Who Berta Caceres is and was
by Grahame Russell
HONDURAS – Berta Caceres, a great Lenca woman from Honduras, was assassinated on March 2, 2016. She was targeted and killed because of who she is, because of what she lived and fought for, her whole life.
For her life, sicarios (paid assassins) broke into her home in La Esperanza, Intibuca, Honduras, and shot her. At the same time, the assassins attempted to kill Gustavo Castro, a Mexican human rights defender visiting with Berta and her organization COPINH. Hit by two bullets, Gustavo survived (barely) by playing dead.
Who Killed Her?
Berta was a mother of four, a grandmother, a sister and daughter, and – to all who knew her, learned from her, got strength, courage and wisdom from her, followed her – a companera. She was killed by all those people, countries and institutions whose greed and interests she lived, stood and fought against. Berta lived against all injustices, all inequalities, all discriminations, all Mother Earth destroying activities.
She was killed by 500 years of racist, violent, dispossessing European imperialism; by 200 years of U.S. military interventions, exploitation, corruption and impunity; by generations of violent and exploitative, racist and sexist governments of Honduras propped up by the “international community”: the United States, Canada, global corporations, the IMF, World Bank, IDB.
Berta was killed by eons of patriarchy, by centuries of racism against the Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples of Honduras and the Americas; by the greed-conceived and violence-imposed “free trade” agreements of the Americas; by the inherent, endless avarice of corporations and investors from the powerful, rich “democratic” nations (many being members of the harmful G8 club) that exploit, repress and denigrate the “third world”, that make, prop up and mock “banana republics”; by the IMF, World Bank, IDB, etc. – institutions created and dominated by these same rich, powerful “democratic” nations.
Berta was killed by corporations and investors who conceive of Honduras and the world – its forests and earth, its rivers, water and air, its people and all life forms – as exploitable and discardable objects, and then steal, kill and destroy mightily to make their millions and billions;
by the banana monopolies (United Fruit Company, etc.) and railway barons of the 1800s and 1900s;
by the producers of African palm (World Bank funded Dinant corporation, etc.) and sugarcane for global consumers of “green energies” (ethanol and bio-diesel fuels);
by maquiladora sweatshop exploiters of cheap labour (Gildan Activewear and Hanesbrand Inc., etc.);
by hydro-electric dam companies (DESA Agua Zarca, etc.) profiting from privatized rivers and water sources;
by exclusive tourism enclaves (operated by the Canadian Randy “porn king” Jorgensen, etc.) illegally and violently evicting indigenous Garifuna peoples from their communal lands;
by mining companies (Goldcorp Inc., Aura Minerals, etc.) ripping apart the earth for gold, poisoning the waters of the Siria Valley and the blood of local residents, evicting communities and the dead from 200 year old cemeteries.
Most recently, Berta was killed by the U.S. created, funded and armed “war on drugs” that took undemocratic and unjust, corrupt and violent situations in Honduras (Guatemala, Mexico, etc.) and made them worse, while drug consumption in the U.S. increases, while profits to weapons producers increase, while tax-payers’ money increases to militaries and ‘specialized’ forces in a number of countries; by the U.S. and Canadian backed military coup in June 2009, that ousted a democratically elected government and brought back to power the same elites that for so long have dominated and abused Honduras, who – once back in power – took all the above and made it worse again, using repression as a tool of societal control, hiring sicarios to target and kill hundreds of people since the coup, people like Berta.
Seven years after the coup, Honduras has the highest per capita murder rate in the world, and amongst the highest rates of repression, femicide, journalist killings, corruption and impunity in the Americas.
Berta was killed by all these people and countries, by these economic, military and political interests because – as anyone who knew her will tell you, as anyone who learned from her, got strength, courage and wisdom from her, followed her, will tell you – these are the things she lived against, stood and struggled against, all her life.
What Did She Live, Stand and Struggle For?
For you and me and everyone. For your rights and mine. For all human rights, collective and individual, of all people, in all countries. For Mother Earth herself – the fields and forests, air and water, and all life forms on this most precious and solitary of planets.
Berta lived, stood and struggled for another world is necessary and possible.
What To Do?
We are desperately sorry for Berta’s children, her mother, her sisters and brothers, her family and friends in La Esperanza, and Honduras, and across the Americas. Our hearts are again broken by this global human order we live in.
As a part of us dies with Berta, a huge part of Berta lives on.
What to do? Well, do what Berta would do, as she always did. Live, stand and struggle together. Hold hands. Give one another abrazos (hugs). Reach out to and support the so many victims of this global human order. Live, stand and struggle against all injustices and inequalities, all discriminations, all Mother Earth destroying activities, and for another world is necessary and possible.
Thank-you Berta. You are so missed. You are so loved and respected.
(I met Berta in 1998. Rights Action has supported COPINH and Berta’s work and struggle since that time. Berta and her family are dear friends.)
What To Do
June 15, 2016 “Global day of action for justice for Berta Caceres”, with activities going on around the world. More information: Honduras Solidarity Network (www.HondurasSolidarity.org): http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/7315/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=23131;
Funds for Berta’s family and COPINH
To support Berta’s family and COPINH’s on-going work for justice in this case and for fundamental transformation and change in Honduras, make tax-deductible donations (write “Berta & Copinh” in the memo line) to “Rights Action” and mail to:
- U.S.: Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
- Canada: (Box 552) 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8
- Canada: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/rights-action/
- U.S.: http://www.rightsaction.org/tax-deductible-donations (click on NetworkForGood)