Sunday, May 1, 2016

Signs that Berta is alive: Flower of Azalea, by Melissa Cardoza

Flower of Azalea
April 29th, 2016

She couldn’t have been six years old, or around that, barefoot. Leaning on a support beam, or hiding behind her mom’s body, Azalea would spy on me with her bright eyes full of mischief and shyness. Sometimes she would come up to my chair and with her little finger she would trace along the plastic armrest, up anPuchica! if that isn’t the prettiest name I have heard. And Azalea laughed through the few teeth she had at that age. Did you know that there’s a song named after you? She shook her head. Should I sing it to you? She nodded. Like the froth swept along by the mighty river, flower of Azalea, life surprises you with a hug. I changed the words to the bolero so as not to fill her little head with too much drama.
d down, the other finger in her mouth, her eyes looking at me. What did you say your name was? Azalea. ¡

From time to time I would run into her again, always in COPINH’s community center, Utopía, with her mom who would complain to me about school. Other times I would watch her playing around with her friends. Groups and groups of people would come through, for an assembly, for a ceremony, for a meeting or a party. Berta would be there, organizing, drinking coffee, fooling around, rallying people. Azalea would watch her with her eyes open wide because she drove a car like the men and spoke strongly.

Azalea had grown up. I ran into her at a mobilization of the Lenca women of COPINH during the occupation of the Attorney General’s building, an energetic action that grew from the fury of Berta’s sisters. Definitely the most powerful action so far. The women with their voices, their forms of protest, their strength and determination. Azalea was there holding up the traditional Lenca vara alta, she is an adolUtopía still resides in her face. What are you doing here, little girl, I ask her playfully. Well, here in the struggle.
escent, but that little girl from

Here in the struggle, it echoed inside of me. Later I heard her speak to the press, speaking about la compañera Berta, about COPINH, about her Lenca people, and then later in the People’s Summit. I listened intently to the crisp way she spoke, as resolute as a spring of water or a blooming tree. Her grounded words, precise, were spoken without raising her voice or gesturing wildly, without pretense or imitation.  

Azalea, the small flower of the mighty Gualcarque River. They threw stones at her that day when the delegation was attacked by people close to the company, that day when the crowd was divided, some indignant at not being well-enough protected, everything out of control, some coming to understand the difficulties lived through by people resisting industry’s advance, all feeling in their bodies the fear, experiencing the hate, the viciousness that followed Berta to her death.

On one of those long trips I took with Berta, miles on end traversing the land, those trips where we would laugh and debate, or be quiet for hours, we were coming back from a comrade’s funeral and I, caught up in my middle class anguish, told her that at this rate we would end up losing all of this country’s best fighters. And she, speaking more as expert than prophet, told me, Well yeah, they kill the becompa. I insisted, Berta, so then who is going to change this country? It’s not like there’s a lot of people with that level of determination, other wise we wouldn’t be where we are. And she looked at me with those dagger eyes that she would sometimes bring out, raising her voice: What the fuck is wrong with you, with your curly-haired self, the people are who will make change, the ones who always struggle, the sons and daughters of the people, we never run out of fighters, some come first and others later, but have some confidence, compa, otherwise what are we doing? What do we do all we do for, huh? 
st first, to fuck with the rest of us; but that’s how this goes,

Here in the struggle, Azalea said, just barely a young woman, with that mischievous Lenca smile, the same one Berta would have on as she says, See? What did I tell you?

Melissa Cardoza
April 2016

Antecedents of an Assassination - Summary of Threats against Berta Cáceres 2013-2016

Threats, attacks and intimidation against Berta Cáceres Flores

What follows is a brief summary of the many acts of intimidation suffered by Berta Cáceres Flores (referred to hereafter as “Berta”) between July 2013 and March 2016. The majority of these acts were denounced to national authorities and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) as per the protective measures granted to Berta on June 29th, 2009.[1]

July 15th, 2013         Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH)[2] member Tomás García Domínguez is killed and his son Allan García[3] is wounded.

October 30th, 2013         Berta receives a text message on her cell phone saying: “You look good driving, I saw you over by Siguatepeque.” It is important to point out that this same day Berta had seen an automobile belonging to the SINOHYDRO[4] company following her.

October 5th, 2014         When Berta was returning from activities in defense of the San Juan River, accompanied by Tomás Gómez Membreño, Aureliano Molina Villanueva and Jerónimo Guevara,[5] a mountain bike without license plates started to do circles around the vehicle they were driving in and continued for several minutes. Just after this a tree trunk fell from above, thrown to try to force them off of the highway. After avoiding and getting past it they look back and saw that the same person who had been driving around them with his motorbike was watching.

December 30th, 2014         At approximately 2pm, several members of the Lenca community of Río Blanco, together with Berta Cáceres, are reclaiming properties on their ancestral lands in the area of the Cangel River near the Blue Energy company’s plant, when several armed guards come out to confront them, one pointing his gun straight at Berta, who is able to back him off by taking out her telephone and threatening to record him.

January 19th, 2015         Berta receives a call from an unknown person, who warns her about the risk she faces and advises her to be careful when passing through Agua Caliente[6] to go visit the affected communities.

January 21st, 2015         Berta is in Tegucigalpa inside of a COPINH vehicle, accompanied by a member of the Honduran Network of Women Defending Human Rights and her daughter – sitting on the passenger side – when an unknown person gets out of a white taxi-like vehicle with a blue suitcase and the car approaches Berta, trying to open up the passenger door. Berta reacts immediately, telling her daughter to close the door, prompting the unknown person to drive off.

January 22nd, 2015         Ms. Berta Cáceres receives a text message warning her of the risk of being kidnapped by people close to the hydroelectric projects and asking her to call an unknown number to get more information. When Berta calls the same person she had spoken with on January 19th answers - refusing again to identify himself - and indicates to her that the company developing projects along the Canje River has hired someone close to the police to follow and eventually kidnap her.

January 24th, 2015         Berta receives another text message warning her to be careful when passing through Agua Caliente.

January 26th, 2015         Ms. Cáceres calls the unknown number that had been provided again to get more information. The informant indicates to her that when passing through Agua Caliente, she should go through in a vehicle without stopping since there would be people close to the Blue Energy company looking to stop her and other COPINH members from getting through.

January 27th, 2015         Ms. Cáceres is returning to Río Blanco with a delegation of journalists from the United States in three vehicles, one of them the one normally used by COPINH. Berta is in one of the first two cars when, while passing through Agua Caliente, they are stopped for at least forty minutes by a group of people supposedly close to the Blue Energy company. The President of Agua Caliente’s community council is amongst these people, and while this takes place, Berta hears these individuals asking for her, expressing intent to kill her and to burn the third vehicle, belonging to COPINH. Fortunately, these people don’t recognize Ms. Cáceres. The driver of the third vehicle is threatened for transporting COPINH members.

February 3rd, 2015         This day, Berta receives a call from the previously mentioned informant, who warns her that the Blue Energy company has taken out 30,000 Lempiras to use to pay people to follow her and warns her again about getting kidnapped.

February 6th, 2015         Ms. Berta Cáceres is informed that in the month of January, several people who said they were agents of the National Criminal Investigation Unit, had obtained the birth certificates of Berta and one of her daughters at the National Population Registry in La Esperanza.

February 7th, 2015         Berta receives another call from the informant, who warns her that she could wind up disappearing.

March 28th, 2015         While the human rights defender is passing through the Agua Caliente community, she receives a call from one of the lawyers working with COPINH who informs her that he has received a call from an unknown person asking if he has had contact with or knows Berta.

                                    That same day, Berta receives a call from a member of the Río Blanco Indigenous Council, letting her know about a supposed plan to kill her. The plan was supposedly led by three people, two of them with the last name Madriz, and he tells her that it is related to the process of recovering lands occupied by the DESA company.

May 20th, 2015         Moisés Durán, who had assumed an active role in COPINH in the land recovery process around Somolagua, Santa Bárbara, is assassinated.

November 4th, 2015         A computer belonging to COPINH is robbed from Berta’s mother’s house, where she had left it during a trip to Tegucigalpa. According to Berta, it was filled with an enormous amount of information about COPINH’s activities defending human rights, going back historically.

November 6th, 2015         While driving COPINH’s vehicle towards the La Tejera community, at the point of the exit towards El Roble, Berta is shot at on three separate occasions.  Ms. Cáceres can’t identify where the bullets come from, but to protect herself she keeps driving and gets away from the area without any of the bullets hitting her car.

November 24th, 2015          Mr. Tomás Gómez receives a call from a person identifying himself as Juan Bautista Madrid. During the call he tells him, among other things, that he and Ms. Cáceres are the people responsible for agitating the people in the communities, that should “anything happen to you” it would be your fault,” that they intend to settle things with Berta Cáceres “one way or another” and that they should think about consequences.

November 30th, 2016          Members of COPINH – including its leader Berta Cáceres – are headed in two buses towards the municipality of San Francisco de Ojuera, in the state of Santa Bárbara, to protest peacefully and ask for a meeting with Mayor Raúl Pineda, when the Honduran police forces detain two of their vehicles, search them, and temporarily prevent them from continuing on towards that municipality.[7]

                                    When they arrive at their destination, there are numerous municipal workers waiting for them with machetes and small fire arms, who start throwing rocks at them, threatening them by saying to them, among other things, “this is the old bitch that we have to kill” – clearly referring to Berta Cáceres – and taking away the signs they are carrying. All of this is tolerated by police and military agents who are also present. According to one COPINH member, one of the armed men comes close to stabbing Ms. Cáceres in the chest.

December 28th, 2015         A person identified as Olvin Gustavo Mejía is detained by the National Civil Police for illegally carrying high caliber weapons while going through a place known as La Hamaca, along the Gualcarque River, where the DESA company is carrying out its construction. He was accused of involvement in the killing of a COPINH sympathizer named Bernardo Pérez.

                                    As far as is known, that person is currently free and is seen at the end of the month of January 2016 working as part of the DESA company’s security team.

                                    An informant who remains anonymous for his safety tells Berta that while detained another detainee told him that he was there as part of a plan to kill several COPINH members, amongst them Ms. Berta Cáceres.

January 26th, 2016         DESA sends several Honduran human rights organizations[8] an “informational note” in which they accuse COPINH of being an organization intending to “manipulate public perception,” and refer to “a Spanish activist who belongs to an NGO that accompanies COPINH in its reclamations.” The reference is to Luis Díaz Terán, who has been receiving threats for his collaboration with COPINH.

February 10th, 2016         COPINH’s Tomás Gómez receives text messages from DESA’s former head of security, Douglas Bustillo, telling him that they failed to stop DESA and that they have them defeated.

February 16th, 2016         Berta and other COPINH members are pursued by armed men while driving away from Río Blanco after a visit with the Lenca people resisting the dam. The armed men pursue Berta’s vehicle, but she is able to flee to another town.

February 20th, 2016         During a peaceful march towards the DESA company’s construction site by about 250 people – including COPINH members and sympathizers - who had arrived in several buses, several people supporting the Agua Zarca project stop them along the way, force them out of their vehicles and take hold of the vehicles. It isn’t until approximately 9pm, with mediation from police, that the buses are returned and the protesters are able to return to La Esperanza, Intibucá.

February 25th, 2016         While police and military displace about 50 COPINH families from their homes in Jarcia, Guinse, Intibucá, a member of the National Criminal Investigation Unit (DGIC) harasses Berta and tells her that the security forces won’t be held responsible if something happens to her.

February 26th, 2016         At approximately 1:45pm, a new double cabin truck with tinted windows parks on the same street as COPINH’s office. A tall man with very short hair gets out of the vehicle while another man stays inside with the vehicle turned on. The man who gets down approaches the COPINH office and asks for Berta. When he is informed that she isn’t there, he asks where she is and asks for her phone number. When the COPINH member asks him to identify himself, he refuses and leaves.

March 2nd, 2016         The morning of March 2nd, the day of Berta Cáceres’s assassination, witnesses see Jorge Ávila, DESA’s chief of security, along with unknown subjects in a vehicle without license plates in Siguatepeque at the point of the turnoff towards La Esperanza. The men are talking poorly of Berta and the vehicle takes off in the direction of La Esperanza.

March 3rd, 2016         Berta Cáceres dies, assassinated at her home.

[1] As a consequence of the June 28th, 2998 coup d’état that year, the IACHR granted protective measures to numerous people at risk, labeling the measures MC 196-09. Then, on July 31st, 2013 the IACHR distinguished the different measures and thereafter continued following Berta Cáceres under measure number MC 405-09.
[2] The Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH) is the alliance of Lenca indigenous communities that Berta Cáceres co-founded and led until her assassination in March of this year.
[4] SINOHYDRO is one of two companies (the other is DESA), involved in the construction of the Agua Zarca dam that the COPINH-affiliated Lenca indigenous community of Río Blanco has been fighting for several years. SINOHYDRO has since pulled out of the project as a result of the conflict.
[5] All COPINH members.
[6] Municipality of San Pedro de Zacapa, state of Santa Bárbara.
[7] Correo Del Orinoco. “Policía nacional de Honduras ataca marcha indígena del Copinh”. November 30th, 2015. copinh/ (last checked: March 4th, 2016).
See also: COPINH: “Tratan de impedir la movilización del COPINH con actos desesperados”, November 30th, 2015. Avilable at: (last checked: March 4th, 2016).

[8] Amongst them are the International Honduran Accompanied Project (PROAH) and the Human Rights Network (CADEHO).

Sunday, April 17, 2016

"People of the world: Intensify the struggle" - Declaration of International Summit in Honor of Berta Cáceres

Final Statement of the Berta Cáceres Lives International Peoples' Summit

In this land of over 500 years of struggle, with the sound of free-flowing rivers, the strength of mountains, barrios and villages, the fury and tenderness of natural life, the spirit of the ancestors, the hopes and pain of men, women and children, the people of Berta gather in memory of her rebellious life.

Photo: Giorgio Trucchi
From April 13-15, 2016, close to 1,500 people from grassroots social movement organizations in Honduras and delegations from 22 countries have come together for the Berta Cáceres Lives International Peoples’ Summit in Tegucigalpa and Rio Blanco, Honduras to debate, share and reflect.

WE DECLARE that we are completely conscious of the fact that Berta Cáceres’s assassination was due to her struggle and the struggle of COPINH against the criminal, neocolonial, femicidal and extractive model imposed by the Honduran and international ultra-right wing. They spread this model through the continent through violent actions such as these assassinations and through other strategies that undermine justice for the people, such as the current attempt to carry out a coup d’état against the Brazilian people. We condemn this coup attempt, which follows in the wake of the nefarious 2009 coup here in Honduras.

WE RECOGNIZE the immense ethical and practical contribution of our compañera Berta and her commitment to popular struggles around the world. She brought her aspirations to life with her radical and honest words, with the depth of her decolonizing thought, the spiritual strength of the indigenous peoples, a profound knowledge of and great confidence in popular struggle, and the international horizons of her vision of emancipation. We assume these elements of her legacy today with joy and strength.

WE COMMIT OURSELVES to the struggle, thought, actions and rebellions of this anti-patriarchal, anti-capitalist, anti-racist vision so that it may continue nurturing the diversity of struggles around the world that confront the neoliberal logic of death, which are already being built throughout this continent.

During this summit we have sought consensus on ideas, proposals and collective alliances between organizations, countries and political initiatives in order to set in motion the intentions and desires for transformation, starting at the roots.

Following the Honduran Social Movement Platform (PMSH), the Berta Cáceres Honduran Grassroots Alliance, COPINH and the family of Berta Cáceres Flores, we commit ourselves to struggle for:
  • Truth and justice in the crime against Berta Cáceres Flores, which means pushing for an investigation led by a team that takes the context of her political practice into account and that identifies all of the perpetrators and plotters of her assassination and others that are part of their project of death.
  • The withdrawal of the DESA corporation from Lenca territory, the liberation of the Gualcarque River, struggle for the confluence of collective energies, instruments of communication, territorial actions, formation of a working group backed up by international experiences to expel extractive projects from Honduran territory.
  • The definitive withdrawal of military presence from indigenous territory and grassroots communities, both rural and urban.
  • The recognition of COPINH as the organization responsible for watching over and protecting its territory along with OFRANEH and other legitimate organizations of the first nations.

Those present at this summit and organized in the Platform of the Honduran Social Movement commit ourselves to continue the process of internal unification and strengthening of our proposals for robust internationalist action, with Berta and her actions as our inspiration and horizon.

To all peoples of the world, men and women, we invite you to intensify the struggle with energy and principled unity. We will never give up hope nor will we wait to bring to life the utopia of justice, freedom and autonomy that is our legitimate vision for life and happiness on this earth.  

Photo: Giorgio Trucchi

Sunday, April 10, 2016

"We are going to bring Berta’s legacy to life" - Berta Cáceres Lives Honduran Popular Alliance

Berta Cáceres Lives Honduran Popular Alliance moves towards unity and sets an agenda of struggle 
Tegucigalpa, Honduras April 9th, 2016 Photo by Giorgio Trucchi

In a packed room, grassroots social movements who make up the Berta Cáceres Popular Alliance met this April 9th to initiate a path towards unity, towards building principles to guide an agenda of struggle by organized sectors of the Honduran people.

Bertha Zúniga Cáceres - Photo by Giorgio Trucchi
"We are living through a political, social and economic moment characterized by the decimation of living conditions for the majority of the population amidst persecution, threats, assassination of the women and men of our social movements. In Honduras a repressive and authoritarian model is consolidating, openly attacking popular organizations," states the declaration of the alliance’s first assembly, which was read out by Bertha Zúniga Cáceres, daughter of the indigenous leader assassinated this past March 2nd.

The document condemns the clear will of the national oligarchy and the transnational corporations to “appropriate our shared natural resources" through the concession of land, rivers and mineral riches.

Faced with this context, the Assembly demanded the truth be brought to light about the "political femicide against compañera Berta Cáceres Flores," as well as the implementation of an independent international commission through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights."

Likewise, it rejects involvement in the investigation by the MACCIH (Mission of Support against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras), driven by the Organization of American States and agreed to with the Honduran government, and demands the immediate and definitive cancellation of both the concession given to the company Desarrollo Energéticos S.A. (DESA) to build the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, as well as all other extractive concessions “that are plundering our national territory."

For years, Berta Cáceres and COPINH (Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), the organization coordinated by the indigenous leader, have fought arduously against the development of the Agua Zarca project.

According to Cáceres’s family, the main trail that should be followed by the authorities in their investigation should be the struggle the indigenous leader and human rights defender waged against the extractive model in Honduras, in particular against the project carried out by DESA and financed by national and international financial institutions.

Step up the Struggle!

Miriam Miranda of OFRANEH - Photo by Giorgio Trucchi
"The Assembly served to reaffirm the desire and will to join together as a grassroots social movement rooted in our diversity. It is something that we are building bit by bit, but what is important is to continue focusing on unity in action, with real plans, extensive content, making Berta’s words ours when she would say ‘Step up the struggle!" Miriam Miranda, Coordinator of OFRANEH (Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras), told LINyM.

Miranda also highlighted the importance of reaffirming the need to strengthen territorial resistance struggles against the extractive model.

The Final Declaration demanded the immediate cessation of persecution, criminalization, prosecution, violence against and death of the women and men leading popular organizations.

Likewise, it condemned the "ongoing attack against workers fired without justification by the regime” under orders of the IMF and other international financial institutions.

Action plan

The various organizations that make up the Berta Cáceres Popular Alliance began to create an action plan for permanent mobilization.

"It is about bringing the legacy Berta left us to life. To do that we have to come together around what unites us and leave aside what divides us,” explainted the Garífuna leader.

"We re-affirm that for us it is important that this not just be a confluence, an alliance, a unifying around our demand for justice in the assassination of our sister Berta Cáceres, but also about building sustained processes of struggle over the mid- and long-term. It is an opportunity that we cannot fail to seize, which is why the agendas of each sector need to fit within this alliance," added Miranda.

The Final Declaration reaffirmed the struggle against "this system of death and in favor of  life, stepping up our demands in unity and with strength to demand justice for the assassination of our sister Berta Cáceres Flores," the document concludes.

The Berta Cáceres Popular Alliance will meet again at the end of May in COPINH’s "Utopia" center outside La Esperanza, Intibucá.

Final Declaration of the 1st Assembly of the Berta Cáceres Popular Alliance

“Berta Cáceres Lives” – I Assembly of Berta Cáceres Popular Alliance

Photo by Giorgio Trucchi
Gathered in the city of Tegucigalpa, capital of the Republic of Honduras, the grassroots movements making up the Berta Cáceres Lives Honduran Popular Alliance agree to to begin working toward UNITY built on PRINCIPLES that will guide an agenda of struggle by all organized sectors of our people for the liberation of our homeland.

We are living through a political, social and economic moment characterized by the decimation of living conditions for the majority of the population amidst persecution, threats, assassination of the women and men of our social movements.

In Honduras a repressive and authoritarian model is consolidating, openly attacking popular organizations.

There is a clear will by the oligarchy’s auctioneers and the transnational corporations to appropriate our shared natural resources through concessions of territory, rivers and mineral riches to a handful of national and foreign capitalists.

These conditions of adversity for our peoples’ struggles come in the midst of a a re-entrenchment of the imperialists’ strategy of militarization and attack on our territories as well as strengthening of the Latin American right wing. Faced with this context, we demand the following:

1. Bring the truth to light about the political femicide against our sister Berta Cáceres Flores; we demand the implementation of an independent international commission through the IACHR endorsed by the complete confidence of COPINH and the Berta Cáceres Lives Popular Alliance. We reject the investigation of her crime by the MACCIH, which we see as an instrument for the manipulation of national and international public opinion.

2. Immediately and definitively cancel the concessions given to the DESA corporation to build the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam and cancel all concessions for extractive projects that are plundering the national territory.

3. We demand the immediate cessation of persecution, criminalization, prosecution, violence against and death of the women and men leading popular organizations.

4. We reject the remilitarization of society and of our territories as an instrument for repression and control.

Photo by Giorgio Trucchi
5. Our sister Berta Cáceres Flores was assassinated with bullets as just like thousands of women killed in femicides and men killed in the name of “social cleansing” carried out by the State in coordination with paramilitary groups. We demand an end to violence and death.

6. We condemn the ongoing attack against workers fired without justification by the regime” in order to follow orders given by the International Monetary Fund and other financial institutions, continuing to deepen the application of the neoliberal model.

We re-affirm that we continue in the struggle against this system of death and in favor of life, we will step up our demands in UNITY and with STRENGTH to demand justice for the assassination of our sister Berta Cáceres Flores.

Berta Didn’t Die, She Multiplied!

United we will win!

Wake up humanity, we’re out of time!

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Saturday April 9th, 2016

A month without Berta. A month with Berta.

A month without Berta. A month with Berta
By Claudia Korol

[Translated to English by Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle - Poema original en español aquí]

A month without Berta. A month with Berta. Women rise up from our different
corners of the planet and say, “We are all Berta.” In our different
languages we all repeat: “Berta’s alive, the struggle survives!” And meanwhile
the powers of injustice keep weaving their webs to obscure
the truth of the crime against the sister from COPINH, daughter of the Lenca people, 
compañera of all people who struggle.

The Lenca women, the women of COPINH, the ones who learned
audacity and rage with her, lose patience and storm the Attorney General’s office.
They paint it red. Red like Berta’s blood,
they say.

A month without Berta. A month with Berta. It’s hard to sleep. Over and over again,
I’m startled awake. It’s the same time the assassins entered her house. It’s the same time
 they fired. Berta asks of us, “Wake up humanity! Time is up!”…
I think of you Berta in the early dawn hours. It’s the same time they
multiplied you. The bullets re-birthed you as the conscience of our continent.

A month without Berta. A month with Berta. We take the streets. We paint your
name. I want to ask you all, sisters and brothers, what do we mean, exactly,
when we say that “We are all Berta”? What does that phrase mean in
our day-to-day life? What changes are we forced to make when we say that we
are all Berta? What changes to our routine and
the way we are in the world are we willing to make?

I’m writing against the ritualization of death. I’m writing against
naturalizing crime. I’m writing against the comfort of thinking of ourselves as
Berta without knowing the risks and fully taking up her struggle. Because
we must say that “Berta’s alive, her struggle thrives,”
but never as a phrase to calm our rage or
our pain.

Those who have walked alongside Berta, we know that nothing could be further from
calm then moving through this world with her. Because if the ritual
doesn’t mean making changes ourselves, revolutions ourselves, beyond the
emotion we put into saying her name, are we really all Berta?

A month without Berta. A month with Berta. I ask myself… if it is true that
Berta is a planted seed as we feel in our lands, who is defending
those lands, who is watering them, who takes care of them?
and I also ask myself, how will we get justice for Berta? Do we think
the criminal Honduran state and its institutions,
the ones responsible for the history of pain amongst the Lenca people,
the indigenous, garífuna, black peoples of Honduras, will make it happen? What will do
 to stop Berta’s memory from being distorted by those to want to see this extraordinary
 figure packed back into the same molds from which she constantly escaped?
How do we ensure that those who clashed with her time and again don’t wrap her in a
 history free of conflicts? Because Berta didn’t just confront companies like DESA and
 SINOHYDRO and their hydroelectric project Agua Zarca,
transnational corporations, the coup government, the military,
the paramilitaries. Berta also confronted those who institutionalize
left politics following the same logic of the powers-that-be, she confronted
the patriarchal family model that sought to suffocate her, she
confronted those who call themselves our brothers but carry out violence against
women, she confronted allies who didn’t respect
COPINH’s autonomy.

Berta had a wild tongue that she used to confront the powers
colonizing our bodies and territories, the capitalist
patriarchal power structure, prejudices… And she paid for it with so much pain and

I still ask myself if it may be necessary to make ourselves uncomfortable when we say
that we are all Berta, and use that discomfort to take the streets, to
rebel in the face of all injustice, like she did, she who was
guardian of the Gualcarque River, who was also the voice that alerted us
to other oppressions and injustices…

“Hey sister, what are we going to do to support the Kurdish women, look how beautiful
their revolution is… hey sister, what are we going to do about Colombia where they
are killing our sisters… hey sister, I’m calling you from Aguán…
hey sister, we’re headed to Río Blanco… put the word out sister,
those bastards are coming for us”…

A month without Berta. A month with Berta. The wound hurts. It’s not weakness
to say that it hurts a lot. It’s feeling the immense solitude left by
your absence. Because we are missing Berta even if we are all Berta. Because our sister,
our compa, was one of a kind, was special… that’s why the rage
is so boundless, the tears, the voices that multiply around the world.
When we say today that we are all Berta, we are talking – I think –
about a collective body of rebellion… But still, that body
has to keep on re-making itself in revolutions. Because within that collective body
in which we are all Berta, we are missing Berta. It is a hard
battle against adapting, against losing hope, against fear,
against resignation, against the bureaucratization of
revolutionary dreams, against forgetting.

A month without Berta. Let me correct myself. A month with Berta. I repeat myself. A
 month without Berta. I ask myself. Are we really all going to be Berta now? I
answer myself. Berta’s struggle survives and thrives. In the Gualcarque River, which
still runs freely through Río Blanco. In the Lenca people, who cry for her and carry
her forward with them in struggle. In Berta’s daughters and son, where we see
the mark of her teachings, the words of her whole life, her clear gaze,
her warrior spirit. In Mamá Bertha, who stands strong
at her age demanding justice. And in ourselves, sisters on
this path, insurrectionary feminists, autonomists, in solidarity since forever, we
who have the wounded skin of our peoples and hearts that run as
fast as the river.

A month without Berta. A month with Berta. We know that you’re not at rest sister.
That you are demanding that our peoples wake up. Not to play the games of the
powerful, but to carry out the revolutions that await us.

Claudia Korol

April 2016

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