PBI-Honduras to watch the trial of the five defenders criminalized for opposition to the construction of the Jilamito dam

Published by Brent Patterson on

On January 13, the Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project posted on its Facebook page: “We will be very attentive to the oral and public trial of the five people criminalized for the defence of the Jilamito River (Arizona, Atlántida) against the construction of a hydroelectric plant by the INGELSA company.”

“The municipality of Arizona, where three hydroelectric plants already operate, is one of the most impoverished and with the least access to drinking water in the department [of Atlántida].”

PBI-Honduras adds: “The trial will begin next Monday, January 18 in the municipality of Tela. The communities in resistance are accompanied by Movimiento Amplio [Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice/ MADJ].”

Canada supports the dam through the Inter American Development Bank (IDB)

On December 4, 2020, it was announced that IDB Invest had approved a $20.25 million loan to support the development, construction and operation of the dam.

The Honduras Solidarity Network and the Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor Committee have noted Canada’s involvement in this dam through the IDB.

The Government of Canada has reported: “Canada holds 4 percent of the IDB’s voting power and is the third-largest, non-borrowing shareholder after the United States (30 percent of votes) and Japan (5 percent of votes).”

In 2009, Canada’s capital investment in the IDB was temporarily increased to USD $4 billion. Last year, the annual lending capacity of the IDB was $13 billion.

US financing of the dam

In August 2020, the WFP Solidarity Collective further reported: “The DFC [Development Finance Corporation] announced that, in conjunction with the Inter-American Development Bank, it will be using U.S. tax dollars to invest in the Jilamito Hydropower Project.”

In this letter to the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation last summer, US Representative Ilhan Omar opposed US financing of this dam noting among other concerns that: “The river that is being dammed is the only source of clean drinking water for the communities in the area.”

The struggle against the dam

In May 2018, The Guardian reported: “The accused – a teacher, hardware-store owner, farmers and the newly elected municipal mayor – are opposed to a dam on the Jilamito river in the tropical region of Atlántida.”

“Their alleged misdemeanour: ‘land invasion’ during a protest against the construction of a dam. A guilty verdict could bring a jail term of up to four years.”

“Jilamito river supplies several thousand households across the municipality of Arizona, and communities fear the 14MW plant will aggravate water shortages, which the company Ingelsa (Inversiones de Generación Eléctrica SA de CV) denies.”

The article by Nina Lakhani in The Guardian also noted: “The authorities are hoping a prosecution will enable them to clear a makeshift community blockade in the remote hilly pastures so construction can begin.”

The Solidarity Collective has also highlighted: “INGELSA illegally pushed [the dam] forward without legally-required free, prior, and informed consent.”

The upcoming trial

PBI-Canada will join PBI-Honduras and many others around the world following with great concern what happens in court starting on January 18.

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