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Indigenous Lenca leader shot dead in Honduras

Pablo Isabel Hernández was the director of a radio station and active in Indigenous education and environmental projects.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — A local leader of Honduras’ Indigenous Lenca group was shot to death Sunday, police said.

Pablo Isabel Hernández was killed on a dirt road near the town of San Marcos de Caiquín as he headed to a local church with his father and brothers, police spokesman Cristian Manuel Nolasco said.

Nolasco said the ambush may have been related to personal or political disputes.

Hernández served as director of a radio station known as “Radio Tenan, the Indigenous Voice of the Lencas.” He was also active in Indigenous education and environmental projects.

The Association of Honduran Community Media said in a statement that it “considered the killing yet another attack on freedom of expression and the defense of human rights.”

Hernández was the second Lenca leader killed in less than a year. In March 2020, Lenca activist Juan Carlos Cerros Escalante was shot to death in the town of Nueva Granada, in the Caribbean coast province of Cortés. He had helped lead a fight against construction of a dam.

Both Hernández and Cerros Escalante belonged to the same Indigenous community as Berta Cáceres, a prize-winning environmental and Indigenous rights defender who was murdered in 2016.

According to rights groups, over three dozen environmental activists have been killed in Honduras since Cáceres’ death.

Cáceres was a co-founder of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras. She helped organize opposition to the Agua Zarca dam project, which was to be built on the Galcarque River. The river holds spiritual importance for the Lenca people as well as being a critical source of water. The dam project remains frozen.

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