Berta Cáceres, indigenous leader and spokeperson for more than 20 years of the Civic Council of Popular and Inigenous Organizations of Honduras (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras – Copinh), was murdered on 3rd March while she was resting in her home in La Esperanza, Intibucá, about 188 km from Tegucigalpa, by “unknown” gunmen.
Bertha Cáceres was a firm defender of small farmers and indigenous peoples’ rights and an inspiring social activist, both at regional and continental level, in defense of social and environmental justice, particularly against mining megaprojects and hydropower plants.
She had warned amny times about Free Trade Agreements as part of the machinery of impunity of transnational corporations. Bertha committed her life to health, land, against patriarchism and violence. She opposed the political golpe of 28th June 2009; COPINH denounced the golpe as an instrument of violence serving transnational corporations to exploit resources and to repress the dissent of social movements. Bertha also opposed US military bases on Lenca territory.
In April 2015, Bertha Cáceres was awarded with Goldman price, one of the most prestigious awards for environmental defenders. She was awarded for her hard work in defense of the Lenca territory against the Agua Zarca Hydropower Project of the Chinese transnational SINOHYDRO and national company Desarrollo Energético Sociedad Anónima (DESA).
Lenca people had been denouncing for years the violation of human right to water as source of life and culture by corporates, military and governmental actors.
Berta Cáceres was mother of four and was assigned precautionary measures by the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) which were not accomplished by the state. Bertha has been assassinated by a state who protect the interests of local capital, transnational corporations who have spoiled the territory. Bertha’s commitment in favour of life, of those most in need, was reason of several trials, investigations and threats against her.
The indigenous leader denounced many times death threats against her, and this was happening among a general violent context; 111 environmental activists in Honduras have been killed between 2002 and 2014, according to the 2014 report “¿Cuántos más?” of the ONG Global Witness. This makes Honduras the country with the highest rate of violence among the 17 countries analysed in the report. It also shows the architecture of impunity and violence of the large scale mining, of the hydroelectric business, among other activities in favour of private capital and complicit governments. According to the Honduras-based organization ACI-PARTICIPA (Asociación para la participación ciudadana en Honduras) more than 90% of assassinations and abuses in the country remain unpunished.
Part of statement prepared by the Global Campaign Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity /stopcorporateimpunity.org/.
CAWN statement, supported by WIDE+: CAWN_statement_Berta_Caceres