On March 3, Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores – Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader of the Lenca people – was killed in her home. Berta’s death sparked immediate and wide reaction among many IHRFG members. She was more than a grantee; she was an inspiration and friend.
As leader of the movement working to block the construction of Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam, Berta had endured years of violence and threats on her life. She was co-founder and coordinator of Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH, Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras). Her courage and commitment were internationally acclaimed and recognized in 2014 with the Oscar Romero Award and in 2015 with the Goldman Environmental Prize.
IHRFG has collected excerpts from a few statements giving tribute to Berta:
“We mourn the loss of an inspirational leader, and will honor her life’s work by continuing to highlight the courageous work of Goldman Prize winners like Berta. She built an incredible community of grassroots activists in Honduras, who will carry on the campaign she fought and died for.” – John Goldman, President, Goldman Environmental Foundation
“We demand truth and justice! We urge the Honduran State to clarify the facts of the assassination of Berta and provide the necessary guarantees of protection to her family and human rights defenders of the organizations she was part of. We honor her spirit and strength. We honor her love for Mother Earth.” – Public Statement, Initiative on Women, Land and Territory and Urgent Action Fund-Latin America and the Caribbean
“All of us at Grassroots International celebrate the courage and life of Berta Cáceres. We had the privilege and honor of knowing her, and were deeply touched not only by her dedication to the struggle for her people and for Mother Earth, but also by her amazing heart – she gave and shared love generously and took time to care for the people around her…. With heavy hearts, we join with the Lenca people of Honduras – and those who believe in justice worldwide – to say, Berta Cáceres, Presente! – Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director, Grassroots International
“I am deeply saddened by the death of my friend and courageous leader Berta Cáceres…. Her assassination is another horrific example of the violence against environmental activists and the criminalization of people, particularly women and indigenous peoples, around the world who are fighting to protect human and environmental rights.” – Terry Odendahl, CEO, Global Greengrants Fund
“We honor her memory and sacrifice by continuing to stand beside the courageous leaders who are risking their lives to protect the rights and resources of indigenous people the world over.” – David Kaimowitz, Director, Natural Resources and Climate Change, Ford Foundation
“Fear or no fear, people here in Honduras are saying that the struggle continues…that
we must continue defending human rights. Berta lives in all of us!” – Vera Radyo, Kenoli Foundation
“We now must leverage this wide international attention to put pressure on the Honduran government to immediately and fully investigate the circumstances surrounding Berta’s death, to bring those responsible to justice, and to protect the safety and well-being of human rights defenders.” – David Mattingly, Vice President for Programs, Fund for Global Human Rights
On Thursday, March 17, women from COPINH and the Honduran Women Human Rights Defenders Network, and from around the world, gathered in New York during the UN Commission on the Status of Women at the Honduran Mission to the United Nations.
On Tuesday, March 22, Global Greengrants Fund and Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights – Latin America hosted a live online conversation about how women are courageously leading environmental action, and how funders can support and help protect them. See a recording here.
We encourage you to continue sharing your thoughts and calls to action via the online communities of IHRFG’s funder working groups on Latin America, Human Rights Defenders, and the Disabling Environment for Cross-Border Philanthropy. Please contact Sarah Tansey to join one of these communities.