Monday, August 30, 2010

Human Rights

Kalin and I have now been in Honduras for over year and half now, and of all the places we have worked the most remote has been the two unique villages of Montana Verde.  For this reason I was very surprised to an article about human rights violations involving two of the nicest guys we have worked with: Leonardo and Marcelino Miranda.  Apparently

"Marcelino and Leonardo Miranda were arrested on January 8, 2003, in a military-style midnight attack on their community and were tortured -- severely beaten, burned with cigarettes, forced to carry heavy loads hung by the neck, and partially asphyxiated by repeated submersion underwater -- by many of 28 police and special forces agents involved"

As if that was not enough they were arrested for false charges of assault, murder, etc.

Marcelino spent two years in prison, and his brother was there longer, there are reports of them being beaten in prison. They were released before their 29 year sentence.

I think the first article I linked gives more of background of why the police would target these guys located so far away from the rest of honduran infrastructure.

So we finished the designs for the two water systems for the villages of Planes and Vertientes of Montana Verde in December, but since  Kalin and her counterpart organization have ran into various problems getting funding for the project.  At first the problems were due to the fact that community owned the land ( which I didn't think was that big of a deal).  Other problems have been the mayor that initiated the project did not get reelected, the organization that was originally in charge of the funding seems to be falling apart.

Each water system including Dam, Conduction Line, Tank, and lines to every house will cost roughly $100,000. The 84 houses in Vertientes and 92 in Planes, which is about 500 people who live in each community. So it will take an initial investment of $200 per person to have potable water for the next 20 years. However, in a community, where people don't make money, they barter and in live a communal system, $200 is more than they would make in a lifetime.

It is just strange to read about people we have met and know pretty well in an article about human rights, when you know the people involved, when you have sat and eaten at their table, it makes the problems real. They are not just names; they have families and houses and live peacefully up on a beautiful mountain.

Marcelino is good, generous. guy, he cares and acts for his community.
Marcelino was our main contact for the Montana Verde Project, here he is with Kalin carrying our topographic equipment (45lbs) up the 3 hour hike up hill to the villages.

Here I am with Leonardo we were hiking in the rain the source of water.
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