dorset chiapas solidarity

February 8, 2017

Urgent Action: Rarámuri Indigenous Leaders Murdered

Filed under: Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:22 am

 

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Urgent Action: Rarámuri Indigenous Leaders Murdered

Sign the urgent action here on-line:  http://redtdt.org.mx/?p=7884

 

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The National Network of Civil Society Human Rights Groups, All Rights for Everyone (in Spanish:  ‘Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos, Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos’ and known by the acronym Red TDT)

2 February 2017

  • This is an urgent call to action to protect the safety and integrity of members of the Choreachi community following the murder of indigenous leader Juan Ontiveros Ramos, 15 days after the murder of Isidro Baldenegro, another indigenous leader from the same municipality.
  • We demand that the investigation begun into these events be diligently integrated into this case, in order to identify, prosecute and punish all those responsible; and to ensure the non-repetition of similar events.

 

Recent Events Prior to the Murder

Red TDT has received information from the Alianza Sierra Madre A.C. and the Women’s Human Rights Centre about the murder of the human rights defender Juan Ontiveros Ramos.

On February 1, 2017, Juan Ontiveros Ramos was found dead after he and his brother Isidro were attacked the day before by armed individuals. On January 20, Juan took part in a meeting with personnel from the Human Rights Section of the Ministry of the Interior and other authorities. There were two rounds of analysis discussing the community’s security situation and dispossession of their territory.

 

In October 2015 Juan Ontiveros had also presented his testimony about the local problems in a video that was given to the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) in a meeting implementing precautionary measures. The aggressions suffered by the communities and human rights defenders of the region have been a trend identified by organizations working in the region.

What happened

The Choréachi community in the municipality of Guadalupe and Calvo, Chihuahua has a grave history of attacks on human rights defenders, as well as general harassment of villagers. This is due to the approximately 40 years of occupation of their territory by groups of organized crime and others. In such a context of reoccurring serious violence, it is imperative to issue an emergency call to protect the life and integrity of the rest of the inhabitants of the Choréachi commuinty.

The homicide of Juan Ontiveros Ramos took place 15 days after Isidro Baldenegro, another indigenous leader from the same municipality, was also assassinated. These two cases bring to 18 the total number of homicides that the community has suffered since 1973. Four of these murders took place last year, and this reveals that territorial dispossession in the Tarahumara Sierra continues without being addressed.

The aggressions against the Choréachi community are a longstanding problem. Since two years ago, an emergency situation had already been reported. On 20 February 2014 several organizations in the region sent a request for precautionary measures to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in support of Prudencio Ramos Ramos and Ángela Ayala Ramos and their respective families. After determining the seriousness of the case, the commission requested Mexico to take the necessary measures to preserve life and to enable them to carry out their human rights defence work without being subjected to violence. It also requested that the facts of the case be investigated so as to avoid the situation repeating.

Again, we value the words Rapporteur Forst delivered in his report on the closure of his mission of January 24:

‘During my visit to Chihuahua, I became familiar with the situation faced by human rights defenders protecting the rights of the Rarámuri indigenous people, in particular the risks posed by organized crime and the lack of protection by the authorities.’ For these reasons, the expert ‘Call[ed] on the federal and state authorities to ensure that all crimes against the defenders of the rights of the Sierra Tarahumara peoples are properly investigated.’ The signatory organizations of this communiqué make the same call as Michel Forst and urge the state and federal authorities to act accordingly.

Given these facts we demand the following:

  1. Protect the Choréachi community and provide security for the life and natural and cultural heritage of the Rarámuri people.
  2. Guarantee the physical and moral integrity of Juan Ontiveros Ramos’s family.
  3. Follow through and act on the arrest warrants pending in connection with the murder of Jaime Zubías and Socorro Ayala as they relate to these events.
  4. That the investigation initiated by these events be diligently integrated, in order to identify, prosecute and punish all those responsible; and to ensure similar events do not happen again.
  5. That the agreements adopted at the different rounds of meetings be complied with and result in both the guarantee that the community recovers its territory, and the compliance of the precautionary measures adopted by the IACHR result in the safety of those who are under the protective mechanisms of human rights defenders and journalists.
  6. That the contingency plan drawn up from the preventive alert, to support human rights defenders and journalists in Chihuahua, and adopted by the government representatives of the protective mechanisms be put into action.

 

Translated by the UK Zapatista Translation Service

https://www.centrodemedioslibres.org/2017/02/04/accion-urgente-ante-asesinatos-de-lideres-indigenas-raramuri/

 

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May 3, 2016

The social activist Juan Vázquez Guzmán is remembered in Latin America and Europe, three years after his assassination.

Filed under: Bachajon, Indigenous, La Sexta, Movement for Justice in el Barrio — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:56 am

 

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The social activist Juan Vázquez Guzmán is remembered in Latin America and Europe, three years after his assassination.

 

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Chiapas, Mexico. “The family of Juan Vázquez Guzmán and the members of the Sexta Ejido San Sebastián Bachajón thank you for having attended and participated by written letter” said the Tzeltal indigenous, adherents to the Sexta, from the jungle area (zona selva) of Chiapas.

Juan Vázquez Guzmán was assassinated in front of his home on April 24, 2013, “by a group of hitmen from the bad government,” national and international social organizations have denounced since that date. Today he was remembered at this same house in San Sebastián Bachajón, where they received demonstrations of national and international solidarity with the cause of the ejido in resistance which Juan belonged to.

“To keep on, despite all the difficulties, resisting and challenging the powerful from our collective dignity, is the only way we have to keep being who we are: peoples who struggle and work for another world where the Juans do not have to give their life for something as basic as life with dignity,” said the writer Raúl Zibechi from Uruguay in a letter.

“Thanks to you, compañero, the Bachajón struggle became ours. We are not going to give up. It is the fight back we are giving everywhere against criminal governments and against those who own them, who maintain a war of plunder and aggression against the people and use all means at their disposal to oppress and take away what is ours. It is they who have been destroying Mother Earth, causing damage that can no longer be tolerated,” said the researcher and social activist Gustavo Esteva from Oaxaca, Mexico.

“Juan Vázquez Guzmán is a symbol of the defence of the indigenous community, of the defence of life and nature against the large transnational corporations that rule the world, killing nature and humanity, with the only sacred goal they have: ‘to make as much money as possible in the shortest time possible,’ said the social activist Hugo Blanco from Peru.

“We honour his memory and remember his dignified struggle for his people and the land. Juan is a light of hope and dignity accompanying all our struggles, and we know that he continues to live in the hearts of all his compañeras and compañeros in the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón. Those who give their lives for the land do not die, but live on in every act of freedom and resistance,” shared the Dorset Chiapas Solidarity Group from England.

“This week in Canada, we will have an event in commemoration of Juan Vásquez Guzmán where we will share the dignified struggle that you continue to carry out. We also continue to demand the punishment of those responsible for the death of compa Juan, so his death does not go unpunished,” he said Movement for Justice in El Barrio from New York in their letter.

The ejido San Sebastián Bachajón, adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, is located in the northern jungle region of Chiapas, where the tourist attraction the waterfalls of Agua Azul are located, which are part of a comprehensive mega tourist plan that includes projects such as luxury hotels, an airport and golf courses. This is why arbitrary detentions of indigenous have become a resource used frequently by the three levels of government, comments the “Working Group No Estamos Todos” (GTNET), which supports indigenous peoples and campesinos in the region.

 

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http://www.pozol.org/?p=12161

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April 28, 2016

Letter from Gustavo Esteva for Juan Vázquez Guzmán of Bachajón

Filed under: Bachajon, Indigenous, Movement for Justice in el Barrio, Zapatista — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:44 am

 

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Letter from Gustavo Esteva for Juan Vázquez Guzmán of Bachajón

 

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From Oaxaca, Mexico: Letter from the writer and social activist Gustavo Esteva

We do not forget, compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán. We will never forget.

Every year there are more of us who remember. And there are also more of us who find in your story inspiration to live, that is, to struggle. There are increasingly more of us who turn their indignation over your murder into the energy and strength to move forward.

Thanks to you, compañero, the Bachajón struggle became ours. We are not going to give up. It is the fight back we are giving everywhere against criminal governments and against those who own them, who maintain a war of plunder and aggression against the people and use all means at their disposal to oppress and take away what is ours. It is they who have been destroying Mother Earth, causing damage that can no longer be tolerated.

Your example is spreading, compañero. It is true that your death hurts, and that all murders affect us, all aggression, all the dispossessions that are committed daily. But it is also true that they do not intimidate us. They want to control us by fear, they want to paralyze us with anxiety, they want us to sink in our pain. They have produced the opposite. As it is said, they took away so much that they took away the fear. We are still standing. We are getting better at organising. We’re are interweaving to gather all our struggles together, to circulate among us so that we will be united when the time comes to reconquer all that is ours and to build, as you said, that world in which many worlds fit, a world that dawned with our Zapatista compañeros…

Your death and that of many other compañeros and compañeras does not discourage us. Quite the opposite. Our heart is made strong, it takes courage, it is reinforced in your example, in your life. Because ours is and has always been a struggle for life against the campaign of death waged by governments and capital.

We do not forget, compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán. We will never forget.

Gustavo Esteva

 

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April 27, 2016

Juan Vazquez Guzmán – Letter from Uruguay from Raul Zibechi

Filed under: Bachajon, Movement for Justice in el Barrio — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:00 am

 

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Juan Vazquez Guzmán – Letter from Uruguay from Raul Zibechi

 

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From Uruguay: Letter from the writer and social activist Raúl Zibechi

The family, friends and compañer@s of Juan Vasquez Guzman:

Receive a greeting from southern Latin America, full of solidarity and appreciation.

Receive also congratulations for continuing to honour the memory of compa Juan, three years after his death.

Keep on, despite all the difficulties, resisting and challenging the powerful from our collective dignity, it is the only way we have to keep being who we are: peoples who struggle and work for another world where the Juans do not have to give their life for something as basic as life with dignity,
Hugs

Raúl Zibechi

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From Peru: Message from the indigenous social activist Hugo Blanco for the commemoration of Juan Vazquez Guzmán

Filed under: Bachajon, Movement for Justice in el Barrio, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:51 am

 

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 From Peru: Message from the indigenous social activist Hugo Blanco for the commemoration of Juan Vazquez Guzmán

 

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I confirm, through Movement for Justice in El Barrio, my solidarity with the third annual commemoration of the death of compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán, killed on April 24, 2013.

The murder was committed by the Mexican authorities and large corporations who are seeking to seize the communal land for tourist megaprojects.

Juan Vázquez Guzmán is a symbol of the defence of the indigenous community, of the defence of life and nature against the large transnational corporations that rule the world, killing nature and humanity, with the only sacred goal they have: “to make as much money as possible in the shortest time possible.”

Long live the undaunted struggle of the ejido Bachajón in defence of nature and humanity!

 

Hugo Blanco

Peru

 

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April 25, 2016

From New York: Message from Movement for Justice in El Barrio in honor of Juan Vásquez Guzmán

Filed under: Bachajon, Displacement, Indigenous, Movement for Justice in el Barrio — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:28 pm

 

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From New York: Message from Movement for Justice in El Barrio in honor of Juan Vásquez Guzmán

 

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Dear compañeras and compañeros ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón:

We send loving hugs to you all from El Barrio, New York.

Across the borders which those from above impose on us, by means of this letter we want to share our humble word to the family and all the compas of our beloved brother, Juan Vásquez Guzmán in this commemoration that you have organized to celebrate the memory and life of our compa Juan.

After three years we still feel a lot of pain and rage at the savage murder of Juan Vásquez Guzmán which took place on April 24, 2013.

Juan Vásquez Guzmán was and remains an inspiration for the migrant people of El Barrio and every day here we keep his memory alive.

Your struggle is our struggle because the land belongs to those who work it and housing belongs to those who live in it.

You struggle against those who want to take away your lands, while on this side in the north, we struggle against those who want to take away our housing.

Today, three years after the death of compa Juan Vásquez Guzmán, we remember his great legacy of struggle in defence of your land and our people.

Juan Vásquez Guzmán is not dead because he still lives in our hearts.

Juan Vásquez Guzmán, a great fighter who for his love of community and the land belonging to them made it a priority in his daily life to defend the land of his birth, the same land that saw him fall.

Juan Vásquez Guzmán, a man who well knew that the Mother Earth has no price.

Juan Vásquez Guzmán who fought tirelessly until his death.

 

Dear brother Juan Vásquez Guzmán:

You are still a great example for us to follow here in New York.

You will never be alone.

Nor will your beloved compas in struggle from the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón be alone.

There are no barriers or frontiers that separate our support and feelings for you our compa Juan and your parents, siblings, children and compas in struggle.

 

Compañeros ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón:

We remain in struggle and together we will continue to build a better world where many worlds fit,

 

This week in Canada, we will have an event in commemoration of Juan Vásquez Guzmán where we will share the dignified struggle that you continue to carry out.

We also continue to demand the punishment of those responsible for the death of compa Juan so his death does not go unpunished.

 

We demand justice! Their murderers cannot go unpunished! No more impunity!

Land, freedom and justice for the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón!

Juan Vásquez Guzmán lives, the Bachajón struggle continues!

Juan Vásquez Guzmán, Presente!

 

With love and solidarity,

Movement for Justice in El Barrio

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Communiqué from San Sebastián Bachajón about Juan Vázquez Guzmán

 

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Communiqué from San Sebastián Bachajón about Juan Vázquez Guzmán

 

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FROM EJIDO SAN SEBASTIAN BACHAJÓN, ADHERENTS TO THE SIXTH DECLARATION OF THE LACANDON JUNGLE, CHIAPAS, MEXICO, 24 APRIL 2016.

To the Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee – General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

To the Good Government Juntas

To the Indigenous National Congress

To the compañer@s adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle in Mexico and the world

To the mass and alternative media

To the Network for Solidarity and against Repression

To Movement for Justice in El Barrio from New York

To national and international human rights defenders

To the people of Mexico and the world 

 

Jmololabex ants winikewtik, icháh spatil a wotanik ta pisilik ta ini ka´kal yuun yotik nokolonkotik ta spasel te snahojibal Juan Vázquez Guzmán ta Bachajón te laj ta milel yuun skoltabel slumal sok te lum k´inal.

Yaj jkabeyexcotik mukul hokolawalik yuun te laj ha jokinonkotik ta spasel in tsakayik yoxebal ahbil yuun te laj ta milel te jmololtik Juan Vázquez.

 

Compañeros and compañeras, today 24th April, 2016, the third annual commemoration of compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán is being held.

The family of Juan Vázquez Guzmán and the members of the Sexta Ejido San Sebastián Bachajón thank you for your presence and participation through written letters.

We express once again our gratitude to the organizations and social activists for their cooperation, hoping to have the opportunity of your participation again in future gatherings.

 

From New York: Movement for Justice in El Barrio, to the family and compañeros of Juan Vázquez Guzmán.

From England: letter from the Dorset Chiapas Solidarity Group. 3 years after his assassination Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives!  

From Peru: message from the indigenous social activist Hugo Blanco for the commemoration of Juan Vázquez Guzmán. 

From Uruguay: letter from the writer and social activist Raúl Zibechi to the family, friends and compañeros of Juan Vázquez Guzmán.  

From Oaxaca, Mexico: letter from the writer and social activist Gustavo Esteva for the commemoration of Juan Vázquez Guzmán.

 

Receive combative greetings from the family of Juan Vázquez Guzmán and the members of La Sexta Ejido San Sebastián Bachajón.

Land and Freedom

Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

 

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3 years after his assassination, Juan Vázquez Guzmán Lives!

Filed under: Bachajon, Displacement, Indigenous, Movement for Justice in el Barrio — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:10 am

 

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3 years after his assassination, Juan Vázquez Guzmán Lives!

 

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To the family of Juan Vázquez Guzmán

To the adherents to the Sixth Declaration from the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón

To members of the community

 

Compañeras and Compañeros

We send you our warmest greetings from our humble corner of the world.

We would like to send you a few words for the third annual commemoration of the beloved compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán, who was killed in front of his home on 24th April, 2013, by a group of assassins from the bad government.

Juan Vázquez Guzmán was an authority of the ejido, who fought with all his good heart to defend the lands and territory of San Sebastián Bachajón from the ferocious appetite of the bad government and the transnationals in Mexico and the world who want to dispossess the ejidatarios, take over their ancestral lands, plunder the mother earth, and transform the area of Bachajon in to a luxury tourist megaproject. These agencies ordered his murder because they knew he would never give up the struggle, but we all know that, in Juan’s memory and following the dignified example of love and commitment that he gave us, the struggle continues. It will never end.

It is now three years since Juan Vázquez Guzmán was cruelly assassinated, and the demand for justice continues. The crime still remains unpunished, there have been no investigations and no one has been arrested, but Juan is with us all in our hopes and dreams of a better world.

We honour his memory and remember his dignified struggle for his people and the land. Juan is a light of hope and dignity accompanying all our struggles, and we know that he continues to live in the hearts of all his compañeras and compañeros in the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón. Those who give their lives for the land do not die but live on in every act of freedom and resistance.

We send you an embrace of solidarity

 

Hasta siempre compañero.

Land and Freedom!

Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives! The Bachajón struggle continues!

 

Dorset Chiapas Solidarity Group

England

 

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March 5, 2016

Berta Cáceres: Mother of All Rivers

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:29 am

 

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Berta Cáceres: Mother of All Rivers

 

 

 

 

She is more alive in each one of us today than ever before.12802758_1046302382078120_2588558927803218610_n

 

 

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We don’t have a backup planet, we only have this one

 

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March 4, 2016

Statement and call to action in response to the assassination of Berta Cáceres

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:48 pm

 

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  Statement and call to action in response to the assassination of Berta Cáceres

 

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Honduran indigenous and environmental organizer Berta Cáceres has been assassinated on 3 March 2016 in her home. She was one of the leading organizers for indigenous land rights in Honduras. In 1993 she co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). For years the group faced a series of threats and repression.
In 2015 Berta Cáceres won the Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s leading environmental award. In awarding the prize, the Goldman Prize committee said, “In a country with growing socioeconomic inequality and human rights violations, Berta Cáceres rallied the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam.”
Press statement by COPINH (National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras)

It is with the most profound and sincere pain that we share information of the vile assassination of our comrade, mother, guide, sister, leader, and friend, Berta Cáceres, founder of COPINH.

Our dear Berta was assassinated by bullets of injustice; she was assassinated by the hate and racism that govern our country.

Today we mourn her death, as well as the deaths of the other comrades who have died in defines of the Gualcarque River and the territory of the Lenca people.  Berta lived the life of a fighter, a warrior without fear who confronted the most perverse powers of the exploitative and inhumane capitalist system—this system that understands neither motives nor struggles, neither life itself nor respect for the existence of we the people who wish to live in peace and tranquillity, with dignity and full humanity.

Berta Cáceres was recently awarded the Goldman prize for her defence of the environment in Honduras.  It is this defence that today they are trying to silence with Berta’s death.

COPINH has confronted assassinations, death threats, criminalization, persecution, stigmatization, and discrimination since its founding.  Although such threats against Berta and other members of the organization have always been denounced nationally and internationally, Honduran institutions have done everything possible to impede justice and deny the very existence of COPINH.  Despite the cautionary security measures assigned to Berta by the Inter-american Court of Human Rights, her assassination was not prevented.

We reject any form of exculpation by the Honduran government, its institutions, and its oppressive authorities; in fact, we directly blame them for the cruel assassination of our leader.

We know very well who murdered her.  We know it was DESA and the Hydroelectric project Agua Zarca, financed by the Dutch Development Bank (FMO), the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd. FINNFUND, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE), the German corporations Siemens and VoithHydro, the company CASTOR (Castillo Torres) Constructora Cerros de Comayagua, the Honduran bank FICOHSA, the corporate group of the Atala family, the government of the United States through the USAID program and the project “Mercado,” as well as SERNA, in complicity with the National Government of Honduras.  These are the authorities behind the physical disappearance of Berta.  Their hands are stained with indigenous blood and with the blood of the Lenca people.

From COPINH we call for national and international actions that contribute to stopping such acts of political aggression and the systematic violation of the rights of the Lenca people.  We call for actions that denounce the strategies used by corporations to control and privatize the commons and nature itself.  We summon the Honduran people to gather around this tragedy, to fight for our rights, and to express that we will no longer tolerate such events.

We reaffirm our struggle for the Gualcarque River!
We reaffirm our commitment to life!
We demand justice!
We demand an end to impunity!
We demand an end to the persecution of those who defend indigenous and human rights!
We demand the changes that are necessary in our country!
We demand life!

They tried to finish with Berta’s life, but she is more alive in each one of us today than ever before.

With the ancestral force of Iselaca, Lempira, Mota, and Etempica, we raise our voices full of life,
justice, dignity, liberty, and peace!

 

http://educaoaxaca.org/english/1885-statement-and-call-to-action-in-response-to-the-assassination-of-bertha-c%C3%A1ceres.html

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Berta Cáceres, Honduran human rights and environment activist, murdered

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:34 pm

 

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Berta Cáceres, Honduran human rights and environment activist, murdered

Cáceres, who was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for her opposition to one of Central America’s biggest hydropower projects, was shot at home

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Berta Cáceres was realistic about the risks she faced, but said she felt obliged to fight on and urged others to do so. Photograph: The Guardian

 

Jonathan Watts Latin America correspondent

 

Berta Cáceres, the Honduran indigenous and environmental rights campaigner, has been murdered, barely a week after she was threatened for opposing a hydroelectric project.

Her death prompted international outrage at the murderous treatment of campaigners in Honduras, as well as a flood of tributes to a prominent and courageous defender of the natural world.

The co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (Copinh) was shot dead by gunmen who entered her home in La Esperanza at around 1am on Thursday. Some reports say there were two killers; others suggest 11. They escaped without being identified, after also wounding her brother.

Police told local media the killings occurred during an attempted robbery, but the family said they had no doubt it was an assassination prompted by Cáceres’s high-profile campaigns against dams, illegal loggers and plantation owners.

“I have no doubt that she has been killed because of her struggle and that soldiers and people from the dam are responsible, I am sure of that. I hold the government responsible,” her 84-year-old mother said on radio Globo at 6.

Karen Spring, a friend of Cáceres’, said it was unclear how many assailants had participated in the attack, but that Cáceres was hit by at least four bullets.

Members of Copinh escorted the body as it left the house on the way to the morgue in the provincial capital. About a hundred of them also marched from the public prosecutor’s office to the police station, where they demanded an independent international investigation. Others headed to La Esperanza to take part in the wake.

“People here are still in shock that Berta is dead,” Spring told the Guardian. “But they are very clear that they will continue their struggle to honour Berta.”

Last year, Cáceres – who is a member of the Lenca indigenous group, the largest in Honduras – was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for her opposition to one of Central America’s biggest hydropower projects, the Agua Zarca cascade of four giant dams in the Gualcarque river basin.

The campaign has held up the project, which is being built by local firm DESA with the backing of international engineering and finance companies, and prompted the withdrawal of China’s Sinohydro and the World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation.

Cáceres had called for other foreign partners, including the Dutch Development Bank, the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation and German companies Siemens and Voith, to pull out.

She has also won plaudits from international NGOs for standing up to powerful landowners, a US-funded police force, and a mercenary army of private security guards in the most murderous country in the world for environmental campaigners.

In an interview with the Guardian at the time of her award, Cáceres was realistic about the risks she faced, but said she felt obliged to fight on and urged others to do so.

“We must undertake the struggle in all parts of the world, wherever we may be, because we have no other spare or replacement planet. We have only this one, and we have to take action,” she said.

The dangers appear to have increased in recent weeks. After a Copinh march in Río Blanco on 20 February, she and other participants were confronted by the army, police, local mayor and employees of the dam company. Several were detained and some threatened, the council said in a statement.

It was not the first time. Cáceres previously said she had received warnings that she would be raped or murdered if she continued her campaigns. There have also been past reports that hitmen were hired to assassinate her.

Honduras is a perilous place for activism. Cáceres’s fellow Copinh leader Tomás García was shot dead by a military officer in a protest in 2013. Several others have been killed this year, according to the council. Cáceres had recently moved home because she felt the new house in La Esperanza would be safer.

Between 2010 and 2014, 101 campaigners were killed in Honduras, a higher death toll relative to population than anywhere else, according to the study How Many More? by NGO Global Witness. It said a disproportionately high number of them were from indigenous communities who resisted development projects or the encroachment of farms on their territory.

The United Nations special rapporteur for indigenous rights, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who met Cáceres last November, said she was “saddened and horrified” by the news.

“This shows the high level of impunity in Honduras. Beyond the high homicide levels in society, there is a clear tendency for indigenous campaigners and human rights activists to be killed,” said Tauli-Corpuz, whose report on the country will come out in a few months.

She noted the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights had raised concerns about Cáceres’s safety with the Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernández, last year and formally called on the government to apply “precautionary measures”.

“This meant the government had to protect her,” Tauli-Corpuz said. “Yet she was assassinated just like that. If someone like her suffers in this way, then what chance is there for others who campaign for the environment and human rights?”

Jorge Alcerro, chief of staff for the Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernández, said that security forces would “use all means to find the killers”, but he did not explain why she had no police protection at the time of her murder.

Billy Kyte, a campaigner at Global Witness, paid tribute to Cáceres for her “incredible courage” and said the government – which is behind many of the controversial projects – must reverse the alarmingly murderous trend in Honduras.

“The shocking news of Berta’s killing is a dramatic wake-up call for the Honduran state. Indigenous people are being killed in alarming numbers just for defending their rights. The Honduran state must act immediately to hold the killers to account and protect Berta’s family and colleagues,” he said.

David Gordon, executive director of the Goldman Prize, echoed these comments: “Berta’s bravery in the face of overwhelming repression will be a rallying call for environmental activism in Honduras,” he said in a statement.

Naomi Klein, the Canadian author and environmental campaigner, tweeted: “Devastating news. Berta was a critical leader and fierce land defender. Part of a global wave of such attacks.”

 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/03/honduras-berta-caceres-murder-enivronment-activist-human-rights

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