Last update: July 28, 2014
Beginning in approximately 2011, residents of the community of Nueva Esperanza, Tela, Atlantida, reported they were being threatened and harassed by employees of a company conducting mining exploration in the community. Community members also expressed concern about the assignment of police officers to the community, some of which were alleged to be involved in the harassment of community residents.
In July 2013, NGOs reported that representatives of the NGO Honduras Accompaniment Project (PROAH — Proyecto de Acompanamiento Honduras) were threatened by armed men to leave Nueva Esperanza and not return. Community residents also have expressed concern about the environmental effects of the mining exploration.
Community members have filed official complaints with the Public Ministry regarding threats, harassment, and lack of consultation regarding the mining activities in the community.
On December 24, 2013, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission ordered protective measures for 18 community leaders and human rights defenders involved in the Nueva Esperanza conflict.
In February 2014, the U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission led a delegation to Nueva Esperanza to meet with community members regarding threats against local residents, the environmental impact of mining activity in the area, and allegations of police intimidation.
Some of those with whom the delegation met indicated that the lack of clear land titles, inadequate consultation with local communities regarding land development, and long delays involved in judicial resolution of land conflicts contribute to conditions that undermine peace and security.
U.S. Embassy representatives are in regular communication with community leaders, the Ministry of Security, and the Public Ministry about the situation in Nueva Esperanza.
The Public Ministry office in La Ceiba is investigating the official complaints. On February 28, 2014, the Honduran National Police arrested one individual alleged to be involved in threatening community members. On July 3, a group of unidentified armed men assaulted two parish priests and PROAH observers while they were driving. While it is not clear that the crime was related to the land conflict, it is another example of the violence and impunity that affect all Hondurans, including human rights defenders.
Link: Inter-American Human Rights Commission decision (PDF 271 KB) on protective measures for Nueva Esperanza community.