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Finland suspends financing for dam construction in Honduras due to local violence

Xinhua, March 18, 2016 Adjust font size:

Finland has suspended the financing of a controversial dam project in Honduras in the wake of the murder of an anti-dam activist there, the newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet (HBL) reported on Thursday.

The Finnish development cooperation financier Finnfund has invested five million dollars into the Aqua-Zarca project, which aims to construct four dams in the river Gualcarque.

Before her death, environmental activist Berta Caceres was leading an opposition against the dams. Her family claimed the killing was related to her campaign. Last year, Caceres received the Goldman Environmental Prize for her anti-dam campaign.

CEO of the Finnfund Jaakko Kangasniemi said he still believed the local people wanted the project to continue, but the situation would have to be looked into locally. He added he would travel to Honduras soon and would want to talk to COPINH, the organization promoting the rights of indigenous citizens against the dam plans.

The Finnfund director was quoted by HBL as saying he did not believe the killing was related to the dam project.

Pekka Puustinen, the head of the development policy section at the foreign ministry, told Xinhua that cases like this were very rare. The main reason for giving up projects are budget cutbacks in Finland. At times, mismanagement in the target area is a reason, but even so, after corrective measures the projects could continue, Puustinen said.

In recent years, local conditions and human rights issues have been given more attention concerning development aid in Finland such as when Finland pulled out of Nicaragua citing the country's human rights situation as one of the reasons. Endit