Homage paid to murdered indigenous Lenca leader and environmental activist, Berta Cáceres

By Rumana Hashem

On 3rd March, 2016, armed individuals forcibly entered and assassinated Honduran activist Berta Cáceres, a great community organiser and the founder of COPINH, in her home in La Esperanza, department of Intibucá in southwestern Honduras. This is outrageous and intolerable.

Honduras has been the most dangerous place to protest against corporeal developments. This has been a  scene of a widening crackdown on peaceful dissent since the coup in 2009. Communities and organizations opposing destructive projects, such as Berta and her comrades at COPINH – the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras – organisation co-founded by Berta in 2003, have been intimidated, persecuted and murdered. According to the community leaders, the government is aiding and abetting the theft and appropriation of the commons and peoples’ territories by large transnational corporations. Most often mining and damming projects are being rolled out with little or no consultation with the peoples affected.

On International Women’s Day, 8th March 2016, anti-mining activists and environmentalists at Friends of the Earth (FoEI) have paid homage to and raised voices in indignation at the brutal murder of Berta Cáceres. So did we. Berta was an indigenous Lenca leader, a community organiser, a grassroots feminist and an environmental- justice activist. Berta was murdered in the early morning of 3rd March in her home at the side of Mexican activist Gustavo Castro Soto from Otros Mundos / FOE Mexico, who was  badly hurt by the same gunmen.

Berta Cáceres was a leader who had inspired many of us for many years as an indigenous woman activist raising her voice in the defense of women’s bodies and community, land, water and the commons. Through her actions, she has strengthened the role of women in resisting destructive corporations and macro-level repressions, and in constructing alternatives based on aboriginal knowledge and collective practices. In recent interviews, she encouraged many to rise up in collective solidarity in the global South and North against the predatory capitalist and patriarchal society in order to save women’s lives, human lives and the planet.

Berta has shown us in practice that there is no environmental justice without an end to all forms of violence against women and to the exploitation of women’s reproductive and productive work. Violence is used as a tool to control women’s lives, bodies and work within the patriarchal and capitalist society, just as much as it is used to control community territories and the commons. Capital accumulation in a time of multiple crisis – economic, social, environmental – is made possible through the oppression and domination of both nature and women’s work: both are considered infinite, elastic resources, to be exploited according to the interests of elite groups.


In order to raise our concerns and to seek justice for Gustavo Castro Soto, the eye witness to Berta’s murder, we wrote letters to Sr. Presidente de Hoduras Juan Orlando Hernández (Twitter @PresidenciadeHN)
Sr. Embajador José Mariano Castillo -Embajador de Honduras en México <emhonmex@gmail.com>
Sra. Embajadora Dolores Jiménez Hernández -Embajadora de México en Honduras <embhonduras@sre.gob.mx>

If you wish to join the protest, you can write to the Embassy of Honduras in Mexico by clicking on here  signing the petition below


Embassy of Honduras in Mexico
Mexican Consulate in Honduras
Inter American Commission on Human Rights

Early this morning, March 3, 2016, armed individuals forcibly entered and assassinated Honduran activist Berta Cáceres, founder of COPINH, in her home in La Esperanza, department of Intibucá in southwestern Honduras.

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.