PBI-Honduras and PBI-Guatemala accompany Indigenous communities opposed to dams

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Peace Brigades International accompanies human rights defenders who oppose the construction of major hydroelectric dams that negatively impact rivers and Indigenous communities without their free, prior and informed consent.

The Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón

PBI-Guatemala accompanies the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón which is comprised of Indigenous Q’eqchi Mayan communities.

Telesur has reported, “The communities claim the Oxec and Renace hydroelectric projects are illegal because the local Indigenous Q’eqchi’ peoples were not properly consulted and informed about it, as established by Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization.”

PBI-Guatemala has accompanied the Resistance since July 2017.

You can read more about this here.


PBI-Honduras accompanies the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH).

That’s the organization that was led by environmental activist Berta Cáceres who was murdered in March 2016 for opposing the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque River on Indigenous Lenca territory.

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Dutch bank FMO, Finnish finance company FinnFund, and the Central American Bank of Economic Integration (CABEI)—have withdrawn from the project, putting the construction project on indefinite hold.”

However, the article adds, “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.’”

PBI-Honduras has accompanied COPINH since May 2016.

You can read more about this here.


PBI-Honduras also accompanies the Association of Defenders of Common Goods in Quimistán (ASODEBICOQ) situated in the department of Santa Bárbara.

In February 2019, Radio Progreso reported that Santa Bárbara is “threatened by more than 15 hydroelectric projects.”

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.”

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.”

PBI-Honduras has accompanied ASODEBICOQ since May 2018.

You can read more about this here.


The United Nations has noted, “Indigenous peoples continue to express their concern at States that grant concessions for extractive industries, infrastructure projects, large-scale agriculture or hydroelectric dams without their free, prior and informed consent.”

It adds, “The rights to lands, territories and resources are at the heart of indigenous peoples’ struggles around the world [and advancing these rights are an] effective way to protect critical ecosystems, waterways and biological diversity.”

Most recently in this country, Indigenous and community opponents have mobilized against the Site C dam (on Treaty 8 territory in northern British Columbia – see United Nations instructs Canada to suspend Site C dam construction over Indigenous rights violations) and the Muskrat Falls dam (on Innu and Inuit territory in Labrador – Nunatsiavut leader says ‘time bomb is ticking’ with Muskrat Falls flooding underway).

Peace Brigades International had a North America Project from 1992 to 1999 that focused on Indigenous struggles on Turtle Island.

In December 1992, the PBI-North America Project visited Nitassinan (Quebec-Labrador) when the Innu community of Maliotenam in Quebec was opposing the construction of the Sainte-Marguerite III hydroelectric project on the Sainte-Marguerite River.

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