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Environmental Human Rights: News & Updates
February 24, 2019
We wrote to officials in Mexico about the unjust criminalization of Froylán González, a member of CODEDI (Committee for the Defense of Indigenous Peoples) in Oaxaca. He was illegally detained on Feb 11, was beat up in detention, and released (but is still facing fabricated charges) . This kind of criminalization of social leaders is part of a systematic pattern by the state to undermine the rights of indigenous peoples. Over the past year, CODEDI has been the subject of several attacks: five murders, three other arbitrary arrests, three raid incidents, theft, and ongoing threats (cf our letter Nov 24 2018).
February 16, 2019
Camilo Atala, president of Ficohsa bank, protested after he was one of the 16 people whose names Congresswoman Borjas read from the security ministry’s inspector general report as a suspected plotter of the killing of environmental activist Berta Cáceres in 2016.
February 6, 2019
Death of Jakelin Caal in US custody highlights how land conflicts and displacement fuel flight from indigenous villages...The oil extracted from the palm fruits is used for biofuel and in all kinds of household products, from ice cream and instant noodles to lipstick and detergents..."Before there was palm and before there was sugar cane...we farmed watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, tomato, chile, papaya and other crops that helped our families subsist and also generated work," said community leader Albino Mejia...Starting in 2005, palm and sugar cane companies moved in to take over land rights for plantations, raising lease rates for subsistence farmers, and draining water sources used by those small farmers who still had access to land. As a consequence, people have been displaced. Many migrate north to the US.
February 5, 2019
The chief prosecutor’s office said it would seek formal charges against Roberto David Castillo Mejia for his alleged in the assassination of indigenous and environmental defense leader Berta Cáceres. Castillo Mejía Castillo was president of Empresa Desarollos Energeticos (DESA) when Cáceres was killed in 2016. Cáceres was a leader in her people's fight against the company’s construction of a hydroelectric dam, which would cause environmental destruction and cut off their access to their traditional waterway.
January 28, 2019
Globalization as a qualitatively new phase in the ongoing and open-ended evolution of world capitalism has been characterized above all by the rise of a globally integrated production, financial, and service system. In Central America, the transnational model of accumulation that took hold during the boom has involved a vast expansion of maquiladoras (assembly factories in Export Processing Zones, employing some 800,000), agro-industrial complexes, mining and raw material extraction, global banking, tourism, and the “retail revolution,” like the spread of Walmart...At the same time, the spread of transnational tourist complexes has turned Central America into a global playground. Local indigenous, Afro-descendant, and mestizo communities have fought displacement, environmental degradation, and the commodification of local cultures by tourist mega-projects such as the Ruta Maya throughout the regiona-projects Roatan in Honduras, San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, Costa del Sol in El Salvador, or Guanacaste province in Costa Rica
January 22, 2019
Maya communities bore the brunt of almost four decades of a civil war that ended in 1996, leaving over 200,000 casualties, the majority indigenous Guatemalans, according to the United Nations. Now the mostly Maya organizations and many human rights groups worry that the violence is making a comeback: In just the last year, 26 members of mostly indigenous campesino organizations have been killed. "Guatemala is on the verge of a major human rights catastrophe," says Jo-Marie Burt, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America.
December 26, 2018
Ongoing criminalization and judicial harassment of Juana Carranza, a member of the Reyes Rodríguez Arévalo Campesina Cooperative, which is affiliated with the Yoro regional branch of the National Field Workers Office (CNTC) in El Progreso, Yoro Department.
December 24, 2018
In December some of the IRTF staff traveled to El Paso, TX, to take part in “Christmas in Tornillo” at the detention camp where the US government is imprisoning upwards of 2,700 Central American teenagers in questionable conditions. Participants of the 10-day rally sang carols to the kids inside the barbed wire fence and chanted “No están solos” (“You are not alone”). The demonstrators’ nonviolent direct action culminated on New Year’s Eve when they held banners and blocked an entrance to the detention facility, also blocking the road to the US-Mexico border crossing.
December 23, 2018
Sentencing of Q’eqchi’ environmental defender and community leader Bernardo Caal Xol to 7 years and 4 months in Cobán prison for his nonviolent resistance against the Oxec I and Oxec II hydroelectric projects on the Cahabón River in Alta Verapaz Department (cf our letter of June 26 2018).
December 17, 2018
The circumstances of Jakelin Caal Maquin’s death are being seized upon as evidence both for and against the Trump administration’s hardline approach to immigration