Activists Demand Justice for Berta Cáceres, End to U.S.-Funded Violence in Honduras

By Sameer Rao Jul 25, 2016

We reported last week about the It Takes Roots to Change the System People’s Caravan, a multiracial traveling group of activists and advocacy organization representatives traveling between the Republican and Democratic parties’ national conventions to protest the structural violence and discrimination pervading this election season. The caravan arrived in Philadelphia this weekend for actions around a mix of issues, including one today (July 25) demanding an end to the United States’ aid of Honduras’ military regime.

Dozens of activists gathered near Philadelphia City Hall this afternoon and chanted, "Berta didn’t die, she multiplied!" referring to Berta Cáceres, the Honduran indigeneous rights and environmental justice activist killed by armed intruders in March. A giant puppet of Cáceres loomed over those in attendance.

Cáceres previously criticized the Democratic party’s presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton for allegedly helping to legitimize the 2009 Hondouran military coup. The coalition, which also led an action yesterday (July 24) in support of environmental justice and indigenous land rights, featured Berta’s daughter Laura Cáceres and demanded Clinton take responsibility for her role in the coup.

"We know both the Republican and Democratic candidates are actually not for our people or needs of our communities," said Kitzia Esteva, an activist with the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, which organized the caravan. "We’re also denouncing [Clinton’s] intervention in all of this. We’re calling on her to stop creating these policies that are both breaking indigenous communities’ ability to [maintain their] land and also [forcing] migration of many of us here in the U.S."

Although the caravan will end its journey in Philadelphia, its aims point toward community empowerment well beyond election season.

"That’s why we’re calling our caravan ‘It Takes Roots to Change the System,’ because it’s people at the bottom that will actually make that change," Esteva said. "Our ability to survive on this planet [depends on] us listening to the marginalized." 

Esteva added that the coalition’s partner organizations support the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, which would halt U.S. aid to Honduras’ military police. 

(H/t The Nation)