Over 1,300 people representing social movements and international delegations will meet this Thursday for a second day in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, for the three-day International Gathering Celebrating the Life of Berta Caceres, the renowned Indigenous leader murdered in her home last month after repeated death threats linked to her high-profile and tireless resistance.
“The idea of this gathering is to link up the international solidarity,” said Caceres’ daughter Berta Zuñiga at the launch of the gathering. “And to channel this voice, this cry for justice, to explain the assassination of my mother, the compañera Berta Caceres, and strengthen the organization she belonged to.”
For over a month since Caceres was assassinated on March 3, her family members and fellow activists have called for an independent, internationally-led investigation into her death, but have repeatedly slammed authorities for botching the investigation and withholding key information about the case.
International solidarity activists who have travelled to the gathering have called attention to grave crisis lived by human rights defenders in Honduras and stressed the need for the U.S. and Canada to cut support to the repressive regime, both in terms of foreign aid and trade relations.
“We know that Berta’s murder is just the tip of the iceberg,” Mary Hannaburg, a member of the Canadian delegation to Honduras as the Mohawk Nation Director for Quebec Native Women, sid in a statement. She added that the delegation aims to learn about the dangerous situations for activists and “how the Canadian government and business have been taking advantage of the repressive context to facilitate economic interests.”
Caceres has been one of many victims in the wake of the U.S.-backed 2009 coup that ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya and plunged the country into a worsening human rights crisis. But as one of the most well-known activists both nationally and internationally, Caceres murder has shown no one is protected from political violence.
The international gathering kicked off on Wednesday in the capital city Tegucigalpa with the participation of some 22 delegation from different countries and over 1,000 representatives of Honduran civil society, including diverse Indigenous resistance movements.
Miriam Miranda, leader of the Garifuna Afro-Indigenous organization OFRANEH, stressed that the international gathering will also work to strengthen resistance against exploitive extractivist projects that threaten Indigenous territory, life, and livelihood, according to a statement.
On Thursday, the second day of the gathering under the banner “Berta Caceres Lives,” participants will work to define strategies to connect international solidarity to confront the lack of justice in the case of Caceres murder and help support the fight against the extractivist model being waged by Indigenous groups and other social movements in Honduras.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament held a debate on Thursday morning on the situation of human rights defenders in Honduras in which Spanish member of parliament Miguel Urban called on the European Union to create an independent international committee to investigate Caceres’ murder.
“The murder of Berta Caceres is evidence that Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for human rights activists,” said Urban in a statement. “Seven years after the coup, democratic guarantees, fundamental freedoms and respect for human rights are threatened, and impunity is protected by an alarming lack of political will.”
The international solidarity event in Honduras will wrap up on Friday with a walk and gathering at the Gualcarque River, a sacred place in Lenca spirituality and the site of the Agua Zarca dam project that Caceres tirelessly resisted near her home in La Esperanza where she was murdered.