We were incredibly saddened and angry to hear about the murder of Berta Cáceres. At least two unknown assailants broke into her home and killed her on March 3. Berta was a prominent Indigenous and social movement leader: the coordinator and co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPIHN). Less than two weeks later on March 15, Nelson García, another indigenous environmentalist in Honduras and member of COPINH, was shot to death after returning home from helping indigenous people who had been displaced from their homes after a mass evacuation by Honduran security forces.
In the last few weeks, violence and repression towards Berta, COPINH, and the communities they support, had escalated. Only a week ago Berta publicly spoke out against the murders of four community leaders and the threats against others.
In recent years, Honduras has become the deadliest country in the world for environmental activists. Between 2010 and 2014, 101 environmental campaigners were killed in the country and others were attacked, discredited, detained, and tortured. Most of these crimes happened with impunity.
Despite this, and under constant threats of violence and death, harassment and unlawful detainment, 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.
Berta Cáceres was one of the women human rights defenders we supported through our #VogelvrijeVrouwen campaign and she was a member of the Mesoamerican Initiative that we were able to support thanks to the Dutch Postcode Lottery.
In 2015 she won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. She dedicated the award to ‘the martyrs who gave their lives in the struggle to defend our natural resources.’
Berta’s daughters Olivia, Laura, and Bertha Zúniga Cáceres have been very vocal in speaking out against their mother’s murder. They are demanding justice and an explanation for the crime of the death of their mother. They are also calling for an end to the violence and destruction that multinational corporations are bringing to indigenous communities in Honduras.
Our thoughts are with Berta’s loved ones. She will be greatly missed.
Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA) condemnation of the murder of environment and human rights activist, Berta Cáceres: Read the full statement here >>