Honduras environmental issues in spotlight1 min read


Marion Hohfeld

Environmental activists Kristin Jensen Sullivan and husband Mark Sullivan speak with Barby Ulmer, co-founder of San Jose Peace and Justice Center on Nov. 5.

Marion Hohlfeld, Staff Writer

De Anza College co-sponsored the Honduras Resiste event at the Peace and Justice center in San Jose on Nov. 5, featuring Professor Kristin Jensen Sullivan and former student Leila Forouhi.

About 60 attended the event where local social and environmental activists spoke about a trip to this Central American country bordering Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua where they witnessed the Hondurans fighting for social and environmental justice.

Mark Sullivan, environmental attorney and professor at De Anza, said an oligarchy of 10 families controls 95 percent of the local economy, government, military, national police, and court system in Honduras.

A presentation gave insight to a country with 5.5 million of the 8 million inhabitants live in poverty.

Sullivan criticized the corporate, environmental and tourism interest the United States has had over the past 100 years.

“It’s going to be the next Cancun,” he said.

According to Sandra Orozco, a public health professional, natives are experiencing severe health impacts due to water being polluted by chemicals used in making mines.

“The indigenous people have been living on this land for centuries, and now with the mega development, they are forced to give it up,” said Jensen Sullivan, Morgan Family Chair in Environmental Studies at De Anza College.

Honduras elections on Nov. 24 could mark a turning point for human rights in Honduras. Presidential candidate Xiomara Zelaya of the Liberty Party is leading in polls.

If she wins the presidency, she will attempt to transform Honduras by forming an assembly to rewrite the constitution.

Jensen Sullivan advised students to go online to the Rights Action website to see how they can help.

The website includes a petition and intructions on letter writing, emailing, and sending messages to the government.