First, I would like to offer my heartfelt and sincere condolences for your loss. To lose a loved one in such a violent manner is a tragedy that none of us should have to face. To be forced to wait so long to see justice done is simply unacceptable.
Like many people across the world, I was shocked and outraged when Berta Caceres was killed on March 3, 2016. It was clear to me then, and it remains clear to me now, that her murder was not only an unspeakable act against a brave individual, but also an attack against the right of all Hondurans to speak out in defense of human rights, indigenous rights, and the environment. I have joined my colleagues in calling for justice, and in particular for calling on Honduras to invite the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to ensure a thorough and transparent investigation. I have also sent letters about these concerns to the Secretary of State and to the United States Ambassador in Honduras, and my colleagues and I have raised the case of Berta Caceres with representatives of the Honduran government, including the President of Honduras.
Human rights are at the core of the United States’ relationship with Central America. We will continue to hold our partners in the region accountable, and I have supported strong conditions on our assistance to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Furthermore, I believe that improving protections for human rights defenders and improving the capacity of justice systems to investigate and prosecute violent crimes must be top priorities for our assistance in Honduras. However, as you note in your letter, I have not cosponsored the Berta Caceres Act. While I share many of the goals of that legislation, I do not believe that suspending all civilian security assistance to Honduras is the best way to achieve those goals.
Please know that I will continue to advocate for truth and justice in the case of Berta Caceres’ murder. Furthermore, I will work with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that we hold our partners in Central America accountable for making progress on human rights issues.
NORMA J. TORRES Member of Congress