This is unbelievably tragic news, from The Guardian:
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.
I met Cáceres briefly, last November, when she visited Seattle for a screening of the film Resistencia at the Grand Illusion Cinema in the U-District. The tiny theater was packed with locals, including a several members of the Honduran diaspora.
The documentary, by filmmaker Jesse Freeston, profiles Cáceres and other activists in Hondruas as they mount a massive protest campaign following the 2009 coup d'etat against leftist president Manuel Zelaya, amid the constant threat of kidnappings and killings by police and gangs. Zelaya had campaigned on raising the minimum wage and redistributing land.
After the screening, Cáceres talked briefly in Spanish, through a translator, about the situation in Honduras. She was soft-spoken—not bombastic like some charismatic activists. The takeaway from her comments was that despite so many setbacks—and deaths of many of her comrades—there was simply much more work to do, at the grassroots level, to create a safe and equitable Honduras.
Her family holds the Honduran government responsible for her killing.
When I wrote about Hillary Clinton a few days ago, I made reference to her support for the 2009 coup d'etat in Honduras. Some Slog commenters dismissed me for even raising the issue: Most American voters don't care about the country, they said, much less know where it is. It doesn't matter.
But the Honduran coup was a pivotal moment in Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State—one she wrote about in her book. She had great influence. The choice was clear: She could stand with an ascendant progressive movement in Honduras to wrest control of the country from its elite, or she could stand with the oligarchy and military as they re-asserted their authority. Clinton made her decision:
Since that military takeover, nearly all sectors of Honduran society—union organizers, farmers and teachers, women and young people, gays, journalists, political activists, anyone who resisted the coup—have faced systematic repression. Honduras has become one the most violent countries in the world not formally engaged in a civil war, and it’s now a leading source of forced migration to the U.S.
President Obama initially criticized Zelaya’s ouster and forced exile as a threat to democracy throughout the region. But the Obama administration, led by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, refused to formally recognize that a military coup had taken place and never cut U.S. military aid to Honduras. Clinton’s State Department even lobbied the Organization of American States, which strongly condemned the coup, to readmit Honduras after its suspension from the OAS. In November 2009, the Administration recognized the election of Porfirio Lobo, even though most opposition parties and major international observers boycotted the election. Since the coup, the U.S. has built two new military bases in Honduras and increased its support and funding for the Honduran military and police.
Freeston, the Resistencia filmmaker, wrote on Facebook this morning: "Anger, sadness, powerlessness, rage... I'm feeling it and I'm seeing it in the responses from those who spoke, worked, laughed and marched with Berta Cáceres Flores. One of Honduras' most visible, most consistent and most loved."