Thursday, March 17, 2016

FMO and FINNFUND Suspend Support of Agua Zarca Dam

Dear Alfredo,

We have big news to share. After the murder of a second COPINH activist this month, FMO and Finnfund have suspended their support for the Agua Zarca dam project.

It is tragic and wrong that it took two murders to convince FMO and Finnfund to pull out of this terrible project. But your voices made the difference.
Thousands of you demanded justice for Berta and put FMO and Finnfund in the spotlight. The international pressure we created made this success possible, and ensures that Berta's death was not in vain. Thank you for standing with us.

Yet, despite international pressure, powerful circles in Honduras continue to disregard the lives of people who stand in the way of their economic interests. On March 15, Nelson Garcia, an activist of COPINH, the Honduran organization Berta Cáceres had co-founded, was shot and killed when he helped a group of poor families resist a land grab in the small town of Rio Lindo.

After the release of this "shocking news," FMO, the Dutch development financier, decided to suspend all activities in Honduras, effective immediately. They will "not engage in new projects or commitments," and "no disbursements will be made, including the Agua Zarca project." Finnfund, the second European financier involved in Agua Zarca, suspended its support as well.

The Central-American Bank for Economic Integration is the last Agua Zarca financier standing. With $24 million, CABEI extended the biggest loan for the dam project.

If we keep up the pressure we've been building together, the suspension of support by European funders will be the beginning of the end of the ill-fated and violent Agua Zarca Project.

But this doesn’t mean that this tragic chapter can be closed:

All involved parties must continue to press for the safe release and return of Mexican activist Gustavo Castro, the sole witness of Berta’s murder who is still kept in Honduras against his will. They must press for an independent international investigation of the murder. COPINH has called on the Dutch and Finnish governments to visit the Agua Zarca site. It is also high time for the US government to end its aid to a Honduran military which has frequently been associated with the human rights abuses in the country.
Berta Cáceres’ murder has become a symbol and a rallying cry for people around the world who are outraged by the price that marginalized people, and indigenous people in particular, pay for projects that are supposed to bring economic and social development. We hope you'll stay with us as we continue to closely monitor the Agua Zarca Project and its aftermath, to make sure that Berta’s sacrifice was not in vain.
In solidarity,

International Rivers

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