“We only want to defend the river, the water and the animals, we want to defend our rights. But the government is treating us like we were criminals. ” So says Ana Mirian Romero, a lawyer by profession, environmental activist Lenca ethnic group, which lives in a remote village in the south of Honduras. For the indigenous Lenca population, water is a sacred element: protecting the river means protecting life itself. For this reason Ana, her husband and the other inhabitants of her village, for over seven years they oppose the construction of a hydroelectric dam, which threatens to irreparably damage the Chinacla river and the surrounding area.
Ana Mirian Romero has only 29 years, and she has received the annual award in 2016 Front Line Defenders, a recognition of for those who through non-violent work, contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights in their communities, often at great personal risk.
Ana and her family are the target of repeated attacks on police, army and groups of armed civilians: “Threats of torture and death – she says -. One of the most serious attacks occurred on October 2, 2015. About 30 soldiers entered by breaking kicked the front door (Ana and her family live in a small wooden shack, without electricity, and survive thanks to the few products of vegetable garden, through what nature has to offer) without a warrant. My husband was tortured and they ransacked the house, “said Ana Mirian, who at that time was 24 weeks pregnant with the risk of abortion.
Since the coup in 2009, the Honduran government has granted 240 mining concessions for the exploitation of the subsoil and hidroléctrica. 850 mega mining projects; 51 are located in indigenous territories of the Lenca communities. Ana Mirian fights the installation of the hydroelectric dam “Los Encinos”.
The wealth derived from mines and hydroelectric plants ends up in the pockets of employers and the government, without bringing any benefit to the local indigenous population. And those opposed to large industries and seeks to protect the environment, threatens attacks of all kinds.
Despite the high risks which he faces, Ana does not renounce to fight: “We do not want to be always on war, we simply want to defend the river, the forest, the clean air that we breathe, and that is good for us because it is not polluted. We just want to live in a healthy place. We suffered a lot in the past. Why we keep fighting? We do it for our children. We do not want our children to suffer what we have suffered ourselves, we do not want certain things from happening again. We have suffered many attacks, we don’t know what the future holds, but we are ready to defend what we have. ”
The actions against activists are frequent. On March 2, Berta Caceres was murdered , an Honduran activist famous around the world, a symbol of the struggle for the defense of the environment. According to the report of the international organization Global Witness, from 2010 to 2014 over 101 environmental activists have been killed in Honduras. In 2015, on average, three activists were murdered every week.
Chronicles that do not reach the big international media; too far away that cry of pain, too powerful economic interests. Another suburban voiceless, but under the same sky.