Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tentative agreement reached in Bajo Aguan

Late today Honduran news media began reporting that an agreement has been reached between MUCA and the government of Porfirio Lobo Sosa.

El Tiempo's coverage says that Lobo Sosa and the leaders of MUCA signed an agreement after a marathon 14 hour negotiating session. It describes MUCA as accepting the government offer. But the conditions are markedly different than the offer the government was making yesterday.

The proposal "the slow adjudication of some 11,000 hectares of land for the 28 campesino groups". That comes out to a little more than 3 hectares per family. Of this, 3,000 hectares are to be planted in African palm, and another 3,000 not cultivated.

Within a year of signing, an additional 1,000 hectares of African palm land, and an additional 4,000 hectares of uncultivated land, are to be added.

The first step is to be the designation by the government of the first 3,000 hectares in African palm, followed by MUCA leaving the rest of the occupied land. Within three months, the first allotment of 3,000 hectares of uncultivated land is to be made.

The agreement still needs to be ratified by the membership of MUCA, something scheduled for Saturday in Trujillo, the largest city near the Bajo Aguan.

While Tiempo limits itself to covering the main points of the agreement without editorializing, La Tribuna titles its article "Agreement will bring peace to the Aguan". This is taken from comments made by Lobo Sosa, after an event with US Ambassador Hugo Llorens.

An AP story by Freddy Cuevas appears to be the first English-language reporting on the tentative agreement. He adds one important detail:

The workers are demanding that the troops withdraw, but the government has made no decision on that.

Meanwhile, early Spanish-language coverage suggests the agreement be viewed as a success by the campesinos. Writing on of Spain, Daniel Lozano reports that "Honduras yields before the pressure of the rebel countryside". Not only does Lozano count the land grant as a success, he says that Lobo Sosa agreed to redeploy the troops sent to the region, deployment Lobo Sosa has tried to portray as unrelated to the Aguan negotiations. And he is much more explicit about the agreement being subject to ratification, quoting MUCA representative Rudy Hernández:
"We recognize that more land has been granted to us, but we are going to the membership to deliver them this agreement".
The complete agreement can be downloaded as a PDF embedded in the story published by Honduras La Prensa. We will be posting an English translation within 24 hours.

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