Profile

The Xicaque (Tolupán) comprise 28 groups in six municipalities of the departments of Yoro and Francisco Morazán. The total population numbers around 19,000 people who are governed by assemblies of elders and shamans. The land is owned and shared communally. Although in some communities the Tol language is still spoken, most Xicaque now use Spanish.

Historical Context

Under laws approved in 1836, 21 of the 28 groups were given property titles, but some of these deeds have gone missing. As of 1992, 20 groups had acquired titles to their land and six had ‘guarantees of ancestral possession’.

However, problems persisted: non-indigenous ranching and agricultural interests monopolizing or controlling land claimed by the Xicaque have continued to injure, threaten and harass rights advocates, including by assassinating their leaders. For instance, struggles over traditional land rights by Xicaque organizations resulted in the 1992 assassination of leader Vicente Matute. Ongoing conflicts over land were further fuelled by 1998 constitutional amendments that favour landownership by large-scale investors and agro-industrialists.

Current Issues

Xicaque have the highest number of murdered community leaders among indigenous peoples in Honduras. Following the death of three Xicaque in 2013 in relation to their activism against the extraction of natural resources in San Francisco Locamapa, a request for precautionary measures was made to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Despite this, there has been little evidence of increased protection for XIcaque in the community. In February 2016, a Xicaque activist was killed by assailants who one year later had not been brought to justice.