Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chorti seize Copan (Again)

Members of the Consejo Nacional Indigena Maya Chorti (CONIMCH), a Maya speaking indigenous group, have seized the archaeological park of Copan to protest a planned police action to remove them from lands they claim in the small town of Nueva Estanzuela.

Their claim is to 350 manzanas (about 245 hectares, or 604 acres) where, in May of this year, they asked the government yet again to give them title. INA has done nothing, according to them, and today they understood there was a police operation planned to remove them from the land; a court order obtained by the land owners.

CONIMCH leaders blame CĂ©sar Ham, INA's boss, for being totally focussed on the problems in the Bajo Aguan and ignoring the rest of the country.

The Chorti have used the strategy of taking over the park repeatedly since 2005 in order to get the Honduran government's attention.

A US Embassy cable from 2008 notes that the Chorti in Nueva Estanzuela (then about 10 families with 52 individuals) were invited by the government to take over a property of about 3.75 hectares there in 1991, and then the owner declined to sell it to them. The land was then sold to a new owner who wanted the Chorti evicted. And so it continues leading to the takeover yesterday of the archaeological park.

Ambassador Ford concluded in 2008:
As the descendants of the Maya who built Copan, the Chortis have been smart to play on this link and lend legitimacy to their takeovers of the archaeological site. Each time the site is taken over, the area suffers financial hardship, and the reputation of Honduras is tarnished, so the Government of Honduras knows it has to work with this group to keep them happy.....We can expect to see more Chorti protests in the future.

CONIMCH expected more supporters from Ocotepeque to arrive later today to reinforce their indefinite takeover of the archaeological park.

No comments: