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Environmental Human Rights: News & Updates
November 7, 2021
On Sunday, November 7, 2021, the InterReligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF) will hold a special online gathering to mark the 41st anniversary of the ultimate sacrifice made by two Cleveland women in El Salvador (Jean Donovan and Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel of Cleveland), along with Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke. The four women paid with their lives for their decision to stay in solidarity with poor, marginalized victims of the US-sponsored armed violence, which eventually claimed the lives of 75,000 Salvadorans and the led to the mass exodus of 1 million refugees. IRTF was founded by people of faith and conscience to honor their powerful witness and carry forward their legacy of solidarity. Please join our guest speakers from Honduras as we celebrate IRTF’s four decades of solidarity with the people of Central America and Colombia: promoting peace, justice, human rights, and systemic transformation through nonviolence.
October 13, 2021
Excerpt: This is a time when the State is very clear that it is going to do everything possible to deprive the Garífuna community of its territory to hand it over to investors. That is why we reaffirm that there is a genocidal plan against the Garífuna people. And that is why we are making a call to see what is happening in Honduras. People have left the country en masse and continue to leave. The Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, says “don't come.” However, the United States continues to support corrupt governments like this one, governments that violate human rights. We all have the right to migrate, but we also have the right to stay in the country and live well. Because this is a country where we could live in well-being, only that it is captured by a mafia that does not let us live.
Honduras: Sentencing Court in Comayagua Denies Liberty to Environmental Defenders Víctor Vásquez & José Santos Vigil
October 13, 2021
Since December 2020, Víctor Vásquez, a member of the General Coordination of the Independent Lenca Indigenous Movement of La Paz Honduras (MILPAH), and Santos Vigil, member of the Nueva Esperanza Peasant Base, have been imprisoned in the Penal Center of La Paz, accused of the crime of forced displacement. Víctor accompanied the peasants of the Nueva Esperanza Base, but they were unjustly accused by the alleged owners of three crimes, of which the judge rejected two, but they remain deprived of liberty for the crime of forced displacement. The legislature created the crime of forced displacement to prosecute the displacement caused by criminal gangs against communities and neighborhoods affected by their illegal activities. But now the Public Ministry is using it to illegally harass and prosecute human rights defenders who defend their territory, who fight for protection the environment and access to land. The Coalition Against Impunity has denounced the criminalization of these Lenca environmental defenders.
October 11, 2021
The government of Guatemala is using the National Police (PNC) to intimidate the local Mayan Q’eqchi’ community in El Estor, Izabal Department, which has been organizing opposition to the El Fénix nickel mine for several years. Mining operations are causing contamination of local waterways, namely Lake Izabal. In 2019, the Constitutional Court of Guatemala ruled that the Guatemalan Nickel Company should suspend mining operations until a process of consultation with the local indigenous community is conducted (as required by national and international law). On September 27, 2021 the Ancestral Council of Maya Q’eqchi’ Authorities filed an appeal against Alberto Pimentel Mata, the Minister of Energy and Mines, for his management and bad faith in the pre-consultation process. On October 4, the community set up a road blockade to stop the passage of mining machinery. On October 6, the Guatemalan National Police threatened to evict 94 families (many of them participants of the blockade) from their homes and properties. We are urging that the government (1) issue an order to suspend mining operations, and (2) respect the right of the local Q’eqchi’ community to organize opposition to the mining operations.
October 11, 2021
In summer 2021, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris came to Central America and told would-be migrants: “Do not come.” More recently, photos of U.S. Border Patrol agents whipping Haitian refugees in the Texas desert brutally drove that message home. This anti-migrant message is dehumanizing and wrong. But the truth is, many of us would love nothing more than to stay in our homes. It’s Washington that’s making it difficult. The Garifuna are being forcibly displaced from our beautiful traditional lands along the Caribbean coast of Honduras. Our livelihoods are threatened by the expansion of the global tourist industry, African palm plantations, so-called “Special Economic Development and Employment Zones” (also called Model Cities), and drug cartels that run cocaine through our territories, destined for U.S. markets.
RRN Case Update
September 30, 2021
SEP 2021: RRN letters summaries
SEP 11 2021. COLOMBIA. assassinated: student leader Esteban Mosquera . SEP 12 2021. HONDURAS. forced eviction: campesino families in Guaimaca . SEP 23 2021. HONDURAS. intimidation and assault: Donny Reyes, defender of LGBT rights. SEP 24 2021. GUATEMALA. assassinated: campesino and land rights leader Ramón López Jiménez. SEP 25 2021. COLOMBIA. death threats: journalist José Alberto Tejada. SEP 26 2021. HONDURAS. threatened: journalists Deyni Menjivay and Héctor Madrid
Honduras: ¿Por qué el COPINH y Río Blanco fueron declarados víctima en el caso de corrupción Fraude sobre el Gualcarque
September 22, 2021
This is considered an historic triumph for the Lenca people, for other indigenous communities, and for campesino communities seeking justice. The Penal Court of Appeals ruled that COPINH (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras) can participate as a victim in the fraud lawsuit about the Gualcarque River dam project (the one that got Berta Cáceres assassinated in 2016).
September 14, 2021
On two occasions, police patrol cars of the National Police went to the house of the Guapinol River defender Juana Ramona Zúñiga, asked for “Monchita” and told her that they had been ordered to pass by her house as a measure of her safety by the National Mechanism for the protection of Human Rights. We warn about this irregular action and not authorized or requested by the defender or her organization. Once again we add this act to the harassment and surveillance that the police exert on the Guapinol community and on Juana Ramona and her daughters, in particular. It should be noted that members of the police took photos of the defender and her home.
September 4, 2021
Ciudad Jaraguá is a luxury residential complex, developed by the Inversiones MPG and Inversiones en Activo group, located in San Pedro Sula, on the forested slopes of El Merendón. Local residents have been protesting this development for the past several months because the exclusive housing complex is destroying the El Merendón forest reserve, considered the lungs of the country's industrial capital. Hundreds of families are being impacted. Water sources are harmed. There is structural damage to the homes of local families caused by the use of dynamite. Without any consideration for the flora or fauna, developers are causing significant deforestation. On September 3, while covering the protests, journalist Deyni Menjivar was obstructed by security guards, who harassed and threatened her. The TV news reporter, accompanied by her cameraman, was intercepted by a guard, who aggressively ordered her to stop recording and immediately leave the premises, because if she did not do so, "she was going to get into trouble."
August 31, 2021
Colombia’s human rights crisis continued throughout August 2021, as social activists, trade unionists, students and FARC former combatants were targeted in violent attacks. The month saw several targeted killings and massacres, with authorities seemingly unable to contain deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions in various parts of the country.