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Open Letter on the Two-Year Anniversary of the Assassination of Berta Cáceres

Human Rights defender Berta Caceres

As we approach the second anniversary of the murder of the renowned indigenous, feminist human rights defender Berta Cáceres, the need for the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act is as great as it has ever been. With the support of US financing and training for police and military forces, the Honduran government has become one of the most repressive in the world, engaged in a murderous crackdown of pro-democracy demonstrators, with state security forces routinely murdering and firing live bullets at protesters and bystanders.  There also continues to be targeted campaigns of violence, arbitrary detention, and assassinations against journalists, human rights activists, LGBT Hondurans, and Black and Indigenous community leaders. Much of the pattern of targeted harassment, defamation campaigns, and criminalization that led to Berta’s assassination is being repeated with other Honduran leaders. What’s more, many of the irregularities that plague the prosecution of her murder are being repeated in the cases of political prisoners arrested in the wake of the 2017 election.

Two years on, the investigation into Berta’s assassination and the criminal case against 8 alleged material authors has been characterized by numerous irregularities and problems.  The Public Prosecutor’s Office has consistently failed to turn over all the necessary information to the family’s lawyers in the prosecution of the accused, disobeying the judge’s order to do so, and resulting in hearings being suspended six times.  Furthermore, authorities have refused to arrest and prosecute the high-level intellectual authors, despite an independent report by international legal experts finding that the Public Prosecutors Office has had information identifying some of the intellectual authors since May 2016.

This is a troubling but not altogether surprising development in a country where impunity is the norm, and human rights conditions have reached tragic new lows since the election. At least 35 people have been killed during post-election protests, the vast majority by state security  forces, and their cases remain in impunity.  Thousands have been arbitrarily detained, with widespread reports of torture, forced disappearance, kidnapping, and the systematic use of excessive force against peaceful protests. The Honduran administration has denied access to OAS human rights investigators, while failing to investigate and prosecute the state security forces responsible for murdering, injuring, and torturing demonstrators, much less those who gave the orders to do so.

Against this backdrop, dozens of political prisoners have been held in newly built US-style maximum security prisons. The political prisoners have been targeted for their role in the opposition and anti-fraud protests, and have faced draconian charges including accusations of terrorism, in some cases reviewed by judges embedded in military led task forces. As in Berta’s case, their cases have been plagued by the refusal of the US-supported Honduran state prosecutors to share information with their attorneys. US-backed security forces have not only carried out the arbitrary detentions of political opposition and social movement leaders, but in some cases run the prisons. Human rights defenders, journalists, and even the attorneys and families of the accused have been denied access so it’s impossible to verify their conditions, but we know that they’ve been held for long periods in solitary confinement and denied their essential rights under the law.

Berta Cáceres’s case has become emblematic of the deep structural violence perpetrated by the Honduran state, and of the United States’ role in supporting the militarization of the country and the criminalization of its people. Given the extreme level of repression and murder perpetrated against the Honduran people by the current regime, suspending US security aid to Honduras, as the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act (HR1299) calls for, is a moral imperative and the least that Congress should do. US taxpayer dollars should not be spent propping up an illegitimate regime that uses that money to terrorize its people.

Please join over 70 of your fellow Representatives as a co-sponsor of the bill TODAY to send the clear message that the US government will not finance the torture, forced disappearance, and murder of Honduran human rights defenders, journalists, and protesters.

Thank you for your action at this critical time.

School of the Americas Watch (SOAW)

Witness for Peace (WFP)

WFP and SOAW join over 250 Honduran, US, and International human rights organizations, environmental organizations, labor unions, and faith communities in endorsing the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, including the AFL-CIO, the United Steelworkers (USW), the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), the Sierra Club, the Latin American Working Group (LAWG) and many more.  Organizations that have endorsed the Berta Cáceres Act include the following:

About Face: Veterans Against the War


All African People’s Revolutionary Party

Agricultural Missions Inc

Alianza Americas

Alliance for Global Justice

American Federation of Government Employees, Local 3354

American Friends Service Committee

American Jewish World Service


Arrowhead Indivisible

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (AFL-CIO)

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition (BALASC)

Bautistas por la Paz

Benedictine Sisters of Erie

Bernardine Franciscan Sisters OSF

Brazilian Expats for Democracy and Social Justice

Brooklyn Greens/Green Party

Casa Baltimore/Limay, MD

Center for Constitutional Rights

Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College

Center for International Environmental Law

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha

Center on Conscience & War

Central Americans for Empowerment at UC Berkeley

Centro Presente

CIP Americas Program

Chicago ALBA Solidarity Committee

Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America

Chicago Teachers’ Union

Church Women United in New York State

Climate Justice Alliance

Climate Justice Committee of the Rochester, Minnesota Franciscans

Code Pink

Colectiva Centroamericana – Spain

Colombia Human Rights Committee

Colombian Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador

Coloradans for Immigrant Rights, AFSC Colorado Office

Community Alliance for Global Justice

Congregation of Notre Dame US Province – Justice and Peace Office

Congregation of St. Joseph Peace and Justice Team, Nazareth MI

Congregational UCC Global Ministries Team, Ashland, Oregon

Cross Borders Network

Denver Justice and Peace Committee

Doctors for Global Health

Dominican Sisters – Grand Rapids, MI

Dominican Sisters of Houston

Environmental Association for Latin America

8th Day Center for Justice

El Comité de Apoyo a Trabajadores Agricolas

Human Rights Observation Honduras

Family Farm Defenders

Farmworker Association of Florida


Fellowship of Reconciliation USA

Friendship Office of the Americas

Friends of the Earth

Food Chain Workers Alliance

Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America

Houston Peace and Justice Center

Houston Peace News


Global Exchange

Grassroots Climate Solutions Fund

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Grassroots International



GreenRoots, Inc

Groundswell International

Grupo de Solidaria – Arenal

Guatemala Human Rights Commission

Guatemala Partnership Committee, Congregational Church of Needham

Guatemala Solidarity Project

Indigenous Environmental Network

Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Project

International Capoeira Angola Foundation

International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines — US Committee

International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity for the Peoples

International Labor Rights Forum

InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia

Ivestor Church of the Bretheren Mission and Outreach Team


Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States

JASS (Just Associates)

Just Foreign Policy


Justice and Compassion Ministries Cal-Pac Conference of the United Methodist Church

Justice Commission Committee of the Sisters of Providence

Justice for Muslims Coalition

Justice Peace and Integrity for Creation Committee of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

Karani Media

Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights

Intercommunity Ecological Council of LCWR Region 10

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity

International Action Center

Inter Religious Task Force on Central America, Cleveland, OH

Latin America Solidarity Committee–Milwaukee

Latin America Task Force of Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice, Michigan

Latin America Working Group

La Voz de los Abajo, Chicago

Leadership Team of the Felician Sisters of North America

Leicester Masaya Link Group


Mayflower Church Global Justice Advocacy Team, MN

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign

Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light

Minnesota National Lawyers Guild

MN 350

Movement Generation: Justice and Ecology Project

Nagat-Yamauchi Educational Fund

National Immigrant Solidarity Network Action LA Coalition

National Lawyers Guild


New Haven Leon Sister Cities Project

New Mexico Faith Coalition for Justice

New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light

Newton/San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua) Sister City Project

Nicaragua Center for Community Action

Occupy Bergen County

Oceano Organics Co-Op

Office of Peace, Justice, and Ecological Integrity – Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth

Other Worlds, U.S.

OWS Special Projects Affinity Group

Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples

Pax Christi International

Pax Christi, Indianapolis, IN

Peace Action of Staten Island

Peace and Justice Center, Vermont

Peace House, Ashland OR

Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane


Pesticide Action Network North America

Pioneer Valley Workers Center

Portland Central America Solidarity Committee

Portland Jobs with Justice

Presbyterian Church USA

Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

Project Hondureno

Quixote Center

Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Western American Province

Rights Action, Canada

Rights Action, USA

Rights and Ecology

Rochester Committee on Latin America

Sacramento Action for Latin America

Samuel Rubin Foundation

San Jose Peace and Justice Center

Sanctuary DMV

Santa Clara County Peace and Freedom Party

Schools Sisters of Notre Dame in Honduras

Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Houston TX

Sisters of Charity of New York Office of Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation

Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Justice Team

Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Justice Team

Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston, Justice and Peace Office

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny, Province of USA & Canada

Sisters of the Precious Blood

Sisters of Providence Leadership Team of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN

St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America

Student Organization for Latin American Studies at the University of New Mexico

SHARE Foundation

Sierra Club

SOA Watch

SOA Watch, Boulder CO

SOA Watch, Illinois

SOA Watch, Oakland CA

SOA Watch San Francisco

Solidarity Committee of the Capital District

SouthWest Organizing Project

Sustainable Agriculture of Louisville

Task Force on the Americas

The Adorers of the Blood of Christ, US Region

The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice

Thousand Currents


Trade Justice New York Metro

Travelogue Media

Unidad Latina en Accion

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

United Steelworkers

Unitarian Universalist Faith Action New Jersey

Unitarian Universalist Sevice Committee (UUSC)

UU Faith Action, NJ

Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights

US-EL Salvador Sister Cities

US Peace Council

Veterans for Peace


Win Without War


Witness for Peace

Witness for Peace Midwest

Witness for Peace Northwest

Witness for Peace Southeast

Witness for Peace Southwest

Women Against War

World March of Women, US Chapter

350 New York City

Honduras: Asociación de Jóvenes en Movimiento (AJEM)

Asociación de Jueces por la Democracia (AJD)

Asociación de Mujeres Intibucanas Renovadas (AMIR)

Asociación Feminista Trans (AFeT)

Asociación FIAN Honduras

Asociación Hermanas Misioneras de San Carlos Borromeo Scalabrinianas

Asociación Intermunicipal de Desarrollo y Vigilancia Social de Honduras (AIDEVISH)

Asociación LGTB Arcoiris de Honduras

Asociación Nacional de Personas viviendo con SIDA (ASONAPVSIDA)

Asociación para una Ciudadanía Participativa (ACI-PARTICIPA)

CARITAS – Diócesis de San Pedro Sula

Centro de Derechos de Mujeres (CDM)

Centro de Desarrollo Humano (CDH)

Centro de Educación y Prevención en Salud, Sexualidad y Sida (CEPRES)

Centro de Estudios de la Mujer Honduras (CEM-H)

Centro de Estudios para la Democracia (CESPAD)

Centro de Investigación y Promoción de Derechos Humanos (CIPRODEH)

Centro para la Prevención, Tratamiento y Rehabilitación de Víctimas de la Tortura y sus Familiares (CPTRT)

Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras – COPINH

Colectivo Diamantes Limeños LGTB

Colectivo Gemas

Colectivo Unidad Color Rosa

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos de Honduras (COFADEH)

Comité de Familiares de Migrantes Desaparecidos de El Progreso (COFAMIPRO)

Comité por la Libre Expresión C-Libre

Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos de la Zona Nor Occidental

Crisálidas de Villanueva

Coordinación de Instituciones Privadas por las niñas, niños, adolescentes, jóvenes y sus derechos (COIPRODEN)

Equipo de Monitoreo Independiente de Honduras (EMIH)

Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC-SJ)

Feministas Universitarias

Familia Fransciscana de Honduras (JPIC)

Frente Amplio del COPEMH

Foro de Mujeres por la Vida

Foro Nacional para las Migraciones (FONAMIH)

Foro Social de la Deuda Externa y Desarrollo de Honduras (FOSDEH)

Indignados Unidos por Honduras

JASS en Honduras

Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia (MADJ)

Movimiento Diversidad en Resistencia (MDR)

Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz “Visitación Padilla”

Observatorio Permanente de Derechos Humanos de El Aguán;

Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH)

Organismo Cristiano de Desarrollo Integral (OCDIH);

Pastoral de Movilidad Humana de Honduras;

Red de Mujeres Jóvenes de Cortés

Red de Mujeres Unidas de Colonia “Ramón Amaya Amador”

Red de Participación de Organizaciones de Sociedad Civil Siguatepeque (RPOSC);

Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en Honduras;

Tribuna de Mujeres contra los Femicidios

Unión de Empresas y Organizaciones de Trabajadores del Campo (UTC – La Paz)


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