14 July 2015

Resistencia: The Fight for the Aguán Valley


In May 2011, the government of Honduras hosted an economic conference in the city of San Pedro Sula to promote foreign and domestic investment. Titled “Honduras is Open for Business,” the event drew the likes of Colombia's ex-president Álvaro Uribe and the world’s richest human, Carlos Slim.
During one portion of the spectacle, Honduran Foreign Minister Mario Canahuati, a former Honduran ambassador to the United States and president of the Honduran Council of Private Enterprise, fielded questions from members of the press. Among them was Canadian filmmaker and videojournalist Jesse Freeston, whose footage of the exchange appears in his just-released film Resistencia: The Fight for the Aguán Valley.
All smiles for the first millisecond or so, Canahuati’s expression quickly sours when Freeston brings up the word on the street: that Honduras is not open for business but rather up for sale. Canahuati replies vehemently that the country is not for sale but that “we can rent out our Honduras for a short period, for the benefit of our people.”
If by “our people” Canahuati meant the Honduran oligarchy, then that’s a perfectly valid statement. But Canahuati is hardly qualified to speak on behalf of the rest of the country. Back in 2004, the US International Trade Commission issued a reporton the potential effects of the free trade agreement that was then being negotiated between the United States, Central America, and the Dominican Republic; in it, then-ambassador Canahuati is said to have encouragingly “note[d] that the US textile and apparel industry will be one of the main beneficiaries” of the agreement. 
The average citizen of Honduras, of course, has more pressing concerns than the health of imperial businesses. Although Honduran territory is repeatedly “rented out” to exploitative entities like mining corporations and the US military, many Hondurans find it hard simply to survive. Sterling examples showcased in Freeston’s film include the peasant farmers in the Aguán Valley in the northeastern part of the country. Much of the area has been appropriated into the personal lebensraum of Honduran tycoon Miguel Facussé, who prior to perishing last month at the age of ninety was the country’s largest landowner. Facussé’s appetite for profit through the cultivation of lucrative palm plantations throughout the valley inevitably spelt hunger and hardship for farmers wishing to plant a crop or two of their own. READ MORE AT WARSCAPES.