TEGUCIGALPA – Hundreds of Chorti indigenous Hondurans posted themselves on June 23 in front of the Copan Ruinas archaeological park in western Honduras to demand that the government provide them with land on which they can grow crops to feed their families.
Chorti spokesman Manuel Mancia told Tegucigalpa’s Radio America that the protest was being staged because of the government’s failure to fulfill its commitment to provide them with land, an agreement made by then-President Ricardo Maduro in September 2005.
He added that last year an accord was signed with incumbent President Manuel Zelaya according to which the government would hand over to the Chortis some 14,700 hectares, but so far that offer has only been 35 percent fulfilled.
The demands of the Chortis have been made more forcefully starting in 1997. The tribe lives in the western provinces of Copan and Ocotepeque, a region in which there is not much available land because most of it is in private hands, a circumstance that has made the state’s purchase of promised land very difficult, officials say.
No end date was placed on the protest, which began last week, Mancia said.
In 2005, the Chortis staged a similar demonstration for six days in front of the park that includes the remains of the Mayan city of Copan, a protest that caused substantial financial losses because the site is one of the main tourist attractions in Honduras.
Mancia also noted that the Chortis, who number some 8,000, are demanding land on which to carry out their subsistence farming activities.