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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  March 18, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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03/18/16 03/18/16 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! waso we know berta assassinated to try to stop the social movement of hundreds to try to stop them in their tracks, to try and paralyze them, but we will not give up. and we will not be stopped. especially when someone as precious and beautiful as berta has been taken away from us. amy: less than two weeks after the killing of renowned activist berta caceres in honduras, another indigenous environmentalist has been murdered. we will speak with
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caceres'daughter as well as lilian esperanza lopez with copinh. then as the u.s. congress holds more hearings on lead poisoning of the water supply of flint, michigan, governor rick snyder testifies for the first time. tomay ask you repeatedly come to flint, you admit you did not show up for more than seven after he asked you. >> i'm not familiar. i would have to check my schedule. >> that is what he said, you did not put october until 2015, is that right? >> i don't know if that is right or not. amy: we'll get reaction from two flint residents. nayyirah shariff, coordinator with flint democracy defense league and melissa maze, of water you fighting for, a flint, michigan-based research and advocacy organization founded around the city's water crisis. she and her three children suffer from long-term exposure to heavy metals. all that and more, coming up.
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welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. in the 2016 race for the white house, leading republican party establishment members met in washington, d.c., thursday to continue efforts to try to block a donald trump nomination. led by founder erick erickson, the group is calling for a unity ticket that could prevent trump from winning the 1237 delegates he needs to secure the nomination outright. this comes as the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff general joseph dunford described some of donald trump's military proposals as illegal. speaking to the senate armed dunford answered questions from south carolina senator lindsey graham, who did not mention trump by name, but asked about tactics he has proposed. >> what effect if any would this have on the war fighter if we started telling our men and women in uniform to
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intentionally target civilians, noncombatants, engage in techniques such as waterboarding are more extreme forms of interrogation? >> our men and women, and we should be proud of it, when they go toward the google war with the values of our nation. those kind of activities that you described are inconsistent with the values in our nation, quite frankly, it would have an adverse effect -- as many adverse effects would have, one would be on the morale of the force. frankly, what use testing are things that are not legal for them to do anyway. amy: meanwhile, on the democrat side, president obama reportedly threw his weight behind former secretary of state hillary clinton by telling a group of democratic donors last friday to unite behind her. "the new york times" reports obama made the comments during a private meeting with donors after a fund-raising event in austin for the democratic national committee. this comes as sanders is favored to win a string of upcoming caucuses in idaho, alaska, hawaii, washington and wyoming. , clinton currently leads sanders in the delegate count
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1139 to 825. , u.s. lawmakers called for michigan governor rick snyder's resignation during congressional hearings thursday over the ongoing crisis of lead poisoned water in flint, michigan. this is pennsylvania congressman matt cartwright. >> i have had about enough of your false contrition and your phony apologies. susan from the epa bears not 1/10 of the responsibility of the state of michigan and your administration and she resigned. and there you are dripping with guilt, but drawing or paychecks, hiring lawyers at the expense of the people, and doing your dead level best to spread accountability to others and not being accountable. it is not appropriate. pretty soon, we will have men who strike their wives saying, "i'm sorry, dear, but there were failures at all levels." people who put dollars over the
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fundamental safety of the people do not belong in government. and you need to resign, too, governor snyder. amy: the pentagon says at least a dozen u.s. military members have received administrative punishments as a result of the october 2015 u.s. airstrike on a doctors without borders hospital in kunduz, afghanistan, which killed 42 people -- but none are facing criminal charges. the pentagon continues to call the attack an accident, although a report from doctors without borders concluded -- "the view from inside the hospital is that this attack was conducted with a purpose to kill and destroy." human rights watch has called for a criminal investigation. doctors without borders has called the strike a possible war crime. secretary of state john kerry says isil is committing genocide against christians, yazidis, and shi'ite muslims in iraq and syria. this comes less than a week after u.s. central command chief general lloyd austin told
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congress the pentagon wants more resources in the fight against isil. though he stopped short of explicitly calling for more u.s. troops to be deployed to iraq and syria. there are currently more than u.s. soldiers in iraq, and at 4000 least 50 u.s. soldiers in syria. in news from yemen, the united nations said at least 119 people were killed in a u.s.-backed saudi-led airstrike on a market on three times the previously tuesday, reported death toll. the strike hit a crowded market in the northwest hajja province. at least 22 children were killed in the strike. european union leaders are proposing a controversial new plan which would entail deporting all refugees who reach greece back to turkey. human rights groups have criticized the plan, saying it mass deportations violate international law. while the plan also calls for european countries to commit to resettling syrians currently living in turkish refugee camps, there does not appear to be provisions for what do to with refugees coming from any other
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war-torn countries in the middle east and north africa. this comes as british prime minister david cameron has sparked controversy with his calls for more patrol ships to intercept boats in the mediterranean and send the refugees back to libya, where human rights groups say refugees face violence in the ongoing conflict and imprisonment by the government. on thursday, the libyan coast guard intercepted 122 refugees at sea and returned them to the capital tripoli, where they were detained. the united states and cuba continue to ease diplomatic and financial relations ahead of president obama's upcoming trip to havana next week. barack obama will become the first sitting u.s. president to visit cuba in 88 years. on wednesday, direct postal service between the two countries resumed after a half century. on thursday, cuban foreign minister bruno rodriguez said cuba would remove a 10% tax on u.s. cash dollars as soon as it
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verifies that the united states has lifted currency restrictions against cuba. seaworld has announced it will stop reading killer whales nearly three years after the , documentary "blackface" sparked intense criticism of seaworld's treatment of the animals and their trainers. since the documentary aired, seaworld has faced increasing pressure from animal rights activists, including peta, people for the ethical treatment of animals, to end the killer whale breeding program. seaworld's announcement comes only weeks after the theme park operator has acknowledged that it sent an employee to pose as an animal rights activist to infiltrate peta. according to peta, seaworld employee paul mccomb took part in numerous peta protests against seaworld while undercover and repeatedly used social media in an effort to incite other activists, stating that it's time to "grab pitchforks and torches" and time to "burn seaworld to the ground."
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and in france, as many as 150,000 students and union members participated in mass protests across the country over the government's proposed labor reforms, which would lengthen the french work week and make it easier for bosses to fire employees. university student arnaud carbone spoke out. this is the law that will allow employers to do whatever they want with us and to decide our lives. and that is simply not possible. already, studies are a struggle. today, students are struggling. students are forced to get a job on the side, which makes them flunk out. we cannot allow them to worsen job instability. amy: and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we begin today's show in honduras, where another indigenous environmentalist has been murdered less than two weeks after the killing of
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renowned activist berta caceres. nelson garcia was shot to death tuesday after returning home from helping indigenous people who had been displaced in a mass eviction by honduran security forces. garcia was a member of copinh, the civic council of popular and indigenous organizations of honduras, co-founded by berta caceres. she won the prestigious goldman environmental prize last year for her decade-long fight against the agua zarca dam , a project planned along a river sacred to the indigenous lenca people. she was shot to death at her home on march 3. in a statement honduran police said the two killings were unrelated. they called nelson garcia's murder a "isolated" act. but honduran activists disagree. on thursday, thousands converged in tegucigalpa for the start of a mobilization to demand justice for berta caceres and an end to what they say is a culture of repression and impunity linked to the honduran government's support for corporate interests. 10 buses of indigenous and black
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hondurans were reportedly stopped on the way to the capital. activists said some began walking toward tegucigalpa after being forced to leave the buses. in the capital, demonstrators walked past the mexican embassy to show solidarity with gustavo castro, the sole witness to berta caceres' murder. who remains inside the embassy. after caceres died in his arms, castro was interrogated and blocked from leaving honduras to return to his native mexico, even though he was accompanied by the mexican ambassador. he was shot twice himself. one of berta caceres' daughters, olivia, spoke to democracy now! at the mobilization in tegucigalpa. >> today we are here to demand justice and a nation for the crime of the death of my mother, berta caceres. i'm her oldest daughter and we have launched a struggle, a battle at the international
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level to exert pressure in order to demand the aid agencies that fund these multinational corporations come to plunder and exterminate our people, disposal -- two still our blood, that they stopping financed. and that they leave our country because we don't want international companies that come to finance debt, blood, and extermination and our communities. amy: in a victory for berta caceres supporters, the dutch development bank, fmo, and the finnish development bank finnfund, said they would suspend their funding of the agua zarca dam. in a statement, fmo said the company was "shocked" by nelson garcia's murder and would halt all activities in honduras. meanwhile in washington, d.c., two activists scaled an art installation in front of the u.s. agency for international development on monday to oppose the agency's support for the dam. they unfurled a banner reading, "stop funding murder in honduras." honduran activists say eight members of copinh working to
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stop the agua zarca dam have been murdered since construction began in 2013. on wednesday at another action and washington, d.c., two activists interrupted a meeting at the council of the americas. they targeted the u.s. ambassador to honduras, james nealon, saying he has blood on his hands. >> you have the blood of berta caceres and nelson garcia -- amy: in new york city thursday, hundreds of people, most of them women, gathered outside the honduran mission to the united nations chanting "berta no se -- chanting " berta didn't die; she multiplied." among those who participated was one of berta caceres' three daughters, also named bertha. we're going to speak with her shortly.
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but first, in an exclusive, we turn to new footage filmed by copinh members and its supporters in the hours before and days after caceres' assassination. the video begins with berta caceres herself, conducting a training on march 2, only hours later she would be assassinated. we have to understand why these projects are so important. the government has all of its in the editions of the service of these companies because they're capable as an real blog oh and the defense we had, because these businesses are capable of moving antiterrorism commandos, the military police, the national police, security guards, hitmen, etc.. it is not a civil thing. there has to be something else deeper underneath the surface that moves all of that power. we want to understand that better. we have to understand him because we have the obligation is members of copinh to have these debates anywhere.
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demand that the immediately investigate and that they not say things that are not true and that they stick to the truth of what happened to my sister. have been a frequent voice on the local radio station. after her death, fellow activist
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took to the airwaves to denounce the murder. >> we have to be alert. we are not to be brought to our knees. at no point will we surrender. at no point will they sell us. , if theictatorship executives of the company and the hitmen, if they are thinking copinh they're going to stop the struggle of our organization, ladies and gentlemen empower, you are wrong. amy: the news of her assassination spread quickly and on march 5, thousands gathered for her funeral. >> we reject the victimization honduran state and the state in the region want to impose on us. we, the women and the people, reject it together, brothers and sisters, we reject it because we are criminalized women were also living under death traps for this power.
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amy: people took to the streets across honduras to do now turned killing and to accuse the state of being complicit in her murder. streetsras took to the in honduras. activists said authorities have repeatedly ignored the reports of death threats. >> only come to the public prosecutor's office, i bid present many times when people come to report complaints. have come here to company comrades in the public prosecutor's office where the people work here say that they are rabble-rousers and that they are against development. what kind of development, my friends? killing friends? is that development? [chanting] amy: one of the activists to denounce the murder was a leader of the community in honduras.
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they are descendents of indigenous caribbean people and african slaves. >> we want our children to breathe clean air for generations to come. we want to have rivers. we don't want to just wash our clothes, we want to be a belligerent the water, to be able have water in our homes. that is the struggle we are fighting. for that, they kill us. for that they killed berta caceres. amy: one of berta caceres'three daughters resolved her mother's fight would continue. not beenher has killed. my mother has been planted and she is born and reborn in this, which they tried to put out today, this fire that is the struggle of the people. the only thing they did was ignite it more because they try to put out the fire with gasoline. amy: that was berta caceres's daughter speaking after her mother's death in honduras. when we come back from the break, we will be joined by
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berta's daughter berta zuñiga caceres and we will be joined by lilian esperanza lopez benitez with copinh. that is the group that berta caceres founded. we will be back in a minute. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "the house of justice." this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are talking about honduras where another indigenous environmentalist has been murdered. this less than two weeks after the killing of the renowned environmental activist berta caceres. nelson garcia was shot to death tuesday after returning home from helping indigenous people who have been displaced in a massive action by honduran
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security forces. ,arcia was a member of copinh the civic council of popular and indigenous organizations of honduras, cofounded by berta caceres. goldmanthe prestigious environment apprise last year for her decade-long fight against the agua zarca dam, a project secretary indigenous people. we're joined right now by her daughter, by berta zuñiga caceres, and by lilian esperanza lopez, financial coordinator of copinh, the organization berta cofounded. we welcome you both democracy now! to democracy now! , my condolences on the death of your mother. thank you, and i would like to thank you for giving us this opportunity, the media, to follow up on the struggles and don't just put out --
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amy: why are you here in the united states? we are here because we want to continue denouncing what happened to my mother. we want to tell the truth about her assassination. in honduras, the situation is very much manipulated by the media. and the way the government is dealing with it is lamentable. struggle with those who are engaged in social struggle, women and men, but also with authorities in persons who could listen so the demands we have put forward to the government of honduras can actually receive attention and be acted upon. amy: what are you demanding of the u.s. government?
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>> i think one of the key demands is that we be accompanied in our demands. we have put forth an array of points that received very little attention and our country. it seems the government of honduras is only concerned about what is said internationally come up but not about really following up or verifying what it is that happened in the assassination of my mother. so it is crucial that an independent investigative commission be formed, that it be made up of experts who endure the trust of the family and the organization for the investigation that has been carried out thus far is very limited, and the results it might yield would not be considered reliable by us. and we would like the government of the united states and many
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others to pressure the government of honduras to make it possible for such a commission to participate in the investigation. for the american commission on human rights says it is ready and willing, but it needs an end of dictation -- an invitation from the government of honduras in order for its investigation to begin centered relevant. amy: i really hate to ask you this, but what do you understand happened to her mother when she was assassinated? in was at your home honduras, two weeks ago, well-known figure around the .orld, leading environmentalist what do you understand happen to her in the home where you grew up? >> well, as soon as i found out
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about her assassination, i nearly thought who was really behind this? because we knew of the recurrent threats that she faced. , there hadlast week been an escalation in threats. and this happened in the context of the struggle against this hydroelectric dam known as agua zarca dam. we always feared for her safety and her life because we knew these threats included participation were also came from the repressive forces in honduras, that the police and military have been safeguarding the facilities of the hydroelectric plant. they're always trying to figure out how to protect the interest of the company. so we knew that there were big interests that wanted to bring an end of her life and the struggle of the organization because the struggle was not only hers, it was the struggle of an entire people and also a
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struggle of the honduran social movement. amy: just hours before nelson garcia was assassinated, and this was just a few days ago and assassination,'s more than 60 members of congress signed a letter to secretary of state john kerry and treasury secretary jacob lew calling for a review of u.s. security aid to honduras. an independent investigation into the killing of berta caceres. part -- e an "we are profoundly saddened and anger by the -- angered by the brutal assassination of berta caceres, and appalled by our government's continuous assistance to honduran security forces, so widely documented to be corrupt and dangerous." where does that u.s. military aid go? >> i think it is like the classic form of aid the united
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states has given to the london merrick and region. in honduras, it was bolstered as the 2009 coup d'etat which saw an increase in the national budget earmarked to security. that at the same time, they ,reated special forces supposedly, to watch out for security in the country. the quite to the contrary, what has happened has been an increase in insecurity, violence, and repression, very much directed against the honduran social movement. so i believe the role of the security forces is extremely important when one looks at the barriers being put up to the honduran social movement and to the exercise of human rights. we are also concerned that this is continuing, this cooperation, because it has shown these its a new forces do not serve the purpose for which they were
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supposedly created for the indigenous peoples in particular, the armed forces presents a great danger because they have a different life of harmony and this merely steps up the conflict within the community. amy: i want to talk about -- something very interesting here in the 2016 presidential election in the united states, there is a relationship between hillary clinton, who was the secretary of state who basically accepted the coup of 2009 and the coup government in honduras, but i first want to turn to our second guest, lilian esperanza lopez the need ties, the financial coordinator of copinh. copinh is the environmental organization, the indigenous organization that berta caceres
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cofounded. you beentimes have interrogated cents berta's assassination? >> up until the assassination of berta, i've been interrogated four times and i've received many phone calls from the office of the attorney general. , wire thoseurselves who are part of this organization being interrogated? there are denouncing members of our organization. we asked, why are they interrogating us? amy: so they have interrogated you cents berta was killed?
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>> yes. i have been at the office of the prosecutor for whole days in interrogations. amy: why do you think they're questioning you? and who is doing it? >> those who interrogate us were question is, the prosecutor, because they want to tie her assassination to some sort of internal problem, even though we have never had such an internal problem in the organization during the various years in which i have share the struggle with her. although the government wants is to tear the organization apart -- all the government was to do is tear the organization apart. but as women and a strong organization, we hope they're not going to a college that --
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accomplish that. rather, we have become strengthened to continue working in the organization to defend natural resources. amy: first, berta caceres, the founder of your organization copinh, was assassinated. then tell us what happened to nelson garcia in the last days. >> the assassination of berta days earlier, then also there lindo eviction in real --rio lindo and the government could have stopped this because had it not wanted to be involved or had it not been involved in , theysassination of berta would have arrested the assassination and there was an eviction by police, military, and a court.
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in the wake of that, our colleague nelson garcia was assassinated just as he was arriving at home. paid hitmen were there waiting to assassinate him. amy: are you afraid for your life? yes, we do have fear. we feel fear, yet this is a struggle we have undertaken, a road we have headed down, and that is to become stronger and to continue working as berta always did. and this is a tribute to her. we have committed ourselves to defend the struggle because it's as women we -- if as women we are not struggling in honduras, but we know it is a violent country and that they assassinate as just for being forn and for standing up
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the natural resources of the people. amy: tell us what copinh does, your organization that berta founded. >> for the last 21 years, has been struggling. a march 27, that will be 22 years. copinh has been an organization that defends natural resources in our community because we have our own title, only goal status -- own legal status, protected by convention 169. the only thing we do is support that community to defend their own resources in their own rights. this is what we do as an organization because many communities have had their lands
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taken from them, their crops have been destroyed once the thesey comes into communities. those rights are not resected. and that is what the organization has done, it has undertaken the struggle and we're going to continue that struggle. we will continue knowing our colleague berta was assassinated and that many of us women might be assassinated in this effort, but the government will continue to bloody its hands. amy: what is your message to the u.s. government? >> my message would be that these countries that are financing and the banks that are financing and providing this aid to the multinational companies should no longer do so because
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due to this financing and due to these multi-nationals in our country, honduras, berta was assassinated. and many community leaders have been assassinated. continuet care, but we to struggle. they're not going to stop us women. forward in going this strong struggle in order to pay tribute and honor our colleague berta. , talkertha zuñiga caceres about the dam your mother has bought against for so long, the agua zarca dam, and what it actually does, why she was so fiercely opposed to it. >> i believe that the position
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taken not only by my mother, but also by the indigenous people and the honduran social movement is aimed at preserving the life of the communities and to preserve life -- not only for ourselves, but for the entire world. it is very important to understand the difference between the worldview of the indigenous communities and extract the best model -- .xtractivist model and over time, the death of the communities and their way of life. that is why my mother so fervently and so firmly opposed these projects because they don't bring about the supposed development that they talk about.
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they really represent death for the communities. amy: what role did the coup play in 2009 in what has happened in these years that have ensued? the coup that ousted the democratically elected president? role of thehat the coup -- well, the reason for the death of hundreds of activists and defenders of life because at the root of the problem that the indigenous peoples are facing is , hundredse the coup of confessions were given for hydroelectric exploitation, for mining, model cities were oxygen and aalso number of projects and at dispossessing the population. so we are actually experiencing the coup d'etat now with the
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establishment of a whole series of projects that are strengthening an economic model that represents village of the common -- pillage of the common goods of nature. it is very significant. and we're seeing the consequences and the situations we are now experiencing. amy: honduras has become one of the most dangerous laces in the world since the coup. a few days ago, we were speaking to greg grandin who is a professor of history at new york university. we asked him about what berta caceres said about hillary clinton's role in the 2009 coup -- well, when she was secretary of state. in this clip, we hear berta caceres and then the response by greg grandin. one gonzalez and i were interviewing him. berta caceres appeared on the argentine tv program.
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we're coming out of a coup that we cannot reverse. it just going. and after, there was the issue of the elections, the same hillary clinton and her book "hard choices" practically said what was going to happen in honduras. it demonstrates the meddling of north american our country. the return of our president became a secondary issue. here clinton recognized they did not permit me zelaya's returned to the presidency. government, the grand majority accepted this, even though we warned this was going to be very dangerous and that it were permit a barbarity, not only in honduras, but in the rest of the continent, and we have been witnesses to this. amy: that was berta caceres, speaking in 2004 -- 2014. she was murdered in her home last week in honduras. last year she wanted goldman
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environmental prize. she is a leading environmentalist in the world. "hard she criticizes choices" by hillary clinton as an example of a clear eye pragmatism. that book is effectively a confession. every other country in the world or in latin america was demanding the restitution of democracy and the return of zelaya. clinton relegated that to a secondary concern and insisted on elections, which had legitimized the coup regime and creating the nightmare scenario that existed -- exists today. it is also in the e-mails. the real scandal is not the process of the e-mails. the real scandal about those e-mails are the content. she talks -- the process by --ch she works to do legitimate the elections which berta caceres talks about taking
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place under extreme alledge rise to conditions, fraudulent, sick leave of democracy -- fig leaf of democracy are in the e-mails. juan: what does she say? >> about trying to work toward the movement, getting other countries, pressuring other countries to accept the results of the election and give up the to returned.elaya amy: march 2010, hillary clinton traveled to meet with the honduran president porfirio "pepe" lobo, whose election was boycotted by opponents of the coup that overthrew manuel zelaya. hillary clinton urged latin american countries to normalize ties with the coup government. after this, we hear a response from professor greg grandin. takenthink honduras has important and necessary steps that deserve the recognition and the normalization of relations.
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i have just sent a letter to the congress of the united dates notifying them that we will be restoring aid to honduras. other countries in the region while, iwant to wait a don't know what they're waiting for, but it is the right to wait. amy: that was secretary of state hillary clinton endorsing the coup. what is the trajectory of what happened then to the horror of this past week, the assassination of berta caceres? >> that is just one horror. hundreds of activistsave been killed, scores of gay rights activists have been killed. it is just a nightmare in honduras. there are ways in which the coup regime basically through up honduras to pillage. something like a perm or -- permanent.
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is professor greg grandin responding to secretary of state hillary clinton. and we heard berta caceres herself talking about clinton's role in the coup. we are with her daughter, bertha zuñiga caceres. was your mother, after the coup, put on a death list in honduras? was she the number one person on that list? >> she was on the list of persons for whom the international commission of human rights issued for cautionary -- precautionary measures. these were for people in the movement opposing the coup d'etat. the entire organization copinh was also one of the organizations that spoke out
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entirely against the coup d'etat and participated in hundreds of mobilizations that organized after the coup d'etat, and that was declared their opposition -- they always declared the opposition to this being declared a presidential secession. called for the population to not participate in elections, which it thought should not be held because we were in a coup d'etat situation and one could not say that that was any sort of democratic secession. amy: you have said your mother was not the first activist to be assassinated and she won't be the last. are you afraid for your life. >> well, i believe fear exists. it is a reality but now more than ever, what we insist on is
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assassination's be a president for justice. that is why it is so important as crime be investigated. we know the government is an independent commission coming to say who is really behind this assassination and that it might reveal the ties under which the oligarchical powers operate in our country. haveies that the companies that are protected by honduran institutions in which a justice system supports these facilities, even though they violate human rights. in there are also operating alliance with security forces. amy: i want to thank you both for being with us. bertha zuñiga caceres is the daughter of berta caceres, who was assassinated two weeks ago at her home in honduras.
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and lilian esperanza lopez benitez with copinh the civic , council of popular and indigenous organizations of honduras, which berta caceres co-founded. i thank you both for being with us. again, thank you so much and condolences and special thanks to our translator charlie roberts. if you want to see all of our coverage of honduras, right after berta caceres's assassination, democracy now! was on the plane covering manuel zelaya returning to his country out, as had been coup'd they say, when he returned to honduras, as well as the time of the coup in her interviews with president zelaya and indigenous activists in honduras. when we come back, we're talking flint, michigan. we're talking about the continued poisoning of the water supply and what activists are doing about it following to
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congressional hearings this week , where one of the heads of the epa's spoke and for the first time, the governor of michigan, rick snyder, appeared. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: pj harvey, "the community of hope." this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. this week congress held additional hearings on lead poisoning in the water supply of
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flint, michigan. the crisis began after an unelected emergency manager appointed by republican governor rick snyder switched the source of flint's drinking water to the corrosive flint river. snyder testified on thursday and acknowledged his role in the crisis. >> this was a failure of government at all levels, local, state, and federal officials -- we all failed the families of flint. this isn't about politics more partisanship. i'm not going to point fingers or shift blame. there is plenty of that to share , and neither will help the people of flint. not a day or night goes by that this tragedy doesn't weigh on my mind. the questions i should have asked, the answers i should have demanded, how i could have prevented this. amy: among those who testified this week are epa administrator gina mccarthy, and flint's former emergency manager,
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darnell earley, who refused to testify at last month's hearing despite a subpoena from the u.s. , house oversight and government reform committee. the hearings took on a partisan tone, with republicans going after the epa's mccarthy and democrats grilling snyder. well, for more on the congressional hearings into flint's water crisis we are joined by two guests. melissa mays is an activist and founder of water you fighting for, a flint, michigan-based research and advocacy organization founded around the city's water crisis. she and her three children suffer from long-term exposure to heavy metals because of the water supply. nayyirah shariff is a coordinator with the flint democracy defense league. they both attended thursday's hearing. nayyirah shariff, your response to what the governor said yesterday? it was his first time speaking at the hearing.
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>> it was interesting because the governor has not yet spoken or come to flint to speak to the residents in a public setting. so it was interesting for him to go down there and we sent over 150 people from flint down to the hearing. amy: do you hear anything new, melissa mays? >> the only thing that was different, this was the first time he even slightly admitted that he knew anything was wrong with the water in 2014. he has tried to stand by the "i did not know anything until october 2015," but then he said, well, there were issues with the water -- discoloration and foul smell, like that was ok. however, the test results show there was led in 2014 as well. amy: the partisan divide was on display during the hearing with democrats calling for the resignation of republican governor rick snyder, and republicans doing the same with epa administrator gina mccarthy. this is an exchange between congressman jason chaffetz, a utah republican and chair of the
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oversight and reform committee, and epa head gina mccarthy. >> february is when you arrived and it wasn't until january of the next year you actually did something. that is the fundamental problem. don't look around like you're mystified. d that is what happened. up in february. you did not take action and you could have pulled that switch. >> we consistently took action from that point forward. >> there are a lot of people in this audience from flint. nobody believes you took action. mark edwards from virginia tech, bless his heart, just listen for a second. he had the opportunity, they said things like, we failed to get epa to take led to water risk there is leave. epas possible because the has effectively condoned cheating on the lead and copper rule monitoring since 20 -- 2006. he read your op-ed that was one of the most offensive things i can possibly imagine. and he says about you, "gina
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mccarthy effectively absolved epa of any wrongdoing or any role in creating the flint disaster." if you want to do the courageous thing like you said susan mccann did, then you should also resign. amy: after a tense exchange, matt cartwright called for sanders resignation. >> i've had about enough of your false contrition and phony apologies. susan hedman from epa bears not 1/10 of the responsibility of the state of michigan in your administration, and she resigned. and there you are dripping with guilt, but drawing your paychecks, hiring lawyers at the expense of the people, and doing your dead level best to spread accountability to others and not being accountable. it is not appropriate. pretty soon, we will have men who strike their wives saying,
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"i am sorry, dear, but there failures at all levels." you need to resign, too, governor snyder. amy: matt cartwright telling governor snyder to resign. melissa mays, how is this helping what is happening in flint? and what would that mean if the governor resigned? >> well, the biggest thing i think that the hearings are showing is that we matter. for two years, we have been yelling and screaming about the water and we did not matter, no one listened. here it is on a national scale in front of congress, and that just shows what happened to us is a crime, it is wrong, we are not crazy. we're hoping this will further any criminal investigation. they were both sworn in. there were lies told. we sat there and screened in the audience. if you resigned, honestly, it will not do -- he's doing very
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little in office as it is. all we can hope for is whoever follows behind him steps up and takes responsibility and fixes our city. amy: what do you feel is the governor's responsibility? for someone tuning in for the first time, they don't know what happened in length, michigan, why do you feel the governor is responsible? >> we were under a state of emergency management, meaning he appointed one person to run our city who may all of these decisions as for switching or water source and to it nor us and that one person reported back only to the governor and treasurer. this is on the state. they knew there were problems in 2014, and they let us continue different the water. amy: in april 2014, they switched the water supply of flint -- flint had it for 50 years, the detroit water supply -- to the corrosive flint river. >> yes. amy: did you at home immediately notice something wrong? >> soon after, we began smelling
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open sewer coming out of our caps on the water was turning yellow. we thought it was a joke that we are going to the flint river. as soon as the smells and the rashes started, we knew it was bad and they told us it is hard water, you will be safe. amy: earlier in the week, susan hedman, who resigned and the wake of the flint prices, testified before the house oversight committee hearing. california democratic congressmember ted lieu asked hedman why it took so long for the agency to warn residents. in in june were notified and the newer given a report that said, lots of lead in this drinking water. and the nothing is done until december. there is no excuse for that. someone needed to have yelled and screamed and said, stop this, people are being poisoned. it should have been done in at least july or august -- maybe september. at least by october.
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that was so wrong. this was a crime of epic proportions that could have been prevented post up i yield back. amy: explain, melissa mays, who susan hedman was, regional director of the epa. she has resigned. explain who deltoro is. an expert for water treatment. he asked if every 2013, he asked the state department of environment quality, are you using corrosion control? they said, yes. they lied to the epa. he did not believe them because we were turning in more and more test results that showed high lead. in june, he released a report problems,re are they're not doing their job the state level. amy: what did hedman do? >> said it was full of errors and they did not back him. and then we were not allowed to speak to him for weeks.
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amy: and then she was forced to resign. nayyirah shariff, as you see these two hearings this week, what are you going back to? what are you demanding now? >> flint needs a full on humanitarian effort because snyder has said all levels of government have failed flint. really, there was only one level, that is because of the emergency manager law. we do not have access to local democracy. we did not have agencies. this is a public health disaster. we canhe state sites, only get one case of water per day. that is not enough to meet -- amy: we have five seconds. right now, your most important demand. >> we need a public health declaration by president obama. amy: we will continue online. nayyirah shariff and melissa mays. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to or
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mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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