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Peasants' rights activist assassinated in Colón

(C-Libre/IFEX) - 20 January 2012 - Matías Valle, a leader in the Aguan Unified Movement (Movimiento Unificado del Aguan, MUCA), was assassinated on 20 January 2012 at approximately 6:30 a.m. in the community of Quebrada de Arena, in the department of Colón. Valle, who was a resident of the village of La Confianza, Colón, died after being shot several times by unidentified individuals on a motorcycle. According to the Aguan Permanent International Human Rights Observatory (Observatorio Internacional Permanente de Derechos Humanos del Aguán, OIPDHA), Valle was assassinated as he was waiting for a bus to take him to the settlement of La Confianza.

"Without doubt Matías's murder is an attack on freedom of expression, since he was an outspoken rights defender. Unfortunately a singing voice has been silenced within the Aguan peasant farmer movement," said Rafael Alegría, the director of the organisation Vía Campesina.

Alegría also said that Valle, and many other peasant farmers in the area, had been receiving death threats for several years. "There is political persecution. Four months ago Matías was detained in Tamara for illegal possession of a firearm and a week ago we denounced the detention of several MUCA leaders in the city of La Ceiba," Alegría said.

Alegría also noted that Valle had been granted protective measures and said the situation in Aguan is critical: "We have always denounced the government's lack of action and have said that the level of indifference could lead to more deaths. Now this has happened with the assassination of Matías Valle. Blood continues to be shed in Aguan and the government ignores the problem . . . There isn't a single public prosecutor's summons, nor any active judicial process or investigation plan. In other words, it's like nothing has happened and it's obvious that the campesinos are defenceless."

(Please note that this is an abridged translation.)

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