Three months ago, Laura was about to get on a plane. Her mother hugged her one last time and said, “If something happens to me, don’t be scared.” The next day Laura’s mother was murdered dead by men with guns.
Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world – but Laura’s mom’s shooting wasn’t random. She wasn’t connected to narcos or coyotes or any of the other vaguely racist assumptions that the media connects to all deaths in Central America.
Laura’s mom was the environmental activist, Berta Cáceres. She won the Goldman Environmental Prize and she was murdered for it. Well, not for winning the prize but for why she won it. Honduras is not just the nation with the world’s highest murder rate – it’s the nation with the highest environmental activist murder rate. A distinction that Berta knew well – but she kept fighting to her last day.
After the 2009 US backed coup – Honduras was declared ‘open for business.’ and like Chile decades before it, the murders started. Averaging over 100 a year – activists were murdered one after another.
Three months ago Laura hugged her mother one last time – and now she’s in Philadelphia to make her voice heard. There’s a quiet power behind it and a strength to talk about these issues that I just can’t wrap my head around. When I spoke to her in the shadow of Independence Hall I didn’t know that is was the three month anniversary of the last time she saw her mother. So when I asked her to speak about her mother, the powerful Berta Cáceres, it should be noted that she didn’t crack she powered on – we can still have hope for the movement to continue.