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Jan 29, 2024

Read about MCEA's Trip to Honduras


image of the front of the report with a photo of a person standing in an open landscape in honduras


We Are Connected
Trip Report: MCEA Travels to Honduras

Executive Summary

By Kathryn Hoffman and JT Haines, January 29, 2024

MCEA was founded in 1974, and perhaps no issue has come up so consistently in 50 years as sulfide mining. Our lawyers and scientists have seen a whole range of proposals and tactics come and go over the decades. One common tactic deployed aggressively in recent years is to accuse MCEA and its allies of a certain parochialism, or even hypocrisy. These critics suggest that by protecting our water and future in Minnesota, our work is indifferent or even damaging to communities around the world where mining companies seek to operate. We do not agree with this argument, but it did lead us to ask the question – how do we think of our work on mining in Minnesota in an international context? How can we act out of solidarity with other communities facing the risks of nearby mining operations? 

In 2023, MCEA joined a mining-focused delegation to Honduras led by another nonprofit, Witness for Peace, to help us answer these questions. Over 10 days, we traveled around the country, meeting with community members affected by land disputes with palm oil firms, major mining conglomerates, and tourism companies looking to take Indigenous land to build resorts. These communities spoke of their experience with violence, political oppression, and fear. They also spoke of hope for change, love of their land, and determination. We met with the lawyers who represented them and the judges who play a role in deciding their fate. In the capital of Honduras, we met with the government officials who lead law enforcement efforts and environmental protection agencies, as well as representatives of our own government at the U.S. Embassy.

The trip was at turns eye-opening, heart-breaking, emotionally draining, and inspiring. We learned of our own government’s role in creating the conditions of oppression and violence in Honduras. After years of a US-backed narco-dictatorship, Honduras elected a new president in 2021, a president who vowed to work for the people of Honduras and take on the forces of corruption. Officials from the new administration spoke of the challenges in implementing these lofty promises in the face of internal and external forces.

And, when we visited the mine sites, we saw a playbook that is all too familiar. We saw mining companies seeking to divide communities against themselves. We saw promises of economic investment and opportunity that ultimately rang hollow, while environmental impacts were worse than predicted. We saw mining companies attempting to change the laws that thwart their goals, and simply ignoring laws they could not change. And we saw huge multinational conglomerates using their massive resources to overpower democratic institutions. For certain, the way that Hondurans experience this playbook is very different than how we experience it in Minnesota, and we do not wish to diminish the unique experience of Hondurans. But the strategies themselves were remarkably similar. 

We have much to learn about communities in Honduras and the challenges they face, and our visit was only the beginning. We understand better now that our advocacy in Minnesota is not in opposition to communities elsewhere, but rather as part of the same struggle. The actions of mining companies elsewhere do not amount to a call for us to soften our advocacy, but rather to strengthen it against abuses everywhere. We understand better how we are all connected. 

We hope that you will take the time to download the full report and read it, and we thank you for your support and attention.

Click here to read the full report

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