Quantcast

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

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: Syria, Another Pipeline War

Elephants Being Slaughtered for Ivory Faster Than They Can Reproduce

Trees Cut as Maple Syrup Farmers Lose Eminent Domain Battle Over Constitution Pipeline

Climate Change Could Kill Half a Million Annually by 2050

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Energy
An activist adjusts his hat while protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline during the Native Nations Rise protest on March 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. The KXL has been at the center of a contentious fight for a decade. Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

KXL Pipeline Developer Plans to Start Construction in 2019

Construction on the long-delayed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline is planned for 2019, developer TransCanada said Monday.

"Keystone XL has undergone years of extensive environmental review by federal and state regulators," TransCanada spokesman Matthew John told Omaha World-Herald. "All of these evaluations show that Keystone XL can be built safely and with minimal impact to the environment."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Artist Ricky Lee Gordon paints his mural, Wings of Paradise, on a building in Long Beach, California. David McNew / Ricky Lee Gordo / Greenpeace

Wings of Paradise: Drawing Attention to Rainforest Destruction

By Alexander Navarro

For too long the story of Indonesian forests has been painted with the darkness of burning rainforests, disappearing species and displaced communities. Greedy palm oil companies, that only seem to be driven by the bottom line whatever the cost to humanity or biodiversity, have played a major role in this.

Keep reading... Show less
Science
The ICESat-2 will point lasers at Earth's ice sheets. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

NASA's New Space Laser to Measure Earth's Changing Ice

NASA will soon activate the "most advanced laser instrument of its kind" to study Earth's changing polar ice.

The incredibly precise Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) is the main feature of the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) that successfully launched into space from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 15.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
The Atlantic wolffish is already at risk from oxygen depletion. Nilfanion, via Wikimedia Commons

Oxygen Loss in Canada Linked to Climate Change

By Tim Radford

Oceanographers have identified an act of slow suffocation, as oxygen loss grows near one of the world's richest fishing grounds, and are linking the change to human-triggered global warming.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Business
A Co-op grocery store location in Shoreditch, London. The Co-op Group / CC BY 2.0

Supermarket Becomes First in UK to Replace Single-Use Plastic Bags With Compostable Alternative

Since 2015, all large stores in England have been required by law to charge five pence for single-use plastic bags in an attempt to reduce plastic pollution.

Now, major UK supermarket chain the Co-op is taking that one step further by phasing out plastic bags entirely and replacing them with compostable alternatives, becoming the first supermarket in the UK to do so, The Guardian reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Tiger: Bernard DuPont (CC BY-SA 2.0); Wolf: John and Karen Hollingsworth /USFWS

Tigers and Wolves: The Reigning Cats and Dogs in Conservation?

By John R. Platt

Do the species most in need of conservation also receive the most scientific research?

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
A tiger in Dhikala, Nepal. Ranjith Kumar 2016 / CC BY-SA 4.0

Wild Tiger Population Nearly Doubles in Nepal

Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts, Nepal now has an estimated 235 wild tigers in the country, a nearly twofold increase from its baseline of 121 individuals in 2009, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) announced Sunday on the occasion of Nepal's National Conservation Day.

The South Asian nation is now on track to become the first country to double its tiger population as part of WWF's "TX2" goal to double the world's wild tiger population by 2022—the next year of the tiger on the Chinese zodiac.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
North Carolina hog CAFO in Hurricane Florence floodwaters, Sept. 18. Larry Baldwin / Crystal Coast Waterkeeper / Waterkeeper Alliance

In a Warming World, Carolina CAFOs Are a Disaster for Farmers, Animals and Public Health

By Karen Perry Stillerman

In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, I've joined millions who've watched with horror as the Carolinas have been inundated with floodwaters and worried about the various hazards those waters can contain. We've seen heavy metal-laden coal ash spills, a nuclear plant go on alert (thankfully without incident), and sewage treatment plants get swamped. But the biggest and most widely reported hazard associated with Florence appears to be the hog waste that is spilling from many of the state's thousands of CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations), and which threatens lasting havoc on public health and the local economy.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!