On March 3, 2016, Berta Cáceres, a respected and renowned environmentalist/activist in Honduras was assassinated. A Mexican environmentalist and journalist Gustavo Castro Soto was wounded in the attack. Four men, including current and ex-military officers, have been arrested in connection to the murder of Cáceres.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) and hundreds of groups around the world have called for an independent investigation. In a letter sent to Secretary of State John Kerry, the groups requested that the U.S. government support an independent international investigation into Cáceres’ murder and take stronger measures to address human rights violations in Honduras. For the full text of the letter click here.
Cáceres had received countless threats of violence, as did members of her family over the years. According to the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), a PC(USA) partner, the threats included illegal harassment and intimidation. The organization, founded by Cáceres, says the threats escalated in the final six months of her life as she continued her fight for human rights in Honduras, a country currently marred by corporate greed, land grabs and extractive industries.
The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Bill (H.R.5474) would halt U.S. financing of the Honduran police and military forces which have been evicting, repressing, and killing farmers, indigenous peoples, rural residents, and defenders of human rights.
This repression and dislocation of civil society groups has enabled land grabs by rich landowners and energy and mining companies. Multiple cases of farmers being thrown off their land, their crops destroyed, and their lawyers or advocates killed, have been documented all across Honduras. Land rights activists, like Berta Cáceres, Nelson Garcia and Lesbia Urquia, have been targeted by death squads. Leaders of Via Campesina Honduras such as Rafael Alegria receive death threats on a weekly basis. Impunity for those behind these murderous actions is nearly complete due to the deepening corruption of the police and judicial systems since the 2009 coup d'état.
The Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Bill states, “The Honduran police are widely established to be deeply corrupt and to commit human rights abuses, including torture, rape, illegal detention, and murder, with impunity… and the military has committed multiple human rights violations as well.” Because of this, the bill would suspend the United States security assistance to Honduran military and police “until such time as human rights violations by Honduran state security forces cease and their perpetrators are brought to justice.”
Ending U.S. financial support for the Honduran government will send a clear message that horrific human rights abuses will not be tolerated.
Send an email or printed letter to your U.S. House Representative using the form below.
You can also call your representative’s office through the switchboard at (202) 225-3121. Ask the legislative aide to give your representative this message:
“Given the terrible human rights abuses by the Honduran military and those groups who are connected to the military, including ongoing repression and murders of Honduran activists, I strongly urge Representative ___________ to cosponsor HR 5474, the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Bill. Thank you.”