Hillary Clinton will be good for women. Ask Berta Cáceres. But you can’t. She’s dead. Gunned down yesterday, March 2, at midnight, in her hometown of La Esperanza, Intibuca, in Honduras.
Cáceres was a vocal and brave indigenous leader, an opponent of the 2009 Honduran coup that Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, made possible. In The Nation, Dana Frank and I covered that coup as it unfolded. Later, as Clinton’s emails were released, others, such as Robert Naiman, Mark Weisbrot, and Alex Main, revealed the central role she played in undercutting Manuel Zelaya, the deposed president, and undercutting the opposition movement demanding his restoration. In so doing, Clinton allied with the worst sectors of Honduran society.
Despite the fact that he was a rural patriarch, Zelaya as president was remarkably supportive of “intersectionality” (that is, a left politics not reducible to class or political economy): He tried to make the morning-after pill legal. (After Zelaya’s ouster, Honduras’s coup congress—the one legitimated by Hillary Clinton—passed an “absolute ban on emergency contraception,” criminalizing “the sale, distribution, and use of the ‘morning-after pill’—imposing punishment for offenders equal to that of obtaining or performing an abortion, which in Honduras is completely restricted.”) He supported gay and transgender rights. (Read this. Among the first to be murdered was Vicky Hernandez Castillo, a transgendered activist in San Pedro Sula. Hernandez left her home on the night of the coup, apparently unaware that the new government had decreed a curfew. She was found dead the next morning, shot in the eye and strangled; Sentidog, an LGBT monitoring group, writes that 168 LGBT people were killed in Honduras between the coup and 2014.) Zelaya apologized for a policy of “social cleansing”—that is, the murder and disappearance of street children and gang members—executed by his predecessors. And he backed rural peasant and indigenous movements, such as the one Cáceres led, in the fight against land dispossession, mining, and biofuels. Zelaya, as president, was by no means perfect. But he was slowly trying to use the power of the state on behalf of the best people in Honduras, including Berta Cáceres.