Things That Matter

Seven Men Sentenced To Up To 50 Years For The Murder Of Honduran Environmental Activist Berta Caceres

Seven men were sentenced to up to 50 years in prison in a Honduras court on Monday for the 2016 murder of the environmental activist Berta Caceres. Four of the men, Elvin Rápalo, Henry Hernández, Edilson Duarte, and Oscar Torres Velásquez, who were identified as the hitmen hired to shoot Caceres dead in her own home, were sentenced to 34 years in prison each.

An additional 16 years and four months were handed down to them for the attempted murder of Mexican environmentalist Gustavo Castro, who was also with Caceres during the shooting. Three more prison terms of 30 years were handed down to other individuals that played a part in the murder including an officer, an ex-soldier, and a manager of the dam project that Caceres opposed. The three men reportedly paid the four gunmen $4,000 to kill Caceres because of her activism work. 

The slaying of Berta Caceres, then-45, brought international outrage and protests as she became a well-known women’s rights defender and indigenous lands rights activist. 

Caceras, a member of the Lenca indigenous community, may not have been a household name but her impact in the world of environmental rights was certainly felt. She was one of the co-founders of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, a grassroots organization that advocates for the rights of indigenous people. Caceras gained notoriety by protesting the company Desarrollos Energeticos (DESA), which had planned to create the $50 million Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam across from the Gualcarque River. Various indigenous communities depend on the river staying clean and healthy and free-flowing to sustain their communities.

“The river is like blood running through your veins. It’s unjust. Not only is it unjust, it’s a crime to attack a river that has life, that has spirits,” Caceres told Aljazeera in 2016. 

The building of the dam would have had major impact on water, food and medicine for her Lenca people and even caused flooding. One of her successful protests included placing a roadblock that halted construction workers from reaching the dam building site. After almost 10 years of opposition, the Chinese state-owned company Sinohydro, who was jointly developing the dam project with DESA, pulled out of the project citing community resistance. 

Her activism and work in stopping the building of the dam gave Caceres notoriety and international attention. Caceres was awarded the Goldman environmental prize in 2015 for her role in preventing the building of the dam. The project was suspended shortly following her untimely death.

Authorities have connected her death directly to her activism work against the failed dam project.

The individuals behind the death of Caceres were connected to executives that were connected to DESA and the failed dam project. The reasoning behind the plotted murder was due to multiple delays and financial losses that were linked to protests that Caceres was behind. Back in November 2018, a Honduran court convicted the seven men for the attack. 

“From the outset, the path to justice has been painful, as our rights as victims have not been respected. These sentences are a start in breaking the impunity, but we’re going to make every effort to ensure that all those responsible – the company executives and state officials identified in the trial – are prosecuted,” Bertita Zúñiga, Cáceres’ second-eldest daughter, said after the men were charged on Monday. 

While Caceres’ family is happy to see some justice be delivered, Zúñiga still believes the real culprits behind her the murder still on the loose. She has previously blamed the Atala-Zablah family, a well-known Honduran business group and DESA shareholders, as the ones behind her mother’s murder. 

“This is a day of pain because the intellectual authors of my mother’s murder are still enjoying impunity,” Zuniga said to reporters. “We are not going to believe that there’s true justice until these people are in jail.”

Despite this tragedy, Zuniga is not letting her mother’s legacy go to waste.

The message that Caceres spread of protecting indigenous communities still lives on according to her daughter, who continues to do similar work. She is committed to keeping her mother’s legacy alive and remembers her for the amazing impact she had on marginalized communities around the globe. 

“I remember her as a hardworking person. But I also remember her with a big smile on her face, because I believe that this struggle cannot be just to martyrize ourselves. We fight with joy and hope because if we do not, more than half of the struggle is lost,” Zúñiga told EarthJustice. “We always say that the image of my mother multiplied because we found her present in the struggle of so many women from so many communities who continue to fight very hard.

READ: Women Of The World Unite To Chant ‘A Rapist In Your Way’ A Chilean Song That Has Sparked A Global Feminist Movement

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El Chapo’s Wife Turns Herself In After Being Charged With Drug Smuggling and Trying to Break Him Out of Jail

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El Chapo’s Wife Turns Herself In After Being Charged With Drug Smuggling and Trying to Break Him Out of Jail

Photo via Getty Images

They say art imitates life, but sometimes, it’s the other way around. Once in a while, the news seems like it’s simply replaying scenes from La Reina del Sur. Especially the latest update on El Chapo’s wife.

On Monday Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, turned herself into the United States FBI on charges of international drug trafficking.

The U.S. authorities are charging Coronel with helping Guzmán smuggle drugs across the border, break out of prison, and bribe corrupt officials. According to anonymous officials, the U.S. authorities have had their eye on her for a while now.

For years, El Chapo’s wife Emma Coronel has insisted that she had nothing to do with her husband’s illegal activities. Because she always maintained her innocence, the former teen beauty-queen was able to keep a high profile since her husband was imprisoned in 2019. She was active on social media, gave interviews to news outlets, and even appeared on a reality series.

Coronel was born in San Francisco, but grew up in Mexico near El Chapo’s “territory”.

Her father was a prominent member of El Chapo’s cartel, and according to experts, she “grew up with knowledge of the narcotics trafficking industry.” She married Guzmán when she was 18-years-old. He was 50. Her and Guzmán have 9-year-old twin daughters together. As of now, the girls’ whereabouts are unknown.

According to official documents, the FBI has evidence that Coronel was a liaison between El Chapo and his sons, “Los Chapitos” when they were planning his notorious prison escape in 2015. Coronel also stands accused of acting as a messenger and negotiator for payments to corrupt authorities.

As of now, people are speculating that Coronel turned herself in in exchange for leniency.

“Her attorney at sentencing is going to argue, ‘She took it upon herself to face charges,’ she didn’t make the government go out and arrest and extradite her,” an anonymous source told Vice. “She came out of Mexico. It would have been quite a process to get her extradited.”

According to reports, Colonel faces 10 years to life in prison, and a fine of up to $10 million USD.

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Thirteen Years After Her Daughter’s Murder, Casey Anthony Is Producing A Documentary To ‘Clear Her Name’

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Thirteen Years After Her Daughter’s Murder, Casey Anthony Is Producing A Documentary To ‘Clear Her Name’

Updated Feb. 8, 2021.

In 2008, the death of Caylee Anthony gripped headlines across the United States after her mother Casey Anthony was charged with first-degree murder. The case attracted a significant amount of news attention and quickly became a media circus. Forty million people watched testimony in the case which became the main topic of talk shows across the country.

Now, thirteen years after her daughter’s death, Casey Anthony is back to making headlines. After enduring so much legal trouble, Anthony is thrusting herself back into the legal field again, this time for business.

Casey Anthony is raising eyebrows once again after filing paperwork to open a private investigation company in South Florida.

Anthony filed documents listing herself as a registered agent of Case Research & Consulting Services, LLC last December. Her business, according to People, was registered to a home in West Palm Beach owned by Patrick McKenna. During the time of her trial, McKenna worked as Anthony’s lead investigator.

According to state records, Anthony does not have a Florida private investigator’s license. As a convicted felon she will not be able to obtain a license.

Casey Anthony is also now pushing to become a movie producer.

 According to TMZ Anthony and co-producers, Tamra Simmons and Ebony Porter-Ike are setting out to produce a movie about her daughter’s murder in an effort to clear her name.

TMZ says that the producers behind the documentary say Anthony is “finally ready to clear her name, bring justice to her daughter, and begin the process of establishing her daughter’s legacy in a different light.”

“She knows what it’s like to be accused of something that she didn’t do,” a source told People. “She wants to help other wrongfully accused people, especially women, and help them get justice.” The source noted that Anthony has yet to obtain clients. “It’s in the very early stages,” explained the source. “She has big plans for her future, and hopes that it will change how people see her.”

In 2008, Anthony was charged with first-degree murder for the disappearance of her daughter Caylee.

Anthony’s case became notorious after it came out that she had not reported her daughter missing until 31 days after she disappeared. A massive search went underway for the toddler who was almost three. The search ended when her body was found in a wooded lot near Anthony’s family home.

On July 5, 2011, a jury found Casey not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child. They did, however, find her guilty of four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer.

After she was acquitted, a Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger described Casey as “the court made a pretty strong statement that she was one of the most hated women in America.”

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