Assassination of Berta Cáceres Sparks Outrage
We condemn the assassination of Berta Cáceres, general coordinator and co-founder of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras. Berta was assassinated in La Esperanza, Intibuca after several individuals broke into the house where she was staying and shot and killed her.
An Indigenous Lenca women and community leader, Berta waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam.
Just last month, COPINH issued an alert noting that repression and violence against the Rio Blanco community, including Berta Cáceres had escalated as they carried out peaceful actions to protect the River Gualcarque against the construction of a hydroelectric dam by the internationally-financed Honduran company DESA. Due to the violence against her she was granted precautionary measures by the InterAmerican Commission for Human Rights.
Berta Cáceres was recognized nationally and internationally as an environmentalist who fought for Indigenous rights. In 2015 she was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, the highest international recognition for environmental activists. As part of her recognition speech she spoke of the repression she faced, “they follow me, they threaten to kill me and kidnap my family, this is what we face”.
Berta was also instrumental in leading protests against the 2009 coup that overthrew the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. Since the coup the human rights situation in Honduras has deteriorated as human rights defenders and social movement leaders are routinely killed and systematically criminalized.
On October 1, 2014, Canada implemented a Free Trade Agreement with Honduras despite opposition from civil society and labour organizations. The deal provided diplomatic and economic backing to an undemocratic government responsible for widespread human rights abuses, political violence that has generated massive inequality.
We call on the government of Canada to condemn the murder, and to call on the Honduran government to support an independent, international investigation into the murder.
ALBA capitulo Canada
Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network
British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union
British Columbia Teachers' Federation
Bolivarian Circle Louis Riel
Canada-El Salvador Cooperation for Development
Canadian Union of Postal Workers
Canadian Union of Public Employees
Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance
Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine
Confédération des syndicats nationaux
Confederation of Canadian Unions
Council of Canadians
Idle No More
Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network
Latin American Canadian Solidarity Association
Maquila Solidarity Network
Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation
Ontario Public Service Employees Union
Sierra Club Canada Foundation
United Church of Canada
United for Mining Justice
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Urgent Action: Protection for Gustavo Castro, injured during the assassination of Berta Cáceres
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Our friend and colleague Gustavo Castro Soto was injured during the attack. Gustavo is Mexican and a member of the organization Otros Mundos Chiapas/Friends of the Earth-Mexico, the Mexican Network of Mining-Affected Peoples and the Mesoamerican Movement against the Extractive Mining Model (M4). Gustavo survived the attack and has become a key actor in the investigation into the murder of our friend Berta.
Berta and Gustavo are two people known for their role in international social and environmental struggles, evidence of their dedication to defending the rights of Indigenous and campesino peoples, who have accompanied processes of organized and peaceful resistance to prevent territories within Mesoamerica from being appropriated by regional governments at the service of the neoliberal project being implemented through extractivist projects, considered projects of death.
In the context of the terrible assassination of the much loved Berta Cáceres, we call on the government of Honduras to pay immediate attention, to intervene, and to follow up on this devastating moment for the Honduran people. We also call for all legal and political measures possible to guarantee the immediate protection of our friend and colleague Gustavo Castro so that, once he has given his testimony to the Honduran state, he can safely return to Mexico.
Right now, it is fundamentally important to guarantee the life of our colleague Gustavo Castro given the risk he faces a key witness to this horrible assassination.
The security of all of the members of the Coordinating Group of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) must also be guaranteed. Please take action by clicking here
Mesoamerican Movement against the Extractive Mining Model
Mexican Network of Mining-Affected Peoples
Otros Mundos Chiapas