Demanding Justice for Berta, Cárceres Family Makes Plea for US to End 'Impunity'
"It’s time for the U.S. to...promote justice and stop the killing of social activists rather than continuing to hand the Honduran government a blank check to carry on with business as usual."
In the one month since the murder of Honduran Indigenous and environmental activist Berta Cárceres, calls for justice have not diminished.
Fed up with the Honduran government's lack of "respect" and transparency, as well as its refusal to allow for an independent investigation into the politically-motivated assassination, the Cárceres family and other supporters are in Washington D.C. this week calling on U.S. lawmakers to end this "impunity."
"As painful as Bertita’s assassination is for our family this event is now an opportunity to begin pushing back hard against Honduras’ pervasive corruption, impunity and lack of rule of law," read a statement issued by the family.
"The U.S. government has enormous leverage in Honduras," the statement continued. "It’s time for the U.S. to begin using that leverage to promote justice and stop the killing of social activists rather than continuing to hand the Honduran government a blank check to carry on with business as usual."
The group—which includes Cáceres' daughter, Berta Zuñiga Cáceres, nephew Silvio Carrillo, and Tomás Gómez, a member of the Civil Council for Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), which Cáceres' founded—visited with lawmakers, the State Department, NGOs, and other D.C.-based institutions on Monday ahead of a scheduled meeting (pdf) between the Honduran government and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
On Tuesday evening, supporters are gathering at the World Bank headquarters in Washington D.C. and marching to the IACHR, where Gómez and Zuñiga Cáceres will speak at a vigil, which is timed to coincide with the hearing with the Honduran government.
"Through a display of public support and remembrance, we will uphold Berta Caceres' legacy of fighting for human rights, against the criminal destruction of the environment, and for the empowerment of the native peoples of Honduras and the Americas," read a statement put forth by the School of Americas (SOA) Watch.
The family and its supporters are calling for an independent investigation to be overseen by the IACHR, similar to that which is being conducted over the 2014 disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico, and for the U.S. to support such a move.
Despite documented evidence of "massive corruption within the Honduran government," and a history of threats against COPINH members by state security forces, the U.S. government "continues to express support in the Honduran investigative 'process,'" the statement laments.
Given this record, the family has said that "it is highly unlikely that the intellectual authors of this assassination will ever be brought to justice."
As Common Dreams previously reported, Cáceres was a prominent leader in the Indigenous movement against one of Central America’s largest hydropower projects, four enormous dams known as "Agua Zarca," and was instrumental in stalling that project. She was assassinated in her home on March 3.
Global environmental and human rights organizations have echoed this call for an impartial investigation.
"An independent investigation is essential given the flaws and political interference in Honduras’ judicial system," said Billy Kyte, a senior campaigner for Global Witness, an international campaign to expose the links between environmental and human rights abuses.