Justice for Berta Cáceres

Join activists all over the world in calling for justice in the murder of indigenous environmental champion Berta Cáceres.

On March 3, 2016 a group of people broke into the home of Berta Cáceres and murdered her. Gustavo Castro, a friend of Berta, was injured in the shooting. He was able to save his life by pretending to be dead.

Berta Cáceres was the mother of four children: Olivia, Berta, Laura and Salvador, and for more than 20 years she was the leader of the Lenca native community, the largest indigenous group in Honduras.

Berta Cáceres

Berta with her four children.

On March 27, 1993, she co-founded the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to foster, vindicate, and achieve recognition of the political, social, cultural and economic rights of indigenous peoples and communities in Honduras.

The most transcendent of her struggles was against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam, to be built on the Río Blanco River between the Santa Bárbara and Intibucá districts. The project was approved between 2010 and 2013.

Honduran company Desarollos Energéticos S. A de C.V (DESA), is responsible for the construction of this project, against which Berta and COPINH battled for years. Berta’s campaign against the Agua Zarca and her years of organizing led to her receiving the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015.

On May 2, 2016, the Honduran Government announced the capture of the four alleged perpetrators of Berta’s murder, in the process exposing the direct links between DESA and the Honduran Armed Forces.

Detainees in Berta Cáceres Murder

Four men were initially detained in the murder of Berta Cáceres, with a fifth apprehended weeks later.

The detainees, from left to right, are:

  • Sergio Rodríguez: environmental manager of DESA
  • Douglas Geovanny Bustillo: retired lieutenant of the Armed Forces of Honduras, who was also deputy chief of security of DESA
  • Mariano Díaz Chávez: instructor of the Military Police of Public Order and member of the Army Special Forces division
  • Edilson Duarte Meza: the alleged hired hitman, who would be the executioner.

A few weeks later, Emerson Eusebio Duarte, brother of Edilson Duarte Meza, was also captured.

All five were ordered into preventive detention, but have not been tried yet.

Demanding Justice for Berta

The Agua Zarca project is primarily funded by three banks: the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE), the Dutch development bank (FMO) and the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation (Finnfund).

The latter two have publicly announced that if a direct connection was found between the murder of Berta Cáceres and DESA, they would withdraw all funding from the project. The same view was expressed by the German company Voith Hydro, supplier of the turbines for the project.

Following Berta’s murder, COPINH continues to receive threats and suffers acts of violence. On May 14, 2016, Berta’s daughter Olivia Zuniga Cáceres, together with the Council of Elders, organized a pilgrimage to Chorrea Áspera. On their way to the village, COPINH member Chepe Vasques and a Congressman who were travelling to the location were assaulted with stones and bullets by repressive forces hired by DESA.

For COPINH, the struggle continues, and we stand with them to demand the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights launch an investigation into Berta’s murder. Join the call today!

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