Courtesy Goldman Environmental Prize
Goldman Environmental Prize winner Marilyn Baptiste, far right, poses side-by-side with Berta Cáceres, in white, and their fellow recipients (left to right) Myint Zaw, Phyllis Omido, Jean Wiener and Howard Wood in 2015.

Goldman Winner Marilyn Baptiste Urges Trudeau to Push for Investigation Into Berta Cáceres Murder in Honduras


In the wake of the March 3 assassination of Lenca activist Berta Cáceres in Honduras, her fellow Goldman Prize winner Marilyn Baptiste, Nits'il?in Yaz/Councillor, Xeni Gwet'in First Nations, wrote a letter supported and distributed by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), calling on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to demand a thorough investigation of the crime. No sooner had her letter been released on March 15 than Cáceres’s fellow activist Nelson Garcia was gunned down, shot in the face by a group accosting him as he returned home.

RELATED: Murdered While She Slept: Shocking Death of Berta Cáceres, Indigenous Leader and Activist

Both he and Cáceres were “outspoken members” of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous organizations of Honduras (COPINH), as the multimedia news site TeleSur described them. The letter penned by Baptiste, who is also a founding member of First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining and president of the Denisiqi Services Society Board, carries even more resonance in light of recent events.

RELATED: The Day Berta Caceres Was Assassinated

Berta Cáceres, our dear friend. A beautiful strong, courageous and amazing woman leader.

In our way as a people of the Earth, Berta will carry on in her courageous work to protect her land, people and future generations.

A year ago Berta stood side by side with her fellow prizewinners, including her friend Marilyn Baptiste, to receive the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize. Berta was honored as an environmental hero protecting the Gualcarque River, as the leader of the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and on behalf of the Lenca Indigenous Peoples, against the destructive Agua Zarca Dam.

It is truly unbelievable this is possible in 2016! A woman, rightfully standing up as a voice of her people and Mother Earth, murdered in her own home. Days before International Women's Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. On that day many celebrated the memories of our beautiful friend Berta.

Honduras is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the ILO Convention 169 both set international standards and processes for consent of Indigenous Peoples regarding projects like the Agua Zarca Dam. Berta, COPINH and the Lenca did not give their free, prior informed consent as they share a spiritual bond with the Gualcarque River.

The Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) have a responsibility to protect the indigenous rights—human rights—of the Lenca and must investigate the assassination of our friend Berta.

We share the responsibility to oppose violence against women and girls at the community, national and international levels. Is it right to murder an indigenous woman who spoke out for protection of a people, a land, water and all of life for her children and grandchildren?

We say to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honorable Justin Trudeau, we are so very thankful for you and your government for taking responsible steps to undertake the long-standing task of establishing an inquiry into the missing and murdered women and girls across Canada. We now respectfully call on you to support the call for the IACHR and UNHRC to immediately investigate the murder of our courageous friend Berta Cáceres who stood for years to protect her people, children, lands, waters for future generations.

Berta proudly stated, “from the spirits of young girls, who teach us that giving our lives in various ways for the protection of the rivers is giving our lives for the well-being of humanity and of this planet. Our commitment to continue protecting our waters, the rivers, our shared resources and nature in general as well as our rights as a people. Let us wake up, humankind! We're out of time!”

As a lasting tribute to Berta, let us build, come together and remain hopeful as we defend and care for the blood of this Earth and of its spirits.

Marilyn Baptiste, who led the Xeni Gwet'in community to help defeat the Prosperity Mine proposal in British Columbia and received the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize for North America alongside Berta Cáceres, the recently slain Lenca activist in Honduras. (Photo: Courtesy Goldman Environmental Prize)

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LayLow Studios Ore Wa's picture
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As of the day before yesterday, 3/15/16 news arrived from Honduras that a second environmental activist, Nelson Garcia, has also been murdered. Nika Knight's report on non-profit org Public Citizen's CommonDreams news & views web site presents context absent from all the coverage I've thus far sought out (published or reported via Community Radio like Portland, Oregon's KBOO morning public affairs programming or the PACIFICA Radio FREE SPEECH NEWS, FLASHPOINTS and UPRISINGS programs syndicated to college and other community radio stations in English). NPR policies, unlike INDIAN COUNTRY & the CBC I must note admiringly from south of your border, do not allow much challenge of established bi-partisan E-CON policies or geo-political real politik. I have tried since reading the first reports of 3/3/16 on the murder of INDIGENOUS ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST BERTA CACERES (Z”L) reported by the trans national news wire services AP, AGENCE FRANCE PRESS (AFP) and REUTERS published by YAHOONEWS to post my barely 600 word comment below this note. While a few COMMENTS have been posted publicly to the 3/3/16 and follow-up reports on YAHOONEWS COMMENTS sections, most being disrespectful to the deceased and from an anti-environmental perspective that remains ignorant of Washington’s unique historic hemispheric role in Honduras, my own condolences and brief reminder of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s support of the 2009 military coup that overthrew the democratically elected Zelaya governing coalition led by Mel Zelaya’s Partido Liberal de Honduras have not migrated from my private YAHOO account’s archive of MY COMMENTS to the publicly posted ALL COMMENTS except for a day or two in which a few readers voted thumbs up before my comments below disappeared from public view. I avoid profanity, did not get into radical political positions and always end PUBLIC COMMENTS on principle with my name, city and state to avoid the scourge of ANONYMOUS SNIPING & TROLLING. The few published reader COMMENTS on the plethora of wire news service reports since 3/3/16 would reflect little growing world interest in this story and/or in Honduras. My own multiple attempts in days after my original COMMENT of 3/8/16 was posted to MY COMMENTS account archive on YAHOONEWS without being posted publicly by AP, AFP, REUTERS and YAHOONEWS to get my COMMENT below entered into the limited PUBLIC DISCOURSE have been unsuccessful . This raises serious questions about suppression of public comments to perpetuate Washington’s enduring policy stance on REGIME CHANGE even as it conflicts with President Obama’s publicly stated condemnation of the overthrow of the Mel Zelaya headed government in 2009. REGIME CHANGE policies that were found objectionable to the U.S. body politic in the 2008 U.S. Presidential campaign where Barack Obama ran against the preceding Bush-Cheney purges of the U.S State Department in 2000 and against his Democratic rival then NY Senator Hillary Clinton who supported the Neo-Con State Department policies of Bush-Cheney war mongering planners VICTORIA NULAND and ROBERT KAGAN who were promoted by Secretary of State Clinton to her chief State Department advisors after the fiasco of Regime Changes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. Yet HILLARY CLINTON’s autobiography brags about supporting this HONDURAN REGIME CHANGE back in 2009. I suspect AFP’s world-wide readers have also attempted to weigh in on the killing of this GOLDMAN ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD winner, BERTA CACERES (PRESENTE). YAHOONEWS has yet to post a report on the follow-up murder of the beloved Berta Caceres fellow Honduran environmental activist Nelson Garcia. Note how little coverage either the 2009 military coup backed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and perpetuating Washington’s policies in HONDURAS dating back to at least the IRAN-CONTRA era where the CIA build-up to fight the illegal Contra War against the post-Somoza Dictatorship government of Nicaragua gave the tiny Central American nation the nick-name of the USS HONDURAS. However we need to look further back to the 1970’s Nixon-declared WAR ON DRUGS era where historical accounting of policy outcomes fails to gain any traction in U.S. media coverage. Even during presidential election season where television questions to candidates on foreign policy and record in office issues struggles to keep pace with the superficial quest to see who can eject Donald Trump from the island. Surely a busy world has noticed that since Nixon declared WAR ON DRUGS and billions of dollars have been allocated to Honduras where the U.S. maintains 5 bases of military, naval and Air Force intelligence as well as the hemisphere’s largest CIA base the outcomes have been increased flow of drugs and precursor chemicals along with money laundered through global SHADOW BANKING center of neighbor Panama. Yet, candidate Hillary Clinton has had not one televised debate question from her rivals of either party or any questions from televised campaign stops regarding her support for the military coup in Honduras. Nor do the GOP candidates, such as they are, address this regional bi-partisan hemispheric crisis plaguing what is left of the tattered U.S. WAR ON DRUGS and its hollowed out urban cores or corpse. “HILLARY’S HONDURAN DISGRACE” March 2010 Editorial Page Headline from Madison, Wisconsin’s THE PROGRESSIVE One more example of the human cost that goes without comment in broadcast news coverage of the record of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who in 2010 with the counsel of Bush-Cheney State Department Neo-Con staffers Victoria Nuland and Robert Kagan backed the Honduran military coup. Ms. BERTA CACERES (Z”L) Goldman Environmental Prize-winner of blessed memory should not have given her life in vain to the emboldened thugs ruling Honduras since Washington’s latest Regime Change, backing the military coup while the Obama Administration was still basking in its 2009 mass mediated honeymoon. GOP candidates don’t include this in their anti-Hillary Clinton litany of regime change and other policies that previous GOP Presidential administrations engaged in. This televised presidential primary debate and stump-speech season, no GOP candidate in their unanimous tarring of Ms. Clinton’s record in office will mention the Honduran overthrow of the anti-corruption election-winning Partido Liberal de Honduras and their victorious yet ousted President Manuel Zelaya. No accredited corporate-captured news reporter will ask them or Ms. Clinton to reassess Washington’s role in regime change in Honduras. So much smoke on Regime Change with wild media meme-like allegations about Benghazi, Libya and of course Ms. Clinton’s support as Senator from NY of the 2003 Iraq Invasion. Yet when Ms. Clinton chose to buck up her Progressive credentials following the debate questions raised by rival Bernie Sanders regarding payments from Wall Street firms to Ms. Clinton for confidential consultation and speaking engagements there was no one to refer back to the courageous and prescient full-page editorial in the March 5, 2010 edition of THE PROGRESSIVE magazine titled “HILLARY’s HONDURAN DISGRACE.” Restore Honduran Regime Change to the agenda. Search: John Negroponte IRAN-Contra USS HONDURAS WAR ON DRUGS (C) Mitch Ritter Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa Nike-Town, Intel-Land LLC Pheudal Phiephdom of Phil, Ka-ching In Anti-Trust PERP-E-Tuity Throughout the Universe