Posted: 2:06 am EDT
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The coordinator and co-founder of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) Berta Cáceres was murdered on March 3 at her home in Intibucá, in Honduras.
The Intercept reports that Cáceres’s activism spanned several issues including Agua Zarca, a proposed hydroelectric dam project, which was to be built on the territory of the indigenous Lenca people. Reportedly with a generating capacity of 22MW, a 300 metre-long reservoir and a 3km long diversion channel between the dam and the turbines, Agua Zarca is being constructed by the Honduran corporation DESA or Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA).
Action Network on its campaign letter says that it is “profoundly concerned that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has partnered with DESA’s Social Investment Programming through the MERCADO project, linking US taxpayer dollars to the repression and violence against COPINH.” The group also says it “strongly condemn the role in Rio Blanco of Los TIGRES, a Honduran specialized police unit, which is funded and vetted by the United States, in defending the private interests of DESA.”
According to FedBiz, USAID awarded the MERCADO $24,332,336.00 contract for Honduras on December 16, 2014. The contract is for five years “to support the implementation of the Feed the Future (FTF) initiative and the Global Climate Change (GCC) Presidential Initiative in Honduras” and the contractor is located in St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Honduran Tigres reportedly skilled in combating criminal organizations and countering human and narcotic trafficking previously trained with the U.S. Special Forces Soldiers on the ranges of Eglin Air Force Base, in Northwest Florida.
International NGO banktrack.org also notes the following:
The state is not only failing to respect human rights and to assure that the company obeys them, but is actively supporting DESA by sending in the military and police force. They are based at the company´s facilities, drive in the company’s cars, and help out with military equipment and intimidation of the population. This creates the impression that the company has command over the military and police force. Maybe it is no coincidence that the director of DESA, David Castillo, studied in the West Point Military Academy of the US and served as the assistant of the director of the Honduran Army Intelligence.