The murder of prominent indigenous and environmental rights leader Berta Cáceres quickly made the global news cycles this past weekend and has raised several questions about who was at fault for her death. According to reports, Cáceres was shot dead last Wednesday night inside her home in La Esperanza, Honduras. Police initially called it a “botched robbery”, but Cáceres’ daughter said it was a “political crime” because her mother had opposed plans by “DESA-SINOHYDRO, a Honduran-Chinese joint venture that has been planning to build a hydroelectric dam in the country.” Last week, students clashed with police, while the Honduran government said that it will be investigating the death.
Protests calling for more transparency in Cáceres’ death have also occurred in the past week.
1000s in La Esperanza right now (including COMSA members) to protest corruption & remember Berta Caceres. pic.twitter.com/hidMG2CZAn
— Just Us! Coffee (@justuscoffee) March 5, 2016
— SOA Watch (@SOAWatch) March 8, 2016
University students in Tegucigalpa, blocked a boulevard to protest for the murder of leader Berta Caceres pic.twitter.com/Up5s52vApa
— Gerardo T teleSUR (@GerardoTteleSUR) March 3, 2016
— Scott Parkin (@sparki1969) March 4, 2016
A letter to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández from more than 50 international organizations is also making the rounds online:
We demand an independent international investigation into the circumstances around Mrs. Cáceres’ death, and guaranteed protection for her family and colleagues. Mrs Cáceres was granted emergency protection measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights because of her acute vulnerability, but she claimed the Honduran state did not fully implement them.
There are new reports that activist Gustavo Castro Soto, who was witness to the shooting and was wounded by two bullets, is being detained “without cause” is being held without “permission to return to his native Mexico.”
— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) March 8, 2016
— Democracy Center (@DemocracyCenter) March 8, 2016
— InnovaPolíticaLatam (@InnovaPolLatam) March 8, 2016
— Dunya (@dearestdeer_) March 7, 2016
— Whitney Eulich (@weulich) March 8, 2016
Cáceres’ life was one of constant threats to her life, a fact that is part of daily life for Honduran activists. Latino USA executive producer and anchor Maria Hinojosa met Cáceres as part of a Nobel Women’s Initiative visit to Honduras. When asked about Cáceres’ death, Hinojosa said the following:
I have visited many countries, many dangerous countries, but my time in Honduras with Berta Cáceres left me shaken. I understood how she was challenging every aspect of the status quo. But to murder Berta? My heart is in mourning, as what I remember about Berta was her amazing generous smile. The whole world knows about impunity in Honduras now. Sadly, Berta’s death proves this to all of us.
Featured image: Demonstrators display a Berta Cáceres banner on March in front of the State Department in Washington, D.C. (Slowking4/Wikimedia Commons)