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Thursday, March 23, 2017
Honduras: Catholic anti-logging campaigner murdered
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 Caritas Honduras worker Carlos Arturo Reyes Méndez was assassinated last Friday, 18 July. Carlos Mendez was a leading member of a campaign to protest against the deforestation of the Olancho region by national and international logging companies. Caritas Honduras says that made him a target for assassination by groups they believed to be allied to the powerful logging interests. The 21-year-old Carlos Méndez and other Church activists had been on a death list for many months. Carlos Méndez had been forced to flee his house as a result of the intimidation and threats. His death came after the March for the Defence of Life in June, in which 30,000 people walked 200km to the capital Tegucigalpa to protest against excessive logging. The Catholic Church in Honduras is one of the major players in the environmental movement in Olancho. Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa took part in last month's march and offered to act as a mediator with the President to try to ensure greater government action in defence of the region's forests. Cardinal Rodriguez is due to give a keynote speech in London for CAFOD later this year. National and international timber companies log at least 150,000 hectares of forest a year for export to North America and Europe. At least two thirds of the original forest in Olancho has been lost over the last decade with as many as 10,000 loggers currently working in the area. Caritas Honduras says the environmental damage caused by the logging has been massive, especially to local farmers. There has been a 60 percent loss in the water supply and the soil has been badly damaged. Over half of the population has migrated out of the area. CAFOD works closely with Caritas Honduras. CAFOD's Latin America Programme Officer Sarah Smith-Pearse said: "CAFOD regrets the tragic death of Carlos Méndez, a young Church activist. CAFOD are deeply concerned about the danger that local aid workers have to operate in. The Honduran government needs to ensure their protection. "The government also needs to address the environmental problems that Carlos lost his life fighting to change. The destructive logging of Olancho is having a catastrophic impact on the environment and the people."
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