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Sat Apr 30, 2016, 01:15 AM

Political Violence in Honduras

April 29, 2016
Political Violence in Honduras

by Vijay Prashad

On March 3, assassins entered the home of Berta Caceres, leader of Honduras’ environmental and indigenous movement. They shot her friend Gustavo Castro Soto, the director of Friends of the Earth Mexico. He pretended to be dead, and so is the only witness of what came next. The assassins found Berta Caceres in another room and shot her in the chest, the stomach and the arms. When the assassins left the house, Castro went to Berta Caceres, who died in his arms.

Investigation into the death of Berta Caceres is unlikely to be conducted with seriousness. The Honduran government suggested swiftly that it was likely that Castro had killed Berta Caceres and made false statements about assassins. That he had no motive to kill his friend and political ally seemed irrelevant. Castro has taken refuge in the Mexican embassy in Honduras’ capital, Tegucigalpa. He continues to fear for his life.

Berta Caceres led the Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (COPINH), one of the most important critics of government and corporate power in her country. Most recently, she and COPINH had taken a strong stand against the construction of the Agua Zarca dam on a river sacred to the indigenous Lenca community. This dam had occupied her work. It was not merely a fight against an energy company, it was a fight against the entire Honduran elite.

Desarrollos Energeticos, SA (DESA) is owned by the Atala family, whose most famous member is Camilo Atala, who heads Honduras’ largest bank, Banco Ficohsa. By all indications, the Atala family is very close to the government. When the military moved against the democratically elected government of Manuel Zelaya Rosales in 2009, the Atala family, among others, supported the coup with their means. The Honduran sociologist Leticia Salomon listed this family among others as the enablers of the coup. They backed the conservative National Party, which now holds the reins of power alongside the military. Berta Caceres’ fight against the Agua Zarca dam, then, was not merely a fight against one dam. It was a battle against the entire Honduran oligarchy. Her assassination had, as her family contends, been long overdue.

Zelaya’s Honduras

Dario Euraque had been the Director of the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History from June 2006 to the coup of September 2009. President Zelaya appointed Euraque with a clear mandate to change the culture of Honduras. He wanted to widen the cultural boundaries of the country to put the indigenous people at its centre and address their needs and ambitions. Euraque, a historian of Honduras, had already immersed himself in the world of the indigenous people. In his 2010 memoir of the coup, titled El golpe de Estado del 28 junio de 2009, Euraque explains that with encouragement from Zelaya he “advanced a more novel and democratic cultural policy” which “explicitly linked cultural heritage with strengthening the national identity of our country”.

More:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/29/political-violence-in-honduras/

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