Gualcarque River web

For many years the Lenca people have been fighting to protect the sacred Gualcarque River from the destructive Agua Zarca dam project. The project threatens the river and livelihood of the Lenca indigenous people. In protecting their territories and rights, these communities have suffered endless violence, repression, physical attacks and deaths.

Desarrollos Energéticos S.A., or DESA is the Honduran hydroelectric firm that is building the dam, funded by 3 international Banks; FMO (Dutch development bank) who gave $15M, FinnFund (Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation) who gave $5M and CABEI (Central American Bank of Economic Integration) who gave $24.4M.

Communities along with Copinh and Madre Tierra have also been calling for the withdrawal of these banks’ funds for years. Finally FMO and FinnFund have announced their withdrawal from the project, leaving just CABEI backing the deadly dam. But this is far from the end of the story or the injustices perpetrated on the Lenca people, as this statement from Madre Tierra explains:

Movimiento Madre Tierra/Friends of the Earth Honduras welcomes the withdrawal of FMO and Finnfund from the hydroelectric Agua Zarca dam project in Santa Barbara, Honduras. The withdrawal of these international banks only occurred thanks to the tireless work of exposure and resistance by COPINH and other organizations in Honduras. 

The banks’ withdrawal will not, however, erase the trail of death, persecution and fundamental human rights violations that such hydroelectric projects leave in their wake and of which Berta Cáceres was a victim. The banks must acknowledge their share of responsibility.

Movimiento Madre Tierra/Friends of the Earth Honduras joins COPINH and allies in their justified declaration that these financial institutions have ignored COPINH’s recommendations denouncing the heinous operations of paramilitary groups, while continuing to promote “a decision-making process for a hydropower project that may generate even more violence and repression.”

We urge the Honduran State to guarantee the protection and respect for the organizations who are defending their ancestral territories. We demand that the government guarantees and enforces the right to justice in solving not only the case of Berta Cáceres, but of all the leaders of black and indigenous peoples’ organizations and communities who have been murdered in recent years.

Changing the current racist, patriarchal, capitalist, species-dominant, extractive, and ecocidal world in which we live is more necessary than ever. But it will only be possible if we remain on a path of resistance, defending human rights and fighting for a different way of living, one embedded in justice and in coexistence with mother earth.

Image: Gualcarque river © Edgardo Mattioli/Real World Radio