Today marks the 2nd year anniversary of the brutal assassination of Berta Cáceres, co-founder and leader of the Council of Popular Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH).
Berta Cáceres inspired people around the world when she took a stand to protect land rights in Honduras, the deadliest place to be an environmental activist. She rallied her indigenous Lenca community to oppose one of Central America’s biggest hydropower projects, the Agua Zarca Dam, which would have left hundreds of Lenca people without water, food and medicine supply.
And they won: her grassroots campaign stopped the construction, and convinced the World Bank and the world’s largest dam contractor, Sinohydro, to pull out of the project. This fight earned Cáceres the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015, but it also cost her her life a year later. She was shot in her home, a week after leading her last march.
An international investigation concluded that the company leading the project, Desarrollos Energéticos S.A., could be involved in her murder. And so far, eight men have been charged for the crime, including two employees from the company and two military officers who were part of US-backed special forces units, trained by the United States in Ft. Benning Georgia, home to the School of the Americas.
The same forces behind Berta’s murder are also responsible for the post-electoral violence taking place in Honduras today. In the aftermath of the fraudulent elections more than 38 people are dead, there are numerous political prisoners, and hundreds injured, criminalized and displaced.
Despite continued human rights violations and widespread impunity, the US continues to support Honduras both diplomatically and through military aid. Not only did the State Department legitimize Honduras’ fraudulent election by recognizing Juan Orlando at the same time that the Organization of American States (OAS) reported the process to be “characterized by irregularities and deficiencies, with very low technical quality and lacking integrity.” It also supports the Honduran security apparatus with millions of dollars worth of equipment, training, and technical assistance, ignoring continuous reporting that the institution is plagued by endemic corruption and impunity.
The need for international solidarity is greater than ever. We must continue to fight for justice for Berta and the people of Honduras. We must demand an end to US security aid to Honduras, including police and military aid and support the human rights of Honduran people in their effort to stand up for voter fraud, intimidation and dictatorship.
Here are two ways to take action:
1. Join us at one of these events happening around the country this weekend in memory of Berta and in support of the people of Honduras:
2. Contact your representative and ask them to Co-sponsor the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, H.R. 1299. The bill asks that the United States suspend all “…security assistance to Honduran military and police until such time as human rights violations by Honduran state security forces cease and their perpetrators are brought to justice.