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“We don´t want to be martyrs, we don´t want any more martyrs in this country, but we also have the historical responsibility to show that we have the right to build a better world. And we can´t run away from that responsibility”, said Garifuna leader Miriam Miranda, Coordinator of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) in an interview with Real World Radio.
Miriam did not hide the pain for the loss of her “sister” Berta Caceres, murdered on March 2nd, after 25 years of shared struggle, but highlighted that “our duty as human rights defenders is to spread the word and work together”, in a country where “we are the most vulnerable”. “Each day our space to live in is more and more reduced, it is like being in prison, certainly. However, you live with this”, said the leader.
Real World Radio interviewed Miriam in Tegucigalpa, Honduran capital city, on the first day of activities at the “International Peoples´ Meeting, Berta Caceres Lives On”, on April 13. An interview with Miriam was mandatory, since she is one of the most renowned social leaders of Honduras, as persecuted and threatened as Berta. We don´t hide the fear of losing her, in a country where criminalization and persecution of social activists and impunity reign.
“We know that we are more vulnerable than ever, we know that with certainty”, said Miriam. “But we can´t abandon the struggle, we can´t run away, as we have proven historically, we have the right to live in this country in peace, with harmony, with all the conditions necessary as human beings. This is Berta´s call”.
The OFRANEH Coordinator highlighted the importance of creating the Popular Honduran Articulation Berta Cáceres, that gathers social movements from all sectors responding to the need to join struggles and give content to them. “We don´t want Berta to become an empty icon, something fashionable. We want to build on this for the future. It is the best legacy we can leave the generations to come”, she explained. “We can´t forget Berta. There is an absence, but also a permanent presence in our struggles”, she said.
Miriam denounced the absolute secrecy around the investigation over the murder of Berta Caceres in La Esperanza, Intibucá department. “It is not possible to continue with this secrecy. The relatives, her daughters and son have to be involved in the investigation. This is what we are demanding”. She also said that the investigation needs to take into account the claims by Berta against companies such as DESA, the company in charge of Agua Zarca on the Gualcarque River, a sacred place for the Lenca people, which Berta defended so much.
Miriam, as well as Honduran and international social movements believe that Berta was murdered for her social struggle, and therefore there needs to be an investigation on the people she denounced, who threatened her so many times. “The investigation is not focusing on why our sister was murdered. That is why we say that the government is responsible for the murder of Berta Caceres, directly, because it has allowed for this to happen even though they knew that they could make decisions to prevent it”.
The Garífuna leader also rejected the argument by the government led by Juan Orlando Hernandez that Berta was not protected, despite the precautionary measures imposed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, because she didn´t want to be protected. “That is a lie”, said Miriam. “The government needs to find, together with the beneficiaries of precautionary measures, the best way to protect them. This country has a large number of people with precautionary measures by the IACHR. I am one of them, and I´ve never been asked “how can we keep you safe?”.
For the indigenous representative it is not possible to provide security to human rights defenders if there is no political will by the State to eliminate the direct sources of these activists´ vulnerability. “If DESA continues in the Lenca territory, then what is the security we are talking about? Because conflict stays there. That is the problem.” And she added: “since the State is saying that they have good intentions, then they should make DESA leave. This company has to leave the territory because that is the source of the conflict.” Miriam said that the claims by the government, which states that the police can protect human rights defenders, is a sham. In addition, the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) has denounced the Police and the Army as authors of the threats against the leader and other members of the organization. In fact, COPINH is denouncing these forces as responsible for the murder of their former Coordinator.
About the “International Peoples´ Meeting Berta Caceres Lives On”, Miriam highlighted that the goal was for international social movements to build global strategies to demand justice over the murder of the Lenca leader. It also aimed at advancing in the search for proposals, “to join our thoughts and actions to combat the predatory model over common resources”.
Imagen: Real World Radio
En esta edición, el programa conjunto mensual de la Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC-Vía Campesina) y Amigos de la Tierra de América Latina y Caribe repasa las acciones realizadas en todo el continente en el marco de la Jornada Continental de Defensa de la Democracia y contra el Neoliberalismo: Dominicana, Paraguay, Perú, Brasil, Panamá y Uruguay, presentes.
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