Honduran backers of suit against World Bank unit seek lost land

by Reuters
Thursday, 9 March 2017 05:40 GMT

TEGUCIGALPA, March 8 (Reuters) - Supporters of a lawsuit filed in the United States on Wednesday against a unit of the World Bank alleging complicity in deadly land disputes in Honduras said they hope the litigation will help recover lost territory.

The lawsuit was filed by Earth Rights International (ERI) against the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group that focuses on the private sector in developing countries. It relates to an IFC project in Honduras' northern Bajo Aguan region.

The project provided $30 million worth of credits to agro-industrial firm Dinant, which has faced accusations of human rights violations and other crimes by local peasant groups.

More than 100 peasants have been killed over the past five years in land disputes in Bajo Aguan, where frequent conflicts have played out with guards, soldiers and police who protect Dinant's palm plantations.

"What we want is to recover the lands that have been taken away from us," said Vitalino Alvarez, spokesman for a local peasants group.

"We want to be able to live without the terror imposed on us," he said.

In a statement posted on its website, Dinant rejected all allegations of human rights violations and any complicity in the mounting death toll in Bajo Aguan, where drug cartels also operate.

"It is absurd that Earth Rights International links Dinant to high levels of insecurity in (Bajo Aguan), based on the fact that several tragic deaths have occurred in the same region where we own land," the statement said.

Dinant also operates in Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica. (Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Paul Tait)

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