Other Worlds

Gustavo Castro Soto and the Rigged Investigation into Berta Cáceres’ Assassination

March 21, 2016

By Beverly Bell

Gustavo Castro Soto, imperiled in Honduras. Photo by Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, 2014

The sole eyewitness to Honduran social movement leader Berta Cáceres’ assassination on March 3, 2016 has gone from being wounded victim to, effectively, political prisoner.

Now Gustavo Castro Soto may also be framed as the murderer of his long-time friend.

Update from COPINH on the Assassination of Nelson García & Tuesday's Violent Evictions in Río Chiquito: "Enough is Enough!"

March 17, 2016

Repost from COPINH

March 15, 2016

[Para leer en español, haga clic aquí]

Enough is Enough!

The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras [COPINH] makes known to public opinion today’s assassination of our comrade Nelson García, of the community of Río Chiquito in the department of Cortés, at the hands of two unknown assailants.

250 + Organizations Signed This Open Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the Murder of Honduran Indigenous and Environmental Activist Berta Cáceres

March 17, 2016

Reposted from Latin America Working Group

Originally shared March 10, 2016

[Download this letter as a PDF. ]
[Para leer la carta en español, haga clic aquí.]

Dear Secretary of State Kerry,

We write in shock and deep sorrow regarding the murder of Honduran human rights and environmental defender Berta Cáceres, founder and general secretary of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). We urge a response from the State Department that is not business as usual but a profound change of direction towards improving the abysmal situation of human rights in Honduras.

WHY WAS BERTA CÁCERES ASSASSINATED?

March 16, 2016

By Beverly Bell

A few numbers begin to reveal why Honduran indigenous leader and global movement luminary, Berta Cáceres, was assassinated on March 3, 2016.

According to the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), more than 300 hydroelectric dams are planned for Honduras, of which 49 are on COPINH lands. Eight hundred seventy-two contracts have been handed out to corporations for mining alone, with many others created for mega-tourism, wind energy, and logging projects. The majority of these are planned for indigenous lands. Of those, all are in violation of International Labor Organization Convention 169, to which Honduras is a signatory, allowing free, prior, and informed consent by indigenous peoples before development may take place in their territories.

European funders suspend support for Agua Zarca Dam

March 16, 2016

Reposted from Huffington Post

By Peter Bosshard

The construction site of the Agua Zarca Dam in Honduras (COPINH) 

On March 15, Nelson Garcia, an activist of COPINH, the Honduran organization Berta Cáceres had founded, was shot and killed when he helped a group of poor families resist a land grab in the small town of Rio Lindo. The brazen murder was not directly related to the conflict around the Agua Zarca Dam, but it showed that even under the international spotlight, powerful circles in Honduras have no respect for the lives of people who stand in the way of their economic interests.

In response to this "shocking news," FMO, the Dutch development financier, decided to "suspend all activities in Honduras, effective immediately. This means,"FMO said in a statement, "that we will not engage in new projects or commitments and that no disbursements will be made, including the Agua Zarca project." Finnfund, the second European financier involved in Agua Zarca, suspended its support as well.

Tell your representative today to support an independent investigation into the murder of Berta Cáceres!

March 14, 2016

There is an important letter from Rep. Ellison (MN) and Rep. Johnson (GA) circulating the House of Representatives right now demanding the State Dept support an independent investigation of Berta Cáceres' murder, protection for activists including Gustavo, and to call for a halt to US aid to Honduras. The deadline for congressional representatives to endorse is TOMORROW, Tuesday March 15th.

Please call your representative now!  

Call this congressional switchboard # to be connected to your Member of Congress*: 202-224-3121

* You will need to know the name of your representative when you call this number. If you don’t know their name, first visit this site and enter your zip-code on the top right hand corner to find out.  

The letter asks the State Department to:

  • Pressure the Honduran government to sign an agreement with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to create an independent international investigation into the murder of Berta Cáceres, as requested by her family;
  • Urge the Honduran government to immediately institute and fund a system of protection for other Hondurans who have received credible threats;
  • Immediately stop all assistance to Hondurans security forces, including training and equipment
  • Review and reconsider the United States’ support for loans to projects in Honduras from U.S.-funded multilateral development banks;
  • Immediately and permanently stop the Agua Zarca dam.

We need your help in securing the signature of your Member of the U.S. House of Representatives on this letter. Call the switchboard now at 202-224-3121.

Sample script:

“My name is _____. I am a constituent from (your town/city) in (your state). I am calling to ask Representative _____ to sign the letter from Rep. Keith Ellison and Rep. Hank Johnson calling for the independent investigation into the murder of Honduran indigenous leader and land rights activist Berta Cáceres; protections for Honduran activists and Mexican environmental activist Gustavo Castro Soto, the sole witness to Berta's assassination who was injured during the attack and is being forcibly held by the Honduran government; and halting U.S. aid that's been damaging in Honduras. Has Representative _______ seen this letter? Can I count on him/her to sign on? The deadline for signatures is TOMORROW, March 15th. How will I know if _________ will sign this letter?”

In your phone conversation, please highlight why this letter is important to you, especially if you have travelled to Honduras or heard a Honduran speak in your community.  

If you want to know if your representative has signed on or you learn that your Congress member has agreed to sign, please notify Elise Roberts at Witness for Peace (wfpumw@witnessforpeace.org) so they can confirm the signature with Rep. Ellison. Thank you for calling today and standing up for human rights in Honduras!

Share this action alert on Facebook and Twitter!

#JusticiaParaBerta   #SeguridadParaGustavo

 

Urgent Action: It´s time the Mexican Government Acts to Lift Immigration Alert on Gustavo Castro

March 10, 2016

Cross-posted from Otros Mundos, Chiapas

(Read in Spanish here)

Yesterday afternoon, March 9, 2016, Judge Victorina Flores of the First Civil Court of La Esperanza, Intibucá, decided not to revoke the Immigration Alert forcing Gustavo Castro to remain in Honduras for another 30 days. She also suspended Gustavo Castro’s attorney for 15 days.

We ask the Mexican government to protect the defence attorney in the Embassy of Mexico in Honduras for the duration of time that Gustavo Castro is required to remain in the country. We also demand that the Mexican government intensify its efforts to secure Gustavo Castro’s ability to leave the country as soon as possible.

¡BERTA LIVES! THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF BERTA CÁCERES

March 9, 2016

By Beverly Bell

Berta Cáceres rallies a crowd. Photo Credit: HispanTV

I began writing a eulogy for Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores years ago, though she died only last week. Berta was assassinated by Honduran government-backed death squads on March 3. Like many who knew and worked with her, I was aware that this fighter for indigenous peoples’ power; for control over their own territories; for women’s and LGBTQ rights; for authentic democracy; for the well-being of Pachamama; for an end to tyranny by transnational capital; and for an end to US empire was not destined to die of old age. She spoke too much truth to too much power.

TAKE ACTION FOR GUSTAVO CASTRO'S SAFETY

March 9, 2016

DEMAND PROTECTION AND SAFE RETURN TO MEXICO FOR GUSTAVO CASTRO SOTO

Gustavo Castro Soto, Mexican environmental activist and sole witness and surviving victim to the assassination of internationally-renowned global social movement leader Berta Cáceres, was told by Honduran government authorities on March 7th that he cannot leave Honduras for 30 days. He is being refused the right to return to his home country of Mexico. Please take action to demand his safe return. 

Read more background here and here.

Please copy and paste the sample letter below and send an email to the following US State Department and Mexican government officials. Feel free to adapt this text for your own letter to any/all of the individuals below. We would be grateful if you could let us know (info.otherworlds@gmail.com) that you sent a letter to any of these individuals and of any response(s) received.

Communiqué from the family of Bertha Cáceres and COPINH

March 9, 2016
Demands to the Honduran state in reaction to the murder of Bertha Cáceres Flores 
 
We energetically condemn the assassination of our comrade and mother, Bertha Cáceres Flores, general coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) on March 3rd. 
 
This is not an isolated event. Her death demonstrates the serious situation of risk in which human rights defenders find themselves, especially those of us who are defending Indigenous rights and our shared commons in nature against the exploitation of our territories. This danger is ongoing and affects all of the people around us, including our family. 

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