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Shocking New Investigation Links Berta Cáceres’s Assassination to Executives at Honduran Dam Company

Elisabeth Malkin interviewed by Juan González and Amy Goodman - Democracy Now, November 1, 2017

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin today’s show with shocking new revelations about the assassination of renowned Honduran indigenous environmental leader Berta Cáceres. On Tuesday, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, a team of international lawyers released a new report that shows how the plot to murder Cáceres was months in the making and went up to the highest levels of the company, whose hydroelectric dam project Cáceres and her indigenous Lenca community were protesting. The report’s release celebrated the effort to push back against the brazen impunity with which the murder was carried out.

PROTESTERS: Berta no se murió, Berta no se murió. ¡Justicia! ¡Justicia!

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: “¡Justicia! Berta!” “Justice for Berta!” they chanted, upon the report’s release.

In 1993, Berta Cáceres co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH. For years, the group faced death threats and repression as they stood up to mining and dam projects they said were destructive to their ancestral land. Then, on March 2nd, 2016, Cáceres was gunned down just before midnight in her hometown of La Esperanza. At the time of her death, she was organizing indigenous communities to resist the Agua Zarca Dam on the Gualcarque River, saying it threatened to contaminate her community’s water supply.

AMY GOODMAN: Now a team of five international lawyers have found evidence that the plot to kill Cáceres went up to the top of the Honduran energy company behind the dam, Desarrollos Energéticos, known as ”DESA.” The lawyers were selected by Cáceres’s daughter, Bertita Zúniga, and are independent of the Honduran government’s ongoing official investigation. They examined some 40,000 pages of text messages and say the conversations are proof that the orders to threaten COPINH and disrupt its protests came from DESA executives. The investigation also revealed DESA exercised control over security forces in the area, issuing directives and paying for police units’ room, board and equipment. In their new report, the lawyers write, quote, “The existing proof is conclusive regarding the participation of numerous state agents, high-ranking executives and employees of Desa in the planning, execution and cover-up of the assassination.”

For more, we go to Mexico City, where we’re joined by Elisabeth Malkin. She’s a reporter for The New York Times, has read the new report and details its findings in her article, “Who Ordered Killing of Honduran Activist? Evidence of Broad Plot Is Found.”

Reinventing the Wheel - Teaching Old Hydro New Tricks

By x356039 - January 22, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

When discussing green, renewable energy something of a holy trinity of sources consistently emerges in every discussion: solar, wind, and water. Of the three the one receiving the least press these days as a possibility are those options and opportunities based on water power. This is understandable when one considers the first image that springs to mind when discussing the subject: towering tons of cold concrete caging the roaring rivers of the world to work for the whims of the wealthy and powerful.

There is little debate in spite of the incredible potential hydroelectric dams offer that they come at enormous environmental costs. At internationalrivers.org the consequences of these projects is summed up with very strong, damning words. In spite of the extensive studies regularly conducted on new dam sites the changes caused by construction lead to a number of unintended and deadly consequences for the local ecosystem. The most obvious is, of course, the diversion of the river's flow but the impact of this happens on more levels than immediately meets the eye. The creation of massive artificial reservoirs that result from the construction of these dams destroys the previously existing green water habitats of the rivers making them quite hostile to the native species. This leads to massive influxes of invasive species like snails, algae, and non-native predatory fish ensuring further ecological havoc. Added to this is the blocking of new sediment deposits, resulting in increased erosion and the lowering of the water table denying plant life of the needed moisture to thrive.

The negatives of hydroelectric dams don't stop there. Adding further insult to injury is the displacement of indigenous populations that often results from these massive building projects. According to a report titled, “Social Impacts and Social Risks in Hydropower Programs” submitted to the 2004 United Nations Symposium on Hydropower and Sustainable Development the number of people displaced in China and India over the past 50 years by such projects is staggering. Of the estimated 45 million people in China displaced by new industrial projects during this period at least half were forced out of their homes due to the construction of new dams with a new project in the Yunnan province expected to add tens of thousands more to their number. In India the number is believed to be at least fifty million and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. A recent report by Survival International argues hundreds of thousands of people are being displaced as we speak by new projects in Brazil, Malaysia, Guyana, Ethiopia, and Peru. The Ethiopian Gibe III Dam, expected to be the highest dam on the continent when it is completed in 2020, has already forced over 200,000 people from their homes and it still has six years to go.

If this was all there was to the story of hydropower then there is little doubt that any sane environmentalist would stay as far away from this source as possible and consign it to the same category as nuclear, coal, and other dirty sources of energy. Thankfully there are a number of recent innovations, many inspired by pre-industrial uses of water power, that show hydropower has a few more tricks up its sleeve that make it an equally necessary component in any green energy future. These new developments harness the potential offered by flowing rivers, the roll of the tides, and crashing waves in non-invasive, minimally impactful ways. What makes these even better is, like wind and solar power, these inventions can be implemented on a far smaller, more evenly distributed scale ensuring that all forms of renewable power remain truly grassroots power.

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