Photo by Giulia Vuillermoz / Trócaire.

Honduran environmental rights defender Juana Ramona Zuñiga will be speaking on the PBI ‘COP26 and land defenders’ webinar on November 6.

To register to hear her speak, click here.

Juana is a member of the Comité Municipal de Defensa de los Bienes Comunes y Públicos (Committee for the Defence of Common and Public Assets – CMDBCP). She lives in the village of Guapinol in the municipality of Tocoa in the department of Colón.

Her husband José Abelino Cedillo is currently in prison with seven other defenders for their role in peacefully defending the Guapinol and San Pedro rivers from contamination by the Inversiones Los Pinares iron oxide mine.

The Guardian reports: “The massive open pit mine, owned by one of the country’s most powerful couples, was sanctioned without community consultation inside a protected national park in a process mired by irregularities, according to international experts.”

It adds: “In March 2018, shortly after the company started widening a road within the national park, the tap water in Guapinol turned chocolate brown and thick with muddy sediment.”

Juana says: “They ruined our river … We couldn’t use water for anything, that’s why we organized, that’s our struggle.”

Her husband has been held in illegal pretrial detention in the prison in Olanchito since September 1, 2019, and she experiences harassment by the police.

The National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Honduras has noted that on two occasions last month the Honduran National Police went to Juana’s house and told her that they had an order from the National Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights to pass through her house as a security measure for her.

But Juana had not asked for protection and the National Mechanism denied that it had given such an order to the National Police.

The imprisonment of her husband José has also meant Juana has the responsibility for raising their three children in challenging circumstances.

Juana says: “My 7-year-old daughter when she sees a military patrol hides and cries, because she thinks that now they are coming for me to take me prisoner.”

PBI webinar, November 6

The struggle to defend the Guapinol River is about the collective rights of communities and natural resources over a corporate extractivist agenda that harms the environment.

Peace Brigades International will be holding a webinar on COP26 and land defenders that will take place on Saturday November 6 at 1 pm EST (Ontario/Quebec) and 1900 CEST (European time) with simultaneous translation in English and Spanish.

It will feature Juana along with land and environmental rights defenders from Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Mexico.

To register for this webinar, please click here.