Editor's Note: This transcript was automatically transcribed, so mistakes are inevitable. You can contribute by proofreading the transcript or highlighting the mistakes. Sign up to be amongst the first contributors.
Data time of autopsy. March 3rd, 2016. Thirteen hundred hours, that cadaver corresponds to an adult female. Three bullets all fired from a Smith and Wesson 38 special. It ripped through her body complexion, average body condition intact type one hundred and sixty three centimeters. Rigidity complete. One bullet entered her left arm and continued into her side. It pierced her left lung before lodging in her right one alterations observed decorative tattoo on the left upper third of back.
Another bullet entered her left shoulder at an upward angle. It continued toward her neck, bursting the jugular vein and an artery. A third bullet entered her upper back. It tore through her left lung, then her diaphragm, then her stomach, her adrenal gland and finally fractured one of her vertebrae. Fingerprint examination revealed that the corpse registered US autopsy. Three hundred and seventy one 2016 belongs to birthday. Seven percent of the medical cause of death was obvious to the court.
But you'd never find the real cause by tracing those bullets. To do that, you have to follow the path of Berta's life as an activist. It starts in her childhood home. I'm real, an investigative journalist for Bloomberg Green. This is Blood River. Yet those documents still look Escriva being that his mother's name is ouster of Flores.
She's showing me around the family home in La Esperanza, a small city in western Honduras.
The rooms where Berta slept and worked for years remain pretty much as she left them.
Her mother shows me Berta's old work files, her high school awards and some of the rag dolls she liked to collect, including a little brown one Bertus favorite Una Mónica can.
That ouster wears her gray hair long, pulled back in a loose ponytail. Her 87 years have been full of challenges. She mothered 12 children. More recently, she suffered three strokes and a brain hemorrhage. But she's still sharp and her memories of Batar are especially vivid. She was the youngest of the 12 and ostracods. Her bhatta an endearing way of saying little batar that little fervently Tellurian consolingly.
Batista was a tireless fighter. And I think that, yes, she learned a lot from me yet.
But in the Omoto, the Meek Austra was born in 1933.
That same year, the National Party of Honduras took control of the presidency. That party still exists. It's one of the two most powerful political coalitions in the country, the more conservative one. The National Party has evolved over the decades, of course, but some of its early leaders were classic authoritarians. They crack down on labor unions and the press. They jailed political enemies and even outlawed opposition parties. They denied citizenship and the right to vote to women, and they routinely exploited indigenous communities for cheap labor.
These events in the 1930s and 40s would shape the destiny of the Casares family. For generations, Ousters Father was a critic of the National Party. He spent nearly five years in jail as a dissident. Austra would grow up to work as a midwife. She guesses she delivered something like 5000 babies over 60 years. Most of them were born in the countryside, in small indigenous communities in the 1970s and 80s.
Her youngest daughter often could be found at her side 30 time that the compañero Algona Bess's birdeater from when she was little would come with me. Sometimes attending the births, she'd hold a little candle to give me light because there was no electricity and she'd bring me water.
She boiled it, and that's how she became aware that working on behalf of women was a necessity, Morero said.
When the nurses. Who then? Women, indigenous communities, the poor, these had been the underdogs in Honduras, the people that history hadn't been kind to, they inspired Austra to get involved in politics. And this was at a time when women in Honduras almost never did this. Austra became the first female mayor of Los Speranza, then a provincial governor and later a member of the Honduran National Congress. I watched and learned, and as she got older, her own personality emerged.
Her mother had raised her Catholic. But as Berta grew up, she began embracing Lenca traditions. The Lenca are the largest indigenous group in Honduras, but their language and traditions were largely lost, obliterated by modern mainstream culture. This happened well before Berta was born. But an effort to reclaim and protect those traditions really started taking off in the 1980s when Berta was a teenager. She embraced that movement and it helped shape her identity as a student activist, her older brother says by the time they were in high school together, he knew his sister was a leader and a rebel to.
It was president this Guzzo, she was the president of her class and later of an entire school system, and if ever they expelled some kid unfairly, she was always fighting for them. She even let us strike that. We called against the school directors who were in a way dictatorial Irungu, dictatorial Cynthia.
Back then, in the 80s and early 90s, neighboring El Salvador was torn by civil war, the Casares family sympathized with the leftist rebels. They're the ones fighting against the Salvadoran government. The family sheltered refugees in their home. After Berta graduated high school, she traveled to El Salvador to join the cause. She didn't take up arms, but she supported fighting units as a sort of field medic and radio operator.
That's a return to Lesperance in 1990 after less than a year in El Salvador. At home, she continued to embrace leftist causes. Members of the local police and the military now considered her a political agitator, and their suspicions extended to the whole Casares family. Berta's brother remembers how encounters that seemed innocent at first could take unexpected turns.
You know, I'm a little concerned on a Yaqui lady hit on the someone knocked on the door here and asked Mama if she would come and assist with a birth because Ebola is still on.
Bartal Alster agreed to go with them in a taxi, but it was a trap. Police and soldiers surrounded the car and hauled her into the station. Batta was just 19 or 20 years old when she heard her mother had been arrested. She snapped into action.
Elion imprisonment was introverted, and that's why I'm out of the Pueblo Birdeater, started calling around town and the people started to mobilize.
It was Berta who went to the police station arguing for mama, fighting for mama. There was a protest with about 3000 people there. They took over the entire police station to demand the release of Mama, and it was organized by Birdeater and my other siblings. Did he perverted those Romanos? By her early 20s, Berita was on her way to becoming the loudest voice for indigenous and women's rights in western Honduras, and by her 30s, she'd become a national figure.
She often traveled to the capital, Tegucigalpa, to lobby for her causes after President Manuel Zelaya was elected in 2006.
Her influence grew. She wasn't a member of his party, but he sometimes supported her opposition to mining and hydroelectric projects on indigenous lands. And she supported his proposal to rewrite the country's constitution, a move that caused the Honduran establishment to rebel against Zelaya administration. The Honduran military in particular, considered it a threat to the country's traditional order. Then on June 28th, 2009, Honduran politics and the trajectory of Berta's life took a very sharp turn.
It all began at dawn on Sunday when some 200 soldiers surrounded the president's private home. They took him at gunpoint and flew him out of the country to neighboring Costa Rica.
Soldiers kidnapped President Zelaya. They smuggled him out of the country in his pajamas. The National Party, the same one that had imprisoned Berta's grandfather, took power. Instantly, Berta became a national leader of a new resistance movement.
When the military oversaw a new round of elections, Bhatta and others urged the public to boycott the vote. She said the same people who launched a coup couldn't be trusted to make the process fair. Hundreds of local and national candidates dropped out, but the election went ahead anyway. The National Party consolidated its power and now fully in control of the presidency and the National Congress. The party's leaders wanted to send a message to the world. They wanted other countries to know that things would be different here.
From now on, the government adopted a new catchphrase, and it was in English, as if composed, especially for a foreign audience. The slogan was H.O. Beat. Honduras is open for business.
Companya giving to Honduras is open for business and.
In 2010, the new Honduran government held an international business conference to sell the idea to investors. The new leader of Congress, Juan Orlando Hernandez, told the audience that Honduras was prepared to cash in on one of its most valuable natural resources.
There's a Iraqi democracy channel, enormous potential to get the animals.
We have to take advantage of the enormous potential of our rivers to build large dams and medium sized dams. And we've awarded around 50 contracts for clean energy with a clear message that this is the route we want to take.
Moving forward a moment, Cycladic is a route that could get him out of the. The Honduran business elite rallied together to create companies that would build these new hydroelectric projects. One of these companies was called Dassa. The government gave it the go ahead to build a dam on the Google Caraquet River a few hours drive from La Esperanza. The project was called I Was Xhaka. And as soon as that project was set, Dassa was on a collision course with Berita.
The Hours Xhaka project was considered a small dam by industry standards. The original plans called for a dam wall that was about 46 feet tall. At its highest point, there was to be a mile long tunnel, a reservoir and a power station. Battah in the Rio Blanco residents who opposed the project argued that the impacts would be devastating. The dam would disrupt the flow of the river and degrade the land they depended on for crops. But beyond those environmental impacts, they argued that the Rio Grande Kaga is sacred to the Lenca people.
They say the river is their lifeblood. But almost everything about the project violated Berta's world view, the government was saying that this private company, Dassa, would finally bring critical infrastructure to the tiny communities by the river, paved roads, electricity, schools. But in a radio interview in 2015, less than a year before she died, Bhatta explained that she hated that idea. She didn't want to leave those sorts of things to a company that was not subject to public oversight.
Is this an obligation the law has told the local Muslim post, this is the obligation of the state of the government, we pay taxes for that. But in Honduras, if communities have a school, it's usually only because they fought and worked for it. So this is the duty of the state.
It's not that you have to go to a private company for the right to have a road to indicate that Escalona companies operate in their own inaccurate data.
So many of Berta's preoccupations as an activist came together in this project, her environmentalism, her skepticism that a for profit business could reliably serve the public interest. And then there was the politics of it all. All of this was backed by the National Party, a group her family had been fighting for generations.
It seemed like Berta's whole life had led her straight toward a reckoning on that river.
Oh. No, we won't be able to. I'm in a van, and it's January 20 20. More than three years after Berita was killed, a member of Coppin Berta's activist organization is with me, as well as a guide who's a friend of the Casares family. We're heading toward Rio Blanco, a town near the river. The plan for today is to meet people who worked alongside Berta. I was warned that this trip could be risky. There's only one road that leads to Rio Blanco.
The activists say locals who supported the Zarqa project have been known to attack people they believe are connected to Karpin. While we're driving, it starts to rain and soon, just a couple of miles before we reach our destination, our van gets stuck on a muddy road in precisely the worst place to get stuck. We're directly in front of a group of houses. The activists tell me most of the attacks have happened right here. Inside the van is Raul, my coping friendly guide and an activist named Dunja.
They huddled together trying to brainstorm a way out of this jam. OK, so I'm saying, what options do we have? And I said, what about if we get beasts like. And then she says the problem will be leaving the car here because they have even attempted to set cars on fire. And they were only reason they couldn't set it on fire was because there was a crowd here like you looking at the car. That would not be good.
One option we don't have is calling someone or cell phones are not getting reception, and as we sit stuck in the mud, several people begin coming out of their homes. I see someone pacing at the top of the hill. Our van wasn't able to climb down. You grew up around here and she recognizes his face. Hilltop kind of walking around here with a machete, and she said that that guy, his family has been harassing her family. It's.
It's not like she's in a little bit concerned about being attacked. It's really hard to stop looking at that machete, and pretty soon we notice that he's not the only person carrying one in rural Honduras, machetes are a pretty common sight for farmers here. It's just a tool of the trade. But in the conflict over the iwazaki, damn machetes have been a weapon of choice. Our driver, Ronnie, sit still for a moment behind the wheel, letting everything sink in.
Then he slams his palm onto the side of his head three times. Testosterone is almost as if they see the. I was stressed, so here we are trapped the vans wheels are spinning and spraying mud everywhere, but we are not budging. And all the while, more people keep coming out of the houses and they just stand there staring at us. This goes on for about 45 minutes. The standoff is an appropriate introduction to Rio Blanco, the threat of violence has become this community's defining feature.
Eventually, some people approach the van from behind. Dounia recognizes them, their friends. They offer us a ride in a truck that's a lot more agile in the mud than our vehicle.
We hop in and make it up the little hill past the staring onlookers and pass their machetes, say. Furkan Deschanel is the representative of before the dam came into our community. This was a community that was nice and clean. We were able to go out onto the road in the dark and now we can't where we can, but were torn to pieces. So that's why and even now, it's still the case. This dam came in and tore our community apart.
Let me not this and this.
I will need a community that is this was one of the people we'd come to see. Maria Santo Dominguez. Like everyone else in this tiny village, she lives in a cramped cinderblock house, pigs and chickens route in the yard by the outhouse. Sometimes they try to wander in the front door. When officials from Dessa, the Hydro Electric Company, came here in 2012, they promised electricity, new roads and new schools, some of the locals welcomed that attention.
But Maria was skeptical. Her family got water from the volcanic Caraquet River. They grew corn along its banks when Berta Casares began organizing local opposition to the project. Maria became one of her most loyal companions.
You know, something are to. So if we weren't organized, we wouldn't still be here because the dam, it's a dam of death. Repressor.
A wealthy dusa had hired Seno Hydro, a Chinese contractor, to handle construction.
In early 2013, Seno Hydro established a work site a couple of miles from Maria's house. She works with Karpin to help erect roadblocks to prevent construction equipment from moving in and out. But some of Maria's neighbors, the ones who supported the project, took offense. Things come to a head that summer. One morning, Maria is walking beside a dirt road when several neighbors surround her. Three men, two women. The men are holding machetes. The women carry heavy sticks.
They tell her she's strangling the local economy.
But as many here have, I guess.
Yeah, that's why we live in poverty, he told me. Because I don't allow projects to come in that would help everyone. And I told them, no, you're so wrong, because what they're doing will only contaminate the water. The land, they told me, OK. Woman What we're going to do is kill you. And when they told me they were going to kill me, that's when I felt the first blow, the first strike of the machete hit me in the head.
And after that, another machete hit me here in the chest. And then there was another that got my finger if I had down.
That finger falls away, severed, she's bleeding from wounds in her chest and her head as Maria is being attacked, her husband arrives on the scene. The attackers turn on him. They slash him with a machete, cutting into his hand, his forehead and the skin around his left eye. When the carnage is over, the two of them are rushed to a hospital. They spend eight days there recovering. Maria says they were still healing when a fellow coping activist named Tomas Garcia helps organize an impromptu protest at the hydro construction site.
Maria refers to Thomas as her Aramoana or brother in the sense that they were fighting for the same cause and those are slowing down the antis. Yeah. So the day before that, the police came and they offered my brother 20000 thousand LEMPIRAS. I want to say I'm 20000.
Lempiras at the time was worth about 450 dollars. That's a lot of money in a place like this, more than a month's worth of income for a lot of people. Maria says Tomas Garcia refused the offer. She says he considered it a bribe, something to make sure he wouldn't stir up trouble for Dessa. She says the company and the local police seem to be working together. Company officials vehemently deny these allegations and we'll fully explore their version of these events later in this series.
But Maria insists the offer was a bribe and doesn't sell well.
So my brother said that there was no way he was ever going to negotiate, that he wasn't going to go against his partners in this struggle. He said if he dies, it's better to die clean. He could never get involved in that kind of negotiating and end up with a.
The next day is July 15th, 2013, the day of the protest, and it will define the conflict on the river up until the moment Bhatta gets killed that morning, Tomas and the other protesters gathered near the village to make the trek to the construction site.
Tomas's 17 year old son, Allen, tagged along. Today, Alan is 24 years old, a pariah unless and until and from there we started to leave at exactly eight o'clock in the morning and we arrived at the site around 10 o'clock there.
We found soldiers and police and some of the officials from the company.
Just then when we entered the site, then they shot my father.
Well, they assassinated him and they shot me, too. He was a soldier from sea water back the in the perimeter.
They me. What the.
The security force that protected the work site was a mix of civilian and military guards. Allen disputes the story that the soldier who fired the shots later told the guard said he fired in self-defense because Allen's father was threatening him with a machete. Allen survived three gunshot wounds to the chest and back. His father was killed instantly. So even now, nearly seven years after those incidents, the wounds still feel fresh for those who lived through them. After my first trip to Rio Blanco with Karpin members, I returned about a week later, this time I wanted a different perspective.
I was with community members who had supported the dam project ENDESA.
The roads had dried out by now, but I was shocked when they drove me to the exact spot where the van had been stuck the week before, they led me on foot toward the very house that Karpin had described as the most dangerous one in Rio Blanco. They told me this was the home of the Madrid family. I recognize the name reports by various non-profit groups outlining the tensions here had mentioned the Madrid's one report I'd read from 2013 said the family had tried to intimidate opponents of the dam through, quote, constant harassment.
It was the Madrid's who sold Dezso the land that would become its work site. This was a family that clearly and emphatically sided with the company. As I approach the Madrid house, coffee beans were drying in the sun. We walked around the back of the house. There we found the family matriarch, 64 year old Aaron Madrid. She was washing her hair in a cistern. She told off, combed her hair, and we sat down to talk. La Familia must have like a real uncle, a single family, a mother in the family that has been the most affected in Rio Blanco has been the Madrid family, all because the institution of Gopin, that Lady Bertocchi status came here and poisoned the people, these ignorant people ignorant of a project that was going to move this community forward because she was only looking for benefits for herself.
Solovetsky Beneficials, Baraga Aranea was inside this house the day of the tragic protest in 2013 when the conflict carved permanent rifts in this community.
It the holyoake hollowness. I mean, the 15th of July was a Monday. I can never forget it. It was Monday. And they marched by here yelling, yelling, yelling until they got to the worksite.
Get it done. Toguri Thundery Thando EOKA. I don't like no mental no.
More than an hour later, just after Tomas and Alan Garcia had been shot, she heard more commotion. It was coming from the field directly behind the house. Her grandson, Kristian, had just headed down there and told us that El Nino.
And so the boy walks down there, we have a pasture and there are cows down there that the boy takes care of burritos. El Nino lower than Yeva.
Every day, Krystian would milk the cows and give some to the workers at the casino hydrous right there in that pasture with the cows. A group of men returning from the deadly protest encountered the boy, a joyless Datafolha Nunga putting Mahinder.
I heard the shots, but never did, I imagine. Never did it cross my mind that these people were going to repay me in this way, because I, before the eyes of my God, feel that I had freely eaten and drank with them freely. As with all my friends, never could I have imagined they'd pay me like this by killing that boy who had nothing to do with this girl. Not any any doxa. Karpin denies involvement in that killing, but Aranea is convinced that the protesters took the boy's life in exchange for Tomas Garcia's.
Kristian was fourteen years old. His mother had died giving birth to him. Aranea was technically his grandmother, but she'd raised him as her son. As Aranea tells me the story, I notice there's a picture of a boy on the wall behind her as she talks. He's wearing a blue suit and tie. A caption printed above the image reads, Cristián, you live in the heart of our family. And they were trading a seat at the human cost below Ulysse embryos.
I took hold of him eight hours after he was born. And so that's why this has cost me so many tears. I said to God, leave him for me because I need him in my life. Look. You know, I mean, for me, my boy, how can it be and it hurts me, these things they've done are unfair, you know.
So you know what? I me. Yes.
I have not been able to overcome this. The death of my son. It's already six years ago. But for me, it's like it was yesterday, you know, Sasanian. Yeah, but I mean. OK. No, sir. Here he is. My name is Sergio Rodriguez. I'm a biologist. I've been a consultant studying environmental impacts all of my life 20, 25 years, and I started working for Dessau in June 2012, who knew?
They don't go see if the Iwazaki Dam project had a face in the communities beside the Rio Caraquet. It was Sergio Rodriquez. Several development banks in Europe and the Americas were funding the project to get that money. The company had to meet certain environmental standards. It was Sergio's job to make sure that happened. And when Dessa contracted with Seno Hydro, the Chinese company, to start construction in early 2013, Sergo also was tasked with maintaining good relations with the people living nearby.
He pitched the promised upside's the new roads, new schools, new jobs.
Sergio says that at the time construction was set to begin in 2013, the atmosphere in Rio Blanco was calm and you go to Miami.
At first, the projects had good relations with the different communities on both sides of the river in Unity, Boca and Santa Barbara. Then when, you know, you draw started, we ran into a few problems with its workers going onto properties without asking permission or when they were doing topographical work. They cut down some of the cornfields and the machines ploughed up land and some of the neighbor's property. So these little problems started day by day.
And we were like, OK, we have to fix this, we will fix this or I can't let it go. But Sergios promises didn't satisfy the dam's opponents.
Sergio puts part of the blame on Berita. He says she tried to convince residents that the roads and schools would never be built. In July 2013, Sergio says he wanted to work things out with Berita. She agreed, and they met for the first time at a Karpin run community center called Utopia in La Esperanza Vista in Orlando.
You don't see a model of property.
We were there talking with them, and we proposed a way to solve the conflict and to guarantee the communities that the social projects would be completed and Karpin could be in charge of them, or they could supervise our construction of them. And their position was not a position that I can not.
Three days later in Rio Blanco, Tomas Garcia and his son Allen were shot at the demonstration. Young Kristian Madrid was killed in the family cow pasture, D.C..
And please remember, there are a lot of better told.
I went the next day and well, it was devastating to see everything that had happened painful because of the deaths that had occurred, both of Tomas Garcia and Christina Madrid. Christian, I knew him. And so we evacuated some things from the site and the project was suspended as such, he was, of course, a successful project of Sergio, filed criminal complaints against Bhatta and Karpin.
Seno Hydro abandoned the work site and never came back. Decis severed its relationship with the company soon thereafter. Sergio says Dessa wasn't happy with the way Seno Hydro had been operating anyway, and they hired a new contractor.
DSA executives came up with a plan to salvage the project. They tweaked the design of the dam.
Now it would be what's called a run of the river hydroelectric project. Instead of featuring a large dam wall, run of the river project directs water into tunnels built beside the river and into the power station. Then the water is rerouted back to the river downstream, so there's usually much less environmental impact.
Additionally, Dassa moved the project to a new location for every conflict until they see a memorial to avoid conflict. Then we move this side of the dam, relocating it two kilometers upstream where we had 100 percent support and there was no problem.
Not the problem. The move didn't end the protests from Karpin. Even if the environmental impacts were reduced, they didn't completely disappear. The protesters argued that it was still a disruptive construction site.
The river's aquatic life and the strength of its flows could be altered. Carpin planned one of its protests for February 2016, just a couple of weeks before Berita was killed, Sergio says most of the protesters were bussed in from Lazzara, a neighborhood in Rio Blanco that's on the other side of the river near the previous side of the project. In the annals of information, we had information that Berta Caceres was going to come and that she had asked the residents of LA to head out to cross the river again, and they were to occupy the project's property for something like eight days.
Because we knew this demonstration was going to happen, obviously we called the police again and the police arrived before the protest started, and then when Sergio got to the scene, he spotted a familiar face among the demonstrators there.
Mr. Caractacus, it is my style. And I approached Berta Caceres and greeted her.
How are you doing, Berta? I asked her.
I congratulated her on the Goldman Prize that they had given her in 2015. And she told me, you're invited to come visit the Utopia Center so you can see what we've done with the prize.
But I will look at my job premise that he says was the extent of their conversation.
Sergio says it was the last time he'd ever see her. About two weeks after that meeting, Sergios phone rang and threw them out. Last seen call on the 3rd of March at five thirty in the morning, approximately.
I received a call from Claudia Russell, my colleague. She told me, Sergio, they killed Berta. Said what?
What happened, you saw Sergios search for news on TV, he made a few calls and he began exchanging text messages with others at Dassa capacity.
Everyone is like, what happened here? What's the latest? What's the impact of this? And also, this is a crisis for us because they're going to point the finger at us. I asakawa scorpion's banner, so it was logical that they're going to point to us. I can understand.
Sergios says he expected investigators to come knocking on his door and so he waited. Days passed than a week. Then another week, no one came. In those days after the murder, Gustavo Castro had emerged as a prime suspect for police. He's the Mexican activist who was in the house with Baretta on the night of the murder and he'd been shot in the hand in the year. You might remember that when we last heard from him, he was detained at an airport in Honduras.
Authorities wouldn't let him leave the country. So a couple more weeks passed. Gustavo was now holed up in the Mexican embassy in Honduras, the only place he says he felt safe. The Honduran investigators were still trying to figure out how he might be connected to the crime. Gustavo's brother flew in from Mexico to try to help bring him home, but had no luck in those parts of their own ASALA.
Yeah, you know, these scenes, they took us to a room and there they tell us Gustavo Castro is now prohibited from leaving the country for 30 days with the police and people trying to leave.
His lawyers asked to see the court order declaring that he be held in the country. But Gustavo says there was no court order, so his lawyers tried to fight back. They went to the courthouse in La Speranza and filed two petitions. One was a complaint about not being shown a court order.
The other asked that he be allowed to go home in this bar.
And so my lawyer comes back the next day and the judge tells her he is suspending her from professional practice. In other words, he said to my lawyer, it's ruled that you cannot practice law for the next month, a suspension that can only be done by a bar association. There's a whole process for that. So with complete impunity, they wanted to leave me without legal representation and leave me on my own.
But I filed the complaint that could the Kamasi representation they got in the academy. So.
So Gustavo was stuck in limbo. Authorities wouldn't tell him Aubert's his family how he fit into their investigation. Two weeks after the murder, the Honduran prosecutors issued a declaration, they said that no details of the probe were to be shared with the Casares family or their lawyers. The decree said that the family would only be given, quote, information that doesn't jeopardize the investigation. The Casares family and Gustavo were in the dark, so they turned to an international network of activists, environmentalists and human rights campaigners who'd been following the story from abroad.
Those activists went on a media blitz hoping to pressure the Honduran investigation from the outside. This is a clip from Democracy Now, an internationally distributed radio and TV program. The host, Amy Goodman, is interviewing Beverly Bell, an American activist who had been a friend to both Berta and Gustavo. What is happening right now in the wake and the horror of the Berta Caceres assassination, what's happening to Gustavo Castro Soto? It reads like the worst horror movie you could ever imagine.
It's just been crazy where Gustavo was locked up in horrible conditions. Horrible. What are you calling for now? We are calling for his safe passage out of Honduras, back to Mexico. We are also calling for an independent investigation of the assassination of bear. The cost of this because so far it's been grossly manipulated by the Honduran government, which is seeking to target and blame other members of Bertus group who themselves have been detained and are now being investigated.
They had ripped a page out of Berta's own playbook, if the Honduran government wasn't listening to them, maybe the noise of an international pressure campaign would attract some attention.
They argued that instead of focusing on Gustavo or unberth his colleagues, they should look at Dassa. Parata herself had repeatedly said that the company had been the source of threats against her life. Berta's daughter, Fertitta, is about continued to press investigators to shift the focus of the probe that demeans the Republican leaning media portal, numerous the public ministry had no idea what to do with themselves.
So we were saying, look at the company.
But 13 or 14 days passed before the company for the first time was targeted, political and public support primarily for the general.
In the SSA, the master in Myanmar, Ingrid Figueroa.
On March 16th, the prosecutor, Ingrid Figueroa, called me and told me that I should go to testify in the case of the death of Berta Caceres in the city of La Esperanza.
What I said last year and the downside, Sergio says he told the investigator the same version of events he described to me.
He said he'd barely known Berta and that's when the investigator dropped a bomb on him.
Ingrid Figueroa, I met your sister, the investigator, the prosecutor, Ingrid Figueroa, told me you're giving a statement to someone who's being investigated.
That's because there's testimony that you threatened Berta Caceres with death. I was surprised I had seen Berta Caceres three times in my whole life.
Let me tell you that several of his colleagues with cocaine told investigators that Sergio had been harassing Berta since 2012.
He threatened her with repeated telephone calls. And that conversation that happened a couple of weeks before the murder, the one that Sergio says was friendly when he congratulated her on the Goldman Prize. Karpin witnesses say Sergio was angry with Berta, that he threatened her again. After his interview with the prosecuting investigator, Sergio returned to his home in Tegucigalpa. Later that same day that Sergio was questioned, another Karpin activist, a man named Nelson Garcia, was shot and killed about 100 miles south of La Esperanza.
Honduran police considered it an isolated case. He'd been involved in other protests which weren't connected to DECIRTE or Iwazaki. Even so, that killing got the attention of two European development banks that had backed the project. Both said they'd suspend financing until the investigation was resolved.
So now Sergio's job had become much more difficult. But he hadn't given up on the project. As far as he knew, the accusations against him were going nowhere. He continued working for Dessa, waiting for the smoke to clear. But there were signs the investigation was evolving. In April, Gustavo Castro was finally allowed to leave the country. He'd been held by authorities for more than a month, but now he was no longer considered a suspect. The investigators interests seem to be shifting toward other people.
Sergio was one of them. He is in the middle and then on May 2nd, my lawyer called me and said there's a warrant to search your house in Masika.
You know the enemy until Mikasa that day, May 2nd, 2016, would begin at dawn with a series of raids and surprise arrests.
By late morning secret developments inside the investigation began to emerge. A new cast of characters would assume center stage by evening, more blood would be spilled. The story of that day from dawn to dusk on the next episode of Blood River. Blood River is reported and written by me real tofor Forras is our senior producer, Maya Cueva is our associate producer. Our theme was composed and performed by Xenia Rubinos special Thanks to participate via Carlos Rodriguez and José Orozco. Francesca Levy is the head of Bloomberg Podcast's.
Be sure to subscribe if you haven't already, and if you like what you hear, please leave us a review. It helps others find out about the show. Thanks for listening.