HONDURAS: World Bank Shares Responsibility for Biofuel Massacre of 6 Campesinos
November 19, 2010
* Article, by Annie Bird, explaining connection between the military coup in Honduras, climate change reduction mechanisms and Monday's massacre of 6 campesinos in the Aguan region of Honduras
* Letter, from Rights Action, to the World Bank, explaining the shared responsibility of the World Bank for the massacre of six campesinos in the Aguan region of Honduras
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WORLD BANK-FUNDED BIOFUEL CORPORATION MASSACRES SIX HONDURAN CAMPESINOS
By Annie Bird, firstname.lastname@example.org
MASSACRED WHILE WORKING THEIR FIELDS
Approximately six months ago, campesino farmers in Trujillo, Colon organized in the Campesino Movement of the Aguan, the MCA, were awarded provisional title to a farm which neighbors their community, as part of a long standing negotiation with Dinant Corporation, a biofuel company, whose land claims are illegitimate.
Since that time, the small farmers worked the land. In recent weeks they had noticed incursions into their land by armed security forces employed by the biofuel company, Dinant.
On Monday, November 15, the farmers went to their fields but were then attacked by Dinant security. Six were killed in the massacre and two more are in critical condition.
The massacre occurred the same day that the de facto Honduran president Pepe Lobo had planned to meet with the director of the US government development fund, the Millennium Challenge, in Denver to ask for funding for so called "renewable energy" - in Honduras, principally biofuels and dams.
WORLD BANK AND OTHER "DEVELOPMENT" GROUPS SHARE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE MASSACRE
The "renewable energy" plan Lobo is shopping around may be the result of an Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) funded technical support grant (T-1101) to the de facto government ushered in after the June 28 military coup. In November 2009, under a coup government and amidst grave human rights violations, the World Bank's (WB) International Finance Corporation gave Dinant Corporation a $30 million loan for biofuel production, and now shares responsibility in the massacre.
Policies supposedly intended to stop climate change are in reality fueling climate change. The world must invest in a renewable way of life, not destructive "renewable energy". Scientists have analyzed that biofuel industry together with the climate change prevention mechanisms currently promoted could actually result in the destruction of half of the planets forests.
In the same way that massacres cannot be stopped when justice systems are destroyed by military coups, the destruction of our planet cannot be stopped when the systems of governance have been hijacked by corporations who can buy off, or that failing, militarily intervene in nations attempting to build just forms of governance. Human rights and the environment cannot be separated.
US MILITARY BASE BOUGHT FOR AGRARIAN REFORM AND STOLEN FOR AGRIBUSINESS
During the past decade, campesinos in Honduras have challenged a series of illegitimate land titles obtained by agro-businessmen in a massive former US military training center known as the CREM.
On this land, over 5,000 hectares, the US military trained military forces from across Central America, particularly the Contra paramilitary forces attacking the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Once the CREM center's operations ended, the Honduran government bought the land from a US citizen through the Honduran land reform program.
However, instead of being sold to small farmers, as the government was obligated by law to do, the land was illegally divided up between several large landholders as a result of corruption and fraudulent titling processes. A coalition of land rights organizations in Honduras organized in the Campesino Movement of the Aguan, the MCA, to challenge the illegal titles. Little by little the land titles were awarded to groups of campesinos organized in the MCA.
The titling process has been slow and marked by violent attacks by the large landholders who have influence in the government, police and military forces. Among the last of the CREM lands to remain in the hands of agribusiness interests is the farm called El Tumbador, approximately 700 hectares controlled by the Dinant Corporation, property of Honduras' most powerful agro-businessman, Miguel Facusse.
A biofuel businessman with interests in several corporations, Miguel Facusse is infamous for the use of fraudulent methods, including intimidation and violence, to obtain lands throughout the country.
THE WORLD BANK BACKS THE CORRUPT AND VIOLENT DINANT CORPORATION
Since the military coup in June 2009, Honduras has been ruled by illegitimate, repressive regimes.
In November 2009, the WB extended a loan of $30 million to Dinant for its biofuel production in that region, despite a widely documented history of violence and corruption by the biofuel company. The WB failed in its human rights obligations in this case and shares responsibility for this massacre.
Given the conditions in Honduras, the WB must suspend both private and public sector funding to Honduras, and freeze funding of biofuels in the region. The biofuel industry in Central and South America violently displaces small farmers and contributes to global warming.
Another multinational public fund that finances international private investment, the Interamerican Investment Corporation, has also recently funded Dinant.
"GREENWASHING" AND CORPORATE WELFARE - THE HIJACKING OF CLIMATE CHANGE FUNDS
Biofuels are one of the fastest growing industries, a sector that sees high levels of investment from venture capitalists. This massive growth has been stimulated by taxpayer dollars pouring into renewable energy through many funding agencies, but particularly the IADB, the WB, and carbon emissions trading markets.
The trade in carbon credits was created as an element of the Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997. It attempts to implement a market based system to curb global warming by levying penalties against heavy polluting industries that produce high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon burning energy generation plants. But those penalties can be paid off, or offset, by the purchase of carbon credits.
Carbon credits are given to industries that undertake activities that reduce emission of gases that generate climate change, and those can then be sold on the market to companies that generate global warming.
The system is riddled with problems, beginning with the fact that the big money to be made in "green" industry creates a big incentive to greenwash, to disguise polluting activities as activities that do not pollute in order to cash in on climate change funds.
This is the case with biofuels.
BIOFUELS COULD DESTROY HALF THE WORLD'S FORESTS
Even as governments pour taxpayer money into biofuels, it is being demonstrated that biofuel production contributes significantly to global warming, through the destruction of wetlands, displacement of small farmers and food production, often to cut forests, direct clear cutting of forests for biofuel production, and even cutting forests to generate wood pellets that make ethanol.
One study published in Science magazine in October 2009 analyzed regulation set up in the Kyoto Accords which promotes the use of biofuels, but finds that these measures could result in the loss of up to half of the world's forests.
As the negative impacts were beginning to be felt, though the extent is only beginning to be understood, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and others committed to market incentives for polluters, set up the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil.
This body certifies palm oil as having been 'sustainably' produced. In May 2010, WWF signed an agreement with Miguel Facusse's Dinant Corporation to begin the process of certifying Dinant palm oil. The WB, in November 2009, shortly after disbursing Dinant's loan, froze palm oil funding while it created its palm oil strategy, expected to be completed in March 2011.
US CORPORATIONS COULD MAKE $27 TRILLION OFF "LESSER DEVELOPED COUNTRIES" CONVERSION TO BIOFUELS
By the time these impacts were being seen, big corporations, with their lobbies, were drooling over the potential profits. The WWF is strongly committed to paying off big business to reduce emissions. A recent WWF study urges taxpayer money be poured into renewable energy in "lesser developed countries" (LDCs) in order to stimulate job growth in the United States.
Governments are committing to insuring that a certain percentage of fuel consumption be converted to biofuel consumption around the world but especially in "LDCs." This will generate a huge market for technology to convert engines and other existing infrastructure, which according to WWF could represent a $27 trillion dollar market for US corporations.
Faced with the powerful corporate lobby corrupting and pressuring governments around the globe, and sometimes promoting military interventions to back their interests, changing policies to really fight climate change as opposed to subsidizing corporations seems a quixotic dream, as was seen in the failed summit on climate change in Copenhagen last year.
At the 16th international summit on climate change in Copenhagan, nations agreed to set up an, as yet, unclear mechanism called the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), which would focus on curbing deforestation. Paradoxically, incentives for forest preservation are still banned, and the potential for biofuel stimulated deforestation of half of the world's forests is still not addressed.
It is important to remember that the WWF and others who believe in and promote environmental market economics have promoted a system of biosphere privatization which allows degrading activities to be carried out by private companies that subsidize non-governmental organizations that manage the biospheres, while ignoring the rights of campesino communities and indigenous peoples.
GOVERNMENTS SHOULD INVEST IN THE POOR, NOT IN THE SUPER RICH
The international community's failure to substantively address climate change is a result the unwillingness to acknowledge and name the economic and political policies and actors that are responsible for climate harm.
The "free" market cannot correct the damage it has done, further investing in the same actors and under the same policy framework that generated climate change cannot reverse it.
To reverse climate change, the wealthiest nations and people of the world must change how they live. Indigenous and campesino communities have more sustainable ways of life, have learned to live in a sustainable way with the resources they produce. But they are being displaced and massacred to usher in the concentration of land and wealth, the genocide of a sustainable way of life.
Rather than subsidizing corporate mass destruction, the nations of the world must invest in a different way of life, and hold accountable those that destroy human life and destroy our only and irreplaceable, planet.
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LETTER TO THE WORLD BANK
November 17, 2010
President Robert Zoellick
The World Bank Group
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
Dear President Zoellick:
On Monday, November 15, 2010, private security forces employed by the Dinant Corporation massacred six Honduran farmers when Dinant security attempted to illegally evict the farmers from land in the small farmer's possession and for which they hold a provisional title.
Dinant received a $30 million loan (number 27250) from the World Bank's International Finance Corporation on November 5, 2009.
The potential for this human rights disaster had been widely known given that at least 19 farmers in this region have been killed in the context of conflicts with biofuel industry interests and given that Honduras, since the June 2009 military coup, has been ruled by an illegitimate and repressive regime.
This history, combined with the absolute lack of a human rights protective framework capable of adequately addressing conflicts in Honduras, made the decision to release funding to Dinant Corporation a case of gross negligence of the World Bank's human rights and due diligence obligations.
The World Bank shares responsibility in the November 15, 2010 massacre in El Tumbador, Honduras.
Concurrently, Dinant is immersed in numerous explosive land conflicts in which credible charges of violent actions, including murders, and fraudulent land acquisitions had been levied against the company. Dinant's owner - Miguel Facusse - has been widely implicated as a key supporter of the June 2009 military coup.
In addition, reports in Colombian press and by the United Nations "Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries and Private Security Forces" suggest that Honduran biofuel producers recruited former Colombian Auto Defense forces (AUC) - on the United States list of terrorist organizations - for their security forces.
Decisions and actions taken by the World Bank following the June 28, 2009 coup in Honduras, have impacted negatively on the rule of law internationally and the general well-being of the Honduran population. The WB decision to release funds to Dinant sent a clear message to Dinant: that the company and its owners enjoy impunity for their actions, and the WB will tolerate violence, illegal land grabbing, and even participation in military coups by corporations and their owners.
The case of Dinant, in many ways, is representative of a pattern in the biofuel industry in the region. Though the conditions stemming from the military coup in Honduras have exacerbated the problems there, the biofuel industry in Latin America has demonstrated a pattern of illegal land grabs, corruption of justice systems and government administrative bodies, and the use of extreme violence to displace small farmers who then are often forced to cut forestland to survive.
The African palm plantations in Honduras significantly contribute to global warming, and in other ways, such as the destruction of wetlands which then emit significant levels of greenhouse gases.
Further, given the illegitimacy of the government installed following the coup, the debt incurred on behalf of the Honduran taxpayer is illegitimate, and therefore, the WB is liable for "odious" debt.
The constitutional order in Honduras was ruptured due by the military coup of June 28, 2009. As a result, Honduras' membership in multilateral organizations, including the Organization of American States and the Central American Integration System, was suspended. The United Nations' General Assembly also passed a resolution calling on member states not to recognize the de facto Honduran government.
Because the international legal personality of the Honduran state continues to be unrecognized, there is no legitimate authority which can at this time sign binding international agreements until the constitutional order has been reestablished through mechanisms that meet the respective international standards.
Because World Bank members can only consist of the internationally and domestically recognized governments of a given state, loans disbursed or agreed upon by the World Bank to or with a de facto government are illegitimate and therefore unbinding to the population of that territory. The World Bank should defer to the OAS and other international organizations in determining which governments are internationally recognized and legitimated.
Through the disbursement and/or commitment of funds to the de facto government of Honduras, the World Bank has violated its internal procedures, fiduciary duties, and international law.
Reports that disbursements were made on the Nuestras Raizes Project ID: P083244 loan after the break in the constitutional order, and possibly other public sector loans, even while the formal hold on public sector loan disbursements was supposed to be in effect, are of serious concern.
The Nuestros Raices loan is particularly grave given that the program funded by this loan contributes to the violation of the fundamental rights of indigenous communities by both Honduran legal standards and those of international law, as it has been implemented in such a way that it violates the authority of the institutions of customary law, dividing populations, in what appears to be coordinated action with other private sector development initiatives with interests in indigenous territories, as has been widely denounced by Honduran indigenous organizations.
Legislation illegitimately enacted since the break in Honduras' constitutional order in some cases provides the legal framework with which private sector initiatives seek to justify implementation of investments.
Such is the case of hydroelectric dams, as it is our understanding that legislation illegitimately read into law first in December 2009 and then September 2010 provided concessions for the construction of 41 hydroelectric projects.
Further, many of these dams impact indigenous communities from whom free, prior and informed consent has not been obtained and many have held consultations in which they explicitly reject the projects.
It is also important to emphasize that the member nations within the Board of Directors of the Bank cannot evade their obligations under customary law and general principles of law by creating an international organization that would not be bound by the legal limits imposed upon its Member States.
For the reasons described above, the World Bank must suspend funding to Honduras, in both the private and public sectors. As is demonstrated by Monday's massacre, in the current context of grave human rights abuses and lack of independence of the justice system, implementation of World Bank funding implicates the Bank in complicity in human rights and corruption issues which have a high potential to develop in relation to Bank supported projects.
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WHAT TO DO
Even as Honduras has been suspended from the Organization of American States, even as most Latin American governments refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the illegitimate and repressive regime in place in Honduras, the governments of the US and Canada are working the hardest to support and legitimize this very regime.
Rights Action asks that Americans and Canadians continue to send this, and other information, to your own senators, congress members and parliamentarians, insisting that they do every thing they can to ensure that the US and Canada suspend military and economic relations with the Honduran regime and demand full legal accountability for the massacre of these 6 campesinos in Aguan and all cases of State sponsored or tolerated repression.
TO MAKE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS
for indigenous and campesino communities working for community controlled development and a return to democracy and the rule of law in Honduras, make check payable to "Rights Action" and mail to:
UNITED STATES: Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
CANADA: 552 - 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8
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