Ep 18 League Induction: Berta Cáceres

Berta Caceres.jpg

Berta Cáceres was inducted in Episode 18: Ecofeminism (17:43)

We are proud to induct Berta Cáceres into our League of Extraordinary Women this week. Berta was a brave human rights and environmental activist from Honduras, which is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. This past March 2nd marked the one-year anniversary of Berta’s assassination, one day before her 45th birthday.

Berta was a member of the Indigenous Lenca group and in 1993 she co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). She, along with hundreds of other environmental warriors in Latin America, was targeted for her fight to protect her communities from companies, including Canadian ones, who want to build mega projects such as mines and mega-dams on Indigenous lands.

According to a 2009 report commissioned (and then suppressed) by the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), Canadian companies were responsible for 34% of the high-profile violations in the mining sector of the previous 10 years. This included targeted assassinations, persecution of activists and union leaders, militarization of entire communities, massive displacement, and environmental devastation.

Eight suspects have been arrested for her murder, but no one has been brought to justice. Due to the lack of transparency in the case, several protests and petitions have called for an independent investigation. The Honduran government denies involvement, despite Guardian reports that “one of the suspects had been appointed chief of intelligence for elite special forces” and that her name was “on a hitlist passed to US-trained units by the Honduran military joint chiefs of staff.” According to a report from Democracy Now, two of the suspects were reportedly trained by the U.S., which sends tens of millions of dollars to Honduras each year.

If you’re in the U.S. and you would like to help, please support the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, a bill proposed by Democratic Congressman Hank Johnson in March to suspend funds from being made available to Honduras for the police or military human rights violations cease. For decades, U.S. funding has been destabilizing the Latin American region, so this bill is a step in the right direction.

If you’re in Canada, write to your local MP with your concerns about the Canadian mining industry and the lack of international oversight to ensure human rights and the environment are protected everywhere. And denounce our own country’s support of the post-coup Honduran governments since the widely denounced November 2009 elections.

Shortly before her death, in 2015 she was given the Goldman Environmental Prize, the highest international recognition for environmental activists. Today, we remember and honour Berta’s fight to protect her land and people. For her four childen, her indigenous community, countless others around the world, and us, she is a true hero. Rest in power, Berta.