Berta Cáceres is not like most people. Her close friends and colleagues carry around a eulogy for her, even though she is very much alive and just won the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize.
Berta, you see, works in the most dangerous country to be a land defender. Global Witness, an NGO, documented 111 murders of environmental activists in Honduras between 2002 and 2014. She receives regular threats of murder and violence from armed security contractors and the Honduran armed forces.
Berta is an indigenous Lenca woman of Honduras who successfully led a grassroots movement that stopped the world’s largest dam builder—Chinese state-owned Sinohydro—from building the Agua Zarca Dam, a project that would have cut off the supply of water, food and medicine for hundreds of indigenous people living in the forests of Honduras.
In 1993, Berta co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to defend her peoples from those encroaching on their ancestral lands. This week, she received the world’s largest prize for grassroots advocates who protect the natural environment.
Today, on Earth Day, April 22nd, Berta is in Washington D.C. to attend the Goldman Environmental Prize Ceremony, where her courageous work and life will be honored and celebrated. Hopefully her premature eulogy stays crinkled up in someone’s pocket or stored away on a flash drive for a long time to come.
To learn more about Berta’s story and Global Witness’ report, check out the following articles: