Peace Brigades International

PBI-Honduras condemns the murder of Indigenous Lenca environmental defender Félix Vásquez

On December 29, the Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project posted: “We condemn the murder of the defender of human rights, the environment, and the Lenca indigenous people, Félix Vásquez.”

“[He was the] secretary general for the Union of Rural Workers (UTC) in the department of La Paz. A few weeks ago, Felix had denounced death threats against him and other defenders.”

PBI-Honduras adds: “We urge an independent, transparent and effective investigation to clarify the facts and find those responsible.”

En La Plaza Honduras further reports: “Vásquez was assassinated by four hitmen who arrived at his house at 8 o’clock [on Saturday December 26].”

That post adds: “Félix had actively participated in the fight against the hydroelectric plants, owned by the nationalist and former vice president of the National Congress, Gladys Aurora López, in addition to being a defender of the peasants and the territories.”

The Committee of Relatives of Missing Detainees in Honduras (COFADEH) says Vásquez was “concerned about the occupation of landowners in nature reserve areas, such as the El Jilguero watershed” whose damage would impact more than 300 indigenous families.

He was also a member of the Lenca Indigenous Movement of La Paz, Honduras (MILPAH).

Vásquez had filed complaints to national authorities starting in 2017 about persecution related to his environmental activism.

Telesur notes: “On several occasions he was persecuted and threatened with death, thus reporting this situation to the relevant authorities. Despite his repeated complaint, he had no protection. The murder occurred at his home, and he was witnessed by various people including his children.”

The Coalition against Impunity (CCI) says: “The state is directly responsible for his murder due to its omissions in the face of the serious risks of which it was duly aware.”

Deutsche Welle reports: “For the time being, police have indicated that there are no persons detained for the case and that the motive for the crime has not been determined.”

The US Embassy in Honduras has tweeted: “We condemn the assassination of peasant leader and environmentalist Felix Vasquez.”

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Vasquez was the eighth human rights defender killed in Honduras in 2020.

Reuters adds: “Honduras is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for activists, with 14 land and environmental defenders killed last year, up from 4 people in 2018, according to data made available by advocacy group Global Witness.

Article by PBI-Canada