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Judi Lynn

(160,405 posts)
Tue Apr 2, 2024, 09:25 PM Apr 2

On the trail of a killer: eight years after Berta Caceres' murder is there new hope for justice?

Last edited Tue Apr 2, 2024, 11:31 PM - Edit history (1)

The Honduran Indigenous and environmental leader was shot in 2016 for her opposition to an internationally financed dam, but despite violence and threats, the net is closing on the murder’s alleged mastermind

Photographs by Fritz Pinnow
by Fritz Pinnow in Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Mon 1 Apr 2024 17.30 EDT

Almost exactly 11 years ago Berta Cáceres led a group of local activists to block a road, halting trucks carrying building materials for the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam in Río

Blanco. It marked the start of a fierce fightback by the Indigenous Lenca people against the energy company Desarrollos Energéticos (Desa) in Honduras.

More than a decade later, only rusty razor wire and rotting fences remain on the former construction site. A shipping container that served as Desa’s central office is now used by farmers to store corn. After international funding was pulled, the company was forced to halt operations indefinitely in 2018.

But the activists’ victory left a bitter taste. In La Esperanza and the capital, Tegucigalpa, people plan to gather on 1 April to mark the anniversary of their struggle, and in memory of Cáceres, murdered in 2016 aged 44. The demonstration will honour all the victims of brutality committed agCáceres’ daughter, Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres, 33, has experienced violence first-hand. As coordinator of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (Copinh), she has faced threats and been subjected to campaigns designed to delegitimise the movement.against environmentalists in Honduras, the most dangerous country for nature defenders in the world.

Since Cáceres’ murder, for which three Desa employees – including its former president, Roberto David Castillo – have been convicted, 70 environmental activists have been killed. According to Global Witness, proportionally Honduras has had the world’s highest number of killings of environmental defenders for the past five years. “Impunity is rife in Honduras, which suffers major institutional weaknesses due to a range of factors which together prevent the fair operation of the justice system,” says Toby Hill, a Global Witness investigator.


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