Today, Friends of the Earth Europe hosted a Q&A with Laura Cáceres, an environmental activist of the Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (COPINH). She is the daughter of Berta Cáceres, co-founder of COPINH and defender of the indigenous Lenca people, who was assassinated 2016 in a crime for which no-one has yet been brought to justice. The event was part of Friends of the Earth Europe's School of Sustainability project.
Berta was shot dead in her home by gunmen on 2 March, 2016. Over the years she had received multiple death threats because of her work defending Lenca land in Honduras against the Agua Zarca dam project in Río Blanco.
Laura is currently touring Europe, raising awareness of the work of COPINH and requesting solidarity for its struggle in Honduras. Answering questions from 20 FoEE and Young staff and volunteers, she warned of the growing militarisation and attacks against activists in Honduras. She updated us on the impeded investigation into the murder of her mother and speculated about the involvement of governments and international banks in the case.
Asked how we as the Friends of the Earth Europe network can support COPINH, Laura responded: "There was a time of a lot of pressure coming from combined supporting groups. Two global days happened, 20 countries mobilized, 80 cities. Now the news has passed, the attention dissipated. One support we need is to try to keep the topic current. It is useful to send letters from Europe to Honduras, frequently. National governments putting pressure on Honduras' government is very useful. The mayor of Zaragoza came to our Lenca community in Rio Blanco which created pressure and attention. Every support is welcome."
Laura also commented on the responsibility of international media that can leverage national media and raise public awareness of threats and attacks against environmental activists all over the world. Along these lines, the Guardian in collaboration with Global Witness recently launched the "Defenders" campaign which is recounting the deaths of environmental defenders worldwide as well as reporting on activists under attack. According to recent statistics, chances are that four defenders are killed this week, in Honduras or elsewhere on the planet.
Correspondingly, Laura Cáceres concluded the interview with determination and an eye on the big picture "We will continue to fight for water, for life. Continue the struggle although it's hard, keep going because it's not only a fight for Honduras but for the planet."
Friends of the Earth Europe continues to fight for transparency and justice and demand that the perpetrators of human rights infringements and environmental crimes are held accountable
Berta vive, la lucha sigue!