Christopher Castillo, General Coordinator of ARCAH, is leading the movement in Honduras against so-called Zones for Employment and Economic Development (ZEDEs). These zones, which operate as independent territories, not subject to Honduran law, threaten to envelop vast swathes of Honduras; up to 35 percent of the country could be made into such zones. With that development would come the displacement of multitudes of people, many of whom are Afro-descendant and Indigenous and have ancestral right to the land they inhabit. By leading the struggle against these zones, which are backed by some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful men, Christopher and fellow members of ARCAH have come under attack.

In May 2023, PBI arranged meetings for Cristopher, with State Department officials, congressional aides, and the IACHR. In July, PBI arranged a meeting between Christopher, his lawyers, and the IACHR so that Christopher could explain the attacks he and other members of ARCAH were facing and request protective orders. The IACHR granted protective measures to Christopher and 10 other members of ARCAH.

During his October 2023 speaking tour to DC, Christopher met, through PBI, with Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and, after PBI sent follow up information, she issued a tweet urging the Honduran government to guarantee his safety.


Another defender we assisted on the same speaking tour was Mariana Azucena Villarreal Frías, director of the Network in Defence of Indigenous Territory in the Sierra Tarahumara (REDETI), in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. She is working against the forced displacement of Indigenous communities by criminal networks. More specifically, when speaking about the situation of Indigenous peoples in the mountainous Sierra Tarahumara region in the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico, Mariana shares of the Mexican government granting gold and silver mining concessions to companies without consultation, the ongoing environmental implications of the TC Energy Encino-Topolobampo gas pipeline, and illegal logging, while experiencing forced displacement and the violence of organized crime. Mariana uplofts the importance of laws that would uphold the Indigenous right to free, prior and informed consent, recognize title to ancestral territory, as well as address forced internal displacement and support those who have been displaced.

In October 2023, PBI facilitated over a dozen congressional meetings, as well as meetings with the IACHR, State Department, and USAID. One congressional office, at Mariana’s suggestion, sent a tweet on the fifth anniversary of the killing of Raramuri Indigenous defender Julian Carrillo in Mexico. Pictured U.S.-based PBI Advocacy Director, Pat Davis, and Mariana in front of the U.S. Capitol on the 5th anniversary of Julian’s killing commemorating his memory. Click here for more background and to read about the legal proceedings connected to the convictions of the perpetrators in Julian's killing  

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