Yesterday, dozens of people gathered in front of the Honduran
Embassy in Ottawa to demand justice for Berta Cáceres, a
world-renowned Indigenous Lenca leader who was brutally
murdered while she slept on March 2. Mexican activist Gustavo
Castro also faced an attempt on his life at the same time.
The June 15 demonstration took place as part of a Global Day of
Action convened by the Civil Council of Popular and
Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), which Berta
co-founded. Since Berta’s murder, members of COPINH and Berta’s
family have faced harassment, threats, assassination attempts
and murder, including
the killing of Nelson García. In solidarity with COPINH,
people protested around the world, including in Toronto,
Montreal and Ottawa, as well as in many cities in the US,
Europe and throughout Latin America.
Together, we echoed COPINH and Berta’s family’s demand that
Honduran authorities agree to an independent, international
investigation under the auspices of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). We also called for the
safety of Berta’s family and members of COPINH to be
guaranteed, and for the cancellation of mining and
hydroelectric concessions that have been granted on Lenca
territory without their free, prior and informed consent,
including the Agua Zarca dam project owned by the Energy
Development Company (DESA).
Since a military-backed coup took place in Honduras in June
2009, the Central American country has become
the most dangerous in which to defend one’s land, water,
health and ways of life. Hundreds of land and environmental
activists, journalists, lawyers and others defending their
rights have been killed since this time.
Shamefully, despite this context of violence, impunity and
corruption, the Canadian government pushed for
a new mining law in Honduras immediately after the coup,
which was approved in 2013 and favours corporate interests over
protections for communities and the environment. Canada also
a free trade agreement with Honduras, which gives Canadian
companies recourse to costly international arbitration to sue
the government of Honduras should it change course at some
point down the road and make decisions that they perceive
affect their interests. Notably, the Liberal government
continues to pursue further agreements of this sort.
Since Berta’s murder, the Canadian government has failed to
publicly press for an independent investigation into this crime
through the IACHR, despite how the investigation has been
plagued with irregularities. Although several people were
recently detained in connection with this case, there is little
confidence that this will actually lead to convictions or
ensure that all of those responsible are held to account.
To keep up the pressure, we have launched an online e-petition
on the parliamentary website urging the Canadian government to
take more decisive action to pressure Honduran authorities in
this case and to also open an investigation into Canada’s role
in the country since 2009.
Please sign and share the petition