May 10 in NYC: Indigenous Peoples’ Rally and Prayers for Justice for Berta Cáceres and Honduras
Heather Milton Lightening·Friday, May 6, 2016
The Agricultural Missions Solidarity Delegation to Honduras visited with representatives of the US Embassy. Our concerns included: (1) That the US Embassy support the demand that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to investigate the assassination of Berta Cáceres. (2) That the US Government evaluates the hundreds of concessions (permits for industrial development) issued throughout Honduras, particularly those 51 concessions issued to corporations on the Lenca Indigenous territories in the state of Intibuca and ensure the right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent. (3) That all security and military aid from the US government to Honduras be suspended until the massive violation of human rights, including extrajudicial killings be stopped. (4) That US aid be suspended to Honduras until the situation of gross and massive violations of human rights is resolved.
These concerns were informed by our delegation’s visits and briefings by civil society organizations including The Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) which was co-founded by Bertha Cáceres. We were also briefed by Cattrachas– a feminist lesbian organization dedicated to the defense of human rights for the LGBTTI community; Via Campesina, the International Peasant Movement; and The Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH).
During the US embassy meeting we did our best to elevate the realities and concerns of those we met with during the past week including Indigenous Peoples, Campesinos, Organizers, and members of Bertha’s family. Upon hearing our concerns and the demands of these organizations, the embassy representatives’ most salient response was, “this is above our pay grade.”
Our fundamental disagreement concerned the US and US embassy officials continued legacy of imperialism and complicity in the virtual dictatorship that rules Honduras. It is clear that US embassy sees themselves as a vehicle of support for the Honduran government and its people. The staff of both embassy and US Aid kept repeating that they are directed by policy and couldn’t give any real credible answers when pushed about the complicity of the US, and about the violence in Honduras.
However, a major reflection of the civil society organizations is that international pressure on Honduras is still very much needed to support the organizing efforts of the grassroots. We believe that justice will not come from behind the barricades of the US embassy but from the grassroots themselves.