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November 17, 2021
Thank you to the more than 120 people who attended the IRTF annual Commemoration of the Martyrs online on Sunday, November 7. You helped to create a beautiful and moving tribute to human rights defenders throughout southern Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. Here you will find links to (1) Commemoration program book 2021, (2) Zoom recording of the event, (3) Facebook livestream recording, (4) playlist from the social hour, (5) an additional play list, (6) how you can add your name to urgent human rights letters, (7) donations for the Honduras support fund, (8) IRTF Legacy Circle planned giving fund, and (9) highlights from the speakers' presentations. Thank you!
December 7, 2021
Honduras has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for activists, with assassinations, forced “disappearances”, and arbitrary detention being routine, and little justice offered to victims. Many Hondurans share the concern that with this electoral cycle, the violence against the people and impunity of state actors will only increase. We at Honduras Solidarity Network and the InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia invite you to join this webinar to learn from Honduran activists about the state of affairs in the weeks after the 2021 presidential elections .
November 26, 2021
Human rights defender Adriana Lizarazo, the coordinator of the Santander chapter of the Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP), is receiving death threats from paramilitaries. The text messages sent to Adriana Lizarazo on November 13 indicated that the sender was with the Gaitanistas/Gulf Clan paramilitary organization and that they had private information about her. The sender insisted on meeting with her. CSPP was also singled out as a military target. The sender included photos of firearms and someone dressed in military gear with a military rope and a bracelet with the initials AGC. The threats to Adriana Lizarazo, her family, and members of CSPP-Santander are of great concern. INDEPAZ (Institute for the Study of Development and Peace) reports that from January 1 through November 15 of this year, there have been 152 documented acts of aggression against social leaders in Colombia.
November 25, 2021
We wrote to officials in Colombia about the attack on oil pipeline protesters that resulted in the shooting death of 31-year-old farmer Michelsen Vargas Velasco by ESMAD anti-riot police on November 13. Residents of La Hermosura (Bolívar municipality, Santander Dept) had been protesting against an ECOPETROL oil pipeline for the past 50 days because of water contamination and destruction to their roads. On November 13, they blocked access to a road in Puerto de los Cerros. ESMAD arrived and attacked the community, firing tear gas and rubber bullets. They shot Michelsen Vargas Velasco in the head at close range.
November 24, 2021
As many of you know, IRTF has been involved in the resistance at Line 3 and took a delegation to Minnesota this summer to show our support for the movement. In our continued solidarity, we ask that our community reads through and engages with this call to action from a water protector that has been on the ground protesting for a year:
November 24, 2021
We wrote to officials in Honduras to protest the police and military attack on two young adults in the community of Llano Largo in San José municipality, La Paz Department, on November 10. Ronald Alexander Gutiérrez Molina and Saúl Ramos were injured by the security agents. Ronald, age 24, is a community leader who organizes a youth soccer team and participates in a dance team. The security agents approached him on the street at 10:30pm and demanded that he direct them to gang members in the area. When he denied knowing anything about gang members, they grabbed, detained, beat, and shot him. (He has a gunshot wound on his right ankle.) They sprayed a toxic gas on his face and threatened to kill him.
November 23, 2021
Two campesino leaders, Celenia Bonilla and her husband Nelson García, were assassinated on November 21. They were attacked while gardening on the patio of their home in the Cañada de Flores sector of Guaimaca municipality, Francisco Morazán Department. Their three children (the youngest one-year-old) are now left orphaned. Nelson García was president of the campesino association Hombres y Mujeres de Fé (Men and Women of Faith). Together with another campesino association, 44 families have been farming the land in Cañada de Flores for ten years against a backdrop of persecution. Although the municipality of Guaimaca has the land registered as an ejido (common land), an individual has been claiming private ownership. The CNTC (National Center of Rural Workers) has previously denounced threats and harassment of members of these two campesino associations. We demand that the government investigate these killings and bring the perpetrators to justice. We also urge the government to develop public policies on access to and tenure of land in order to address the structural issues of land conflicts.
November 23, 2021
Our country has been in crisis ever since the 2009 coup, which overthrew the democratically-elected government of Manuel Zelaya Rosales. The co-mingling of oligarchs and drug traffickers with state actors has deepened. Human security has deteriorated, and critical problems like drought, gang violence and extreme poverty have gone unaddressed. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has reported that journalists face targeted killings, arbitrary detentions, the destruction of equipment and other obstacles that have impeded their ability to operate independently....Despite the difficult situation in Honduras, I am optimistic. For the first time there is broad opposition to the current regime. We even have the support of some in the private sector who are fed up and want to create more opportunities for economic growth. This unprecedented level of organizing and unity in Honduras echoes the momentum that eventually led to the downfall of the brutal Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. - Gustavo Irías, CESPAD, Honduras.
November 22, 2021
We wrote to the attorney general of Guatemala for the second day in a row about more state violence in El Estor. On November 16 the Guatemalan National Police (PNC) forcibly evicted 96 Maya Q’eqchi’ families from Chinebal, in the southern region of El Estor municipality, Izabal Department, which has been under a government-declared state of siege since October 23. The Maya Q’eqchi’ families of Chinebal have resided and farmed on this land at the foot of the Sierra de las Minas mountain range since the 1940s. The eviction (police bulldozing homes, burning families’ personal belongings) stemmed from a longstanding land dispute over rightful ownership of the Palestina Chinebal farm. Businessman Juan Maegeli leases portions of the land to the NaturAceites company to grow African palm trees for palm oil production. Palm plantations are now covering 9% of arable land in Izabal.
November 22, 2021
The Honduran people will participate massively in these elections as an expression of social exasperation from the deepening of social inequality, the impoverishment that now impacts 73% of the population, the migration crisis, the systematic violation of human rights, the criminalization of social protest, the multiple expressions of violence in general and in particular against girls and women. Honduras will not change at the ballot box but voting against the dictatorship that governs us will be one step. The majority of the Honduran people will vote to reject these accumulated ills.