Thursday, September 27, 2012

Honduran human rights lawyer murdered hours after declaring charter cities unconstitutional

via Huffington Post:

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — A prominent Honduran human rights lawyer gunned down after a weekend wedding had long complained about death threats, including in documents filed last year seeking protection from a powerful billionaire landowner.

Antonio Trejo Cabrera, 41, who died early Sunday after being ambushed by gunmen, was a lawyer for three peasant cooperatives in the Bajo Aguan, a fertile farming area plagued by violent conflicts between agrarian organizations and land owners. The most prominent is Dinant Corporation owned by Miguel Facusse, one of Honduras' richest men. Thousands of once-landless workers hold about 12,000 acres (5,000 hectares) of plantations they seized from Dinant.

Trejo, who was shot six times after attending a wedding, reported threats in June 2011, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press, including photocopies of a BlackBerry message he received saying: "Trejo, you dog, you have 48 hours to get out or you're dead."...Before his death, Trejo had publicly said that if he were killed, Facusse would be responsible...Honduras, considered to be one of the world's most dangerous countries, is plagued by assassinations of journalists, lawyers and public officials, very few of which are ever prosecuted...More than 60 people, most of them farmers, some of them Facusse employees, have been killed over the past three years in the conflict over the Bajo Aguan Valley, according to activists, police and Facusse's company...Trejo had also helped prepare motions declaring unconstitutional a proposal by the Honduran government and a U.S. company, MGK Group, to build three privately run cities with their own police, laws and tax systems.

Just hours before his murder, Trejo had participated in a televised debate in which he accused congressional leaders of using the private city projects to raise campaign funds.

Also related, via Honduras News:

Honduras signed a deal for an initial investment of 15 million dollars to create the first “Private City” in the country. (Also referred to as “Free Cities”, “Charter Cities”, “Model Cities”, or in Spanish, “RED – Regiones Especiales de Desarollo”, and “Ciudades Modelo”.) The city will be built in Trujillo, in the Department of Colón, where it does not have the full support of the Garifuna people, as they fear that the loss of their land may be on the agenda.

Carlos Pineda, the president of Coalinza, stated that this was not just an agreement, but the most important project for the development of the country in 50 years...Michael Strong, an executive with the MKG Group that was granted this project, stated that the objective is to create a secure and prosperous community for Hondurans....The new Model Cities will have their own police force, and will enlist a highly-reputable policing authority to train police officers and hold the police leadership accountable for fair and effective policing. In addition, there will be an audit committee that is overseen by a Transparency Commission, which is an independent body, with the power to gather and evaluate such information and statistics on crime rate, and the efficiency in handling of crimes by the legal system, as well as police misconduct.

Honduran President Porfirio Lobo appointed the initial members of the Transparency Commission:

George Akerlof - Professor of Economics at the University of California at Berkeley, Senior Resident Scholar at the International Monetary Fund, and Nobel Prize Winner
Harry Strachan - Former President of INCAE Business School, Director Emeritus at Bain & Co., and Managing Partner at Mesoamerica Partners and Foundation in Cost Rica
Ong Boon Hwee - Former Chief Operating Officer of Singapore Power and Former Brigadier General in the Singapore Armed Forces
Nancy Birdsall - President and Co-Founder of the Center for Global Development , former Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and former Executive Vice President at the Inter-American Development Bank
Paul Romer (Commission Chair) – Professor of Economics at the New York University Stern School of Business

The Cryptogon domain owner dug up a bio about Smart, a libertarian entrepreneur, from Smart's own website:

In order to create an educational system capable of improving the happiness and well-being of humanity, we need to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, government involvement in education at all levels, as well as government restrictions on the free pursuit of whatever occupation one desires. Government financing and regulation of education at all levels prevents the emergence of the more authentic, humane, and effective forms of education that we need. Thus around the world we need to move towards a principled separation of school and state, occupation and state, and research and state.

More information is provided via Climate Connections:

The Afro-indigenous struggle for land against charter cities and mega-tourism

On August 27, the Garífuna human rights organization Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras, OFRANEH and their allies around the world launched the Land Recovery Campaign in the village of Vallecito which, with 2,500 acres, is the largest single landholding of the Garífuna people. There, they are occupying land that has been taken from them to build mega-tourism projects and an autonomous Charter City that is slated for development on the legal and ancestral Garifuna territory. The peaceful occupiers have faced constant intimidation from paramilitary groups, most likely hired by local developers...