Senator Patrick Leahy On The Presentation Of The Letelier-Moffitt International Human Rights Award To The Municipal Committee For The Defense Of Nature And Public Resources

I congratulate the Municipal Committee for the Defense of Nature and Public Resources (Comité Municipal en Defensa de Bienes Comunes y Naturales de Tocoa) on receiving the 43rd annual Letelier-Moffitt International Human Rights Award, presented today in Guapinol, Tocoa, Honduras.

The Committee and its members, integrated by community organizations in different sectors of the municipality, have worked to defend the Guapinol River through repeated calls to Honduran authorities to respect the law and hold a binding consultation with the municipality.

When those calls were ignored, you exercised your right to peacefully protest, for which you were forcibly evicted by members of the military and police who responded with violence. 

As a result of your opposition to the two mining concessions granted to the Los Pinares company, located in protected areas and the water sources of the Mountain Botaderos Carlos Escaleras National Park, you have been criminalized, like many Honduran environmental defenders who have been harassed, threatened, and assassinated.  Seven of your members are imprisoned.  

In defending your families and the environment, you have risked your lives and your liberty.  Your efforts are recognized in Honduras and in the United States.  I hope this award focuses international attention on your efforts and helps to bring justice for your people.

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