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Latino Daily News

Sunday September 2, 2012

Clash Over Land Dispute in Honduras Kills Peasant, Injures Security Guard

Clash Over Land Dispute in Honduras Kills Peasant, Injures Security Guard

Photo: Honduras

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A peasant died and a security guard was shot and wounded when a group tried to occupy a palm-oil plantation in Honduras’s Caribbean region, police said.

The incident occurred Saturday at the Bolero plantation in Bajo Aguan, a region in Colon province, where armed individuals occupied private land, police spokesman Orlin Rosales told Efe.

The man killed in the clash was “a supposed peasant,” the police sokesman said.

More than 60 people, including peasants and security guards, have been killed in the region in the past three years, the National Human Rights Commission says.

Several people were wounded in the clash, Trujillo police chief Jose Mejia told reporters, without providing specific figures.

The security guard wounded in the incident is in serious condition, the police chief said.

The people who occupied the plantation warned that “no one is going to get them off” Bolero, Mejia said.

At least three peasants were killed when they tried to occupy private lands in Bajo Aguan on Aug. 9, police said.

The National Assembly approved legislation on Aug. 1 that limits the right to bear arms in Colon to military personnel, police and private security guards in an effort to end the conflict, but peasants said the measure would not work.

President Porfirio Lobo has said several times that the conflict is “a problem of national security” and criticized the fact that people calling themselves peasants are armed with AK-47 assault rifles.

Last year, the Honduran government, plantation owners and the Muca peasants organization signed an agreement calling for more than 4,000 hectares (9,876 acres) of land to be distributed among landless families in Bajo Aguan.

The Lobo administration sent troops and police to the region last October, but the presence of the security forces has failed to stop the violence.

Under a new pact signed by Lobo on June 5, the government pledged $17 million to purchase 2,429 hectares of land from the Bajo Aguan plantation owners for distribution among poor peasants.