“Screw the company trying to take our river, and the government. If I die, I’m going to die defending life.” So said María Santos Dominguez, a member of the Indigenous Council of the Lenca community of Rio Blanco, Honduras.
April 1 marks one year since the Rio Blanco community began a human barricade that has so far stopped a corporation from constructing a dam that would privatize and destroy the sacred Gualcarque River. Adults and children have successfully blocked the road to the river with their bodies, a stick-and-wire fence, and a trench. Only one of many communities fighting dams across Honduras, the families of Rio Blanco stand out for their tenacity and for the violence unleashed upon them.
The Honduran-owned, internationally backed DESA Corporation has teamed up with U.S.-funded Honduran soldiers and police, private guards, and paid assassins to try to break the opposition. Throughout the past year, they have killed, shot, maimed, kidnapped, and threatened the residents of Rio Blanco. The head of DESA, David Castillo, is a West Point graduate. He also served as former assistant to the director of military intelligence and maintains close ties to the Honduran Armed Forces.