Honduran Indians Protest Deforestation

May 14, 2004

HUNDREDS of Lenca Indians blocked the northbound highway connecting the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula on Tuesday to protest deforestation by landowners in the northwestern departments of La Paz, Intibucá and Lempira.The indigenous group, members of Honduras’ Popular Indigenous Civic Council, blocked the road 240 kilometers north of Tegucigalpa and demanded the government do more to prevent logging.“We feel bad when we have to take actions that affect motorists, but this is in defense of the forests,” said protest coordinator Salvador Zúñiga, who added that the indigenous council has been seeking dialogue with the government for the past two weeks.Government officials insist they have been in a process of dialogue with the indigenous group for more than a year, but that the indigenous protestors don’t understand the concept of private property. “We have to respect private property and as long as the owners of these properties comply with technical regulations, especially the maintenance of watersheds, they are in their right to exploit their forests,” said Gustavo Morales, director of the Honduran Corporation for Forest Development.

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