Central America

Indigenous leader killed in resistance fight over Honduras mega-dam

(July 17, 2013) Tomás Garcia, a leader of the indigenous Lenca community in Honduras, was fatally shot on Monday, and his son Alan seriously injured, when members of the Honduran Army began firing indiscriminately at a demonstration protesting the construction of the 22-megawatt Agua Zarca Dam, already underway on the Gualcaeque River in the country’s southwest. International Rivers reports.

Lenca_COPINHThe controversial dam developed by the Honduran energy company, Desarrollo Energético Sociedad Anónima (DESA), and Chinese hydropower giant Sinohydro, has been the target of ongoing resistance from the Lenca community, whose ancestral territory is directly affected by the project. Developers and the government of Honduras ignored a legal obligation to consult with the Lenca community of Rio Blanco before green-lighting the dam which threatens traditional livelihoods and culture, effectively violating the ILO Convention 169 on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, International Rivers reports.

Tomás was a member of his community’s Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, known as COPINH.

Read the International Rivers action bulletin on the killing of Tomás Garcia here: Stop Violence Against Lenca Communities Now! Justice for Tomás Garcia.

Mexican news outlet El Informador notes that “close to 400,000 indigenous people are opposed to the construction” of the Chinese-led project and that Sinohydro is behind a number of unpopular dam proposals slated for eastern Honduras’ Patuca River in Olancho, [see Honduras Culture and Politics]. The projects are considered a threat to the livelihoods of indigenous people and a significant potential threat to the country’s Rio Platano Biosphere.

International Cry lists the Agua Zarca mega-dam as  one of “around 360 newly accepted development concessions in Honduras, 30% of which are on indigenous lands”.  [Honduras Culture and Politics].

Related Reading

Suspicions mount in slaying of noted Honduran environmentalist

Development or Armed Robbery: World Bank Funding, SouthCom Militarization Displace Indigenous and Campesino Communities

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