The daughter of murdered Honduras activist Berta Caceres has spoken out for the first time since her mother’s death, to criticize authorities for making declarations about the case without any investigation saying she arrived to the crime scene before investigators only to see her mother's body still lying on the floor.
Olivia Marcela Zuñiga told teleSUR that government ministers began fabricating stories about Caceres’ assassination, even before visiting the crime scene saying it was a crime of passion..
“Immediately after we heard that our mother was killed we went to the crime scene, and her body was still there,” Zuniga said. “Even before authorities analyzed the scene, Security Minister Julian Pacheco was already declaring publicly that they believed it was a crime of passion."
Zuniga, who had so far remained silent about the case as other family members spoke out, said that this was “concerning.”
“That’s very, very concerning, because they hadn’t even begun investigating the crime, and they were already speaking about the case,” she added.
On Thursday, the family of the renowned environmental activist released a statement holding the state responsible for her death, and demanding immediate action to put an end to the systematic repression suffered by human rights defenders in Honduras.
“What happened is not an isolated act,” family members said in a statement issued by Caceres’ Lenca Indigenous organization COPINH on Wednesday.
“Her death demonstrates the grave situation of risk in which human rights defenders find themselves, particularly those who defend the rights of Indigenous people and the common goods of nature against the exploitation of our territories,” they added.
Caceres was shot dead in her home in the early hours of March 3 after receiving a wave of death threats as a result of her work against corporations, the government, and the abuse of human rights since the 2009 coup that saw the democratically elected Manuel Zelaya ousted from power, with the complicity of the U.S. and Canadian governments.
Though authorities have launched an investigation, the witness to Caceres’ murder, Gustavo Castro, has slammed the process for criminalizing members of COPINH while leaving the suspects behind previous death threats toward Caceres untouched.
Castro, a victim injured in the attack and left for dead, has also been mistreated as the key witness to the murder and fears for his life, but has committed to fighting for justice despite the challenges.