Activists Demand Justice for Berta Cáceres, Call on Hillary Clinton to do right by Honduras

Activists wave flags and surround a puppet depicting Berta Cáceres at Philadelphia City Hall on July 25, 2016.

We reported last week about the It Takes Roots to Change the System People’s Caravan, a multiracial traveling group of activists and advocacy organization representatives traveling between the Republican and Democratic parties’ national conventions to protest the structural violence and discrimination pervading this election season. The caravan arrived in Philadelphia this weekend for actions around a mix of issues, including one today (July 25) demanding an end to the United States’ aid of Honduras’ military regime.

Dozens of activists gathered near Philadelphia City Hall this afternoon and chanted, “Berta didn’t die, she multiplied!” referring to Berta Cáceres, the Honduran indigeneous rights and environmental justice activist killed by armed intruders in March. A giant puppet of Cáceres loomed over those in attendance.

Cáceres previously criticized the Democratic party’s presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton for allegedly helping to legitimize the 2009 Honduran military coup. The coalition, which also led an action yesterday (July 24) in support of environmental justice and indigenous land rights, featured Berta’s daughter Laura Cáceres and demanded Clinton take responsibility for her role in the coup.

(Sameer Rao/Colorlines)

Group in NYC Aims to Pass On Garifuna Language

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It’s estimated that as many as 800 languages are spoken in New York City. There are efforts to make sure one of them does not die. NY1’s Erin Clarke filed the following report.

Every Saturday, Milton Guity teaches his Native language, Garifuna, free of charge.

“I think it is our duty as parents to transmit the language,” he said.

Garifuna originated on St. Vincent, in the Caribbean. The British exiled its Native speakers in 1796 to an island off of Honduras. They later settled in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

“It is part of me, part of my identity, and I love to speak it,” Guity said.

Today, it’s estimated that 200,000 people, mainly in Central America, still speak the language, but the numbers are dwindling.

“Most of them are not situated in their traditional homeland, and most of the young people are shifting to majority languages like English or Spanish. Then, that language is at risk of going extinct within a few generations,” said Teresa O'Neill, a linguist at the Endangered Language Alliance.

But some of the Garifuna living in the city are determined to pass on the language, creating interest among a younger generation.

“I really do want to know my Native language. My parents are fluent, and they speak it to the family all the time,” said Amani Clotter, a student in the Garifuna language class. “But the generation that was born here in New York, we don’t know Garifuna at all.”

Teofilio Colon Jr., who also takes Milton Guity’s class, said it was time to learn the language after a friend asked him questions about his Native Honduras that he couldn’t answer.

“It was at that point where I was like, ‘Look, I don’t ever want to be in that position again where I can’t say something substantive about my people, my culture,’” he said.

Colon Jr. began doing research and soon started the website beinggarifuna.com.

“I try to encourage people my age and younger to appreciate all the different aspects of the culture,” he said.

Experts who work to document and preserve lesser-known languages say efforts like these might just help Garifuna survive.

If Latin America had not been pillaged by the U.S. capital since its independence, millions of desperate workers would not now be coming here in such numbers to reclaim a share of that wealth; and if the United States is today the world’s richest nation, it is in part because of the sweat and blood of the copper workers of Chile, the tin miners of Bolivia, the fruit pickers of Guatemala and Honduras, the cane cutters of Cuba, the oil workers of Venezuela and Mexico, the pharmaceutical workers of Puerto Rico, the ranch hands of Costa Rica and Argentina, the West Indians who died building the Panama Canal, and the Panamanians who maintained it.
—  Juan Gonzalez - Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America
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Hondurans in the town of Gracias partake in the annual Chief Lempira Day Festival

“The festival celebrates the Lencan leader Chief Lempira who managed to unite historically warring tribes as Spanish conquistadors descended in the 1500s. Chief Lempira ultimately cobbled together an anti-Spaniard force 30,000 strong which caused the Spaniards considerable trouble. The Lencan leader was eventually killed by the Spanish, however, and in his absence the popular uprising fizzled. But Chief Lempira’s legend lives on. The currency of Honduras is called the Lempira and he is still a hero to the Lencans. His annual festival day transforms Gracias, normally a sleepy town of 25,000, with a parade, fireworks, rock concerts, an air force fly over, even the President of Honduras helicopters in for the event.”

Source: http://trans-americas.com/blog/2012/05/gracias-honduras/

Hillary Clinton will be good for women. Ask Berta Cáceres. But you can’t. She’s dead. Gunned down yesterday, March 2, at midnight, in her hometown of La Esperanza, Intibuca, in Honduras. Cáceres was a vocal and brave indigenous leader, an opponent of the 2009 Honduran coup that Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, made possible. In The Nation, Dana Frank and I covered that coup as it unfolded. Later, as Clinton’s emails were released, others, such as Robert Naiman, Mark Weisbrot, and Alex Main, revealed the central role she played in undercutting Manuel Zelaya, the deposed president, and undercutting the opposition movement demanding his restoration. In so doing, Clinton allied with the worst sectors of Honduran society.

9 in 10  Salvadorans have been denied asylum, and 8 in 10 Hondurans, Mexicans and Guatemalans have been denied.

The Justice Department, which oversees the immigration courts, hasn’t publicly released comprehensive numbers on these cases. But a spokesperson said DOJ analyzed a subset and found that judges denied asylum in about 60 percent of cases involving women and children from July 2014 through December 2015.

In other words, Central American asylum seekers have little hope of winning in court.

Lost City Discovered in Honduran Rain Forest

An expedition to Honduras has emerged from the jungle with dramatic news of the discovery of a mysterious culture’s lost city, never before explored. The team was led to the remote, uninhabited region by long-standing rumors that it was the site of a storied “White City,” also referred to in legend as the “City of the Monkey God.”

Archaeologists surveyed and mapped extensive plazas, earthworks, mounds, and an earthen pyramid belonging to a culture that thrived a thousand years ago, and then vanished. The team, which returned from the site last Wednesday, also discovered a remarkable cache of stone sculptures that had lain untouched since the city was abandoned.

In contrast to the nearby Maya, this vanished culture has been scarcely studied and it remains virtually unknown. Archaeologists don’t even have a name for it. Read more.

Breaking: Honduran Indigenous Leader Berta Cáceres Assassinated, Won Goldman Environmental Prize | Democracy Now!

Honduran indigenous and environmental organizer Berta Cáceres has been assassinated in her home. […] At approximately 11:45 pm last night, the General Coordinator of COPINH, Berta Caceres was assassinated in her hometown of La Esperanza, Intibuca. At least two individuals broke down the door of the house where Berta was staying for the evening in the Residencial La Líbano, shot and killed her. COPINH is urgently responding to this tragic situation.

Berta Cáceres is one of the leading indigenous activists in Honduras. She spent her life fighting in defense of indigenous rights, particularly to land and natural resources.Cáceres, a Lenca woman, grew up during the violence that swept through Central America in the 1980s. Her mother, a midwife and social activist, took in and cared for refugees from El Salvador, teaching her young children the value of standing up for disenfranchised people.

Cáceres grew up to become a student activist and in 1993, she cofounded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to address the growing threats posed to Lenca communities by illegal logging, fight for their territorial rights and improve their livelihoods.

Berta Cáceres and COPINH have been accompanying various land struggles throughout western Honduras. In the last few weeks, violence and repression towards Berta Cáceres, COPINH, and the communities they support, had escalated. In Rio Blanco on February 20, 2016, Berta Cáceres, COPINH, and the community of Rio Blanco faced threats and repression as they carried out a peaceful action to protect the River Gualcarque against the construction of a hydroelectric dam.

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