That night of March 2nd, 2016, when a group of hitmen broke into Berta´s home in La Esperanza (Intibucá), Gustavo Castro was there because he had traveled to present a workshop for the members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). The hitmen shot and killed Berta, and injured Gustavo and left him for dead.
“I think that the government expected a clean murder, they didn´t expect to have witnesses, but I was left alive and the legal and judicial irregularities started”, said Castro to RWR, with reference to the false witnesses and accusations presented by the Public Prosecution, the loss of evidence and documents, the fact that he was illegally detained in Honduras and that he was not allowed to participate as plaintiff in the trial for the murder of Berta Cáceres in 2018.
“They wanted a trial in silence, that´s why they removed the victims from the judicial process, without letting us participate or avoiding making the hearings public”, he added.
Three years after the femicide, and with the irregularities of the first trial over the murder, Castro highlighted the need to prosecute the masterminds of the crime, with reference to David Castillo (head of DESA) and members of the Atala Zablah family, who are part of the Board of Directors of the company in charge of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project; in line with the demands made by COPINH and the relatives of Berta Cáceres .
Gustavo remembered Berta Cáceres and invited everyone to join the global actions to commemorate the defender. He also highlighted the importance of the conviction of Sergio Rodríguez (DESA communications manager), Mariano Díaz (Honduran Army Major), Douglas Bustillo (retired lieutenant and former head of security of DESA), Henry Hernández (former military officer), Elvin Heriberto Rápalo, Edilson Duarte and Oscar Haroldo Torres.
“Demanding justice for Berta is demanding justice for all women and defenders who are criminalized for their struggle. The final sentence in Berta Cáceres´ case will set a precedent for the other defenders who were criminalized or murdered for their work”, he said.
“Let us wake up, humankind”
When receiving the Goldman Prize in 2015, Berta said during her speech: “Let us wake up, humankind” That´s how she called on to raise awareness about the environmental effects caused by the advance of extractivist projects, to defend the rights of women and to fight against capitalism, racism and patriarchy.
We asked Gustavo how he would continue this phrase: “Let us wake up, humankind, and let us organize ourselves”, he said.
“What Berta said reflects that the responsibility to combat this predatory capitalism is not exclusive of peasant and indigenous people, but of all people. Behind her speech there is universal, systemic, global awareness. And now it is not enough to wake up, we need to organize ourselves”, he concluded.