Many people have heard of the March 2016 murder of Berta Cáceres, an award-winning environmental and indigenous rights leader in Honduras, and the many threats that proceeded her death. They may not know, however, that the Honduran authorities had falsely charged Cáceres with inciting usurpation of land, coercion, and damages against the company building the hydo-electric damn opposed by her organization, the Civic Council of the Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), in 2013. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
WATCH LIVE: Human Rights Implications of Protecting People on the Move in the Americas
Migration from Central America to the U.S. is not a new phenomenon, however the reasons, or push factors that are causing people to migrate or flee have changed. The Northern Triangle of Central America (“NTCA”), composed of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, is considered one of the most dangerous places on earth, which has caused unprecedented levels of migration. The United Nations High Commissioner for refugees has called this a humanitarian crisis. Many Central Americans are refugees who like Syrians, are fleeing for their lives.
While the United States has seen a record in asylum applications in recent years, Central American countries are dealing with larger migratory flows from the NTCA within their borders. According a 2014 UNHCR report, Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama have had a 432% increase in asylum applications. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Esmeralda López and Adotei Akwei
Urias (a 32-year-old mother from Usulután Province, El Salvador) says ICE agents showed up at the door of her apartment in Atlanta at 11 a.m. Sunday, but she wouldn’t let them in. Then they called her and said they were actually there because her ankle monitor was broken. So she opened the door. Once inside, they told her to get her kids together and go with them. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General
The scrub-lands and desert in Mexico’s northern state of Coahuila are the last stop for Central American migrants before attempting to cross the border into the USA.
By the time they reach Saltillo, Coahuila’s capital, they have made a perilous journey of nearly 2,000 kilometers. Along the way, many of these men, women and children suffer assaults, robbery and abduction by criminal gangs. There are also reports of extortion and ill-treatment by police and immigration officials. Tragically, some migrants are killed before they even get this far.
After over two months of dragging its feet, the Salvadoran government has finally acted to save Beatriz’s life. On Monday, Beatriz, the young mother we’ve posted frequently about, received an early cesarean section and is now recovering in the hospital.
Our activism helped to save Beatriz’s life.
The hundreds of thousands of people around the world who mobilized on Beatriz’s behalf helped make it possible for her to – upon recovery – be able to return home to her family which is what she has wanted all along. Because of this overwhelming support, Beatriz was never alone in her struggle to access the medical care she wanted and needed.
Out of almost 300 cases of human rights abuses covered in Amnesty International’s new report, Transforming Pain into Hope: Human Rights Defenders in Latin America, only four have resulted in the conviction of those responsible.
One of the main reasons why violators continue enjoy impunity is that they target precisely those individuals who expose their crimes. The report therefore emphasizes the danger posed to journalists, bloggers, and trade unionists who speak up for human rights.
Just within the relatively small region of Central America, the report highlights four important cases of attacks on freedom of expression that seek to cover up other human rights abuses: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
November 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of General Efrain Rios Montt launching the bloodiest period of Guatemala’s civil war after seizing power in a coup. The victims and their families are still waiting for justice. Thankfully, some of them are finally getting their day in court as Rios Montt stands accused in the Dos Erres Massacre of 1982.
Amnesty International issued a report today about the ongoing crisis in Honduras following the coup d’etat which took place June 28. Many press outlets have covered the report and accompanying press release which comes at a crucial time as the crisis in Honduras must be kept in the attention of the mainstream media and general public.
AI’s main concerns with the crisis as cited in the report are:
- Excessive use of force
- Gender-based violence
- Use of military in civilian law enforcement
- Freedom of expression
- Curfew measures
- Safety of human rights defenders
I’ll let the words of Hondurans speak for themselves to end this post, as their words are much more powerful than mine:
“We were demonstrating peacefully. Suddenly, the
police came towards us, and I started running. They
grabbed me and shouted “why do you (all) support
Zelaya’s government? Whether it’s by choice or by
force, you have to be with this government”. They
beat me. I have not yet been informed as to why I
am here detained.”
[“Fernando”, 52 year-old teacher, at a police station in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 30 July 2009]
Unrest in Honduras flared today as protesters spared with police over the recent exile of President Manuel Zelaya. Zelaya was ousted over the weekend by the Honduran military after disagreements among officials about a controversial constitutional referendum Zelaya had asked Hondurans to vote on last Sunday. The referendum would have changed the constitution to allow Zelaya an additional term as president — a move some have argued looks suspiciously close to the referendum Hugo Chavez proposed for Venezuela in 2007.
Amnesty International has issued a press release on the crisis arguing that President Zelaya must be allowed to return to Honduras immediately and safely. Amnesty also raised concerns about the safety of protesters and increased media censorship.
Interestingly, the Obama administration has tepidly stood on the side of leftist Zelaya — arguing that his exile was illegal and he should be reinstated to office immediately, a stance shared with Chavez. But as Paul Richter of the Los Angles Times points out, the U.S. has not gone so far as to remove its ambassadors from Honduras or declare the incident a coup d’etat.
However, I think Obama made a great statement today that shows some insight into U.S.-Latin American relations when he said, “The United States has not always stood as it should with some of these fledgling democracies, but over the last several years I think both Republicans and Democrats in the United States have recognized that we always want to stand with democracy, even if the results don’t always mean that the leaders of those countries are favorable towards the United States.”
As AI stated in their press release, I hope that this crisis will get resolved quickly and peacefully but am ready to roll up my sleeves and start writing letters if the situation gets worse.