by Bob Riggs
Saturday, March 3, marks the second anniversary of the murder of the courageous worker for justice and women’s autonomy, Berta Cáceres. She was killed in her home in La Esperanza, Honduras, because of her leadership in the struggle of the Lenca People in defense of their lands, rivers and forests, which were being threatened by the construction of mega hydroelectric dams on the Gualcarque River.
DESA, the Honduran company which was attempting to build the dams, has stopped construction after funders in Finland and the Netherlands withdrew their support. However, the non-governmental organization, Global Witness, has reported that many environmental and human rights activists have continued to be killed as the Honduran government has cracked down on activists.
Global Witness also reported that the Honduran government has passed laws which give immunity to forces which attack citizens protesting threats to the environment. Erika Guevara-Rosas, the Americas Director at Amnesty International, stated: “Berta’s tragic murder illustrates the woeful state of human rights in Honduras. The message is clear: if your human rights work disturbs those with power, you will be killed.”
Bertha Zúniga Cáceres, oldest of Berta Cáceres’ four daughters, has replaced her mother as coordinator of COPINH, the organization which Berta co-founded. She survived an assassination attempt by three men wielding machetes in July 2017. Last December, the vehicle in which she was riding was stopped by military officers. The COPINH members were on their way to protest electoral fraud. Bertha was detained and the other riders were removed from the vehicle and ordered to walk away. Bertha was eventually released.
Now, Berta’s daughter, Bertha Zúniga Cáceres, is also running for election to the Honduran National Congress, representing the Intibucá department, one of the poorest and most heavily indigenous areas in Honduras. If elected, she will become the first indigenous–and the youngest–woman elected from the Intibucá.
Join the increasing numbers of American citizens and groups, including 70 members of Congress, who support the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act (HR-1299). Raise your voice about the ongoing violence against environmental and human rights workers and our government responsible for failure to act in response to these atrocities, especially since the deeply flawed November election in Honduras.
*This article originally appeared in the LEPOCO Newsletter in March of 2018 on page 2.