Following the news in Honduras this month has felt like reading a politically-charged murder mystery. On March 3rd, world-renowned environmental activist Berta Cáceres was murdered in her home. Hondurans called fowl, beliving she was silenced for her long fight against the Agua Zarca Dam along the Gualcarque River, a river sacred to the indigenous Lenca people. With no immediate suspect, fingers have been pointed at the Honduran government and the company in charge of the project.
The only witness at the scene, Cáceres’s colleague Gustavo Castro, was barred from leaving Honduras. Shot twice during the assassination, Castro was slapped with a 30-day immigration alert, preventing him from flying home to Mexico. In an open letter, he expressed his fears that he was being treated more like a suspect than a victim, also claiming that the crime scene had been tampered with and the investigation botched.
Two murders in as many weeks was enough to cause international backers of the dam project to freeze a $20 million investment and many are calling on the U.S. to do the same, given that USAID is another backer of the dam project. Both Honduran and American activists are calling for the U.S. Government to cut support for the project. Back in DC, protestors scaled an art installation in front of the USAID building, hanging the following banners:
— The Intercept (@the_intercept) March 14, 2016
Several times in the past few weeks, J has prepped the Marines for planned protests outside the Embassy, though none ever came to fruition. But the outrage can be seen throughout the city in the form of graffiti, extending from the Mexican Embassy (where Gustavo Castro is rumored to be hiding out) to Honduran government buildings.
Even Cáceres’s family has implored the U.S. to act, claiming they have no faith in their own government to do the right thing. Given that Honduras is the world’s most dangerous country for environmentalists, I don’t blame them.
I find it surreal how the United States is brought into the fold in these issues, especially when you’re on the 50-yard line (albeit in the very last row) watching it unfold. It’s a less-touted benefit of the MSG program, to bear witness to the other end of the spectrum of U.S. influence, but one of the most important to me.