Development financiers suspend Honduras operations after latest murder
Amsterdam, 17th march 2016. Two major development finance companies involved in the construction of the controversial Agua Zarca dam announced they would suspend activities in response to the violence against activists in Honduras, in the wake of two new shootings. An international solidarity mission also arrived in Honduras, and will hold a press conference later today.
Following the recent bloodshed, both the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) and the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation (Finnfund) have said they are suspending their financing for their projects in Honduras, including the Agua Zarca dam. (1)
“FMO, one of the main financiers of Agua Zarca project, finally declared it is suspending all its activities and disbursements to projects in Honduras, and Finnfund has taken similar actions,” said Lucia Ortiz, Friends of the Earth International Economic Justice International Program Coordinator. “We demand these financiers pull out permanently, as COPINH has been demanding for a long time.”
Sinohydro, a Chinese state-owned hydropower engineering and construction company, cited conflicts between the company (DESA) and local communities for leaving the project in 2013.
According to a Global Witness report, Honduras is the most dangerous place in the world for environmental activists. Two activists were shot in separate incidents, following attacks earlier this month.
Nelson Garcia was a member of the organization Berta Cáceres co-founded (COPINH). He was reportedly shot four times at his home. Nelson was working with a community that faced evictions on 15 March, the day he was murdered.
Mauricio Alegría was reportedly shot on the streets of the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, also on 15 March, near the office of Via Campesina where he works. He survived and was rushed to the hospital.
Earlier this month, the murder of Goldman Environmental Prize winner Berta Cáceres – on the night of March 2nd in her home – sparked worldwide expressions of outrage. Cáceres dedicated much of her life to rallying her fellow indigenous Lenca people against destructive development projects, including the Agua Zarca dam. Her family has been critical of the government’s investigation.
Gustavo Castro, director of Friends of the Earth Mexico (Otros Mundos) went to Honduras take part in the struggle against the Agua Zarca dam. He was wounded in the same attack as Berta Cáceres, and left for dead. As a witness to the murder, we feel it is very dangerous for him to be in Honduras. The government is preventing him from leaving the country, and he has taken sanctuary in the Mexican embassy.
“We hold the government of Honduras accountable for failing, or being unwilling to protect its citizens,” said Jagoda Munic, chairperson of Friends of the Earth International. “It’s past time that the government act to protect the activists and indigenous communities suffering attacks for defending nature and human rights.”
Representatives of social networks from different regions of the world are giving a press statement today as part of the International Mission “Justice for Berta Cáceres”.
The mission is organised by the Honduran organisation Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH) – from the National Network of Human Rights defenders in Honduras – and individuals, collectives and organisations making up an international network of solidarity with the people of Honduras.
The mission demands an impartial investigation of the brutal assassination of the indigenous Lenca leader Berta Cáceres, on the 3rd of March.
The delegation includes the following people: Miguel Urbán Crespo – Europe, Member of the European Parliament by PODEMOS – European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL); Nora Cortiñas – Argentina, Madre de Plaza de Mayo-Founder Line; Pedro Arrojo – Spain, Member of the Spanish Parliament (PODEMOS); José Olvera – México, UNT-CSA México, National Union of Workers / Trade Union Confederation of the Americas; Beverly Keene – Argentina, Coordinator Dialogue 2000-Jubileo Sur Argentina, member of the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity; Mirna Perla Jiménez – El Salvador, former magistrate Supreme Court of Justicia in El Salvador; Brian Finnegan – United States, AFL/CIO – CSA. American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations; Zulma Larin – El Salvador, Coordinator Red de Ambientalistas Comunitarios y Coordinación de la Alianza por la Gobernabilidad y la Justicia; Natalia Atz Sunuc – Guatemala, Friends of the Earth Latin American and the Caribbean (ATALC); Gustavo Lozano – México, Scholar and Lawyer of the social movements coalition for the water and the land (MAPDER and REMA) in cooperation with the Central American movement.; Tom Kucharz – Spain, Political advisor to the PODEMOS delegation in the European Parliament, member of the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and stop Impunity. Miguel Ángel de los Santos – México, Lawyer of the Iberoamerican networks of magistrates.
The first press conference of the International Mission will take place in Tegucigalpa on Thursday
Note to Editors:
Spokespeople and contacts
Andrew Davies, Friends of the Earth International communications coordinator, Durban, South Africa, +27 78 496 1319, firstname.lastname@example.org – Can arrange interviews with Goldman Prize winners Oscar Rivas and Ricardo Navarro who are familiar with Berta Cáceres and her work and are colleagues of Gustavo Castro.
Jeff Conant, Friends of the Earth USA, +1 510 900 0016, email@example.com – Can discuss the US connection
Contacts for the solidarity mission: firstname.lastname@example.org
Latin America: J. Elosegui (Radio Mundo Real / Amigos de la Tierra Internacional): 00598-98846967
Europe: P.Pof (Podemos), +34-618 154 002
M. Vargas (Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity), +34-662026497
Image: Rafa Ramos