Environmental and human rights activist Berta Cáceres was murdered in her home this week by two gunmen. Cáceres, like many activists, knew that her work made her a target, and she had received numerous death threats during her fight to improve the planet and her country. While the crime was reported as a simple robbery, many believe that it was an assassination, possibly planned by the Honduran government.
Cáceres fought for the people of Honduras and for the healthy of the planet. “We must undertake the struggle in all parts of the world, wherever we may be, because we have no other spare or replacement planet…The Honduran people, along with international solidarity, can get out of this unjust situation, promoting hope, rebellion, and organizing ourselves for the protection of life,” she said.
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A mother of four, Cáceres was the co-founder of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), a group that struggled against dams and mining projects in the country. It was an organization local people knew they could turn to for help, as they did in what would turn into Cáceres’ most famous project: the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam.
The Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam would have been built on the sacred Gualcarque River by the giant Chinese firm Sinohydro. Seeing the heavy construction equipment arrive, the native Lenca people turned to COPINH for help. The river is spiritually significant to them and was a major source of water. As a Lenca woman, Cáceres gathered the people to fight against the dam, which was planned without their consent, and they won.
According to police, Cáceres’ murder happened during an armed robbery, but her family are certain it was an assassination. Her brother Gustavo was injured in the attack, and her mother said the government is to blame.
President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernández said, “The state of Honduras has been directly attacked by the death of Berta Cáceres. This is a crime against Honduras, a blow to the Honduran people. It will not go unpunished.”
In the face of such danger, the people of Honduras say they will carry on Cáceres’ fight. Her nephew Silvio Carrillo said, “Her murder is an act of cowardice that will only amplify Bertita’s message to bring about change in Honduras and make this a better, more humane world.”
Even to the end of her life, Cáceres remained passionate about the fight to conserve and steward Earth. “We have only this one, and we have to take action,” she said.
Via The Guardian
Images via Wikimedia Commons and Getty Images