Wednesday 22 September 2021

Costa Ricans Standing up for Berta Cáceres

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QCOSTARICA – On June 15th Costa Ricans will join a universal movement by demonstrating in front of the Honduran embassy in La Sabana to call for justice for Berta Cáceres.

Poster-berta-caceresCáceres, 44, was assassinated March 3 in the early hours of the morning while she slept in her house in La Esperanza, for her opposition to the hydroelectric project being built on the land of the Indigenous Lenca people.

Cáceres was a social activist for the environment, Indigenous rights and for peace.

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She was shot by four men who entered her house in the early morning hours. Her companion Gustavo Castro who shared her environmental and human rights work, managed to escape and was able to flee the country. He reported that Berta had been threatened for several months because of her leadership in opposing DESA, the company building the dam. The four men arrested for the crime had connections with DESA.

The call for justice for Berta has reached around the world. Honduras has been cited by the United Nations and international organizations for its violence. In the five years preceding 2015, one hundred and nine activists have been killed.

Berta Cáceres is not the only person who has been punished for speaking out. In Costa Rica, Jairo Mora, a young environmentalist was tortured and killed while trying to protect turtle nests on the Carribbean coast. Indigenous farmers in Salitre were beaten and their homes burned for trying to reclaim their own land.

In Mexico 43 college students disappeared when they took over buses to attend a memorial demonstration . There is still no sign of them or of what happened to them. Reporters are kidnapped and killed while on the job of exposing crime and injustice to the world. Erick Snowden is hiding out in Russia after telling the world about government spy programs. Wikileaks Julian Assange is captive in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, unable to leave the building after he revealed secrets of torture and high crimes by governments. Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head for advocating education for girls.

We become afraid to speak out, to stand up, blow the whistle, call attention to injustice, to come out and say the emperor has no clothes. It always takes courage to point out the wrongs, the errors, the lies of others, especially when challenging the more powerful elements, government or business. People who speak out, who demonstrate, write letters are investigated, filmed, harassed, and sometimes, like Berta Cáceres, lose their lives.

With each assassination, each kidnapping, torture or disappearance, we become more intimidated. We need whistleblowers. We need honesty. We need transparency. We need to expose corruption and injustice. We need those who stand up and speak out.

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The demonstration at the Honduran embassy is not just for Berta Cáceres. It is for all of those, and us, who show up to challenge the wrongs of the world.

Article by Olive Branch, collective name for the Heredia group of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Costa Rica section.   You can reach Olive Branch at peacewomen@gmail.com

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