The System That Killed Berta Cáceres

When Berta Cáceres was murdered in 2016, she was the leading environmental activist in Honduras and, arguably, the world. A member of the indigenous Lenca people and the founder of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Peoples of Honduras, or COPINH, Cáceres was the most formidable opponent of a powerful energy company called Desarrollos Energeticos Sociedad Anónima, or DESA. Their Agua Zarca dam project would have occupied Lenca land and interfered with waterways sacred to their community. Cáceres worked tirelessly to increase scrutiny of DESA and turn the people of Honduras against the dam, until the early hours of March 3, 2016, when someone had her killed. At the time, David Castillo sat atop DESA’s executive ranks as president and CEO. He is now on trial in the Honduran Supreme Court, charged with ordering Cáceres’s death. Whoever plotted her killing likely underestimated the amount of attention it would bring, drawing Honduras into the international spotlight to a degree unseen since the country’s 2009 coup—but the high-profile case is far from the only one of its kind. Reporters Chiara Eisner and Danielle Mackey join the Intercept’s Maia Hibbett to discuss.


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