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Anti-Militarism: News & Updates
March 11, 2021
The Department of Antioquia was hardest hit by a wave of violence in February, due mostly to the predominance of the paramilitary group Clan del Golfo (Gulf Clan) in the region. Our letter to the president and attorney general of Colombia includes these incidents of horrific violence: a massacre of five farm workers, assassinations, threats to school teachers, and a 13-year old indigenous boy who lost his leg when he stepped on a landmine. We are urging that authorities in Colombia: (1) take all necessary steps to fully implement the 2016 Peace Accords, (2) immediately finalize the National Commission on Security Guarantees’ public policy for dismantling armed groups and their networks, and (3) strengthen the Special Investigation Unit to identify and prosecute both the material assailants and intellectual authors of attacks on human rights defenders and former combatants.
March 3, 2021
HR 1574: The Bertha Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act. Today Hondurans need your advocacy, as they fill the streets to fight the theft of public resources by a corrupt regime -- and continue 10 years of nonviolent resistance amidst lethal repression by the state.
Thank you Witness for Peace for the image and Urgent Action.
March 3, 2021
Take action to urge your Senators to co-sponsor the Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act of 2021, introduced on February 23rd by Senator Merkley and 7 other Senators.
Thank you School of Americas Watch for the Urgent Action and the image.
March 1, 2021
The Pacific port city of Buenaventura has a long history of violent conflict, which led to it being dubbed Colombia's "capital of horror". Since 1988, armed gangs have battled for territorial control of drug routes out of the port and carried out gruesome dismemberments in "casas de pique" (Spanish for chop houses). Buenaventura is now suffering a new wave of violence, and midwives like Feliciana Hurtado put themselves at risk by confronting armed fighters to help women living in violent areas deliver babies.
February 28, 2021
WOLA (Washington Office on Latin America) summarizes recent human rights cases in Colombia from the past several weeks including murders of social leaders, violence and threats towards Indigenous and Afro-Colombian elders and social leaders, violence of paramilitary towards individuals and in Indigenous territories, and continued fighting of paramilitary groups in Buenaventura, the large port city on the Pacific coast. The city’s majority Afro-Colombian population lacks access to necessities like clean water, decent jobs, and educational opportunities. Residents are calling for major policy changes to address both the current conflict and underlying issues.
February 25, 2021
Widespread violence continued to impact Colombia’s most vulnerable and marginalised communities and social groups in 2020, according to the annual report on the country by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The report also found alarming levels of inequality, with women badly affected, and lack of access to essential services, with some regions lacking clean water and medical care. In many instances, the Colombian state has failed to address security and humanitarian concerns, particularly in regions long impacted by conflict, structural poverty and historic state abandonment. The global pandemic also impacted on the human rights of the population. Among its recommendations, the OHCHR prioritised full implementation of the peace agreement in addressing the endemic violence which has claimed hundreds of lives since late 2016.
February 24, 2021
Despite the language coming from the administration, these children are facing a terrible and possibly illegal situation. In 1997, a class-action lawsuit settlement established standards for the detention and release of unaccompanied minors taken into custody by the authorities. According to the Flores Settlement Agreement, the federal government must transfer these unaccompanied children to a non-secure and licensed facility within days of being in custody. In an emergency, the government can keep the children for up to 20 days while seeking to reunite them with family members or place them with a sponsor. Meanwhile, the Carrizo Springs site is a secure site (the kids can’t leave), is unlicensed by the state of Texas (it’s operated by a government contractor for the Office of Refugee Resettlement), and is expected to hold children for 30 days, as reported by the Washington Post, which is obviously longer than the 20 days dictated by the Flores Agreement. The detention is also very expensive, coming in at a cost of $775 a day per child compared with $290 a day for permanent centers.
Migrant Justice: We Call for Justice for Nicolas--Transparency, accountability, and community partnership in Immokalee…
February 21, 2021
Corporal Pierre Jean responds to the call of a disturbance in Farmworker Village, gets out of his patrol car seemingly bent on imposing his will on a man who is clearly not well — though, equally clearly, not a real threat — and, within seconds of arriving, rushes him, boxes him in, and shoots him dead. A bad thing — a horrible, preventable, violent death at the hands of the police — has happened. That much doesn’t change.
February 19, 2021
It is with great sadness that we share this news. Sister Dianna Ortiz passed away this morning (Feb 19 2021). Sister Dianna was well-known in the Latin America solidarity movement for the past 30 years. "In 1989, while working as a missionary in Guatemala, Sister Dianna Ortiz, an American Ursuline, was abducted by security forces and brutally tortured. Her case attracted international attention-- not because it was so unusual, but because of the explosive charge that the man who intervened with her captors, a mysterious "Alejandro," may have had connections with the US Embassy." (From the book jacket of her autobiography, which she wrote with Patricia Davis, The Blindfold's Eyes: My Journey from Torture to Truth)
February 15, 2021
Twenty-six year-old nursing student Keyla Martínez died in police custody on February 7. Arrested the night before for an alleged violation of a COVID-restriction curfew, an autopsy found that she had died from “mechanical asphyxiation” in her jail cell. While police initially reported her death as a suicide, the former director of forensic medicine reports that she suffered torture, strangulation, and possible sexual abuse at the hands of police in jail. The Center for Women’s Rights in Honduras stated, “The femicide of Keyla Martínez is added to the history of abuse of power and disproportionate use of force, that with or without the curfew, are exercised by public functionaries, above all police and military, against the population.” Honduras consistently ranks among the top five nations in the world in femicide. Equally alarming is the high rate of impunity for those who commit these murders. We demand justice for Keyla Martínez. #JusticiaParaKeyla