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One year after the murder of Berta Cáceres, the anti-dam struggle in Honduras continues

The Council of Canadians at a rally in Toronto demanding justice for Berta Cáceres, March 2016.

Today is the one year anniversary of the murder of Indigenous activist Berta Cáceres in Honduras.

The Guardian now reports, “Leaked court documents raise concerns that the murder of Cáceres was an extrajudicial killing planned by military intelligence specialists linked to the country’s US–trained special forces. Cáceres was shot dead a year ago while supposedly under state protection after receiving death threats over her opposition to a hydroelectric dam.”

Cáceres had been awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for her opposition to the Agua Zarca dams in the Gualcarque river basin.

The New York Times explains, “The Agua Zarca Dam [would be situated on] the Gualcarque River, which is sacred to the Lenca people. …Since 2013, Ms. Cáceres’ organization, the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras [COPINH], has protested to try to stop the dam’s construction. Under international law, indigenous groups must be consulted on projects that affect their lands, but the Lenca say they were not consulted about the dam. They maintain that the 22MW hydroelectric project, which would create a 300-meter long reservoir and divert 3 kilometers of the river, will jeopardize their water resources and their livelihood.”

The project is being led by Desarrollos Energéticos SA, (Desa) with the backing of international engineering and finance companies.

The Council of Canadians opposes the construction of the Agua Zarca Dam and calls on the Honduran government to respect the Honduran government to respect the right of the Lenca people to free, prior and informed consent. In June 2013, we signed an open letter demanding the release of Cáceres who had been illegally detained by the army and police while en route to a protest against the proposed dams.

Cáceres’ organization, COPINH, is also opposed to the construction of the Canjel River Hydroelectric Project on Lenca territory in Honduras. Hydrosys, a Canadian company, is involved in the construction of this dam.

We call on the Trudeau government to publicly pressure Honduran authorities to suspend, review and annul all hydroelectric and mining concessions on Lenca territory granted without their free, prior and informed consent.

Since the coup in Honduras in 2009, more than 100 environmental activists have been murdered. During this same period, Canadian authorities pushed for a new mining law and negotiated a free trade agreement with Honduras.