Justice for Berta Caceres and Nelson Garcia!
Justicia para Berta Cáceres y Nelson García!
The International League of Peoples’ Struggle Commission 3 (In Defense of Human Rights and Political Prisoners) strongly condemns the murders of Honduran activists compañera Berta Caceres, killed on March 3, 2016, and compañero Nelson Garcia, killed on March 15, 2016.
Caceres was a co-founder of the Civil Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Consejo Civico de Organizaciones Populares Indigena de Honduras, COPINH), while Garcia is an active member of the said organization. Founded in 1993, COPINH is a social and political organization that has been actively campaigning for the rights of the Lenca people in Honduras amid the encroachment of US and other transnational corporations in their ancestral lands.
Caceres was a recipient of the 2015 Goldman Environment Prize for her leading role in the resistance to the Agua Zarca Hydro-Dam project that could have had detrimental impact on the environment and lives of the indigenous Lenca people in the Rio Blanco community. The dam project, which is constructed along the Gualcarque river, was partially controlled by the powerful Atala family in Honduras, which has billions worth of assets and businesses in the country and is suspected as among the backers of the 2009 coup in the country. The World Bank was among those who backed and supported the said project. It is reported that Agua Zarca goons and paramilitaries, supported by the Honduran military, are among the perpetrators of Caceres’ killing.
We extend our solidarity to the families of Caceres and Garcia, to the members of COPINH, to the Lenca and the Honduran people, in these difficult times when attacks against indigenous peoples and environmental activists are on the rise worldwide. From 2010 to 2014, one hundred one (101) environmental activists have been killed in Honduras.
We salute the courage and tenacity of Caceres and Garcia in their fight for a “free decolonized future from the three systemic forces – capitalism, racism and patriarchy.” Likewise, we share the rage of the Honduran people, especially the indigenous people, on the killing of Caceres and Garcia.
We likewise express our grave concern on the situation of Gustavo Castro Soto, coordinator of Friends of the Earth Mexico and director of Otros Mundos, who was shot twice during the attack on Caceres and survived the said attack by pretending to be dead. Soto remains in the custody of Honduran authorities, along with three of Caceres’ colleagues from COPINH, as the Honduran authorities try to whip up spectacular stories to whitewash the investigations and evade accountability on Caceres’ murder.
We share the rage of all peoples who have been victims of imperialist plunder and greed. We denounce the hand of US government in these crimes as proven in many similar cases the world over where US intervention, and economic and geo-political interests have come into play.
Caceres had been the subject of death threats for leading the resistance to the intrusion of multinational interests in their indigenous land and resources, with the backing of the US government. She was even the number one target in a “kill list” leaked by the media that included activists, journalists and politicians who were critical of neoliberal projects of the government, such as destructive dams, mines and mega-agriculture.
Garcia was shot dead by gunmen in his house, about a hundred miles from Caceres’ home, after he came from another nearby community where more than one hundred police and military officers evicted dozens of families.
Since the coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, said to have been maneuvered by the US, Honduran communities have been heavily militarized and human rights abuses have been prevalent. Honduras has at least 12,000 soldiers, one for every 717 people, whose generals have been trained, and in the US Army School of Americas (SOA)/Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Operation (WHINSEC). For over 68 years, the school has trained more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counter-insurgency techniques, sniper skills, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. The 2009 coup in Honduras was led by SOA graduates to install regimes propped up by the US government. Since the coup, the US has invested $45 million in the construction of a US military base, Soto Cano, commonly known as Palmerola. It has also brought in $5.25 million as direct military aid to the Honduran government, excluding funds for the training of at least 164 soldiers at the SOA.
All across Latin America and the world, the common denominators to ensure US hegemony are US aid, militarization, pillage of land and resources, and human rights abuses.
In Mexico, the Merida Initiative, a US aid program for Mexican security forces supposedly to fight organized crimes and drug cartels, has been unmasked as a ploy to protect US business interests on Mexico’s gas, oil and mineral resources and decimate activists, including young students, who are critical of the government’s guarantee for these business interests.
In Colombia, the US-funded Colombia Plan is aimed to solve not only the problem of drug trafficking but also the internal social conflict in the country resulting in the death of more than 200,000 people.
In the Philippines, indigenous peoples are in the same plane – killed or massacred for resisting the intrusion of transnational interests in their ancestral land and mineral resources. US military financing has supported, trained and equipped state security forces and paramilitary forces to quell the people’s resistance and protect foreign investments, in consonance with the Philippine government’s subservience to imperialist neoliberal policies.
Following Caceres’ murder, her children and mother Bertha issued the following statement:
“We want respect for her integrity as a figure of the resistance. She is an eternal fighter against racism, patriarchy and the oppressive and murderous capitalist system. Her struggle cuts across nations and is anti-imperialist, rejecting the coup financed and supported by the United States which spurred the delivery of national territory to transnational corporations at the expense of rights of the Lenca people and the Honduran people…
We know with complete certainty that the motivation for her vile assassination was her struggle against the exploitation of nature’s common wealth and the defense of the Lenca people. Her murder is an attempt to put an end to the struggle of the Lenca people against all forms of exploitation and expulsion. It is an attempt to halt the construction of a new world. Berta’s struggle was not only for the environment, it was for system change, in opposition to capitalism, racism and patriarchy.”
We demand justice for Caceres, Garcia and all Honduran activists. We hold the Honduran and US government accountable for their deaths. We vow to continue and intensify the struggle against US imperialism and all forms of reaction.
ILPS Commission 3 members: Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights – Philippines, Hustisya Philippines, Society of Ex-Detainees against Detention and Arrest (SELDA), Desaparecidos, Bayan Southern Tagalog (Philippines), Pamalakaya, Amihan Northern Mindanao, Health Alliance for Human Rights Philippines, Fundacion Amancio Villatoro – Guatemala, Frente Popular Revolucionario – Mexico, Pinatud A Saleng Ti Umili – Hongkong, Ugnayan ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Promotion for Church People’s Response – Philippines, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – US, Defend Job Philippines, SoCSKSarGenDS Agenda, Cordillera People’s Alliance – Philippines, Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, Gabriela New York, Kalumbay Northern Mindanao, Filipino Women Migrant Workers Association – Hongkong, Pasaka-Southern Mindanao, Public Interest Law Center, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Northern Mindanao, Kasimbayan, MOVADEF-Peru, CRA Manipur, Kasama-Timog Katagalugan, New York Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines, Samidoun Palestinian, Political Prisoners Network, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines – Canada
Additional endorser: Revolutionary Students Movement – University of Ottawa, Movement Etudient Révolutionnaire/Revolutionary Student Movement – Canada, Université d’Ottawa Groupe de recherche d’intérêt public de l’Ontario – University of Ottawa, Ontario Public Interest Research Group