oil on canvas
60" x 36"
The two communities of Montaña Verde – Planes and Vertientes – are
situated in the remote mountains of western Honduras in the municipality of
Gracias in Lempira department. The Lenca people of Montaña Verde have
struggled for years with local landowners over the title to territory that
the Lencas claim as ancestral communal lands. Their fight for communal land
titles and protection of the natural resources has placed them in direct opposition
to landowners and their powerful allies in Gracias who want to use the disputed
land for cattle ranching, logging, or coffee bean cultivation.
On January 8,
2003, Leonardo Miranda, a Lenca rights activist affiliated with the Civic Council
of Indigenous and Popular Organizations, (Consejo Cívico
de Organizaciones Indígenas Populares), was arrested in Planes and accused
of an array of offenses, including the killing of a man named Juan Reyes Gómez.
Many of the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence, leaving only battery
and murder, charges that both men claimed were false. Miranda stated that he
was tortured in detention in an attempt to compel him to confess. Following
a trial in which defense witnesses were not permitted to testify, he was sentenced
in December 2003 to 25 years in prison for murder, based largely on statements
by prosecution witnesses that were contradictory and not supported by evidence.
Thankfully, international pressure helped free Leonardo Miranda on August
15, 2006, following a decision by the Honduran Supreme Court in June that acquitted
Leonardo of the 2001 murder for which they were wrongfully imprisoned.
(Biographical material provided by Amnesty International)
All images on this site are copyright © 2008 by Tom Block Arts.
Please contact the artist for use of these images.