Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 417 | Abril 2016



Berta Cáceres: An indomitable woman with a statesperson’s nature

If one were to think of a candidate for the presidency of the Republic who would represent the interests and desires of the nation as a whole and all its people but from the perspective of the poorest, that would’ve been Berta Cáceres, “the Guardian girl of the rivers.” She was indomitable and incorruptible. And that’s why they killed her.

Ismael Moreno, SJ

The murder of Berta Cáceres will go unpunished. Honduras’ dark forces under the command of Honduras’ Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA) corporation, which has allies in the Public Ministry, has so decided. The explanation that will prevail in the country’s tense atmosphere is what these forces have spread with the help of the media’s power: it was a crime of passion tinged with internal conflict in the organization Berta founded. Only domestic grassroots pressure in close coordination with the voices of international solidarity will be able to reverse this impunity.

A friendship woven
over the years

It was 4 in morning of Thursday, March 3, my daily waking hour, when I discovered dozens of missed calls on my cellphone. I hadn’t finished even counting them when Gustavo Cardoza, a close workmate, called: “Maybe you already know, but just in case I’m letting you know that Berta Cáceres has been murdered.” I sat up in bed hoping I was still immersed in a dream, one of the frequent and torturous dreams in which I see blood. So many of us are chased into that hidden zone of the subconscious by the reality of death and threats in Honduras—a country filled with anxiety and continuous disturbing news.

But it was not a dream. All the missed calls were from close friends. All knew about the friendship Berta and I had woven over the years of talks, meetings, hikes, struggles, discussions, debates and shared complicity. All of a sudden I remembered that I had gone to bed concerned about having forgotten to call Iolany, the communications coordinator of our social platform in the Reflection, Investigation and Communication Team (ERIC) and Radio Progreso. Berta had called me at 3:09 the previous afternoon, barely 12 hours before she was killed, to set up a forum and two radio programs with Gustavo Castro, a Mexican expert in alternative energy, who today is the only, and very uncomfortable, witness to what happened the night of the crime.

Through Berta’s efforts and infinite relations, the National Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) had brought Gustavo to the country to share his experiences with different organizations defending the common goods of Nature and particularly fighting against nuclear energy. We agreed that both Berta and Gustavo would come to the radio station on March 8 to be interviewed on our weekly radio magazine show. They would also be with me on our nightly one-hour program “America Libre.”

“But don’t forget about it, since you’re scattered-brained,” were Berta’s last words to me. “Don’t worry, woman. As soon as I get to the station I’ll coordinate with Iolany,” I said, more to calm her than to express security that I wouldn’t forget. I got to the radio station at the end of the afternoon, greeted Iolany but totally forgot to coordinate Berta’s interview. I only remembered it about ten that night, when I was taking the pile of things I tend to have on my bed off to go to sleep. I thought: There’s time tomorrow to coordinate, without knowing that time would end that night for Berta...

We thought she was untouchable

When one receives such moving news as this, one remembers forever all the little details of the moment. That happened to me on November 16, 1989, when I heard about the assassination of the Jesuits and Elba and Celina in El Salvador. And also, years before, on March 24, 1980, when I was in Boaco, Nicaragua, teaching peasants to read and heard that Monsignor Romero had been assassinated. I had just listened to his last homily the day before on a beat-up old radio.

I was paralyzed, incredulous, for about five minutes after learning Berta had been killed, wanting to wake from this nightmare. In Honduras, where death wanders everywhere, one can’t help but ask oneself when one’s own turn will be up: opening the gate in the early morning to go to the morning radio show or on the highway or on the way to buy tortillas for breakfast... That’s life in Honduras, stained with blood, violence and risk.

Each one of us develops our own psychological defenses and puts up a shield of logical possibilities. In Berta’s case, we thought they wouldn’t do it. Or did we naively want to see it that way? We believed her many awards would make her untouchable. Maybe due to the innocence of those of us who want to keep believing that even this country’s violent and greedy people have their limits. Or maybe we believe it as a means to feel safe ourselves somehow. With the awarding of the important Goldman Prize to Berta in April 2015, the most valuable prize on the planet for those who defend the environment, who could touch her? Many, including me, trusted that.

“You’ll be our candidate”

If one were to think of a candidate for the presidency of the Republic who would represent the interests of our people and could do that from the perspective and voice of the dispossessed, that woman could only be Berta Cáceres,

Many times I teased her with that idea, a joke but with a real foundation. “Berta, you’re going to be the President of Honduras,” I would say to her; “you’ll be our candidate when we have honest elections.” “Stop screwing around,” she would always answer with a learned expression. But her spiteful smile, mixed with a gesture of concern, would betray her inner feelings. She was open to accepting all the challenges her people’s reality would demand of her, even the task of someday running the country from the place of highest responsibility in the State, currently in the hands of individuals with no political vision and a rock-bottom ethics.

Berta Cáceres is one of those who should have been in the national dialogue a few months ago, if it had truly been honest and open. And not only should she have participated, she was the ideal person to coordinate it from the social and grassroots sectors. Nobody would have represented their interests and demands as well as she. The fact that she wasn’t on the list of those invited to the great national dialogue that President Juan Orlando Hernandez set up to regain legitimacy after the torch-bearing indignant demonstrators had questioned him and chanted for him to get out, was enough to invalidate this event.

Afterwards, the “great” dialogue served as an argument for the Organization of American States (OAS) to set up its Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH). Today, President Hernández and OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro strut around saying this watchdog body is the result of a national dialogue in which all sectors of the country participated. But Berta wasn’t there.

Two lines of investigation

Against all convictions, forecasts and analyses, Berta Cáceres was assassinated. The Prosecutor General said there are two lines of investigation. The first is focused on the internal conflicts within COPINH, spiced with personal or passion issues. The second has to do with Berta Cáceres’ struggle and public charges over the last three years about the threats, bribes and intimidations with which DESA tried to criminalize her work and legally take her to trial. Berta denounced that not only was her life threatened but so was that of two other Lenca indigenous leaders closely involved in the same struggle: Aureliano Bonilla and Tomás Gómez.

Starting from the first moments and first inquiries, one policeman began to sow discord: “That woman was killed for being a whore; she had two husbands.” Within the first 20 days after the crime, the Public Ministry decided to follow only the first line of investigation, but keeping is all itotally secret. Authorities haven’t given out any information, even to those with the right to know if the investigation is advancing or not.

Meanwhile, Bonilla and Gómez continue to be targets. This strategy seeks to leave everything entangled in a smokescreen of rumors, which the media manipulates to its own advantage. Issues of passion? Well yes. Berta put so much passion into the struggle to defend her Lenca people, their rivers, forests and territories, that she surely died due to “issues of passion,” the passion of a whole life in defense of the rights of Nature and of the people, the passion to make Honduras sovereign and just.

The only witness

The guard at the colony where Berta lived also added his dose of contention: “I can one hundred percent identify those two men (Bonilla and Gómez) as the ones who entered and came out of doña Berta’s house at the time of her death,” he said. “Nobody but they entered and they later left in a white car.” In his second statement, he reduced his certainty to fifty percent. And when he was face to face with the two men he had to admit that it wasn’t them. Despite that, the two COPINH leaders are still the main suspects. It is said that the Public Ministry’s decision from the start was to put out a warrant for Bonilla, who had beem Berta’s partner for some time and with whom it is said she broke up due to personal conflicts.

What tumbled the whole plan was the one witness who saw what happened the night of the crime, Mexican Gustavo Castro. The killers didn’t foresee that Berta would have a guest in her house that day, with whom she had organized a tour to different territories with various organizations to share knowledge and experiences of alternative energy, always with that passion to save Nature, “our common house” as Pope Francis calls it.

When the killers entered her house, Berta must have sensed them immediately. She always lived in a state of alert. So many times she said to me, “They’re not going to get me so easily. It’s going to be hard for them to kill me.” She probably confronted the killers, fought back before they shot her. Gustavo was deeply asleep in the back room and the shots woke him up. When he came out, the killers were on the run and when they saw him, they shot at him to cover their getaway.

Bleeding to death, Berta still had the presence of mind to give Gustavo her cell phone’s password. “Call Salvador for me please; tell him to come,” was the last thing she said before giving in to death on the very eve of her 40-something birthday. She died calling Salvador Zúniga, her life partner, with whom she had three daughters and a son. They had separated years back because of personal conflicts and above all, leadership conflicts. Both she and he have been greatly renowned leaders in the country, both founders of COPINH in 1993. The two competed to see who had the greatest influence on the indigenous base of this emblematic organization and both were victims of persecution, threats, bribes and slander by the government, the military and the country’s power groups.

A contracted crime

Those who know about these kinds of crimes say that Berta’s killers were expert hit-men hired by those who wanted to get rid of her because she was in their face too much and they couldn’t silence her. They took on the risk of killing such a popular leader because it was a greater risk for them to continue confronting a woman of such convictions as Berta, willing to struggle to the last consequences. They needed to kill her for the good of their businesses, projects and interests. They must have evaluated all the costs and benefits with experts who hired the hit-men to do the job.

It was a hired crime. There was no viciousness, no words of recrimination or allegations typical of crimes of passion or a conflict of egos. They came to kill her, period. The shots were well-aimed, professional, to the chest. They had no interest in killing anyone else. The contract was clearly to kill only her. The presence of the Mexican caught them off guard and having already staked out their escape route and counting on total impunity later, they had no need to kill anyone they would unexpectedly run into at the crime scene. They shot at Gustavo, but only to get him to back off and not attack or chase them.

That unexpected witness messed up their original plan. The strategy would have to center on a motive of passion, insisting and repeating the same thing again and again. To present the crime as driven by passion, mixed with internal disputes in COPINH would achieve two objectives: kill Berta and break down COPINH’s structures. They had to link the crime to Aureliano Bonilla—resentful lover and leader of the organization—and Tomás Gómez, alleging that he conspired with Bonilla to kill her and free up the path to absolute leadership of COPINH.

Gustavo’s unanticipated presence threw this plot into question. Those who masterminded the crime have spent these first 20 days figuring out how to work it into the collective perception and build the framework for impunity. Meanwhile they need to keep the investigation under total wraps.

Impunity strategy

The murder of Berta Cáceres must go unpunished. The visible powers and those behind the scenes have no other way out, yet they can’t simply disregard a crime of such huge international impact, letting it fade into oblivion. The case won’t be easy for them; the impunity strategy must be organized well enough to satisfy the international community.

A major element of that strategy is that the investigation must contain enough elements to soil Berta’s image and memory in the eyes of the national community, besmirching her profile as an unwavering fighter for the causes they also hold dear, in the process undermining the struggle of COPINH, the indigenous organization led by this woman who has been called the “Guardian girl of the rivers.” For this, a structured legal process will have to sow in people’s mind what that policeman said during the first hours after the crime: Berta Cáceres was killed by some spiteful man because of some conflict within the organization she led.

They won’t pursue the
second line of investigation

To accomplish this goal they dare not take up the second line of investigation, linking Berta’s to all the contracts, concessions, commitments, decrees and laws regarding the devastating extractivist projects Berta Cáceres had been denouncing for years. Doing so would mean analyzing the legal entities that have allowed them to continue with the “Agua Zarca” project and others
in the western region, the north coast and other zones of Honduras, concessions containing the names and signatures of the most powerful people, groups and companies in the country, linked to transnational corporations.

Following that line of investigation would uncover the corruption and greed of the true conductors of the neoliberal model that has taken over our country. It would also link employees at the intermediate level of some companies as well as some local and departmental authorities implicated in the process that led to the hiring of the hit-men. To investigate those responsible at the intermediate level would lead with relative ease and speed to identifying those responsible at the higher levels: the well-known politicians and company managers who direct the projects that are extracting Nature’s wealth.

Nobody in the current power apparatus is willing to do that; taking that risk would put interests, privileges and stability in danger. And that’s why there’s unanimity in favor of pushing only the first line of investigation: personal passions intertwined with internal power struggles.

The world knew of her

Those who planned the murder of Berta Cáceres knew they were killing a person they would never be able to control. This woman was authentically indomitable, as she was lauded in the different acts of recognition and in the slogans, mottoes and testimonies on the day we buried her. What her enemies, so engrossed in their own greed, didn’t expect was the worldwide repercussions from her murder.

The media control in Honduras is such that none of the media with national coverage gave much if any space to the major news of a compatriot receiving the Goldman Prize in the United States for defense of the environment and what it meant for Honduras. Some media stuck the news in a box on an inside page, lost amidst publicity. The world knew perfectly well who Berta Cáceres was, but Honduras’ power structure didn’t realize it.

Nor did the national media cover Berta’s visit with Pope Francis in the Vatican in October 2014, together with other grassroots leaders from around the world. They were even less interested in reporting that she was the one who spoke on behalf of them all to the bishop of Rome. A few days before this encounter Berta herself commented on the maneuvers of some of the Catholic Church hierarchy to impede her from being among of the grassroots leaders Francis would receive.

When the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted her precautionary measures recognizing that her life was in danger, the Honduran authorities viewed her as so insignificant that they never agreed to meet with her to define how to implement these measures. It was left to the officer on call in La Esperanza, the municipality in which Berta lived, to patrol around her house and places she would frequent.

Nobody in power gauged how important, how loved and how renowned Berta Cáceres was in the world for her leadership among her Lenca people and Hondurans in general. The country’s authorities saw her simply as a bother, a troublemaker. On March 20, in response to a question about the progress of the investigations into the authors of her death, National Congress President Mauricio Oliva condescendingly summarized what the whole host of corrupt officers and greedy businessmen think of the causes to which she and those organized under her leadership were committed:, “I say to those who are in those struggles, don’t complicate your lives. Behave; don’t head up the wrong path.”

Worldwide response

The response to Berta’s murder outside of Honduras was immediate, huge and worldwide. A torrent of manifestos, declarations, denouncements and demands flooded in from legislators and and government officials from the United States, the European Parliament, different Latin American countries, the UN and the OAS, and from a broad range of human rights, environmental, indigenous, feminist, social and other grassroots organizations. The US ambassador in Tegucigalpa, James D. Nealon, attended the wake in Berta’s mother’s house, as did several ambassadors from European countries and main political figures who oppose the government’s policies.

The reaction around the world to this assassination was so great that during the National Party convention, held on March 5, the day of the funeral, President Hernández, a declared public enemy of Berta Cáceres, was forced to ask the participants—extreme rightwing politicians and defenders of the extractive projects—for an applause for Berta...

The media, who are the same official policy apologists who always ignored Berta’s struggles and only mentioned her to discredit what she did, had to cover the news of her death and funeral with the same dedication they normally extend for official government activities, the Telethon and some of the most publicized massacres that flood our country’s bloody scenery.

The media’s strategy

All of the Honduran media sent reporters to Berta’s mother’s house. Some of the print media covered the funeral with up to 15 pages of information, data, chronicles, reports and statements related to Berta’s life, struggle and murder in a single edition. According to leaked information, the decision of the media owners to cover the funeral so thoroughly had been agreed upon with the presidential offices given
the avalanche of reactions from all over the world. They wanted to prevent the scant number of independent media from becoming the international media’s only reference, and to dominate the informational space so they could redirect the interpretation of the facts and lay the foundation for the chosen line of investigation.

The media coverage within that strategy focused on the blood at the scene of the crime, the family crying, the sorrowful reactions of different agency officials, all of them bemoaning the act, calling for reconciliation and supporting the investigation that would lead to the capture of the killers. They tried to stay ahead of any attempt to point a finger at DESA or the government. President Hernández’ powerful sister Hilda got a head start by warning that “extremists” would take advantage of this crime to blame the government and specifically her brother.

Then on March 6, the day after the funeral, a whole new chapter of the media conspiracy got underway. Berta Cáceres’ father appeared on a Sunday night TV interview program, on his way back from the National Party convention. The interviewer took great care to get him to say what they wanted, along with a lot of other foolishness: that his daughter’s murder had been politically manipulated by the Left. He appeared on other channels and in other media with the same discourse.

Since the funeral of the Guardian girl of the rivers, the media campaign, organized by the presidency’s communications team under the leadership of Hilda Hernández, has continued to insist on the motives of passion and serious internal conflict in the organization, all.

What she saw in her father

Where did Berta Cáceres inherit her indomitable personality? What was there in this woman from such a small country to achieve such great international importance?

Her father, who abandoned her when she was a child, mistreated her mother and all women who cross his path, leaving dozens of children scattered around the country. He was a “real man,” and his behavior turned her into a strong defender of women’s rights. Her tenacious feminism was born of rejection of what she saw in him. Those were the roots, and afterwards came readings, ideas, concepts and her own formulations, but the humus that fertilized everything she read, studied, formulated and proliferated was her father’s uncontrolled machismo. His bad example made her an impeccable defender of the struggle against the patriarchal culture and an ongoing promoter of new relationships between men and women.

The problems she had with Salvador Zúniga, her partner and father of her four children, apart from their competition over leadership of the organization, made her even more indomitable. She never accepted arbitrary decisions, particularly when a man tried to impose them on her just because he was a man. She never accepted a woman’s life being controlled by a man.

What she saw in her mother

And her mother? Austra Berta Flores, Doña Bertita, is also critical to understanding her daughter’s personality. Her 83-year-old mother is deeply hospitable. There’s room for everybody in her house. Nobody who enters it leaves without having been offered an egg or tortillas with cheese or butter and without having enjoyed a cup of coffee or tea.

About 12 years ago, late that December, I got the idea of visiting her with my mother, sisters and several nephews and nieces. We were 17 in total. We only planned to visit for a few minutes. We arrived at six in the evening and after saying hello planned to find lodging in the city. To this day I still don’t understand how the next events happened. The 17 people who descended on doña Bertita’s house unannounced were given dinner and punch, a place to sleep and breakfast the next day. When Doña Bertita said good-bye, she begged us to repeat the visit any time we wanted. Taking her at her obviously sincere word, we all returned two years later, that time carrying provisions and a tent. But we never used the tent or ate what we had brought. She gave us everything.

Doña Bertita is a miracle ...and works them. According to her, she has assisted 4,500 childbirths of Lenca women. She is the godmother of thousands of Lenca women and men. All the Lenca people who come down from their communities to the city of La Esperanza to shop or sell or on any other errand go by Doña Bertita’s house to say hello and receive her blessing. Those who know Bertita better understand where her daughter got her generosity and the indomitable personality she always demonstrated.

“The Lenca people are my family”

Doña Bertita is the region’s grand midwife. Her house may be a welcoming place for men and women from the Lenca villages, but people from the city and political and business people visit her as well. She was elected mayor of the municipality of La Esperanza three consecutive times, was governor of the department of Intibucá and alternate congresswoman for the Liberal Party, a post she resigned publicly after the coup in June 2009.

I recall her saying several times, when her daughter Berta and I would be having a meal at her house, that ever since childhood her friends have always been Lencas. “They were always my family, my sisters and brothers.” Her daughter’s passion to defend the Lencas’ rights came from there. She didn’t learn it from political training. It was her life inheritance; she was born among them. She inherited the Lenca people from her mother because they were all delivered into the world by Doña Bertita’s hands.

That’s why they killed her

Berta Cáceres grew up sharing her tortilla and coffee, tamal and copal, her white, yellow, blue and green candles with the Lenca people. Her love for them was born from within her mother’s womb. The ideas, concepts and political decisions came later. Because her love for the Lenca culture was so deeply rooted, Berta was incorruptible. Nobody could buy her off, nobody could tame her.

Because nobody could defeat her, they had to kill her. Without that primeval mysticism, that essential love, people can be venal, tamed, bribable… Clear ideas, exact concepts and lucid political stances don’t guarantee fidelity to the poor. Only a life lived in complexity with the people will ensure that the struggle will become an unwavering passion. That’s why they killed her. That’s the legacy that Berta leaves us.

The Copinhes are coming!!

In more than 20 years of efforts, Berta managed to make COPINH a grassroots and indigenous organization that transcended traditional political molds. All of us involved in grassroots struggles knew what it meant to hear, “Here come the Copinhes!” It means a struggle without schedules or limits, without calculations. It means not mattering whether there’s food and a place to sleep or not.

I remember when in April 2008 I joined a hunger strike against corruption and impunity started by state prosecuting attorneys. I was sleeping in my tent when I heard “Here come the Copinhes!” We all knew that their joining us would mean the strike would reach a new level. And it was Berta who always was at their head, with a satchel under her arm, her straw hat and her mischievous smile...

Moved by a force
greater than one’s own

With Berta one feels moved by a force greater than one’s own. On May 20, 2013, I went to one of many protests organized by COPINH and led by her. We gathered at the oak tree and she inspired all of us by invoking the ancestors and the spirit of the rivers.

A solidarity friend happened to take a photo of the two of us as we greeted each other. Curious as always, Berta asked to see how we had come out in the picture. Satisfied with our smiles said to me, “Let’s see which of the two of us goes first.” Who would have thought it would be she...

That day, she guided the three hundred people following her to go protest a DESA campsite a kilometer from the oak. We walked there along a path thick with weeds and down a very steep hill at the bottom of which was the campsite, heavily guarded by soldiers and private guards. I, always fearful, hung back towards the end of the group. Berta, always brave, stayed in the lead. We yelled slogans demanding the removal of DESA from the territory and in defense of the Río Gualcarque.

I sat on a rock, sweaty from the hike and feeling a little safer having stepped back from the group that was shouting slogans at the soldiers and armed guards. All of a sudden I saw two trucks driving up, full of policemen with shields, teargas and heavy weaponry.

My whole body was shaking. An officer got down, walked a bit until he was beside me, but without seeing me. He called from his cell phone, “Chief, the people are peaceful; I don’t believe there’s any need to go further.” I was still sitting there. A few minutes later he received a call. “Chief, I don’t think the other is necessary. These people aren’t armed.” The police were all ready with their shields to attack.

If the chief had ordered repression at that moment, the consequences would have been terrible because the road fell off into gorges on both sides and the group would have been caught in crossfire. I was shaking, gazing out at nothing when Berta arrived. “Melo, it’s up to you to lead the retreat,” she said. And I obeyed. I started walking, with Berta and the Lenca people who had come to defend their river and land behind me. I could hear the officer say, “They are retreating, all peaceful.” I was sweating profusely, but Berta was happy with the success of the activity.

An oath to her murdered mother

Berta not only molded COPINH into a rebellious and resistant organization, willing to struggle without limits. She also educated her three daughters, Olivia, Berta and Laura, and her 19-year-old son Salvador in rebellion and resistance, something not all grassroots leaders decide to do much less accomplish.

All four of her children called a press conference beside their mother’s murdered body and swore before her to continue with her struggle. They called on all the social and grassroots organizations present at her funeral to strengthen their coordination in defense of the rivers and the common goods of Nature, to defend COPINH and the Lenca communities and to continue the struggle for national sovereignty.

“My mother’s voice
accompanies you”

Salvador, had to return to Argentina where he is studying. From there he sent a text that reveals his own thinking. “My mother’s struggle is the struggle of the people. And the people’s struggle is hers. It is difficult for this system of destruction and exploitation to understand that the rivers, forests and animals are part of us and we are part of them; that they are our spirituality, our way of life, what keeps us alive.

“It is hard for them to understand that we are not willing to be destroyed, exploited by them or have them put our ancestral lands up for sale. That is why they criminalize us, persecute us and kill us. My mother, a woman born among the Lenca people, has been killed for being unwilling to let the green color of our mountains, the pure and spiritual sound of our rivers, the harmonizing singing of the birds disappear. They killed her for standing firm and for understanding the depth of what our Nature communicates to us.

“Her struggle was also alongside women who are mothers, invoke our ancestors, are the fount of wisdom, are protagonists in their struggle for life. She is beside those who are beaten, those who are killed and in spite of that their voices cannot be silenced. The original people have been victims of racism and contempt. My mother’s voice and spirit accompanies and will accompany them. A world like this, where we can’t understand its diversity, with its different voices and sounds that enrich it, is not conceivable.

“They killed her for understanding that this struggle goes way beyond all borders, that this system is attacking life on our planet, attacking the world’s cosmovisions and summons us to indifference, to not feel each act of injustice in this world as something unjust to all, a system that wants to convince us to not be together, that leads us to think only of ourselves...

“Now this struggle is taking on the shape of a cry, of hope, of a utopia to change this world. It is a fist raised that clamors for justice; it is a call to the fellowship of people. That is why we can never say that Berta has died...”

Bertita the third already shines

Berta’s mother had twelve children, all talented and committed, but only the indomitable Berta inherited her irresistible strength. And her four offshoots show the stock they come from, their lineage. All four are branches of Berta’s trunk and of the roots of doña Bertita.

All four stand out; they aren’t hesitating to demand justice for the murder of their mother. However, the force of the most petite of the three sisters, 24-year-old Bertita is emerging most among the four siblings. The other three unanimously elected her the family’s coordinator and spokesperson. Before her one feels the strength of a magnet, an attraction that reminds me of what I felt on that May 20, 2013, when her mother ordered me with a soft voice to go to the front of the people, lead the retreat and avoid repression and death.

In this third generation of Bertas, this one too stands out as indomitable and as a future leader of transformation processes. Bertita III affirms the hope so many of us felt we had lost after the murder of Berta II.

Ismael Moreno, sj, is the envío correspondent in Honduras.

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