2018 CMDBCP establishes protest encampment

On 31 July 2018, after the CMDBCP had not received a response to its demands or complaints on behalf of the Guapinol community regarding concerns that mining works were impacting the quality of the community's water supply from the River Guapinol, members of the community and the CMDBCP established a protest encampment on the access road to the ASP sites near La Ceibita. Approximately 400 people joined the encampment known as the Guapinol Encampment in Defence of Water and Life (Campamento Guapinol en Defensa del Agua y la Vida). It was maintained daily by approximately 100 people for 88 days, blocking the entry of heavy vehicles to the mining site.

Between 12 and 15 August 2018, an interinstitutional Commission, including representatives of the Honduran Institute of Geology and Mining (INHGEOMIN), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MiAmbiente+), Colon Department government, the Human Rights Secretariat and the National Institute for Conservation, Forestry Development, Protected areas and Wild life (ICF), met with the CMDBCP at the encampment and made commitments to attend to the socio-environmental conflict. This included promising to publish a series of environmental reports on the mining project, to conduct a consultation with the Tocoa population and to establish dialogue roundtables between the communities and institutions. However, these measures were not implemented and the encampment continued.

On 7 September, when Inversiones Los Pinares (ILP) staff and a contracted security company guards carried out works on the access road near the encampment a dispute occurred. After negotiation, ILP workers withdrew, but an ILP security official reportedly shot and wounded one a protester from Guapinol, Rigoberto Bonilla Hernández, in front of witnesses. In the aftermath, the last remaining ILP contractor was retained by protesters pending being handed to police to investigate the shooting. A car was also set alight, as were two containers belonging to ILP. Protesters handed the ILP contractor to police unharmed, but this subsequently served as the pretext to file charges against the CMDBCP. See Legal Action entitled, "2018- Criminalisation and detention of CMDBCP environmental rights defenders" for details.

On 13 October, the Ceibita Permanent Vigilance Committee (Comité de Vigilancia Permanente de Ceibita, COVIPERCE) was formed by members of the Ceibita community to oppose the CMDBCP protest encampment and in support of the ILP mine. COVIPERCE reportedly received arms and also worked with the ILP security company.

On 27 October 2018, on the basis of a judicial eviction order, at least 1200 police and army personnel, including specialist TIGRE units as well as COVIPERCE members were used to violently evict the peaceful encampment. See Legal Action entitled, "2018 Eviction of protest encampment".

During this period of tension, members of COVIPERCE reportedly set fire to the house of a CMDBCP supporter in Ceibita, forcing her to flee. The CMDBCP denounced the attack on its supporters and sought the assistance of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to protect human rights defenders.

Political Action Category / Categoría de Acción Política: 
Reference / Referencia: 

ACAFREMIN, "Guapinol Resiste: Orígenes del conflicto minero en el Bajo Aguán, Honduras", dated March 2020, online: https://www.acafremin.org/images/documentos/Guapinol_ESP_Baja_Res.pdf

COPA, "Comunicado COPA. En defensa del agua y la vida: campamento Guapinol por la dignidad", date 28 August 2018, online: https://movimientom4.org/2018/08/comunicado-copa-en-defensa-del-agua-y-l...

Defensoresenlinea, "Gobierno responsabiliza a pobladores de Guapinol si se da una batalla campal por oponerse a minera", dated 17 August 2018, online: http://defensoresenlinea.com/gobierno-responsabiliza-a-pobladores-de-gua...

Jared Olsun, "Honduras's Deadly Water Wars", The Nation, dated 24 March 2020, online: https://www.thenation.com/article/world/honduras-mine-conflict/

University of Virginia School of Law - International Human Rights Law Clinic (UVA), Pretrial Monitoring of the Guapinol and San Pedro Community, dated September 2020, online: https://www.guapinolresiste.org/post/estado-de-honduras-debe-liberar-inm...

Accessed on date / Fecha de consulta: 
6 May 2021