Indigenous water protector slain in Honduras

Juan Carlos Cerros

On March 21‚ÄĒthe eve of World Water Day‚ÄĒan indigenous activist who was leading the fight against construction of a hydroelectric¬†dam was shot dead in front of his family in Honduras.¬†Juan Carlos Cerros Escalante, a member of the Lenca indigenous people, was gunned down directly outside¬†the church at the pueblo of Nueva Granada, in the Caribbean coast department of Cort√©s. He was on his way to visit his mother, and his children were beside him.¬†Cerros Escalante led the local group Communities United, which is mobilizing residents along the Rio Ul√ļa to oppose El Tornillito hydro-dam. The pending project would displace 10 communities in the departments of Cort√©s and Santa B√°rbara.

“We condemn the killing of yet another comrade and activist,”¬†said Betty¬†V√°squez, coordinator of the Santa B√°rbara Environmental Movement. “It is not conceivable, it is not right, that they criminalize people, persecute people and later kill them for defending the land. We consider this a political assassination.”¬†In 2020 alone, a dozen indigenous rights and environmental activists were slain in Honduras. (AP, Radio Progreso, La Prensa)

Berta C√°ceres, another Lenca leader, was slain in 2016 while leading a campaign against the¬†Agua Zarca dam, another hydroelectric project in the¬†Ul√ļa¬†watershed which was ultimately completed.¬†Tom√°s Garc√≠a Dom√≠nguez, another indigenous opponent of the Agua Zarca project, was slain in 2013.

Photo: Radio Progreso