Home | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising | El Centinela
Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Friday, April 29, 2016
CYO Football 2015 2015 Priest Reassignments, Archdiocese of Portland Cardinal Francis George dies Mothering with faith Sisters of the Holy Names, 2015 Live Nativity at St. John the Baptist 2014 Fall CYO results Catholic Charities Donor Lunch 2014 Year of Consecrated Life opening Mass Holy Spirit Sisters Jubilee 2014 Seaside youth conference Mount Angel 125th Northwest Hub Furlow at papal Mass 2014 Rosary Bowl NW Brother André 2014 Fall 40 Days for Life 2014 Inauguration of Fr. Mark Poorman Coffee shop at abbey First day of school, 2014 Regis High School 50th anniversary 2014 Crooked Finger Pilgrimage Mass with migrant farm workers Maronite Ordination Consecration to "Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima" CYO track Southern Oregon Evangelization 2014 Priest Ordination Christ the King youth 2014 priest reassignments Our Lady of Lavang Confirmation, 2014 Memorial Day 2014 2014 Transitional deacon ordination Padre Foster Granados visits Albany Bishop Smith ordination Canonization of Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII Bishop Peter Smith 2014 Easter Vigil 2014 Walk of Cross 2014 Chrism Mass CYO basketball 2014 St. Patrick of the Forest 150th Catholic Charities Celebration of Hope, 2014 Boys2Men Archbishop visits Oregon State Penitentiary 40 Day Vigil for Life, 2014 Pope Francis creates new cardinals St. Henry shelter 2014 CYO swimming Funeral of Fr. George Wolf Travel on a budget Lunar New Year, 2014 Tech in Catholic schools 2014 Right to Life Rally Archbishop visits Santiam Prison First Mass in Oregon Milwaukie Posada St. Francis, Sherwood, Toy Drive Central Catholic football Typhoon Haiyan Deacon Ordination/ Kresbach, Schmitt A Catholic fisherman St. Cecilia Centennial Southern Oregon Welcome Mass Shepherd of the Valley, Central Point, dedication Grotto Anniversary 2013 Champions of Faith Dinner Gardenripe farms Coleman hop farm Corvallis Year of Faith Archbishop Howard at St. Rose Hitchhiking priests Franciscan Spiritual Center Sacred Heart, Medford Migrant Mass Tanzanians' jubilee World Youth Day 2013 2013 Blessing of the Animals 2013 Freedom Mass Albany school closure Fabric art Megan graduates from Catholic school St. Vincent de Paul Hillsboro 2013 Deacon ordination Sister Theresa Lamkin St. Helen Mission, Brownsville Marist Brainiacs St. Mary, Eugene St. Francis eighth graders Ascension confirmation 2013 Pastoral Ministry Conference St. Joseph Salem — Year of Faith Archbishop Sample's Installation Mass 2013 Archbishop Sample Chrism Mass 2013 2013 Young Catholics Pope Francis inauguration Celebration of Hope Vlazny Farewell Mass Archbishop Vlazny Farewell St. Paul Church in St. Paul Valley Catholic Green Building Rite of Election 2013 Water summit 2013 Lunar New Year Alveda King in Eugene New Monsignors, 2013 2013 Right to Life Rally MLK Mass, 2013 St. Henry, Gresham, Centennial Jesuit High drama School uniforms Friar in the mall Holy Trinity food ministry January Book Covers St. Andre Bessette food Year of Faith Mass Nestucca Sanctuary Hillsboro Choirs Father Betschart installation Salem Religious Freedom Rally Year of Faith Vespers, Awards Roy's Catholic School Adelante Mujeres 10th anniversary New Blanchet House Missionaries of Holy Spirit Priest, religious photos Providence Nursing Schools Pioneros Fortnight for Freedom Mark Bentz Deacon Ordination OLL School Walk Through Gaga over science St. Philip Neri Centennial Ordination of Bishop Cary SVDP, Grants Pass Holy Cross School centennial Confirmation - Mount Angel Holy Land Pilgrimage Blanchet Watershed Chrism Mass, 2012 Bishop-designate Cary Pope in Cuba, 2012 SSMO 125th Jubilee Mass Pope Benedict in Mexico 2012 Catholic Charities Celebration 2012 Madeleine Mardi Gras Centennial Rally for Life, 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Mass 2012 Day Laborers-Guadalupe Guadalupe 2011 Christ the King, Milwaukie, 50th Sesame Doughnuts Central Catholic Volleyball St. Peter Centennial Deacon Ordination, October 2011 St. Agatha Centennial Rosary Bowl 2011 St. Wenceslaus, Scappoose, Centennial Filipino celebration Polish Festival 2011 Holy War Football 2011 World Youth Day 2011 Sun Gold Farm Our Lady of Victory's New Church Freedom Mass 2011 St. Mary Church Steeple Removal Priest reassignments, 2011 Old Catholic Buildings Paige Rice, St. Mary's runner Graduation 2011 Easter vigils 2011 Pastoral Ministry Conference Basketball Holy War 2011 Search for Peace 2011

Mt Angel Towers 8.13

Home : News : Nation and World
Church workers: Honduran mine concessions fuel human rights abuses
Catholic News Service

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Four years after a coup d'etat threw Honduras into crisis, church workers said human rights abuses continue unabated, fueled by disputes over mining concessions.

A new Honduran mining law passed in January has opened up huge swaths of the countryside to mining exploration. But the mining industry has increasingly become the source of grave human rights abuses as mostly poor, rural citizens who live on the land have been threatened, said church and human rights workers.

"People in these communities are living under fear and with a lot of stress. You're talking about people who are afraid they will be killed by machete for opposing the mining industry," said Claretian Father Cesar Espinoza, a priest in Arizona in the department of Atlantida near the Caribbean coast.

As the November general election approaches, Catholic groups are raising awareness about the deteriorating human rights situation and the threat posed by mining interests to rural, mainly agricultural communities. They seek to pressure international actors, including the U.S. government, to take a stronger stance on the situation.

In September, leaders from across Central America met to share experiences and discuss ways to fight back against mining companies. The meeting brought together Jesuits from the U.S. and Central America, researchers, community leaders and others to discuss the impact of mining. A similar meeting is planned for Oct. 30 in San Salvador.

Shaina Aber, policy director at the U.S. Jesuit Conference, and several other U.S. Jesuits recently visited Honduras on a fact-finding mission in which she was "blown away by the multilevel dimension of violence" in Honduras.

"We came away from our visit realizing it wasn't just generalized or gang violence, but a penetration of state institutions by powerful individuals who are wealthy and profit off the weak institutions of the state," she said.

Honduras has become the most murderous country in the world, partially because of weak state institutions that were thrown into disarray in 2009 when then-President Manuel Zelaya was ousted by the army in what was Central America's first military coup since the end of the Cold War.

"After the coup, the human rights situation got worse," said Karla Rivas, news editor at the Honduran Jesuit-run radio station Radio Progreso.

The station was shut down by the military just hours after the coup. Although the station was allowed to open the next day, Rivas said workers have been routinely exposed to threats for its dogged analysis and reporting.

"We continue to do what we do because we want a better country," she said of the station's work. "What we're experiencing is not to the level of what is happening in the communities that are opposing mining."

The new mining law ended a moratorium on new concessions and effectively opened up "the majority of the national territory to companies," Rivas said.

For instance, in the tiny village of Nueva Esperanza near the country's Caribbean coast, a Honduran company has been granted a concession to explore for minerals, a step before the physical establishment of a mining operation.

With only a handful of the 45 families that live in the village supporting the mine, the company resorted to threats and bullying, including the use of an armed security force, said human rights groups working in the area.

"They brought in seven armed guards. ... They've threatened everyone. The school closed because the teacher was harassed. The church closed because the priest had to flee. It's an environment of fear," said Daniel Langmeier, a human rights observer working with the Honduras Accompaniment Project, which is documenting abuses in Honduras.

In July, Langmeier, 26, and a fellow observer stayed overnight with a family that had been threatened. The following morning, security guards confronted the observers -- even though they were not on the mine -- and held them at gunpoint for more than an hour.

"They accused us of being communists, or resistance fighters sponsored by the Venezuelans," Langmeier, a Swiss national who lives in Tegucigalpa, said in a telephone interview. "I tried to explain to them that they had no authority there, but they would just laugh and point their guns at us."

After a harrowing afternoon in which Langmeier and his colleague were repeatedly threatened and stripped of their cellphones and photos, the guards eventually released them.

"I thought to myself, 'There's no way they are stupid enough to kill international human rights observers.' But on the other hand, they were a lot of young men with high-caliber rifles who seemed out of control," Langmeier said. "They told us never to come back or we would be 'disappeared' in the forest."

The family with whom Langmeier was staying has been in hiding since the incident. And although Langmeier filed a criminal complaint, no arrests have been made in the case.

He and other human rights groups plan to file a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington; they will include details about the situation in Nueva Esperanza.

Father Espinoza, who has himself received death threats, said the government fails to protect communities such as Nueva Esperanza.

"There is no justice in this country," he told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview.

Questions to U.S. and Honduran government officials about the claims raised by Catholic workers and human rights organizations went unanswered.

In the absence of a government response, the U.N. and the U.S. government need to do more to help, Aber said.

"There needs to be a more robust presence of the United Nations ... and more responsiveness on the part of the (U.S.) government when there are threats against human rights," she said.

The Jesuit delegation met with the human rights office in the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, the capital, to raise concerns.

Observers said there has also been disappointingly little acknowledgment of the gravity of the situation by the country's bishops. The bishops' conference did not return calls for comment.

"The church hierarchy has taken a position in favor of development, with the idea that it could help a country that is poor," said Rivas, the Jesuit radio station news editor. "The problem is that it's development at the cost of the people."

Advanced Search

Mary Jo Tully ~ The Path to Resurrection

News | Viewpoints | Faith & Spirituality | Parish and School Life | Entertainment | Obituaries | Find Churches and Schools | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising
E-Newsletter | RSS Feeds

© 2016 Catholic Sentinel, a service of Oregon Catholic Press

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved