Saturday, July 16, 2011

Talking Constitutional Reform: Campesinos and Unions

Porfirio Lobo Sosa held his second dialogue with Hondurans on constitutional reform. This time it was with some campesino organizations(6 groups) and some union confederations(4 groups) and citizen groups (2 groups). The participating organizations were:
Articulación Campesina (AC)
Confederación Nacional Campesina (CNC)
Confederación Hondureña de Mujeres Campesinas (CHMC)
Movimiento Unificado del Aguán (MUCA)
Consejo Coordinador de Organizaciones Campesinas de Honduras (Cococh)
Frente Nacional Campesino (FNC)
Central General de Trabajadores (CGT)
Confederación de Trabajadores de Honduras (CTH)
Confederación Unitaria de Trabajadores de Honduras (CUTH)
Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos de Honduras (Andeph)
Confederación Nacional de Federaciones y Patronatos de Honduras
Consejo Nacional de Pobladores y Patronatos

The main themes brought up by this group were to hold a National Constitutional Assembly and the need for a new agricultural reform law. The law they want reformed is the disastrous reforms put in place by President Rafael Callejas in the early 1990s that among other things, are the root of the land tenure problems in the Bajo Aguan and elsewhere. Cornelio Chirinos of COCOCH said
"the agricultural reform has not been well done; also the Law of Agricultural Modernization is doing much harm to our country and because of this we have an enormous crisis."

The main suggestion was to sanitize the language of decreto 18-2008, which the Supreme Court found unconstitutional, to streamline the process by which campesinos get title to land. In addition to agricultural reform, many of the campesino organizations asked for a review and amnesty for campesinos imprisoned for conflicts over land.

The theme of a National Constituent Assembly found support among the campesino organizations and the unions, with the exception of ANDEPH whose spokesperson spoke against such an assembly.

Other themes that were mentioned include education reform, health, and expropriation of land. Finally the unions asked for reforms to the minimum wage laws.

Lobo Sosa indicated he would form a committee to consider writing an agricultural reform law based on suggestions made at the meeting, as well as have his Human Rights Minister, Ana Pineda, review any cases of campesinos arrested over land disputes from lists provided by the different organizations.

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