Sr.Juan Orlando Hernández, President of Honduras
Sr.Óscar Fernando Chinchilla Banegas, Attorney General of Honduras
Sr. Héctor Leonel Ayala, Secretary of State for the Offices of Justice, Human Rights, Governance and Decentralization
Dr. Roberto Herrera Cáceres, National Commissioner for Human Rights
July 24, 2018
We are extremely concerned about the increase in disease caused by contaminated water from the Mezapa River, resulting from the construction of the Hidrocep hydroelectric dam (Hidroeléctrica Centrales El Progreso), in Pajuiles, Atlántida Department. Residents are suffering strong stomach pains, spots on their skin, and rashes.
Since March 2017, Pajuiles and surrounding communities, with the support of the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ), have maintained an encampment to block Hidrocep from constructing the hydroelectric dam along the Mezapa River. They have denounced to the local and national authorities the damage to their only source of water that supplies more than 20 communities. On several occasions, the vice minister of the government office My Environment, Elvis Rodas, has recognized the high levels of pollution in the river. But rather than order a suspension of work on the dam, he has reaffirmed his commitment to let Hidrocep finish construction.
On March 8, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures to the community of Pajuiles, ordering the government to ensure the communities’ continued access to potable water (cf our letter of May 24, 2018). These protection measures also provided for the permanent presence of a doctor and supply of medicines at the Community Health Center. However, on the afternoon of July 6, the health center was closed; patients could no longer gain access to urgent care. In response, MADJ brought in a team of doctors to provide free care to those affected.
We strongly urge that you:
-halt construction of the Hidrocep hydroelectric dam
-comply with the IAHCR precautionary measures granted to the community of Pajuiles on March 8, 2018 that orders the government to investigate the violence being waged against those resisting dam construction and to ensure communities' access to potable water
-provide regular, ongoing medical care professionals to diagnose and treat people suffering from the harmful health effects of water contamination
Brian J. Stefan Szittai and Christine Stonebraker-Martinez
Marlon R. Tábora Muñoz, Ambassador of Honduras to the US ~ via website or fax, and US mail
Heide B. Fulton, Chargé d’Affaires, US Embassy in Honduras ~ via email
Jason Smith, Human Rights and Labor Representative, US Embassy in Honduras ~ via email
Olivia Franken, Honduras Desk, US State Dept ~ via email
Joel Hernández, Rapporteur for Honduras, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email
US Senators Brown & Portman ~ via email
US Representatives Beatty, Fudge, Gibbs, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Kaptur, Latta, Renacci, Ryan ~ via email