Update from Berta’s family: Berta’s children fight on despite State Dept. denying report Berta killed by US-trained soldiers & a bittersweet victory, a house bill in Berta’s name

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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.

“Berta was a ray of moonlight in dark corner of Latin America; she was going to change Honduras, for you, for me, for our parents, for our children, for her own four children.”

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.

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