The ongoing conflict in Bajo Aguan has been complicated. I had not completely understood what was going on there and wanted to refrain from writing about it on my blog until I understood the situation a little better and what was behind it. The inequality between rich and poor sometimes is more than apparent so I wanted to give both sides the benefit of the doubt before making judgement or opinions.
Some of what I have read has suggested that the area of Bajo Aguan is a very high conflict area and has been for quite a few years. Landowners and sharecroppers are at each other's necks and have been for years.
Over the past few months share croppers have decided to invade private owned lands that are production areas for African palm oil. Their reason is that they think that the land should belong to them instead of to the owners. This in spite of the fact that over three thousand Hondurans depend on employment at these production sites.
In the latest conflict six deaths have occurred. The share croppers are demanding over 20,000 hectacres of land be GIVEN to them free of charge.
The private owners of this land are Miguel Facusse and two other owners. This land was bought by Facusse and the other business owners in the 90's from this same group of share croppers. The land had already been ceded to them by the government once, free of charge...and three years later they SOLD it to him.
Pepe Lobo has offered the sharecroppers that he will give them 6,000 hectacres to be divided up among 3000 sharecroppers which adds up to 2 hectacres per sharecropper for free..how nice the government give someone something for being a violent terrorist...yet these people have the nerve to reject the offer and still insist on their way....
My opinion is they sold the land for the price they wanted...no one forced them to sell. When they sold they have no right to go back and complain about the sell and demand the property back, especially after the property has been heavily invested into by the owner.
If you invade someone's house you are a criminal and a burgler...why should the owner of the house be forced to give you his house just because you decide it is unfair he has a house and you do not. A person does not get something by stealing it...you should work for it. I understand they are poor and the government should extend to them low interest loans to buy property that is low cost and in control of the state. That should never be permission to accept invasions to private land though regardless of how much land the person owns.
The government is not going to avoid conflict by giving in. What they will have to do to put a stop to these types of armed conflicts is when someone invades someone's property send the military or the police and arrest them...put them in jail like the criminals they are. You do not negotiate with terrorists, you do not negotiate with burglers you put them in jail.
These types of things do not happen in the first world because the first world would never put up with a thief or burgler invading someone's private home and saying that they demand it be given to them. The burgler would be arrested by the police and prosecuted in a court for the theft.
Pepe should call their bluff on this one and send in the military. I do not believe he has the guts to do it, but if he did I would think it perfectly acceptable....after all these 'campesinos' already sold the property and a few of them aren't old enough to actually be making any claims to this property. One of the invaders was only 22 years old...how was he old enough to make claim in the 90's....I highly doubt he even knows the first thing about farming or caring for property. In order to take claim they should have to reimburse the government for the cost of the land and they should have to submit documentation that they are a agricultural engineer...if not no land..period....you don't give land that is agricultural to someone who hasn't the foggiest notion how to run that land and you don't give it to them for free. I suspect in another 5 years they will be selling their land again and we will be facing another invasion...one day the government will wake up and get tired of this game.