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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Honduras : les veuves des paysans sans terre d’El Tumbador

by Damien Roustel

Honduras: the landless farmer widows of El Tumbador

Translated Monday 15 June 2015, by Adrian Jordan

“Poor people need the land to cultivate … I am no longer like I was before when he was here. Everything has changed and no one is protecting me, only God.” The life of Maria Concepcion Membreno has wavered: it has been four years since her husband, Teodoro Acosta, was killed by a close range volley of seven shots, during a land dispute with a Honduran food company. 15 November 2010, the landless workers’ bid to recapture disputed land ended in five deaths and the rape of four women.

Between 1990 and 2000, the Honduran government allocated land held by the state to landless farmers in the Aguán valley, mostly without incident except in the agricultural lands of El Tumbador. According to the National Agrarian Institute, the land belongs to the state but businessman Miguel Facussé, head of Corporación Dinant (Dinant), uses it for oil palm plantation. Faced with state inaction, Aguán valley farmers occupied and farmed El Tumbador for four months before being evicted in August 2010 by Dinant security guards and Honduran armed forces. November 15 2010, Dinant’s men opened fire on the farmers who fled the assault.

“To date no one has been held accountable for the massacre”, explains the Oxfam report. The widows of El Tumbador have great difficulty in feeding their children since the loss of their husbands. Dinant is doing well. After receiving a direct loan of 15 million dollars from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in 2009, Dinant indirectly benefitted from the World Bank subsidiary’s 70 million dollar investment in the Honduran bank, Ficohsa, which finances small and medium businesses. Now, Dinant is Ficohsa’s third largest client and the biggest borrower. Despite internal inquiries reproaching the IFC for “a large-scale failure of due diligence” for its investment in Ficohsa - notably because of the violence meted out by Dinant - the loan has not been challenged.

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