Fleeing for Our Lives: Central American Migrant Crisis

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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.

A one-year-old from El Salvador clings to his mother  ( John Moore/Getty Images)

A one-year-old from El Salvador clings to his mother ( John Moore/Getty Images)

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

Reaping the Harvest of Fear: The Obama Administration Deports Asylum Seekers

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Central American migrants walk over the tracks to catch the train north, Tierra Blanca, Veracruz, Mexico, 28 June 2009.  Junio 28, 2009. Líneas férreas de Tierra Blanca, Veracruz, México. Migrantes centroamericanos en espera de la salida del tren hacia el norte. Migrants make their way toward Mexico’s northern border by foot, bus and most commonly on the top of a network of freight trains. Here migrants in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz state, board “La Bestia” (The Beast) also known as “El tren de la muerte” (The Death Train).

Central American migrants walk over the tracks to catch the train north, Tierra Blanca, Veracruz, Mexico, 28 June 2009.

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

For Women’s Rights Defenders: Every Day is International Women’s Day

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Each year on International Women’s Day, the world celebrates the acts of courage and determination of women worldwide.  It’s a global celebration of the accomplishments, legacy, and rights of women.

What International Women’s Day also highlights, however, is the continued struggle for women’s rights.  And no one knows that better than women’s rights defenders like Bahareh Hedayat of Iran and Norma Cruz of Guatemala. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

What You Need to Know About the U.S.-Mexico Border Crisis

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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?

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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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Hudbay Minerals Loses Ruling Over Subsidiary’s Human Rights Violations

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Angelica Choc during a press conference announcing a legal suit against Canadian mining company Hudbay Minerals for the murder of her husband Adolfo Ich (pictured) in Guatemala City (Photo Credit: James Rodriguez, mimundo.org).

Angelica Choc during a press conference announcing a legal suit against Canadian mining company Hudbay Minerals for the murder of her husband Adolfo Ich (pictured) in Guatemala City (Photo Credit: James Rodriguez, mimundo.org).

A legal ruling in Canada this week that featured Amnesty International Canada as an official intervenor offered a new path for victims of human rights abuses to seek redress against corporations where they are headquartered, even if the acts in question were both committed by a subsidiary of a corporation and took place in another country.

The Globe and Mail article, “After HudBay ruling, Canadian firms on notice over human rights,” points to the potential impact the ruling could have on corporate earnings and responsibilities of directors and investors.

Despite the Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals claiming no responsibility for their subsidiary, Ontario Superior Court ruled on July 22nd that claims against the company’s security personnel for gang rapes and murder of an indigenous leader critical of mining practices in Guatemala can proceed to trial.

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Success without Victory: Taking the Long View on Justice in Guatemala

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Former military leader Efrain Rios Montt's conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity has been overturned, but there is reason to hope (Photo Credit: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images).

Former military leader Efrain Rios Montt’s conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity has been overturned, but there is reason to hope (Photo Credit: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images).

Update: This post was updated on May 23, 2013 to provide more context for the significance of the overturned conviction of Rios Montt.

Amnesty International joined human rights organizations from Guatemala and all around the world in applauding former Guatemalan Dictator Rios Montt’s historic conviction on charges of genocide on May 10. The trial established his responsibility as intellectual author for the murder of 1,771 Ixil indigenous people and the forced displacement of tens of thousands from the Ixil triangle region of southern Quiché Department.

It took over thirty years to bring Rios Montt to justice. The trial faced numerous delays and obstacles, including many procedural appeals and challenges by the defense and a ten day suspension of the trial in April during which an annulment of the proceedings by a lower court was resolved.

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Guatemala’s Trial of the Decade in Ten Facts

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Former Guatemalan leader General José Efraín Rios Montt is currently facing trial for genocide during his time in office (Photo Credit: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images).

Former Guatemalan leader General José Efraín Rios Montt is currently facing trial for genocide during his time in office (Photo Credit: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images).

The trial against former Guatemalan leader General José Efraín Rios Montt for genocide during his time in office has restarted. Here are 10 reasons that show why the Central American country’s dark past is still relevant today.

1. Guatemala is located in Central America, bordering Mexico. Around half of its population is indigenous, including many Maya peoples. The country is one of the most unequal in the region – with high rates of illiteracy, infant mortality and malnutrition, particularly in the countryside. Organized crime and violence are also widespread.

2. Between 1960 and 1996, Guatemala was immersed in a bloody internal armed conflict that pitted the army against guerrilla groups. More than 200,000 men, women and children were murdered or disappeared during this 36-year-long war, most of them were indigenous.

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Thank You For Participating in the 2012 Letter Writing Marathon!

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final reportAmnesty International has issued its report on the results of the 2012 Letter Writing Marathon, and the Central America CoGroup would like to thank everyone who helped make it a success! 500,000 people across 77 countries took almost 2 million actions on 12 cases. Three of the cases featured groups and individuals in Guatemala and Honduras.

Back in January, I wrote a blog entry asking you to write letters to Guatemalan authorities urging them to protect Rosa Franco, a mother who has faced numerous death threats during her 11-year struggle for justice in the murder of her daughter, Maria Isabel. In response to all of the letters she received from activists around the world, Guatemalan Vice President Roxana Baldetti made a public commitment to support the investigation of this case. She also pledged to take further action on the broader issue of the widespread violence against women in her nation.

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Rios Montt Trial is Reason to Celebrate at AGM!

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Relatives of victims of Guatemala's civil war attend the trial against former Guatemalan de facto President and retired General Jose Efrain Rios Montt  for genocide during his de facto 1982-83 regime. Rios Montt is accused of ordering the execution of 1,771 members of the indigenous Ixil Maya people in the Quiche region. The trial marks the first time genocide proceedings have been brought in relation to the 36-year civil war in Guatemala that ended in 1996, leaving an estimated 200,000 people dead, according to United Nations estimates (Photo Credit: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images).

Relatives of victims of Guatemala’s civil war attend the trial against Rios Montt for genocide during his de facto 1982-83 regime (Photo Credit: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images).

Tuesday, March 19 marks the beginning of the trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Rios Montt for the deaths of 1,771 individuals and the forced displacement of tens of thousands more from the Ixil triangle region of southern Quiché department.

It is important to remember that the crimes covered in this trial are only a fraction of the widespread, systematic human rights abuses that the Guatemalan military committed under Rios Montt’s brief reign in 1982 and 1983. The military massacred or disappeared tens of thousands of Guatemalan civilians in the months following the coup that brought Rios Montt to power. Furthermore, the Commission on Historical Clarification (CEH) blamed the Guatemalan government for acts of genocide because:

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