[act-ma] 5/28 Defend eco-activist Honduran mayor Omar Suazo arrested after surviving an assassination attempt, 5/14/2017

Charlie Welch cwelch at tecschange.org
Sat May 20 19:10:03 PDT 2017

Eco-activist Honduran mayor Omar Suazo arrested after surviving an 
assassination attempt, 5/14/2017

Information about a Boston area fundraiser is at the bottom.  This 
information about Omar comes from the following website which includes 
pictures and a number of additional links.   See

Omar lived for many years in the Boston area and has extensive 
connections here.   TecsChange has been working with him for at least 15 
years to provide technical resources for his community.

An eco-activist and singer in the Garifuna tradition, Omar "Babakle" 
Suazo is president of the Patronato or governing body of Sambo Creek, a 
largely Garifuna town in Honduras. In the early hours of Monday May 8th, 
he was assaulted by a group of special agents and thrown to the ground 
face down while one stabbed him four times in the back. The attackers 
were shouting genocidal slogans, "Death to the Garifuna." An onlooker 
opened fire, killing the man stabbing Suazo and wounding at least one 
other. Regular police then arrived and arrested Omar Suazo for murder. 
He has been in jail ever since, in a private cell which may not shield 
him from additional attempts on his life. He was subject to an 
evidentiary hearing on May 12th in la Ceiba, the provincial capital.

As a mayor who was elected four times, Suazo restored order to a town 
that had fallen in the hands of delinquents, built a town hall, and 
created a space for a police station. He obtained donations for a health 
center, a school system and a college and promoted sports and cultural 
activities. Today, Sambo Creek is visited by many people as it has a 
reputation for being a safe place.

Omar at hearing Throughout Sambo Creek and neighboring communities, it 
is widely believed this assault happened because Omar Suazo and his team 
were very effective at preventing dams from being built in the Sambo 
Creek area.  As a result citizens from Sambo and the surrounding towns 
came to his defense at the evidentiary hearing. His most recent victory 
a week before the assault meant the end of the latest attempt by the 
government of Honduras and JICA, the Japan International Cooperation 
Agency, to build a dam that would have had a devastating impact on the 
local environment. The Japanese Agency was ready to put up 27 million 
dollars to build this dam.

According to our information, elements within the Honduran government 
decided to eliminate Omar Suazo. After trying to kill him, they arrested 
him for murder. The prosecutor and judge for his hearing were changed at 
the last minute, the new judge is Marta Trochez. The "white" prosecutor 
called him a nigger in the May 12th hearing and spent over an hour and a 
half grilling one of the witnesses favorable to Suazo while he admitted 
the testimony of two persons with known criminal antecedents, one of his 
assailants and a member of a small local gang run by a former mayor with 
narco ties. This same gang was responsible for shooting Suazo's 
bodyguard in the back several years ago. In Honduras, we find that 
narcotics traffickers and parts of the government sometimes work closely 

The assailant who was killed while stabbing Omar Suazo is Jose Leonardo 
Villafranca Mejia. Witnesses report that his body was later seen being 
paraded around Sambo Creek in a car with ranchera music blasting. This 
is a known gang ritual reserved for important members: their body is 
taken around to their favorite haunts. The local press never reported 
any of this.

Suazo's eco-activism exposes him to the same risks as internationally 
known eco-activist Berta Cáceres, who he worked with and who was 
murdered by Honduran government agents, including members of the 
military, for her role in preventing another dam from being built. 
According to Global Witness, more than 120 people have been killed since 
2010 for their efforts to protect the environment. In the months prior 
to the assault other members of the Sambo Ceek Patronato as well as Omar 
received death threats, part of the campaign to destroy the Garifuna 
leadership so the elites can take their lands.

The best hope for saving Suazo's life lies in an international media 
campaign, just like what followed Berta Cáceres' murder, only before he 
is killed. At some point there will be a realization within that part of 
the government which is bent on killing him that the costs could be far 
higher than they expected, if by that point Omar Suazo is still alive.  
-- Mike Perez

See JICA for more on the Japan International Cooperation Agency

La Ceiba pierde donación de represa que iba a ser construido por Japón  
3/4/2017 La Prensa, Honduras: "Nos oponemos porque ese proyecto nos va a 
afectar el medio ambiente y una pequeña represa que tiene la comunidad 
en el río, de lo cual nos abastecemos de agua potable. No nos dejará 
nada solo daños", manifestó Omar Suazo, presidente del patronato de la 
comunidad garífuna de Sambo."

Honduras: the deadliest country in the world for environmental activism  
1/31/2017 Global Witness: "More than 120 people have died since 2010, 
according to Global Witness research. The victims were ordinary people 
who took a stand against dams, mines, logging or agriculture on their 
land –murdered by state forces, security guards or hired assassins. 
Countless others have been threatened, attacked or imprisoned."

Drugs, Dams, and Power: The Murder of Honduran Activist Berta Cáceres  
3/11/2016 The Intercept: “Whereas powerful landowners, businesses, and 
politicians have resorted to violence against activists in the past, now 
these actors have more illicit enterprises and transactions to hide, 
coupled with unrestrained capital and a reserve army of hit men,” 
Wrathall said. “So it’s anti-environmentalism (literally) on drugs.”

*Omar Suazo we are with you. Great concert in fraternal and humanitarian 

Sunday may 28 at the Aspire Club 358 Washington St Dorchester Ma

7 PM-1 am **
The best of the best pichi castle - garifuna bodoma onassiz - vocalist 
Guiriga Impact - Jorge Arce and tico sources drums of Puerto Rico - 
Antonio Norales and his group snail dj Sergio Mejia dj chendo bernárdez 
djmr b DJ boy belly and black pop.  Come all to be part of this event to 
benefit Omar Suazo this great man who always fought for his people need 
in these moments more than ever of his own people. Blessings to all one 
love. The Black Pop. Info 617 256 5018-781 964 0652 general admission $ 
15 dollars. There will be food of the best dishes Latinos Caribbean! OS 
and Americans.

Facebook event link (Note date has been moved from Friday to Sunday 28th.

Omar's  facebook site

More information about the Act-MA mailing list