On the one month anniversary of the murder of renowned Honduran activist Berta Caceres, her mother wrote in a powerful open letter Sunday that the Honduran state is responsible for the heinous killing of her daughter, who was on the top of a government-linked death squad hit list long before her death, making the path toward justice a long and arduous journey.
“One month has already passed and despite national and international pressure, the state has not been able to capture the perpetrators and masterminds behind this crime that we as a family and community have mourned,” wrote Caceres' mother, Austra Bertha Flores Lopez, a midwife and social activist.
She added that when lists of assassination targets emerged in the wake of the U.S.-backed coup in Honduras in 2009, in which Caceres was a key leader of the resistance movement, her daughter was “first on the list.”
“The Honduran state criminalized my daughter using supposed institutionality to level proceedings against her, because she played a role as a defender of natural common goods and the rights of Indigenous and Black peoples of Honduras,” Flores Lopez wrote.
She added that the Honduran government has become a “defender of private interests of extractive corporations” and that Caceres was “vilified and threatened” by agents linked to DESA, the company behind the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam she and her movement long resisted. A top prosecutor on the murder case has also been linked to DESA.
Flores Lopez expressed gratitude for national and international solidarity in the wake of Caceres’ murder, calling for continued pressure to fight injustice in Honduras.
“I ask you to keep strongly supporting me to achieve justice and stop the impunity in a country so hard hit by oppressive political violence against people that work to construct a more just... and humane society,” she wrote.
Echoing statements by Caceres’ daughters and other supporters, Flores Lopez pegged the blame for her daughter’s murder on the Honduran government, which failed in its internationally-mandated responsibility to protect the activist in light of repeated death threats.
State complicity in the murder has also squandered the investigation, she argued, saying that instead of treating the crime scene with the utmost importance in the investigation, “they contaminated it.”
Caceres’ mother also slammed the Honduran government for making way for the privatization of rivers in violation of international conventions, which require the prior consent of Indigenous communities. The Gualcarque River in Lenca territory, which Caceres tirelessly defended in the face of the Agua Zarca project, is just one of many examples.
But despite the many challenges, Flores Lopez made clear that she will stay firm in her resolve to see justice.
“I know that nobody and nothing can bring my daughter back to life,” she wrote. “But I will not give up fighting, with all the strength of my life that I still have, so that the assassination of Bertita does not go unpunished.”