Continuing a disturbing trend, another environmental activist in Honduras has been murdered this week. Nelson García, 39, was shot outside of his home on Tuesday. He was a member of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). The killing comes just two weeks following the murder of fellow activist and COPINH co-founder, Berta Cáceres, who was also killed in her home.
García was a father of five children and had been a leader in his community that was claiming property rights in Rio Chiquito. Earlier that day, police evicted 150 families that had been occupying Rio Chiquito. García’s murder took place at his home in Rio Lindo, around 20 kilometers (12 miles) away and was unrelated to the eviction, according to a statement from the police.
Following the murders of García and Cáceres, the Netherlands bank FMO said it would suspend all activities in Honduras, including disbursement of funds related to the Aqua Zarca dam project on the Gualcarque River. Both García and Cáceres had opposed the dam, and are not the only activists to be killed after speaking out against it. Three years earlier, fellow COPINH member Tomás Garcia, was killed by a Honduran soldier during a peaceful protest of the dam.
A report published last year by UK-based NGO Global Witness found that per capita, more environmental activists were killed in Honduras than in any other country and that indigenous people were most at risk. Since 2002, 111 environmental activists have been killed in Honduras, according to the report. As reported by the Guardian, in the vast majority of these cases, no one is prosecuted. Global Witness told the Guardian that in Honduras, palm oil companies as well as hydropower interests are the main beneficiaries of the killings.
The report also noted that Latin America as a whole is dangerous for environmentalists, with 75 percent of killings in 2014 occurring in Central or South America.
Planet Experts reported last year on a number of indigenous rights and environmental activists who have been murdered in Peru, Brazil, and Columbia. As PE reported, while the actual gunmen may occasionally be caught and tried, the more powerful forces responsible for orchestrating the killings rarely, if ever, are held accountable.