On March 3, 2016, Berta Caceres, the coordinator and co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPIHN) was killed by unknown assailants around 1:00am local time in her home in La Esperanza in the western province of Intibucá.
Caceres was the leader of the Lenca Indigenous community and was a loud and proud human rights defender. She was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015. Her death was met by shock, which sparked outrage and outcries over her death.
“Berta Caceres is one of the leading indigenous activists in Honduras. She spent her life fighting in defense of indigenous rights, particularly to land and natural resources,” said Karen Spring, Honduras-based coordinator of the Honduras Solidarity Network, in a statement. “Her death will have a profound impact on the many Lenca communities that she worked with, COPINH, the Honduran social movement, and all that knew her.”
According to the local reports, the attackers waited for Caceres to fall asleep before assassinating her. Her brother was injured during the process. Currently, Carceres’ family and COPIHN are looking for an independent and international investigation, not led by the Honduran officials, the Organization of American States, or the newly launched OAs and government-based anti-corruption body, Maccih.
“They want a thorough investigation, they don’t want it to remain in impunity, and they obviously remain very skeptical that the police and the Honduran government will adequately respond and do a thorough investigation,” said Spring. “She was a leader of the popular resistance movement against the 2009 coup, and never stopped fighting,” Pine, who considered Caceres a dear friend, told teleSUR. “Even when she had to go underground to hide from the illegitimate Honduran government’s attempts to criminalize her activism, even when faced with multiple — obviously credible — death threats.” Adrienne Pine was a anthropologist professor at American University who thought of Caceres as a powerhouse and an important figure in fighting racist policies that exploit and threaten the rights of the indigenous inhabitants in order to make a profit. “It’s important for people to remember what an important activist she is both for indigenous rights and human rights, not just for the Lenca people, not just for Indigenous people from Honduras, but the entire Honduran social movement,” said Spring. “Her role in the resistance after the military coup was incredibly important.”
(Photo: Goldman Prize)