Honduras farm workers stage mass land occupations

Honduran soldiers on patrol on 19 August 2011 Police and troops have been struggling to control land conflict in Honduras

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Thousands of rural workers in Honduras have occupied land as part of a dispute with large landowners and the government.

The coordinated invasions took place in several locations across the country, activists and officials say.

Farmers groups say the areas taken over are public lands where poor farmers have the right to grow food under Honduran law.

The government said the seizures were illegal and targeted private holdings.

The director of the National Agrarian Institute, Cesar Ham, said the coordinated occupations were politically motivated and aimed at destabilising the government of President Porfirio Lobo.

Violent disputes over farmland are common in Honduras, with dozens of rural workers killed in recent years.

Organisations representing rural workers say successive governments have failed to fulfil promises to distribute farmland using agrarian reform legislation.

They also accuse the authorities of acting in the interests of large landowners.

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