The company claims it is helping the community while not one mention of the indigenous people they have displaced, nor the assassination of Berta Cáceres.
“I have no doubt that she has been killed because of her struggle, and that soldiers and people from the dam are responsible, I am sure of that,” her 84-year-old mother told a local radio station. “I hold the government responsible.”
Chills ran down Tomás Gómez Membreño’s spine when he first heard about the brutal murder of his renowned friend and ally, the Honduran Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, six months ago this week.
A fellow environmental activist and second in command at the Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), Tomás feared he would be next.
Friday September 2nd just before midnight Honduras time (Sept. 3 EST) is the 6-month anniversary of Berta’s assassination, and nothing has changed in the investigation. The government has still not captured the intellectual authors, nor have they provided any new information to the family about the proceedings as we have a right to under the Honduran constitution (Article 16).
There are events planned in La Esperanza, Honduras where Berta’s family lives. But, if you can’t be there then we hope you will join us on social media by sharing videos, news reports, and statements from those who worked with Berta who supported indigenous, civil, human and environmental rights.
We encourage you to use the hashtags listed below and help us create a whirlwind online atmosphere calling on support of for the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act HR5474 in Congress and for the government of Honduras to allow an international independent investigation into her assassination as has been requested by her family and many on Capitol Hill including Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
When the activist Berta Cáceres was assassinated in Honduras, in March, the news was devastating but not exactly surprising. Honduras has one of the world’s highest murder rates, and social activists are frequently targets—more than a hundred have been killed in the country since 2010. Cáceres, though, was someone with a significant international reputation. Ever since she won the Goldman Prize, a high-profile environmental award, in 2015, many had assumed that her prominence gave her a degree of protection. The fact that it didn’t—that her killers didn’t care about any potential fallout from her murder—was a reminder of the staggering impunity afforded to criminals in a country where ninety-eight per cent of crimes go unsolved. In the five months since Cáceres’s murder, two more members of the group that she led, the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (copinh), have been killed.
Four months after the assassination of award-winning environmentalist Berta Cáceres, an indigenous activist and member of her organization has been killed
State department review of Guardian allegations comes as a group of Congress members renew call to suspend all US aid to Honduran police and military
The US government is investigating allegations that a hitlist of activists was circulated to special forces units of the Honduran military with instructions to eliminate the targets including Berta Cáceres, the celebrated environmental campaigner who was later gunned down in her home.
US officials have been in contact with counterparts in the Honduran government, as well as individuals and groups that monitor human rights in the country, to look into the allegations of a hitlist that were first reported in the Guardian.
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Berta’s children continue their advocacy. The youngest, Salvador, is working with NGOs in Buenos Aires where he is based continuing the call for Justice for Berta. Laura recently participated in a human rights defenders forum at the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA, where former President Jimmy Carter was critical of State Department funding stating, “The United States is complicit in the oppression of abusive governments when we provide weapons and financial aid to them, as is the case in Egypt, in Honduras, and other nations,”
Bertita Zúniga has been working with CEJIL (the Center for Justice and International Law) in Costa Rica, who are coordinating the legal work being done on Berta and her family’s behalf. And Olivia has been hard at work in Honduras as well as taking care of Berta’s mother, Austra Bertha.
June 15th was the worldwide day of action demanding justice for Berta. It was wonderful to see the support of hundreds of people protesting at Honduran embassies and consulates around the world. On that same day, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), introduced legislation called the “Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act” (H.R. 5474).” The bill calls for the suspension of military and security aid to Honduras.
This bill is a bittersweet cause for celebration. It helps us keep Berta’s name in the news; it creates a goal for us to get this legislation passed or at least fight for it to get passed, and most importantly, it keeps the investigation and the Honduran government’s colossal amount of corruption in the limelight.
And, speaking of the investigation, it is nowhere. The intellectual authors are still being concealed by the government. It appears they are trying to run out the clock, or more than likely, will act just before Congress has to approve the $18 million aid package in September.
After the day of action, The Guardian published a story quoting a former Honduran army solider stating that Berta’s name was at the top of an elite army unit hit list. It is well-documented that this particular unit received training by the U.S. military.
From The Guardian:
According to Cruz, Cáceres’s name appeared on a list given to a military police unit in the Inter-institutional Security Force (Fusina), which last summer received training from 300 US marines and FBI agents.
A few days later the U.S. State Department spokesperson denied any legitimacy to the report:
From The Intercept:
“State Department spokesperson John Kirby on Wednesday repeatedly denied that the government of Honduras kills its own citizens, saying more than a dozen times that he has not heard “credible evidence” of “deaths ordered by the military.”
Kirby’s comments were even at odds with the State Department’s own human rights reports on Honduras, which for the last two years have referred to “unlawful and arbitrary killings and other criminal activities by members of the security forces.”
Former Honduran Foreign Minister Arturo Corrales is, not surprisingly, back. After the New York Times claimed he had been a victim of Juan Orlando Hernandez’s police corruption clean up he’s now back as the interlocutor between the government and MACCIH. Not only that, according to El Tiempo, he is now some kind of “Super Minister,” with special powers. Corrales was one of the main players in the 2009 coup and one who has made millions from privatizing the energy and water sectors.
And after all that frustratingly bad news, here’s at least a bit of good news. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) wrote a letter to the editor in the Miami Herald after Sen. Marco Rubio returned from a trip to Honduras in which he stated that the government was on the “right path.” Leahy responds,
“I have no doubt that Rubio met Honduran officials who told him they plan to reform the police, reduce corruption and violent crime, create jobs and protect human rights.
I have heard those same promises since I first visited Honduras in 1993.
Since then, U.S. taxpayers have provided many hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to address these very problems.
Yet, Honduras is far worse off today than it was in 1993. Almost nothing I have been told by successive Honduran government officials has turned out to be the truth.”
A mixed bag of news but we continue to appreciated your support. The final thing we leave you with is this essay posted recently on Fusion.net.
How can you help?
Go to BertaCaceres.org and donate to Berta’s children, mother and COPINH. The money is needed to keep pressure on both the US and Honduran governments. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. The more people we educate about what is happening the more Berta’s work and legacy can bring change to Honduras.
Berta Caceres was my aunt. She was two years older than me.
She was the girl I chased around my grandmother’s garden, but never caught. She’s the one who would dive into the cold mountain stream in La Esperanza, Honduras, then egg me on to jump in too.
Berta was fearless her entire life—up until the day she was assassinated on March 3.