Berta Cáceres, Honduran Indigenous and Environmental Rights Activist, Assassinated

Berta Cáceres, an Indigenous Honduran woman who won the Goldman Environmental Prize for her grassroots organizing against the Agua Zarca Dam in Rio Blanco, was assassinated in her home last night (March 3).

A woman of the indigenous Lenca people, you could say that Cáceres was born to be an activist. Her mother was a midwife and activist who took in refugees from El Salvador as violence terrorized disenfranchised people in Central America during the 80’s. Cáceres began her activism as a student, and later cofounded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). Under COPINH, Cáceres organized indigenous communities to prevent the construction of the Agua Zarca Dam which would cut off the water supply and access to a sacred river. Not only did Cáceres organize a human barrier to keep construction equipment for the damn out, following the death of Tomas Garcia, another activists, her efforts pressured Chinese funders to pull out of the project.

Sadly, Cáceres’ assassination was not necessarily unexpected. Not only does Honduras have one of the highest homicide rates in the world, environmental activists have been specifically targeted. Prior to her death, Cáceres called this:

“a policy of the Honduran state of criminalization. You can find it in the laws that have been approved. … They have criminalized the human right to defend the common good and the environment, giving an incredible privilege to transnational companies that operate with tremendous impunity in Honduras.”

This ominous detail was included in her bio on the Goldman Environmental Prize website: “What haven’t stopped are death threats to Cáceres. Her murder would not surprise her colleagues, who keep a eulogy—but hope to never have to use it.”

May she rest in power and peace.

Header image via.

Feministing's resident "sexpert", Sesali is a published writer and professional shit talker. She is a queer Black girl, fat girl, and trainer. She was the former Training Director at the United States Student Association and later a member of the Youth Organizing team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She received her bachelors in Women's and Gender Studies from Depaul University in 2012 and is currently pursuing a master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. A self identified "trap" feminist, and trained with a reproductive justice background, her interests include the intersections of feminism and: pop culture, youth culture, social media, hip hop, girlhood, sexuality, race, gender, and Beyonce. Sesali joined the team in 2010 as one of the winners of our So You Think You Can Blog contest.

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