Letter from Gustavo Castro Soto regarding the assassination of Berta Cáceres in Honduras

Original in Spanish: http://notibomba.com/mexicano-que-estuvo-con-berta-rompe-el-silencio

Translation by Multi-Medios Karani

Sent: Monday, March 7, 2016

Subject: FROM THE HEART OF BERTHA

Beloved friends, family and comrades in the struggle,

From these lands that witnessed the birth and death of our beloved Berta, a friend who’s presence is missed, who embodied solidarity and was an exceptional woman, I want to give thanks for all of the solidarity and affection that little by little, in the moments that I am able to receive messages, I witness everything that is in movement on the outside.

It is not easy to read the signs over here, it is also not easy when there are thousands of ministerial declarations. Meanwhile over her the water is very turbulent. The gunmen who have assassinated Bertha and who tried to assassinate me continue to be treated with impunity while the government tries to undermine the memory of Bertha and her honor and the magnificent struggle that COPINH has advanced for so many years in defense of life, territories and for human rights.

I witnessed Berthas death in my arms, but I also saw her heart sowing in every struggle that COPINH has made reality, in so many of the people that got to know her.

There is not enough rain to wash away the tears that were shed upon her parting, but there is not a force that is equal to the slow struggle that we face day to day, palm upon palm in defense of the territory against the large transnational corporations.

They maintain a struggle that is unrelenting against more than 40 hydroelectric projects; against tens of mining projects, and a struggle to recuperate territories in more than 50 points of their ancestral region that is as beautiful as it is Honduran.

COPINH marches, walks, protests, recuperates, and extends its solidarity arm with other movements. That was also Berta.

The assassination of Berta might signify for many companies and corporate interests the opportunity to advance against these territories. But COPINH is stronger than ever and will need the solidarity of all to join their struggle, with solidarity and with the memory of Berta in our hands.

The gunmen know that I did not die, and it is certain that they are ready to complete their assignment. Meanwhile the Mexican consulate came immediately to my aid and they have not abandoned me, on top of patrols and police present, my life has not ceased to be in danger, and that is something that the Honduran government refuses to see, continuing to insist to this very day to detain me in order to control the information that my declarations provide the public.

They have denied me access to copies of my declarations. They threaten me that if I leave to Tegucigalpa for my security, they will send orders of apprehension to prevent me from leaving. Or if I leave without their consent there will not be a security escort and the risk will be ours to take.

I have not committed any crime, and I have already given my testimony, and the rest of the matters I can attend to from my own country.

It hurts enormously to be confined to the same city, alone, while thousands congregate a few blocks away in order to mourn our beloved Berta.

But I want to tell you that I am right there with you, crying seas for the loss of Bertica but I am also grateful for being able to say I knew her in life and I was inspired so much by her.

But I know that I have to get out of here, and the government continues to prepare its chicanery to present for public opinion that Berta’s assassination was due to internal conflicts, when there were lawsuits filed against those that wanted to assassinate her, forming a solid link to the hydroelectric company that has been protected by the state of Honduras. They only want to indicate the internal conflicts of COPINH to break it into pieces and do away with one of the primary and most symbolic struggles in Honduras of the last 20 years.

And it is true that my declarations contradict their ability to blame the people that they want to send to prison. I did not hear cars enter or leave when the assassination happened; the crime scene was altered and modified; and the blood samples and others left lines of targets that can later be altered; they sent for a declaration of the majority of the people of COPINH and none of the suspects that were indicated a while back of trying to assassinate Berta.

Not until today have I had official medical attention for my wounds and meanwhile a family that was in solidarity and another doctor took care of my wounds in solidarity. The entire dawn yesterday and well into the night I was able to change my bloodied clothing but they kept my suitcase without returning it to me.

I was kept without food and in the evening they offered me something to eat, I had not had anything to eat until today, answering questions, completing test and so may other things that occurs to them.

It appears that they forget that I am a victim and throughout 48 hours I did not close my eyes, without rest, catering to their whims. But even more endearing, there were always people from COPINH outside, in the living room at any moment, accompanying my security, silently, alert, and marvelously.

One can feel the tremendous human energy and solidarity. It makes one feel more secure with them than with thousands of police. After I left the Public Ministry last night and went to the judge to declare myself as a protected witness, he was dressed in a black robe that reached his ankles and who wore a black hat, I returned for more tests and questions; they finally gave me the opportunity to change and brought in my suitcase, but they took it with them afterwards.

The consulate tried to find a hotel while hundreds upon hundreds were arriving to the city to bid their farewell to Bertica.

As the new dawn came we were able to arrive to the location of a hotel and I finally slept a few hours because on this day we are going to Tegucigalpa. But they came so that I could see photographs and videos and identify the assassin that I saw face to face with, but I lamented that all the videos and photographs were COPINH’s marches, so that I could signal which one of them it had been.

But they haven’t demonstrated to me the faces of the owners of the companies or their gunmen. Instead of two hours, it was 4 hours of photos and more of the same questions. Finally, today we will go and pick up the wasp’s nest.

They came when we were just about to board the armored truck of the consulate that was going to Tegucigalpa when the senior officials of the Prosecutor’s offices against capital crimes arrived from the city, and the technical agency of criminal investigation, to solicit that I stay, that I could help them to reconstruct the crimes. I consulted the issue and thought it was convenient to stay, but under the condition that they allow me me to go to the vigil of Bertita, with the people.

They have agreed. Ah!,  and that during the long hours of the reconstruction of the crime there be coffee, because I expect to achieve and support the reconstruction of the assassination and calvary.

I hope that this is the last that this government asks of me, because even though I would not like it, they are tempted to preventatively detain me, because I am the only witness. But the confusion is not only in our squished hearts because we had to sow Bertica before her time, but in the same public ministry and its dependencies where the same doubt reigns. Well, I agreed to help in this difficult test of reconstructing the crime.

For Bertica, for COPINH, because one day Justice will be achieved and the projects of death and destruction will be expelled from these territories.

Thank you to so many people for your solidarity, for being vigilant of this courageous community. Thank you, I really thank you, I have shed tears in emotion, even more, in seeing that my work team, that my friends and so many people, have taken it upon themselves to denounce this situation.

Gustavo Castro Soto

March 4, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

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