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Honduras

    July 14, 2017

    By Kathy Price, Amnesty International Canada’s Latin America campaigner

    It is a story of immeasurable courage and the lengths to which shadowy and not-so-shadowy forces will go in brazen attempts to extinguish it.

    The place is Honduras, a country of staggering poverty and a tiny minority with enormous wealth, who will go to extraordinary lengths to protect it.

    It was just eight years ago that a military coup was executed in order to remove a democratically-elected president seeking to make changes that threatened the rich and powerful. What followed was a wave of repression against opponents of the coup and those speaking up for the rule of law.

    Deadly violence and injustice has only continued in the years since.

    Among the targets are the women and men of COPINH, acronym of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras. Its co-founder Berta Cáceres, winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, was gunned down in her home in March 2016.

    March 20, 2017

    On World Water Day, we launched a solidarity action for water defenders under dangerous attack in Central America. Take action to support them. 

    March 02, 2017

    By Kathy Price, Honduras Campaigner with Amnesty International Canada

    It is one year since beloved water defender Berta Cáceres was gunned down in Honduras and a vital moment for renewed action from Canada, amidst ongoing deadly violence in the Central American country.

    On March 2, 2016, shortly before midnight, assassins entered the home of inspirational Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres and shot her.

    It should never have been allowed to happen. Berta had warned that her name was on a hit list and reported dozens of death threats against her. They coincided with her efforts to stop construction of the Agua Zarca hydro electric project out of concern for its impacts on the water and lands of Indigenous communities.

    Recognizing the danger, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called on Honduras to protect Berta. The call fell on deaf ears.

    September 02, 2016

    By Erika Guevara-Rosas

    Chills ran down Tomás Gómez Membreño’s spine when he first heard about the brutal murder of his renowned friend and ally, the Honduran Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, six months ago this week.

    A fellow environmental activist and second in command at the Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), Tomás feared he would be next.

    Berta’s work was widely and globally acclaimed and had earned her international awards - if someone could violate the sanctuary of her home and shoot her dead, it was too frightening to contemplate what could happen to any of the country’s lesser-known human rights defenders.

    Tomás also knew the hopes to have a proper investigation and to ensure the crimes against human rights defenders would not be repeated again were slim, in a country where authorities rarely condone attacks on activists.

    Tragically, he has a point.

    Six months after two armed men walked into Berta’s home one evening and murdered her in cold blood, Honduras has become a no-go zone for anybody daring to protect natural resources such as land and water from powerful economic interests.

    April 20, 2016

    By Kathy Price, AI Canada's Latin America campaigner

    It was a killing that could and should have been prevented.

    On numerous occasions, the renowned Lenca Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres had reported receiving death threats as she led David-against-Goliath efforts to stop a big dam project in Honduras that threatened Indigenous lands and rights.  

    The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recognized the risks and called on the Honduran government to provide protection measures.

    Yet Berta was gunned down on March 3 in her home in La Esperanza, ironically Spanish for “hope”.

    The pain of losing such a vital, beloved leader was quickly followed by fear. Berta’s tireless efforts had won her the prestigious 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize.

     

    If someone as celebrated and well-connected as Berta could be murdered at will, then what about others less well-known?

     

    The answer came days later. Community leader Nelson García was shot in the face and killed as he returned from helping victims of a land eviction.

    May 06, 2016

    By Josefina Salomón, News Writer at Amnesty International

    The armed men who burst into the house of Honduran Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres on 3 March had a simple plan: find her, kill her, and leave.

    What they didn’t expect, however, is for Gustavo Castro, a human rights activist working with Friends of the Earth Mexico and a close friend of Berta’s, to be in the next room.

    “I was working on a presentation when I heard a loud bang,” said Gustavo, who is now in Mexico. “I thought something had fallen, but when Berta screamed, ‘Who’s there?’, I knew it was bad, that it was the end.”

    When they heard him, one of the armed men rushed to Gustavo’s room. He pointed a gun at his face, shot him and ran.