Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈbeɾta isaˈβel ˈkaseɾes ˈfloɾes]; 4 March 1971 – 2 March 2016) was a Honduran (Lenca) environmental activist, indigenous leader, and co-founder and coordinator of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). She won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015, for “a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam” at the Río Gualcarque.
She was assassinated in her home by armed intruders, after years of threats against her life. A former soldier with the US-trained special forces units of the Honduran military asserted that Caceres’ name was on their hitlist months before her assassination. As of February 2017, three of the eight arrested people were linked to the US-trained elite military troops: two had been trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, USA, the former School of the Americas (SOA), renamed WHINSEC, linked to thousands of murders and human rights violations in Latin America by its graduates. In November 2017, a team of international legal experts released a report finding “willful negligence by financial institutions.” For example, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), the Netherlands Development Finance Institution (FMO) and the Finnfund pursued a strategy with shareholders, executives, managers, and employees of DESA, private security companies working for DESA, public officials and State security agencies “to control, neutralize and eliminate any opposition”.
Twelve land defenders were killed in Honduras in 2014, according to research by Global Witness, making it the most dangerous country in the world, relative to its size, for activists protecting forests and rivers. Berta Cáceres’ murder was followed by those of two more activists within the same month.
In July 2021, David Castillo, manager of DESA, was found guilty as the intellectual author of her murder.
Members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras surround a fire as they wait for the sentence of David Castillo, president of Desarrollos Energeticos S.A , to be… Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) surround a fire as they wait for the sentence of David Castillo, president of Desarrollos Energeticos S.A (DESA), to be read, regarding the murder of Honduran environmentalist and indigenous leader Berta Caceres, in Tegucigalpa on July 5, 2021. – Castillo was found guilty. (Photo by Orlando SIERRA / AFP) (Photo by ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP via Getty Images)
“Berta Cáceres.” Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berta_C%C3%A1ceres. Accessed 20 Feb. 2022.
Featured Image Photo Credit: UN Environment, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Spanish: Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras, COPINH) is a Honduran organization founded in 1993, which is dedicated to the defense of the environment in Intibucá and the defense of the indigenous Lenca people. COPINH is known for its mobilizing capacity. Anthropologist Mark Anderson describes it as “a pivotal force within the ethnic movement” in Honduras. It advocates for indigenous rights, participates in conflicts over resources, and opposes neoliberal economic policies, which it describes as “the pillage and re-colonization of our country.” It has organized protests against water privatization, hydroelectric dams, and United States foreign policy.
COPINH was founded as the Civic Committee of Popular Organizations of Intibuca (Spanish: Comité Civico de Organizaciones Populares de Intibucá) on March 27, 1993 by Woman Human Rights Defender, Berta Cáceres.
“Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras.” Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Popular_and_Indigenous_Organizations_of_Honduras. Accessed 20 Feb. 2022.