TEGUCIGALPA – At least 30 peasants, mostly women, were arrested in northern Honduras after the removal of about 100 farm laborers who had refused to vacate private land used for growing sugar cane, police said.
The eviction occurred Tuesday at San Manuel, an area in the northern province of Cortes, where some 30 peasants were arrested when they “would not leave private land,” police spokesman Oscar Aguilar said.
The peasants, who had occupied the farmland since May 23, were removed by police and soldiers, who, Aguilar said, “were only carrying out an order” of a court in the northern city of San Pedro Sula.
The farm laborers will be charged with the crime of invading private property, and in view of the peasants’ warning that they will return to occupy the land once more, “police security will be heightened,” Aguilar said.
The government has entered into four accords with peasants, the latest signed on June 5, to do with the purchase of land, some already growing crops of African palm, from landowners in the Bajo Aguan sector of the Caribbean region, where an agrarian conflict has taken 50 lives over the last four years, with most of the victims being farm laborers.
In October 2011, because of armed clashes between peasants and security guards, President Porfirio Lobo dispatched soldiers and police to the Bajo Aguan sector, but the violence continues.
The new agreement would permit the payment of 327 million lempiras (some $16.8 million) for 2,429 hectares (5,998 acres) of land, some already under cultivation, to Bajo Aguan landowners who specialize in the production of African palm.
Neither party has yet explained why the three previous agreements failed. EFE