The fight for the land continues one year after the assassination of Berta Cáceres, and so do the threats

By Laura Salas, Translation by Facundo Ercole

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I’ve been a warrior because I’m from a town which is full of warriors.

Berta Cáceres, founder of the Concejo Cívico Popular de Honduras (COPINH) [Honduras Popular Civic Council], has become an icon in the fight of hundreds communities across the Mesoamerica and the rest of the American continent. Her emblematic murder one year ago reveals alleged collusion between the Government of Honduras and the DESA Company – in charge of the construction of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric power plant – targeting Cáceres because of her leadership in defending the Lenca communities’ rights to their land in Honduras.

In their last report, Global Witness provided a summary of their most important findings: 1) the relationship between DESA and the murder of Berta Cáceres, since two of the men currently apprehended for of the murder were workers of DESA. 2) The relationship between the Honduras armed forces and the murder of Berta Cáceres, since three of the people detained for the murder were related to the Honduran military; the fact that the president of the DESA company, Roberto David Castillo Mejía, used to be military intelligence; and the fact that it has been reported that Berta Cáceres’ name was on a military black list.

Indigenous communities and collectives across Latin America follow her example and celebrate her fight for the defense of their territories against the vast transnational firms that are supported by local governments and turn a profit from their natural resources, at the expense of the rights of indigenous peoples. And which, in some cases like Berta’s, includes the cost of human life.

In this context, the use of technology becomes a must for the communities and the protectors of the land, whom day to day watch over their territories. Today, these technologies are necessary tools that allow social movements to tell their stories and to share their perspective on what is really happening, and which in many case help expose atrocious violations to the human rights.

That is why, on the anniversary of the condemnable murder of Berta, we are focused on remembering the audiovisual work that her death has inspired and honoring not only of Berta’s legacy, but also about the fight of whole communities which are abused day after day.

La Guardiana de los Ríos

La Guardiana de los Ríos (The Guardian of the Rivers) is a production of Campaña Madre Tierra (Mother Earth Campaign), supported by popular organizations to show that “inland Honduras, one of the most dangerous countries for defenders of natural resources, governed by the idea of extractive development that clashes with the communities’ worldview and doesn’t allow them to make decisions about their environment”. This documentary begins with a phrase from Berta:

“[We] the Lenca people are ancestral custodians of the rivers, and we are protected by spirits of the girls who teach us that giving life in many ways to defend rivers is giving life for the good of humanity and this planet”

Berta No Murió, Se Multiplicó (Berta has not died – she has multiplied)

“We fight to make energy a right of the people. It should be part of the common goods and thus we should have the authority to decide. Understand why the energy is tied to the dams, to the mines, to the water and to the oil companies, and understand why these projects are above the Government.”

This documentary includes Berta’s own words, made by the Caravana Mesoamericana Para El Buen Vivir De Los Pueblos En Resistencia (Mesoamerican Caravan for the Welfare of Communities in Resistance) in order to “show the truth and the context behind the murder, contrary to what the Government and the media in Honduras want us to believe”.

Berta Vive (Berta Lives)

The documentary Berta Vive clearly shows the international condemnation of Berta’s brutal murder, the  Honduran government’s attempts to discredit Berta’s efforts and the racism towards the Lenca people from international organisms such as the Fondo de Desarrollo Holandés (FMO, Dutch Development Bank) that finance extractive developments in Honduras, such as the dams to which the COPINH is opposed to.

All these documentaries show us that, not unlike Berta, the Lenca people, who resist the exploitation of their territory, are in danger because of their activism – but also they show us how strong and determined they are. That is why these documentaries are essential to support the fight of the women and their communities. This is the only way in which we can join our voices to decrease the threats they face and so the land and natural resources they fight for remain protected.

The post The fight for the land continues one year after the assassination of Berta Cáceres, and so do the threats appeared first on WITNESS Blog.

Blog URL:
https://blog.witness.org/2017/03/fight-land-continues-one-year-death-berta-caceres-threats/