HONDURAS: Assassination of Berta Cáceres

HONDURAS: Assassination of Berta Cáceres

Postby Oscar » Sat Mar 05, 2016 8:08 am

Assassination of Berta Cáceres

[ http://miningwatch.ca/blog/2016/3/3/ass ... ta-c-ceres ]

Shocking and terribly sad news from the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras:

Jen Moore March 3, 2016

This evening at approximately midnight, the General Coordinator of COPINH, Berta Cáceres was assassinated in her hometown of La Esperanza, Intibucá. At least two individuals broke down the door of the house where Berta was staying for the evening in the Residencial La Líbano, shot and killed her. COPINH is urgently responding to this tragic situation.

Berta Cáceres was one of the leading indigenous activists in Honduras. She spent her life fighting in defence of indigenous rights, particularly to land and natural resources. In 2015, Berta won the Goldman Prize for her outstanding activism and leadership. Her death will have a profound impact on the many Lenca communities that she worked with, COPINH, the Honduran social movement, and all that knew her.

Berta Cáceres and COPINH have been accompanying various land struggles throughout western Honduras. In the last few weeks, violence and repression towards Berta, COPINH, and the communities they support, had escalated. In Rio Blanco on February 20th, Berta, COPINH, and the community of Rio Blanco faced threats and repression as they carried out a peaceful action to protect the River Gualcarque against the construction of a hydroelectric dam by the internationally-financed Honduran company DESA. As a result of COPINH’s work supporting the Rio Blanco struggle, Berta had received countless threats against her life and was granted precautionary measures by the InterAmerican Commission for Human Rights. On February 25th, another Lenca community supported by COPINH in Guise, Intibuca was violently evicted and destroyed.

It is urgent to demand a thorough and immediate investigation of the circumstances surrounding Berta’s death.

COPINH will send out more information as it becomes available.

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Jen Moore - Latin America Program Coordinator Jennifer Moore works to support communities, organizations, and networks in the region struggling with mining conflicts.

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Re: HONDURAS: Assassination of Berta Cáceres

Postby Oscar » Sat Mar 05, 2016 8:10 am

Council of Canadians condemns the murder of Berta Cáceres

[ http://canadians.org/blog/council-canad ... C3%A1ceres ]

March 4, 2016 - 10:44 am

Cáceres: "We must undertake the struggle in all parts of the world, wherever we may be, because we have no other spare or replacement planet. We have only this one, and we have to take action."

The Council of Canadians condemns the murder of Berta Cáceres.

The Guardian reports, "Berta Cáceres, the Honduran indigenous and environmental rights campaigner, has been murdered, barely a week after she was threatened for opposing a hydroelectric project. Her death prompted international outrage at the murderous treatment of campaigners in Honduras, as well as a flood of tributes to a prominent and courageous defender of the natural world. The co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (Copinh) was shot dead by gunmen who entered her home in La Esperanza at around 1am on Thursday. Some reports say there were two killers; others suggest 11." [ http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/m ... man-rights ]

Our ally Friends of the Earth-Mexico activist Gustavo Castro Soto was also injured in the attack.

The article adds, "Last year, Cáceres – who is a member of the Lenca indigenous group, the largest in Honduras – was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for her opposition to one of Central America’s biggest hydropower projects, the Agua Zarca cascade of four giant dams in the Gualcarque river basin. The campaign has held up the project, which is being built by local firm DESA with the backing of international engineering and finance companies, and prompted the withdrawal of China’s Sinohydro and the World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation."

In June 2013, the Council of Canadians responded to a call from Friends of the Earth International and signed an open letter demanding the release of Cáceres who had been illegally detained by the army and police while en route to a protest against the proposed Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam.

The Guardian also highlights, "Between 2010 and 2014, 101 campaigners were killed in Honduras, a higher death toll relative to population than anywhere else, according to the study How Many More? by NGO Global Witness. It said a disproportionately high number of them were from indigenous communities who resisted development projects or the encroachment of farms on their territory."

The Council of Canadians has argued that Canadian investments are contributing to social conflict in Honduras, particularly in the mining, export manufacturing and tourism sectors.

The Canadian government provided technical assistance and support for the General Mining and Hydrocarbons Law, passed in Jan. 2013. Notably, the new mining law lifted a seven-year moratorium on new mining projects and earmarks 2 per cent of the royalties paid by extractive companies for a Security Tax to help fund Honduran state security. The law paves the way for new mining projects which have given rise to increased conflict and militarization of affected communities where mining projects operate. According to the Honduras Documentation Centre, 52 per cent of all conflict in Honduras is rooted in natural resource management.

In Feb. 2014, we joined with other civil society organizations from Canada and Quebec to express our concern that the Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement would further undermine human rights and democracy in Honduras. Since the 2009 military coup against democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya, violence and repression have reached an all-time high. Along with Cáceres, human rights defenders, women’s rights activists, members of the LGBTQ community, the Garifuna, Indigenous people, union leaders, farmers and journalists are being systematically threatened or killed.

Today, the Council of Canadians signed an open-letter with Common Frontiers, the British Columbia Teachers' Federation, the United Church of Canada, the United Steelworkers and others condemning Cáceres's murder.

The funeral for Cáceres will be held tomorrow.

Tags: Blue Planet Project (BPP):
[ http://canadians.org/tags/bpp ]

Brent Patterson's blog
Political Director of the Council of Canadians
[ http://canadians.org/blogs/brent-patterson ]
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Re: HONDURAS: Assassination of Berta Cáceres

Postby Oscar » Mon Mar 07, 2016 4:40 pm

Tell authorities to guarantee Gustavo's safety and carry out a full, impartial investigation



BACKGROUND INFO:

[ viewtopic.php?f=47&t=3579 ]

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Anyone who has ever supported social, environmental, and indigenous struggles in Honduras has heard or read the words of Berta Cáceres and known of her courageous leadership.

[ http://action.ciel.org/o/50118/t/0/blas ... EY=1344226 ]

The next 24 hours are crucial.

Tell authorities to guarantee Gustavo's safety and carry out a full, impartial investigation

In the middle of the night on March 2, gunmen shot and killed Berta in her home in La Esperanza, Honduras. Her murder is a tremendous loss for Honduras, the region, and throughout the world for all those working for a more just and sustainable world.

Berta was courageous, powerful, and tenacious. Her joy and enthusiasm was matched only by her passion and commitment to human rights. She co-founded the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, known as COPINH. Over two decades, COPINH has defended the lands and peoples of Honduras, and its successful resistance to development megaprojects like dams, mines, and forestry concessions has made it the target of attacks and persecution.

Last year, Berta won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in recognition of her fearless work to defend the Gualcarque River, its surrounding environment and people from the Agua Zarca Dam.

Berta’s death has left us heartbroken and outraged. Hers was a murder tragically foretold, and preventable. She had received countless death threats, and she knew that her outspoken defense of indigenous rights and the environment put her life at risk.

There is no question that Berta’s murder is related to her leadership resisting mega-development and her defense of indigenous and environmental rights. But the investigation into her murder seems to be focused on criminalizing the activities of her organization and writing off her murder as a crime of passion or botched robbery.

An exhaustive and impartial investigation into the attack is critical to ensure that the perpetrators – AND architects – of Berta’s murder are brought to justice.

Gustavo Castro, a Mexican friend and partner who works with Otros Mundos-Chiapas, is the sole witness of the attack and now a key part of the investigation, placing him in danger. Gustavo has consistently cooperated with the investigation and is not being allowed to leave Honduras. We have great concern for his safety and demand that extraordinary security measures be taken to ensure his safe return to Mexico.

TAKE ACTION: #JusticeforBerta and #SecurityforGustavo

The next 24 hours are crucial. Please send a letter to Honduran, Mexican, and embassy authorities demanding security for Gustavo, who continues in Honduras, and for the criminalization against COPINH to stop.

Every email, call, mention in social networks is important to ensure Gustavo’s safety and to support the legitimate struggles of COPINH.

Berta, PRESENTE!

With a heavy heart,
Amanda Kistler and the CIEL Team


1350 Connecticut Ave NW Suite 1100 • Washington D.C. 20036-1739 USA
Phone: 202-785-8700 • Fax: 202-785-8701
15 rue des Savoises, 1205 Geneva, Switzerland
Phone: 41-22-789-0500 • Fax: 41-22-789-0739

http://www.ciel.org
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Re: HONDURAS: Assassination of Berta Cáceres

Postby Oscar » Fri Mar 11, 2016 10:34 am

In wake of Honduran activist's murder, calls rise for better protection

[ http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas ... protection ]

A shift in thought Berta Cáceres's murder underscored Latin America's status as the world's most violent region for environmental activists. But the number of people and networks fighting to protect their rights is growing.

By Whitney Eulich, Correspondent March 7, 2016

Mexico City — Hundreds of mourners accompanied the white casket carrying slain Honduran environmental and indigenous rights activist Berta Cáceres Saturday, chanting, “The struggle goes on and on.”

Ms. Cáceres was internationally recognized for her work, which over the past decade focused on fighting the construction of the Agua Zarca Dam project on the Gualcarque River, a body of water considered sacred by the indigenous Lenca.

The police were quick to classify her murder last week as a botched robbery. But Cáceres’s family and supporters say they believe it was an assassination ordered by backers of the dam project.

Latin America is the world's most violent region for environmental activists, according to London-based NGO Global Witness. Honduras leads the pack, with 111 between 2002 and 2014. Impunity and corruption that puts it near the top of international rankings threaten those fighting to stop projects like the construction of mines, hydro-electric dams, and logging. [ https://www.transparency.org/country/#HND ]

Honduras, for example, was ordered by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights to provide protection for Cáceres. But police had recently stopped around-the clock surveillance. The Honduran security minister said that was at Cáceres’s request; her family denies that.

Yet, some observers point to another reason that activists face such violence: more people and networks are fighting to protect their rights in the first place.

“There is a stronger civil society [in Latin America], so when there are issues like a big dam project without consultation with the local community, it’s more likely that people will react,” says Billy Kyte, a senior campaigner for Global Witness. “People have better knowledge of their own rights, their right to protest, their right to freedom of expression, and choosing their own path forward.”

Now, observers say, the growing strength of civil society must be matched by far better protection for rights-based work in Latin America.

A shift in the 1970s

Civil society in Latin America started to flourish as authoritarian regimes began to crumble in the 1970s, led in large part by an emerging network of NGOs and activists, says Christopher Sabatini, associate professor at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs in New York. The NGOs were further expanded during the democratic transitions at the end of civil wars and guerrilla movements, from Peru to El Salvador, as a number of leftists moved their fight for human rights into the formally recognized realm of civil society, he says.

“Issues of human rights, indigenous rights, the environment – these were in the wheelhouse of revolutions,” says Mr. Sabatini. “It was an important and legitimate shift,” he says, though in countries that did see their civil societies strengthen and expand, hostilities that were shaped by conflict lingered.

“Many governments still associate these [social] issues with guerrillas,” Sabatini says. He recalls a recent project in Guatemala where a cement company involved told him the NGO leading protests didn’t care about the environment – they were just former guerrillas out to halt development. Meanwhile, the NGO workers had a similar complaint: the cement company was in the pocket of the government, having supported paramilitary violence during the civil war.

"Often governments and companies will play a narrative in the media that these [activists] are anti-development, that they are enemies of the state," adds Mr. Kyte.

“There are serious issues wrapped up in these legacies of war, and it can be a distraction” to activism in the present, Sabatini says.

The divisions between private business and social activists was visible in the case of Cáceres, who had been openly criticized by the Honduran government and business community as a thorn in the side of the country’s progress. In 2013, Aline Flores, the president of Honduras’s private business council, said the time Cáceres spent protesting, blockading, and leading marches was “making Honduras look bad internationally.” [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rj2R1Fm0fDY&app=desktop ]

“I think as generations shift – and we are already seeing this happen – these organizations [with roots in guerrilla movements] will start to see new leadership that doesn’t carry any of that baggage,” Sabatini says.

Aware of the threats

Just last year, Cáceres was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her activism. She and her organization, the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras, had successfully pressured one of the largest dam builders in the world to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam project in 2013, a huge feat in a country that had seen explosive growth in land earmarked by the government for dam projects since the 2009 coup. The project continued, however, under local leadership.

During her acceptance speech, Cáceres said that “giving our lives in various ways for the protection of rivers is giving our lives for the well-being of humanity and of this planet.”

Her surviving family – including four daughters – said they knew an assassination was possible.

"They were waiting for the chance to get to her," Silvio Carrillo, her nephew, told NPR. "They were just waiting and she knew it was gonna happen. We all knew but we didn't dissuade her because we believe in this, too."

But it shouldn’t have reached that point, said her daughter Olivia Cáceres, who has called for an independent, international investigation.
MORE:

[ http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas ... protection ]
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Re: HONDURAS: Assassination of Berta Cáceres

Postby Oscar » Fri Mar 11, 2016 5:03 pm

WATCH: Before Her Assassination, Berta Cáceres Singled Out Hillary Clinton for Backing Honduran Coup

[ http://www.democracynow.org/2016/3/11/b ... -191067101 ]

March 11, 2016

Guest Greg Grandin - professor of Latin American history at New York University. His most recent book is titled Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is facing a new round of questions about her handling of the 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. Since the coup, Honduras has become one of the most violent places in the world. Last week, indigenous environmental activist Berta Cáceres was assassinated in her home. In an interview two years ago, Cáceres singled out Clinton for her role supporting the coup. "We’re coming out of a coup that we can’t put behind us. We can’t reverse it," Cáceres said. "It just kept going. And after, there was the issue of the elections. The same Hillary Clinton, in her book, 'Hard Choices,' practically said what was going to happen in Honduras. This demonstrates the meddling of North Americans in our country. The return of the president, Mel Zelaya, became a secondary issue. There were going to be elections in Honduras. And here she [Clinton] recognized that they didn’t permit Mel Zelaya’s return to the presidency." We play this rarely seen clip of Cáceres and speak to historian Greg Grandin.

TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s talk about Honduras. I want to go to Hillary Clinton in the 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. In her memoir, Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton wrote about the days following the coup. She wrote, quote, "In the subsequent days I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa [in] Mexico. We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections [could] be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot," unquote.

Since the coup, Honduras has become one of the most dangerous places in the world. In 2014, the Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres spoke about Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2009 coup. This is the woman who was assassinated last week in La Esperanza, Honduras. But she spoke about Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2009 coup with the Argentine TV program Resumen Latinoamericano.

BERTA CÁCERES: [translated] We’re coming out of a coup that we can’t put behind us. We can’t reverse it. It just kept going. And after, there was the issue of the elections. The same Hillary Clinton, in her book, Hard Choices, practically said what was going to happen in Honduras. This demonstrates the meddling of North Americans in our country. The return of the president, Mel Zelaya, became a secondary issue. There were going to be elections in Honduras. And here, she, Clinton, recognized that they didn’t permit Mel Zelaya’s return to the presidency. There were going to be elections. And the international community—officials, the government, the grand majority—accepted this, even though we warned this was going to be very dangerous and that it would permit a barbarity, not only in Honduras but in the rest of the continent. And we’ve been witnesses to this.

MORE:

[ http://www.democracynow.org/2016/3/11/b ... -191067101 ]
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