Berta Cáceres, may she rest in peace, was born on March 4th, 1973, in La Esperanza, Honduras. Before I learned anything about her, I never knew environmental martyrs, people who are tortured or even killed because they fight for the well being of our planet, could exist.
Berta was an amazing woman and I am proud to share similar traits with her. Like Cáceres , I am from Central America. My country, El Salvador, and hers are neighbors and both are homes to descendants of the Lenca people, an ethnic group from the Pre-Columbian era she was part of! I also recognize myself in her concern about climate change but I unfortunately do not have the same courage as her to speak up and take action for what I stand for, I guess that’s a huge difference between her and I. Also, even if my origins are Salvadorian, I was born in Canada, a country extremely different from Honduras. When I was born, I had the guarantee that my rights would always be protected by The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Unlike her, I have the right to protest against the government or corporations without having to fear for my own safety because I have the protection of the Constitution. Her, on the other hand could not rely on the State, the police or the army to grant her protection because they are corrupt. Countries in Central America are runned by rich people who manipulate authorities with money to have them do what they want.
Berta is the co-founder of the organism COPINH which is the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras. During ten years she campaigned against the construction of the Agua Zerca Dam which was to be constructed on a territory occupied by the indigenous Lenca people, her people. She also formed a human blockage that stayed in place for more than a year on a route leading to an illegal construction site! Her works on the campaign were recognized with the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015, about one year before she was murdered. The reason why I chose her to be my inspirational woman is because her fight made me think of a subject of actuality: The Wet’suwet’en’s fight against the Coastal GasLink’s project to build pipelines on their territory. I chose to talk about her to make us reflect on the importance of the fight that is being held right now in Canada to go against a similar problem! Learning about Berta Caceres made me realise that indigenous people’s rights are almost always neglected by Governments at any time, in any place and that today is a perfect moment to follow Caceres’ example and to protest against those inequalities, especially here, in Canada, where protesting is allowed!
March 2nd, 2016, Caceres was murdered in her house in La Esperanza. It has been said that a few months before this sad event, special forces of the Honduran military trained by U.S., received a hitlist with her name on it. She also had already received a total of about 33 death threats, and she claimed that 10 members of her organization had already been murdered. I chose her to be my inspirational woman because she did not give up. She was a female environmental activist in a dangerous and corrupt country, she had a four children, she was constantly threatened of being killed, she fought for an Indigenous community, some of her partners had already been murdered before her and she did not give up. She had all the reasons to let go, silent her voice and suffer the injustices, but she decided to go on, she decided that it was worth it. That is my definition of ‘inspiring’; someone who decides to persevere in what they believe at all cost. Someone who, unlike me, takes action for what they stand for and do not give up.