The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Prize-Winning Activist Berta Cáceres Murdered in Honduras
By Friends of the Earth International
Berta Cáceres, 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize winner, was murdered last night in her home. Reportedly, her assassins waited until well after dark before breaking into the house where she slept. Her brother was also injured in the attack.
Our condolences to her family, friends and all who worked alongside her.
“This is a sad day for Honduras and the world," said Jagoda Munic, chair of Friends of the Earth International.
“Given the situation in Honduras, in which indigenous, environmental and human rights activists like Berta Cáceres are targeted by government and corporate security forces alike, international pressure is needed to bring the murderers to justice and protect those brave enough to speak out on behalf of their fellow citizens and the environment."
Cáceres rallied her fellow indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world's largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca dam.
According to the Goldman Environmental Prize website:
Since the 2009 coup, Honduras has witnessed an explosive growth in environmentally destructive megaprojects that would displace indigenous communities. Almost 30 percent of the country's land was earmarked for mining concessions, creating a demand for cheap energy to power future mining operations. To meet this need, the government approved hundreds of dam projects around the country, privatizing rivers, land and uprooting communities.
Among them was the Agua Zarca Dam, a joint project of Honduran company Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) and Chinese state-owned Sinohydro, the world's largest dam developer. Agua Zarca, slated for construction on the sacred Gualcarque River, was pushed through without consulting the indigenous Lenca people—a violation of international treaties governing indigenous peoples' rights. The dam would cut off the supply of water, food and medicine for hundreds of Lenca people and violate their right to sustainably manage and live off their land.
It's not yet known who is behind Cáceres assassination, but as a indigenous, environmental and human rights activist she knew well the risks she faced. In 1993, she co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to address the growing threats posed to indigenous communities by illegal logging, fight for their territorial rights and improve their livelihoods.
The work of COPINH is still sorely needed. Honduras has been called, “the deadliest place for environmental activists," and is a country where corruption is a major problem. Twelve activists were killed last year alone for their efforts to defend land and the environment, according to a report by UK-based NGO Global Witness—more per capita than any other country (a record Honduras has held for the last five years).
At Friends of the Earth International, we have for a long time admired the work of Cáceres and COPINH, and at times worked together. In 2013, Friends of the Earth supporters joined voices around the world in support of Cáceres when she and other activists were facing prison sentences.
Here's a video of Cáceres when she accepted the Goldman Environmental Prize:
On threats to her own life, she said on Dec. 24, 2013:
"The army has an assassination list of 18 wanted human rights fighters with my name at the top. I want to live, there are many things I still want to do in this world but I have never once considered giving-up fighting for our territory, for a life with dignity, because our fight is legitimate. I take lots of care but in the end, in this country where there is total impunity I am vulnerable… when they want to kill me, they will do it."
On Dec. 9, 2015, Cáceres was interviewed about the death of a fellow activist, Tomás Garcia, who was shot at close range during a peaceful protest at the site of the same Agua Zarca hydro-electric dam. This is how she ended that interview:
“We truly believe in solidarity and in hope despite how hurtful this process is. And we can only think of how our brother, Tomas, is no longer with us, of how much he is missed, not just by his family—his sons and daughters—but by COPINH as well. And despite everything that's happened, we still have hope in our people's struggle."
Here's a video from the Goldman Environmental Prize on Berta Cáceres' work rallying the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waging a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world's largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam:
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jared Kaufman
Eating a better diet has been linked with lower levels of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. But unfortunately 821 million people — about 1 in 9 worldwide — face hunger, and roughly 2 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese, according to the U.N. World Health Organization. In addition, food insecurity is associated with even higher health care costs in the U.S., particularly among older people. To help direct worldwide focus toward solving these issues, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals call for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and undernutrition by 2030.
mevans / E+ / Getty Images
Calls for Radical Climate Action Grow Louder as NOAA Reports Last Month Was Hottest June Ever Recorded
By Jessica Corbett
As meteorologists warned Thursday that temperatures above 100°F are expected to impact two-thirds of the country this weekend, U.S. government scientists revealed that last month was the hottest June ever recorded — bolstering calls for radical global action on the climate emergency.
By John R. Platt
For years now conservationists have warned that many of Madagascar's iconic lemur species face the risk of extinction due to rampant deforestation, the illegal pet trade and the emerging market for the primates' meat.
Yes, people eat lemurs, and the reasons they do aren't exactly what we might expect.