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5 May 2016 | Interviews | Water | Criminalization of COPINH | Free Honduras | Land grabbing | Resisting neoliberalism | Human rights | International Peoples´ Meeting “Berta Cáceres Lives on” | Gender | Climate Justice and Energy | Social activists at risk | Berta lives on!
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"Maybe the most beautiful thing about Berta was her smile, even in the most difficult times, and her determination to keep up the struggle, the love for her people", said Juan Almendares, coordinator of the Movimiento Madre Tierra - Friends of the Earth Honduras, in an interview with Real World Radio.
"Doctor" Almendares, as his close friends call him, was Berta´s doctor and met with the leader´s daughters over health issues a few weeks before she was murdered. He has known the family for many years.
In the interview with Real World Radio, he expressed his solidarity also with Berta´s former partner, Salvador Zúñiga, the father of her daughters and son. According to Almendares, "Salvador is a great human rights defender, a defender of life", who "is in danger, just as his daughters". "They are extraordinary young people, who speak with their hearts, strong and incredibly smart, sensitive, human. We definitely have to feel proud of this family", he stated.
The interview with the doctor was held in the framework of Real World Radio´s visit to Honduras to cover the "International Peoples´ Meeting - Berta Cáceres Lives On", from April 13-15. To talk with Almendares is moving and captivating.
The activist speaks from reason and intelligence, but also from the deepest of his heart and beliefs. He is widely renowned in Honduras for his struggles. He spoke of his country with pain. He referred to Honduras as a "militarily occupied" State and said that he feels a "deep rejection for the military geopolicy of the US". He highlighted the coup d´Etat of 2009 and that the struggle for human rights is carried out with "fear" since "many of our colleagues are murdered". "All of our members are at risk, some of them have left the country, some of them have had their families killed".
In the interview he made reference to the grassroots work of the Movimiento Madre Tierra with 25 communities of the poorest areas and the support of Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean (ATALC) and Friends of the Earth International, networks Madre Tierra is part of. In this way he thanked the international solidarity expressed towards the Honduran people in light of Berta´s murder, and he called for the continuation of these expressions of support.
The experience of Dr. Almendares as a human rights defender is extensive. It is impossible to include everything in one article. We couldn´t help but ask him if he is afraid after so many years of struggle and resistance. "I am afraid, I have been historically afraid, I don´t want to seem as too brave", said between smiles. "But in general I don´t like to speak about what happens to me, what I see, because it is scary", he added.
Nevertheless, he added: "I´ve been threatened, persecuted, I´ve been condemned by death squadrons, I´ve been tortured, I have a series of stories. I´m a person controlled in all aspects of my life. Everything I say is heard everywhere". "Of course there is fear involved in this process. But the fear has to do especially with the situation we are living in this country. It is a situation of terror. People speak so much of terrorism, but we live terrified. But at the same time, I have learned to live and to die. We´ve struggling and we are incorruptible, we are not on sale, like this country", he concluded.
The coordinator of the Movimiento Madre Tierra also called for the unity of social movements and organizations of Honduras. Despite the hard reality in his country, the doctor said that "he doesn´t have time to be sad" because he lives with "spiritual joy for serving the people and struggling". "We are open to talk with any sector, to debate and seriously study the problems. We don´t think of ourselves as superior or inferior to anyone else in the world, I do believe that I´ve learned a lot and I would like to acknowledge this learning to all peoples and their struggles", he concluded.
Imagen: Real World Radio
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