Gunmen murder Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres

Friday, March 4, 2016

Berta Cáceres, a Honduran indigenous leader and environmentalist, was murdered in the early hours of yesterday when intruders entered her home in La Esperanza, Intibucá, in the west of the country. Police cited robbery as the alleged motive for the crime, but the activist's family said she was killed in retaliation for her activities.

There have been nearly 80 murders of environmental activists in Honduras in recent years, according to remarks to the BBC by a representative of non-governmental organization Global Witness.

Cáceres served as coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). She had feared for her life, according to her mother, Aura Flores. Flores also reproached the government for not protecting Cáceres. She said the suggestion of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that precautionary measures be taken to look after Cáceres had not been followed.

As a leader of the lenca community, Cáceres was opposed in recent years to different acts related to natural resources affecting Honduran indigenous citizens. One she opposed was the dam of Agua Zarca, a construction affecting the Gualcarque river, considered sacred by the indigenous of the region. With the opposition of Cáceres and the lenca, Sinohydro, one of the biggest hydroelectric enterprises in the world, withdrew from the project, as did the World Bank.

Cáceres won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015.