In Central America, as in many other parts of the world today, communities are being thrust into life and death struggles up against powerful interests to ensure clean water and health for their future generations. This is often the case where mining companies seek to dig up gold, silver, iron ore or other metals and minerals, disrupting or destroying precious water supplies in the process, and leaving behind massive quantities of toxic waste on the land. With national and international laws designed to privilege such harmful activities in the name of so-called development and progress, it is vital to celebrate the milestones of people fighting against all odds to protect their lives and lands from such threats.
On her recent trip to Guatemala and Mexico, Vice President Kamala Harris drove home two points: that potential immigrants to the U.S. should “stay home,” and that the Biden administration will not tolerate corruption, which it sees as a major barrier to development in the region. Harris made it clear that the two priorities are linked: “Part of giving people hope is having a very specific commitment to rooting out corruption in the region,” she said. But U.S. promises to help root out corruption in the region has generated skepticism in the U.S. and in Central America. The U.S. government has generally been on the wrong side of history when it comes to combating corruption in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador — the three Central American countries that currently account for most migration to the United States.
March 2, 2021 was the five year anniversary of the murder of Berta Cáceres, who opposed the Agua Zarca dam in Honduras. That date was less than one month after the deaths of dozens of people from Tehri Dam disaster in Uttarakhand, India. The two stories together tell us far more about consequences of the insatiable greed of capitalism for more energy than either narrative does by itself. In addition to being sacred to the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras, the Gualcarque River is a primary source of water for them to grow their food and harvest medicinal plants. Dams can flood fertile plains and deprive communities of water for livestock and crops. The Lenca knew what could happen if the company Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) were to build the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque. As Nina Lakhani describes in Who Killed Berta Cáceres?, the La Aurora Dam, which started generating electricity in 2012 “left four miles of the El Zapotal River bone dry and the surrounding forest bare.”
Much of what has been written about Lenca/Honduran activist Berta Cáceres has focused on her identifications as an Indigenous woman and as an environmentalist. While neither is false, those two facts alone paint an anemic picture of Berta’s militancy, and that of COPINH (the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras). While she strategically organized alongside her fellow Lencas and other feminists, her struggle was not rooted in identity per se, but in her analysis of the legacies of colonial and capitalist violence.
It has been three years since your daughter, Berta Caceres, was murdered by a private military organization with connections to the government, paid for by a private corporation. But when we were driving here to visit you, I noticed on many of the buildings and on many of the fences you still see the words “Berta vive,” “Berta lives,” here. How still, three years later, does Berta live here, in Esperanza, but in the country?
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.
A Honduran Criminal Court with National Jurisdiction found an active military officer, hitmen and current and former employees of the DESA hydroelectric company guilty of the murder of indigenous rights defender Berta Caceres. Judges found DESA executives planned the March 2, 2016 murder and indicated that others involved remain at large.
The trial of eight men accused over the murder of Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres has been thrown into disarray after judges ousted the victim’s lawyers from proceedings. The legally suspect ruling in the country’s most high-profile case leaves the verdict vulnerable to appeal. The case is considered a litmus test for the justice system which has received millions of dollars of international aid in recent years Cáceres, who won the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize, was shot dead just before midnight on 2 March 2016 at her home in La Esperanza, in western Honduras, after a long battle against the internationally financed Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project on the Gualcarque river, territory sacred to the indigenous Lenca people.
The long-awaited trial against eight people accused of killing the Honduran feminist, and environmental activist Berta Caceres in 2016, started at 9 a.m. on Saturday after being postponed several times and without her family’s private attorneys, as informed by the Public Ministry (MP). The oral hearing was programmed for Friday but it was delayed as Caceres’s family filed another appeal against three of the participant judges, whom they accuse of refusing to demand pertinent evidence from the MP. The plaintiff team claims the MP is withholding key evidence, such as digital documents they got from the raids on the accused homes, in order to protect high level staff from the Energetic Development (DESA) company.
The trial of eight men charged with the murder of Honduran activist Berta Cáceres is right around the corner, but prosecutors may be heading to trial without important evidence. More than two dozen electronic devices seized in related raids as far back as 2016 were never subjected to analysis, according to an official response to Cáceres’s relatives from the Office of the Prosecutor for Crimes Against Life, a document that has not yet been made public. Cáceres’s daughter Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres does not believe it was an oversight or lack of professionalism. Now serving as the general coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), the organization her mother co-founded and led at the time of her murder, Zúñiga Cáceres views the revelations about the gaps in evidence as part of a strategy.
On March 2, hundreds gathered in Honduras to commemorate the life and work of the renowned Honduran activist Berta Cáceres on the second anniversary of her assassination. Carrying torches, Cáceres’ supporters marched to the city center of La Esperanza to demand justice for her 2016 assassination. The march was made up of students from the Honduran National Autonomous University, families from the communities organized by the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH, which Cáceres founded in the early 1990s, as well as international supporters of the late environmental activist. During the march, chants of “Fuera JOH,” or “Out with Juan Orlando Hernández” — which are a major part of the protests against the fraudulent November presidential election — were mixed with chants of “Berta did not die, she multiplied.”
Honduran authorities have arrested a former military intelligence officer for masterminding the murder of the indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, who was shot dead exactly two years ago today. David Castillo Mejía, the executive president of the company building a dam which Cáceres campaigned against, is the ninth person arrested for the murder, and the fourth with ties to the Honduran military. Castillo Mejía is accused by arresting authorities of providing logistical support and other resources to one of the hitmen already charged. He is the first person to be charged as being the “intellectual author” of Cáceres’s murder and the attempted murder of Mexican environmentalist Gustavo Castro. Cáceres was shot in her bedroom just before midnight on 2 March 2016, a year after winning the prestigious Goldman Prize for leading a campaign against the Agua Zarca dam on the Gualcarque river considered sacred by the indigenous Lenca community.
By Staff of Democracy Now - We look at shocking revelations released Tuesday that link the assassination of renowned Honduran indigenous environmental leader Berta Cáceres to the highest levels of the company whose hydroelectric dam project she and her indigenous Lenca community were protesting. We speak with New York Times reporter Elisabeth Malkin, who has read the new report by a team of five international lawyers who found evidence that the plot to kill Cáceres went up to the top of the Honduran energy company behind the dam, Desarrollos Energéticos, known as "DESA." The lawyers were selected by Cáceres's daughter Bertha Zúniga and are independent of the Honduran government's ongoing official investigation. They examined some 40,000 pages of text messages. The investigation also revealed DESA exercised control over security forces in the area, issuing directives and paying for police units' room, board and equipment
By Staff of SOA Watch. SOA Watch's 2017 Spring Days of Action are now through May 12, 2017! During the next month, we want you king you to contact your Representative and/or take part in actions in honor of Berta Caceres and in support of Central American asylum-seekers. Between April 11-21, and May 8-12, Members of Congress will be having "in district" work weeks. Our two lobby asks are for your Representative are to co-sponsor HR 1299, the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act AND to oppose Trump's supplemental budget request for more detention, deportation, fear, and his wall of hate that damages border communities and does nothing for "security". As we said at the Encuentro, we need to #BuildBridgesNotWalls!
By Lauren Gambino for The Guardian - Supporters and family members of Berta Cáceres, the Honduran environmental and indigenous rights activist who was assassinated last year, have confronted the country’s president in Washington to demand an independent investigation of her murder. President Juan Orlando Hernández traveled to Washington to meet with lawmakers on Tuesday and was greeted by protesters carrying signs with photographs of murdered activists and chants of “asesino” – Spanish for murderer. Cáceres was one of more than 120 land and environmental campaigners murdered since a military-backed coup d’état...