Author: Andrea Fernández Aponte
Yesterday marked exactly one year since beloved environmental and indigenous rights activist Berta Cáceres was murdered in her home in La Esperanza, Honduras. To this day, the intellectual authors of her killing have not been brought to justice. Unfortunately, this has become the norm in Honduras.
More than 120 human and land rights defenders have been killed in Honduras since 2009, and countless others that have been threatened or attacked. Rural communities that stand up for their land rights and the environment experience shocking levels of violence—while perpetrators go free.
Today, we mourn the loss of Berta and all the other brave community leaders in Honduras who have lost their lives defending the environment and the rights of their peoples.
On the anniversary of Berta’s death, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA-4) reintroduced the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act (the new bill number is H.R.1299; previously H.R.5474) in honor of the renowned activist’s life and work. This bill prohibits funds from being made available to Honduras for its police and military until the country’s government prosecutes those members responsible for human rights violations, and protects the rights of human rights defenders.
In addition, members of the House started circulating a Dear Colleague letter addressed to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week. The letter urges Secretary Tillerson to enforce human rights conditions on Honduras vigorously (withholding aid where needed), to work with the Department of the Treasury to oppose investments in Honduran industries implicated in human rights violations, and to hold the Honduran government accountable for attacks against human rights defenders and environmental activists.
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