BERTA CONTINUES MULTIPLYING. One of the powerful memes that has followed the assassination of Berta Cáceres is, “Berta didn’t die. She multiplied.” Most international stories have a short life span. In this case, the life significance and the murder of the brilliant and fierce leader has continued gathering outrage against the impunity of the Honduran government, and the US government’s financial and political support for it. Even more importantly is that our dear colleague and friends’ message that the world needs radical, structural transformation is inspiring global hope and action, especially among indigenous movements.
Our coordinator Beverly Bell continues to live with, and support in many ways, the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), the group of 200-plus Lenca indigenous communities that Berta cofounded and ran. She filed this report from the first anniversary or Berta’s assassination, and the near-assassination of the president of our board, Friends of the Earth-Mexico director Gustavo Castro, on March 2:
COPINH organized three days of mobilization and activities involving people from at least 16 countries. The inspiring, energizing hoopla included a demonstration to the Supreme Court of (in)Justice, with an estimated 750-900 participants and – of all marvels – no repression; another protest in COPINH’s headquarter town; a national forum on indigenous land rights, attended by hundreds from around the country; two days of commemoration in COPINH’s liberated land, Utopia, with about 200 people, with political fora, cultural and artistic presentations; a trip to the site of the contested dam in Rio Blanco; and ceremonies, including at Berta’s tomb.
During those days, at least 19 countries around the world held solidarity actions. Media around the world featured the story, including an exposé in The Guardian about connections between the US government and two of the suspects arrested in Berta’s assassination.
THE BERTA CÁCERES HUMAN RIGHTS ACT, mandating suspension of US police and military assistance to Honduras, is THE way we can help change the future of the most dangerous country in which to be an environmental defender. Cutting off US aid is as significant as the unceasing organizing and resistance of the Honduran people, since that aid – and the US’ political green light – are what allow the killing, repression, and dictatorship to continue. To take action as an individual or an organization check out: #JusticeForBerta is the #BertaCaceresAct.
AFRO-INDIGENOUS MOVEMENT IN HONDURAS WINNING BACK LAND, CREATING LIBERATED COMMUNITIES. Bev also spent a week with Honduran Garifuna indigenous group, the Fraternal Organization of Black Hondurans (OFRANEH), in their “promised land” village of Vallecito. OFRANEH reclaimed 1,200 hectares (just shy of 3,000 acres) of ancestral lands of Vallecito from the richest man in the country, Miguel Facussé; from the endless miles of African palm plantations owned by his company, Dinant; and from the narco-traffickers who operate from the plantations with Facussé’s permission. One of 12 ancestral territories that the Garifuna people have reclaimed in recent years, Vallecito hosts about 50 families, self-governance, meeting and ceremonial sites, and a bilingual (Spanish and Garina) children’s school. Where export-oriented African palm once stood, the land is now being converted into an agroecological farm, for local food sovereignty and a green economy.
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