PBI-Honduras notes environmental network’s concern about the dispossession of territories during the COVID-19 pandemic
On April 9, the Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project posted on its Facebook page a 4-page statement from the National Coalition of Environmental Networks and Organizations of Honduras (CONROA).
The Honduran Centre for the Promotion of Community Development (CEHPRODEC), which is accompanied by PBI-Honduras, coordinates the national coalition.
PBI-Honduras highlights that, “[CONROA] warns that the COVID crisis is being used to ‘continue the dispossession of the territories, since today employers can request and receive approval of environmental licenses for the virtual exploitation of natural assets’ and to ‘remove from circulation the social leaders who oppose’ these projects.”
On March 29, the digital newspaper Criterio reported, “Licensing and other procedures related to natural resource exploitation projects will not stop in Honduras in the context of the coronavirus emergency (Covid-19). For this purpose, the government announced the implementation of a digital platform.”
“The Hernández administration determined that the holders of projects, works or activities, who to date have expired their environmental license, may continue to operate and request the renewal of this, within a period of 60 days after the official declaration of completion of the national emergency.”
“The government’s decision especially favors owners of mining and hydroelectric projects and that, for the most part, are generating territorial conflicts due to the violation of ILO Convention 169 that establishes free, prior and informed consultation.”
In response to the decision, the Honduran Community and Environmental Claim Alternative (ARCAH) stated, “In the quarantine period, consultation processes could not be carried out, therefore the licenses will be granted in total violation of collective rights and in total impunity, once again protected by the regime.”
In Canada, construction on the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline, and the Site C hydroelectric dam also continues on Indigenous territories without their free, prior and informed consent despite the pandemic.
PBI-Honduras also recently posted, “Just as coronavirus is a very real and current threat, so too is environmental devastation.”
“We acknowledge the importance of recognising the role of key workers, such as doctors and nurses, to fight coronavirus and protect the most vulnerable.”
PBI-Honduras adds, “We extend this understanding to human rights defenders who are the key workers addressing the climate crisis. They must be protected to prevent further climate breakdown of our shared planet.”
PBI-Honduras has accompanied CEHPRODEC since May 2014.