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Another activist killed in Honduras

March 16, 2016

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — A second leader of the organization headed by slain environmentalist Berta Cáceres was killed Tuesday in Honduras after police evicted a campesino group that he was part of from private land, activists reported.

Nelson García was killed by two unknown assailants on his way from the eviction site to lunch at his mother-in-law’s house, the Civic Council of Indigenous and People’s Organizations (COPINH), which Cáceres co-founded, reported on its website. A source close to the campesino group told AFP that García died from at least four gunshots to the face.

García had spent Tuesday morning helping the evicted campesinos collect their belongings, the organization reported.

The eviction took place in Río Lindo in the department of Cortés, some 180 kilometers north of the capital. Nearly 150 police, military and other public security officers took part in the eviction of some 150 families, according to COPINH.

García’s death comes just two weeks after unknown assailants broke in to COPINH leader Berta Cáceres’ home in La Esperanza, killing her and wounding Mexican activist Gustavo Castro.

Last year, Berta Cáceres won the prestigious Goldman Prize for grassroots environmental activism for her work in waging peaceful protest against a hydroelectric dam project in the indigenous Lenca territory. Opponents say the Agua Zarca dam would displace hundreds of indigenous Lenca people and affect other communities downstream.

The dam is being funded by several international financial bodies, including the Dutch government’s Entrepreneurial Development Bank, or FMO by its initials in Dutch. Following the news of García’s death, the FMO announced that it was suspending all activities in Honduras “given the present situation and the continued violence.”

The FMO said a delegation, including the bank’s CEO, planned to travel to Honduras to meet with communities around the planned Agua Zarca dam to better understand the situation.

Several opponents of the dam have been killed in recent years, prior to the recent deaths of Cáceres and García. According to the human rights group Global Witness, more than 100 people have been killed in Honduras since 2010 “for taking a stand against destructive dam, mining, logging and agriculture projects.”

Hundreds of COPINH supporters were planning a march to start Thursday from their communities to the capital Tegucigalpa to demand justice for Cáceres and García.

Marleny Reyes, an organizer with COPINH said, “We know that in the struggles that COPINH takes on, there will always be threats and intimidation.”

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