Honduras: the living legacy of Berta Cáceres
Four years ago, on March 3, 2016, activist and rights defender Berta Cáceres was murdered for her role in mobilizing opposition to a proposed dam on the Gualcarque River which threatened the land and livelihoods of the indigenous Lenca people. In November 2018, 7 of the 8 accused hitmen were convicted of the crime and sentenced to prison. The corporate bosses who organized and financed the killing have yet to be prosecuted despite abundant evidence of their involvement.
To honor her life and legacy, and to highlight the ongoing fight to bring to justice those responsible for her murder, IUF Latin America, together with the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) which Cáceres co-founded, the office of the United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation have organized a photo exhibition and public events on March 2-3 in Intibucá.
Impunity underpins the systemic violence and corruption unleashed by the 2009 US-backed coup. The legal case against the then-head of the Honduran dam company DESA, arrested and indicted as an 'intellectual author' of the murder two years ago, will evaporate if he is not soon brought to trial. Other corporate executives, along with the military, police and security officials who organized the assassination, remain untouched.
The government has voted to end the mandate of the regional Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), calling into question the future of the Attorney General's Special Prosecutor's Unit Against Impunity and Corruption (UFECIC). Cooperation between the two had produced investigations exposing the web of complicity in high-level corruption and the theft of public funds.
Against this background, on February 21, the IUF Latin American regional secretariat wrote to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urging the OHCHR to maintain a strong presence in Honduras. Over the past decade, IUF Latin America and the IUF's affiliates in Honduras have been a bedrock of support in defending the full range of human rights under assault since the coup.