Suspects In Murder Of Environmental Activist Trained At Controversial U.S. Facility

By Whitney Webb and cross-posted from Mint Press News

The Murder of environmental activists has reached unprecedented levels throughout Latin America – and nowhere is this more pronounced than in the Central American nation of Honduras. Since Honduras’ government was overthrown in 2009 in a coup backed by the Clinton-led State Department, the industry-friendly government that came to power is cracking down local activism by any means necessary.

Over 120 Honduran activists have been killed since 2010, making the small nation the world’s deadliest place to protect the environment. Berta Cáceres, one of the slain activists, was the winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. However, her international prestige and recognition did not prevent her from being gunned down in her own home last year.

While NGOs and analysts have largely pointed at the Honduran government and its political elite as having played a role in Cáceres’ death, a new investigation published by the Guardian has found that the nation’s U.S. trained special forces have been directly linked to her brutal murder. Citing leaked court documents, the investigation found that Cáceres’ assassination was an extrajudicial killing planned by military intelligence specialists.

Eight men have been arrested in connection with Cáceres’ death, including one active-duty and two retired military officers. Two of them – Maj. Mariano Díaz and Lt. Douglas Giovanny Bustillo – were trained at the infamous School of the Americas.

The School of the Americas (SOA) is a military training school for Latin American soldiers located at Fort Benning, Georgia. Initially founded in 1946 in Panama, the school soon grew into what former Panamanian President Jorge Illueca called the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.”

Since its establishment, the SOA has trained more than 64,000 Latino soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, psychological warfare, interrogation tactics and torture techniques. The schoolwas expelled from Panama in 1984 and relocated to Georgia. In 2001, it underwent a “cosmetic” name change and is now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC)

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