Maize seeds grown and saved for 18 years in Louisville, Ohio were blessed and sown by members of La #Minga, Covenant Community Church (Presbyterian) and members of La Casita Community Center on May 15.
Rev. Elmer Zavala (in Brazilian soccer jersey) reflected on God's love for diversity as exemplified in biological and cultural diversity around us in our circle of life. Wet conditions prevented timely plowing of the field, so we used the old fashioned tool, hoes, and people power. The spirit was moving among us! The "Three Sister", maize, beans and squash got planted!
- That the US Embassy use their extensive political and economic leverage, as well as their strong presence in the investigation of Bertha’s death, to support the call that the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to investigate the assassination of Bertha Cáceres;
That the US Government evaluates the 51 concessions issued to corporations on the Lenca indigenous territories to ensure that human rights and Indigenous rights, including the right to free, prior, and informed consent is respected, pursuant to international agreements that Honduras has ratified.
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 clarified and the rule of law be established in Honduras.
That US aid be suspended to Honduras until the situation of gross and massive violations of human rights is resolved.
By Stephen Bartlett, Coordinator for Education and Advocacy, Agricultural Missions, Inc. (AMI)
Agricultural Missions, Inc.’s (AMI) team and partners are deeply anguished and enraged by the killing of Bertha Cáceres Flores, Lenca leader from La Esperanza Intibucá, Honduras, where she was shot to death in her home on March 3, 2016. We express our deepest condolences to Bertha´s family, to all the members of COPINH, to close allies of Bertha´s in Honduras and around the world, and to all of us who collectively suffer the tremendous loss of this courageous leader of simple yet extraordinary integrity.
Since 2000, Agricultural Missions (AMI) has been a partner with the Lenca and campesino organization, COPINH, the Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras that Bertha co-founded. Our first meeting with Bertha Cáceres was in San Felipe Ecatepec, Chiapas, México at the second gathering of COMPA, the Convergence of Movements of the Peoples of the Americas, a meeting of leaders she helped convene from across the Americas. This meeting was hosted by the Chiapas-based organization of Gustavo Castro Soto in a warm and welcoming indigenous community.
Dear Secretary Kerry and Secretary Lew:
We write to urge you to act expeditiously to address appalling levels of violence and extreme violations of civil rights in Honduras. We are profoundly saddened and angered by the brutal assassination of Berta Cáceres, and appalled by our government's continuous assistance to Honduran security forces, so widely documented to be corrupt and dangerous.
To combat harsh violations of human rights and a growing culture of impunity in Honduras, we request that the Department of State and the Department of Treasury use all possible resources to achieve the following:
• Significant pressure on the Honduran government to sign an agreement with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to create an independent international investigation into the murder of Berta Cáceres, as requested by her family;
• Strong pressure on the Honduran Public Prosecutor to allow Berta Cáceres’ family limited access to the investigation, including proposing independent experts;
• Significant pressure on the Honduran government to implement and comply with the precautionary measures granted by the IACHR to Berta Caceres’ family, members of COPHIN, and Gustavo Castro;
• Significant pressure on the Honduran government to immediately institute and fund a system of protection for the social activists, human rights defenders, and members of the political opposition who remain at risk from providers of each individual’s choosing. This system should be based on successful models in place in Mexico and Colombia;
• A review of the scheduled increase in funding for the Honduran security forces. We strongly believe that the U.S. government should immediately stop all assistance to Honduran security forces, including training and equipment, given the implication of the Honduran military and police in extrajudicial killings, illegal detentions, torture and other violations of human rights;
• The review of U.S. support for loans to projects in Honduras from U.S.-funded multilateral development banks, including the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund to ensure no future awards are funding projects in Honduras that undermine the land rights of indigenous people and small farmers; and
• Significant pressure on the Honduran government to immediately and permanently stop the Agua Zarca dam, following the request made by Senator Leahy.
The murder of Ms. Cáceres, the co-founder and coordinator of COPINH, the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, should trigger the strongest possible diplomatic response. She was internationally renowned for her courageous work defending indigenous land rights and opposing environmentally destructive megaprojects. In 2015, she was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.
The killing of Ms. Cáceres fits into a broad pattern of attacks against and targeted killings of Honduran activists, and community leaders since 2009, in which state security forces have allegedly been involved. COPINH has been a frequent target. In July 2013, the Honduran armed forces shot and killed Tomás García, a COPINH Lenca community leader, while he was peacefully protesting against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam. Amnesty International reports that Cáceres and other COPINH leaders have been subjected to judicial persecution and have faced "unfounded charges in relation to their actions as human rights defenders." In 2013, Cáceres was jailed on a falsified charge of weapons possessions, and only freed thanks to the pressure of Amnesty International and an international outcry.
We also note that many other Honduran social activists, members of the political opposition, and human rights defenders have been victims of targeted killings and attacks. According to Global Witness, Honduras was the most dangerous country in the world for environmental activists in 2015. International human rights bodies including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, the United Nations, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have all documented a dramatic increase in targeted killings of journalists, legal professionals, LGBTI activists, land rights activists, labor activists, Afro-Indigenous and Indigenous activists, and other activists in the years since the 2009 military coup.
Disregarding her family's request, Ms. Cáceres’ body was subjected to an autopsy by Honduran officials without the presence of an independent forensic expert. Such action underscored the danger of allowing the Honduran government--with its established track record of corruption and subversion of the rule of law, including the destruction of evidence--to proceed further in the investigation without independent international oversight.
Honduras and the world have lost an extraordinary advocate for environmental and social justice. We must now do everything in our power to ensure that her tragic assassination will serve as a catalyst for positive change in Honduras, not just empty promises and more of the same. Therefore, we urge you to carefully rethink our country’s close and supportive relationship with the Honduran government.
We look forward to your response to our heartfelt concerns about terrible human rights violations in Honduras.
From: The Honorable Keith Ellison
Sent By: email@example.com
Urge Secretary Kerry and Secretary Lew to stop human rights violations in Honduras
DEADLINE: COB Monday, March 14
Please join us in sending the following letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew urging the U.S. government to emphasize the need for the Honduran government to immediately address civil rights violations following the recent murder of Honduran indigenous and environmental rights activist Berta Cáceres.
The killing of Ms. Cáceres fits into a broad pattern of attacks against and targeted killings of Honduran activists since the 2009 military coup. International human rights organizations have documented a dramatic increase in targeted killings of journalists, legal professionals, LGBTI activists, land rights activists, labor activists, Afro-indigenous and indigenous activists, and other activists in the years since the 2009 military coup.
In this context, we request that the Department of State and the Department of Treasury reconsider U.S. funding and assistance to Honduran security forces and U.S. support for loans to development projects in Honduras that have a history of undermining the land rights of indigenous people and small farmers.
To combat a growing climate of impunity, we also call for the establishment of an independent international investigation of Ms. Cáceres’ murder, in accordance to the wishes of her family, and urge the Honduran government to immediately institute and fund a system of protection for human rights defenders, journalists, and political opposition members who remain at risk.
Honduras has lost an extraordinary advocate for the environment and social justice, and many more of these advocates remain at risk. Our nation must do everything in our power to ensure this violence and harassment in Honduras ceases. If you have any questions or would like to sign on, please contact Sascha Foertsch firstname.lastname@example.org (Rep. Johnson) or Sara Sudetic at email@example.com(Rep. Ellison) by COB, March 14.
Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Keith Ellison
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Gustavo Castro Soto, Mexican national from Chiapas, and long standing colleague of Berta Cáceres in the Meso-american struggles against megaprojects, is still being held as of Saturday by the Honduran officials. As sole eye witness to the crime, his life is in danger. COPINH leader Aureliano Molina is also being held. The authorities are desperate to blame someone from COPINH or their allies for the death of Berta, concocting ridiculous hypotheses that Berta's assassination was a "robbery" or "crime of passion". Read the action alert from Other Worlds has posted, to call, email or fax the Honduran Ambassador to the U.S. and the US Ambassador to Honduras, for the release and safe return of Gustavo to Mexico.
Agricultural Missions, Inc. (AMI) expresses profound grief and indignation at the news of the cowardly assassination of Berta Cáceres, Lenca leader of COPINH (the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras). We express our condolences to Berta’s family and to the members of COPINH. The world has lost a courageous, inspiring and intelligent leader and her loss is incalculable.
Berta’s leadership role led to her receiving international recognition as a recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize while, simultaneously, at home she was faced with numerous death threats, leading to her being under officially mandated protective security by the Honduran government. The relentless advocacy of COPINH in defense of their ancestral lands and recent protest of a controversial development project, the Agua Zarca Dam in the community of Rio Blanco, have led to the murders of Berta and four other influential members.