Fact-finding continues into 22-MW Agua Zarca hydroelectric project


On April 1, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), which is involved in financing the Agua Zarca project, announced it would send emissaries on a fact-finding mission to speak with members of communities near the hydroelectric project and also government officials.

The 22-MW Agua Zarca small hydroelectric project located on the Gualcarque River, is estimated to cost more than US$30 million, is planned for Santa Barbara and Intibuca in Honduras.

Agua Zarca is being developed by energy company Desarrollos Energeticos S.A. (DESA). CABEI co-financed a loan for up to $24.4 million to DESA to partially finance the development, construction, installation and start up of the Agua Zarca project, pursuant to the global investment plan approved by CABEI.

After the visits, the bank said, it will analyze "actions to be taken with regards to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project" in conjunction with the Dutch development bank FMO.

FMO reportedly finances about US$86 million worth of projects in Honduras.

FMO said last month that it was suspending its operations in Honduras -- including for the Agua Zarca project -- following the killings of of indigenous leader Berta Caceres. Caceres was shot four times by gunmen who broke into her home, and one of her colleagues was killed two weeks later.

CABEI has offices in five Central American countries that include: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The organization also conducts business in Belize and Panama.

Meanwhile, Honduran authorities said last week that they had carried out a raid March 13 on DESA offices in search of possible evidence in Caceres' killing.

Prosecutors' spokesman Yuri Mora said agents confiscated some documents and weapons used by company guards that will be examined.

It was not clear why the raid, which took place March 13, was not made public before. Company officials have not commented on the raid.

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