The mastermind behind the crime has been identified by an NGO, Grupo Asesor Internacional de Personas Expertas (GAIPE). Through public records, GAIPE obtained text messages, phone records, emails, photos, and other evidence that the planning, execution, and subsequent cover up of Berta’s murder began in November 2015, and identified the role played by DESA (the company developing the Agua Zarca dam project), by the Honduran government, and by the banks financing the Agua Zarca dam all had a role to play in the death of Berta Cáceres.
The Agua Zarca dam project, approved by Honduran officials in 2013, is a multi-million dollar mega-dam that threatens the survival of Honduras’ Indigenous Lenca community and the health of the Gualcarque River. Berta and her organisation COPINH (the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras) were its primary opponents.
The GAIPE investigation revealed that DESA deployed private security forces, hired hitmen, and influenced law enforcement in order to neutralise Berta and other Lenca activists opposing the Agua Zarca dam.
“I’ve requested the commissioner’s help … and he promised his support. He will share the details of the murder with me and he suggested we make a statement to disassociate ourselves from the event.” — Translation of a text between executives and employees at DESA sent 14 hour after Berta’s murder.
The Honduran Ministry of National Security played a double role in this plan, both providing protection to the Agua Zarca project headquarters and its managers while denying it to Berta at the same time.
DESA did not have enough money on its own to complete construction on the Agua Zarca dam. Funders like the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, Dutch development bank, and Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation (Finnfund) turned a blind eye to its strategy to repress Berta and other activists.