The Honduran human rights investigator explained to Canadians why their activism and support are important for people struggling to defend their rights not only in Guapinol, but across the Global South.
By Mayalène Lavigne-Martel, Campaigns Officer
The solidarity visit is one of the most anticipated parts of any Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada campaign, because it lets members learn why their campaigning matters directly from the people they are campaigning for.
It’s no exaggeration to say that our latest solidarity visitor, Elvin Hernández, was very busy during his stay with us from October 13 to 24! Like a marathon runner, he criss-crossed Quebec and Ontario, giving a plethora of presentations in Montreal, Laval, Sherbrooke, Longueuil, Toronto, Ottawa, Gatineau and St-Eustache. Many of you had the chance to meet this engaging human rights investigator from ERIC-Radio Progreso, our partner in Honduras.
His visit, a part of the Stand for the Land campaign, was perfectly timed to reinforce our request to the Honduran ambassador to Canada to ask her government to better protect land defenders, particularly those threatened, imprisoned and even murdered in Guapinol and the San Pedro sector in Honduras. These communities are persecuted for defending their rivers and livelihoods, which are threatened by an illegal iron ore mine in Carlos Escaleras National Park.
During his tour, Hernández emphasized the importance of Canada adopting due diligence legislation to curb abusive practices by Canadian companies operating in the Global South. He eloquently concluded his presentations by saying that it is only by adding up many small gestures―here in Canada, in Honduras and on every continent―that we can change the world.
Members and supporters who attended his presentations were touched and inspired by his words. Here are some of their reactions:
“Your courage is a credit to you and an inspiration to us.” ― Michel
“It’s wonderful to meet the partners whom our mobilization activities help support.” ― Monique
In addition to meeting members, Hernández forged links with allies in the defence of human rights and the environment. He met representatives of Mining Watch Canada, Lawyers Without Borders and the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA). He also met students at a high school in Welland, Ont., and at two universities, one in the Outaouais region and the other in Ottawa. He also made a foray into the world of politics, meeting an MNA in Montreal; participating in a press conference on Parliament Hill; and meeting members of a parliamentary committee on human rights.
Wherever he went, Hernández was consistent in his messaging, adapting brilliantly to different audiences. He had a real talent for training, informing, raising awareness and advocating. It was an honour to host this lucid, sincere and tenacious human rights investigator, who was above all captivating and convincing.
Hernández’ visit was a great boost to our troops, reminding us of the importance and relevance of our advocacy in Canada for greater justice in the Global South. If you have not already done so, do sign our letter to the Honduran ambassador.
Before leaving, Hernández told us how happy he was to have been able to get to know Canada. He reminded us how lucky and privileged we are to live in a country with a functioning state, where people have access to health care, education, decent jobs; where you can walk down the street without being mugged; and where you can run a business without being extorted, things we take for granted and Hondurans can only dream of.
He was pleased to learn more about Development and Peace — Caritas Canada and was impressed by the size of our membership movement. He thanked Canadians for their support and invited them to get to know and visit Honduras, to discover its splendours and to meet the people who defend its mountains, rivers, valleys and fertile lands. This way, we can continue to forge even stronger bonds of solidarity.
We would like to thank Quebec’s Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie for making Hernández’ visit possible as part of the Voices Without Borders in Defence of Lives and Lands project funded under the Nouveau Québec sans frontières program.
Here is a photo album with the key moments of his visit:
Here’s a glimpse of the impact of Elvin Hernández’s solidarity visit:
In the news
Frédéric Hountondji. October 19, 2023. Appel à soutenir des communautés qui dénoncent la construction d’une mine dans un parc au Honduras. Présence. (In French)
Paloma Martínez Méndez. October 25, 2023. Minières et droits de la personne au Honduras : dénonciation et responsabilité. Radio-Canada. (In French and Spanish)
Press conference in Ottawa. October 24, 2023. Human rights advocates discuss Canadian corporate activity in Central America. YouTube, CPAC.
Présentation : Elvin Hernandez notre partenaire du Honduras en presence de Monseigneur Paul André. October 23, 2023. YouTube, Paroisse Cathédrale Gatineau. (In French)
On Spanish radio
Entrevista Elvin Hernández, Investigador de Derechos Humanos en Honduras. October 19, 2023. YouTube, CHHA1610AM.