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Cuyamel Hydroelectric Project on Garífuna territory in Masca, Omoa, Cortés, Honduras

The Cuyalmel Hydroelectric Project is a proposed hydroelectric dam. Its construction has been associated with widespread distrust, violence, and the murder of Garífuna woman defender Mirna Teresa Suazo


In 2013, the National Congress approved Generadora Cuyamel SA´s Cuyamel Hydroelectric Plant, a dam project installed on the Cuyamel River. The proposed project would be sited in Masca, a Garífuna community in the Cuyamel Valley, and is part of an umbrella of contentious projects under the United Nations Carbon Fund´s Clean Development Mechanism [1, 2, 4] such as the ZEDE (see Residents never consented to the project because they were against further water privatization blocking communities from access to their own resources. Furthermore, as happened with another dam nearby in 2005, the dam could cause serious damage and contamination to the river, kill biodiversity, and submerge millions of hectares of forests. Consequently, people as well as flora and fauna would lose their land and means of survival [7]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Cuyamel Hydroelectric Project on Garífuna territory in Masca, Omoa, Cortés, Honduras
State or province:Cortés
Location of conflict:Masca
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Dams and water distribution conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Specific commodities:Electricity
Carbon offsets
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Cuyamel Hydroelectric Project is a proposed hydroelectric plant (currently under construction and 70% complete) with a 15 year contract.

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Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2013
Company names or state enterprises:Cuyamel Hydroelectric Company, S.A. (COHCUY)
Honduras Electric Corporation, S.A. (HECO)
Relevant government actors:- Ministry of Energy, Natural Resources, Environment and Mines
- Government of Honduras (Consejo Nacional)
International and Finance InstitutionsBanco Ficohsa
Banco Aliado
Banco Interfin of Costa Rica
Banco Cuscatlán of El Salvador
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- Cuyamel River Protection Committee
- Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH)
- IM-Defensoras
- National Network of Human Rights Defenders in Honduras
- Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders
- MiAmbiente, Reflection, Research and Communication Team (ERIC), - Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
cabildo abierto
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (undecided)
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives: - Tourism iniciatives which do not threaten the river [12].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Violence continues with impunity against those going against the project, which is still being built.
Sources & Materials

[1] Voces Feministas. Asesinan a la defensora Mirna Teresa; van 4 mujeres garífuna asesinadas en un semana (2019)
[click to view]

[2] Wikipedia. Mirna Teresa Suazo Martínez (last accessed 20-11-2021)
[click to view]

[6] Radio Progreso. Segunda concesión hidroeléctrica amenaza con destruir río Cuyamel, Cortés (2016)
[click to view]

[3] IM Defensoras. Asesinan a Mirna Teresa Suazo, lideresa comunitaria y defensora del territorio garífuna (2019)
[click to view]

[5] UNFCCC. Project 0083 : Cuyamel Hydroelectric Project (last accessed 20-11-2021)
[click to view]

[7] Radio Progreso. Represa en Río Cuyamel enciende alerta en población de Omoa (2016)
[click to view]

[8] Radio America. Pobladores De Cuyamel Protestan Contra Construcción De Represa Hidroeléctrica (2016)
[click to view]

[4] La Vanguardia. Asesinan a una líder garifuna (2019)
[click to view]

[9] Criterio. Alcalde de Omoa pretende engañar al pueblo sobre proyecto en Río Cuyamel (2016)
[click to view]

[10] BNAmericas. Cuyamel y bancos firman crédito para proyecto hidroeléctrico (2006)
[click to view]

[11] Cespad. La agonía del Río Cuyamel y las mujeres que quieren evitar que muera (2018)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[12] EL RIO CUYAMEL ES NUESTRO - Radio Progreso
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Dalena Tran, ICTA-UAB, [email protected]
Last update21/11/2021
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