Friday, September 20, 2013

Berta and Norita: A key encounter of resistance

Berta and Norita: A key encounter of resistance
by Claudia Korol

On September 20th Berta Cáceres, general coordinator of COPINH (the Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), along with her comrades Aureliano Molina and Tomás Membreño, will receive the verdict in a trial in which the prosecutor is trying to send her to prison, accusing her for damages against the DESA company, in charge of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project. It is one of several cases against Berta, motivated by the transnational companies who seek to privatize the sacred Gualcarque river, in a true act of judicial persecution with participation from the government of “the wolf,”* the Attorney General and the Honduran army.

When I had the chance to go to Río Blanco, I experienced with the Lenca community there the reasons why they defend the river and their territories, as part of their culture and their life. That same day, at the headquarters where the company sits, I was received by an army official who spoke to us (in English, nonetheless), to explain to us that he was part of “Operation Freedom” and that as such his task was to guard the assets of the transnational companies located there. The headquarters for DESA-SINOHYDRO is essentially a military and police outpost, prepared to act against the Lenca people in the region.

In this trial, Berta Cáceres could be sent to prison.

I don’t know nor did I care to verify if the damages that the company says were done by the Lenca community that opposes its presence on that site are real. It doesn’t matter to me if the community caused them, if the company itself caused them or if they were caused by some of those who they bought off, like those who in the midst of the conflict went to sit down with the government to hand over the rivers and the communities who protect them. It doesn’t matter to me because I know perfectly that the destruction of that river, of its surroundings, of the people who live off of it, is an irreparable damage, a crime that nobody will punish, as long as those who benefited from the coup d’etat and the judges who follow the orders of capital and of the powerful govern.

Berta Cáceres was not in the area when they claim the acts of destruction against the company took place. But that is not what matters to me.

What matters is to say that yes, Berta is part of the Lenca people who defend - not just for their own sake - the place, the land, the waters, the energy that the transnational corporations seek to destroy and take over in order to obtain enormous profit.

It matters to me to say that yes, Berta is a woman of the people, a Lenca woman. A woman who is committed for life to the struggles for all of the rights of her community. A woman who knew to share in the revolutionary struggle of the Salvadoran people when it was necessary. A woman who has fiercely confronted the coup d’etat, the transnational corporations and their armies. A woman who is part of the internationalist networks of solidarity who defend peoples attacked by militarism and imperialism. A woman with feminist, libratory, anti-patriarchal consciousness. And precisely because of that, she is a free woman. Whether or not she goes to jail.

Because she is a free woman, Berta can defend a river, the environment that surrounds it. Berta can also confront a violent man when he attacks the body of a woman. And she can cast aside those who in the name of a heroic virility create homophobic, lesbophobic, misogynist armies.

Because she is a free woman, Berta knows how to love and be loved.

All of this hurts and bothers the capitalist, colonial, patriarchal powers. Along with their servants of all types.

That is why they want her contained, like the Gualcarque River. Restraining a river and detaining Berta are part of the colonial mission carried out by the courts of injustice and their prosecutor lackeys, like attack dogs for the company.
To defend them and defend her is the responsibility of the community. It is our responsibility, as peoples who feel united with all struggles for emancipation.

Free bodies. Free rivers. Free territories. Free peoples. All one territory.

I write these lines as one of our Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Norita Cortiñas, is travelling to hug Berta, Tomás, Aureliano, the three comrades awaiting the court’s verdict.

Norita knows about resistances and freedoms. She is our ambassador, that of the global south, in each appointment with life. Our 30,000 disappeared sisters and brothers travel with her. In her white scarf is the memory of our manifold resistance and rebelliousness.

Norita and Berta know about pains. They know about prisons. They know about loss. They know about rage. They also know how to create new worlds where time seems to be interrupted.
I am sure that in the hug of the two sisters on this journey… in that hug that they will share in the center of La Esperanza, in the heart of Honduras, our ancestors from all times, the care-takers of freedom, the defenders of life, will be present.

Norita crossed the continent to say just a few words: Tomás, Aureliano, you are not alone!!! Berta, you are not alone!!!

Claudia Korol
September 2013

*"The Wolf" refers to Honduran President Pepe Lobo, whose last name means wolf in Spanish.

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