|The US trained two of those indicted for the murder of Berta Caceres|
One year ago we awoke to the devastating news that
Berta Cáceres, the renowned Indigenous and social movement leader of Honduras,
had been assassinated. This week The Guardian reported that two of those
charged with Berta's murder were trained by the United States in Ft.
Benning, Georgia, home of the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC).
One of them, Army Major Mariano Diaz, was the chief of army intelligence a the
time of Berta's murder. He had been a direct commander of a third suspect,
Henry Javier Hernandez, a former special forces sniper who has admitted to
being at Berta's home when she was murdered. A source quoted in the
Guardian article explains, "The murder of Berta Cáceres has all of the
characteristics of a well-planned operation designed by military
intelligence." US-trained military intelligence.
We must continue to fight for justice for Berta and the people of Honduras in our own communities, in the streets, and in the halls of power. Yesterday, the one-year anniversary of Berta's murder, Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) and 24 other Congresspeople re-introduced the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act in the 2017 Congress (HR 1299). Please take action by asking your Representative to co-sponsor this important piece of legislation, which would suspend US military/security aid to Honduras due to their obvious ties to human rights violations.
Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your representative's office. Once you are through, ask to speak with or leave a message with your representative's Latin America policy aide. Here's a sample message you can share with them:
"My name is _____. I am a constituent from (your city and state). I am calling to ask Rep. _____ to co-sponsor HR 1299, The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, calling for a suspension of U.S. security aid to Honduras until human rights violations committed by the Honduran security forces cease. The Honduran security forces have been implicated in repression against activists, and even though a US trained military intelligence official has been charged in Berta's murder, those who ordered Berta's murder remain free, and environmental and Indigenous leaders continue to be threatened, attacked, and criminalized. Can I count on Rep _____ to sign on? Please call me this week at (your phone number) to let me know if Rep. _____ will sign."
While Army Major Mariano Diaz and 7 others, including an executive of the hydroelectric dam company that Berta opposed, have been charged with her murder, there have been numerous irregularities in the investigation that suggest those who ordered Berta's murder will be protected. None of those who gave the order to murder Berta have been charged and the repression against activists continues.
The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act is ever more important given these new, but unsurprising connections between US aid and human rights violations in Honduras. On February 1, 2017, the US and Honduras signed an agreement for the disbursement of the first $125 million dollars of the "Alliance for Prosperity" (or "Biden Plan"), a massive funding package originally touted as a 'Plan Colombia' for Central America. While Indigenous leaders, journalists, lawyers, members of the LGBTQ community, environmental defenders, and community leaders continue to be murdered, threatened, followed, attacked, and criminalized, the US government has only increased its support of the repressive Honduran regime. It is past time that the US stop training and financing the Honduran security forces. Please call/pressure your representative now to co-sponsor HR 1299, the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act.
Berta was an exceptional, visionary leader whose message and struggle is needed today more than ever. Her life and legacy call us all to act against US imperialism, militarization, patriarchy, and corporate pillaging of the environment and communal goods. As Berta called out during her Goldman Prize acceptance speech, "Wake up humanity, there is no more time.... The Gualcarque River has called us, as have the others that are seriously threatened. We must answer. The militarized, fenced in, and poisoned Mother Earth, where elemental rights are systematically violated, demands we act. Let us construct societies capable of co-existing in a just and dignified way."
Please take action in honor of this incredible leader today!
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