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Berta Zúñiga Cáceres, Sotero Chavarría and José Asunción Martínez, members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) were attacked on July 1st while travelling through La Paz department, Honduras. Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean (ATALC) issued on Sunday a statement to express solidarity with the struggle of COPINH and to demand the protection of social activists. They also warn about the strategies to privatize water against which COPINH is fighting.
Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean - ATALC - hereby expresses its solidarity with the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras - COPINH - and its Coordinator, Berta Zúñiga, over the events denounced in the past days related to the attacks against Berta and other members of the General Coordination team of the Honduran organization.
Berta Zúñiga, Sotero Chavarría and Asunción Martínez were approached by armed men in La Paz Department, after working with the Cancire community of Santiago Puringla municipality.
ATALC, an organization that works for environmental justice, has repeatedly denounced the situations of risk and violations experienced by organizations and movements in defence of their territories, which struggle to ensure the collective rights of Honduran peoples. However, no matter the number of calls and warnings by national organizations and the international community, these situations still take place and the lives of defenders of territories and collective rights continue to be at risk.
This time, COPINH has also denounced that this new attack took place in a context of US cooperation agency USAID’s interests and its so-called development projects that generate confrontations between communities. We are extremely alarmed and concerned over the fact that in addition to threats to the physical and psychological integrity of defenders of territories in Honduras, water privatization strategies are underway under forms well known in Latin America, which are implemented under the pretext of water purification and municipalization, and which have meant in our recent past phenomena related to privatization, commodification and financialization of water and nature. We believe that the development promises presented by foreign actors to communities and their work processes cannot become strategies to divide communities to implement projects favorable to the accumulation of capital and against ancestral and traditional ways of living, and against sustainable practices of territorial management that the people have historically carried out.
We know that the recent experiences of COPINH are likely to be repeated and may occur to other organizations and movements that oppose the privatization of water and the destruction of the territory the extractivist model leaves in its wake. Therefore, we call on the relevant authorities in our brotherly country of Honduras to investigate what happened and to find those responsible for these attacks, exposing the structural causes behind these threats against organizations that strive to safeguard the dignity of the people on the basis of their relationship with the commons. We also demand the protection of COPINH members and of each and every one of the organizations that work with communities for the defence of the collective rights of indigenous and peasant peoples in this Mesoamerican country.
To the international community, and organizations and movements around the world, we reiterate our call to closely follow the situation faced by the Honduran people. We know that international attention on and demands for the protection of the lives of those who work on a daily basis to build social and environmental justice based on the promotion of a dignified community life are key for the social processes, organizations and movements of Honduras and Latin America.
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