Friday, February 2, 2018

23 Months of Impunity in Assassination of Berta Caceres, but the Struggle Continues

Almost two years after the assassination of the woman who dreamed of re-founding Honduras
COPINH's statement 23 months later
[Original en español]

Today marks 23 months since the assassination of indigenous leader Berta Cáceres and we are about to reach the second anniversary of her transition. We remember this sister on these days, with many people eager to know how far the case has progressed over these two years and what has changed in Honduras with the revelation of manifold human rights violations by extractive corporations who profit off of energy production.

As of now, COPINH continues to struggle for true justice and to push, as a first step, to break the media silence around her case and confront the irregularities that permeate the process.
May of this year will bring the expiration of the preventative detention* for the eight people detained in 2016, including the direct perpetrators of the crime as well as intermediaries such as DESA employee Sergio Rodríguez and armed forces major Mariano Díaz who coordinated the assassination and served as an instructor for the military police.

At this point the Honduran Attorney General and judicial authorities are flailing around desperately to try to move through and put a close to the case by sentencing only those who they have detained. The final arguments are expected in the case halfway through this year. Notwithstanding, the organization, the Honduran people and the international community remain unsatisfied in the face of a lack of action to capture the masterminds who are linked to the powerful and untouchable Honduran oligarchy.

It is worth mentioning that today is the swearing-in hearing for the specialists proposed by the Attorney General to analyze the telephone recordings and financial information in the national sentencing tribunal, which will decide the case.

Regarding the second point about what has changed in Honduras since her death, very little can be said. The concession remains for the hydroelectric damn ferociously defended not only by private enterprise but also by the renewable energy producers who continue to sew hate against the organizations that challenge the installation of numerous deadly projects, ruining their lucrative business.

The government wants to secure the investments of national and international corporations in this business by approving a deceitful law supposedly about “prior, free and informed consent for indigenous peoples” but has been unable to take the final step after strong questioning at a national and international level.

The power structures that protect the deadly project against which Berta Cáceres fought have strengthened themselves with electoral fraud, carried out to ensure continuation of the status quo and protection of private economic interests.

What Berta Cáceres contributed to today’s Honduras is the national uprising that continues without giving up on the same vision that would be on at the front of Berta Cáceres’s mind: the re-foundation of Honduras that no president will be able to carry out, that can only be carried out by the people, the same people who didn’t give up in the streets even as they confronted the violence of the military and their killer weapons, which is the only path to profound change for Honduras.

In the meantime COPINH is convening the “25 years of Life and Justice Gathering” for this 22nd-24th of March to deepen work around the case of comrades Berta and Gustavo and talk about the struggle to this point and what the future holds for Berta’s vision in a country that needs it now more than ever.

*The preventative detention can be extended just once for six more moths, which would expire in November of this year.


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