Grassroots International

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Take up Berta's struggle!

Lend your name to continue Berta Cáceres’ struggle to protect the Gualcarque River and indigenous territories in Honduras from megaprojects like the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam.

When you take action, you will be joining an international mobilization to demand:

  • An end to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project, and demand respect for Indigenous Peoples’ rights to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.
  • Protections for the members of the Civic Council of Grassroots Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), who continue the struggle and are still facing harsh repression and violence for defending their territory against the Agua Zarca dam.
  • An independent, impartial, and transparent investigation by the Inter American Commission of Human Rights into Berta’s assassination.
  • An end to US military aid to Honduras, including an end to US training and funding for the specialized “Tigres” military forces that have defended the private interests behind the Agua Zarca dam and an end to all USAID funding and support for Agua Zarca.
  • The immediate withdrawal of all funding of Agua Zarca and other projects threatening Lenca and indigenous territories in Honduras.

We can't stress enough just how high the stakes are in Honduras and how much we need you to lend your voice to this struggle. By taking part in this single action, you will send powerful, coordinated, strategic messages to Honduran officials, to the US government and to the international financiers who are all complicit to the violence, repression, criminalization and violation of human rights in Honduras.

The English version of the first letter appears at the bottom of the page.

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Subject Line: No to Agua Zarca, Yes to Protection for the Defenders of Human Rights and of Territories

The murder of Berta Caceres -- an international leader, mother of four children, and co-founder and coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) -- has shaken and outraged the entire world. Berta has been one of the most important voices in Honduras and on an international level defending the lives, territories and rights of Indigenous Peoples, and working against the exploitation of Mother Earth.

Berta, awarded with the prestigious 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize, launched and advanced the efforts to protect Indigenous People against megaprojects driven by the Honduran government, without consulting with the affected communities first and without taking into consideration the terrible impacts to the environment.  Berta’s death comes after her tireless fight to protect Gualcarque River from the illegal attempts from the Energetic Developments Company (DESA) of building a hydroelectric dam called “Agua Zarca.”

This project aims to expropriate Lenca territory and privatize the Gualcarque River, a common resource of Lenca and Honduran people. At the same time, it threatens access to water and destroys a sacred area of the Lenca people. The concession granted by the government to carry out the Agua Zarca project, does not have the free, prior and informed consent of the people living in the affected area, in violation to the Convention 169 of the ILO and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People.

Berta’s murder was preceded by a series of death threats against her and her family -- threats of violence and sexual assault, attacks and sexual harassment by Agua Zarca Project supporters. Berta was also object of continuous legal harassment by judicial authorities, and intimidation by security forces and local government officials. Likewise, the members of COPINH have been and still are suffering prosecution, death threats, repression and criminalization. Berta has not been the only person whose blood has been shed in this struggle of resistance. Just a week before her assassination, Berta was still publicly denouncing  the murder of four other COPINH indigenous leaders and death threats against her made by members of the armed forces, police, local authorities and representatives of the hydroelectric company.

Recently, the Honduran witnessed how DESA invaded Lenca territory once again and deployed public and private armed forces, including the TIGRES – a military police force financed and trained by United States.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (ICHR) granted Berta precautionary measures since 2009. Nevertheless, the same Commission warned the Honduran government several times that these measures were not implemented. Similarly, on March 5, 2016, OCHR granted precautionary measures for members of COPINH, Berta’s family and the witness Gustavo Castro Soto, given the risk to their safety.

In the last decade, the government of Honduras has approved and encouraged neoliberal policies that condemn Indigenous Peoples to disappearances, including: hundreds of hydroelectric dams, mining projects, expansion of the biofuels, and Employment and Economic Development Zones, known as charter cities.

Berta’s murder puts the international spotlight once again on Honduras because of the enormous danger these activists face by resisting the policies and extractive models being implemented in Honduras. Since 2009, more than 100 people -- mostly indigenous and peasants involved in the peaceful resistance to protect and defend land, territories, common goods and natural resources including Tomas Garcia and three other members of COPINH and Margarita Murillo of La Via Campesina – have been murdered, deaths which to this day remain in impunity.

The world is watching the actions of the government, police and military forces of Honduras because nothing can justify the violations of the human rights. Because of this, through this letter I demand the government of Honduras:

  • We demand an end to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project, the immediate and definitive cancellation of the concession illegally granted to DESA on the Gualcarque River, so that the river will continue to run free. 
  • We demand that the state of Honduras meet its obligation to comply with Convention 169 of the ILO, requiring Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples regarding projects on their land and territories and that affect their natural resources.
  • We demand that the state of Honduras stop manipulating the investigation into the assassination of Berta Cáceres Flores, and that it immediately sign an agreement with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, so that it may begin an independent, impartial, and transparent investigation into the assassination of Berta Cáceres Flores.
  • We demand an end to the criminalization of COPINH and respect and guarantees for the physical security and legal protection of Tomas Gómez, Coordinator of COPINH, of the General Coordination team and all members of COPINH in Rio Blanco and other communities.  Specifically, we demand that the state of Honduras comply with the precautionary measures/ protective orders granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and provide immediate, effective, and carefully consulted protection to members of COPINH, members of Ms. Cáceres family, and all witnesses in the case. 
  • We demand an end to the murder, persecution, militarization, and criminalization of all defenders of the Honduran people.