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by John P. Walsh, WFP national board member
On January 16th Gustavo Castro, sole eyewitness to the assassination of Berta Cáceres last March in Honduras, held a press conference at the offices of Amnesty International in Mexico City. Gustavo is a citizen of Mexico.
With his Mexican and Honduran lawyers, Gustavo has filed charges with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights against the state of Honduras for its violation of his rights and its failure in its judicial duties. Gustavo was held captive by the Honduran authorities for days after Berta’s death, with habeas corpus denied and his physical and emotional wounds unattended, and prevented from leaving the country for weeks, despite his repeated cooperation with investigations. Though seven arrests of alleged perpetrators have been made – the most recent last week in Mexico – Honduran authorities have not asked Gustavo, the only eyewitness, if he recognizes any of these individuals.
In any event, apprehending the triggermen isn’t sufficient to reveal who gave them their orders. As Gustavo put it, “The investigation has neither transparency nor clarity.”
Asked about the U.S. role in the investigation of Berta’s assassination and whether human rights charges against the U.S. at the IACHR could also be warranted, Gustavo’s lawyers summarized the conflicting accounts given by the two governments and other sources about the extent of U.S. involvement, and explained that access to the necessary documentation is very difficult to obtain.
This case makes clear the international nature of human rights violations. The dam project that Berta Cáceres died opposing has depended on foreign capital and the participation of transnational corporations. The Honduran security forces, implicated in targeting her, receive U.S. funding. And ending impunity requires an international effort, too. Gustavo Castro needs our support and accompaniment as he contributes a key part of that effort.