The hidden connection between a US steel company and the controversial Los Pinares mine in Honduras

Jennifer Avila y Danielle Mackey | Univision

An environmental conflict marked by violence is raging in Guapinol, Honduras, where local inhabitants resist an iron oxide mine in a national park. 

GUAPINOLDiscreetly and without public announcement, the largest steel producer in the United States, the Nucor Corporation, spent at least four years associated with an iron mine in Honduras under fire for its presumed persecution of social leaders who are protesting the ecological damage the mine may cause in protected land, according to documents obtained through a cross-border journalism collaboration between Contracorriente, the Centro Latinoamericano de Investigación Periodística (CLIP) and the Univision Investigative Unit.

Nucor, a publicly traded company coddled by President Donald Trump, partnered in 2015 with the prominent Honduran businessman Lenir Pérez and his wife Ana Isabel Facussé, owners of Inversiones Los Pinares -- a company that is waging battle against the residents of a town called Guapinol, who oppose the company's planned mine in the Carlos Escaleras National Park, in the northern part of this Central American nation. The conflict has left a wake of people dead, injured and imprisoned.

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ATM Statement on illegal entry of fuel trucks in Nueva Vizcaya



Nov. 26. 2020

Quezon City - Alyansa Tigil Mina strongly condemns the illegal forceful entry today of five fuel trucks by Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI) in Brgy.  Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya.

This is an illegal act by the mining company, as it’s mining contract has expired more than a year ago, and it does not have any permit to operate from the local governments.  

Our alliance also denounce the alleged order of DILG Sec. Ano instructing the PNP to escort the illegal entry of the fuel trucks. About 30 elements of the PNP from Nueva Vizcaya accompanied 50 security guards of the mining company to deliver the fuel.  Local barangay officials and environmental groups from the area tried to prevent the illegal entry, but the police allegedly threatened protestors they will be arrested.

We are deeply frustrated that the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of DENR has failed to implement the closure and decommissioning protocols for the Didipio mines, in light of the expiration of OGPI’s Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA).   We hold the DENR and the MGB as accountable for the continued destruction of the forests and livelihoods of affected communities in Nueva Vizcaya, especially in light of the floods and landslides brought by the recent typhoons.

This illegal entry of fuel to the mines add insult to injury, as OGPI prevented the provincial government from opening an alternate road in Kasibu town, after the main road was made impassable, because of the overflow of the mine tailings pond.  

We demand that DILG Sec. Ano immediately revoke any order to the PNP to escort fuel deliveries to the Didipio mines.  The DILG and the PNP should not be used nor be part of this illegal activity of OGPI.

We demand that the DENR immediately disclose the Final Mine Rehabilitation and Decommissioning Plan (FMRDP) of the Didipio mining project, so the LGUs and affected communities are properly informed about these protocols.

We remind President Duterte that he himself recognized that the deforestation in the mountains of Sierra Madre is the main cause of the devastating floods in Isabela and Cagayan.  Pres. Duterte must instruct the DILG and the DENR to immediately stop the illegal activities in Nueva Vizcaya.  #

Oceanagold violates restraining order from N. Vizcaya government

Aarons Macaraeg | Bulalat

MANILA– Local environmental group Kalikasan- People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) lambasted on Thursday the illegal shipment of fuel for the continuing operation of Oceanagold mining company.

The fuel tankers were escorted reportedly by about 100 elements of the Kasibu Municipal Police. This was the second time it happened after the violent dispersal of barangay Didipio’s people’s barricade on April 6, 2020.

Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, said that the mining operation of Oceanagold was reported to have contributed to the massive flooding in Cagayan Valley early this month after the onslaught of #TyphoonUlysses.

The heavy rainfall caused the toxic dam tailings to overflow, submerging the communities downstream.

The Oceanagold’s trespass was a direct violation of the restraining order issued by the provincial government of Nueva Vizcaya after its continued operation in July 2019 without permit. The Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) of the mining company expired in June 2019.

“We demand for an immediate watershed audit that will investigate and penalize these extractive and destructive projects that worsened the massive floods that came with the series of typhoons leading to ‘Ulysses.’ The government agencies that have played a role in maintaining the business as usual operations of these mines must likewise be probed and held to account,” said Dulce.

A group of scientists from Agham conducted an environmental investigation mission in 2014 in the mining community and found damages to forests, and air and water pollution linked to Oceanagold.

Anti-mining community, Gina Lopez awarded as heroes for the environment

Aaron Macaraeg  Bulatlat

gawad bayani 649x365The Philippines ranked second in the 2019 Global Witness report for being the deadliest for environmental defenders with. In 2018, the country topped the list with 30 defenders killed. In the same report, mining was cited as the “deadliest” sector.

Last week, September 28, the Center for Environment Concerns – Philippines (CEC) recognized the valiant environment defenders who put their lives on the line against large-scale mining.

The United Organization of Didipio Residents was one of the organizations recognized in the sixth Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan for the successful barricade against Australian-Canadian mining company Oceanagold, which continued to operate despite its expired permit.

The organization, tied up with multiple environment organizations, LGU, provincial government, and religious sectors, lobbied for the permanent suspension of operation of Oceanagold, citing both environmental and human rights atrocities. It was in October last year that the company suspended its operation in Nueva Vizcaya but it still has pending application to renew its financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA).

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How Honduras became one of the most dangerous countries to defend natural resources

Nina Lakhani

The Guardian


The Guapinol community, on the country’s north coast, has become militarized in an effort to defend the river that supplies it. Gabriela Sorto has not seen or spoken to her father in six months, since the Honduran government’s draconian Covid-19 measures banned most travel and prison visits.

Porfirio Sorto Cedillo, a 48-year-old builder and farm worker, is one of eight protesters held in pre-trial detention since 2019 for alleged crimes linked to their opposition to an iron oxide mine which threatens to contaminate their water supply. Five more water defenders from Guapinol, a small low-income community on the country’s north coast, could also soon be sent to jail.

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.

In response to criminal complaints filed by the company Inversiones Los Pinares, 32 people, including one man who died three years before the alleged incidents, have been charged with multiple offences and the community’s grassroots group falsely accused of ties to organized crime.

The community has been militarized, and its leaders subjected to threats, harassment and smear campaigns. Several residents fled, seeking asylum in the US to escape criminal persecution, in a case widely condemned by lawyers, rights groups and US and European lawmakers.

“My dad has been jailed for defending a river which gives our community life, for trying to stop the exploitation of natural resources by rich companies who the government helps to terrorize us,” said Sorto, 28. “Every day that passes we know less about him. He’s weak, he’s had Covid symptoms, we worry about his health and safety in the prison.”

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Sakharov Prize 2020: the nominees



The Parliament awards the Sakharov Prize every year to honour exceptional individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. In 2019 the prize was awarded to Ilham Tohti, an Uyghur economist fighting for the rights of China’s Uyghur minority. Nominations for the Sakharov Prize can be made by political groups and/or groups of at least 40 MEPs.

The democratic opposition in Belarus, is represented by the Coordination Council, initiative of brave women - main opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya; Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich; musician and political activist Maryia Kalesnikava; and political activists Volha Kavalkova and Veranika Tsapkala - as well as and political and civil society figures - video blogger and political prisoner Siarhei Tsikhanouski; Ales Bialiatski, founder of the Belarusian human rights organisation Viasna; Siarhei Dyleuski; Stsiapan Putsila, founder of the Telegram channel NEXTA; and Mikola Statkevich, political prisoner and presidential candidate at the 2010 election.




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