Head of Dam Company Arrested for Murder of Berta Cáceres

Manifestación Berta Cáceres en las puertas de la OEA en Washington DC el 5 de abril de 2016.
Manifestación Berta Cáceres en las puertas de la OEA en Washington DC el 5 de abril de 2016.
Daniel Cima via Wikimedia Commons

Multiple news organizations are reporting that David Castillo, the head of DESA and a former Honduran military intelligence officer, has been arrested for the murder of the Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres.

Cáceres was killed two years ago today in a chilling attack that also gravely wounded her colleague Gustavo Castro. Castro survived by feigning death. 

For years, Berta had led a peaceful resistance movment against the Agua Zarca Dam, which DESA was building on the Gualcarque River in indigenous Lenca territory without consent from the local people. A regular target of government harrassment, Berta had experienced increasingly frequent incidents just before her death, and she had expressed fear for her life to friends and colleagues.

For two years, the Honduran government has dragged its feet on the investigation, despite an abundance of evidence. The arrest would not have been possible without ongoing pressure from Cáceres' organization, COPINH, which kept up a steady drumbeat of pressure on the Honduran government, with support from international NGOs and governments. 

The arrest should send a clear message to both dam builders and financiers that violence and harrassment against river defenders will not be tolerated. If anything, the international community must step up its pressure on the Honduran government to protect human rights and honor the results of last year's democratic election.

Today's arrest is just the first step in achieving justice; we will be monitoring the case as it proceeds. We also join COPINH in calling for the arrest and prosecution of all the intellectual authors of this crime. 

Friday, March 2, 2018