Remembering Berta Cáceres: Influential Leader and Activist

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Orlando Sierra/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images

The country of Honduras suffered a great loss today, whe Berta Cáceres, leader and activist for the Lenca people, was shot dead in her home early this morning.

Authorities say she was killed during a robbery but fellow activist Bertha Oliva says she was murdered by the Honduran Government. Throughout her lifetime, Berta received numerous death threats and subject to political persecution due to her activism.

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Life and Legacy

Cáceres was a leader among the Lenca people; In 1993 she co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and spoke out about the treats facing the Lenca communities due to  illegal logging. She was often seen as the face of the indigenous people, and soon became the most influential indigenous activist of Honduras.

Growing up, Berta was raised by her mother, a social activist who took in refugees from El Salvador during the 1980's and taught her daughter to stand up for disenfranchised people.

In 2009, Berta strongly opposed the Honduran Coup d'état backed by Hillary Clinton who at the time, served as Secretary of State. During this time the Honduran Government was trying to exile Manuel Zelaya, who had been serving as president Honduras. It was at this time, that many influential activists were being killed off, one by one.

In 2013, Cáceres vehemently opposed the construction of a hydroelectric dam (Agua Zarca Dam) that would displace many indigenous communities residing near the Gualcarque river, and was detained by authorities. While incarcerated, Cáceres declared that she had been persecuted by the government and was subsequently liberated following the massive support she received by the people. It was her opposition to the Agua Zarca dam that awarded her the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015.

She fought for the environment, her people, and her community. Berta was the voice of the disenfranchised- a key leader in the struggle to end racism and exploitative ventures that threatened the livelihood of the indigenous peoples of Honduras.

 

May she rest in power. 

 

 

 

 

   

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