A worker walks at a tobacco plantation in Danli, Honduras Reuters

Farmworkers and activists seized 30,000 acres of public land in Honduras on Thursday as part of a dispute with the government and large landowners.

Coordinated occupations took place across the country, with the largest land grab occurring near the coastal city of San Pedro Sula, where roughly 1,500 farmers seized a sugar plantation, the Associated Press reported. The laborers were unarmed and did not take the land by force.

The land was reportedly purchased from the government by large landowners, but small farmers assert that they have the right to grow crops on the land under Honduran law.

The dispute has been going on in Honduras for years, especially in the Aguan River Valley where last year government forces and private security guards opened fire on 300 peasant farmers seeking to occupy land owned by palm oil magnate René Morale, according to the Global Justice Ecology Project.

Additionally, at least three people were killed on the northeastern section of Honduras' Caribbean coast in the days leading up to Thursday's mass protests.