HONDURAS REMEMBERS ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST BERTA CACERES
(P1) A large crowd in Honduras ACCOMPANIED the body of Berta Cáceres to its FINAL RESTING PLACE amid calls for JUSTICE over this week’s killing of the INDIGENOUS leader and ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST.
(P2) Many of those carrying Cáceres’ COFFIN on their shoulders through the dusty streets of La Esperanza on Saturday were Lenca indigenous people for whose rights she had fought. MOURNERS sang “The struggle goes on and on” and “Berta Cáceres is present, today and forever.”
(P3) The crowd marched more than 10km (6m) from Cáceres’ mother’s home to a CHAPEL where a Mass was held IN HER MEMORY, and then to the CEMETERY in La Esperanza about 300km east of the capital. Her four daughters and her ex-husband were among the PROCESSION.
(P4) “Forgive me, Bertita,” said Salvador Zuniga, Cáceres’ former husband. “Forgive me for not understanding your greatness.”
(P5) The previous evening, Caceres’s mother Austra Flores said she hoped that her daughter’s murder will not go unpunished and that international attention will PRESSURE Honduran authorities to find those responsible.
(P6) Cáceres, 45, who was awarded the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize for her role in fighting a DAM project, had complained of DEATH THREATS from police, the army, and landowners’ groups. She was killed early on Thursday by gunmen who broke into her home and shot her four times.
(P7) “My mother died because she DEFENDED the land and rivers of her country,” Cáceres’ daughter Olivia said.
(P8) Gustavo Castro Soto, a Mexican human rights activist, was also wounded in the attack. Honduran Justice minister Julian Pacheco said Soto survived the shooting by playing dead after gunfire GRAZED his cheek and left hand. Soto is considered a protected witness whose TESTIMONY is important to solving the killing.
(P9) Pacheco said two suspects have been DETAINED for questioning, including a private security guard who worked in the NEIGHBORHOOD. Authorities have not said what role they may have played in her killing.
(P10) President Juan Orlando Hernandez said authorities were investigating Caceres’ killing with assistance from the United States.
(P11) US ambassador James Nealon said at the FUNERAL: “We have asked for a rapid and complete investigation so the full weight of the law is applied to those responsible.”
(P12) Foreign minister Arturo Corrales promised that justice would be done, saying that “there is much information to help solve the case.”
(P13) According to the website of the Goldman Environmental Prize, Cáceres “waged a GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGN that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam.”
(P14) The project threatened to “CUT OFF the supply of water, food and medicine for hundreds of Lenca people and VIOLATE their right to live off their land.”
(P15) A 2015 report by Global Witness found Honduras to be the most dangerous country in the world for environmental activists, with more killed in SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES than anywhere else.
(P16) The report said at least 111 activists were killed in the country between 2002 and 2014.
(P17) Bertha Caceres knew that her activism made her VULNERABLE.
(P18) “I cannot walk freely on my territory and I am separated from my children because of the threats. I cannot live in peace. I am always thinking about being killed or KIDNAPPED. But I refuse to go into EXILE. I am a fighter and I will not give up this fight,” she said.
(P19) She feared for her life, and felt that no matter what PRECAUTIONS she took, if her enemies decided to kill her there would be nothing she could do.
(P20) “The army has an ASSASSINATION list with my name at the top,” she said.
(P21) “I want to live, there are many things I still want to do in this world. I take precautions, but in the end, in this country where there is total IMPUNITY, I am vulnerable. When they want to kill me, they will do it.”
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- Are there any issues concerning indigenous people in your country?
- Do you think that Berta Caceres’s murderers will be brought to justice?
- Who would be interested in killing environmental activists?
- Why is impunity a serious problem in many countries?
EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:
What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.
- Final resting place
- In memory of
- Death threat
- Grassroots campaign
- Cut off