Four months have passed since a group of armed men barged into Berta Cáceres’ home and killed her. As her family and loved ones seek justice by challenging the Honduran government, another indigenous environmentalist activist has been murdered. On Wednesday, Lesbia Yaneth Urquía Urquía – a member of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH) – was found dead near a garbage dump, according to teleSur. Police report that at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, the mother of three went on her typical exercise route. But hours later, her family grew worried when she hadn’t returned, according to El Heraldo.
Following Urquia’s death, COPINH – a group Cáceres co-founded – condemned the Honduran government in a statement. They said her death suspiciously took place as the government tries to minimize the importance of the histories of indigenous communities. “Her death comes four months and four days after the murder of our colleague and leader, Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores, and it confirms that there’s a plan to remove all of those who defend nature,” the statement reads. “Her death constitutes a political femicide that looks to quiet the voices of women who with courage fight for their rights against the patriarchal, racist, and capital system, as we continue to near the destruction of our planet. This is why we place the government responsible for her death, with [Honduran President] Juan Orlando Hernández, the military forces and police, and all governmental institutions to blame since they should be protecting all environmentalists… COPINH demands that the government stop killing our members.”
Cáceres, a relentless environmental activist, fought Desarollos Energéticos, SA (DESA) when they attempted to build a hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque River. Many speculate her death is in direct connect to her stark opposition to DESA, a company that Cáceres said threatened her. Before her death, Cáceres blamed Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State, for her role in the 2009 Honduran coup that still has the country reeling.
Berta Cáceres’ death is one of the most visible examples of the high risk environmentalists face while defending their communities in Latin America. Global Witness‘ recent report, On Dangerous Ground, found that Latin America accounted for most of the murders of land defenders in any region in 2015. Out of 185 documented killings, 100 – 54 percent – happened in Latin America, with Brazil capping the list at 50 murders. Around the world, at least three environmental activists died every week protecting their land. Indigenous people account for 40 percent of victims – an indicator that the most affected are the most marginalized.