Who Killed Berta Cáceres? The Murder of an Indigenous Defender and the Race to Save the Planet

Nina Lakhani

Title Conditional: Who Killed Berta Cáceres? The Murder of an Indigenous Defender and the Race to Save the Planet

With comments by Joseph Berra and Rosemary Joyce

Thursday, July 9, 2020
Time: 3:00 pm Pacific Time | CLAS Virtual Event

Berta Cáceres in the Río Blanco region of western Honduras in 2015. (Photo courtesy of the Goldman Environmental Prize.)
Berta Cáceres in the Río Blanco region of western Honduras in 2015. (Photo courtesy of the Goldman Environmental Prize.)

The first time Honduran Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres met journalist Nina Lakhani, Cáceres said, “The army has an assassination list with my name at the top. I want to live, but in this country, there is total impunity. When they want to kill me, they will do it.” In 2015, Cáceres won the prestigious Goldman Prize, for her campaign to stop construction of an internationally funded hydroelectric dam on a river sacred to her Lenca people. Less than a year later, she was dead.

Lakhani herself endured intimidation and harassment as she investigated the murder. She was the only foreign journalist to attend the 2018 trial of Cáceres’s killers, where state security officials, employees of the dam company and hired hitmen were found guilty of murder. Many questions about who ordered and paid for the killing remain unanswered. In her book, Lakhani paints an intimate portrait of an extraordinary woman in a state beholden to corporate powers, organized crime, and the United States.

Nina Lakhani has reported from over a dozen countries, including six and a half years freelancing in Central America and Mexico, where she focused on forced migration, the consequences of the war on drugs, state-sponsored violence, corruption, and impunity, gender violence, environmental defenders and the battle for natural resources. She is currently the Environmental Justice correspondent for The Guardian US based in New York.

Joseph Berra is the Human Rights in the Americas Project Director with the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law. A former Jesuit, Berra spent many years living and working in the Northern Triangle countries of Central America before earning his law degree. He was one of the international observers at the Berta Cáceres trial.

Rosemary Joyce is the Chair of the Department of Anthropology at UC Berkeley. In 2011, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Federal Cultural Property Advisory Committee. She participated in field research in northern Honduras from 1977 to 2009.