PBI-Honduras accompanies ASODEBICOQ in its opposition to hydroelectric dams

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On July 24, the Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project posted, “Last month we went to El Cacao, where our accompanied organization ASODEBICOQ works in the preservation of common and natural goods.”

PBI-Honduras adds, “We were updated on the latest developments with a hydroelectric project and how the community is affected by these concessions.”

The Association of Defenders of Common Goods in Quimistán (ASODEBICOQ) was founded to defend land, rivers and human rights. Quimistán is a municipality in the department (state) of Santa Bárbara, which is situated in western Honduras.

Quimistán is situated about 20 kilometres southwest of El Cacao (which is also in the department of Santa Bárbara), where PBI-Honduras went last month.

In February 2019, Radio Progreso reported (in Spanish) that the department of Santa Bárbara is “threatened by more than 15 hydroelectric projects and 23 concessions for mining.”

That same article notes, “In the municipality of Quimistán, there is an imminent danger from the installation of the Santa Lucia hydroelectric dam, which is advanced by 90%. And, despite the fact that there is a strong rejection by the population, they currently intend to build a second hydroelectric dam also on the Cuyagual River.”

ASODEBICOQ is opposed to the construction of the Santa Lucia I and Santa Lucia II dams. It has called on the Government of Honduras to stop construction of the dams because the project violates the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989, an International Labour Organization Convention, also known as ILO-convention 169.

That convention is a forerunner of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and reflects the right to free, prior and informed consent.

There have also been serious environmental impacts.

Kevin Ramírez Vásquez, a co-founder of ASODEBICOQ, says, “The impact the Cuyagual project has had is the pollution of the rivers from where they explode dynamite, explode bombs to loosen rocks and fell deeply-rooted trees.”

He adds, “The poison this bomb makes ends up in the freshwater springs, in the river, and it pollutes the river where it kills the animals, the fish, the water-snails.”

Ramirez also notes, “The inhabitants of communities such as San Felipe and Santa Lucia can’t access the rivers because they are privatized. The owners are the businessmen, the owners of the dam. They have militarized the area, installed police posts.”

And he says, “We know that for defending our territory, defending the rivers, which are the veins of our Mother Earth, the first thing that comes are the threats. We know that deaths may await us because they send soldiers when we make blockades or take to the streets.”

PBI-Honduras has been monitoring the security situation of Ramirez since April 2017 and began to provide accompaniment to ASODEBICOQ in May 2018. Ramirez says, “The support PBI offers us gives us strength, encouragement, so we can keep going.”

The river itself also gives Ramirez strength. He says, “When I see the river I feel excited and proud because we defend that river, we defend it from those businessmen that come to pollute it. I feel very happy when I see so much nature, so many rivers, so many beautiful people coming together.”

To read an interview (in English) done by PBI-Honduras and posted on the PBI-United Kingdom website, please click here.

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