Thursday, September 8, 2016

COPINH statement on today's mobilization to Tegucigalpa as another public official faces charges for illegally granting permits to Agua Zarca hydroelectric project

ALERT- Olban Milla from COPINH’s community radios was detained by the police today around 2:20am outside of a COPINH building while leaving to meet up with other COPINH members to go to today’s mobilization in Tegucigalpa in front of the La Granja Courthouse.  While he was since released without charges, this is yet another example of unfounded and ongoing persecution against COPINH!  

COPINH protested in front of the First Circuit Criminal Court in the La Granja neighborhood of Tegucigalpa today, Thursday September 8th, at 9am, where a hearing against the ex-Vice minister for the Environment and Natural Resources (SERNA), Jonathan Laínez, took place for having granted the environmental permit to the Agua Zarca project in violation of the rights of the Lenca people to free, prior and informed consultation. We also ask for attention to the ruling that will be made today in the First Circuit Court of Intibucá stemming from last Monday’s hearing against the former Mayor of Intibucá Martiniano Dominguez. 

COPINH demands the immediate incarceration of all public officials who authorized the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project on the sacred Gualcarque River in open violation of ILO Convention 169 and the rights of the Lenca people. 

The case against ex-Vice Minister Lainez is the result of the complaints filed by our General Coordinator Berta Cáceres with the Special Prosecutor for Ethnicities and Cultural Patrimony against the officials who approved dozens and dozens of hydroelectric concessions in Lenca territory in violation of ILO Convention 169 and the right to free, prior and informed consent, bypassing the authority and decisions of the Lenca communities, serving as lackeys for international economic interests and the small group of elites who govern this country.

The approval of the Agua Zarca Project and other illegal and illegitimate projects have true campaigns of terror and repression against the Lenca people for defending the rights of our people and of Mother Earth, leading to the cruel assassination of our sister Berta Cáceres.  So-called “development” has mean assassinations, aggression and repression against the Lenca people. What kind of development has to be implemented with the barrel of a gun and indignity?

We demand punishment for all public officials who attack the Lenca people. We demand as a Lenca people that this justice system start to reflect that name and act with impartiality in this case. We call for our people’s rights to be respected and that the justice system respond to the demands of the Lenca people.


With the ancestral strength of Berta, Lempira, Mota, Iselaca and Etempica we raise our voice full of life, justice, freedom, dignity and peace!

La Esperanza, Honduras, September 8th, 2016

Friday, September 2, 2016

COPINH Statement Marking 6 Months since Berta Cáceres's Assassination


The Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, 6 months after the assassination of COPINH’s General Coordinator, hereby states that:
  • The assassination of the woman who served as COPINH’s General Coordinator and who was a founding member of the organization was a crime committed against the entire Lenca people’s struggle to build autonomy and defend Mother Earth, our shared natural resources, and our rights as indigenous peoples.
  • Despite this crime we re-affirm that we will continue our fierce struggle against the deadly projects that have been imposed without consultation since the 2009 military coup d’état. We know that our sister Berta Cáceres Flores has not died as long as neither her struggle nor her political project, embodied by this organization, have died.
  • Our compañera Berta Cáceres, our sister, is the victim of a State crime, having suffered persecution by Honduran authorities, security forces and courts and criminalization of her work throughout her years of political activity, aided and abetted by corporations like DESA, and international banks like FMO, CABEI and FINNFUND, who want to plunder our shared natural resources to turn them into their own profit.
  • Over the 23 years of our organization’s existence, this crime has been the biggest blow to our people and it is an attempt to end the struggle waged by COPINH, which continues to suffer from demonization and criminalization by the government and national and international corporations and financial institutions.
  • Having accompanied Berta in her struggle, which is our people’s struggle, we are completely clear that justice will not come from the corrupt and inefficient institutions that have promoted the extermination of peoples in resistance and that the arrests they have made do not represent justice for this assassination but are clear example of the way that impunity is produced in this country.
  • COPINH continues to demand the creation of an Independent Investigation Commission so that we can get to the bottom of this crime, a demand that has fallen on the government’s deaf ears.
  • For several years COPINH has been demanding the expulsion of the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project from Lenca territory, where it has been imposed without consultation, along with the 50 other concessions for dams and wind-power megaprojects that they seek to impose upon our territory.
  • The Lenca people are fighting to live in peace, which is why we demand the de-militarization of our territories, where the soldiers, police and private security forces exist to secure private investments by violating the most basic of human rights and sewing fear, terror and death.
  • Faced with this assassination, the corporations and banks who finance terror and death should know that COPINH will be unwavering in its efforts to find those who participated in this act. May the perpetrators know that we will not rest in our search for Justice for our sister and that we will denounce each and every attack we suffer for carrying out our work before the international authorities.
  • COPINH knows that both before and after the 2009 coup d’état the violence and atrocities come from the interference of the U.S., with its money and its interventions, as with the coup d’état itself. The imposition of the extractivist model comes as a result of the U.S. capitalist doctrine and Berta’s assassination is part of a clear strategy to eliminate by force any form of opposition to that economic model, which the U.S. is at the heart of.
  • We denounce the campaigns to criminalize our organization, financed by DESA on national TV, where they roll out Gloria López, a person who does not represent Lenca women and is a farce of a dignified indigenous person and who we are sure is being used by Honduran businessmen to manipulate public opinion and create more conflict.
  • COPINH is completely clear what justice in the face of this enormous loss means: finding who assassinated her, who gave the order to assassinate her, and denouncing the criminal power structure that allowed for her assassination. It means that the work of resistance, of emancipation, of rebellion by COPINH and the Lenca people remains steadfast. It means tireless struggle against this economic, political and cultural system that seeks to eliminate our communities, their ancestral resistance and alternatives to dispossession, exploitation, racism and exclusion.
  • Justice is keeping the memory of Berta’s life alive, the convictions that led her to be the greatest leader of the Lenca people in the history of the Lenca people’s resistance. Justice is clearly telling the corporations, the representatives of the state and all of those who enter Lenca territory that we will not allow the development of any project, action or activity that rolls over people or that eliminates our voices. It means development by the communities and NOT by corporations that take advantage of communities, development based on proposals that stem from our needs.
Six months after this vile crime the Lenca people continue to cry over this loss for the Honduran social movement, yet we have not forgotten that her spirit accompanies us as one more ancestor who has joined us in the millenarian resistance of the Lenca people.
Six months after this assassination thousands of voices have risen to demand Justice for Berta and to take up our demands, for which COPINH profoundly thanks the communities, grassroots social movements and civil society from all regions of the continent and world. As a people in struggle we know that justice will come only through the efforts of the grassroots social movement and people of conscience.
Berta didn’t die, she multiplied!

With the ancestral strength of Berta, Lempira, Mota, Iselaca and Etempica we raise our voices full of life, justice, freedom, dignity and peace!

La Esperanza, Honduras, September 2nd, 2016

Letter to Berta Cáceres, my mom - Bertha Zúniga Cáceres

Indigenous Lenca activist Berta Cáceres was assassinated this past March 2nd in La Esperanza, Honduras the city in which she was born. From the beginning, her family and COPINH, the organization she served as coordinator, blamed DESA, a company that is building a project of death along the Gualcarque River. Six months later, her daughter Berta, one of the three who has taken up the baton, writes this letter to her mother.

[Versión original en español]

Letter to Berta Cáceres, my mom.

Six months ago I was in a frenzy, travelling from Mexico to Honduras, time moved in slow motion around me. I had to meet up with Laura and Salva, to say goodbye to your hands and eyes.
The news of your assassination came as no surprise. Days before we had been together writing a communiqué to denounce the re-activation of the Agua Zarca project on the other side of the Gualcarque River. We were hoping to stop it by calling out the complicity of the banks providing the financing, with full knowledge that they had no intention to listen and knowing all too well the extent of DESA’s aggression.
I never believed that you were gone, my tears never flowed from the pain of despair, they flowed from indignation at how the world could have allowed your death, at what type of perverse beings had dared to fill your body with bullets, at knowing that you would no longer have your voice.
It scared me how well you had prepared us for this news, the confidence you had that once your voice was gone ours would be here, the thousands of us speaking for you, to continue crying out with your familiar cry: Justice.
The search for justice has taken us on a tortuous path of silence, but also a path full of many arms, hands and hearts that will not allow Berta Cáceres to die with impunity.
Six months later we are indignant that though we continue asking for the participation of an independent investigatory body so that we can discover the truth about the crime committed against you, the dictatorial and coup-continuing government of Juan Orlando Hernández continues to ignore our request.
We are indignant that DESA-Agua Zarca has no intention of stopping the project, that they send out their engineer Elsia Paz to the mainstream media channels in Honduras to “clean up” the company’s image.
We are indignant that banks like FMO have no intention of cutting off financing for this project of death though they always knew what was happening and never cared nor do they care now what we have had to live through because of their colonialist attitude and blood-drenched money.
We are indignant at the ineptitude of Honduran institutions in a case that is a “national priority.”
Over and over again the words to one of your favorite songs flood my heart, “…and though the night settles in, the moon returns, love returns.” That was one of your principles. You lived through every imaginable adversity yet never stopped, always smiling, always filled with satisfaction fighting shoulder to shoulder with your people, building revolutions in your home and in the streets.
And now that is what we do - smile and fight like warriors, never losing hope.
Six months ago I knew that my arms, my hands and my voice were also yours. Six months ago I declared war on death.
In these six months thousands of voices have cried out: “Justice for Berta!”
On that day, March 3rd, I lost you and I gained countless aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters.
We will continue fighting for you, with your values, with your strength, with your joy, without fear: Berta Cáceres cannot be assassinated.

They didn’t kill my mom and the assassins who wanted to kill her screwed themselves because she is here, because she lives in each and every one of us, because as long as we keep on fighting against that killer dam, against the privatization of the forests and the air, we will keep standing up, we will all keep on standing up and that is where my mom will live on, that is where Berta Cáceres will live.

With the same co-conspirator love as always:
We will get it done, that’s a promise.
We will fight until we win, mom!
Bertha Zúniga Cáceres

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Honduran consulate in Chicago re-designed for 6 month anniversary of Berta's assassination



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