Article by PBI-Canada
“8 years after the taking of the Oak in defense of the Gualcarque River”
In Who Killed Berta Cáceres? Dams, Death Squads and an Indigenous Defender’s Battle for the Planet, Nina Lakhani writes:
“Dressed in her customary getup of slacks, plaid shirt, and wide-rimmed sombrero, Berta Cáceres stood on top of a small grassy mound shaded by an ancient oak tree to address the crowd of men, women, and children who’d walked miles from across Río Blanco [a collection of campesino communities] to discuss the dam.
A few days before Berta’s visit, community members had set up a human barricade blocking road access to the Gualcarque in a last-ditch effort to stop construction [of the Agua Zarca dam] going ahead.
Berta addressed the crowd that April day just a stone’s throw from the makeshift roadblock, which was manned in shifts by families utterly fed up with being treated like intruders on their own land.
“Are you sure you want to fight this project? Because it will be tough,” she told them from the grassy mound beneath the oak tree. “I will fight alongside you until the end, but are you, the community, prepared – for this is a struggle that will take years, not days?” A sea of hands rose into the air as the crowd voted to fight the dam.”
Intercontinental Cry tells more of the story:
“The proposal for a blockade came out of a community assembly, and from that moment the community was committed to stopping the people and machines of the Agua Zarca project from entering.
They built and maintained it with big sticks, masses of wire, and a flux of bodies and spirits, at a site entry point called El Roble (the oak tree), where there stands a beautiful strong oak. Rosa was there from the first day of the blockade – from 5 a.m. on April 1, 2013.”
On July 15, 2013 – the 106th day of peaceful resistance – a Honduran soldier fatally shot COPINH activist Tomás García near the blockade. The construction site was then moved to the other side of the river to avoid the blockade.
The trial for one of the intellectual authors of the murder of Cáceres – killed on March 2, 2016 – begins today.