Opinion | World

Steven Newcomb: Code of domination killed activist Berta Caceres

Berta Cáceres, 1971-2016. Photo by Goldman Environmental Prize

Steven Newcomb (Shawnee / Lenape) of the Indigenous Law Institute links the murder of Honduran activist Berta Cáceres to the system of domination that has been imposed on indigenous peoples and their nations:
The killing of Berta Cáceres and some 110 environmental activists in Honduras is graphic evidence of that domination-dehumanization system. She was a fearless Indigenous leader of the Lenca Nation. She was a mother of four, and an advocate on behalf of Mother Earth and of vital ecosystems. She dared to stand up to powerful political and economic forces by opposing a hydroelectric power project. The motto of the interests she opposed seems to be: “Expand territory and access vital resources by any means necessary, no matter who you have to destroy in the process.” Many of those interests operating in Honduras are from the elite sectors of the United States. Berta paid with her life for having the courage to voice her opposition to that elitist agenda of wealth and power at the expense of distinct peoples and fragile ecosystems.

In a March 4, 2016 article in The Guardian, “Hypocrisy surrounds the murder of Berta Cáceres in Honduras,” Bert Schouwenburg reported on a phenomenon called “femicide” (the mass killing of women). “In 2014,” he writes, “513 women were killed and in 2015 it was estimated that a woman lost her life every 16 hours.” Talk about domination and dehumanization. Where was the outcry from the U.S. Department of State regarding these events? In a March 10, 2016 article in “The Nation,” Greg Grandin points out that Ms. Cáceres, just five days before she was killed, openly criticized Hillary Clinton’s backing of a 2009 coup while she was the U.S. Secretary of State. That coup removed reformist President Manuel Zalaya from power in Honduras. Clinton’s office calls “simply nonsense” any effort to suggest that the Clinton State Department’s Honduran policies created the context for Ms. Cáceres’s killing.

The large number of killings and other acts of trauma inducing repression in Honduras are clearing the way for the so-called Free Enterprise Zones, which are funded by institutions such as the World Bank. Behind all this are powerful interests which demand that their right of imperial self-determination be permitted to roll forward over the people unrestrained, like the tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: The Domination Code Killed Berta Cáceres (Indian Country Today 3/15)

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