Jun 01, 2016

Honduran Social Movements Urge World Bank to Stop Fueling Human Rights Violations

Honduran social movements and indigenous peoples organizations this week called on the World Bank to in light of persistent attacks on human rights defenders, suspend financing in Honduras “until there are minimally just and realistic conditions for indigenous and small farming communities to defend their rights and, above all, that these ancient peoples can freely decide about their territories.”

In a letter to World Bank President, Jim Kim, on May 27, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ), and the Regional Agrarian Platform of the Bajo Aguan criticized Kim’s recent statements regarding the situation in Honduras and the recent killing of Berta Caceres, an indigenous rights leader who struggled against a flood of harmful megaprojects threatening the Lenca people.

The letter states, “after expressing condolences, you defended the need to displace communities in Honduras to make way for energy projects,” asserting that such words “justify serious violations and demonstrate a fundamental contradiction with the World Bank mandate, eliminating poverty and promoting shared prosperity.” The authors continue, “The reality is the opposite, it is not possible to do the work you are mandated to do when crimes like this happen.”

In addition to calling for the Bank to suspend financing both the public and private sector in Honduras, the groups are calling for an independent review of policies and projects promoted by the World Bank and their contribution to the human rights crisis in Honduras, such as financing to change the system of land administration in Honduras and promotion of investments in energy and extractives. The authors question how it is that the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, has been unable to trace back the final destination of its financing in Honduras, as much of that financing flows through financial intermediaries. Last year, Berta Caceres put forward a complaint to the IFC regarding 49 concessions for energy production and mining investments in Lenca territory, however the IFC was unable to verify whether or not these projects involve IFC financing.

“While the government of Honduras every day commits injustices, refuses to accept the necessary international assistance, refusing to apply the binding decisions of international legal bodies, it is not possible that the World Bank continues to finance investments that lead to the militarization of the country, destruction the environment, disenfranchisement, displacement, violence, poverty and death in the most vulnerable communities.”

Read the letter in English here. And in Spanish here.