Honduran activist (Berta Caceres) murdered in the presence of Mexican activist (Gustavo Castro)
The ecologist Berta Caceres, well-known activist from Honduras, was murdered on the morning of March 3 in La Esperanza in the west of the country. Berta Caceres was leader of the Lenca indigenous community, coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras – COPINH) and a prominent defender of human rights. According to local sources, the killers forced entrance to her home to commit the crime. In April 2015, Berta won the Goldman Environmental Prize, the highest international recognition for environmental activists, for her struggle against a hydroelectric dam.
The Mexican environmental defender, Gustavo Castro Soto, who was wounded but survived, was present at the moment of the murder, which made him the most important witness of the crime. On Sunday, March 6, at 5:00 am, Gustavo Castro was intercepted at the migration control at Tegucigalpa International Airport, Honduras, by the Honduran authorities when he was attempting to board a return flight to Mexico. The coordinator of Other Worlds A.C./Friends of the Earth remains in Honduras since then and remains at risk. The Mexican ambassador and consul had to take him in an official car to return him to the embassy. There is little clarity about the status of Castro, and it is unknown on what basis he is detained by the Honduran authorities and what procedures will be followed.
Various Central American and Mexican human rights organizations have launched an international campaign to protect the life and security of the ecologist leader. They claim that, “the Honduran authorities intend to criminalize members of […] COPINH in connection with this brutal murder of Berta. This could put the lives of members of COPINH in danger and it could also be used to distort the investigation, which should be totally impartial, seeking the material and intellectual authors of this crime.” In press statements, leaders of Other Worlds, Chiapas, said that their colleague “has spent more than two days without sleep, is tired, has been taken from place to place by the Honduran authorities to make statements again and again.” The Honduran authorities “are looking for some type of contradiction, some type of declaration with the aim of blaming […] COPINH”, they stressed.
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