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100+ Organizations demand that Honduras respect the decision of the People of Tocoa to say NO to the mining megaproject

More than 100 national and international organizations demand that the Honduran authorities respect the decision of the People of Tocoa to say NO to the petroleum coke thermoelectric plant and the Emco mining megaproject, among other demands. See the complete list of signatories here.

On Saturday, December 9, 2023, the town of Tocoa was called by the Municipal Corporation to participate in an open town hall on the Ecotek petroleum coke thermoelectric project, one of the seven components of an iron oxide megaproject promoted by the "Emco Holdings" consortium of Ana Facusse and Lenir Perez.

More than 2,000 people showed up early at the Froylan Turcios Institute to ensure that their voices were heard, despite a stigmatization campaign against human rights defenders from the Municipal Committee in Defense of Common and Public Goods of Tocoa in the period prior to the town hall, with the intention of provoking fear in the population.

During the civic assembly, there was a strong police presence, as well as representatives of the Secretariat of Human Rights, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for Honduras, the Observatory for Justice of the Guapinol River Defenders of national organizations and as well as international human rights observation organizations.

Municipal staff tried to prevent voters from entering the Institute and, seeing the large number of people who had arrived to vote against the project, Mayor Adán Funes refused to enter the Institute to hold the open town hall. As a result, the people self-convened a popular assembly, in which the municipal councilors were present, and voted against the petroleum coke thermoelectric plant and the Emco megaproject. The popular decision reaffirms the result of the open town hall held in November 2019 in Tocoa that flatly rejected the mining project. The process was supervised by municipal councilors and the minutes were notarized.

We are concerned that the Emco energy project has been promoted by local and state authorities as a way to alleviate the electricity problem in Tocoa, despite the fact that, according to the same environmental impact assessment of the company Ecotek presented to the Ministry of Natural Resources – SERNA/MiAmbiente, [Ui1] most of the electricity generated is intended for the operation of the company's plant to pelletize the iron oxide it extracts from the Carlos Escaleras National Park.

We celebrate the position of the State of Honduras at COP28 in defense of forests and the generation of clean energy, but we are deeply concerned about the efforts to produce energy through the burning of petroleum coke that is highly polluting for health and the environment, especially because according to the opinion of the Center for Studies and Control of Contaminants (CESCO) of SERNA dated April 23, 2023, the burning of petroleum coke is not regulated in Honduras.

For more than seven years, the Municipal Committee in Defense of Common and Public Goods of Tocoa has publicly denounced, and through the corresponding Honduran Authorities, the illegalities, human rights violations and environmental contamination related to the Emco megaproject.

These allegations have not led to any significant action by the relevant authorities, despite the fact that the CMDBCPT has presented clear and substantiated evidence after a meticulous review of the company's files and State documents, which supports its allegations.

The members of the CMDBCPT have been victims of arbitrary arrests, murders, threats, forced displacements and smear campaigns with the aim of silencing their worthy fight for life and the protection of the forests and rivers of the Montaña de Botaderos National Park. Carlos Escaleras.”

Since October 2023, the members of the Municipal Committee and their legal teams are beneficiaries of precautionary protection measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) due to the imminent risk they run.

Given the decision made by the people of Tocoa, and supporting the Municipal Committee's fight for justice and accountability, we demand:


  1. That the decision of the People of Tocoa validly expressed on December 9, 2023 through a popular assembly, be respected and implemented immediately by all levels of the Honduran government.
  2. The immediate and unconditional cancellation of the Emco Holdings megaproject, including the ASP and ASP2 mining concessions of Inversiones Los Pinares; the thermoelectric petroleum coke plant and the concession of the Ecotek pelletizing plant; the concessions for the use of water from the Guapinol, San Pedro rivers and the La Ceibita stream.
  3. The immediate and comprehensive protection of the members of the Municipal Committee, their legal teams and their families through measures adopted by the State in consensus with defenders.
  4. The investigation of the criminal and administrative complaints filed by the Municipal Committee to bring about the prosecution and punishment of those responsible for the illegalities related to the extractive project and the threats and stigmatization campaigns against defenders of the Municipal Committee.
  5. The independent investigation, prosecution and punishment of those materially and intellectually responsible for the murders of Jairo Bonilla, Aly Domínguez and Oqueli Domínguez.
  6. The repair of damages, both to the victims of persecution by the Emco company and the State of Honduras, as well as to the core area of ​​the Carlos Escaleras National Park.