Finally, we may be one step closer to justice after the assassination of environmental activist and Goldman Environmental Prize winner Berta Cáceres. About two months after she was murdered, Honduran authorities arrested four men they believe may be connected to her murder, “based on scientific evidence.”
Two of the men, Sergio Ramón Rodriguez and Douglas Geovanny Bustillo, are connected to the company working on the hydroelectric dam Cáceres protested, Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA). Rodriguez currently works as an engineer for the company and Bustillo worked as the company’s head of security in the past.
The Guardian reports that both men had threatened Cáceres before, and she reported those instances along with over 30 other death threats. Only a few days before her murder, Cáceres reported that Rodriguez threatened her during a protest organized by Cáceres’ organization, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). The other two men, Duarte Meza and Mariano Díaz Chávez have both worked for the military: Meza as a former officer and Chávez as a current member.
It’s an important step, but just one on a long road to justice in a country that’s notoriously unsafe for environmental activists. Cáceres’ family continue to call for an independent investigation, saying the government is too close to the case. 11 days passed before the government contacted DESA for questioning during their investigation.
Cáceres’ daughter Laura, who is 23, said to The Guardian, “The Honduran state is too closely linked to the murder of my mother to carry out an independent investigation. It is the government who awarded the dam commission and the government who sent military and police to work with DESA’s private security guards, who threatened my mother. If it wasn’t for our struggle and the international pressure for justice, my mother’s murder would already be extinct. We have woken up to this news but it doesn’t change our demands for an international investigation.”
The family says the government has not relayed important information to them, and that they only learned of the arrests via the news. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has offered to conduct an independent investigation, but the government denied their proposal.
Via The Guardian
Images via The Goldman Environmental Prize