Drug money is devouring the Rio Platano rainforest

Rio Platano, Honduras. Source: UNESCO
Rio Platano, Honduras. Source: UNESCO

The good news is that the president of Honduras has launched the “SOS Honduras” campaign to save the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve — one of the largest and most important tropical rainforests north of the Amazon.

The bad news is that prosecutors from New York’s Southern District say that the president of Honduras is a co-conspirator with his brother, a powerful drug trafficker who was arrested by the United States.


The worst news is that profits from drug trafficking are driving rapid deforestation of the Rio Platano, and environmentalists — such as Ramos Antunez, an active whistleblower in the ’00s — have had to flee the country ahead of death squads.

In an interview with Mongabay.com, Antunez said that the government of Honduras is complicit in the illegal deforestation.

Every year deforestation continues, despite all official programs to halt it, much of it caused by cattle ranching funded by drug money.

Clearcuts and cattle on the land of a narcotics trafficker in the southern buffer zone of the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve, Honduras, 2017. Photo credit: Mark A. Bonta.

The ultimate victims are not just native plants and animals, but also the indigenous Miskito, Pech, Tawahka and Garifuna peoples who depend on the forest and marine resources for their survival.

A crested eagle (Morphnus guianensis) in the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve nucleus, Honduras, 2015. This massive raptor has been virtually eliminated from Central America. Photo credit: Mark A. Bonta

Sources: Mongabay

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