Above Photo: Protesters outside of the court case fo the murder of Berta Caceres hold signs that reads ‘capture the intellectual authors’ and justice for Berta. Nov. 28, 2019 | Photo: Reuters
Berta Zuñiga says she wants ‘comprehensive justice and true justice, not a smoke screen or justice only for appearances’ referring to her mother’s 2016 murder.
The daughter of slain land and water rights activist, Berta Caceres says her mother’s murder must be brought to justice, including indicting the European banks that financed the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam that Caceres fought against until her death three years ago.
Berta Zuñiga, daughter of Lenca Indigenous activist Caceres tells EFE: “We have always asked for comprehensive justice and true justice. We do not want a smoke screen or a justice that is only for appearances,” Zuñiga stated.
Zuñiga was 24 when her mother, co-founder and leader of the Civic Council of Peoples’ and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh), was gunned down in her home in La Esperanza, Honduras Mar. 3, 2016 by now-convicted members of the Honduran military and executives of the Energy Development company (DESA) that planned to construct the Zarca dam.
Just prior to her assassination Caceres had won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, which gained the activist worldwide attention for her tireless fight against the dam which she had said would cause widespread damage to the biodiversity and to theLenca people of southwest Honduras.
Zuñiga says that DESA still needs to be sanctioned along with the European banks that were financing the dam’s construction.
According to Bank Track, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) with offices in Spain and several Latin American countries, has yet to financially divest itself from the project. The FMO (Netherlands Development Finance Institution) and Finnfund (Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation) both left the contract in 2017.
In addition, Zuñiga says that the state was legally obliged to protect Caceres, but “they did not do it.”
The young woman says that in the weeks leading up to the ruling of her mother’s murder last November, she and other family members as well as Copinh members experienced an “increase” in death threats and violence. In a previous interview Zuñiga said: “We have seen death threats, destruction of crops, persecution and a campaign of discredit and hatred against the people of Copinh.”
Even though seven men were convicted of Caceres’ murder Nov. 29 of last year, Zuñiga and over 25 local and international human rights and environmental organizations say the court trial was wracked with irregularities, including the judge’s decision to ban the family from certain hearings and public defenders concealing at least 35 pieces of important evidence against the accused. Zuñiga and environmental organizations have been demanding a retrial for several months.
“Until … these conditions are met, we will say there is justice and we will never be satisfied.”
Earlier this month Honduran prosecutors formally presented evidence against the CEO of DESA, Roberto David Castillo Mejia, for allegedly masterminding the murder of Caceres.
At a vigil protest for Berta Caceres on Mar. 2 in her hometown, coordinator of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (Ofraneh), Aurelia Arzu, told EFE that they are “sadly remembering the anniversary, but at the same time with satisfaction because we know the legacy she left behind, which is still going on and we are not going to stop. … We are still asking for justice.”