Engel Statement on Murder of Honduran Indigenous Leader Berta Caceres
WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement on the murder of Berta Caceres, Coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and winner of the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize:
“I am outraged and deeply saddened by the murder of Berta Caceres, a true champion for social justice in Honduras. I urge Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández to bring to bear all available resources to ensure that those responsible for Berta’s murder are prosecuted and held accountable for their crimes. United States Ambassador to Honduras James Nealon has offered assistance for the investigation, and I urge the Honduran authorities to take him up on this offer. International support for the investigation and the Honduran government’s acceptance of this support are essential.
“While I strongly support U.S. assistance to Central America, we must remember that our assistance to Honduras is not a blank check, and we must continue to focus on reducing impunity. I urge the State Department and USAID to double down on our efforts to strengthen the Honduran justice system, the police, and protection mechanisms for the country’s most vulnerable and threatened individuals.
“It was no secret that Berta received countless death threats prior to her murder. The Honduran government must do a far better job in the future in ensuring that leaders like Berta have access to the best state protection mechanisms available.
“Today, I stand in solidarity with the indigenous communities of Honduras who have lost an incredible leader, and I stand with indigenous rights and environmental activists throughout the world who face similar threats on a daily basis.”