Fighting and Dying For Justice in Honduras
Just two short weeks after the death of Berta Cacerés, another member of her organization was gunned down and brutally murdered. Nelson Garcia, father of five, was on his way home for lunch when two unidentified assailants shot him in the face, four times.
Local reports indicate that his murder occurred shortly after the Honduran government sent in bulldozers and heavily armed police to evict 150 Indigenous people from their homes, homes built on ancestral land. Garcia was meeting with these families just before his assassination.
Cacerés and Garcia were members of the Indigenous rights group, Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). The group was founded by Berta Cacerés in 1993 to fight for and protect the rights of her people, the Lenca, their ancestral lands and natural resources. Over the years COPINH succeeded in stopping 50 logging projects and 10 hydroelectric dams, securing 100 communal land titles and 2 Indigenous municipalities. And so much more.
COPINH’s latest struggle and the one for which Cacerés and Garcia lost their lives, was the fight to prevent the construction of the Agua Zarca megadam. The dam is to be constructed over the Gualcarque River, a vital source of water for the Lenca people. The Lenca began peacefully protesting the construction when plans were revealed in 2011. When their appeals fell on deaf ears they began demonstrating. By 2013, police were arresting the protesters en masse. Cacerés was forced into hiding due to the numerous threats against her life and her family members. These threats are well documented. And still even with the world watching and listening, she died.
Despite the international outcry condemning Berta Cacerés’ assassination, Nelson Garcia became the fourteenth member of COPINH to be murdered since its inception and one of more than 100 human rights and environmental activists to be murdered in Honduras between 2010 and 2014.
How many more will meet a similar end? We need to scream “Enough!!” until we are hoarse.