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Central American Jesuits Social Commission Speaks out on Death of Berta Cáceres

ihs-america-centralBY CHRIS KERR | March 14, 2016

SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR – The Jesuit Province of Central America’s Provincial Commission for the Social Apostolate issued a statement on March 8, 2016 regarding the murder of Berta Cáceres, an internationally renowned Honduran indigenous and environmental leader. Cáceres was shot to death by intruders who entered her home in Honduras on March 3, 2016. The statement was originally published in Spanish.

The Jesuit’s Central American Province, based in San Salvador, El Salvador, is responsible for Jesuit communities and ministries in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama.

Statement by the Provincial’s Commission for the Social Apostolate (CPAS) of the Society of Jesus in Central America on the Death of Berta Cáceres:

In light of Murder of Berta Cáceres, the Provincial’s Commission of the Social Apostolate pronounces:

  1. On behalf of CPAS of the Society of Jesus from Central America we condemn the killing of Berta Cáceres, renowned leader of the indigenous, environmentalist and popular movements, friend and collaborator in our work, from whom we heard  testimony and  reflection in several of our social analysis meetings focused on the Central American reality that we organize each year.
  2. We have no doubt that the murder of Berta Cáceres was a result of the courageous path of her struggle in defense of our natural resources, land rights and communities. The constant threats she received and criminalization of her actions on the part of the large hydro-electric construction companies, demonstrate the risk that she always faced and, like several of her companions in the movement, cost Berta her life.
  3. We join in the condemnation issued by her three daughters, her son and her mother, that reads as follows: “Those responsible for her murder are business groups that in collusion with the national government, municipal governments and the repressive State institutions, which are behind the extractive projects that are being developed in the region. Those who finance these extractive projects of death, are also responsible for the death of our Berta and so many people who are struggling against the exploitation of their territories. The money of these financiers makes possible the imposition of economic interests above the ancestral rights of peoples”.
  4. We are calling for an immediate investigation, in-depth and independent, with the support of international specialists, to ensure findings are not contaminated by Honduran political interests and forces in power who intend to tarnish the perspicuous trajectory of generosity and heroism that made Berta into one of the most internationally recognized Honduran social movement leader.
  5. We demand that the Honduran government end of any agreement which grants the concession of the Rio Gualcarque to the “Energy Development Corporation” (DESA). At the same time that we ask that this emblematic river be declared a World Heritage Site, as a perpetual tribute to the blood shed by our mourned and courageous Berta CacBerta Cácereseres.
  6. We ask the government of the United States immediately suspend bilateral direct assistance to the Honduran government, particularly, funds from the Alliance for Prosperity. Berta Cáceres was a strong opponent of this plan as she perceived that it strengthened links between the Honduran government and exploitative multinationals, extractors of natural resources.
  7. We demand the immediate repair of the damage to the communities of Rio Blanco in the northern region of the Department of Intibucá, in western Honduras, where the machinery of DESA has caused damage to the Gualcarque river, and the environment and heritage of the Lenca indigenous communities. Similarly, we ask that you recognize the organization COPINH, as the main protector of the Gualcarque river and of the natural resources of the Lenca communities so strongly defended by the campaigner Berta Cáceres.
  8. We join the family of Berta Cáceres, the Lenca communities and people’s organizations and environmentalists of Honduras, and along with the mystique of our ancestors, the blood of our martyrs and in union with all the peoples of the Earth we raise our gratitude, “Laudato Si, praised be, my Lord, who hast given us the sun and the moon, seas, forests and rivers, and women like Berta, who loved our common home and all who inhabit it, and defended it with her own life”.

Tuesday 8 March 2016. Central America.
Commemoration of International Women’s Day
Provincial Commission of the Social Apostolate
Company of Jesus in Central America

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