Reynaldo Domínguez

Honduras

Defence of the environment
Comité Municipal de Defensa de los Bienes Comunes y Públicos de Tocoa (CMDBCP)

Reynaldo is part of the Municipal Committee for the Defence of the Common and Public Assets of Tocoa (the CMDBCP), of which 8 members have been imprisoned for having defended water rights and the environment, against mining activities. Domínguez was born and raised in the community of Guapinol, which has rebelled against the concession of an iron oxide mine in the Montaña de Botaderos Carlos Escaleras National Park. “This extraction project has come to take away our peace.” She says.

She has been involved in the fight to defend the region since 1987. She became involved in social work with natives and peasants, especially in Guapinol. When she began to see that the water of the rivers in the area were endangered, her activism took a step forward “Water is like the mother who feeds us. When they pollute it, it’s as if they were abusing our mother”.

In 2018, the lives of Domínguez and the inhabitants of Guapinol took an unexpected turn: the company Inversiones Los Pinares began building a road to access the mountain of Botaderos. As a result of this project, the water in the Guapinol River filled with sediment and the community was unable to use it for 7 months. The water had turned into mud.

Domínguez is the chairman of the Guapinol Water Board and is a member of the Municipal Committee for the Defense of the Common and Public Assets (CMDBCP). For 34 years she has been promoting community development projects through which small local businesses have been created: “that’s why it hurts us so much that the government, which has done nothing for regional community development, comes to us with this project and abuses us in this manner. It is good that the government does not give us anything but the least it could do would be not to take away our peace and not take away a basic right such as water”.

» Interview

> What would happen if the mine began to operate?

If the project began we’d have to leave. It would be the same as with the San Martin mine, in the Siria Valley region, for example, which operated from 2000 to 2009 and produced high levels of cyanide, arsenic and mercury that affected neighbouring communities. The project will also affect the river that passes through the community, which was already filled with sediment for seven months, and the water would be polluted.

There are already 6 applications from companies operating in the protected area that could destroy the municipality and contaminate the 35 water sources that flow into the park. We live in fear, watching the work under construction from afar every day.

> When did the repression begin?

In August 2018 decided to block the road that was being built, and which was causing water sedimentation. We set up the Guapinol Camp to peacefully protest against the concession and the mining of the core zone of the protected area, the location of the water sources on which our survival depends. We were there for two months before we were evicted.

Charges were then filed against eight activists, these are CMDBCP members who have been in pre-trial detention since September 2019. Yet the Honduran penal code does not legislate for pre-trial detention for the crimes our eight colleagues have been accused of. We have therefore officially complained about this “clear violation of due process” that has taken place. The struggle is causing the authorities to criminalize the population. We already have 32 inhabitants who are accused of 8 crimes, among which, is illegal association, due to their opposition to the construction of the mine. There are still 8 defenders in prison.

> How can the between business and government be brought to a halt?

This is one of the most obvious things and one of the most difficult to eradicate. I would like all the movements against mining in our territory to come together to end extraction activities in our communities and to do away with what has been constructed at the request of the government. We held a peaceful rally on International Mother Earth Day in front of the Inversiones Los Pinares plant demanding that the state protect the water sources.

> What are your demands?

We demand that our right to clean water be respected, the end of the mining and the freedom of the detained defenders who are still in preventative detention after fifteen months.

Guapinol is a community with extraordinary development thanks to the community itself. I don’t want to be moved from here, that’s why we are fighting. We are happy here we are workers, and the producers of our own food. The struggle goes beyond the defence of life, it is about leaving our children and grandchildren a place where they can be happy, and a healthy environment.