Originally published in the April 2016 issue of Liberation Newspaper.
Internationally recognized environmentalist and indigenous activist Berta Cáceres was murdered in her home town of La Esperanza in Honduras on March 3. Two weeks later, her comrade Nelson García was also murdered. They are just the latest martyrs who have lost their lives under the right-wing Honduran government that took power in a 2009 coup, supported by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Family and friends of Cáceres directly accuse the Honduran government for her assassination. In July 2013, a colleague of Cáceres, Tomás García, was murdered by gunshot in broad daylight by a Honduran soldier in front of 200 to 300 people who were peacefully marching to deliver a message to the companies constructing a dam near his community.
A handful of corporate media outlets have reported the assassination of Cáceres, and mentioned the possible involvement of the Honduran government. But these news reports always leave out the role played by the U.S. government in the 2009 coup that installed this violent regime.
U.S. role exposed
Wikileaks cables released in 2011 detailed that the forces that overthrew democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya were promised U.S. support. In 2008, Zelaya had brought the country into the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), which promoted mutual support between Latin American nations and pro-people development, as opposed to the U.S. neoliberal agenda.
Emails showed Clinton proposed working through business lobbyists who were supporting the coup. She avoided using the word “coup” altogether in public. Then in her memoir “Hard Choices,” she admitted to working against those governments across Latin America who were trying to restore Zelaya to his elected office.
She wrote: “We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot.” That passage was then deleted from the paperback edition of Clinton’s memoirs published in 2015—timed for her presidential run.
Elections far from free and fair
The “free and fair elections” Clinton mentioned were just the opposite. The November 2009 elections were held in a climate of fear, intimidation and absolute rule by the coup government of Roberto Micheletti.
During the time of the elections, freedom of assembly, freedom of movement and press freedom were all suspended. Many Hondurans were subjected to arbitrary arrest, police beatings, torture and even killings at the hands of security forces.
The “free and fair elections” Clinton brags about were so unfree that the world’s major election observation teams—the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization of American States and the Carter Center—refused to participate.
The one organization that supposedly gathered election data, “Hagamos Democracia,” was trained and organized by an international foundation funded by the U.S. government and affiliated with the Democratic Party.
Berta Cáceres was a vocal opponent of the 2009 Honduran coup. She staunchly opposed the repressive, pro-corporate and Washington-backed government. She helped give voice to the huge numbers of Honduran people that have resisted its rule.
Given her record, it is indeed an insult for Clinton to present herself as an example of women’s equality, individual determination and public service. It is Berta Cáceres who will serve as a true model for progressive and revolutionary people worldwide—not the women of Washington’s foreign policy establishment, which is responsible for so much suffering in Honduras and elsewhere.
¡Berta Cáceres, presente!