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Honduras Catholic anti-logging campaigner murdered

A 21 year old Caritas Honduras worker and leading anti-deforestation campaigner was assassinated a week ago after repeated death threats from powerful logging interests.

Carlos Arturo Reyes Méndez and other Church activists had been on a death list for many months. Méndez had been forced to flee his house. His death came after the March for the Defence of Life last month, in which 30,000 people walked 200 km 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.

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.

Independent Catholic News

Church anti-logging campaigner murdered in Honduras (Reuters Alert)

28 Jul 2003