Thursday, October 20, 2016


Today, October 20th, 2016 at 1:30pm CST, in response to the mass march led by the Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), the Honduran police (supported by financing from the United States) unleashed brutal repression including pepper spray, tear gas, water tank and beating with nightclubs. There are many families with children participating in the march and whose health and lives are at risk. The march was called by COPINH to demand justice for its assassinated General Coordinator Berta Caceres, an independent international commission to investigate her assassination, and the immediate cancellation of the concession granted to the DESA corporation to develop the Agua Zarca dam in Rio Blanco, along with all other mining and hydroelectric concessions on Lenca indigenous territory.

Please call:
  • The U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa at (504) 2236-9320 and ask for the ambassador or his assistant Annie-Marie Lancu or Human Rights officer Jason Smith. Demand they call their Honduran counterparts and ask for an immediate end to the repression.
  • Julian Pacheco, Minister of Security - (504) 9456-3699 (or main office (504) 2229-0003, to demand that Honduran forces immediately end the repression.
  • Your own senator and congressperson to demand they sign on to the Berta Caceres Law for Human Rights in Honduras to immediately cut off military and police funding to Honduras while the assassinations, repression and impunity continue.
UPDATE: COPINH holding a press conference at 3:30pm MST. Live feed here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Alert! Assassination attempts against the General Coordinator of COPINH and a Community leader of COPINH.

El original en español sigue el ingles.

The Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) denounces to the national and internacional public the assassination attempts against the compañeros Tomás Gómez Membreño, General Coordinator of COPINH  and Alexander García Sorto, a community leader de Llano Grande, Colomoncagua.

In two distinct circumstances, yesterday on October 9, these two compañeros were subjected to unknown persons arriving on the one hand at the home of compañero Alexander García where they shot numerous times into the principal door and the window of the bedroom where he and his wife and two daughters were sleeping.  The shots were made with the intention of assassinating Alexander Garcia along with his family. 

On the night of the same day, a person shot at the pickup truck of the organization being driven by  compañero Tomás Gómez Membreño, General Coordinator of COPINH, as he left the meeting center of  Utopía en route to his house. 

The attempt against compañero Alexander García was a second try, since on May 6 of this year, two months after the assassination of our general coordinator Berta Cáceres, he was shot leaving his house by the ex military Enedicto Alvarado, when Alexander was wounded and almost killed.  This shooting aggression at his house occurred after the ex military had been processed and his family had made threats against Alexander for not withdrawing the denunciation.

COPINH denounces these assassination attempts against compañero Tomás Gómez, who assumed the general coordination of COPINH after the assassination on March 2 of the compañera Berta Cáceres, and against compañero Alexander García, as attempts to silence the struggle of COPINH against the projects of death in Lenca territories, pushed by this corrupt government that is on its knees before the economic interests at both national and international levels. 

Likewise, COPINH denounces the shots fired in the Lenca Community of Rio Blanco, by hit men paid for by DESA, as a form of intimidation and threat against the community for opposing the destruction of the Gualcarque River and the seizure of territories of the Lenca people.  

Now 7 months since the assassination of our compañera Berta Cáceres, those who oppose the projects of death such as the Agua Zarca/ DESA dam on the Gualcarque River and the dam by HIDROSIERRA on the Negro River in the municipality of Colomoncagua continue to be targeted.  These are attempts to kill those who defend their rights as Lenca people and who strive to build viable alternatives for the development of our communities and of the entire world, and not the development of the pocketbooks of a few.

Now 7 months since the assassination of our general coordinator, neither the government nor the institutions have responded to our demands to cancel the projects the communities were never consulted about, to authorize an independent investigation of the assassination, to demilitarize the Lenca territories and to cease the persecution and stigmatization against COPINH.  We demand answers.

We demand the closing of Agua Zarca/DESA and all of the other illegitimate, unconsulted death projects that can be found in our territories.

We demand respect for the lives of all the members of COPINH.

We demand justice surrounding all those who assassinated Berta Cáceres.

Berta did not die, she multiplied.

With the ancestral strength of Berta, Lempira, Mota, Iselaca and Etempica, we raise our voices full of life, justice, dignity, freedom and peace. 

¡Alerta! Intentos de asesinato contra el Coordinador General 

de COPINH y líder comunitario del COPINH

El Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras denuncia ante la opinión pública nacional e internacional los intentos de asesinato contra los del compañeros Tomás Gómez Membreño, Coordinador General del COPINH y Alexander García Sorto, líder Comunitario de Llano Grande, Colomoncagua.

En dos circunstancias distintas, el día de ayer 9 de octubre, fueron objeto de disparos los compañeros mencionados; en horas de la madrugada, sujetos desconocidos llegaron a la casa de habitación del compañero Alexander García e hicieron numerosos disparos a la puerta principal y a la ventana de la habitación en la que se encontraba durmiendo con su esposa y sus dos hijas. Los disparos fueron realizados con la intención de asesinar al compañero Alexander o a las integrantes de su familia.
En la noche del mismo día, una persona disparó contra la camioneta de la organización,  que conducía el compañero Tomás Gómez Membreño, Coordinador General del COPINH, cuando salía del centro de encuentros Utopía con dirección a su casa.
El intento de asesinato contra el compañero Alexander García constituye un segundo intento, puesto que el pasado 6 de mayo del presente año, a dos meses del asesinato de nuestra coordinadora general, Berta Cáceres, fue abaleado saliendo de su casa por parte del ex militar Enedicto Alvarado, saliendo con una herida de bala que por poco le quita la vida. Esta agresión a disparos en contra de su casa, se produce después que el ex militar está siendo procesado y su familia hizo amenazas en contra de Alexander por no retirar la denuncia.
El COPINH denuncia estos intentos de asesinato contra el compañero Tomás Gómez, quien asumió a coordinación General del COPINH después del asesinato el pasado 2 de marzo de la compañera Berta Cáceres, y el compañero Alexander García, como intentos de silenciar la lucha del COPINH en contra de los proyectos de muerte en los territorios Lencas, impulsados por este gobierno corrupto, arrodillado a los intereses económicos nacionales y transnacionales.
De igual manera, el COPINH denuncia la realización de disparos en ráfagas que se realizan en la comunidad Lenca de Río Blanco, por parte sicarios pagados por DESA, como forma de intimidación y amenaza contra la comunidad que se opone a la destrucción del río Gualcarque y el despojo de los territorios del pueblo Lenca.
A 7 meses del asesinato de nuestra compañera Berta Cáceres, se sigue atentando contra la vida de quienes nos oponemos a la construcción de proyectos de muerte como la represa Agua Zarca/DESA en el río Gualcarque y la represa de la empresa HIDROSIERRA sobre el río Negro en el municipio de Colomoncagua. Continúan las agresiones de muerte contra quienes defendemos los derechos del pueblo Lenca y queremos construir alternativas viables para el desarrollo de nuestras comunidades y del mundo entero, no el desarrollo de los bolsillos de unos pocos.
A 7 meses del asesinato de nuestra coordinadora general, ni el gobierno ni las instituciones han respondido a nuestras demandas de cancelación de proyectos inconsultos con las comunidades, la investigación independiente del asesinato, la desmilitarización de los territorios Lencas y el cese a la persecución y estigmatización hacia el COPINH. Exigimos respuestas.
Exigimos el cierre de Agua Zarca/DESA y de todos los demás proyectos de muerte, inconsultos e ilegítimos que se encuentran en nuestros territorios.
Exigimos el respeto de la vida de todas y todos los integrantes del COPINH.
Exigimos justicia por el asesinato de Berta Cáceres.

Berta no murió, se multiplicó.

Con la fuerza ancestral de Berta, Lempira, Mota, Iselaca y Etempica, se levantan nuestras voces llenas de vida, justicia, dignidad, libertad y paz.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

COPINH statement on today's mobilization to Tegucigalpa as another public official faces charges for illegally granting permits to Agua Zarca hydroelectric project

ALERT- Olban Milla from COPINH’s community radios was detained by the police today around 2:20am outside of a COPINH building while leaving to meet up with other COPINH members to go to today’s mobilization in Tegucigalpa in front of the La Granja Courthouse.  While he was since released without charges, this is yet another example of unfounded and ongoing persecution against COPINH!  

COPINH protested in front of the First Circuit Criminal Court in the La Granja neighborhood of Tegucigalpa today, Thursday September 8th, at 9am, where a hearing against the ex-Vice minister for the Environment and Natural Resources (SERNA), Jonathan Laínez, took place for having granted the environmental permit to the Agua Zarca project in violation of the rights of the Lenca people to free, prior and informed consultation. We also ask for attention to the ruling that will be made today in the First Circuit Court of Intibucá stemming from last Monday’s hearing against the former Mayor of Intibucá Martiniano Dominguez. 

COPINH demands the immediate incarceration of all public officials who authorized the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project on the sacred Gualcarque River in open violation of ILO Convention 169 and the rights of the Lenca people. 

The case against ex-Vice Minister Lainez is the result of the complaints filed by our General Coordinator Berta Cáceres with the Special Prosecutor for Ethnicities and Cultural Patrimony against the officials who approved dozens and dozens of hydroelectric concessions in Lenca territory in violation of ILO Convention 169 and the right to free, prior and informed consent, bypassing the authority and decisions of the Lenca communities, serving as lackeys for international economic interests and the small group of elites who govern this country.

The approval of the Agua Zarca Project and other illegal and illegitimate projects have true campaigns of terror and repression against the Lenca people for defending the rights of our people and of Mother Earth, leading to the cruel assassination of our sister Berta Cáceres.  So-called “development” has mean assassinations, aggression and repression against the Lenca people. What kind of development has to be implemented with the barrel of a gun and indignity?

We demand punishment for all public officials who attack the Lenca people. We demand as a Lenca people that this justice system start to reflect that name and act with impartiality in this case. We call for our people’s rights to be respected and that the justice system respond to the demands of the Lenca people.


With the ancestral strength of Berta, Lempira, Mota, Iselaca and Etempica we raise our voice full of life, justice, freedom, dignity and peace!

La Esperanza, Honduras, September 8th, 2016

Friday, September 2, 2016

COPINH Statement Marking 6 Months since Berta Cáceres's Assassination


The Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, 6 months after the assassination of COPINH’s General Coordinator, hereby states that:
  • The assassination of the woman who served as COPINH’s General Coordinator and who was a founding member of the organization was a crime committed against the entire Lenca people’s struggle to build autonomy and defend Mother Earth, our shared natural resources, and our rights as indigenous peoples.
  • Despite this crime we re-affirm that we will continue our fierce struggle against the deadly projects that have been imposed without consultation since the 2009 military coup d’état. We know that our sister Berta Cáceres Flores has not died as long as neither her struggle nor her political project, embodied by this organization, have died.
  • Our compañera Berta Cáceres, our sister, is the victim of a State crime, having suffered persecution by Honduran authorities, security forces and courts and criminalization of her work throughout her years of political activity, aided and abetted by corporations like DESA, and international banks like FMO, CABEI and FINNFUND, who want to plunder our shared natural resources to turn them into their own profit.
  • Over the 23 years of our organization’s existence, this crime has been the biggest blow to our people and it is an attempt to end the struggle waged by COPINH, which continues to suffer from demonization and criminalization by the government and national and international corporations and financial institutions.
  • Having accompanied Berta in her struggle, which is our people’s struggle, we are completely clear that justice will not come from the corrupt and inefficient institutions that have promoted the extermination of peoples in resistance and that the arrests they have made do not represent justice for this assassination but are clear example of the way that impunity is produced in this country.
  • COPINH continues to demand the creation of an Independent Investigation Commission so that we can get to the bottom of this crime, a demand that has fallen on the government’s deaf ears.
  • For several years COPINH has been demanding the expulsion of the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project from Lenca territory, where it has been imposed without consultation, along with the 50 other concessions for dams and wind-power megaprojects that they seek to impose upon our territory.
  • The Lenca people are fighting to live in peace, which is why we demand the de-militarization of our territories, where the soldiers, police and private security forces exist to secure private investments by violating the most basic of human rights and sewing fear, terror and death.
  • Faced with this assassination, the corporations and banks who finance terror and death should know that COPINH will be unwavering in its efforts to find those who participated in this act. May the perpetrators know that we will not rest in our search for Justice for our sister and that we will denounce each and every attack we suffer for carrying out our work before the international authorities.
  • COPINH knows that both before and after the 2009 coup d’état the violence and atrocities come from the interference of the U.S., with its money and its interventions, as with the coup d’état itself. The imposition of the extractivist model comes as a result of the U.S. capitalist doctrine and Berta’s assassination is part of a clear strategy to eliminate by force any form of opposition to that economic model, which the U.S. is at the heart of.
  • We denounce the campaigns to criminalize our organization, financed by DESA on national TV, where they roll out Gloria López, a person who does not represent Lenca women and is a farce of a dignified indigenous person and who we are sure is being used by Honduran businessmen to manipulate public opinion and create more conflict.
  • COPINH is completely clear what justice in the face of this enormous loss means: finding who assassinated her, who gave the order to assassinate her, and denouncing the criminal power structure that allowed for her assassination. It means that the work of resistance, of emancipation, of rebellion by COPINH and the Lenca people remains steadfast. It means tireless struggle against this economic, political and cultural system that seeks to eliminate our communities, their ancestral resistance and alternatives to dispossession, exploitation, racism and exclusion.
  • Justice is keeping the memory of Berta’s life alive, the convictions that led her to be the greatest leader of the Lenca people in the history of the Lenca people’s resistance. Justice is clearly telling the corporations, the representatives of the state and all of those who enter Lenca territory that we will not allow the development of any project, action or activity that rolls over people or that eliminates our voices. It means development by the communities and NOT by corporations that take advantage of communities, development based on proposals that stem from our needs.
Six months after this vile crime the Lenca people continue to cry over this loss for the Honduran social movement, yet we have not forgotten that her spirit accompanies us as one more ancestor who has joined us in the millenarian resistance of the Lenca people.
Six months after this assassination thousands of voices have risen to demand Justice for Berta and to take up our demands, for which COPINH profoundly thanks the communities, grassroots social movements and civil society from all regions of the continent and world. As a people in struggle we know that justice will come only through the efforts of the grassroots social movement and people of conscience.
Berta didn’t die, she multiplied!

With the ancestral strength of Berta, Lempira, Mota, Iselaca and Etempica we raise our voices full of life, justice, freedom, dignity and peace!

La Esperanza, Honduras, September 2nd, 2016

Letter to Berta Cáceres, my mom - Bertha Zúniga Cáceres

Indigenous Lenca activist Berta Cáceres was assassinated this past March 2nd in La Esperanza, Honduras the city in which she was born. From the beginning, her family and COPINH, the organization she served as coordinator, blamed DESA, a company that is building a project of death along the Gualcarque River. Six months later, her daughter Berta, one of the three who has taken up the baton, writes this letter to her mother.

[Versión original en español]

Letter to Berta Cáceres, my mom.

Six months ago I was in a frenzy, travelling from Mexico to Honduras, time moved in slow motion around me. I had to meet up with Laura and Salva, to say goodbye to your hands and eyes.
The news of your assassination came as no surprise. Days before we had been together writing a communiqué to denounce the re-activation of the Agua Zarca project on the other side of the Gualcarque River. We were hoping to stop it by calling out the complicity of the banks providing the financing, with full knowledge that they had no intention to listen and knowing all too well the extent of DESA’s aggression.
I never believed that you were gone, my tears never flowed from the pain of despair, they flowed from indignation at how the world could have allowed your death, at what type of perverse beings had dared to fill your body with bullets, at knowing that you would no longer have your voice.
It scared me how well you had prepared us for this news, the confidence you had that once your voice was gone ours would be here, the thousands of us speaking for you, to continue crying out with your familiar cry: Justice.
The search for justice has taken us on a tortuous path of silence, but also a path full of many arms, hands and hearts that will not allow Berta Cáceres to die with impunity.
Six months later we are indignant that though we continue asking for the participation of an independent investigatory body so that we can discover the truth about the crime committed against you, the dictatorial and coup-continuing government of Juan Orlando Hernández continues to ignore our request.
We are indignant that DESA-Agua Zarca has no intention of stopping the project, that they send out their engineer Elsia Paz to the mainstream media channels in Honduras to “clean up” the company’s image.
We are indignant that banks like FMO have no intention of cutting off financing for this project of death though they always knew what was happening and never cared nor do they care now what we have had to live through because of their colonialist attitude and blood-drenched money.
We are indignant at the ineptitude of Honduran institutions in a case that is a “national priority.”
Over and over again the words to one of your favorite songs flood my heart, “…and though the night settles in, the moon returns, love returns.” That was one of your principles. You lived through every imaginable adversity yet never stopped, always smiling, always filled with satisfaction fighting shoulder to shoulder with your people, building revolutions in your home and in the streets.
And now that is what we do - smile and fight like warriors, never losing hope.
Six months ago I knew that my arms, my hands and my voice were also yours. Six months ago I declared war on death.
In these six months thousands of voices have cried out: “Justice for Berta!”
On that day, March 3rd, I lost you and I gained countless aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters.
We will continue fighting for you, with your values, with your strength, with your joy, without fear: Berta Cáceres cannot be assassinated.

They didn’t kill my mom and the assassins who wanted to kill her screwed themselves because she is here, because she lives in each and every one of us, because as long as we keep on fighting against that killer dam, against the privatization of the forests and the air, we will keep standing up, we will all keep on standing up and that is where my mom will live on, that is where Berta Cáceres will live.

With the same co-conspirator love as always:
We will get it done, that’s a promise.
We will fight until we win, mom!
Bertha Zúniga Cáceres
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