3 March 2016
The Central America Women’s Network condemns the assassination Berta Cáceres, a Lenca woman and leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (COPINH). Berta Cáceres was awarded last year’s Goldman Environmental Prize. In awarding the prize, the Goldman Prize committee said ” in a country with growing socioeconomic inequality and human rights violations, Berta Cáceres rallied the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam”. She led the resistance against the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project in Río Blanco, funded by the World Bank and the Dutch government, because of potential environmental damage and the negative impact that this would have had for the community.
Berta Cáceres had experienced constant harassment since the foundation of COPIHN in 1993, and this only grew worse after the 2009 coup d’état. These included death threats from the Honduran National Police and judicial harassment.
Last night, Berta Cáceres was assassinated in La Esperanza, Intibuca, after two individuals broke down the door, shot her and killed her. This is an enormous loss for civil society in Honduras and in the region.
Criminalisation of activists and journalists in Honduras is widespread, and numerous national and international organisations have denounced the difficulties and danger that means to be an activist in Honduras. According to Global Witness, between 2010 and 2014, 101 environmental campaigners were killed in the country.
Berta Cáceres was a great woman, and her loss fills us with sadness. Those responsible of this must meet justice; the Honduran government cannot look away and contribute to this witch-hunt anymore.
Our solidarity goes to Bertha’s family and friends, and to all members of COPINH.
We will be posting up other responses and actions to protest against these violations of human rights:
We leave you with an interview of Berta Cáceres by the Observatorio de Mujeres, from 2013 (in Spanish)