Civic-organization

A woman holds up a poster with an image of slain environmental rights activist Berta Caceres.

Another Member of Berta Cáceres’ Group Assassinated in Honduras

When will it stop?

Nelson Garcia, another member of Indigenous rights group as murdered Indigenous activist Berta Cáceres, has been assassinated in Honduras, local media reported Tuesday.

Less than two weeks after Caceres was gunned down in her home by unknown assailants, Garcia was killed after being shot four times in the face in the Rio Chiquito community.

Both were outspoken members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous organizations of Honduras (COPINH).

Local reports suggest that the assassination happened during an evacuation of occupied land executed by Honduran military police.

Around 150 poor families who were members of COPINH had occupied the land at Rio Chiquito for the last two years.

Garcia, the father of five children, was the leader of the community sitting in Rio Chiquito.

Human rights groups in Honduras have demanded the protection of COPINH members since the assassination of Caceres March 3, triggering an outrage across the world.

Human and environment rights activists say that they are targeted in violent attacks in Honduras.

The assassination of Berta Caceres has put international scrutiny on the Honduran government and supporters of multinational projects in the Central American country.

On Monday, activists called on USAID to cut support for the Agua Zarca dam project, which was vehemently opposed by Berta Caceres and her community.

Two activists scaled an art installation in front of the office of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) information office in Washington D.C. as part of protest calling on the U.S. government agency to cut support with a controversial dam project in Honduras.

USAID is supporting the Agua Zarca dam on the Gualcarque River, which was one of the projects opposed by the Lenca people and famed Honduran Indigenous rights defender Berta Caceres, who was recently assassinated, allegedly as a result of her activism.

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Summer Camps for Girls

Summer camps for girls were organized in the early part of the 20th century. In Minneapolis, the YWCA’s general secretary supported the development of a girls camp in 1918, saying “Minneapolis is the only city I know of which has no YWCA camp for girls.” In 1919, the US Department of the Interior endorsed summer camps for girls (after camps for boys had already been established) asserting, “camps for physical training and citizenship are necessary for girls, too.”

The YWCA Elizabeth Lyman Lodge on Lake Minnetonka enrolled 1,200 girls during the summer of 1918. The camp included recreational activities such as tennis, baseball, and a running track, and dramatic activities, such as circuses and plays. In addition, the camp sponsored recreational weekends for working girls, ages 16-20, for $1 per day.

Several other civic, social and religious organizations offered girls’ camps. Seton Guild, a Catholic community agency was one. Beginning in 1917, Seton Camp at Island Park on Lake Minnetonka served girls and young working women. The camp included physical activities such as boating, gymnastics and archery, and creative crafts such as weaving and hat designing.

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Photos of the YWCA Camp are from the Minneapolis Newspaper Photograph Collection. Photos of Seton Camp are from the Minneapolis Tribune, 7/10/1938, and an undated advertisement.

Quotations are from the Minneapolis Tribune, 3/17/1918 and 8/10/1919.

Berta Cáceres with her four children in a photo taken about 15 years ago.

‘Time was running out’: Honduran activist’s last days marked by threats

In her final days, Berta Cáceres was bombarded with texts and calls warning her to give up the fight against the Agua Zarca dam, or else.

The Honduran Indigenous leader told trusted friends and colleagues that some of the death threats were from a suspected sicario – or hitman – who was terrorizing community members near the dam and openly boasting of his intention to kill her.

Cáceres started making arrangements to move from her isolated bungalow on the outskirts of the city of La Esperanza to a bustling lodging house run by her organisation, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), where she wouldn’t be alone.

Garifuna Indigenous people and members of the local community protest near the presidential house in Tegucigalpa during the Indigenous forum ‘Berta Cáceres Lives’.

The day before she was murdered, Cáceres took her youngest daughter to the airport. As they hugged goodbye, she whispered a final piece of advice. “She told me: ‘If something happens to me, don’t be scared,’” Laura Cáceres, 23, told the Guardian.

Around lunchtime the following day, Cáceres stopped to sign some cheques at COPINH’s women’s centre, where she told Lilian Esperanza, a longtime friend and the group’s financial coordinator, to plan for her not being around. “She wanted to change the rules so someone else could sign checks. She was worried about being murdered or imprisoned,” said Esperanza. “‘I keep reporting the threats, but no one pays attention,’ she told me.”

Less than 12 hours later, Cáceres was shot dead in her home. Her friend Gustavo Castro, coordinator of Friends of the Earth Mexico, was injured in the attack but survived by playing dead.

Despite the evidence that she had been targeted because of her campaign against the dam, police treated three of her closest colleagues – Castro and two members of COPINH – as the prime suspects.

“My daughter was systematically persecuted for years, but still, I didn’t believe they would actually kill her,” said Berta Flores, 83, sitting next to the candlelit altar adorned with fresh flowers and photographs.

“She worked frantically in the days before she was killed. It’s as if she knew time was running out.”

Cáceres was buried on 4 March on what would have been her 45th birthday.

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Olivia Zuniga Caceres, daughter of murdered Indigenous activist leader Berta Cáceres, calls for justice during a meeting in Tegucigalpa, March 15, 2016.

Children of Murdered Indigenous Activist Berta Cáceres Face Harassment

Cáceres’ children demand that the Honduran government better investigate their mother’s death and provide them with security.

Laura Zuniga Cáceres, the daughter of murdered Honduran environmental rights activist Berta Cáceres, said her family has faced at least four incidents of harassment since their mother was killed on March 3.

Since Cáceres was shot and killed in her own home, her daughter and three sons traveled back to Honduras where they say unknown armed men have been following them and strangers have showed up to photograph their grandmother’s home where the family has been staying.

Zuniga Cáceres denounced these acts in a special conference in Washington Wednesday, where she also requested to meet Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez in person to ask for additional security measures.

“We live within a fence that the government built for us. They don’t say they’re investigating. They have ignored us in a bestial way,” said Zuniga Cáceres, who is herself an activist. She also requested that Washington put pressure on the Honduran government to investigate her mother’s murder.

Meanwhile, Gustavo Castro, the Mexican activist who witnessed Cáceres’ murder, said he is concerned that he is being implicated in the crime.

Both Castro and the Mexican Ambassador Dolores Jimenez expressed their concern in front of the National Human Rights Commission March 16 that Castro may be charged by the government for Cáceres’ murder. The Mexican activist has been forbidden by local authorities from leaving the country.

Castro suspects the government will try to pin the murder of Cáceres on members of the activist group she founded and ran, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations.

Castro spent several days in custody following Cáceres’ death, but since his release he has been forced to take refuge in the Mexican Embassy in Tegucigalpa, fearing for his life.