On March 2, 2016, Berta Cáceres was assassinated in an attempt to silence her voice, bring an
end her important leadership and destroy the political project and struggle of a people acting in
defence of their territory. The aim was not only to do away with her, but the organization of
which she was a part for over 20 years, the Civic Counsel of Popular and Indigenous
Organizations of Honduras (COPINH).
But this crime did not succeed to stop this movement. Rather, Berta Cáceres, the legacy of her
commitment, resistance and clarity continue to live on in peoples around the world who are
confronting the threats of savage capitalism, patriarchy and of a predatory, racist and colonial
To date, eight people have been detained in connection with Berta’s assassination and the
attempted murder of Gustavo Castro, who was in Berta’s house at the time of the attack. Among
those arrested are members of the Honduran military and retired military officials, as well as
people who worked for the Energy Development Company S.A. (DESA), the company responsible
for the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project that COPINH has long opposed and that has become one
of their most well-known struggles. However, despite having detained the suspected material
authors of the crime, the assassination of Berta will remain in impunity until the intellectual
authors have been identified and brought to justice.
Berta’s family, COPINH and the only witness and survivor of the attack, Gustavo Castro, continue
to denounce the many irregularities and lack of transparency in this investigation that remains
secret, leading to suspicions that this is taking place in order to protect those in the upper
echelons of Honduran society who are truly responsible.
Less than a month ago, Global Witness released a report about environment defenders in
Honduras, identifying conflicts over extractive projects linked to the political and economic elite
in Honduras as behind the murder of more than 120 environmental activists since the 2009 coup.
According to the report, Honduras is the most dangerous country in which to be an environment
defender, where people put their lives on the line and face threats, attacks, dispossession and
criminalization on a daily basis.
The below-signed organizations and individuals hold the Honduran state responsible for the
assassination of this Lenca Indigenous leader as a result of having failed to ensure the protection
measures issued for her by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). We also
express our support for the complaint brought by Gustavo Castro against Honduras to the IACHR
for the human rights violations he suffered as a result of the Honduran state detaining him during
Further, we condemn the smear campaigns in the press and from the Honduran government
against the work of COPINH and other organizations in Honduras – national and international –,
and the constant criminalization of human rights defenders in this Central American country.
In this repressive context, in which there are tremendous levels of corruption and impunity
within various parts of the Honduran state, it is unacceptable that the Canadian government is
contributing financial, technical and political support to the Attorney Generals’ Office, including
specifically to the investigation into the assassination of Berta Cáceres and the attempted murder
of Gustavo Castro through the Technical Agency for Criminal Investigations (ATIC its initials in
Spanish). There are at least two high ranking officials in the Attorney Generals’ office with links to
the approval of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project that Berta and COPINH have been resisting,
for which reason the political will of this state body to carry out a full and impartial investigation
has been seriously questioned.
One year since Berta was buried, we express our support for COPINH, the people of Honduras
and Gustavo Castro, and unite our voices to demand:
- An independent investigation of Berta Cáceres’ assassination by impartial international
experts under the auspices of the IACHR that will get to the bottom of this crime and
reveal the truth.
- The immediate cancellation of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project and more than fifty
concessions that have been granted on Lenca territory without respect for their processes
of self-determination and their free, prior and informed consent.
- The demilitarization and departure of the police forces from Lenca territory.
- An end to the criminalization and attacks against COPINH and its members.
- An end to the technical, financial and political support from the Canadian government to
the state of Honduras, including to state security forces and investigative bodies of the
Attorney General’s Office such as ATIC.
- A halt to Canadian diplomacy oriented to promote the interests of Canadian investors in
Honduras, which have a strong presence in the mining, energy, telecommunications and
tourism sectors, to the detriment of democracy and respect for fundamental human
rights and Indigenous territories in Honduras.
- An end to bilateral funding to the Honduran state through International Financial
- Annulment of the Canada Honduras Free Trade Agreement that was negotiated months
after the fraudulent elections of November 2009 and signed with Honduran officials who
were consolidating the coup in the country and have demonstrated disdain for the human
rights of the population.
In March, we will not only remember the pain of this terrible crime, above all we will celebrate
life. The life of Berta Cáceres who was born on March 4th and the work of COPINH that was
founded 24 years ago on March 27th.
Today, we celebrate life and demonstrate our solidarity with the people, communities and social
movements of Honduras who are defending human rights, the environment and life in the
context of a grave crisis in their democracy following the 2009 coup and who are confronting
growing threats against communities and territories in the country.
Berta lives, COPINH continues on!
Mining Justice Action Committee
Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL)
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala – NISGUA
Environmental Network for Central America (ENCA)
Human Rights Observation/Honduras
Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Wellington Zapatista Support Group Office of the Americas
AmiEs de la Terre de Québec
United for Mining Justice
Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network
Canadian Jesuits International
PINAY (Filipino Women’s Organization in Quebec)
Steelworkers Humanity Fund
Comite de defensa del Borde Costero de Cobquecura
Centre justice et foi
Centre des travailleuses et travailleurs immigrants
Projet accompagnement Québec-Guatemala
Jésuites du Canada français et d’Haïti
Bureau des Missions jésuites
Les Soeurs Auxiliatrices du Québec
Honduras Solidarity Network
Jesuits in English Canada
Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales OLCA
Red por la Defensa de los Territorios
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