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Berta Caceres: Fighting to the Death

Demonstration commemorating Berta Caceres on 5 April 2016

Demonstration commemorating Berta Caceres on 5 April 2016

According to Global Witness, “2015 was the worst year on record for killings of land and environmental defenders – people struggling to protect their land, forests and rivers through peaceful actions, against mounting odds.”

Yet courageous people are fighting to the death, literally, to retain or recover indigenous land and defend the environment. One of them was Berta Cáceres. As a young woman Berta started fighting for the collective rights of the Lenca, an indigenous people who live in southwestern Honduras and eastern El Salvador. In particular she fought to protect their territories against large development projects, such as the Agua Zarca dam on the Gualcarque river.

On Dangerous Ground was published by Global Witness in 2016, dedicating the report to Berta and other activists who defy power to defend their rights. 

According to the report, “At around midnight on 2 March 2016, gunmen broke down the door of the house where Berta Cáceres was staying in La Esperanza, Honduras, and shot and killed her. Berta was a high-profile environmental campaigner and activist on indigenous land rights. Last year she was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, a prestigious award recognizing grassroots environmental activism from around the world. In Berta’s acceptance speech she spoke of the death threats and kidnapping attempts against her due to her struggle against the Agua Zarca dam. Global Witness highlighted her courageous work in How Many More? which profiled Honduras as the world’s most dangerous country per capita to be a land and environmental defender. This report is dedicated to Berta Cáceres and the many brave activists who, like her, stand up to power despite the dangers to their lives.”

The non-governmental organization Global Witness was created in 1993 “to break the links between natural resource exploitation, conflict, poverty, corruption, and human rights abuses worldwide.”

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