Last Thursday, indigenous activist and 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize winner Berta Cáceres was assassinated in her home in La Esperanza, Honduras. Cáceres was co-founder of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), and an inspiring community leader to the region’s Lenca people. She led campaigns on a variety of environmental, indigenous, and women’s issues, including a decade-long fight against a proposal to dam the Gualcarque River, an important water resource considered sacred by the Lenca People.
The Honduran police initially reported the case as an attempted burglary, but the victim’s friends and peers are certain the murder was linked to Cáceres’ work as an activist. The tragedy occurred less than a week after she received death threats in relation to her efforts against the Gualcarque River damming project. The handling of the case has been emblematic of an escalating situation in the country with the most killings of environmental defenders in the world. The murder, and the long preceding history of impunity towards crime against activists in Honduras, has led to protests throughout the country and solidarity from around the world. Activists are calling for a thorough investigation of this murder and that those responsible are held accountable.
While Overbrook did not work directly with Ms. Cáceres, we are committed to supporting human rights defenders at risk due to their advocacy and we honor her leadership and activism. Many of our grantees were partners in her efforts to defend human and environmental rights, and the loss is felt deeply throughout the community. To learn more about Berta’s work and developments on her case, please see coverage by Overbrook grantees, or visit the website of her organization.