World Rainforest Movement

COPINH: statement six months after the assassination of COPINH’s general coordinator, Berta Cáceres Flores.

bertacaceresThe Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, 6 months after the assassination of COPINH’s General Coordinator, hereby states that:

The assassination of the woman who served as COPINH’s General Coordinator and who was a founding member of the organization was a crime committed against the entire Lenca people’s struggle to build autonomy and defend Mother Earth, our shared natural resources, and our rights as indigenous peoples.

Despite this crime we re-affirm that we will continue our fierce struggle against the deadly projects that have been imposed without consultation since the 2009 military coup d’état. We know that our sister Berta Cáceres Flores has not died as long as neither her struggle nor her political project, embodied by this organization, have died.

Our compañera Berta Cáceres, our sister, is the victim of a State crime, having suffered persecution by Honduran authorities, security forces and courts and criminalization of her work throughout her years of political activity, aided and abetted by corporations like DESA, and international banks like FMO, CABEI and FINNFUND, who want to plunder our shared natural resources to turn them into their own profit.

Over the 23 years of our organization’s existence, this crime has been the biggest blow to our people and it is an attempt to end the struggle waged by COPINH, which continues to suffer from demonization and criminalization by the government and national and international corporations and financial institutions.

Having accompanied Berta in her struggle, which is our people’s struggle, we are completely clear that justice will not come from the corrupt and inefficient institutions that have promoted the extermination of peoples in resistance and that the arrests they have made do not represent justice for this assassination but are clear example of the way that impunity is produced in this country.

COPINH continues to demand the creation of an Independent Investigation Commission so that we can get to the bottom of this crime, a demand that has fallen on the government’s deaf ears.

For several years COPINH has been demanding the expulsion of the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project from Lenca territory, where it has been imposed without consultation, along with the 50 other concessions for dams and wind-power megaprojects that they seek to impose upon our territory.

The Lenca people are fighting to live in peace, which is why we demand the de-militarization of our territories, where the soldiers, police and private security forces exist to secure private investments by violating the most basic of human rights and sewing fear, terror and death.

Faced with this assassination, the corporations and banks who finance terror and death should know that COPINH will be unwavering in its efforts to find those who participated in this act. May the perpetrators know that we will not rest in our search for Justice for our sister and that we will denounce each and every attack we suffer for carrying out our work before the international authorities.

COPINH knows that both before and after the 2009 coup d’état the violence and atrocities come from the interference of the U.S., with its money and its interventions, as with the coup d’état itself. The imposition of the extractivist model comes as a result of the U.S. capitalist doctrine and Berta’s assassination is part of a clear strategy to eliminate by force any form of opposition to that economic model, which the U.S. is at the heart of.

We denounce the campaigns to criminalize our organization, financed by DESA on national TV, where they roll out Gloria López, a person who does not represent Lenca women and is a farce of a dignified indigenous person and who we are sure is being used by Honduran businessmen to manipulate public opinion and create more conflict.

COPINH is completely clear what justice in the face of this enormous loss means: finding who assassinated her, who gave the order to assassinate her, and denouncing the criminal power structure that allowed for her assassination. It means that the work of resistance, of emancipation, of rebellion by COPINH and the Lenca people remains steadfast. It means tireless struggle against this economic, political and cultural system that seeks to eliminate our communities, their ancestral resistance and alternatives to dispossession, exploitation, racism and exclusion.

Justice is keeping the memory of Berta’s life alive, the convictions that led her to be the greatest leader of the Lenca people in the history of the Lenca people’s resistance. Justice is clearly telling the corporations, the representatives of the state and all of those who enter Lenca territory that we will not allow the development of any project, action or activity that rolls over people or that eliminates our voices. It means development by the communities and NOT by corporations that take advantage of communities, development based on proposals that stem from our needs.

Six months after this vile crime the Lenca people continue to cry over this loss for the Honduran social movement, yet we have not forgotten that her spirit accompanies us as one more ancestor who has joined us in the millenarian resistance of the Lenca people.

Six months after this assassination thousands of voices have risen to demand Justice for Berta and to take up our demands, for which COPINH profoundly thanks the communities, grassroots social movements and civil society from all regions of the continent and world. As a people in struggle we know that justice will come only through the efforts of the grassroots social movement and people of conscience.

Berta didn’t die, she multiplied!

With the ancestral strength of Berta, Lempira, Mota, Iselaca and Etempica we raise our voices full of life, justice, freedom, dignity and peace!

La Esperanza, Honduras, September 2nd, 2016

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