Honduras: New report by independent experts finds evidence of collusion between co. & govt. in murder of Berta Caceres; investors & co. respond
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Author: Freddy Cuevas, Washington Post
Honduran authorities arrested an executive with a dam development company Friday in the 2016 killing of indigenous and environmental activist Berta Caceres, calling him an intellectual author of a crime that sparked an international outcry. Roberto David Castillo Mejia, who at the time of the slaying was executive president of the company Desarrollos Energeticos SA, or DESA, was detained at an airport in San Pedro Sula as he was about to fly to Houston, Texas, said Jorge Galindo, a spokesman for the prosecutors’ office. It was the ninth arrest in the killing of Caceres, a Goldman Environmental Prize winner who was shot to death two years ago after attackers barged into her home in La Esperanza...Two others have been arrested for allegedly impeding the investigation. The Public Ministry alleges Castillo was “the person in charge of providing logistics and other resources to one of the material authors already being prosecuted for the crime.”
In a statement, DESA defended Castillo and its employees as innocent, saying they were “totally unconnected” to the crime and calling the “unjust detention” the result of “international pressure and campaigns by diverse NGOs to discredit the company... Caceres’ relatives said they were certain of Castillo’s guilt. “There is no doubt that he was one of the material authors of Berta’s death,” said her ex-husband, Salvador Zuniga.
Hi, my name is Bertha Zúniga Cáceres. I am currently the general coordinator of COPINH (Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras). From Honduras, from the Lenca people, from the fight for the truth, justice and a guarantee of non-repetition in the case of our sister and companion Berta Cáceres, we salute the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights for speaking about this case, as it is emblematic and crucial in showing the violation of indigenous communities by companies and financing banks.
We would like to tell you that from the side of COPINH, there have been various efforts to uncover the truth and that today, the root of international investigation efforts has been validated, and we have sufficient proof to know the intellectual authors of this crime, in which there was clear involvement of the Honduran private company DESA, state’s security forces, its employees, and also banks and investors which were negligent for not knowing what was happening since 2013 until her murder in 2016. They have done nothing to avoid the killings, not only hers, but of other companions in the area.
This criminal structure was financed by international banks such as the Dutch development bank (FMO), Finnish development bank (Finnfund) and Central American Bank for Economic Integration (Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica). Today we are sure that there was an awareness of what was happening. There are also declarations that have been produced by international banks, local banks, and the private national company. In these declarations the violations against indigenous communities and their fundamental rights to life are clear, but there is also a general violation of human rights that makes this supposed development model, that brings only death, incompatible with human rights.
Author: Roxanna Altholz, Jorge E. Molano Rodríguez, Dan Saxon, Miguel Ángel Urbina Martínez & Liliana María Uribe Tirado, Grupo Asesor Internacional de Personas Expertas
On March 2, 2016, armed men murdered human rights defender Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores, and shot Mexican environmental activist Gustavo Castro Soto in the town of La Esperanza, Department of Intibucá, Honduras…Based on its analysis of the evidence, GAIPE has concluded that Berta Isabel Cáceres’ murder is not an isolated incident. This report demonstrates that shareholders, executives, managers, and employees of Desarrollos Energéticos Sociedad Anónima (DESA), private security companies working for DESA; and public officials and State security agencies implemented different strategies to violate the right to prior, free and informed consultations of the Lenca indigenous people…The information reviewed by GAIPE also demonstrates that DESA lacked sufficient capital to build the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project. The company appears to have used funds originating from the financial system to increase the levels of violence in the zone…Based on its analysis, GAIPE has established the willful negligence by financial institutions such as the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), the Netherlands Development Finance Institution (FMO) and the Finnfund…
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- Related companies: Desarrollos Energéticos (DESA) Finnfund FMO
Author: FMO & Finnfund
"FMO and Finnfund's initial reaction to the Gaipe report", 2 Nov 2017
On 6 July 2017, FMO and Finnfund finalized their exit from the Agua Zarca project in Honduras. Following the murder of Berta Cáceres, a well-respected human rights activist, FMO and Finnfund publicly expressed the deepest sorrow at her violent death. We have called upon the Honduran authorities for a thorough investigation and continue this call to hold those responsible to account...FMO and Finnfund strongly reject any claim of illegality regarding our role in any project... We are development institutions. We partner with others to invest in local prosperity because we care about people... Therefore, FMO and Finnfund condemn all kind of violence, do not tolerate illegal conduct and are serious about respecting human rights.To that end, FMO published its updated human rights position statement as part of its Sustainability Policy, following an internal review and consultation with our stakeholder community. This...statement is a firm commitment to respect human rights. In practice, this means that we explicitly and systematically address human rights in our due diligence and across our investment process. We cannot stress enough that we too want justice to prevail so that those responsible will be held to account through a fair trial.
...El primero elemento a considerar es que Agua Zarca está totalmente desvinculada a cualquier acto de violencia y/o amenaza que se expresa en el reporte. La información incluida en el mencionado informe está tomada fuera de contexto y no refleja la realidad, sino que ha sido construida con la intención de hacer un daño al proyecto Agua Zarca y generar una inestabilidad en el país a 26 días de las elecciones en Honduras. Agua Zarca actúa en todo momento apegado a lo que establece la ley en Honduras. Una prueba de ello es la reciente resolución de la Corte Suprema de Justicia de Honduras que declaró sin lugar una demanda de inconstitucionalidad interpuesta por el COPINH en contra del proyecto. Es preciso destacar que, en noviembre de 2016, Agua Zarca se reunió con representantes del GAIPE en Honduras y en esa oportunidad se les explicó al GAIPE mediante pruebas que Agua Zarca está completamente desvinculado a cualquier acto de violencia y que el proyecto está totalmente orientado a la generación de fuentes de empleo, desarrollo de oportunidades para las comunidades y respeto al medioambiente.
- Related stories: Honduras: Investigación del Grupo Asesor Internacional de Personas Expertas vincula a DESA con el asesinato de Berta Cáceres Honduras: New report by independent experts finds evidence of collusion between co. & govt. in murder of Berta Caceres; investors & co. respond
- This is a response from the following companies: Desarrollos Energéticos (DESA)