Berta Caceres Human Rights Act (HR1299) - Reintroduced in March 2017
The BERTA CÁCERES HUMAN RIGHTS IN HONDURAS ACT (HR1299) has just been re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, demanding a suspension of all U.S. security aid to Honduras, and we need your help securing more sponsors!! Last year's act, HR 5474, was introduced with immediate and broad support including the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, and over a hundred other faith, labor, environmental, and human rights organizations. Berta's family and organization, COPINH (the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), immediately applauded the action, and 52 Members of the House of Representatives officially co-sponsored the bill.
The Berta Cáceres Act (HR1299) was introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson's (GA) office, with Representatives Conyers (MI), Kaptur (OH), Serrano (NY), Schakowsky (IL), Ellison (MN), Lee (CA), Susan Davis (CA), Speier (CA), Moore (WI), McCollum (MN), Lipinski (IL), Dingell (MI), Pocan (WI), Holmes Norton (DC), Napolitano (CA), Bonamici (OR), DeLauro (CT), Gutierrez (IL), Cicilline (RI), Pingree (ME), Blumenauer (OR), Rush (IL), Tonko (NY), and Grijalva (AZ) as the initial co-sponsors of the bill. Please call these offices to thank them for their leadership on the bill TODAY. And Let's get to work to secure the remaining Representatives who co-sponsored last year's bill, plus MANY MORE! All members of the House are possible signers!
The bill states that "The Honduran police are widely established to be deeply corrupt and to commit human rights abuses, including torture, rape, illegal detention, and murder, with impunity” and that the military has committed violations of human rights, and therefore asks that the United States suspend all “...security assistance to Honduran military and police until such time as human rights violations by Honduran state security forces cease and their perpetrators are brought to justice.”
The bill features the following demands:
** All U.S. aid to Honduran security forces must cease, and the U.S. must vote no on all loans from multinational development banks to Honduras until the following conditions are met:
** A full investigation and prosecution into the murders of Berta Cáceres, 100 small-farmer activists in the Aguán Valley, Joel Palacios Lino and Elvis Armando García.
** A full investigation and prosecution of the armed attack against Félix Molina.
** A full investigation and prosecution of those members of the Honduran military and police forces who have committed human rights abuses.
** That the Honduran military withdraw from domestic policing, as mandated in the constitution.
** That the rights of “...land rights defenders; trade unionists; journalists; Indigenous, Afro-Indigenous, small farmer and LGBTI activists; human rights defenders; critics of the government; and other civil society activists...” are protected.
** Take steps toward establishing the rule of law and strong democratic systems such as a functioning judiciary branch capable of prosecuting member of the military and police forces.
While there is not a deadline for Reps to co-sponsor, WE NEED TO RALLY NOW ON THE 1st ANNIVERSARY OF THE ASSASSINATION OF BERTA CÁCERES TO BUILD MOMENTUM!
CO-SPONSOR THE BILL
To co-sponsor the bill (or if the staffer wishes an official copy of the bill), representative’s staffer must contact Arya Hariharan (firstname.lastname@example.org) in Rep. Johnson’s (GA) office.
(NOTE: please do not contact Rep. Johnson’s staff yourself, but ask the staffer to do so).
When you call you Representative's office, ask to speak to the foreign policy aide. Use the script below in speaking with the aide. If the aide has not seen the bill, ask for the aide’s email address so that you can forward a copy of the bill. If the foreign policy aide is not available, ask to leave a message on their voice mail. Be sure to get the name foreign policy staffer so you can follow up.
Script: “My name is _____. I am a constituent from (your town/city) in (your state). I am calling to ask Rep. _____ to co-sponsor H.R. 1299, The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act calling for a suspension of U.S. security aid to Honduras until human rights violations committed by the Honduran security forces cease. Has Rep. _______ seen this bill? Can I count on him/her to sign on? Please call me this week at (_your phone number_) to let me know if you have seen the letter, and if Rep. _____ will sign it.”
**In your phone conversation, please highlight why this letter is important to you, especially if you have traveled to Honduras or heard a Honduran speak in your community.
OTHER WAYS TO GET INVOLVED IN HONDURAS SOLIDARITY WORK
1. GET THE STORY OUT - if you are thinking that something you're reading or seeing is important, SHARE IT! Some ideas:
- Media work: Contact local media or journalist (community radio, local newspaper, etc) and ask them to do a piece on Honduras – ask them to interview you if you recently returned on a delegation or put them in touch with local HSN member to give the interview.
- Fund: Pay expenses and a short stipend to an amateur video producer to put together a short 3-5 minute video clip about a particular issue in Honduras that you’re passionate about. We have the contacts to do this.
- Share on social media.
2. VISIT HONDURAS – Organize, recruit, go on an educational delegation to Honduras to see the issues and talk to the social movement for yourself.
Bringing U.S. and Canadian citizens to Honduras helps connect “north-south” issues. Visit and talk to Honduras affected by the behaviors of Canadian-mining companies Honduran communities, USAID social programs in urban neighborhoods and/or World Bank-funded palm companies evicting campesinos from their land. Delegations build movements and provide a framework to link issues in your local communities to issues that Honduran communities and organizations are working on as well.
3. GET IN TOUCH WITH CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE – Please get in touch if interested in Congressional work. The Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN) has an active Congressional Working Group
· Ask them if they have signed Congressional letters about Honduras
· Ask them what their position U.S. militarization in Honduras
4. ORGANIZE FILM SCREENINGS – in your communities, schools, churches, family gatherings, etc.
For a list of fantastic documentaries and video clips about Honduras, see Resource page under Films
5. TRANSLATION SERVICES – We are always looking for people willing to do fast translations about urgent actions from Honduran groups and/or translating letters, statements into Spanish. Extremely valuable.
6. GOOD RESEARCHERS – There are sometimes requests from Honduran individuals and organizations to do research often related to financing of projects (mining, dams, education, healthcare, etc)
7. YOUTH GROUPS & INTERNATIONAL ACCOMPANIERS
More accompaniment on the ground is needed but hard to find. Why? We need Spanish speakers with a strong understanding of Central America and ability to work independently here with guidance from our coordinator(s). Small teams of fact-finding trips of Spanish speakers – whether interns, Latin American study students - motivated to travel to Honduras, focus on an issue and write a good report or meet a demand with a community
Example: Writing the oral history of elders in a community involved in a land struggle.
8. JOIN the HSN AS AN ORGANIZATION or individuals can join the HSN's Working Groups
Working groups meet monthly (or sometimes don't meet for months on end and are activated when needed or called upon. They discuss specific issues and related actions linked to the topic at hand. They are a great resource for those not as familiar with Honduras but interested in supporting issues related to their interests
a. Congressional Working group – Approaching congress people; pushing letters about Honduras; making calls at key moments (urgent actions or when a letter is coming out)
b. Outreach Working group – Building the network and finding new allies in the U.S. and Canada
c. Palm Oil Working group – Focused mostly on campesino struggles
d. Resource Extraction working group – Focused on impacts of hydroelectric dams and mining and how to support communities struggling against them.
Or Start your own WG based on what your org’s interested in
9. JOIN PRESENTE LISTSERV - to receive updates, daily news reports and articles about Honduras. To join, email email@example.com
Example. Urgent actions are sent out over the Presente listserv asking organizations and individuals to take urgent actions related to an abuse or human rights issue.
10. HELP FINANCE THE HSN’S WORK or GET IN TOUCH ABOUT FUNDING HONDURAN GROUPS IN RESISTANCE
Money is needed both to sustain a full-time HSN international presence in Honduras. If interested in donating to the HSN: Click here to make a tax-deductible donation by credit card online, or send a check with “accompaniment” in the memo line to:
Honduras Solidarity Network, c/o Alliance for Global Justice
225 E 26th St., Ste. 1, Tucson, AZ 85713
Money is also needed by Honduran groups to carry out their incredible activities here in country. Please go to 'Contact' page and send an email indicating you'd like to donate to groups or projects in Honduras or write us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
MORE IDEAS OR COMMENTS? Get in touch.