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Honduras: Water And Land Defenders And U.S. Policy

Monday, March 7, 2022
7 PM - 8.15 PMET
Via Zoom


As Hondurans honor the memory of beloved Indigenous leader and environmental activist Berta Caceres this month, representatives from the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations in Honduras (COPINH) and from the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ) will discuss Berta’s legacy and what the recent election of President Xiomara Castro could mean for the ongoing struggle against destructive extractive projects in the country. MAPA speakers will describe past and upcoming solidarity work and how you can take action in solidarity with the Honduran people!

The January 2022 inauguration of President Xiomara Castro, the first female President of Honduras and wife of formerly deposed President Manuel Zelaya, has inspired renewed hope in Honduras. However, widespread corruption, impunity, and state violence remain an immense barrier to change.

For over four years, members of local communities in Honduras, organized by MADJ, have peacefully maintained an encampment defending the Jilamito River against the construction of a hydroelectric project that starkly parallels the hydroelectric project that led to Caceres’ assassination. The project threatens the water sovereignty of surrounding communities and has been rejected in two municipal referendums held in 2015 and 2019. MADJ has repeatedly denounced violence and threats against the water defenders as well as corruption associated with the concessions and licensing of the project.

Here in Massachusetts we’re organizing in solidarity to expose the connection between Massachusetts and the Jilamito Hydroelectric Project. The parent company of the project developer was partly owned by Simonds International Corporation, a Massachusetts toolmaker, until recently; now a shadowy shell company known as Simonds Holdco LLC has taken over its ownership stake. Additionally, IDB Invest, a bank in which the U.S. holds a significant stake, has approved a $20.25 million loan to the project.


Derek Sexton is co-chair of the Latin American / Caribbean Working Group in Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA). In August 2021, he traveled to Honduras on an international human rights delegation with Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective (WFPSC) to explore the root causes of migration.


Bertha Zúniga Cáceres is a General Coordinator of COPINH and a social movement leader in Honduras. She is the daughter of Berta Cáceres and has worked tirelessly over the past six years to demand justice for her mother and expose the criminal structure behind her murder.  

Víctor Fernández, co-founder of MADJ, is a leading Honduran human rights lawyer and social movement leader. Previously, as President of the Association of Honduran prosecutors he was part of a 38-day hunger strike against corruption. He also leads the team of lawyers representing the family of murdered indigenous leader Berta Cáceres. 

Brigitte Gynther is School of the America Watch’s Program and Research Coordinator and has lived and worked in Central America for the past decade. She spent several years as a human rights accompanier in Honduras, documenting human rights violations and accompanying human rights organizations and social movements. She closely accompanied Berta Caceres prior to her 2016 assassination and was deeply involved in efforts to seek justice following her murder. 

Allison Lira is the Director of the Honduras program for the Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective and is based in northern Honduras. She accompanies at risk human rights defenders and communities and works with grassroots organizations to document human rights violations.