Bring assassins of Honduran Berta Cáceres to justice!

Berta Caceres at the banks of the Gualcarque River in the Rio Blanco region of western Honduras where she, COPINH (the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) and the people of Rio Blanco have maintained a two year struggle to halt construction on the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric project, that poses grave threats to local environment, river and indigenous Lenca people from the region.
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The Freedom Socialist Party joins with activists around the world to protest the assassination of Berta Cáceres, the Honduran indigenous feminist leader and foe of privatization gunned down in her home on March 3rd. We call for the immediate release of Mexican supporter Gustavo Castro Soto who was wounded in the attack on Cáceres, but is being held in Honduras.

We send our condolences to her family, her indigenous community of the Lenca people, and the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH), which she co-founded.

Last year, Cáceres won the Goldman Environmental Prize for organizing to stop private developers from damming the Gualcarque River which her people consider sacred and central to their livelihood. The group succeeded in getting the World Bank along with major private funders to withdraw from the project, but continued to face off with powerful landowners, a U.S.-funded police force, a mercenary army of private security guards, and the Honduran military itself.

Cáceres’ murder can only be understood in the context of the 2009 coup that first deposed and then exiled Manuel Zelaya, the democratically elected Honduran president. Under the subsequent regime, backed by the U.S. and lauded by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Honduras has been bathed in the blood of peasant and labor organizers, women, LGBT people, and indigenous activists. The political and financial role of the U.S. implicates it in Cáceres’ murder. The government of Honduras set the stage for this atrocity by charging Cáceres with incitement due to her defense of Lenca protests against local and international mining and lumber interests.

Upon receiving the Goldman Environmental prize, Cáceres issued a call to action: “Let us wake up! Let us wake up, humankind! We’re out of time. We must shake our conscience free of the rapacious capitalism, racism and patriarchy that will only assure our own self-destruction. The Gualcarque River has called upon us, as have other gravely threatened rivers. We must answer their call. Our Mother Earth, militarized, fenced-in, poisoned, a place where basic rights are systematically violated, demands that we take action.”

Faced with numerous threats, Cáceres and her family anticipated her death. Four community organizers opposing the dam were previously murdered. Honduras has one of the world’s highest rates of killings of political activists. Throughout Latin America, there is rampant persecution of courageous indigenous people countering corporate destruction of the environment. Global Witness documented the killing of at least 116 environmental activists in 2014 alone, most in Central and South America.

Human rights organizations and Latino and Left groups, including the Freedom Socialist Party, have been raising alarms over the accelerated repression of indigenous people, environmentalists, unionists, the poor, and dissidents in the Americas. In Honduras, the U.S. continues to fund anti-drug and anti-terrorism programs that channel dollars to the military, the police, and the pockets of corrupt politicians.

Only an international movement can stop state repression and the physical elimination of brave movement leaders like Cáceres. We pledge to continue to fight against the U.S. government policies and the multi-national corporations responsible for the torture and annihilation of our brothers and sisters in our hemisphere. We urge all to do likewise as the best testament to the brave life of Berta Cáceres.

We demand:

• An end to all U.S. military aid to Honduras.

• An impartial investigation, independent of the Honduran government, to insure that the perpetrators and architects of Berta’s murder are brought to justice.

• A halt to damming of the Gualcarque River. We call on the last major funder, FMO — a Dutch development bank — to withdraw from the project.

• A guarantee of indigenous land and water rights worldwide.

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