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Oil palm plantations in the Bajo Agúan, Honduras


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.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Oil palm plantations in the Bajo Agúan, Honduras
State or province:Colón
Location of conflict:Bajo Agúan
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:Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Palm oil


Project Details and Actors

Project details

Honduras currently produces more than 300,000 metric tons of palm oil, nearly 70 percent for export. The number of hectares has increased dramatically: 40, 000 ha in 90's and 80.000 ha in 2005, nowadays the number exceeds 120, 000 ha.

Mostly located in the northern departments of Colón and Atlantis, and continues to expand with new projects to produce biodiesel (almost 100,000 gallons per day).

Project area:8,900
Level of Investment for the conflictive project100,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:350 000 - 400 000
Start of the conflict:1992
Company names or state enterprises:Dinant Corporation from Honduras
Relevant government actors:Gobierno de Honduras, Ejército Militar, National Agrarian Institute (INA),
International and Finance InstitutionsDeutsche Entwicklungsgesellschaft from Germany
The World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE)
Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board (CDM Executive Board)
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:National Peasants Movement, FIAN Internacional (Organización Internacional por el Derecho a la Alimentación), FIDH (Federación Internacional de Derechos Humanos), Rel-UITA (Regional latinoamericana de la Unión Internacional de los Trabajadores de la Alimentación, Agrícolas, Hoteles, Restaurantes, Tabaco y Afines), Vía Campesina Internacional, Movimiento Campesino del Aguán (MCA), Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán (MUCA), Movimiento Auténtico Reivindicativo Campesino del Aguán (MARCA), Vía Campesina Internacional,Observatorio de Derechos Humanos en el Aguán (ODHA)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Threats to use arms
Arguments for the rights of mother nature


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination
Potential: Desertification/Drought, Global warming, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Deaths, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Other Health impactstortures and psychological impacts to children caused by violence, arsons in schools and murders of their mothers and fathers.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives:Occupancy of lands that - according to the reform agrarian laws- formerly belonged to farmers
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The conflict has increased since the coup d´état in 2009. In Honduras, the politicians still helping the private sector to increase the number of hectares to plant oil palm. The peasants still resisting and implementing strategies of occupancy of land.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR)

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

Honduras: Violaciones de Derechos Humanos en el Bajo Aguán Informe Preliminar de la Misión de Verificación Internacional - Realizada del 25 febrero a 4 marzo de 2011

Human Rights Watch (2014) “There Are No Investigations Here” Impunity for Killings and Other Abuses in Bajo Aguán, Honduras

The Guardian - EU carbon credits scheme tarnished by alleged murders in Honduras

Honduras: Cementerio clandestino en el Bajo Aguán

Biofuel Watch

Human Rights Violations Attributed to Military Forces in the Bajo Aguan Valley in Honduras

Trucchi, G. Honduras: Para que nunca vuelva a ocurrir

Trucchi, G. De nuevo corre la sangre en el Bajo Aguán

Trucchi, G. Bajo Aguán: Movilizados y unidos en defensa del derecho a la tierra


Conflicto agrario en el Bajo Aguán: el caso MUCA

Carbon Market Watch

The Guardian: EU carbon credits scheme tarnished by alleged murders in Honduras

Biofuel Watch: Palm oil in the Aguan Valley, Honduras: CDM, biodiesel and murders

CDM UNFCCC: Project 3197 : Aguan biogas recovery from Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME) ponds and biogas utilisation - Exportadora del Atlántico, Aguan/Honduras

Dinant anuncia que desarmará a vigilantes en el Bajo Aguán

CDM UNFCCC - Project 3197 : Aguan biogas recovery from Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME) ponds and biogas utilisation - Exportadora del Atlántico, Aguan/Honduras

WRM: Honduras: Bajo Aguán – Cry for the Land


Honduras: informe registra 123 muertos y 6 desaparecidos por el conflicto agrario en el Bajo Aguán

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Alba Sud y la Rel-UITA (“Bajo Aguán: Grito por la tierra” (Lower Aguan river valley, the clamor for land)

Tele Sur Tv. Conflicto en el Bajo Aguán daña a la comunidad

Meta information

Contributor:Teresa Perez y Grettel Navas
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1092