MEXICO CITY — The murder of two agricultural activists in Honduras set off a wave of international criticism.
The leader of the Unified Movement of Farmworkers of Aguán (MUCA) José Ángel Flores and fellow activist Silmer Dionisio George were shot dead on Tuesday in Northeast Honduras as they left a meeting in the town of Tocoa.
Over the past few years, the MUCA has seized thousands of acres of land, most of which were private plantations of African oil palm previously grown by members of the movement under a cooperative scheme.
U.S. ambassador to Honduras James Nealon issued a statement on Wednesday condemning the murders. Nealon offered to make U.S. resources available to the Honduran government in order to find the perpetrators.
It’s important that these murderers are brought to justice.
— US Ambassador HN (@USAmbHonduras) October 19, 2016
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Honduras stated that both Flores and George had been appointed to receive protection from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) since 2014. According to the statement Flores had reported an attempted murder against him on April 2015.
A spokesman from the Honduran Interior Ministry said an official statement was being prepared; however, the government had still not commented on the situation by Wednesday night.
On May 2010, the Honduran government and the MUCA agreed to halt the violence on the Valle Bajo Aguán. The government promised to return over 27,000 acres of land to farmworkers of which only 10,000 have been delivered according to the statement from the United Nations.
Amnesty International noted that Honduras has become a “lawless land” for activists.