Berta Caceraes, Hondura’s famous indigenous rights activist has been shot dead by two unknown men at her hometown of La Esperanza, Intibuca. One of the leading organizers for land and people’s rigts, she co- founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). The group has been facing serious threats and repression for their activities in the Latin American country, which has become the deadliest country in the world for environmentalists.
According to reports, around 101 environmental activists were killed in the country in between 2010 and 2014. Amidst such a scary situation, Ms. Caceres won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015 for rallying the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras. Her grassroots campaign had successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam.
Since the 2009 military coup, Honduras has witnessed an explosive growth in environmentally destructive megaprojects that would displace indigenous communities. Almost 30 percent of the country’s land was earmarked for mining concessions, creating a demand for cheap energy to power future mining operations. To meet this need, the government approved hundreds of dam projects around the country, privatizing rivers, land, and uprooting communities.
Repression of social movements and targeted assassinations are rampant. Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate. Under such a socio political condition, Berta Cáceres and COPINH have been accompanying various land struggles throughout western Honduras. In the last few weeks, violence and repression towards Berta Cáceres, COPINH, and the communities they support, had escalated. She had received countless threats against her life and was granted precautionary measures by the InterAmerican Commission for Human Rights.