Seven Peasant Activist Killed in Two Months in Honduras

Published: 15 February 2023

Police Line Crime SceneSantos Hipólito Rivas is the seventh defender of land and water killed in Honduras. (Photo: Tony Webster, Wikimedia, License)

By Vinicius Madureira

The U.N. human rights office in Honduras condemned the killing of a prominent peasant defender and his son in the violent province of Colón on Sunday, demanding a "prompt, impartial and exhaustive investigation" into the murder.

Santos Hipólito Rivas and his 15-years-old son Javier Rivas were shot as they riding a motorcycle in the town of Trujillo, the Honduran Agrarian Platform and the Coordination of Popular Organizations of Aguán region said.

Hipólito Rivas was a longtime supporter of the peasant and rural workers’ rights at the Aguán region on the Honduran Caribbean coast. The area is the center of a brutal conflict between peasant farmers who claim ownership of land based on a 1970 agrarian reform and large landowners who are trying to expand their properties based on a law from 1992.

The office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said Hipólito Rivas “was a passionate peasant defender and a well-respected member” of a peasant farmer’s association he helped found.

Hipólito Rivas was allegedly under national protective measures since 2019, however, in the past few weeks he said he was being threatened, persecuted, and surveilled. These incidents were repeatedly reported to Honduran authorities but those never acted upon the complaints, the Agrarian Platform said.

The threats against him came allegedly from members of a local armed group based on a large farm.

Another member of Hipólito Rivas’ peasant association was murdered in July 2021, and in the past two months, seven defenders of land and water in Honduras have been killed.