Berta Cáceres: A Beautiful Woman, A Most Authentic Hero

  • Written by  Marco Cáceres

cannot say that I was surprised to learn of the killing of Berta Cáceres last week. For years, I had sensed her early and violent death was inevitable, even imminent. It is simply what happens to brave and bold social activists who dare to strike out in defense of the land rights of the poor and indigenous people in Hondurasto have the nerve to question the status quo and try to shake it and loosen it at its roots. Still, it was a shock, I was moved by the thought of such a tragic, needless death.

This wonderful woman knew it too. These are some of her words... “They want to terrorize us. I cannot live my life like before. I cannot go to the office, take part in our campaign, or leave the country to denounce our situation in international forums. I can’t even go swimming in the Río Blanco, which is very important to me because it is sacred to our people.” 


Here are more... “We have nowhere to go and feel helpless and vulnerable, because we have no trust in the judicial system in Honduras. Defending human rights in Honduras is a crime. They are criminalizing the right to our identity and sense of self.” And more... “The situation has deteriorated. It’s very worrying, there’s more cruelty and the repression is increasing.”


You didn't have to be a prophet to know what was coming.


I did not know Berta Cáceres personally (we were not related, by the way), but I do recall trying to contact her on a couple of occasions to establish communications and perhaps invite her to attend the Conference on Honduras in Copán Ruinas. It never worked out, though. We never crossed paths. I regret that very much. From what I observed of her struggles against the powers that be in Honduras, she was passionate, committed and courageous. She was willing to put her life on the line every single day, and there are precious few people you can say that about in this world. She was so fearless in such a fearful society.


Unlike so many leaders in Honduras who purport to be fighting for the civil and human rights of the Honduran people, but are really little more than long-winded, egocentric politicians and entertainers, Berta Cáceres was a revolutionary in every elegant sense of the word. There was nothing superficial or artificial about her. She was not a petty politician, but rather a serious adult who knew that if she didn't stand up for the rights of the poor and indigenous people, few others would or could.


Berta Cáceres was 44 years old when she was murdered in her home in the city of La Esperanza by two gunmen last Thursday. She was the mother of four children. What can you say when such a thing happens. To use words to insult or denigrate her killers would just take up space here and not do her justice or give comfort to her family. Berta Cáceres is dead, and she will be missed. Her memory will live on, and hopefully the just cause she led in Honduras will be picked up and led by someone else. That is all one can say.


Honduras has lost its most authentic hero in recent memory. She was a beautiful woman and human being. It is a shame. A great shame. 

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