Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Berta's Family Accuses the Government of Complicity in her Death

Family members of Berta Càceres condemn the prosecutor’s office for protecting the murderers. There is a financial connection between the director of the prosecution and the DESA lawyers. They believe that the Honduran state knew of the plan to assassinate indigenous leader Berta Càceres.


Mr. President of the Republic, Juan Orlando Hernández,

Mr. Attorney General of the Republic, Oscar Chinchilla,

The family members of Berta Cáceres, COPINH, the Grassroots Social Movement Platform of Honduras (PMSPH) and the Articulación Popular Berta Cáceres, with Honduran society and the International community listening, writes to you to express and demand the following:

It has been almost a month since the crime against Berta Cáceres and Gustavo Castro. Up until now, what we know with certainty is that you as principal figures within the Honduran state and government have not fulfilled your responsibility to protect Berta’s life, despite her repeated denunciations of death threats and the fact that since 2009 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights told you that she was facing serious and real danger and asked for you to protect her. That means that you are already responsible for this crime and we hope that you will one day be brought before a court of law. 

It is incumbent upon you to explain and clarify several events that have taken place in the aftermath of the crime against Berta and Gustavo Castro, but this should be done first to the victims and then to others as you see fit. Among the main points that should be clarified are:
  • Who came up with the hypothesis (the only one that you have made public), that the crime against Berta is related to a personal conflict or COPINH’s internal affairs?
  • What actions have been taken with regards to the public officials who have failed or fallen short in their obligation to protect Berta Cáceres?
  • What actions have been taken against police, prosecutors, witnesses and other people who in the first hours after the crime had already resolved the case, with egregious falsehoods, and insisted on accusing anybody in order to ensure impunity and reduce the National and International pressure that the crime provoked?
  • What actions have been taken with regards to the manipulation of the crime scene and the investigative process that has been publicly condemned by numerous parties, including the victim, Gustavo Castro?
  • Why do you insist on keeping Gustavo Castro in the country and violating his human rights despite collaboration with the investigation and willingness to continue collaborating from his home in Mexico?
  • Why have you not attended to the requests made by the daughters, son, mother and other family members of Berta?
  • Why don’t you accept an independent commission directed by the IACHR, to help with the investigation of the crime?
  • Why do you refuse the active participation of the victims in the investigation via their legal representatives?
  • What are you hiding, what are those who you are protecting afraid of, why do you insist on continuing to violate the rights of the victims? 
  • What role does the FBI play in the investigation of the crime? In what ways has this body intervened?
  • Who are and what is the experience of the people who are supposedly collaborating with the Honduran authorities?
  • Are these FBI agents participating in the investigation to assure impunity for DESA, for USAID, for the U.S. Embassy in Honduras and for you as the government?
  • What are and how do you explain the terms of the cooperation agreement between USAID and DESA, the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project developer and principle suspect in conceiving of and carrying out the crime against Berta? 
  • How will you explain the degree to which the investigation is independent, when the current director of prosecutors, Arturo Duarte, who is an active participant in the investigation, has been a partner in the law firm that represents DESA and that made accusations towards Berta in the La Esperanza courts in 2013?
  • Do you think that you can hide the fact that DESA’s lawyer, Juan Sánchez Cantillano, has been a partner and a personal friend of the current director of prosecutors Arturo Duarte and that this clearly compromises and lends to the manipulation of the investigation?
Mr. President and Mr. Attorney General,

Your attitude and the above-mentioned concerns give us reason to believe that you not only ceased to protect Berta, but that you may have known of the plan to assassinate her and today are part of the plan to ensure this crime remains in impunity. That is to say that all of the state’s actions and omissions with regards to the case of Berta Cáceres lead us to the assertion that there is a clear will on the part of the State to ensure that justice will not be served.

We want to reaffirm that, as victims, the family, COPINH, the PMSPH and the Articulación Popular Berta Cáceres, we are determined to seek and obtain truth and justice in this crime. For that reason we urge you to resolve the requests that the victims have already placed before you on your desks:
  • Accept the intervention of an Independent Commission of international experts guided by the IACHR to contribute actively to the investigation and clarification of the crime against Berta and Gustavo Castro.
  • Respect the rights of the victims to participate actively in the investigation already being carried out by the Attorney General’s office
  • Respect and guarantee the life and other rights of the victims, of COPINH and of the legal team that accompanies them, in particular by ensuring that they can continue with their legitimate defense of the human rights of indigenous peoples.
  • Respect the right of victim Gustavo Castro to return to his country, from where he will continue to contribute to the investigation as necessary
  • Cancel once and for all the concession of the Gualcarque River to the DESA corporation, along with all other illegitimate concessions affecting the Honduran territory.
  • We demand that you cease your campaign against Berta’s family, COPINH and the Honduran social movement. It is you who are responsible for the economic and human disaster that the country is living through; it is you, along with the political and economic class that has brought our country to the pinnacle of corruption, violence and ineptitude.
  • Finally, we reaffirm our unbreakable commitment to continue demanding and building a Honduras where justice and dignity prevail for all victims, which is to say, for the vast majority of Hondurans. 
March, 2016

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