Alta Vista” de 292 hectáreas por un suma total de 150,00 lempiras o $7,500 dólares estadounidenses. Además de que están violando los derechos comunitarios Garífuna-indígenas, estos son precios muy bajos si se toma en cuenta que Life Vision Properties están publicando y vendiendo terrenos de 0.4 hectáreas en Canadá a $30,000.

Lo que Jorgensen y las autoridades hondureñas han ignorado es que terrenos individuales no se pueden comprar dentro de comunidades Garífunas, como propiedad de alguien que no es de la comunidad Garífuna.

La ley internacional es muy clara, proyectos de “desarrollo” como los que están propuestos por Life Vision Properties (con la asistencia de un régimen instalado como resultado de un golpe militar) no pueden ser implementadas sin la autorización libre, priori, e informada de las comunidades indígenas afectadas (los Garífunas). Como parte de este requisito legal, los Estados están obligados a reconocer tierras comunales indígenas.

Una autoridad Garífuna de una comunidad que ha sido afectada directamente, que forma parte de OFRANEH, describe una falta de consulta e información a las comunidades sobre el proyecto:

“Tenemos nuestra propia cultura, propia costumbres y tenemos nuestras propias tradiciones. En primer lugar, no van a respetar, va a ser muy difícil que respeten nuestras tradiciones culturales como un grupo etnico. Estamos en un proceso para hacer de rescate cultural y aqui hay un proceso de destrucción de la cultura ... Por ejemplo, estamos claros con los canadienses, ellos vinieron y compraron una gran mayoría de la comunidad Garifuna ... Sociologicamente, desarrollo no viene de afuera para adentro. Desarrollo de la comunidad tiene que comenzar en la comunidad su propio desarrollo de adentro hacia afuera.”

Según OFRANEH, muchos de los proyectos planificados de “desarrollo turístico” se construirán en las afueras de las zonas protegidas de las montañas Capiro y Calentura y causarán deforestación y daños en una zona que es muy vulnerable a desastres naturales (5).

A pesar de la destrucción ambiental que su turismo va aparentemente promover, Life Vision anuncia el aspecto “ecológico” de su “desarrollo”. Construirá un “Parque Ecológico” cuya misión primaria es “la preservación y rehabilitación de la fauna nativa de Honduras.” Mientras que hablan de conservación, estos proyectos contribuirán a la destrucción ambiental, como lo ha denunciado OFRANEH ante el Ministerio de Etnias y el Ministerio del Medio Ambiente, las oficinas del gobierno hondureño que son responsables para la regulación de este tipo de proyecto (6).

OFRANEH ha denunciado daños ambientales y la deforestación que serán causados por el proyecto “Alta Vista” y también la ilegitimidad de la licencia ambiental entregada por la Secretaría para el Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, SERNA, para el proyecto “Alta Vista” durante los últimos días del líder de facto Roberto Micheletti y su régimen que asumió el poder después del golpe militar que derroco al Presidente Zelaya (7).

El régimen de Micheletti cometió varios actos de represión brutal contra el movimiento social en contra del golpe y el movimiento popular pro democracia que se formo después del golpe. El régimen de Micheletti también ha sido implicado en escándalos de corrupción, incluyendo un memorándum revelado por Wikileaks escrito por el Embajador Estadounidense, Hugo Llorens, por varios actos de corrupción, incluyendo un intento de entregar ilegalmente concesiones a una empresa italiana que le interesaba un proyecto hidroeléctrico para construir un dique en el sur de Honduras.

En el último mes, el Congreso Hondureño, controlado por el régimen de Pepe Lobo (“elegido” en elecciones ilegitimas después del golpe de estado militar el 28 de junio 2009), aprobó una ley que permitirá la creación de “ciudades modelos” en territorio hondureño.

El proyecto Ciudad Modelo, promovido por el economista estadounidense Paul Romer, permitirá la construcción de una ciudad de 33 km cuadrados dentro territorio hondureño pero gobernado por gobiernos y empresas extranjeras. La ciudad tendrá su propio sistema de justicia, constitución, y fuerzas de seguridad privadas que no serán obligadas a respetar las leyes hondureñas.

Esto es una versión extrema de una “zona de libre comercio” o “región de administración especial”.

Según varios periódicos hondureños y funcionarios del gobierno, Trujillo se considera como una ubicación perfecta para una ciudad modelo, desde Puerto Castillo-Trujillo-Santa Fe a Betulia, la misma área donde Jorgensen y Life Vision Properties están “desarrollando” proyectos turísticos y desplazando comunidades Garífunas. Algunos especulan que el muelle para cruceros de Jorgensen, que se espera que este en función para el 2012, es una parte esencial de la Ciudad Modelo propuesta para Trujillo por los funcionarios del gobierno.

Varios militantes hondureños y organizaciones de base han denunciado la propuesta de la Ciudad Modelo, describiéndolo como una forma del neo-colonialismo, comparándolo con el fracaso de Henry Ford en Brasil, Fordlandia, y también preguntando si tal vez el proyecto es un esquema para lavar dinero. Reportajes periodísticos revelan que inversionistas de las Islas de Caimán han expresado interés en el proyecto. Las Islas de Caimán son bien conocidas por sus procedimientos banqueros secretos que ocultan las identidades y las fuentes de ingreso de individuos y corporaciones. Recién le entregaron a Wikileaks documentos de los bancos de Las Islas de Caimán y han prometido revelarlo en los meses que vienen.

La conexión entre los intereses de desarrollo de bienes raíces canadienses y los que están promoviendo la Ciudad Modelo todavía no está clara, pero parece que los dos comparten intenciones para la tierra ubicada entre Trujillo y Betulia en la costa norte.

Desafortunadamente, Ciudades Modelos, El Rey de Pornografía Randy Jorgensen y los proyectos de desarrollo de propiedades, o tal vez todos, presentan la misma amenaza al pueblo Garífuna y comunidades de campesinos que viven en el sitio del proyecto y cerca de Trujillo. Los proyectos traen desplazamientos y la apropiación ilegal de tierra Garífuna que es esencial para su sobrevivencia… todo en el nombre de “desarrollo”.

Karen Spring trabaja para Derechos en Acción (

(2) “Charged: Randy Jorgensen (Owner of Adults Only Video)”, MacLean’s magazine, December 3, 2001.
(4) and

Friday, March 11, 2011

Canadian Porn Kings, Tourism 'Development' Projects, Repression & the Violations of Indigenous-Garifuna Rights in Honduras


By Karen Spring, Rights Action,

Canadian “Porn King” Randy Jorgensen’s tourism “development” projects are stirring up conflict and destroying afro-descendant Garifuna communities in Trujillo on the north coast of Honduras.

Jorgensen, president of the Canadian pornographic video store chain Adults Only Video (,, AOV, Suite 8, 2900 Argentia Rd, Mississauga, ON L5N 7X9, Canada), through his real estate development company Life Vision Properties (based in Trujillo, Honduras,, plans to convert a beautiful coastal area of Trujillo into a large scale tourism project that includes a series of vacation home developments and a cruise ship dock, displacing and destroying indigenous Garifuna communities.

Since 2008, the local Garifuna community organization, OFRANEH (Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras) has denounced that the “Porn King” and his Life Vision Properties are illegally purchasing land belonging and titled to Garifuna communities. (Since 1998, Rights Action has supported the community development, environmental defense and human rights work of OFRANEH)

The Garifuna are an indigenous people descendants of Arawak native Americans and escaped African slaves. For years, OFRANEH and the 46 Garifuna communities on the north coast of Honduras have been battling the very same “tourist development” interests that Randy Jorgensen promotes in Trujillo (1).

Communally owned land, an essential part of Garifuna culture, rights and community well-being, is constantly under threat by interests ranging from Honduran government officials, organized crime, international “development” institutions (Inter-American Development Bank) and foreign investors (like the Porn King). All of these have used various illegal, brutal and/or manipulative means to appropriate ancestral Garifuna lands, interested in exploiting it in the name of economic “development” and tourism, despite national and international law that obligates the full recognition and respect of indigenous collective land rights.

Also disturbing to Honduran communities is Jorgensen’s sordid legal history. Canada’s Macleans magazine reported in 2001 that Jorgensen had been “accused of making X-rated films with underage girls in his vacation home in Honduras” (2).

This is very worrying, considering his home in Trujillo, located within the Life Vision project confines, neighbours an orphanage, in a country with high levels of impunity and little political will to persecute wealthy locals and foreigners for their criminal activities.

Jorgensen and his Life Vision Development company have plans to build a series of gated communities marketed to Canadian and US citizens between the coastal towns of Trujillo and Betulia - Alta Vista, Campa Vista, Coroz Alta and New Palm Beach - and a cruise ship port called ‘Banana Coast’ in Trujillo, which is scheduled to begin construction in March 2011(3)

Jorgensen and his associates seem to benefit from every stage of the Trujillo coast “development”: they acquire the land, construct the vacation homes, promote the project and sell properties in Canada. Life Visions buys land and sells properties. Jorgensen’s construction company, Jaguar Construction, builds the homes.

The “Banana Coast” port is owned by the Trujillo Grande Authority (GTA), a consortium between Life Vision, the Municipality of Trujillo and Global Destinations Developments, a Miami tourism promotion company. Jorgensen sits on the GTA Board of Directors (4). The GTA consortium will facilitate the expected $15 million investment needed to construct the “Banana Coast” port.

On February 6, 2011 a Honduran newspaper reported that GTA signed an agreement with the last remaining Garifuna landholders who had refused to sell their lands, giving the “green light” to start construction. The agreement was reached with the assistance of a government commission that in included Ramon Lobo, the brother of ‘de facto’ President Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo.

Pepe Lobo ordered thousands of Honduran troops to occupy the North Coast region, which includes Trujillo, in March 2010, where corruption in the administration of justice (following the June 2009 military coup that ousted the democratically elected government of President Zelaya, and opened the way for de facto regime leader Pepe Lobo to become President) ignited land conflicts which had been in the process of resolution. Other land conflict negotiations in the region have been marked by the detention, kidnapping and torture of campesino advisors, and dozens of campesinos have been killed.

The same area where Life Vision plans to build vacation homes has been heavily militarized by Honduran regime forces since the military coup. Just 20 minutes away from one of the Porn King’s proposed project sites, five campesinos were massacred on November 15th, 2010 by private security guards of large land owner Miguel Facusse.

The Banana Coast cruise ship port will be built in the Garifuna community Rio Negro, just footsteps away from the home of one of six Garifuna men who for years refused to sell his lands. Under many pressures as the community disappears and as their neigbour’s houses are being bulldozed to the ground, residents of Rio Negro found it difficult to hold on.

An hour down the dirt road that connects Rio Negro to Trujillo, three other communities where many Garifuna and Pech (another indigenous people) families live, is the community of Guadalupe. On the western edge of Guadalupe, Jorgensen and Life Visions have begun selling land plots for their Alta Vista project after successfully selling a reported 200 lots in 90 days to Canadian families in their Campa Vista site located on the same dirt road closer to Trujillo.

Community representatives in Guadalupe report that “the Canadians” or testaferros (Honduran nationals that act on behalf of the Canadians and buy the land in their name) regularly pass through the community and have visited various individuals asking if they want to sell their land.

To date, 141 acres within the Guadalupe land title has been acquired by Life Vision Properties for their 292-acre Alta Vista project for a total price of 150,000 lempiras or $7,500 USD. Besides being in violation of Garifuna-indigenous community rights, these are extremely low prices considering Life Development Properties are advertising and selling their 0.4 acre-size lots in Canada starting at $30,000.

What Jorgensen and Honduran authorities ignore is that individual land plots cannot legally be purchased within Garifuna communities, or owned or rented by someone outside of the Garifuna community itself.

International law is clear that “development” projects, such as those advanced by Life Vision Properties (with the assistance of the regime put into power by a military coup), cannot be implemented without the free, prior and informed consent of the affected indigenous (Garifuna) communities. As part of this legal requirement, States are obliged to recognize indigenous communal lands.

A Garifuna authority from a directly impacted community, who forms part OFRANEH, describes the lack of consultation and information that has been given to the communities about the projects:

“We have our own traditions, customs, but they [the Canadians] aren’t respecting our traditions as an ethnic group. We, as an organization, are in a process to rescue our culture and here [in Rio Negro], there is a process of cultural destruction going on. For example, the Canadians come here and buy up a huge amount of land that is part of our communities. Sociologically, development does not come from outside, it comes from within the community, is constructed locally and from the bottom-up.”

According to OFRANEH, many of the planned “tourist development” projects will be built in the buffer zones of protected areas of the Capiro and Calentura mountains and will cause deforestation and destruction in a zone that is highly vulnerable to natural disasters (5).

Despite the environmental destruction that its tourism apparently will promote, Life Vision advertises an “ecological” side to its ‘development.’ It will build a ‘Nature Park’ that’s primary mission is the “preservation and rehabilitation of Honduras’ native fauna.” Under the banner of conservation, these projects will contribute to environmental destruction, as OFRANEH has denounced before the Ministry of Ethnics and Ministry of the Environmental, the Honduran government bodies responsible for regulating such projects(6).

OFRANEH has denounced environmental damages and deforestation that will be caused by the Alta Vista project and the illegitimacy of the environmental license issued by the Honduran Secretary for the Environment and Natural Resources, SERNA, for the Alta Vista project during the final days of de-facto leader Roberto Micheletti and his regime that took power following the military coup that ousted President Zelaya (7).

Micheletti’s regime committed various acts of brutal repression against the anti-coup social movement and pro-democracy people’s movement that formed after the coup. The Micheletti regime has also been implicated in corruption scandals, including a Wikileaks’ memo written by US Ambassador in Honduras, Hugo Llorens, for various acts of corruption, including attempting to illegally grant concessions to an Italian company interested in a hydro-electric dam project in southern Honduras.

In the last month, the Honduran Congress, controlled by the Pepe Lobo regime (“elected” in illegitimate elections after the June 28th, 2009 military coup), approved a law that would allow the creation of “Model Cities” within Honduran territory.

The Model City project, promoted by US economist Paul Romer, would allow for 33 km-squared city to be built within Honduran territory but governed by foreign governments or investors. The city would have its own justice system, constitution and private security forces that would not be subject to Honduran laws.

All of this is a more extreme version of a “free trade zone” or “special administrative region.”

According to various Honduran newspapers and Government officials, Trujillo is considered a perfect location for a model city, from Puerto Castillo-Trujillo-Santa Fe to Betulia, the same land strip where Jorgensen and Life Vision Properties are “developing” tourism projects and displacing Garifuna communities. Some speculate Jorgensen’s cruise ship port, expected to be up and running by 2012, is an essential part of the proposed Model City government officials are proposing for Trujillo.

Many Honduran activists and grassroots organizations have denounced the Model City proposal calling it a form of neo-colonialism, comparing it to Henry Ford’s failed Fordlandia in Brazil, also questioning that the project may be a money-laundering scheme. Newspaper reports claim that unknown investors from the Cayman Islands have shown interest in the project. The Cayman Islands are infamous for secretive banking procedures that hide the identities and sources of income for individuals and corporations. Recently Wikileaks was given documents from Cayman Island banks that it has promised to expose in the coming months.

The connection between the Canadian real estate development interests and those promoting the Model City is not clear, though both seem to share intensions for the land located between Trujillo and Betulia on the north coast.

Unfortunately, Model Cities, Porn King Randy Jorgensen and Canadian property development projects, or all of the above, present the same threat to the Garifuna and campesinos communities living on the project site and near Trujillo. The projects bring displacement and illegal appropriation of Garifuna land essential for their survival, … in the name of “development”.

(Karen Spring works for Rights Action ( and lives in Honduras. Feel free to re-publish this article, citing author and source.)


Translation of Article from Honduran newspaper, La Prensa.

Honduras, 06.03.2011
[Translation for Rights Action by Rosalind Gill,]

In Canada, Randy Jorgensen is a leader in the pornography industry. In Honduras, he is CEO of the company that will build a new cruise ship terminal.

Until recently, Trujillo was the lost paradise of Honduras, a uniquely beautiful city waiting to be discovered by the outside world. Today, at last, Trujillo's dream has come true - a cruise ship terminal will be built in the city, allowing people from all over the world to experience the unforgettable beauty of the place. As well, there are plans for four housing projects that will allow tourists to own a quality house in Trujillo and come back to this paradise every year.

After years of being forgotten, suffering from the indifference of governments that never did anything to develop the area, Trujillo is becoming a mega-project centre. Looking at this promising situation, you can only hope that no "villains" appear on the scene, but unfortunately, a few first class villains have indeed turned up.

And Randy is our number one villain.

In fact, all the mega-projects in Trujillo are being developed by Randy Jorgensen.

The Grand Trujillo Authority Consortium is developing the Banana Coast Cruise Ship Terminal in the Río Negro neighbourhood; and the four housing projects for Canadian and American tourists are being developed by the Life Vision Properties Company.

In Honduras, Randy Jorgensen is known as CEO of both these companies, which are backed by Fast Track Capital, a Canadian investment group. But there is a lot more to Randy's story than that of the typical successful investor looking for new ways to make money in exotic countries.

Miriam Miranda, Director of OFRANEH (Honduran Black People's Fraternal Organization) provided us with some details about Jorgensen's life: "He is known as the "King of Porn", and has even had problems with the law. Here in Honduras, authorities have allowed him to go ahead and harm protected areas. We have been denouncing this for some time now but nobody has done anything because the only thing that counts here is money," said Miranda.

FOUNDER OF AOV (Adult Only Video)

There are innumerable web pages, mostly in English, that provide details on Jorgensen's activities. Randy Jorgensen was born in Canada, a country where he is known as the "King of Porn". He is the founder of Adult Only Video (AOV), Canada's biggest pornography retail chain.

"The only problem I have had in Honduras was with an ex-employee who was caught stealing and tried to make accusations against me to avoid facing charges but they turned out to be false allegations and she had no proof to present to the Court."

OFRANEH, a Garífuna organization, tried to accuse me of buying land illegally, but the case was not deemed valid by the Public Ministry," said Randy, who agreed to talk to the newspaper, LA PRENSA.

Sonia Parra revealed in the International Press Service that the Capiro and Calentura protected areas were at risk because of the housing projects being developed by Randy. As well, other serious matters concerning Jorgensen's activities have been raised.

On January 26, 2011, the bank holding his company's funds informed him that all his accounts would be closed and he was given limited time to withdraw his capital. "This cannot be because of money-laundering or drug-trafficking, because if that were the case, my funds would have frozen. All the letter says is that the law allows them to close an account if they see fit", said the Canadian businessman.


Final approval for the cruise port was given at the time when the country was experiencing political turmoil. Luis Alonso López was Mayor in the former municipal administration of Trujillo. On December 10, 2009, this administration declared that the cruise port was a necessary public utility for Río Negro. Final authorization for the project was granted just five days before Porfirio Lobo became President. The official announcement was published in the January 22, 2010 of La Gaceta (official Government publication).

This edition of La Gaceta provoked a controversy known as the "Gacetazo", because on that day, two versions of the bulletin were printed, only one of which included the decree authorizing the highly disputed concession for the Nacome dam.

The environmental permit for the construction of the Alta Vista Beach project, a tourist housing development, was granted on January 25, two days before the termination of the former Government.

The Life Vision Properties blog states that President Porfirio Lobo invited Jorgensen to meet him at the Christopher Columbus Hotel in Trujillo on November 27, 2010. The meeting was attended by a number of civil servants, including Ramón Lobo, the President's brother and advisor.

According to the company blog, details of Randy's tourist projects were discussed at the meeting. In the end, Lobo instructed his ministers and José Laínez, the Mayor of Trujillo, to do their best to ensure that the projects be implemented as quickly as possible.


After a life of economic difficulty, unemployment, low opportunity and urban stagnation, inhabitants of Trujillo are not really interested in the identity of those who will carry out the development projects. The only thing they are concerned about is that the development does go ahead. These programmes bring hope for improvement in their quality of life - a change this humble city has long awaited.

However, some people, like Miriam Miranda, cannot understand why the future of Trujillo's tourism would be put in the hands of a porn industry magnate.


According to Randy Jorgensen, the profit share is fair and everything was carried out according to the law. "Our investment group receives 50% of profit, the Municipality of Trujillo receives 20%, community members of Río Negro will receive 10% and the remaining 20% will be available for possible new investors", said the Canadian. Jorgensen also said that they expect the land part of the project to be ready by 2012, while the maritime part will take 18 months.

Randy revealed that he has received bids from three companies for the construction and supervision of the terminal. The companies are not from Trujillo because the area cannot offer services at that level.

Jorgensen also said that the investment group he represents did not choose Trujillo by chance - the decision was based on tourist studies carried out by the Honduran government several years ago. He pointed out that the city should prepare itself for the big change that is coming. For Jorgensen, a highlight of the contract is the possibility that in 20 years, the Municipality will have the opportunity to buy the rights that belong to Canadian investors at this point.

Protests or no protests, on March 11, ground will be broken to begin construction on the cruise Terminal. President Lobo is expected to attend the event.

"My company did not produce or make the films, we just sold them."

Some people in Honduras are scandalized by him while others see him as a model of a visionary business man, but no one is indifferent to him. Randy Jorgensen founded Adult Only Video (AOV) in Saskatoon, Canada, a country where the porn industry is legal.

"The company is a chain of retail stores, not a production or film company. From 1980 to 1990, I worked with several provincial and federal film boards in Canada to create viable standards for the adult video industry, so that an illegal market would not develop," said Randy.

In only seven years, his retail business went from being a small local store to a business with 500 employees, according to the Canadian magazine, MacLean's. "MacLean's did a report on me and my company in 1993. It was they who gave me the name "King of Porn". The article was very favourable and gave a positive evaluation of my work to create fair standards to ensure that the industry remains regulated and legal", said Jorgensen.

According to business magazines, the porn business is so profitable that it remained stable, even during the recession. "The name "King of Porn" does not bother me, what does bother me is when they base their opinion on rumours or half-truths", said the Canadian.

Because of the growth of pornography in Canadian culture, Canadian authorities have had to keep revising and modifying laws governing videos and explicit content material and they have had difficulty defining with precision the different situations that can arise in these productions. There is no way of counting the number of users of pornography but the profits are an indicator of the money that can be made with this type of material.

Finally, Randy spoke of his wishes for Honduras. "This is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere and it has a high level of illiteracy. Tourism is the fastest way to fight these problems. I would like to see the introduction of a general education system and the creation of an economy that will give the youth of Honduras a fair chance at life so that they will not have to leave Honduras to improve their lot. For the past four years, I have worked to make the Trujillo Bay project a reality", said Jorgensen.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sweatshops, Mining, Tourism & "Free" Trade Negotiations: Canada's Involvement in Honduras & Support for the Post-Military Coup Regime

BELOW: an article by Karen Spring, Rights Action

“The Canadian government and mining companies that were granted concessions before the moratorium are waiting for the green light to get the digging started. A new mining law and/or trade agreement would be their green light. The Canadian government is aware of this and by holding out millions of dollars in investments and possibly a trade agreement, it hopes to sway the Honduran government in their favour.”

KAREN SPRING SPEAKING TOUR TO ONTARIO & MANITOBA, February 2011. For more information, or to host a speaking event, contact: Karen (

TO JOIN AN EDUCATIONAL DELEGATION TO HONDURAS (MARCH 19-27 or MAY 14-22), contact: Karen Spring ( or Grahame Russell (

Please re-publish this article, citing author and source

* * * * * * *

By Karen Spring (, January 10, 2011

Canada and the United States are the two most active legitimizers of the June 28, 2009 military coup in Honduras, and, since then, the post-coup regime.

Neighbor to the United States, Canada often escapes critical attention to its unjust global economic and political ventures. However, Canada is making its complicit involvement in post-coup Honduras increasingly obvious through Canada’s sweatshop, mining and tourist interests in the country.

Recently, the Canadian government publicized plans of negotiating a so-called “free” trade agreement with Honduras. (There is nothing “free” about any trade) Branching off from the thus far unsuccessful negotiations of the Canadian-Central American “free” trade agreement (CA4), involving Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras, Canada has begun laying out plans for a Canadian-Honduran bi-lateral “free” trade agreement. Honduran officials from the post-military coup regime arrived in Ottawa in early December 2010 and are set to continue negotiations in early 2011.

Canadian business and investment interests in Honduras did not just begin after the June 2009 coup – they simply have continued with business as usual.

In April 2010, Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder arrived in Honduras to meet with Pepe Lobo, leader of the regime that was ‘elected’ in fraudulent and illegitimate elections five months after the coup (see article “A Good Investment Opportunity: Canadian Government & Mining & Sweatshop Business Executives Meet with Honduran Regime”, by Grahame Russell, at, With mining and business executives and investors in tow, Ambassador Reeder dangled the hope of $700 million in investments in the Honduran mining and sweatshop industries, clarifying Canada’s future economic ambitions in the country.

As trade agreements and investments are being planned and promised, Canada effectively ‘whitewashes’ the military coup, the illegitimate elections of November 2009, ignores well-documented human rights violations and repression carried out by the Lobo regime and dismisses the existence of the pro-democracy, anti-coup people’s movement that demands major structural changes and the re-foundation of Honduras including the drafting of a new constitution.

(For more on Canada’s position following the coup, see Yves Engler’s article, “Hostility to the Military Coup in Honduras is Increasing. So is the Harper government’s isolation on the Issue”, or Rights Action’s Honduran Alert #41, “In Response to Mr. Peter Kent: Canada’s Increasingly Complicit Role in Honduras.”)


Honduras was kicked out of the Organization of American States (OAS) shortly after the June 2009 coup and has not been re-admitted. Re-admission would bring many benefits to the Lobo regime including ‘business as usual’ trade, international loans and most importantly, international recognition and the stamp of approval as a Government and Congress that pulled off a military coup.

One condition of OAS re-admission is a ‘reconciliation process’ that includes a Truth Commission to investigate the events leading up to, during and after the coup against President Zelaya’s government.

However, the OAS did not have in mind a Truth Commission set up and controlled by the post-coup regime, which is exactly what is happening. Not only is the Canadian government helping fund the Honduran regime’s “truth” commission, but a former Canadian official, lawyer Michael Kergin, is on the commission.

What is the problem with the regime’s “truth” commission? Not one social or human rights organization that was affected by or spoke out against the military coup is participating or recognizing it. Victims and families of the victims of repression, torture and murder since the coup have not been consulted nor are participating, calling it a ‘Lie Commission’ and an opportunity for the Lobo regime to try and gain international recognition, leaving all crimes committed during and after the coup covered up with in impunity.

As a former Ambassador to the United States, Michael Kergin apparently has strong ties with the Canadian mining industry through his work at the Bennett Jones law firm in Toronto. A coincidence? Not likely. In fact, it seems in line with the promotion of one of Canada’s major interests in Honduras: Mining.


The resistance of mining-affected communities and organizations to the environmental and health harms and other human rights violations caused by large-scale mining, and their formation of a national alliance – the Civil Alliance for Democracy – was one reason that President Zelaya’s government enacted a 2008 moratorium on handing out further mining licenses.

Everyone in Honduras’ pro-democracy movement lists the mining moratorium as one of the reasons the Honduran military, oligarchy and Catholic Church conspired to oust his government in the June 28, 2009 coup.

Rights Action has for years reported on the harms and violations caused directly and indirectly by Canada’s Goldcorp’s open-pit, cyanide-leeching operation in the Siria Valley. Rights Action has also denounced Goldcorp and other companies for helping to support and ‘whitewash’ the military coup and the ensuring repression.

Since the enactment of the mining moratorium during President Zelaya’s administration, new mining operations cannot begin in Honduras until the Lobo regime approves a new mining law. Today, the post-coup regime has two options, approve a law that is shaped by the demands of the mining harmed communities, many of which are involved in the pro-democracy people’s movement, or give into the demands of the Honduran oligarchy and global mining companies and investors and approve a law that favours mining companies.

A law favouring mining companies will likely include few or no environmental regulations, will likely permit the continued use of cyanide and low-cost, open pit processes, will likely provide large tax breaks, and will not oblige companies to consult and obtain the free and prior consent of local communities before initiating their mining operations.

The Canadian government and mining companies that were granted concessions before the moratorium are waiting for the green light to get the digging started. A new mining law and/or trade agreement would be their green light. The Canadian government is aware of this and by holding out millions of dollars in investments and possibly a trade agreement, it hopes to sway the Honduran government in their favour.

If a pro-mining law is passed, one thing is clear: ignoring the affected communities and demands of the pro-democracy people’s movement regarding community consultation, inclusion and protection of the environment will result in increased social conflict, repression, extrajudicial killings, death squads, torture and environmental degradation.


In November 2010, five campesinos were massacred by private security forces hired by land-owner Miguel Facusse in the Aguan region in Northern Honduras. (See Annie Bird’s article, “World Bank funded Biofuel Corporation Massacres 5 Honduran Compesinos”,

Land conflicts, militarization of the region, threats, disappearances and physical beatings - particularly in the community of Guadalupe Carney – continue in 2011, most recently with the illegal kidnapping and beating-torture of Juan Chinchilla.

No more than 20 minutes from the November 15 massacre site, and while the militarization of the region goes on, Canadian ‘porn king’ Randy Jorgensen hopes to build a $15 million port in the coastal city of Trujillo to receive cruise ships and to build a four-park tourist attraction that includes hotels, a shopping centre, and more.

Jorgensen is involved in various other tourist projects on the north coast of Honduras along with other Canadians who hope to develop retirement communities and tourist attractions. (For more information on the Canadian ‘porn king’, see article by Dawn Paley, “Snowbirds gone wild! Canadian Retirees and Locals Clash in Honduras”).

In November 2009, 5 months after the military coup, Rights Action reported on a letter writing campaign initiated by pro-coup North Americans living on Honduras’ north coast and the Bay Islands – including Roatan -, to pressure the US and Canadian governments to effectively support the coup, by legitimizing the post-coup regime led by Roberto Micheletti. (See Rights Action’s Alert #89 “Pro-Coup North Americans in Honduras”,

These North Americans were trying to convince their governments that State-sponsored repression was not occurring in Honduras and that tourist and travel advisories should be lifted. Many of the letter writers operate ‘property development’ projects and businesses in the tourist industry.

Often, tourist projects scattered along Honduras north shore are managed and owned by Canadians who are in conflict with local campesino and Garifuna communities. As an industry that can attract foreign investment, the Honduran regime today is more than willing to promote tourism and accommodate the Canadians, generating social and land conflict with local Honduran communities, displacing and threatening the livelihood of the Garifuna communities and contributing to environmental degradation.


Based in Montreal, Gildan Activewear is a major producer of clothing apparel and one of the three dominant, low-wage sweatshop companies operating in Honduras. Many Canadian and American universities and colleges have contracts with Gildan that supplies clothing apparel to their athletic departments and sports teams.

Unfortunately, the Canadian company has a rotten history in Honduras. Many women working in Gildan sweatshops in Honduras have reported serious injuries including musculo-skeletal problems caused by the repetitive work in the factories. Some have reported major accidents that have caused permanent damage. Although Gildan has full knowledge of the women that have been injured in their factories, they refuse to accept responsibility and appropriately compensate the injured women. Many of these women cannot afford to feed their families and pay the high medical costs as a result of their injuries.

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Often slipping below the radar next to the United State’s historic economic interests and military interventions in Honduras, Canada is now working hard to help the illegitimate Lobo regime gain international recognition. Why? Because major Canadian business and investment interests are on the line. The Canadian government, businesses and investors are showing they do not care that they are supporting an undemocratic and repressive regime.

(By Karen Spring, Rights Action,

Monday, November 29, 2010

Conflict and Militarization Continues in Colon, Honduras After Massacre of 5 Campesinos


By Karen Spring,

On Tuesday, November 23 at 7:00 am, between 300-400 military officers and a reported seven military commanders occupied the offices of the National Agrarian Institute (INA) in the department of Colon.

The occupation of the INA office occurs just eight days after the murder of five campesinos and the severe injury of four members of the Campesino Movement of Aguan (MCA) by private security guards of large African palm producer, Miguel Facusse in Bajo Aguan, Colon. Facusse's African palm company, Dinant Corporation is the recipient of a $30 million dollar loan from the World Bank's International Finance Corporation. (For more information, see Annie Bird's article below).

Since the massacre a week ago, the region has been heavily militarized by state forces and various check points have been set up along the major roads to 'guarantee the security of the region.' The military and police forces are accused by various campesinos organizations in the region of acting in favour of the large land owners, arriving hours after the conflicts and deaths occur and not carrying out the proper investigations often solely accusing the campesinos as being at fault.

INA, the state office responsible for titling land and working to resolve land disputes, and its director Caesar Ham have been publicly accused by large land owner Miguel Facusse to be assisting the campesinos in the region in the efforts to recuperate land illegally taken from them. It is speculated that today's occupation of the INA office is an attempt to frame the state institute for providing arms and supporting the campesino struggles in the region.

In an outcry against the killings and in an act of solidarity, campesinos from six departments of Honduras (Atlantida, Colon, Olancho, Santa Barbara, Cortez and Choluteca) began land occupations shortly after the November 15th murders. To pressure the government and demonstrate their force, campesinos will be arriving in Tegucigalpa on Thursday for a gathering outside of the National Congress.


Julian from the community of Guadalupe Carney and one of the four MCA campesinos injured was shot in the head during the confrontation with Facusse's security guards. He remains in the hospital where he is awaiting an operation to reconstruct parts of his face.

A bullet entered in the right side of his face just below his cheek bone, passed through his upper lip area and exited on the left side of his face, fracturing his cheek bone. "The upper part of my mouth is destroyed. I can't eat, just liquids but not other types of good." Almost all of Julian's upper teeth and gums have been destroyed.


The Campesino Movement of Aguan (MCA) and the families of the nine affected campesinos have many medical expenses and funeral costs.

Make check payable to "Rights Action" and mail to:

UNITED STATES: Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
CANADA: 552 - 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8


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By Annie Bird,

Approximately six months ago, campesino farmers in Trujillo, Colon organized in the Campesino Movement of the Aguan, the MCA, were awarded provisional title to a farm which neighbors their community, as part of a long standing negotiation with Dinant Corporation, a biofuel company, whose land claims are illegitimate.

Since that time, the small farmers worked the land. In recent weeks they had noticed incursions into their land by armed security forces employed by the biofuel company, Dinant.

On Monday, November 15, the farmers went to their fields but were then attacked by Dinant security. Six were killed in the massacre and two more are in critical condition.

The massacre occurred the same day that the de facto Honduran president Pepe Lobo had planned to meet with the director of the US government development fund, the Millennium Challenge, in Denver to ask for funding for so called "renewable energy" - in Honduras, principally biofuels and dams.

The "renewable energy" plan Lobo is shopping around may be the result of an Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) funded technical support grant (T-1101) to the de facto government ushered in after the June 28 military coup. In November 2009, under a coup government and amidst grave human rights violations, the World Bank's (WB) International Finance Corporation gave Dinant Corporation a $30 million loan for biofuel production, and now shares responsibility in the massacre.

Policies supposedly intended to stop climate change are in reality fueling climate change. The world must invest in a renewable way of life, not destructive "renewable energy". Scientists have analyzed that biofuel industry together with the climate change prevention mechanisms currently promoted could actually result in the destruction of half of the planets forests.

In the same way that massacres cannot be stopped when justice systems are destroyed by military coups, the destruction of our planet cannot be stopped when the systems of governance have been hijacked by corporations who can buy off, or that failing, militarily intervene in nations attempting to build just forms of governance. Human rights and the environment cannot be separated.

During the past decade, campesinos in Honduras have challenged a series of illegitimate land titles obtained by agro-businessmen in a massive former US military training center known as the CREM.

On this land, over 5,000 hectares, the US military trained military forces from across Central America, particularly the Contra paramilitary forces attacking the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Once the CREM center's operations ended, the Honduran government bought the land from a US citizen through the Honduran land reform program.

However, instead of being sold to small farmers, as the government was obligated by law to do, the land was illegally divided up between several large landholders as a result of corruption and fraudulent titling processes. A coalition of land rights organizations in Honduras organized in the Campesino Movement of the Aguan, the MCA, to challenge the illegal titles. Little by little the land titles were awarded to groups of campesinos organized in the MCA.

The titling process has been slow and marked by violent attacks by the large landholders who have influence in the government, police and military forces. Among the last of the CREM lands to remain in the hands of agribusiness interests is the farm called El Tumbador, approximately 700 hectares controlled by the Dinant Corporation, property of Honduras' most powerful agro-businessman, Miguel Facusse.

A biofuel businessman with interests in several corporations, Miguel Facusse is infamous for the use of fraudulent methods, including intimidation and violence, to obtain lands throughout the country.

Since the military coup in June 2009, Honduras has been ruled by illegitimate, repressive regimes.

In November 2009, the WB extended a loan of $30 million to Dinant for its biofuel production in that region, despite a widely documented history of violence and corruption by the biofuel company. The WB failed in its human rights obligations in this case and shares responsibility for this massacre.

Given the conditions in Honduras, the WB must suspend both private and public sector funding to Honduras, and freeze funding of biofuels in the region. The biofuel industry in Central and South America violently displaces small farmers and contributes to global warming.

Another multinational public fund that finances international private investment, the Interamerican Investment Corporation, has also recently funded Dinant.

Biofuels are one of the fastest growing industries, a sector that sees high levels of investment from venture capitalists. This massive growth has been stimulated by taxpayer dollars pouring into renewable energy through many funding agencies, but particularly the IADB, the WB, and carbon emissions trading markets.

The trade in carbon credits was created as an element of the Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997. It attempts to implement a market based system to curb global warming by levying penalties against heavy polluting industries that produce high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon burning energy generation plants. But those penalties can be paid off, or offset, by the purchase of carbon credits.

Carbon credits are given to industries that undertake activities that reduce emission of gases that generate climate change, and those can then be sold on the market to companies that generate global warming.

The system is riddled with problems, beginning with the fact that the big money to be made in "green" industry creates a big incentive to greenwash, to disguise polluting activities as activities that do not pollute in order to cash in on climate change funds.

This is the case with biofuels.

Even as governments pour taxpayer money into biofuels, it is being demonstrated that biofuel production contributes significantly to global warming, through the destruction of wetlands, displacement of small farmers and food production, often to cut forests, direct clear cutting of forests for biofuel production, and even cutting forests to generate wood pellets that make ethanol.

One study published in Science magazine in October 2009 analyzed regulation set up in the Kyoto Accords which promotes the use of biofuels, but finds that these measures could result in the loss of up to half of the world's forests.

As the negative impacts were beginning to be felt, though the extent is only beginning to be understood, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and others committed to market incentives for polluters, set up the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil.

This body certifies palm oil as having been 'sustainably' produced. In May 2010, WWF signed an agreement with Miguel Facusse's Dinant Corporation to begin the process of certifying Dinant palm oil. The WB, in November 2009, shortly after disbursing Dinant's loan, froze palm oil funding while it created its palm oil strategy, expected to be completed in March 2011.

By the time these impacts were being seen, big corporations, with their lobbies, were drooling over the potential profits. The WWF is strongly committed to paying off big business to reduce emissions. A recent WWF study urges taxpayer money be poured into renewable energy in "lesser developed countries" (LDCs) in order to stimulate job growth in the United States.

Governments are committing to insuring that a certain percentage of fuel consumption be converted to biofuel consumption around the world but especially in "LDCs." This will generate a huge market for technology to convert engines and other existing infrastructure, which according to WWF could represent a $27 trillion dollar market for US corporations.

Faced with the powerful corporate lobby corrupting and pressuring governments around the globe, and sometimes promoting military interventions to back their interests, changing policies to really fight climate change as opposed to subsidizing corporations seems a quixotic dream, as was seen in the failed summit on climate change in Copenhagen last year.

At the 16th international summit on climate change in Copenhagan, nations agreed to set up an, as yet, unclear mechanism called the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), which would focus on curbing deforestation. Paradoxically, incentives for forest preservation are still banned, and the potential for biofuel stimulated deforestation of half of the world's forests is still not addressed.

It is important to remember that the WWF and others who believe in and promote environmental market economics have promoted a system of biosphere privatization which allows degrading activities to be carried out by private companies that subsidize non-governmental organizations that manage the biospheres, while ignoring the rights of campesino communities and indigenous peoples.

The international community's failure to substantively address climate change is a result the unwillingness to acknowledge and name the economic and political policies and actors that are responsible for climate harm.

The "free" market cannot correct the damage it has done, further investing in the same actors and under the same policy framework that generated climate change cannot reverse it.

To reverse climate change, the wealthiest nations and people of the world must change how they live. Indigenous and campesino communities have more sustainable ways of life, have learned to live in a sustainable way with the resources they produce. But they are being displaced and massacred to usher in the concentration of land and wealth, the genocide of a sustainable way of life.

Rather than subsidizing corporate mass destruction, the nations of the world must invest in a different way of life, and hold accountable those that destroy human life and destroy our only and irreplaceable, planet.

(Annie Bird is co-director of Rights Action,, Feel free to re-publish this article, citing author & source)

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Even as Honduras has been suspended from the Organization of American States, even as most Latin American governments refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the illegitimate and repressive regime in place in Honduras, the governments of the US and Canada are working the hardest to support and legitimize this very regime.

Rights Action asks that Americans and Canadians continue to send this, and other information, to your own senators, congress members and parliamentarians, insisting that they do every thing they can to ensure that the US and Canada suspend military and economic relations with the Honduran regime and demand full legal accountability for the massacre of these 6 campesinos in Aguan and all cases of State sponsored or tolerated repression.

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SPEAKERS: Contact us to plan educational presentations in your community, school, place of worship, home (

EDUCATIONAL DELEGATIONS TO CENTRAL AMERICA: Form your own group and/ or join one of our educational delegation-seminars to learn first hand about community development, human rights and environmental struggles (

* CREATE YOUR OWN email and mail lists and re-distribute our information
* RECOMMENDED BOOKS: Eduardo Galeano's "Open Veins of Latin America"; Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States"; James Loewen's "Lies My Teacher Told Me"; Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine"; Paolo Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed"; Dr Seuss's "Horton Hears A Who"

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Grahame Russell,, Annie Bird,, Karen Spring (in Honduras),

= = =


Toronto, November 29, 2010: On Wednesday December 1, 2010 at 10:30am, lawyers for the widow of a community leader who was shot and hacked to death in an unprovoked attack by private security forces employed at a Canadian mining project in Latin America will announce a lawsuit brought in Ontario courts against a major Canadian mining company.

The murdered man was an outspoken critic of harms caused by Canadian mining activities in his community. To date, no one has been held accountable for his death.

This press announcement comes one month after Parliament voted against Bill C-300, a bill intended to ensure that Canadian mining companies operating abroad act in accordance with Canada’s commitments to international human rights standards.

Other participants will include:

The Honourable Peter Julian: Member of Parliament and author of Bill C-354: legislation which seeks to protect foreign citizens against serious human rights abuses committed by Canadian corporations operating outside of Canada.

Professor Craig Scott: Director of the Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security, and Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Grahame Russell: Co-director of Rights Action, a non-profit organization that works in close proximity with community groups in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Suite 400, 4th Floor “Innovation Lab”
215 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, Ontario

For details as to time and location only:
Murray Klippenstein, Legal Counsel, 416-937-8634 (mobile)
Silas Polkinghorne, 416-799-5365 (mobile)

For more information see, after 10:30 a.m., Dec. 1.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Repression in Honduras continues, unabated

Last Thursday and Friday, police and military violently repressed public school teachers that have taken to the streets for almost 3 weeks to demand, amongst other things, that the Pepe Lobo government return 4 billion lempiras (or 40 million dollars) that were taken from IMPREMA, an institution that manages teacher’s pension funds, after the military coup against President Zelaya on June 28, 2009.

The 6 teachers unions that form under the umbrella organization, Federation of Teacher’s Organizations of Honduras (FOMH by its spanish acronym) that represents 63,000 teachers nation-wide believe that the funds taken from this institution were used to fund the military machine run by the oligarchy, illegal President Micheletti and head of the armed forces, Romeo Vasquez Velasquez to repress and terrorize the pro-democracy movement critical of the coup and it’s perpetrators.

The education system in Honduras has been in crisis for the last 4 months particularly the month of August starting when the university students occupied the National Autonomous University (UNAH, Spanish acronym) demanding the reinstatement of 180 workers fired from their positions and the resignation of university director, Julieta Castrellano. Five fired workers still remain on hunger strike on the university grounds, some now reaching over 126 days without eating.

During the university occupation, police showed up during the occupation and attempted to enter the university where they were then run off university grounds by the protesters. The stand off between the students and police occurred at the time that State Department's Maria Otero was visiting Honduras to investigate the human rights situation, an attempt once again by the United States government to paint the picture that the Lobo government is working hard to better the human rights situation in the country, a necessary condition to having Honduras readmitted into the Organiation of American States (OAS).

In front of occupied National Autonomous University (UNAH, its spanish acronym) by students & supporting members of the national resistance movement. White sign reads 'Maria Otero, go home'

Although the university student and the public school teachers have different immediate focuses and demands, they both claim that the form in which the Pepe Lobo’s government is managing the teacher’s struggle and education system in general is one of the many attempts by the oligarchy and the government to privatize the public education system in Honduras.

Recognizing this threat, this massive teachers strike converges and compliments that on-going struggle of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) as well as the preparatory stages of a mass general strike involving the three major umbrella unions (Unitary Confederacy of Workers of Honduras (CUTH, by its Spanish acronym); the Confederacy of Workers of Honduras (CTH, Spanish acronym); the General Head office of Workers (CGT, Spanish acronym) to which all unionized Honduran workers are apart.


Last Friday, August 27th, teachers were violently evicted twice from the area around the National Pedagogical University first when they had occupied the boulevard and second, when teachers were regrouping and meeting inside the University.

At the University, located close to a major boulevard and across from a business shopping centre, police arrived with 2 water tanks, firing more than a 100 tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at the teachers and members of the resistance movement in and outside the university grounds, beating up those they chased and captured without regard for the presence of children and the public in the busy area of the city and the peaceful form in which the teachers were protesting.

August 27, 2010. In front of National Pedological University, police show up firing tear gas to evict teachers.

From a black Toyota four-runner parked on the street in front of the University, a man opened fired at the protesters with a 9-millimeter gun. Although no one was shot, the car was later identified as belonging to the National Congress.

Over 100 people were captured and ‘guarded’ by police against a fence outside the University. They were later released after human rights representatives arrived and negotiated with the police. Many teachers and resistance members, fleeing the tear gas were trapped inside the classrooms in the university where they suffered from severe exposure to tear gas. Over 7 people were injured from the gas and from police beatings including a journalist from Globo TV/Radio Globo.

Police 'guarding' teachers and individuals they captured during violent eviction.

The day before, on Thursday, after occupying a street close to the Presidential Palace in Tegucigalpa, police and military violently evicted the teachers. Six teachers were reported injured from the tear gas and wounds inflicted by the police.

These two days last week were the icing on the cake to the violence inflicted against the teachers movement on August 20th, when again, police/military evicted the movement and brutally beat up 3 union leaders and one teacher that all were supposedly identified on the spot to the police by individuals infiltrated in the marches.

Before and particularly since August 20th, the major media outlets owned by the oligarchy continue a media campaign against the teacher’s movement to portray them as instruments of violence with no regard for children’s education and the educational system in Honduras.

At the writing of this article, the teachers are gathered in their daily assembly to discuss an agreement recently negotiated between the Government negotiation team and the leaders of the teacher’s movement. Today, the teachers will announce whether they accept the proposal or not.