The three daughters of environmental activist and Lenca indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, who was shot and killed by two assailants in her home in the town of La Esperanza, Honduras last Thursday, have asked to meet with President Juan Orlando Hernández to personally petition that an international and independent commission be established to investigate the murder of their mother. The names of the three young woman are Laura Yolanda, Olivia Marcela, and Berta Isabel Zúniga Cáceres.
“If the government of Honduras wants to guarantee our security, then it has to determine the origin of the threat, who is behind it and why, for the sake of our safety and that of our entire family,” said the eldest, Olivia Marcela. At a press conference organized by the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the daughters read from a prepared written statement, saying… “We request publicly an urgent meeting with President Juan Orlando Hernández, as well as with the attorney general, Óscar Chinchilla, and the relevant cabinet ministers in order to guarantee respect for the integrity of the Lenca people.”
According to news reports, the daughters assured that they were the only ones speaking on behalf of their slain mother. They said they were backed by the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH)–the grassroots organization formerly led by Berta Cáceres.
This one’s a no-brainer Mr. President. Go ahead and clear out your schedule, arrange the meeting, hop in the presidential helicopter and fly to La Esperanza. Meet quietly with the daughters in their home. Offer your condolences, then sit down and listen to them. (Yes, we know that you’ve already condemned the killing and promised a thorough investigation, and that the Public Ministry, aided by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, is on the case.) Now, just listen to them and take their petition seriously. Remember, no showy stuff and speeches afterward, and definitely don’t make any promises you know you may not be able to keep.
Fly back to Tegus, get on the phone and start making the necessary long distance calls. Make it happen. In the meantime, ensure that the Lenca are left in peace. If by some chance you can’t locate the killers and put them away, along with whoever may have hired them, then at least honor the memory of Berta Cáceres and leave her people, their lands and their rivers alone. That would be a nice gesture. You might start with cancelling Desarrollos Energéticos SA’s (DESA) Agua Zarca hydroelectric project. You can do that.