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Four months after the murder of leader Berta Cáceres, the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) has to regret another political feminicide. Yesterday, leader Lesbia Yaneth Urquía, renowned community activist in the defense of common goods and against the Aurora I hydroelectric project, in San José municipality, La Paz department, was murdered.
“This murder responds to the privatization and concession package currently under place in Honduras, where 35% of the territory has been granted for the establishment of hydroelectric and mining projects. So, when these projects find that there are people with a different view, and who defend their territory, they look for some way to put them in jail, or as in the case of Lesbia Yaneth Urquía, to murder them”, said COPINH´s leader, Tomás Gómez, at the start of the interview with Real World Radio.
Hydroelectric dams are the main projects threatening the COPINH communities. There are over 50 projects of this kind throughout the country: “We reject this criminal act committed by this State that brings nothing more than insecurity to the Honduran people, but that on the other side gives legal certainties for the installation of many hydroelectric projects and mining concessions in Lenca lands”.
Gómez believes that the reason why Lesbia was murdered has to do with her strong rejection to the Aurora I hydroelectric project, owned by Gladys Aurora, Vice President of the National Congress and Chair of Partido Nacional. However, the COPINH leader also sees in this atrocious act the intention to “give a broader message” to social activists. According to him there is a strong concern among the groups of power in Honduras over the potential passing in US Congress of the “Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act”, a proposal by the Democratic Party to suspend the funds provided by the US government (reaching over 18 million dollars) to Honduran security forces.
“This murder is part of a definite policy of criminalization, harassment and hatred against COPINH members, but also against Honduran activists in general”, said Gómez.
About the demands of his organization, he said: “We continue demanding an independent expert commission of the IACHR to investigate the murder of Berta Cáceres, the suspension of the Agua Zarca project; the elimination of all concessions granted to projects in Lenca lands; and the demilitarization of Lenca territories, respecting the autonomy and self-determination of indigenous peoples”.
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