Two more companies have decided to no longer support the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam in Honduras, the same project that slain indigenous leader Berta Cáceres had protested before her murder in 2016.
The international non-profit advocacy organization Oxfam confirmed in mid August that German engineering firms Voith Hydro and Siemens, which provide industrial turbines, will no longer supply components to the DESA Corporation which is in charge of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project.
Maritza Gallardo Lopez, program coordinator for Oxfam in Honduras, said, “This is a long-overdue announcement. The Agua Zarca project was tainted from the very start; it shouldn’t have taken deaths and bloodshed of rights defenders for these companies to realize that. The companies must now strengthen their policies to stop them from getting tangled up in dirty deals and human rights abuses again.”
Oxfam along with several human rights organizations have been urging the projects funders to end their support, and earlier this summer two of the larger lenders announced their withdrawal.
On July 6, two of the major funders of the project, FMO (Netherlands Development Finance Institution) and Finnfund (Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation) formally ended their relationship with the Agua Zarca project, citing that their exit “…is intended to reduce international and local tensions in the area.”
Prior to that announcement, one of the German companies had already stopped participating on a temporary basis.
Last year, a few months after the murder of Cáceres and fellow indigenous activist Nelson García, Voith Hydro of Germany announced they were suspending their deliveries of components to DESA Corporation.
“The violent deaths of the two COPINH members Berta Cáceres and Nelson García have affected us deeply. According to the latest information available to us, the Honduran authorities have apparently arrested four suspects. We expressly welcome that the country’s investigative authorities – as repeatedly requested by us – are taking concrete steps to solve the crime and that their investigations have apparently produced visible results,” according to the Voith Hydro press statement of May 4, 2016.
“After a thorough examination of the situation, we have informed our customer DESA yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, May 03, 2016/CEST) that we are suspending all deliveries for the project…”
As of press time, the DESA Corporation had not announced the termination of the Agua Zarca Project.