On Thursday 3rd March, Berta Cáceres, the Honduran indigenous and environmental rights campaigner, was murdered at her home. She was one of the co-founders of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (Copinh). And was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015: she stood up against one of the biggest hydroelectric projects in South America.
I never met Berta, her extraordinary power just shone onto me. I saw her pictures, I heard about her, the activist. She made me feel like everything we fought for was fair, that we needed as activists to go further even when threats were real. She paid a hefty price for her fight: 3 of her four daughters had to leave the country and she had to be careful all the time. Had she been born in a country other than Honduras, she would still have fought, of that I’m sure. She stood up against the police, the army, the World Bank… knowing that her name was on various ‘to kill’ lists. The threats she received would very often mention sexual violence but still she kept saying the truth, urging companies like Siemens or Voith to be responsible, to take out their investment in the hydroelectric Agua Zarca project.
I do not live in Honduras, one of the most dangerous countries for activists but in Mauritius, one of the most frustrating countries for activists. While our rights are decreasing, we face the gruesome effects of climate change and that of an ineffective political class when it comes to putting people first. The spirit of Berta Cáceres will live on because more than ever, her comrades will fight, for themselves but also for her. Death is only one part of it. Activism entails many other sacrifices, namely working for free, being constantly misunderstood, facing violence… How far are we ready to go to fight for what we believe in?