Berta Cáceres, a Honduran civil and indigenous rights activist, was murdered in her hometown of La Ezperanza, Intibucá, this week. Local papers report that she was killed in a robbery, but Cáceres’ mother said that she was killed “because of her struggle.” Cáceres had faced enough threats because of her environmentalism that the Honduran government was providing her with protection. The government has said that she was at a house they were not watching.
Cáceres was awarded the Goldman Prize, an environmental award for grassroots environmental influencers, this year. She was given the honor after leading a peaceful campaign to prevent one of the largest dam builders in the world from building the Agua Zarca Dam, which would have cut off the Lenca people, a Honduran indigenous group, from water, food, and medicine.
She was currently working to stop another corporation from building a hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque river, arguing that the the dam would have fundamentally changed the way of like for the Rio Blanco community who would be affected.
A co-founder for the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras was shot by gunman that entered her home in La Esperanza at about 1 AM Thursday morning. Reports indicate that there were two gunmen while other reports indicate that there were as many as 11. None of the gunmen have yet been identified. Cáceres’ brother was also wounded in the shooting.
Police have said that the assault happened in an attempted robbery, but Cáceres’ mother does not believe that to be true. “I have no doubt that she has been killed because of her struggle and that soldiers and people from the dam are responsible, I am sure of that. I hold the government response,” her mother said.
COPINH, the indigenous rights group Cáceres worked for, believes her death was in fact an assassination attempt. The manner of her death closely mirrors a February 25th attack in which another Lenca community COPINH supported was violently evicted from their homes and destroyed.
Billy Kyte, a campaigner for Global Witness, an environmental and rights organization, said that Cáceres’ murder is “a dramatic wake-up call for the Honduran state. Indigenous people are being killed in alarming numbers just for defending their rights. The Honduran state must act immediately to hold the killers to account and protect Berta’s family and colleagues.”
Thank you for your hard work, Berta.