JASS Blog Archives for June 2021

by JASS on June 24, 2021 on 6:59 am

By Laura Zúniga Cáceres

On March 2, 2016, the world suffered the murder of land defender Berta Cáceres. From that moment, those of us who took on the fight for justice pointed out that this act was aimed at stopping the struggle of the Lenca people in defense of the Gualcarque River.

The crime against our mother, Berta, occurred within the context of impunity and violence against land defenders. Early on March 3, 2016, government officials publicly asserted that the murder was a common crime, offering no evidence. But the murderers of Berta Cáceres have names—at the time, they were shareholders in DESA [the company that was building the hydroelectric project she and the Lenca communities opposed]. Today DESA remains only in name, a name stained with blood.

From the point of view of Berta’s friends and family, justice is profound: it is built by the peoples, in the communities, by moving forward in their projects to defend life and the future. It is also built by demanding that the justice institutions do their job.

This construction isn’t easy in any of these spheres. Day after day, the communities face the negative impacts of the companies, the military and the police in the territories. And challenging the institutions of justice means appealing to racist and patriarchal spaces that have never contemplated the worldviews and realities of the communities and their leaders.

Fighting for justice

The current trial against Roberto David Castillo, who served as general manager of DESA, is being carried out within the justice institutions of the state. After more than two years of delays, the public trial has entered the final phase of oral arguments, where the evidence from both sides is presented and debated. Roberto David Castillo’s direct link to Berta's murder has been amply demonstrated: recordings of telephone calls made from the cell phones of DESA employees have shown that he coordinated and provided logistics to the hitmen who murdered Berta Cáceres.

In addition, it has been proven that David Castillo transferred and ensured the execution of the orders of the masterminds of the crime to the murderers, that is to say, evidence showed his key role of liaison between those who paid for the murder and those who executed it.

But the role of the businessman was not limited to this. Berta Cáceres warned about Castillo’s training in military intelligence and, as has been seen throughout the hearings, he used this training to control and monitor her actions. In the course of the trial, different evidence has been presented that points directly to the guilt of Roberto David Castillo, but there is also evidence that shows that Castillo's work, as an attacker of the communities, is framed within the policies of dispossession towards indigenous communities that have been built since colonization and that, in recent times, were reinforced by the 2009 Coup d'état. This assassination takes place within the unequal power relations legitimized by patriarchy, racism and capitalism. The peoples know how to do justice Outside the courtroom, debates about justice also take place. These debates take place mainly in the Feminist Camp "Viva Berta" that was installed on the outskirts of the Supreme Court of Justice. The organizations established themselves declaring that "with this camp, we feminist women, fighters, defenders of life, will make a permanent presence before the judicial process that is being developed in the Supreme Court of Justice to obtain #JusticiaParaBerta and punishment for their intellectual murderers”. This camp, promoted by the National Network of Defenders of Honduras, the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) and the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), has brought together dozens of women, men, boys and girls who from different expressions of struggle they are building the other justice: the one that the peoples know how to do. When walking through the camp one finds a circle of flowers, which surrounds a tree that at its foot has an image of our Berta, colored candles keep one of the Kids playing at Camp many fires that burn in the camp. The other fire is that of the improvised stoves that cook the food that is distributed three times a day to those who camp. After the talks that take place between bites, each person goes with their plate and cup to the sink and between soapy and bucketful of water, they take advantage of it to update themselves on the news in the camp.

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by JASS on June 21, 2021 on 12:41 pm

Por Laura Zúniga Cáceres (hija de Berta Cáceres)

El 2 de marzo del 2016, el mundo sufrió el asesinato de la compañera Berta Cáceres. Desde ese momento, quienes asumimos la lucha por justicia señalamos que con este acto se pretendió frenar la lucha del pueblo Lenca en defensa del Río Gualcarque. El crimen contra nuestra Berta se da en un contexto de impunidad y violencia contra las defensoras de la tierra.  El 3 de marzo del 2016 esto quedó evidenciado cuando a primera hora de ese día funcionarios públicos asociaron públicamente y sin pruebas, el asesinato al crimen común. Pero los asesinos de Berta Cáceres tienen nombres y apellidos, son los que, en su momento, fueron accionistas de la empresa DESA, de la que hoy solo queda su nombre manchado de sangre.

Desde la mirada de las compañeras y compañeros de nuestra Berta, la justicia es profunda: la hacemos los pueblos, se construye en las comunidades, continuando con los proyectos en defensa de la vida y del futuro[L1] . También se construye desafiando a las instituciones de justicia para que realicen su trabajo. En ninguno de estos espacios esta construcción es fácil, las comunidades se enfrentan día a día con los impactos que las empresas, los militares y policías dejan en los territorios. Por otro lado, desafiar a las instituciones de justicia significa apelar a espacios racistas y patriarcales que nunca han contemplado las visiones de mundo y realidades de las comunidades y sus liderazgos.

Disputarle justicia al Estado                                                                                                                                   

Dentro de las instituciones de justicia se lleva a cabo el juicio contra Roberto David Castillo, quien fungió como gerente general de la empresa DESA. Después de más de dos años de dilaciones, en estos días, se desarrolla la etapa de juicio oral y público en donde se debaten las pruebas de las diferentes partes del proceso. Hasta este momento se ha demostrado ampliamente la vinculación directa de Roberto David Castillo con el asesinato de Berta: las extracciones telefónicas realizadas a los celulares de los empleados de DESA han demostrado que él coordinó y proporcionó logística a los sicarios que asesinaron a Berta Cáceres. Además se ha comprobado que David Castillo trasladó y aseguró la ejecución de las órdenes de los asesinos intelectuales a los asesinos materiales, es decir que se evidenció su rol clave de enlace entre quienes pagaron el asesinato y quienes lo ejecutaron. Pero el rol de este empresario no se limitó a esto. La misma Berta Cáceres habló de la formación en inteligencia militar de este sujeto y, como se ha visto a lo largo de las audiencias, él utilizó esta formación para controlar y hacer seguimiento a las acciones que ella realizó.

En el proceso judicial se han presentado diferentes pruebas que apuntan directamente a la culpabilidad del Roberto David Castillo, pero también hay pruebas que evidencian que la labor de Castillo, como atacante de las comunidades, está enmarcada dentro de las políticas de despojo hacia las  comunidades indígenas que se han construido desde la colonización y que, en los últimos tiempos, se reforzaron con el Golpe de Estado del 2009. Este asesinato se desenvuelve dentro de las relaciones desiguales de poder legitimadas por el patriarcado, el racismo y el capitalismo.

Los pueblos saben hacer justicia

Fuera de la sala de audiencia también se desarrollan los debates en torno a la justicia. Estos debates se dan principalmente en el Campamento Feminista “Viva Berta” que se instaló en las afueras de la Corte Suprema de Justicia. Las organizaciones se instalaron declarando que “con este campamento, nosotras mujeres feministas, luchadoras, defensoras de la vida, haremos presencia permanente ante el proceso judicial que se está desarrollando en la Corte Suprema de Justicia para obtener #JusticiaParaBerta y castigo para sus asesinos intelectuales”. Este campamento, impulsado por la Red Nacional de Defensoras de Honduras, La Organización Fraternal Negra de Honduras (OFRANEH) y el Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH), ha reunido a decenas de mujeres, hombres, niños y niñas que desde diferentes expresiones de lucha van construyendo la otra justicia: la que los pueblos saben hacer.

Al caminar por el campamento una se encuentra un círculo de flores, que rodea un árbol que a su pie tiene una imagen de nuestra Berta, velitas de colores mantienen uno de los Kids playing at Campamentotantos fuegos que arden en el campamento. El otro fuego es el de las hornillas improvisadas que cocinan la comida que se reparte tres veces al día a quienes acampan. Después de las pláticas que se dan entre bocado y bocado cada persona va con su plato y su taza a la pila y entre enjabonada y pailada de agua se aprovecha para actualizarse de las novedades en el campamento. Corre el olor del café en las tardes en que mientras unas personas reposan en sus hamacas otras desesperadas buscan conectar sus aparatos para hacer su oficina en medio de la carpa que funciona con sala de salud. 

Los niños y las niñas corren alrededor de las mesas en las que las personas adultas se valen de colores, pegamento e hilos para crear libretas, sujeta-mascarillas, foto-bordado y mantas que adornan toda la comunidad que emerge en medio de la capital. El aire del campamento corre  por las mañanas. 

Al llegar al campamento una siente una alegría que sube desde los pies, que siente la tierra, que ha dejado de ser un estacionamiento, para alojar la rebeldía de las comunidades, que resguardadas en carpas, miran de frente al edificio del poder judicial, que desde hace unos meses estrena un muro. Cuando una llega nadie interrumpe sus tareas, pero saludan con la naturalidad de quien sabe que está llegando a casa. Siempre hay una silla disponible para sentarse, un círculo para conversar, comida y colores. El campamento está ahí para llegar antes de entrar a la audiencia y cargarse de energías maravillosas y para llegar después de la audiencia y despojarse de la violencia y hostilidad que una recibe en la Corte Suprema de Justicia.

¡Cuánta solidaridad, cuánto cariño y compromiso vibra en ese bastión de dignidad!

Campamento Feminista

El camino de nuestra Berta

“Los pueblos saben hacer justicia” dijo nuestra Berta y rebota como eco aquella frase que nos ha quedado como un abrazo, que nos compromete y nos alivia el ardor que da la impunidad. Hoy seguimos aquí, frente al poder judicial, nombrando a los asesinos, disputando el futuro de las comunidades indígenas, forjando territorios libres del patriarcado porque es cierto que Berta se multiplicó, no sólo en mi y mis hermanas sino en todas esas voces del pueblo Lenca y quienes nos acompañan que junto a nosotras hacen justicia en cada lucha. 

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by Rosanna Langara on June 18, 2021 on 9:27 am
Almost a year ago, 20 members and supporters of the LGBTQ+ community were arrested and detained on 26 June 2020 as they led the Pride March in commemoration of the International Pride Month in Manila, Philippines. Bahaghari Philippines, together with their allies in Salinlahi (an alliance of child rights advocates), Gabriela Women’s Party, and GABRIELA were detained for five days. Holding a protest rally in Mendiola, Manila was a bold move; it was the first time that a group dared to protest near the presidential palace since COVID-19 militarist lockdown restrictions were first imposed in March 2020. 

"At its very core, Pride is, and will always be, a protest; Pride means fighting back. And so we marched to Mendiola, demanding the right to health, economic aid, and democracy,” said Carla Nicoyco, chairperson of the LGBTQ+ organization Bahaghari Philippines. Carla was among the 20 detained and charged with resistance and disobedience to authority, illegal assembly, and violation of Republic Act No. 11332, the Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases.

The Pride 20, as the activists cameto be known, were released five days later but were further investigated, and the charges against them were only dismissed on 26 October 2020. Carla added, “We can say that we were disappointed but not surprised with the violence Pride 20 experienced under the hands of the police. We experienced different forms of torture and treatment for almost five days -- from psychological warfare to sexual harassment. We were only given a corner while male and female detainees were kept in separate quarters.”

Shortly after the group's release, the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte passed the draconian Anti-Terrorism Law, which Carla granted the government "addtional jusitication for attacking its critics -- leftists or ordinary people alike." She added, “I noticed the shift in how the LGBTQ+ community in the country views Pride from something that is celebratory into something of a protest. This is a consequence of the worsening conditions of the LGBTQ+ community.

Bahaghari echoes the call of many justice groups opposing the Anti-Terrorism Law, which contains broad provisions that criminalize many forms of ordinary dissent. Bahaghari has also criticized the Philippine government for its militarized response to the pandemic and an absence of aid and support to its people. 

It was inspiring to see the overwhelming support extended by many groups and individuals, objecting to the detention of the Pride protesters, which, according to Carla, was an important factor in their release. One of the first organizations to support Pride 20 was JASS.

A day after the arrest of the Pride 20, JASS mobilized 50 local, regional, and international organizations to sign a global solidarity statement calling for the release of the Pride 20. “The global unity statement and the swift support from JASS not only provided help with our immediate needs, but it also gave us political and moral support. The messages and actions by JASS’ broader network of allies and partners were critical” said Carla. “We would not have survived if it were not for different organizations and individuals here and abroad who gave material and moral support,” Carla added. As the Pride 20 were locked up in cramped quarters with nothing to sleep on but the cold floors, JASS provided them with bedding. Upon their release, JASS also supported their healthcare needs including COVID-19 testing while in 14-day quarantine through the JASS Mobilization Fund. JASS also facilitated connections and gave recommendations to several protection organizations for their legal defense and other needs. 

After their release, the Pride 20 protesters filed a counter-charge against the police for unlawful arrest, physical injuries, and maltreatment. When the lockdown policies eased in Metro Manila, Carla and the rest of the Bahaghari continued their organizing with urban poor communities: “When the government eased  travel restrictions during lockdown, we were able to go back to the communities. With the funds from JASS, we were able to reach out and organize. The intensified attacks on activists and peasant rights organizers is fueling anger. But we are harnessing that anger and transforming it into energy.” Since then, Bahaghari established new chapters in several provinces in the country. Bahaghari’s social media pages garnered thousands of likes and followers in just a span of a few months, and it plans to continue to build the momentum through sustained online and offline mobilizing and organizing.

Recently, Bahaghari led protest actions following the killing of transgender man Ebeng Mayor. Ebeng was mutilated, raped, and murdered. His body was discovered last month. “It is a clear example of a hate crime," said Carla. "We condemn this murder. We seek justice for Ebeng. We call for the arrest and imprisonment of the perpetrators." She also called on the Philippine Congress to certify the SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression) Equality Bill. LGBTQ+ people are vulnerable to violence, especially hate crimes. "It has been 21 years since the SOGIE Equality Bill was re-filed in Congress. It remains unpassed. It is as old as Ebeng who was 21 years old,” said Carla.  

Bahaghari will once again lead the Pride protest this month. They are expecting thousands of LGBTQ+ and supporters to come out to join the demonstrations against the Duterte government’s authoritarianism and criminal negligence. Carla concluded with a rousing message addressed to the LGBTQ+ community: “Us queers have lived our days in hiding and fear. We're living in a world that does not want us to exist. Like other oppressed sectors of society, we've experienced abuse, injustice, and violence first hand. We've been handed our sorry lot by the world when we know there's a better one. But we're here. We persist against all odds. Our existence is resistance.” 

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