[UPDATED 3/11/2016 – see below] Berta Cáceres. indigenous and environmental activist, was murdered in her home on March 3. She knew she was in danger. She had received death threat after death threat. Because she was in danger, Gustavo Castro Soto of Otros Mundos, a Mexican organization, was accompanying Cáceres. He was shot, too, but now the danger to Gustavo comes from the Honduran government, which has insisted on removing him from the safety of the Mexican embassy and returning him to La Esperanza. Here’s how Otros Mundos and the Alliance for Global Justice describe his current danger:
“Gustavo was providing peace accompaniment to Berta on her last night of life; he himself was shot twice. Gustavo was detained in inhumane conditions by the Honduran government for days for ‘questioning.’ He was then released and was accompanied by the Mexican ambassador and consul to the airport in Tegucigalpa. He was just about to go through customs when Honduran authorities tried to forcibly grab him. The Mexican government successfully intervened, and put Gustavo into protective custody in the Mexican Embassy. Now, the Honduran government has prevailed and reclaimed Gustavo, taking him back to La Esperanza. He is in terrible danger in their custody, as what he witnessed is an impediment to the Honduran government’s attempts to pin Berta’s murder on COPINH itself.”
By accompanying Cáceres, Castro placed himself in a long tradition of protection for and by human rights activists. The Institute for Conflict Analysis describes accompaniment:
“Accompaniment volunteers act essentially as unarmed bodyguards, spending 24 hours a day with human rights workers, union leaders, peasant groups, and other popular organizations that have received death threats for their attempts at nonviolent democratic organizing. Always ready with a camera, the accompaniment volunteer is literally the embodiment of international human rights concern, a constant reminder to those who choose to use violence that it will not go unnoticed. There will be an international response to whatever the volunteer witnesses. By simply being there, the volunteer is simultaneously encouraging these activists to continue their work, and protecting them from violent attack.”
UPDATED 3/11/2016: You can help by writing to U.S., Honduran and Mexican officials to respectfully request that Gustavo Castro Soto be released and allowed to return to Mexico. You can click here to send an email automatically to officials in the three countries.
Or you can write your own letter to these officials:
Roberta JacobsonU.S. Department of StateEmail:WHAAsstSecty@State.Gov
Honduran Embassy in United StatesHonduran Embassy in United StatesEmail:email@example.comFax:202.525.4004
US Embassy in HondurasUS Embassy in HondurasEmail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores de MexicoSecretaría de Relaciones Exteriores de MéxicoEmail:email@example.com
Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos de MexicoComisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos de MéxicoEmail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores de HondurasSecretaria de Relaciones Exteriores de HondurasEmail:email@example.com
You can also call your congressional representative and the office of Secretary of State John Kerry.