By Jorge Burgos, for Criterio HN
15 August 2023
Translated by Martin Mowforth
We are grateful to Jorge Burgos for his permission to translate and reproduce his article from Criteriohn, a digital communications media that reports on and analyses news from Honduras. https://criterio.hn/
The US representatives mentioned here also seek to combat corruption and to protect the environmentalists in the Bajo Aguán region from further attacks and violence.
Today, US Congressional representatives Jan Schakowsky, Jesús «Chuy» García, Ilhan Omar and Raúl M. Grijalva along with 16 of their colleagues sent a letter to the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, requesting that the US Embassy in Honduras should continue to involve itself with the Honduran government in combatting corruption whilst at the same time protecting environmentalists in the Bajo Aguán region from future assaults and violence and see to it that their demands are dealt with clearly and justly.
This includes the definitive cancellation of the Los Pinares mining licences in the Carlos Escaleras Botaderos National Park, said the representatives’ petition. On the 15th June  Oqueli Dominguez Ramos, an opponent of the illegal installation of the Los Pinares open-cast iron ore mine, was assassinated in his house. His mother, Catalina Ramos, was also wounded with a gunshot to the leg.
Scarcely five months before that, another of Catalina’s sons, Ali Dominguez, was also assassinated by men on motorbikes when he returned home with his friend Jairo Bonilla. Catalina’s third son, Reynaldo, felt obliged to abandon his home after receiving threats related to his opposition to the mine.
The Los Pinares mining company was initially a national company forming part of the giant US iron and steelworks company Nucor and the Honduran conglomerate EMCO Group which was owned by Ana Facussé and her husband Lenir Pérez. EMCO and other companies belonging to Ana Facussé’s father, the late Miguel Facussé, have long been accused of violence, illicit influence in the Honduran justice system and even of having connections to narcotrafficking.
The interests of the Facussé family in the Bajo Aguán region, where the Los Pinares mine is found, began with what were widely denounced as massive, violent and illegal appropriations of agrarian reform land and Indigenous Garífuna lands by the Dinant Corporation, property of Miguel Facussé. This year alone, seven land rights defenders involved in disputes with Dinant have been assassinated.
The Congressional representatives have concluded, “We are concerned about the level of support that the corporations associated with the Facussé family have enjoyed from the international community, including access to financing from the multilateral development banks and the investment from an important US corporation, despite the evidence of its participation in corruption, violence and other human rights violations.”
“We are also concerned that the actions of this type of company and the failure to counter them undermine the objectives of the Biden administration in the region,” added the representatives in their letter to Blinken.
Although the legislators “feel encouraged by the important efforts of the current Honduran government to support the investigations into these violent networks” via diverse initiatives, the legislators are pushing the US State Department to commit to the Honduran government to guarantee the definitive cancellation of the Los Pinares mining licences.
Furthermore, the representatives also requested that the Special Attorney for Crimes Against Life (based in Tegucigalpa) should investigate the assassinations of human rights defenders and environmentalists and should ensure the future protection and security of human rights defenders and environmentalists in the Bajo Aguán region.
As well as Schakowsky, García, Omar and Grijalva, signatories to the letter include representatives Henry C. «Hank» Johnson, Jr., Joaquín Castro, Jamie Raskin, Barbara Lee, Kevin Mullin, Cori Bush, Adriano Espaillat, Paul D. Tonko, Jimmy Panetta, James P. McGovern, Veronica Escobar, Lloyd Doggett, Jared Huffman, Rashida Tlaib, Linda T. Sánchez and Ritchie Torres.
Has numerous years of experience and likes to practice ‘uncomfortable’ journalism which reaches the platforms of power, seeking changes in the style of governance to combat corruption, and revealing what power always wants to cover up.