He is a member of the Municipal Committee for the Defense of Common and Public Goods of Tocoa (CMDBCP), of which there are 8 members, defending water and the environment against mining. Domínguez was born and raised in the community of Guapinol, which has rebelled against the concession of an iron oxide mine in the National Park “Montaña de Botaderos Carlos Escaleras. “This extractivist project has come to take away our peace,” he says.
Since 1987 he has been involved in the struggle for the defense of the territory. He began to do social work with indigenous people and farmers, especially in Guapinol. When he began to see that the water of the rivers in the area began to be in danger, his activism increased: “Water is like the mother that feeds us. When it is saturated, it is as if they were touching our mother”.
In 2018, the life of Domínguez and the inhabitants of Guapinol took an unexpected turn: the company Inversiones Los Pinares started to build a road to access the Botaderos mountain. As a result of the works, the water from the Guapinol river silted up and the community was unable to use it for 7 months. The water was mud.
Domínguez is the president of the Junta de l’Aigua de Guapinol and part of the Comitè Municipal per a la Defensa dels Béns Comuns i Públics (CMDBCP). For 34 years he has been promoting community development projects through which small local businesses have been created: “that is why it is so bad that the government, which has not done anything for community development in the region, comes with this project and “bothers us in this way. It is good that the government does not “donate” to us, but at least, it should not treat the Peace and it should not take away an elementary right such as water”.
What would happen if the mine began to operate?
If the project starts, we should go. It would happen as with the San Martín mine in the Valle de Siria region, for example, which operated between 2000 and 2009 and produced high levels of cyanide, arsenic and mercury affecting neighbouring communities. The project will also affect the river that passes through the community, which has been silted up for seven months and will contaminate the water.
In fact there are already 6 applications from companies operating in the protected area that could destroy the municipality and contaminate the 35 water sources that come from the park. We live in fear every day looking from afar at the construction site.
When did the repression begin?
In August 2018, we started to block the road that was being built and that caused the sedimentation of the water. We set up the “Guapinol camp” to peacefully protest against the mining concession and exploitation of the core zone of the protected area where the water sources on which our survival depends. We were there for two months and were evicted.
Charges were filed against eight activists who have been in custody since September 2019 and who are members of the CMDBCP. But the Honduran penal code does not foresee preventive detention for the crimes of which the eight members are accused and therefore we denounce that there has been a “clear violation of due process”.
The fight is criminalizing the population. We already have 32 inhabitants accused of 8 crimes, among them, illicit association, for opposing the installation of the company. We still have 8 defenders imprisoned.
How to put an end to the collusion between the company and the government?
It is one of the most evident things and the most difficult to eradicate. I would like to unite all the struggles against mining in our territory to put an end to the extractivism in our communities and to the one that has been installed in the same governmental bodies.
On International Groundwater Day we held a peaceful demonstration in front of the installations of Inversiones Los Pinares demanding that the State protect the water sources.
What are your demands?
We demand our right to clean water, the end of mining and the release of the detained defenders who have been in custody for more than fifteen months.
Guapinol is a community with an extraordinary development thanks to the community itself. I don’t want to be displaced from here, that’s why we live here. Here we are happy. Workers, producers of our own food. The struggle goes beyond the defense of life, it is about leaving our children and our children an environment where they can be happy and a healthy environment.