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Activists interrupt meeting of US ambassadors at the Council of the Americas in solidarity with Berta Cáceres

(Translation from original in Spanish: Kathryn Johnson)
  • Meanwhile, another leader of COPINH was murdered yesterday in Honduras: Nelson Garcia
  • Presenters at the Council of the Americas included the ambassadors to various countries in Central America, including Honduras
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Activist José Espada displays a banner in support of Berta Cáceres in a meeting of ambassadors in the Council of the Americas.

 

Various activist from the Latin American and Caribbean Action Network (LACAN) interrupted a meeting of the Council of the Americas, an organization that represents private businesses on the continent, with messages critical of the roll of the United States in the climate of insecurity for community leaders in Honduras.

The meeting, held in the heart of Washington, DC, brought together US Ambassadors Carlos Moreno (Belize), Fitzgerald Haney (Costa Rica), Todd Robinson (Guatemala), Laura Dogu (Nicaragua), John Feeley (Panama) and James Nealon in Honduras.

The activists displayed banners and decried the recent murder of prominent indigenous and environmental leader, Berta Cáceres, which remains in impunity in Honduras, in the context of the support that the US provides for security in the country, funds which have had nearly no impact in the most violent country in the Americas.

The protesters called the fact that the US finances security forces that may be involved in violations of human rights as “shameful.” This was also expressed by the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to which Berta Cáceres belonged, who also complained of threats against their leader for the past several months from various paramilitary and state groups which operated in support of private enterprises.

On this theme, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) recently criticized the fact that the company DESA, which is building the hydroelectric dam in the Rio Blanco (which Berta Cáceres and the Lenca community opposed) has benefited from funds through the MERCADO project of USAID. In addition, the special militarized police unit the TIGRES (Investigation Troop and Special Response Security Group) have allegedly carried out security tasks in support of DESA, according to AFSC.

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Activist Peter Bolton during the protest in the meeting of ambassadors from the US to Central America in the Council of the Americas.

The governments of the US and Honduras, by commission or omission, were responsible for the death of Berta Cáceres. There must be an investigation of the murder that includes the Inter American Commission for Human Rights and military support to Honduras must be eliminated,” declared the protesters in the Council of the Americas.

Furthermore, this week another indigenous rights leader was assassinated. Nelson Garcia was shot down in front of his house. In response to this wave of murders, more than 250 organizations sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry demanding that the US end assistance to security forces in Honduras.

Private paramilitary groups, many times with the complicity of policy or military forces in Honduras and narco-traffickers have been involved in assault, other forms of violence and the assassination of community leaders in various areas including the Aguán Valley in a country wracked by violent organized crime, poverty, kidnappings and extortion carried out by gangs and cartels. This is despite the fact that the country contains the largest US military base in Central America, Palmerola, which receives constant injections of funds for security. 

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