TBT Mighty Women… Berta Cáceres-Flores

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Inspiring women through history – looking back on those whose shoulders we stand upon in our actions for positive social change.

 

Berta Cáceres-Flores

By Beth Cloughton

 

Cáceres-Flores was an international environmental activist who co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations[1] of Honduras, won the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize for preventing the world’s largest dam builder destroying the Rio Gualcarque[2], and ran a year-long protest against the illegal project between Sinohydro (a Chinese company), Desarrollos Energéticos (DESA-a Honudran company) and the World Bank International Finance Corporation (an American company). Cáceres-Flores fought successfully against huge corporations for a sustainable and ethical future.

Facing multiple smear campaigns by Governments, global corporations, and militaries, Cáceres-Flores was not deterred, claiming ‘they are afraid of us because we are not afraid of them’[3]. Her peaceful protests, consistent engagement with citizens and fundamental respect of the environment enraged the structures most emblematic of patriarchy; capitalist, hyper-masculine, oppressive, and violent. The Honduran Government, and the profiting corporations could not engage on the level Cáceres-Flores was working at- she was too enlightened to work at base-level scaremongering tactics and was subsequently murdered by killers funded by DESA.

Honduras is considered the most dangerous place in the world to be a vocal defender of environmental rights, and Cáceres-Flores acted courageously to protect indigenous territories from destructive projects. Her multiple successful grassroots campaigns against illegal logging were channelled through complaints to government authority, local assemblies, peaceful protests and reaching out to international communities.

Cáceres-Flores bravery did not shrink in the face of consistent harassment, intimidation, persecution, discrimination and stigmatisation by those intending to profit from the demolition of both territorial and cultural rights of indigenous people. Now, a Berta Cáceres Act has been introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson and sponsored by more than 60 Members of the House of Representatives, calling for the United States to suspend “…security assistance to Honduran military and police until such time as human rights violations by Honduran state security forces cease and their perpetrators are brought to justice.”[4]

Cáceres-Flores continues to inspire activists globally, and her murder only serves to fuel ongoing campaigns against global corporations who have no respect for life nor nature. Her death does not equate to silence or the ending of her work; Cáceres-Flores’ legacy lives in the waters still flowing, the trees still standing, and the feet still grounded on the forest floor working against brutal, inhumane projects.

 


[1] Cáceres, Threatened Honduran, Wins Biggest Enviro Award”Radio Free. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.

[2] “Berta Cáceres – Goldman Environmental Foundation”Goldman Environmental Foundation

[3] Salomon, Josefina (6 May 2016). “Sole Witness to Berta Cáceres Murder: ‘It Was Clear She Was Going to Get Killed'”Huffington Post.

[4] http://witnessforpeace.org/bertacaceresact/

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