The Bajo Aguán's facing high rates of expansion of oil palm plantations.
One of the biggest players in the region in Miguel Facussé, owner of Dinant Corporation, that manages 8,900 ha of oil palm plantations. Oil palm expansion has caused an escalating conflict between big landowners and small farmers who’s lands are being illegally occupied to make way for oil palm and are struggling to get their lands back.
The conflict has intensified after the coup d’état in 2009. This conflict dates back to the 1960s and 1970s, the Honduran government developed agrarian reform laws, giving land in the Aguán region to thousands of subsistence farmers. In 1992 the Law for Land Modernization was passed, undermining farmers’ rights. In the two years following passage of the 1992 law, three large landowners –among them Facussé- “used a combination of fraud, coercion and violence to consolidate ownership of 73.4 percent of the land transferred under the prior agrarian reform,” says Lauren Carasik, a human rights expert writing for Al Jazeera.
The main strategies from the peasants organizations are the resistence to the evictions in their land and occupancy of territorires adquired by Dinant and that has increased the violence until now. Between 2009 and 2014, more than 60 persons linked to the peasant organizations of the Bajo Aguán, plus a journalist, have been murdered. According to Human Rights Watch, the majority of the murders are caracterize by a lack of investigation and impunity.
In addition, the region has become a key place for drug traffic, which adds a strong element of complexity to the problem.