In our Cosmo-visions, we are beings that have arisen from the earth, water and maize. We, the Lenca people, are the ancestral guardians of the rivers, which are also protected by the spirits of the maidens who teach us that to give one’s life in multiple ways for the defence of the rivers is to give one’s life for the good of humanity and this planet.
Copinh marching together with other peoples for their emancipation ratifies the compromise to continue defending water, rivers and what we have in common with nature, as well as our rights as indigenous peoples.
Let us wake up! Wake up Humanity! We have no more time.
Our consciences will have to be shaken by standing alone to contemplate self-destruction based on capitalist, racist and patriarchal depredation.
The Gualcarque River has called us, as have all other waterways which are seriously threatened. We must rush.
The militarised, besieged, poisoned Mother Earth, where elementary rights are systematically violated, compels us to act.
Let us therefore build societies capable of coexisting in a just, dignified and pro-life manner.
Let us unite and then full of hope continue to defend and support the blood of the earth and its spirits.
I dedicate this award to all rebellions, to my mother, to the Lenca people, to the Blanco River, to the Copinh and to the martyrs of the defence of the natural world.
This was Berta Càceres’ speech at the presentation of the Goldman Prize, the “Green Nobel” that was awarded to her in 2015 for her fight for the environment and indigenous rights. In those years, with a courageous environmental campaign she managed to prevent the construction of a dam on the Rio Gualcarque, considered sacred by the Lenca, her people.
Berta Càceres was murdered less than a year later, on the night of March 2, 2016. The gunmen broke down the door to her house in La Esperanza, in the Intibucá department of Honduras, and riddled her with machine gun bullets.
A mother of four children and a respected teacher, she was murdered two days before she would have turned 45 years old. She had helped found the Copinh, Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras.