Monday, December 12, we began our day with a visit to Berta Caceres’ mother, whose name is also Berta. I was immediately impressed with this strong woman who passed on to her daughter the passion for organization and resistance against oppression for which she herself has always fought. She married young and lost her first husband to an assassination. She later became mayor of Esperanza and later served in the Assembly. She was known on national and international levels for her work. In her community she is a midwife assisting many women to give birth. Berta inherited her mother’s drive for justice.
Today as we sit with her she tells again the story of Berta. The entrance of her home is a shrine to her daughter whose picture is portrayed in many places. She spoke again of Berta’s role in COPINH organizing for the Lenca people to stand against the transnational company seeking to build a road through Lenca property to build a hydroelectric dam at Rio Blanca on the side of the river owned by the Lenca people. The road was stopped but a high price was paid…Berta’s own life.
Several years ago Berta brought a delegation of indigenous people representing COPINH to visit Pope Francis. She presented a list of demands of the indigenous people for the violation of their human rights. Pope Francis sent a personal note of condolence at the time of Berta’s funeral.
Berta’s mother stressed the importance of faith communities in this struggle to maintain the human rights of the people. That is why our presence is important. We need to mobilize to encourage the U.S. Government to cut off military aid to Honduras until the human rights of the people are recognized and the government ceases to support the privatization of public facilities and lands belonging to indigenous populations, especially the Lenca.
– by Phyllis Tierney