Oxfam vehemently condemns the brutal assassination of the Honduran Indigenous and environmental leader, Berta Cáceres, in her home. We deeply lament the loss of such an inspiring woman, mother, wife, activist and human rights defender. We urge the authorities to act swiftly and bring to justice those responsible for her murder.
As a member of the Lenca Indigenous group, Berta co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to fight for their rights. She led the peaceful opposition to the building of a dam that would have destroyed local communities’ farmland and limited their access to drinking water. For her actions, she was awarded the Goldman Prize last year, the highest recognition for environmental activism.
Standing up against powerful interests is a dangerous proposition. Berta and other Indigenous leaders have had their lives repeatedly threatened, but courageously kept up, and keep up their work. Honduran authorities have continuously been pressured by international agencies and governments to guarantee the safety of human rights activists, but today we see the price of their failure to act.
Oxfam calls on all involved with the Agua Zarca dam, including its current investors, the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) and Finnfund, to do everything in their power to stop the violence and intimidation against activists.
Berta is not the first to die fighting for her community’s right to their lands, but she can be the last. Oxfam is just one of hundreds of organizations demanding governments around the world act now to secure these rights. Today we have seen that lives are truly at stake.