Laura Cáceres: “By continuing my mother’s fight, I continue the defense of life”
This week, Laura Zuniga Cáceres, daughter of Berta Cáceres*, visits the Netherlands. She will talk with the directors of the involved departments of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in a colloquium about indigenous right of Leiden University and meet with several Dutch NGO's. Both ENDS asked this brave young woman about the situation in Honduras and her motivation to continue her mother's work.
What is happening now in Honduras?
We are worried very much about everything that's happening in Honduras. The threats have increased after my mother was murdered, and the juridical process doesn't advance. There is impunity. And especially activists who are not internationally famous are very much threatened. There is violence against the communities, assaults of other members of COPINH, like our current coordinator this week.
How has the human rights situation changed in the last months?
We now see a militarization of society. Social movements are being criminalized and social protest can be persecuted by law. Also, we have taken a huge step back in history regarding the international FPIC-principles that need to be followed by companies. Although companies still have to consult indigenous communities when they want to execute projects in their areas, the government can overrule their voices and has the last say.
Are there any new developments around Agua Zarca?
Yes, the project continues. And in order to influence public opinion about this project, a huge media campaign has been set up to improve the image of DESA [the company building Agua Zarca] and wash away their blame.
What is your role within COPINH?
I was raised within COPINH, I have learned all my life to incorporate this organization, to represent it, it's my mother's legacy. By continuing her fight, I continue the defense of life, of the earth, of women, of our territory and of the indigenous peoples.
What is it like to do so under the continuous threat?
It is difficult for everyone to live in such a violent society. It's a commitment, but at the same time it is also satisfactory to participate in such an important struggle. Besides, my mother has always taught me to live this way.
What is your message to the people in the Netherlands?
First of all, I would like to ask FMO to take their responsibility. Their financial participation in a criminal project like Agua Zarca makes them responsible for the situation of the Lenca people.
But also, I would like to tell the people in the Netherlands that part of the taxes they pay is used for a criminal project. We are defending life there and we want you all to see what's happening to us.
*Berta Cáceres was the leading force behind the COPINH, a network of Honduran civil society organisations standing up for the rights of indigenous communities. She led the opposition of the indigenous Lenca people against the Agua Zarca dam. Berta was murdered on March 3rd 2016.
Also read previous news about Berta Cáceres and Agua Zarca:
- 30 September 2016: New report: lenders should exit from Agua Zarca project
- 13 May 2016: Arrest of DESA staff member for murder of Berta Cáceres seems last straw for FMO
- 21 April 2016: Honduran Indigenous activists visit Europe to call for action
- 16 March 2016: FMO's suspension of activities in Honduras is just a first step
- 5 March 2016: Brave human rights defender Berta Cáceres murdered
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Indigenous Hondurans are resisting the construction of the Agua Zarca hydrodam. Their fight has cost several lives, including that of Berta Cáceres. After considerable public pressure, Dutch development bank FMO withdrew from the project.
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