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Afro-Descendant & Indigenous: News & Updates
May 1, 2020
We are deeply concerned about attacks on rural community leaders in Cauca Department. This is part of a wave of violence that continues to impact many regions of Colombia. Since January 1 more than 60 social leaders have been assassinated across the country. In a period of just one week, these four social leaders were assassinated in Cauca: Teodomiro Sotelo Anacona, Andrés Andrelio Cacimanca Burbano, Mario Chilhueso, and Hugo de Jesús Giraldo López. We urge the president and attorney general of Colombia to: 1- carry out transparent and thorough investigations into the assassinations listed above, publish the results, and bring the perpetrators to justice; 2- provide protection measures to members of the organizations listed above, in strict accordance with the wishes of their local leaders; 3- demilitarize the rural areas of Cauca because of the military’s complicity in the armed violence, forced displacement, and targeting of rural social leaders.
April 16, 2020
While state forces threaten their safety and dignity, Indigenous peoples and migrants resist with courage and resilience. Join CRLN for this webinar to learn about resource extraction, migration, and the work of Indigenous people in Guatemala to build a world beyond colonial borders.
April 15, 2020
Equal Exchange has continued to create spaces for us to connect as a community and to take action as an alternative network. We will continue to provide spaces for connection and brainstorm ways to build an independent food system. One meaningful way that we want to engage with you is to continue to invite you into our world by sharing the stories of our producer partners as much as we can.
April 2, 2020
#PorelDerechoaDefenderDerechos - As an active member of the Committee for Campesino Development (CODECA), Dominga Ramos Saljoj was a leader in the organized resistance against the privatization of electricity. The British-owned ENERGUATE, which has been waging a defamation campaign against CODECA leaders over the past several years, operates a monopoly in 80% of Guatemala. An assassin knocked on the door of the home of Dominga Ramos, said “This one is for you,” shot her 8 times, and took off on a motorcycle. Her daughter-in-law and grandchildren witnessed the gruesome murder. We must not allow impunity to continue for these assassinations. Dominga Ramos Saljoj - ¡presente!
RRN Case Update
April 1, 2020
January, February, and March RRN case summaries at a glance
On behalf of our 190 Rapid Response Network members, IRTF volunteers write and send six letters each month to government officials in southern Mexico, Colombia, and Central America (with copies to officials in the US). Who is being targeted? indigenous and Afro-descendant leaders, labor organizers, LGBTI rights defenders, women’s rights defenders, journalists, environmental defenders, and others. By signing our names to these crucial letters, human rights crimes are brought to light, perpetrators are brought to justice and lives are spared. Our solidarity is more important than ever. Together, our voices do make a difference.
March 24, 2020
We are gravely concerned about the continued trend of assassinations against social leaders and human rights defenders. Four more assassinated in five days: Ivo Humberto Bracamonte Quiroz, Marco Rivadeneira, Angel Ovidio Quintero Gonzalez, Omar Guasiruma and Ernesto Guasiruma. In the context of COVID-19, they now face even greater risks: 1- attackers know that public security forces are focusing on issues related to the pandemic, 2-social leaders cannot flee danger because they are subject to restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic, and 3- state protection measures have been weakened.
Skeletons in the Closets of World Bank & Inter-American Development Bank: March 13, 2020 marks 38th anniversary of Chixoy dam/Rio Negro massacres in Guatemala
March 13, 2020
The Chixoy dam was a very profitable investment project of the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in partnership with the U.S.-backed genocidal regimes of Generals Lucas García and Ríos Montt. To clear the way, over 30 Mayan communities were forcibly evicted up and down the river. The village of Río Negro was hit the hardest. The Guatemalan government killed more than 444 villagers over the course of five large-scale massacres in 1981 and 1982. (March 13 is the 20th anniversary of the massacre of 177 Maya Achi children and women.) Since 1994, the Rio Negro survivors have courageously pressured Guatemala’s corrupted legal system to put on trial, find guilty, and send to jail nine former Civil Defense Patrollers (PAC) and military commissioners, mainly from the neighboring village of Xococ. But these were merely the “material authors.” The “intellectual authors” have never been investigated or charged. Not one single military officer in the chain of command, who ordered and carried out the Chixoy dam massacres, was captured, tried and sentenced. Not one official or program officer from the World Bank and IDB was subjected to any investigation into the role of these “development” banks in partnering with the U.S.-backed genocidal regimes of Guatemala (1975-83) in planning and carrying out all aspects of the project. On October 20, 2012, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights did find the Guatemalan government responsible for the Rio Negro/ Chixoy dam massacres and ordered the government to legally investigate the massacres and compensate surviving families. On November 8, 2014, then president and former army general Otto Perez Molina (now in jail on corruption charges) formally apologized on behalf of the government for the human rights violations and sufferings caused by the Chixoy dam project, and signed into law Decree #378-2014, “the Public Policy of Reparations for Communities Affected by the Construction of the Chixoy hydro-electric dam project.” Thirty-eight years later, a measure of reparations has been paid to some of the Chixoy dam victims. But no justice has been done for the roles and responsibilities of the “intellectual authors” in the Guatemalan government, World Bank and IDB that promoted, designed, implemented and profited financially from the project. Pointing out the impunity and corruption of the authors and profiteers of the Chixoy dam crimes highlights the enormity of this global human problem. Across the planet today, governments, “development” banks, corporations and investors push ahead with “resource development projects,” violently displacing populations and destroying habitats, violating a wide range of individual and collective rights, and ravaging Mother Earth.
March 3, 2020
Today is the 4-year anniversary of the indigenous land defender and feminist leader, Berta Cáceres brutal assassination. Berta was the co-founder of COPINH and was murdered for her brave fight in defense of the indigenous and sacred territories of the Lenca People in Honduras. Before her assassination Berta and COPINH fought against the construction of the Agua Zarca Project, a damaging dam of the Energetic Development Company (DESA). In early 2020, the Berta Cáceres Cause Observation Mission presented a new follow-up report on the year-and-a-half judicial process that culminated in December 2019 with the sentencing. This report emphasized that “[j]ustice in the Berta Cáceres case will not be fully realized until responsibility is established for the intellectual authorship of the facts of the case and for the various actions of delay and obstruction of the investigation and judgment.”
March 1, 2020
"A fiery indictment of America’s criminal justice system [and a] provocative cri de coeur.” Book talk by author Alec Karakatsanis. Free and open to the public. Contact: Laurie Albright (email@example.com)
February 24, 2020
Army and police made a violent attempt to kidnap Yesid Conda Pacho, a leader of the Nasa indigenous community in Silvia municipality in Cauca Department. They arrived in uniform in a black truck at Yasid Conda’s residence in the indigenous reservation, threatened him at gunpoint, ordered him to get into the truck, and violently intimidated the National Protection Unit bodyguards assigned to him. We are urging that authorities in Colombia: -carry out a thorough and impartial investigation into the attack, intimidation, and threats against Yesid Conda Pacho, publish the results, and bring those responsible to justice -take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical security and psychological integrity of Yesid Conda Pacho and his family members, in strict accordance with his wishes