Key international backers have pulled their financing out of a Honduran hydro project that was resisted by environmental activist Berta Cáceres until her murder in March 2016.
Dutch bank FMO, Finnish finance company FinnFund, and the Central American Bank of Economic Integration (CABEI), had “pledged loans worth US$44 million for the Agua Zarca dam on the Gualcarque river, which is considered sacred by the Lenca people and which Cáceres campaigned against before her death,” the Guardian reports.
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Cáceres, a member of the Lenca Indigenous group, was shot dead in her home a week after receiving threats over her opposition to Agua Zarca, one of the biggest hydro projects in Central America. “I have no doubt that she has been killed because of her struggle, and that soldiers and people from the dam are responsible,” her 84-year-old mother told media at the time.
“So far eight men have been charged with the murder, including three with military ties,” the Guardian reports, “but the intellectual authors remain free.” FMO and FinnFund “suspended” their loans to the project after Honduran police arrested an employee of Desarrollos Energeticos SA (DESA), the company building the project, in connection with Cáceres murder.
Both “have now decided to withdraw completely from the Agua Zarca project,” and CABEI, the largest of the three investors, has stopped advancing money for its construction. The regional development bank explained in a statement that it “is no longer funding the project. Nor is there any intention to further invest in the project. Each [Zarca lender] is going to have their own exit strategy. Our bank stopped all disbursements.”
DESA received about 40% of the money it had expected from the loans before they were withdrawn or ended. The Guardian does not make clear what the impact will be for the completion of the Agua Zarca project.
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