Days before the anniversary of the assassination of Indigenous environmental activist Berta Caceres, hundreds of Indigenous and Black activists in Honduras gathered to strengthen their fights to protect their land.
The forum-workshop held Tuesday, which united six Indigenous communities to discuss prior, free and informed consent guaranteed under international law, also paid homage to the late Caceres under the slogan, “Berta Vive, COPINH Sigue,” or “Berta Lives, COPINH Continues” referencing the environmentalist organization that she founded and led until her death.
The groups discussed a state proposal that would introduce “a process that does not come from the Indigenous peoples, and that does not take into account the proposal that we presented a year ago and that remains shelved in the National Congress,” Miriam Miranda, a Garifuna leader who organizes with the Fraternal Organization of Black Hondurans, told KaosEnLaRed.
Honduras has seen a dark year for environmental activists, with widespread criticism of how the state has handled Caceres’ case, as well as accusations of state collusion with the armed forces along with successive deaths of other human rights defenders, many Indigenous.
“It’s incredible to see how, a year after her assassination, the masterminds behind the crime have still not been caught, the DESA company (that Caceres fought against) and its deadly project ‘Agua Zarca’ have not closed and the demands of COPINH and of Berta’s families have not been responded to,” she said.
Still, Tomas Gomez, organizer at COPINH, was optimistic about the fight ahead and the legacy that Caceres passed down to those present at the conference.
“Berta taught us to fight, to have common sense,” he said. “Berta never broke down, nor let herself be defeated. We won’t be broken, either.” He added that the new proposal was done “behind the backs of Indigenous people,” which they will never accept.