An update from the family of Berta Cáceres.
As with many policies the only things that have been predictable about the new president are tweets and well, unpredictability. Our assumption is that at the very least the current policies will stay in place as apparently the U.S. ambassador in Honduras will be staying until the summer.
The election brought in new members of Congress and the loss of five co-sponsors to our bill. A new legislative year also means we will to re-introduce the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act. We will need all of your support for this. If your representative didn’t support the act last session please pressure them to support it this time. In the next update we will send out information identifying who we need to target for support and how to do it.
Two major targets are Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA). Pelosi is supportive of our efforts and is working with us to gather support. Along with the State Department, Rep. Torres has continued to support the government of Juan Orlando Hernandez although she has acknowledged there is massive corruption by the JOH government. It is unclear why she would continue to support JOH or if someone is simply giving her bad advice. It is also a bit of a surprise given that she was born in Guatemala and came to the US when she was a child because her family was under threat, seemingly from the government. So, presumably she knows a something about repression and corruption.
As head of the Central America Caucus – and now appointed to the House Foreign Affairs Committee — she has a lot of clout and thus many members simply follow her lead. We need to begin informing her constituency what policies she has been supporting on Capitol Hill as they are not in line with what we Central Americans ultimately want.
Global Witness released a damning report today that calls for the US government to stop funding and supporting the government of Juan Orlando Hernandez:
“Our investigation sheds light on the back-door deals, bribes and lawbreaking used to impose projects and silence opposition. We also scrutinise how the US is bankrolling Honduran state forces, which are behind some of the worst attacks.”
Here are their findings.
Beginning in early March we will be paying tribute to Berta in a variety of ways and we will do our very best to keep you informed on what is happening where but its best to keep tabs on social media from your local NGOs that are involved where you live. A list of a few are at the bottom of this email.
Lastly, I traveled to Honduras in December with Witness for Peace. We met many groups who have been or are being displaced for one reason or another. Along the coast of Honduras near Tela the government is looking to build resort hotels. There are projects like this all over the country – many supported by US Aid that seem on paper to be doing good, but in reality are wreaking havoc in the lives of everyday Hondurans. Those who oppose these projects are either murdered or their lives are being turned upside down.
One example – aside from the assassination of my aunt Berta Cáceres – is the displacement of a Garifuna community of Barra Vieja described in the Global Witness report. The community simply walked along the beach to the closest large town. After the resort was put in place, security personnel blocked the community from accessing the beach. This included children who walked to school. The government subsequently built a road around the resort extending their commute to an hour just to reach the town by foot. This means children are less likely to attend school and emergency services have more difficulty reaching the village.
As always, thank you for supporting Berta’s legacy and let’s get this bill passed!
List of a few groups working on Berta Cáceres assassination anniversary and The Berta Cáceres Act legislation
Witness for Peace Midwest/Accion permanente por la paz
Just Associates (JASS)
School of the Americas Watch