Honduras: arrests in slaying of Berta Cáceres

On May 2, authorities in Honduras arrested four people in connection with the March murder of environmental activist Berta Cáceres. As part of an operation code-named "Jaguar," police arrested the four in different locations around the country, including the capital Tegucigalpa. Two were members of the security forces: Mariano Chávez, a Military Police major; and Edilson Duarte Meza, a retired military officer. The two others were linked to the Honduran company that is building the Agua Zarca dam on the Río Gualcarque, which Cáceres was leading the campaign against: Sergio Rodríguez Orellana, a manager for social and environmental issues with the company, Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA); and Douglas Geovanny Bustillo, a former security guard hired by DESA for the dam project.

A DESA company statement said it was "surprised" by the arrests. "We trust that all employees’ actions are within the law," the statement said, and denied that the company had "any material or intellectual connection" to the murder.

The Cáceres family has called for an independent investigation by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, suspecting wider complicity by the security forces. Silvio Carrillo, a nephew of Cáceres, said in a statement to the New York Times: "As we have stated since the assassination, the Honduran government lacks the veracity and political will to conduct a just, thorough and professional investigation." (NPR, NYT, BBC News, La Prensa, Honduras, May 2)