An English translation of COFADEH’s article regarding the kidnapping and discovery of Cristian Alberto Martinez Perez in the Paso Augán finca. The original in Spanish can be found at the link below.
“The military said, any group or person from La Panama who enters the (Paso Aguan) palm plantation will be disappeared one by one by us,” said the young peasant farmer Cristian Alberto Martínez Pérez, who had been kidnapped for 63 hours in the Bajo Aguán.
Although he could not identify by name the members of the military responsible because it was night, he knew his captors were a soldier and two private security guards.
Members of the community of La Panama and other peasant farmer organizations found Cristian, age 18 and a leader in the Campesino Movement Gregorio Chavez (MCGC), Sunday morning February 1.
He had last been seen Thursday night January 29, when he rode his bicycle near the entrance of the Paso Aguán palm plantation. It is guarded by private security guards of the DINANT corporation, and 60 Military personnel from Joint Task Force Xatruch III, according to defenders of the land who live in the Lower Aguán in the Department of Colón.
More than 200 people were organized into three groups to search for Cristian. They went to different lots within the Paso Aguán, which is owned by Miguél Facussé, where they found Cristian’s shirt which has a message related to the defense of the land. Another group searched the roadside and the third group looked in fields nearby.
Martínez Pérez was found at 9:00 am in a vacant lot adjacent to the Finca Paso Aguán, his hands and feet bound, he was barefoot, blindfolded and wearing a black shirt.
The solidarity from human rights defenders and peasant organizations was key to finding him alive. The landowners in the area want to split up the groups within the campesino movement, but this time there were even those who are not part of peasant farmer enterprises who joined in the search. Also, the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared and Detained in Honduras, COFADEH, filed a writ of habeas corpus to the Court of Trujillo.
Jony Rivas, a leader of the Unified Peasant Movement of the Aguán, MUCA, stated “We believe that these legal actions on Saturday helped to facilitate the Public Prosecutor giving the order for us to enter the offices of (Dinant’s) private guards to search for the boy, but we did not find him there.
According to the victim, he was approached in a vehicle with a front end grill (typical of the Ford F350s used by the military as well as Dinant guards). There were three men, one military and two (Dinant) guards. They blindfolded him and walked side by side from there. He was asked about the leaders of the Peasant Movement Gregorio Chavez. By his appearance, Cristian looked dehydrated and subjected to psychological torture.
Members of the Unit of Violent Deaths in the Aguan, a government agency that was installed in the region in February 2014, went to the place where Cristian was found. They discovered traces of three pairs of shoe prints, and another barefoot pair, which would be Cristian’s, as well as evidence that he had been dragged along the trail that opens onto the Paso Aguán plantation. This, according to one of the people who accompanied the search.
“This shows that we campesinos are united. And that we have support and assistance from national and international organizations which make it uncomfortable for those who attack us,” declared one human rights defender of the Aguán.