About Larry Ladutke

Larry Ladutke is the Country Specialist for El Salvador and a Co-Chair of the Central America Co-Group. He earned his Ph.D. in Political Science at the CUNY Graduate Center by writing a dissertation on the impact of human rights advocacy in postwar El Salvador. He also serves as Amnesty International's Legislative Coordinator for New Jersey.
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What You Need to Know About the U.S.-Mexico Border Crisis

Salvadorian immigrant Stefany Marjorie, 8, holds her doll Rodrigo while going home on July 24, 2014 in Mission, Texas. Tens of thousands of immigrant families and unaccompanied minors from Central America have crossed illegally into the United States this year, causing a humanitarian crisis. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Salvadorian immigrant Stefany Marjorie, 8, holds her doll Rodrigo in Mission, Texas. Tens of thousands of immigrant families and unaccompanied minors from Central America have crossed illegally into the United States this year, causing a humanitarian crisis (Photo Credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

Amnesty International welcomes the positive step of President Obama’s recent meeting with his counterparts from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala regarding the increasing number of children fleeing violence in those countries – with or without their parents.

It is extremely troubling, however, that President Obama continues to assert that his government will return the overwhelming majority of these children to the extreme violence that has driven them to make the dangerous journey to the United States. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why are Children Dying While Migrating to the United States?

A boys shows a U.S. flag as President Barack Obama speaks about immigration at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas, in 2011. (Photo credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

A boys shows a U.S. flag as President Barack Obama speaks about immigration in 2011 at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas (Photo credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images).

President Obama has responded to the recent surge in unaccompanied minors crossing the Mexican border with a $1 million ad campaign aimed at Central Americans.

The U.S. government wants to send two main messages – the journey to the U.S. is extremely dangerous, and those caught, including children, will be deported.

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UPDATE: Brother of Slain Honduran Journalist Threatened After Demanding Justice

Witnesses stand by the car of television journalist Antonio 'Tony' Quintero in Honduras. Quinteros was attacked in his car by gunmen and was seriously wounded, whilst a friend who accompanied him died in the attack. In the last four years, some 33 journalist have been murdered in Honduras (Photo Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images).

Witnesses stand by the car of television journalist Antonio ‘Tony’ Quintero in Honduras. Quinteros was attacked in his car by gunmen and was seriously wounded, whilst a friend who accompanied him died in the attack. In the last four years, some 33 journalist have been murdered in Honduras (Photo Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images).

Back in December, Amnesty activists responded to an Urgent Action on the murder of Honduran journalist Juan Carlos Argeña. Not only has there not been any progress in this case, Amnesty has had to issue a new Urgent Action on behalf of Mario Argeñal, Juan Carlos’ brother.

Unidentified men have threatened and intimidated Mario in response to his public statements about the killing of his brother and his calls for justice in the case.

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The “Most Dangerous City in the World” – Especially for Sex Workers

Sex workers wait for customers in Honduras. Honduras now has the highest per capita murder rate in the world and its capital city, Tegucigalpa, is plagued by violence, poverty, homelessness and sexual assaults (Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images).

Sex workers wait for customers in Honduras. Honduras now has the highest per capita murder rate in the world and its capital city, Tegucigalpa, is plagued by violence, poverty, homelessness and sexual assaults (Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images).

Ian Lekus of Amnesty USA’s LGBT Human Rights Cogroup contributed to this post.

San Pedro Sula, Honduras, has been called “the most dangerous city in the world.” For sex workers in the city, the risk of violence is multiplied many times over.

Despite the fact that sex work is legal in Honduras, many groups and individuals view their actions as immoral. Those who murder sex workers believe they can literally treat these human beings as garbage to be disposed of. Such violence takes place against the broader backdrop of widespread gender- and sexuality-based violence that imperils women and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) persons all through Honduras.

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HAPPENING NOW: Journalists Being Murdered in Honduras

A man lights a candle during a vigil in memory of over 20 journalists killed in Honduras in the last three years (Photo Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images).

A man lights a candle during a vigil in memory of over 30 journalists killed in Honduras in the last three years (Photo Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images).

“This killing is not just a crime against a an individual but also against the society as a whole. Every country should enjoy a free press in which journalists and media owners are allowed to exercise independence in collecting and reporting news without fearing for violent reprisals.”

Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Last month, I posted a blog entry asking if the November 25 elections in Honduras would be a victory for human rights. Unfortunately, my question was violently answered on December 7, when two unidentified gunmen murdered journalist Juan Carlos Argeñal. In addition to owning a local television station, Argeñal was a correspondent for Radio Globo and Globo TV.

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Will Sunday’s Presidential Elections Be a Victory for Human Rights in Honduras?

“The human rights situation in Honduras seems to deteriorate every day. It looks like no one is safe from the widespread violence and insecurity. Those defending human rights are particularly exposed to abuses and attacks.
-Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International’s Americas Deputy Program Director.

On Sunday, November 24, Hondurans will vote for their next president. Amnesty International recognizes this as an historic opportunity to improve human rights in the Central American nation. AI has sent an open letter to all of the candidates outlining specific actions that the next president must take in the areas of

  • Human Rights Defenders
  • Public Security
  • Impunity
  • Individuals & Communities at Risk (Indigenous, Garífuna, Campesinos, Women, & LGBTI)

Amnesty is very concerned about the safety of human rights defenders and journalists during and immediately after the elections. Please send a message to President Lobo that he must guarantee the protection of these individuals before, during, and after Sunday’s elections. We suggest you also send President the following tweets in English and Spanish:

  • .@PEPE_LOBO Will you publicly commit to zero tolerance of attacks against #humanrights defenders & journalists during #Honduras elections?
  •  .@PEPE_LOBO ¿Se comprometerá a cero tolerancia de ataques contra periodistas y defensoras/es de #DDHH durante #EleccionesHonduras?

Please also tweet the presidential candidates to tell them to protect human rights:

  • .@andrespavon_ @VilledaMauricio Will you commit to protect #humanrights defenders & journalists? #EleccionesHonduras
  • .@JuanOrlandoH @XiomaraCastroZ Will you commit to protect #humanrights defenders & journalists? #EleccionesHonduras
  • .@SalvadorNasrala @RomeoVasquezV @OrleSols @Pinusd_HN Will you commit to protect #humanrights defenders and journalists? #EleccionesHonduras

Why Are Human Rights Defenders Still Under Attack in El Salvador?

A Salvadorian mother lifts a portrait of her son near the Presidential House as part of a rally of relatives who lost their children during military operations in the last civil war (1980-1992) in San Salvador, El Salvador. NGO Pro-Busqueda has been working in the search of about 473 missing children (Photo Credit: Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images).

A Salvadorian mother lifts a portrait of her son near the Presidential House as part of a rally of relatives who lost their children during military operations in the last civil war (1980-1992) in San Salvador, El Salvador (Photo Credit: Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images).

The recent attack on the human rights defenders (HRDs) of Pro-Búsqueda brings back painful memories of wartime abuses in El Salvador.

November 16 marked the 24th anniversary of the murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her teenage daughter at the Central American University (UCA) in 1989. This brutal attack shocked the world, creating pressure for the Salvadoran government to finally negotiate an end to the war.

Just two days before this anniversary, however, Salvadorans were given a horrible reminder of the type of wartime atrocities that they had hoped were behind them.

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Who Should Have Custody of the Testimony of El Salvador’s Victims?

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Since its founding in 1982, Salvadoran human rights victims, their families, and other witnesses have trusted their testimony to Tutela Legal, the human rights office of the Catholic Church’s Archdiocese in El Salvador. They had confidence that Church leaders such as Archbishop Rivera y Damas (who replaced Oscar Romero after his assassination in 1980) and María Julía Hernández (the long-time head of Tutela Legal) would preserve the crucial evidence they provided so that one day the criminals who committed wartime atrocities could be brought to justice. They also felt safe turning to Tutela Legal, believing that their testimony would remain confidential.

On September 30, those Salvadorans who had confided in Tutela Legal were shocked to learn that Archbishop Escobar Alas had disbanded the organization, locking the doors and dismissing the staff without prior notice. Since then, he has changed his explanation for doing so several times – but not provided any evidence to support any of his reasons.

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