Honduras Activists Berta Cáceres and Nelson Garcia Assassinated – Criticized Hillary Clinton for Backing Honduran Coup
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is facing a new round of questions about her handling of the 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. Since the coup, Honduras has become one of the most violent places in the world. This month, indigenous environmental activist Berta Cáceres was assassinated in her home allegedly for her environmental and human rights work opposing the Agua Zarca Dam. In an interview two years ago, Cáceres singled out Clinton for her role supporting the coup. “We’re coming out of a coup that we can’t put behind us. We can’t reverse it,” Cáceres said. “It just kept going. And after, there was the issue of the elections. The same Hillary Clinton, in her book, ‘Hard Choices,’ practically said what was going to happen in Honduras. This demonstrates the meddling of North Americans in our country. The return of the president, Mel Zelaya, became a secondary issue. There were going to be elections in Honduras. And here she [Clinton] recognized that they didn’t permit Mel Zelaya’s return to the presidency.” We play this rarely seen clip of Cáceres and speak to historian Greg Grandin. Democracy Now
Murder of activist Berta Cáceres sparks violent clashes in Honduras
The murder of environmental and indigenous rights activist Berta Cáceres has sparked violent clashes in Honduras despite promises by President Juan Orlando Hernández to swiftly find and punish the killers.
Rock-throwing students clashed with riot police firing tear gas in the University of Honduras on Thursday night amid anger over the authorities’ failure to protect a high-profile campaigner who had repeatedly received threats on her life.
International NGOs called for foreign investors and engineering companies to withdraw from the Agua Zarca hydropower project that Cáceres had been opposing at the time of her death.
The US government also came under fire for supporting a government that came to power in a coup and has since pushed forward with the controversial cascade of dams and failed to prevent Honduras from becoming the most murderous country in the world for environmental campaigners.
The dangers faced by Cáceres were well known. Last year, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) raised concerns about Cáceres’s safety with the Honduran president Hernández, and formally called on the government to apply “precautionary measures”. There were reiterated in November by the United Nations special rapporteur for indigenous rights, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.
But the authorities failed to protect the country’s most famous campaigner, who was last year awarded the Goldman Environment Prize.
In her acceptance speech, Cáceres appeared to foreshadow her own death, when she noted that “giving our lives in various ways for the protection of rivers is giving our lives for the well-being of humanity and of this planet”.
Environmental activists are more likely to be killed in Honduras than any other country, according to a study by the NGO Global Witness. More than 80% of murders go unpunished.
Honduras murders prompt dam funds freeze
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Two leading international backers of a controversial hydroelectric project in Honduras have frozen their $20m investment after the second murder in less than two weeks of a member of indigenous group fighting the dam.
The freezing of financing suggests a worsening climate for foreign investors in Honduras, which is already plagued by high crime rates, a weak judicial system and rampant corruption.
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FMO, the Dutch development bank, said it had put all its activities in Honduras on hold and was reassessing its involvement in the Agua Zarca dam after Nelson García, a member of the Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras, was shot dead on Tuesday. His death followed that of COPINH co-founder Berta Cáceres, who was shot in her home on March 3 by an unknown assailant.
The murder of Ms Cáceres, one of Honduras’s most prominent human rights activists, sparked international outrage. Eliot Engel, a member of the House committee on foreign affairs in the US, said US assistance to Honduras was “not a blank cheque” and should be focused on strengthening justice and fighting impunity. The US gave Honduras about $50m in security aid between 2010 and 2014.
Honduras is the most dangerous country in the world for activists working to defend indigenous people’s right to land, according to Global Witness, with at least 109 people killed in the past five years.
FMO, which is 51 per cent owned by the Dutch state, has a $15m commitment to the Agua Zarca project in western Honduras. Finnfund, the state-controlled Finnish Fund for Industrial Co-operation, was investing up to $5m in the project, through FMO.
“Given the current situation, with ongoing violence, FMO decided to suspend all activities in Honduras, effective immediately,” the Dutch bank said. “This means that we will not engage in new projects or commitments and that no disbursements will be made, including the Agua Zarca project.”