Honduras has a troubling history when it comes to controversial development projects and the land and environmental rights activists who oppose them. Four years ago, Berta Cáceres, a native Lenca woman who fought hard to stop the construction of a dam on the sacred Gualcarque River, which would have threatened the well-being of the Lenca people, was murdered by a collusion of economic and political interests. Two weeks ago, five Garifuna leaders involved in a longstanding struggle against violent land grabs of their community’s ancestral lands by corrupt government officials and corporations were abducted from their homes by heavily armed men in police uniforms and haven’t been seen since.
You would think that the United States would be more cautious about promoting investment in controversial dam projects in Honduras. Think again.
What is Happening?
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is circulating a letter in Congress to Adam Boehler, CEO of the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). The letter calls out the DFC’s plan to invest $1 billion in controversial projects in Honduras over the next three years. The only project named in the DFC’s recent press release is the Jilamito hydropower project, which has been met with staunch opposition from local communities as the river being dammed is their only source for clean drinking water. Organizers against the project, including Carlos Hernández, a young lawyer who represented them, have already been murdered. It is clear from the lack of transparency and consultation that went into approving this investment that the DFC is operating in direct contradiction to its stated intent to “promote and facilitate investment with respect for human rights, the environment, and worker rights.”
Members of local communities are now faced with an impossible ultimatum: choosing to live without clean drinking water or risking death threats, harassment by authorities, or worse.
Here’s what you do:
This letter has the potential to reverse this extremely harmful project through congressional action. That means we need you to pick up the phone or send an email now!
- Find out who your representative is here.
- Call their D.C. office.
- If you don’t get an answer, leave a voicemail.
- Here’s our sample script:
- “My name is [First and Last Name] and I am a constituent from [City, State, Zip Code]. I am calling to urge Representative [Last Name] to sign on to the colleague letter currently being circulated by Representative Ilhan Omar regarding Honduras. In 2019, Honduras was considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental and land defenders. Indigenous, Afro-indigenous, and small farmer communities are forced into especially precarious situations as they risk their lives in order to protect their land and their dignity. The letter opposes the DFC’s investment in a controversial dam project in Honduras which local communities also oppose. Please sign the letter being circulated by Rep. Omar urging the DFC to halt this investment and commit itself to promoting sustainable development that respects human rights, the environment, and labor standards. Thank you for your attention to this matter.”
- Visit your representative’s website.
- Go to their “Contact” page.
- Click on the “Email” option.
- Fill out the contact information.
- Paste our call script into the appropriate box.
The DFC has only existed for seven months and is already moving in a dangerous direction. Your actions now could help correct its course.