On January 20, Peace Brigades International (PBI) - Honduras observed the Municipal Summit for Water and Life that was organized by community activists with the "Municipal Committee in Defence of Common and Public Goods in Tocoa" in northern Honduras.
The Municipal Committee is working to stop six mines that have been approved in the area and that are situated near the headwaters rivers and streams the community relies on for drinking water. One of those mines is operated by the mining company Inversiones los Pinares.
The Municipal Committee says, "These projects will destroy the rivers that give life to the municipality and without the rivers, nobody will live happily."
The Municipal Summit for Water and Life this past Sunday consisted of more than 2,000 people from 24 communities.
They want to have the municipality of Tocoa declared free of mining.
Following the summit, Tiempo reported (in Spanish), "In the next few days the representatives of the Municipal Committee will demand from the authorities of the mayor's office that a Cabildo Abierto (town meeting) be held immediately."
The mayor and 10 city councillors were invited to the summit, but only one independent alderman attended the popular gathering.
Tiempo adds, "The summit on Sunday also condemned the militarization of the area and the establishment of five checkpoints."
In August 2018, community members in the area established the "Guapinol Camp in Defence of Water and Life" on the path of the Inversiones los Pinares mine.
That camp raised concerns about the impact the mine was having on nearby rivers that serve as the major source of drinking water for the region.
In October 2018, Radio Progreso reported that the company has caused severe damage to the Guapinol River, the main source of water in the zone.
It quotes a resident of Guapinol who says she must now buy water because her running water has been replaced by pure mud and that she could never have imagined having to buy water to wash clothes.
In November 2018, Peoples Dispatch reported, "During the 90 days that the Tocoa communities sustained the camp, the state, instead of addressing their concerns, sent its repressive apparatus to silence their protest."
That article also notes, "The camp faced threats from both the security forces and the private armed guards of the mining company."
And it highlights, "On October 27, their camp was violently attacked by 1,500 police and military personnel with live bullets and tear gas."
That attack resulted in the death of a community member and dozens injured.
The Municipal Committee has previously stated, "The people will not give up in the fight; for us the defence of water, human dignity and territorial sovereignty is a matter of life or death."
The Municipal Summit for Water and Life this past weekend represents their ongoing commitment to defend their rivers and communities from mining.
Brent Patterson is a political activist and writer.
Facebook photo by Peace Brigades International - Honduras.
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