Honduras: Environmental defenders at risk as government awards logging, mining and hydroelectric dam licenses often on indigenous territories

Author: Irish News, Published on: 29 May 2020

“Honduras is selling off its natural resources to the highest bidder, environmentalists claim”, 25th May 2020

Honduras’ economic growth strategy is founded on tourism, energy projects, mining and agri-business - all of which are potentially damaging to the environment. The government has awarded licenses to hundreds of controversial projects and critics say it is selling off the country’s rich natural resources to the highest bidder. Logging, mining and dam projects are often sited on the ancestral territories of indigenous people and there have been accusations of land grabs.

Human rights organisations believe the expansion of these businesses has fuelled violence against local communities and land rights activists… [This article describes] three case studies featuring indigenous women from different areas who have first-hand experience of what happens when an extractive company sets its sights on their land.

María Felícita López says a hydroelectric dam project in her area in the La Paz region has “resulted in neighbour being against neighbour”… her community was …able to prevent the Los Encinos project from being sited on the Chinacla River on the Lenca people’s ancestral land…

The Zapotal River was dammed eight years ago [Aurora project]. Now there's a dry river bed and the water is diverted into concrete pipes and sent cascading down the mountainside to a power station. This area of La Paz is verdant and the river is essential for daily life but four communities no longer have access to it…

Ángela Murillo Bardales…member of the indigenous Tolupan people…lives in a community of 50 households in San Francisco Campo. Ángela says illegal logging taking place without their consent in their forest is causing water sources to dry up and local families believe mining has polluted their water source as they developed skin rashes. The community mobilised and in 2017 set up a roadblock preventing logging lorries accessing the site. Last year police fired tear gas at these peaceful demonstrators…

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