The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act (HR1945), demanding a suspension of all U.S. security aid to Honduras, was recently re-introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson's (GA) office with a total of 43 initial cosponsors!
We're getting signals in the House that we can get it passed this year, so we're in a whole new game strategically. There are a variety of reasons that the Berta Cáceres Act could move differently this year, including increasing grassroots support for the bill in Honduras and the US, mainstream US media attention on Honduras, new progressive Representatives who are moving public conversations via social media and national press, and the important shift to Democratic control of the House.
We need your help!
Representative Hank Johnson (GA-4) and 43 Cosponsors reintroduced the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act (HR1945) on March 28, 2019.
The Berta Cáceres Act was originally introduced in 2016, two months after the assassination of beloved Honduran Indigenous and feminist leader Berta Cáceres. The Act was met with immediate and broad support including the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, and over a hundred other faith, labor, environmental, and human rights organizations. Berta's family and organization, COPINH (the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), immediately applauded the action and continue to advocate for the legislation.
The bill states that "The Honduran police are widely established to be deeply corrupt and to commit human rights abuses, including torture, rape, illegal detention, and murder, with impunity” and that the military has committed violations of human rights, and therefore asks that the United States suspend all “...security assistance to Honduran military and police until such time as human rights violations by Honduran state security forces cease and their perpetrators are brought to justice.”
The bill demands that all U.S. aid to Honduran security forces must cease, and the U.S. must vote no on all loans from multinational development banks to Honduras until the Honduran government has met the following conditions:
- Pursued all legal avenues to bring to trial and obtain a verdict of all those who ordered and carried out the murders of Berta Cáceres, the killings of over 100 small-farmer activists in the Aguán Valley, the killings of 22 people and forced disappearance of 1 person by state security forces in the context of the 2017 postelectoral, the May 3, 2016 armed attack on Félix Molina, and the November 26, 2018 shooting of Geovany Sierra.
-Investigated and successfully prosecuted members of military and police forces who are credibly found to have violated human rights, and ensured that the military and police cooperated in such cases, and that such violations have ceased;
-Withdrawn the military from domestic policing, in accordance with the Honduran Constitution, and ensured that all domestic police functions are separated from the command and control of the Armed Forces of Honduras and are instead directly responsible to civilian authority;
-Established effective protection of the rights of trade unionists, journalists, human rights defenders, the Indigenous, the Afro-Indigenous, small-farmers, and LGBTI activists, critics of the government, and other civil society activists to operate without interference; and
-Taken effective steps to fully establish the rule of law and to guarantee a judicial system that is capable of investigating, prosecuting, and bringing to justice members of the police and military who have committed human rights abuses.
Here’s what you can do
Step 1. Call Rep. Lacy Clay
Rep. Clay was one of the original sponsors on this bill, so please be sure to thank him profusely, and call to ensure he knows we are eager to see his support again.
When you call your Representative's office, ask to speak to the foreign policy aide. Use the script below in speaking with the aide. If the aide has not seen the bill, ask for the aide’s email address so that you can forward a copy of the bill. If the foreign policy aide is not available, ask to leave a message on their voice mail. Be sure to get the name foreign policy staffer so you can follow up.
In your conversation, please highlight why this letter is important to you, especially if you have traveled to Honduras, supported Alex Garcia (who is currently living in sanctuary as we fight for his right to stay in the US while he faces deportation to Honduras), or heard a Honduran activist speak in your community.
“My name is _____. I am a constituent from (your town/city) in (your state). I am calling to ask Rep. _____ to co-sponsor H.R. 1945, The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, calling for a suspension of U.S. security aid to Honduras until human rights violations committed by the Honduran security forces cease. Has Rep. _______ seen this bill? Can I count on him/her to sign on? Please call me this week at (_your phone number_) to let me know if you have seen the letter, and if Rep. _____ will sign it.”
2. Give Rep. Clay’s Staff the Info They Need
It is always best to followup a phone call or a visit with a written thank you note, either by email or US mail. You can share the following information with Rep. Clay’s staff at any time:
To co-sponsor the bill (or if the staffer wishes an official copy of the bill), the representative’s staffer must contact Chelsea Grey (firstname.lastname@example.org) in Rep. Hank Johnson’s (GA) office (the bill’s sponsor). NOTE: please do not contact Rep. Johnson’s staff yourself, but ask the staffer to do so.
3. Report Back
Send an email to email@example.com and let us know how your conversation went!
If you learn that your Representative has agreed to support this bill, please notify Sara John immediately (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can confirm the co-sponsorship with the bill’s organizers, who will confirm it with Rep. Johnson’s office.
4. Check in with your Senators!
It’s a critical time to ensure we are educating and advocating to Senators too, and asking them to support a parallel Berta Cáceres Act in the Senate!