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Garifuna resistance in Vallecito against land grabbing for palm oil plantations and drug trade, Honduras


The indigenous Garifuna communities living on the northeastern coasts of Honduras are threatened by eviction, displacement, intimidation and criminal violence due to the high rates of expansion of oil palm plantations. Violence is scaling up in the region as numerous gangs associated to organized crime serve the economic interests of palm oil businessmen and drug smugglers. Vallecito has recently turned into a main target for palm oil and drug trade interests, directly affecting the Garifuna communities living there, that are now struggling for their land and the survival of their people.

The conflict dates back to the agrarian reform laws in 1970s, but has deepened along with the certification process started in the early 90s, along with the agrarian counter-reform promoted by the neoliberal government of Rafael Callejas, and has eventually intensified after the coup d’état in 2009.

One of the biggest players in the region is Miguel Facussé – owner of Dinant Corporation, formerly engaged in a conflict with the peasants of the Bajo Aguán valley – accused of having fraudulently taken control over about 15 km of the ancestral lands between Limón and Vallecito, belonging to the Garifuna community of Limón, within the Colón department. Today his African palm plantations completely surrounds Vallecito.

Moreover, since 2005 people associated with organized crime have intensified their presence, imposing a reign of terror in the corridor of Limón - Punta Piedras, trying to force Garifuna communities located in Vallecito to leave their land. They took control over Vallecito territory, building a clandestine airstrip for drug smuggling that had been used for years, without any governmental intervention.

The increasing level of conflict has brought, on July 2014, to the capture and kidnapping of several members of the Garífuna community – including human rights defender and OFRANEH president Miriam Miranda – by heavily-armed men in Vallecito. During a previous visit to the area, they discovered that the illegal runway used by the narcos, which had been destroyed by the army in January 2014, was being rebuilt.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Garifuna resistance in Vallecito against land grabbing for palm oil plantations and drug trade, Honduras
State or province:Colón
Location of conflict:Limón
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Palm oil

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Project area:980
Level of Investment for the conflictive project100,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:hundreds
Start of the conflict:1997
Company names or state enterprises:Dinant Corporation from Honduras
Relevant government actors:Instituto Nacional Agrario INA
International and Finance InstitutionsCorporación Interamericana para el Financiamiento de la Infraestructura (CIFI)
Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE)
Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board (CDM Executive Board)
Corporación financiera Internacional (CFI)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, OFRANEH
Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares y Indigenas de Honduras, COPINH
Agricultural Missions, Inc (AMI)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Street protest/marches
Boycotts of companies-products


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Global warming, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Land demarcation
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Landgrabbing already happened and still happens among the Garifuna communities for allowing palm oil plantations to expand.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Indigenous people's long struggle to defend their rights in the Americas

Deadly Conflict Over Honduran Palm Oil Plantations Spotlights CEO

IFC Response to CAO Audit of Investment in Corporación Dinant

On Those Misguided World Bank Loans

Cocaine: the new face of deforestation in Central America

Pueblo garífuna sigue en resistencia en Vallecito, Colón


El Instituto Nacional Agrario y el saqueo del territorio garífuna

Cocaine from South America to the United States

OFRANEH | La defensa del territorio de Vallecito, Colon

Expanding palm oil empires in the name of ‘green energy’ and 'sustainable development'

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Honduras Estado fallido: Vallecito territorio ancestral garifuna

Garinagu Falla - Vallecito, Tierra, fuego y tambores

Encuentro de Solidaridad por la reivindicación de los Derechos Territoriales del Pueblo Garifuna

Meta information

Contributor:Sara Pinzani, A Sud / CDCA, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1555



African palm plantation in Limón


African palm plantation in Limón


Cocaine trafficking routes in Honduras

Violence is scaling up in Limón municipality, Colón department

Garifuna women at work


National Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) coordinator Miriam Miranda

On July 2014 Miriam Miranda has been kidnapped by heavily-armed men in Vallecito.

INA map

In 1997 the INA granted title deeds on 980 hectares of land in Vallecito to six Garifuna cooperatives (Ruguma, Saway, Saway Sufritiñu, Walumugu, Satuye y Sinduru Free).