Honduran social movement COPINH issued the following statement after the Dutch bank FMO, implicated in the assassination of Berta Cáceres, opened its Latin America headquarters in Costa Rica.
The FMO Bank, whose former CEO is convicted of orchestrating the assassination of Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres, has opened a new headquarters in the city of San José, Costa Rica. The Bank refuses to accept responsibility for the death of Cáceres and the violence inflicted on other indigenous activists. The bank has not yet paid compensations to the victims, and is instead expanding its activities in the region.
The FMO, whose 51% shareholder is the Dutch State, financed the illegal Agua Zarca hydroelectric project of the Atala Zablah oligarchical family from 2014 to 2017, causing harm to the indigenous community of Río Blanco.
About $17.2 million (approximately 413 million lempiras) was used to pay for acts of repression and murder against the Lenca community, which were openly denounced by Berta Cáceres and COPINH. Cáceres and other activists suffered assassination attempts, violent attacks, persecution, threats, and sabotage at the hands of corrupt police and local mayors.
In retaliation, activists filed a civil lawsuit against the bank for negligence in 2018.
The Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) and FinnFund are also responsible, as they allowed FMO to divert its funds to David Castillo and the Atala Zablah family for carrying out acts of repression. A discreet payment of $1.2 million was made to David Castillo just three days before the murder of Berta Cáceres.
David Castillo, the primary contact and liaison for the FMO, general manager of Agua Zarca, and right-hand man of the Atala Zablah family, was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison for the murder of Berta Cáceres.
In 2017, following the demands of COPINH and multiple Honduran and international organizations, FMO officially withdrew from the Agua Zarca project. The terms of its exit are kept secret from the victims. However, it was confirmed that the FMO forgave the debt of the Atala Zablah family, thus giving millions of dollars to those directly responsible for the murder of Berta Cáceres.
Therefore, 80 months after the assassination of Berta Cáceres, we declare the following:
- COPINH, together with the children of Berta Cáceres, condemns the installation of an FMO headquarters in Latin America and demands the bank be stopped from investing if it cannot guarantee the human rights and consent of indigenous communities.
- We warn the organizations and communities of Costa Rica and Central America that the presence of the FMO threatens your safety. We must be alert and watch these predators.
- COPINH demands that the FMO assume responsibility for the violence suffered by Berta Cáceres, the Lenca community of Río Blanco, and COPINH. This means implementing real changes in its investments, reparations to the victims, and acknowledgment of their crimes.
Declared in La Esperanza, Intibucá, on November 2, 2022
With the ancestral strength of Berta, Lempira, Mota, Iselaca, and Etempica, we raise our voices full of life, justice, freedom, dignity, and peace!
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
rqorinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/rqorinoco/March 12, 2023