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Indigenous leader led demonstrations in defense of the environment and against the construction of hydroelectric projects in Honduras, considering that they were an attack on natural resources
He received the 2015 Goldman Environmental Award.
Cáceres, mother of four children and one of the founders in 1993 of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), was murdered by two armed men who entered her home in La Esperanza, in the western department of Intibucá.
COPINH represents some 300,000 people of the seven Honduran ethnic groups.
The indigenous leader led demonstrations in defense of the environment and against the construction of hydroelectric projects in her country, considering that they violated natural resources, for which she received the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015.
Cáceres was received last year at the Vatican by Pope Francis, to whom she explained the situation of the Honduran indigenous people and the reality of her country, her mother, named after the activist, told reporters today.
Berta Cáceres, a member of the Lenca ethnic group, had repeatedly denounced death threats against her and her family members.
His weapon was his voice
One of his brothers, Gustavo Cáceres, today asked the Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernández, that this case not become another number in the statistics of violence in the country, and that his murder be clarified and its perpetrators punished .
Gustavo Cáceres recalled that the murder occurred despite the fact that he had precautionary measures.
Berta "never used a weapon" to protest, because "her weapon was her voice" to denounce human rights violations and the destruction of natural resources.
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández said today that the murder of Cáceres is "a crime against Honduras," and assured that he will not go unpunished.
He announced that the investigations to clarify the crime "are underway through the Violent Crimes Unit, which will work" in coordination with the support of the United States.
Reactions of the UN, AI and EC
Both the United Nations, Amnesty International (AI) and the European Union (EU), after showing their condolences to the Lenca family and people, “strongly” condemned the murder of the leader and called on the authorities to identify, prosecute and punish her. those responsible for this crime.
"Berta Cáceres, leader of the Lenca people who during her life and professional career defended the rights of indigenous peoples and the environment, was an example of dignity and courage in the defense and promotion of human rights," said Pasqualina di Sirio , ad interim resident coordinator of the agency in Honduras.
The United States Ambassador to Tegucigalpa, James Nealon, condemned the murder and offered his country's support to Honduras to prosecute and prosecute those responsible for the crime.
Repudiation of activists and criticism of the authorities
The murder of Berta Cáceres generated the repudiation of activists, humanitarian organizations, as well as demands for justice and criticism of the Honduran authorities.
The non-governmental organization Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (Cejil), based in Costa Rica, after condemning the crime, denied that Cáceres renounced state protection measures and highlighted “the deficient protection that was provided to him, as as it has been possible to verify with this outcome ”.
In this sense, the national coordinator of the National Front for Economic and Social Rights of Panama (Frenadeso), Ronaldo Ortiz, accused the Government of Honduras of not having protected the indigenous and environmental leader.
“It is something that was already known. The Cáceres leader, weeks ago, announced that she was being threatened with death and the Government of Honduras did not want to give her an effective response, ”Ortiz told Efe.
The non-governmental Association for Social Economic Development (ADES) of El Salvador also repudiated the “negligence of the Honduran state”, and demanded that the Government of Honduras “create effective mechanisms that guarantee the safety of indigenous leaders”.
The coordinator of the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), Bertha Oliva, told Efe that the crime is "a clear attack on human rights leaders" in the country. "As long as the contrary is not proven, his death is a political murder," said Oliva.
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), based in Guatemala, "strongly" condemned the murder of the environmentalist, said that it affected "the human rights movement throughout the region," and called it "essential that this crime not remain in impunity ”.
In Managua, representatives of 16 feminist, indigenous and environmental organizations demonstrated this Thursday in front of the Honduran embassy in Nicaragua to demand justice from the Government of that country for the murder of the Lenca indigenous leader.
"We are present at the embassy to demand justice for Berta and for the long list of colleagues who have died for telling the truth and denouncing the injustices of big capital and its government allies," said the activists in a statement addressed to Juan Orlando Hernandez.
Consternation in Honduras
Hundreds of people from popular organizations, politicians, peasants and teachers demonstrated this Wednesday in front of the Tegucigalpa morgue where the activist's body was transferred to perform an autopsy and where Berta was fired.
"His murder is a hard blow to the popular social movement and human rights defenders," the coordinator of the National Network of Human Rights Defenders, Yessica Trinidad, told Efe.
Berta has been assassinated for her fight for the land and her case should not go unpunished, as has happened with many crimes in the country. "The State has killed her with the companies that are against human rights activists," he said.
The Franciscan priest René Flores, who agreed in the defense of the environment with Berta Cáceres in various events, told Efe that what prevails in the country is "total outrage, repudiation and amazement" at the crime.
"We have reached a state that does not take care of its citizens or human rights defenders," stressed the priest, who also advocated that the authorities "carry out a serious and responsible investigation.
The coordinator of the Vía Campesina organization, Rafael Alegría, said that “Berta was a fighter in defense of the territory, the waters, the forests, she was a comrade who had dreamed of re-founding, of transforming with the changes that the country needs and has been brutally murdered, ”he stressed, who is also a member of the Honduran Parliament for the Freedom and Refoundation Party (Free).
“It is a dramatic situation that we are experiencing especially the social fighters. What corresponds is to continue demanding the mobilization, the struggle, the unity of all social sectors and demand fundamental changes because the current system, the current power structure is what causes all this, ”said Alegría.
Cáceres's remains will be taken today to La Esperanza, where he lived, and will be buried on Saturday, according to her ex-husband, Salvador Zúniga, another of the Copinh founders.