PBI-Honduras visits COPINH community after their collective crops damaged

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On July 19, the Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project posted on Facebook, “This week, we visited Río Blanco, Intibucá, a community affiliated with Copinh Intibucá, to see the damage caused to the community’s collective crops.”

Peoples Dispatch explains, “Members of the Lenca community in Río Blanco in the northwestern region of Honduras woke up on July 16 to find that 15 sections of their corn crops had been destroyed during the night.”

That article adds, “[The community] said the attack was perpetrated by members of the Madrid family, associated with one of Honduras’ powerful families, the Atala Zablahs.” Peoples Dispatch further reports that the Atala Zablah family has invested in the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project.

The COPINH urgent alert on this situation can be read here.

The PBI-Honduras post also noted, “This community, and particularly the human rights defender Rosalina Dominguéz, have received several serious threats in recent months for their work in defense of #LandAndTerritory.”

This past May, our friends at Amnesty International Canada posted, “Rosalina Domínguez, her four sons and two members of the community of Río Blanco, Intibucá, in Honduras were threatened last 30 April and 1 May 2019.”

Their post highlighted, “The community members are afraid that this might be the beginning of a new wave of attacks against them. They received threats previously for protesting the Agua Zarca Dam alongside COPINH.”

The Indigenous Lenca communities of Rio Blanco are members of COPINH and oppose this hydroelectric dam that lacks their free, prior and informed consent.

In March 2019, Vice reported, “All three foreign investors—including Dutch bank FMO, Finnish finance company FinnFund, and the Central American Bank of Economic Integration (CABEI)—have withdrawn from the project, putting the construction project on indefinite hold.”

That article adds, “However, DESA [the company behind the construction of the dam] owns the concession for 50 years, [Berta Cáceres’ daughter Bertha] Zúniga says, meaning the company has the exclusive right to work the land until 2059. ‘They have not given up and apparently have no intention of abandoning the project altogether.’”

Furthermore, The Guardian has reported, “The 2009 coup that ushered in a pro-business government who sanctioned scores of renewable energy projects, mines, and biofuel plantations, in rural communities without consultation.”

That article also noted, “At least 49 mega-projects were destined for Lenca territories, and Cáceres led multiple campaigns to stop land-grabs.”

Cáceres, who received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015, was murdered in March 2016 for opposing the dam. PBI-Honduras began providing accompaniment to Copinh Intibucá, the organization Cáceres had led, in May 2016.

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