Why She Left Honduras
Wendy Garcia, a Honduran mother of seven, joined others in her rural community to protest pollution of their primary source of water. While many U.S. immigrants fear reprisals for their political protest, we need to remember that there are many other Honduran immigrants who silently resist by fleeing from the desperate poverty and violence resulting from what the U.S. has claimed is “foreign aid” in their country.
Policies of aid that favor dictatorships either led by or beholden to the country’s military have sown seeds of violence and civil war throughout Central and South America for many years. Our policies consistently have been guided by the interests of U.S. based international corporations and call for limiting government social services and support for foreign investors who export most of the profits to off shore bank accounts.
These policies need to be taken into account in any discussion of U.S. immigration policies. They have created the conditions of deprivation and desperation that lead so many to leave home in order to sustain their families’ health and well being. The following account of Wendy Garcia’s resistance to pollution of her community’s water source establishes her application for asylum status as a political refugee. We must however remember those other immigrants from the south who have silently resisted their governments’ brutal repression and corporate exploitation of their communities’ resources by marching north.
Mrs. Garcia’s story below has been shortened. For the full account, go to:
“I am seeking asylum in the US because of a hydroelectric dam. I fled Honduras fearing for my life after being tear gassed by police and arrested when our community resisted a dam which contaminated the water we rely on for drinking, cooking and washing.
I come from a small community where our water flows from the mountains into the River Mezapa. The communities who rely on the river organised many years ago to install a water system which stores and distributes water to people’s houses.
Every household paid a monthly contribution to ensure the riverbanks stayed clean, and the system functioned well. We had enough water, and it was crystal clear – clean enough to drink.
The problems started as soon as construction began: the dam company chopped down lots of trees on the river bank. The water turned browny yellow and tasted like iron, so we couldn’t use it any more.
In early 2017, a roadblock was set up in the Pajuiles community to stop the heavy machinery getting past. At first I didn’t want to get involved: I was scared because there are powerful people behind the dam.
But as our clean water turned to mud, I realised that if we didn’t stop the dam we could all die from thirst.
Early in the morning of 15 August 2017, we were coming to the end of the night shift at the roadblock when we heard that the police were on their way. It was only my third or fourth time at the roadblock.
Suddenly, there were armed police and Swat teams everywhere, throwing teargas into people’s houses. There was so much smoke we could barely see, and I’ve suffered from blurry vision ever since.
I ran into a house but went back out to look for my son – and that’s when they arrested me. Ten of us were arrested, including several elderly neighbours and a pregnant woman. We were held from 10am to 1am the next day.
Our camp was destroyed, and the police escorted the company’s machinery to the river. We were charged with trespass for blocking a public road. The police took our photos – and this really frightened me because in Honduras the police kill ordinary people.
I became even more scared when a few months later in January 2018, a colleague in the community struggle, Geovanni , was murdered by police who dragged him into the street and shot him dead.
If they did that to him, they could kill me too, and then who would support my children? In Honduras, money is power, and we, the poor people, don’t have access to justice.
That’s why I left Honduras. That’s why I’m seeking asylum in the US.”