A union leader whom we work with in Honduras could be imprisoned for 30 years on bogus charges, pending a decision at a trial next Wednesday. Moises Sanchez is the Secretary General of the STAS union on Fyffes' melon farms in Honduras, where he worked from 1993 until 2016, when he was blacklisted for his union activity. In 2017, Moises was kidnapped, viciously attacked and threatened with death if he did not abandon the union fight.
Now he is facing spurious charges from a landowner – who also leases to Fyffes – after being part of a group of 450 community members who voted to build a road in their community, which the mayor supported and said was on public land.
Moises is a resident of La Permuta, a small community that had no road access and people had to cross rivers to get to the closest city, Choluteca. In 2018, La Permuta’s village assembly voted to build a road. The mayor of the municipality, Santa Ana de Yusguare, agreed with the effort and told them the land was public land. Nearly two years later, a private landowner has come forward saying the land was hers and pressed charges for ‘criminal usurpation.’ Over a number of years, this landowner has leased other properties she owns to the Fyffes company.
Five members of La Permuta’s elected leadership, and Moises, are facing criminal charges. Moises is not a member of the elected leadership; rather, he is only one of the 450 community members who voted on the road. Yet, Moises faces the possibility of 30 years in prison on four charges related to the usurpation of private land to build a community access road. The municipality is providing legal defense only for the elected community leaders who implemented the decision to build the road, not Moises.
Please urge the Honduran government not to criminalize trade unionists. There is no guarantee of life or safety for those incarcerated in Honduras. Due to his years of activism and the resulting and ongoing threats, human rights defenders are fearing for Moises’ life should he be imprisoned.