On Monday, more than one year after the conviction of the seven material authors of the murder of Berta Caceres, their sentences were finally announced.
Berta Zuniga, coordinator of COPINH and daughter of Berta Caceres, read the following statement (translated into English) outside the courthouse in Tegucigalpa.
The daughters and son of Berta Cáceres together with COPINH, after the reading the sentences of the first trial against the perpetrators of the murder of our compañera Berta Cáceres, we declare the following:
1. Impunity does not end with the sentence to the material authors. There is sufficient evidence to prosecute and punish members of the Atala family and others for the murder of Berta Cáceres.
2. The Public Ministry led by Óscar Chinchilla must stop making excuses to prosecute and require the submission to trial of Daniel Atala Midence, José Eduardo Atala Zablah, Pedro Atala Zablah and Jacobo Atala Zablah, among others, for the murder of Berta Cáceres.
3. The State of Honduras faces international processes for the participation of public officials and the failure to properly investigate the murder of Berta Cáceres.
4. The lack of justice in Honduras requires the installation of an independent mission that carries out the prosecution and submission to trial of those responsible for the murder of Berta Cáceres
5. This sentence is a first crack in the wall of the total impunity that sustains the criminal structure responsible for the crime as a result of the tenacity of the struggle of COPINH, the family and national and international solidarity.
Berta, our sister will continue to be a symbol of struggle and hope for all the territories that today continue the battle in defense of life and that today are persecuted and criminalized by this dictatorship. This sentence is the beginning of an implacable path of justice for the people and for Honduras.
At COPINH we continue with hope defending the blood of the earth, building to coexist in a fair and dignified way that promotes life. We do not faint in our struggle in which Berta lives and lives.
Impunity does not end with a sentence!
Punishment of the Atalas!
Given December 2, 2019 in the city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
We recognize the role played by the United States throughout this case, understanding the connection between US support for the Honduran State and their complicity in the murder of Berta Caceres.
We condemn the use of US tax dollars to train and equip the armed forces in Honduras that intimidate human rights defenders and work as a cog in the machine of impunity. We call upon the US government to take responsibility for their continued backing of an authoritarian regime inextricably linked to this case and marred with many other human rights violations.
We, the Solidarity Collective, stand in solidarity with COPINH and the members of the community of Rio Blanco that continue to face hardships caused by the attempt to illegally impose a hydroelectric project in their ancestral territory. We recognize that much more needs to be done before justice is achieved.
As COPINH declares,
We know that the sentence is a step towards justice, but that there is still no justice for Berta and the communities affected by the Agua Zarca hydroelectric plant and the community of Río Blanco.
We support COPINH in their demands for justice and the need for full investigations into all those responsible for the murder of Berta Caceres, so that all those responsible can be brought to justice.
We also stand in solidarity with the community of Rio Blanco, whose members continue to face threats and violence for their defense of their territory.
Demand justice for COPINH, support the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act!