Director of electricity company arrested in Berta Cáceres case
On Friday, March 2, the director of DESA, David Castillo, was arrested in Honduras on suspicion of involvement in the murder of Berta Cáceres, exactly 2 years ago. The Honduran government refused for a long time to not only detect the actual murderers, but also the intellectual authors of the murder of Cáceres.
Cáceres fought against the Agua Zarca dam, built by electricity company DESA on the territory of the native Lenca people, to which Cáceres belonged. DESA received funding for the project from the Dutch development bank FMO.
Berta Cáceres and her organization COPINH asked FMO not to finance the dam, because the indigenous people had not been consulted and did not agree with the construction of a dam in one of their sacred rivers. But even after the murder of Cáceres, FMO continued to deny that the project did not follow the rules. Finally, in July 2017, FMO stepped out of the project and terminated its contract with DESA. During and after this step, FMO continued to deny any direct involvement by DESA in the murder and other human rights violations.
The fact that now even the director of DESA has been arrested for involvement in the murder shows that FMO has made a big mistake in this and has to review its customer policy. Otherwise its investments will continue to reinforce conflicts rather than resolve poverty issues in countries such as Honduras, where often there is a strong collusion between the state and the private sector.
Both ENDS has supported COPINH since early 2016 in their fight against Agua Zarca. Thanks in part to our joint pressure, FMO finally withdrew from Agua Zarca in 2017. We are therefore relieved that with this arrest finally justice is in sight for Berta Cáceres, that her family and colleagues have been waiting for so long.
COPINH, now led by Berta's daughter Bertita, writes in a telling statement: "David Castillo was arrested thanks to all of the work and pressure created by the solidarity and work of organizations nationally and internationally. No thanks is due to the Attorney General's office, who have tried everything possible to cover up the truth in this case."
COPINH continues to call for the arrest of everyone responsible for the murder and for an independent transparent process to trial the suspects.
The Guardian, 2 March 2018: Berta Cáceres murder: ex-Honduran military intelligence officer arrested
6 July 2018: FMO and Finnfund exit the controversial Agua Zarca project
13 May 2016: Arrest of DESA staff member for murder of Berta Cáceres seems last straw for FMO
16 March 2016: FMO's suspension of activities in Honduras is just the first step
5 March 2016: Brave human rights defender Berta Cáceres murdered!