Honduras: security forces evict thousands of squatters
On March 12 hundreds of Honduran soldiers, police and agents of the National Criminal Investigation Directorate (DNIC) removed thousands of families from some 200 manzanas (about 340 acres) of land they were living on in the Montes de León, La Mesa, Santa Rosa and Loarque Sur neighborhoods in Comayagüela, Tegucigalpa's twin city. Deputy Police Commissioner Leandro Osorio said the operation was in compliance with an eviction order issued by a Tegucigalpa court. According to authorities, the land belongs to the Social Fund for Housing (FOSOVI) and was occupied illegally. After the residents were removed, bulldozers destroyed their homes, built mostly from materials like sheet metal and pieces of wood.
The Agence France Presse (AFP) wire service reported that 2,000 families were living at the site, while the Teguicigalpa daily La Prensa put the number at 15,000. La Prensa, which supported the June 28, 2009 coup d'état against former president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, called the police operation "peaceful" and reported one arrest. AFP said the removal was violent and quoted Deputy Commissioner Osorio as saying dozens of people were arrested.
"They lied to us," resident Carolina Amador told AFP, referring to the authorities. "They promised us they were going to negotiate with us, and they came and surprised us." Amador said her husband works as a street vendor; the couple has two small children. "We don't have anywhere to go—what are we going to do?" she asked. The capital is surrounded by improvised settlements of people who have left the countryside; these settlements are largely concentrated in Comayagüela, which is south of Tegucigalpa; the two cities form the country's Central District. (AFP, March 12 via Vos el Soberano website, Honduras; La Prensa, March 13; La Tribuna, Tegucigalpa, March 12)
Armed masked men seized two farm workers, Ramón Ulises Castellanos and Miguel Sauceda, the evening of Mar. 8 at their homes in El Naranjo community in the northern department of Atlántida. Their bodies were found beside a highway the next day with bullet wounds in the head, chest and abdomen. The masked men reportedly identified themselves as DNIC agents. "They all had black vests and ski masks. One of them had the initials 'DNIC' on his vest," said the wife of one of the victims. (Prensa Latina, March 9)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 16