Remembering Berta Cáceres and what was so neat about her

Indigenous and environmental leader Berta Cáceres was murdered in her home in Honduras on March 2, 2016.  (Photo: Goldman Enviornmental Foundation)

Interview by Beverly Bell in Common Dreams, 2 Mar 2017

How do you see your mother’s legacy?

Berta Zúñiga Cáceres: She didn’t view her role in a top-down way, as in “I’m saving the people,” but rather she recognized the values that were already there but had been made invisible. These related to popular communication, political training, and principles of anti-capitalism, anti-patriarchy, and anti-racism – both within the organization and in society at large. She was always very clear about these principles, above all regarding women.

Laura Zúñiga Cáceres: One of the things my mom leaves behind is the necessity of questioning the status quo, and from there, of using effective actions to confront the status quo. That’s why it’s so important to get organized collectively, to magnify the impact of those actions.

One of the most beautiful things about my mom was her rebelliousness against economic and cultural systems, against imposed social roles. She struggled based on her own way of seeing the world, but was also enriched by dialogue with people who saw things differently than she did. All this work was done starting from the point of view of strengthening the collective, and of bringing out the best in people.

BZC: One thing that’s so important, especially for young people, is to feel that they’re actors in their own history, to see that things don’t just happen but rather they happen because we as human beings construct our own history. Berta never became paralyzed by the world or conformed to it, because she lived by the principle that you have to struggle for the world that you want.

She insisted that all people must take responsibility for this historic moment we find ourselves in. And taking responsibility means acting, it means doing difficult work. Sometimes we might lose our way, but this is the only way to change it.

LZC: Another thing that my mom had was the capacity to be happy, to not let herself be put down by anyone but to be joyful. Sometimes it was hard, but in the middle of any situation, instead of saying, “What’s happening is so terrible,” she would laugh. It was another tool of her rebellion, and was also a way of constructing new ways of living.

Berta Zuniga Cáceres, Laura Zuniga Cáceres, and Gustavo Castro Soto presenting on "the Revolutions of Berta Cáceres" at the opening session of the international Forum on Emancipatory Paradigms. Havana, January 10, 2017. (Credit: Beverly Bell)Berta Zuniga Cáceres, Laura Zuniga Cáceres, and Gustavo Castro Soto presenting on “the Revolutions of Berta Cáceres” at the opening session of the international Forum on Emancipatory Paradigms. Havana, January 10, 2017. (Credit: Beverly Bell)