Rights of ethnic and national minorities.
Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH)
Margarita Pineda is a Honduran activist from the Lenca community. She is from Marcala but lives in San José, both in the department of La Paz.
Her involvement in social movements started in the 80s, after the coup d’état against Manual Zelaya’s government in 2009 and the irregular handing of rivers and land from their territory to mining companies and hydroelectric projects. In answer to this the Movimiento Indígena Lenca Independiente de La Paz (MILPAH) was born. Pineda took part of the foundation of this organisation of which she is currently the secretary.
Since MILPAH started, the activist has reported the lack of previous, free and informed consultations in relation to the projects that will have an impact on their territory as it is established by the Convention No. 169 from the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
For three and a half years Pineda has been a member of the Comisión Ciudadana de Transparencia in the municipality of San José. Her participation in this institution ended last March and she is now a member of the Women’s Committee in the Red Sociedad Civil (RSC) a local space for the coordination of the various community actors.
> The Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH), a key organisation that fights for the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples, will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year.
The COPINH raised consciousness about the rights of indigenous people. It started a really strong movement, led by Berta Cáceres and for many other people that followed her during the many years of struggle.
We defend the territory and common lands under the 169 ILO Convention. It’s an unequal fight, currently the three arms of government are taken by a dictatorship, violating all the peoples’ rights. We have gone back to the 1980s.
> Which are the main challenges that Human Rights defenders face in your territory?
Mainly threats, discrimination and fear of dying like Berta. We are unprotected and criminalised, excluded from social projects. As women, we also face the consequences of a system that is patriarchal in all its areas (political, social, economic and cultural).
> The UN special rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights defenders visited Honduras in spring.
Yes, Michel Frost was here in La Paz with us. He could sense our reality and the impact of the actions of this de facto government on indigenous communities impoverished by neoliberal measures, ungovernability and the criminalisation of social protesting. He learnt about deaths by the military police, feminicides, missing persons and people imprisoned and indicted… or murdered, for defending the land.
> What is the role of Europe to ensure the respect of Human Rights in Honduras?
The UE plays a double role. On the one hand, they provide economic funds for the defence of Human Rights, on the other hand, it is an economic source for the enterprises that extract resources.
> You have been a member of the Comisión Ciudadana de Transparencia in the municipality of San José.
I have been the secretary of the CCT for three and a half years. This entity is made up of five persons and supervises the management of public funds and community projects. For the time I was a member I participated in the development of the local budget, took part of briefings, worked on accountability reports and presented recommendations and comments, on a case-by-case basis.