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Afro-Descendant & Indigenous: News & Updates
RRN Case Update
March 7, 2019
Honduras - case summaries 2018
Here is a summary of the 18 urgent actions that IRTF's Rapid Response Team responded to in 2018. We saw a significant increase in two areas of human rights violations: assassinations and criminalization of protest. Many of these occurred where communities (peasant, indigenous, Afro-descendant) are organizing resistance to protect their ancestral lands, waterways, and cultures against the enormous threats they are facing from mega-projects: extractive industries, industrial agriculture, hydro-electric dams, and other “development” projects. Police and military do the bidding of private companies—breaking up peaceful protest, beating demonstrators, and jailing leaders. This is a disturbing trend that threatens their ability to protect the environment and their democratic rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. (Even journalists reporting on these environmental defense movements are being attacked by police; see letter Nov 23).
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.
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.
January 11, 2019
Recent attack on indigenous leader Alejandro Pascal Pai and his wife. Alejandro Pascal Pai was recently elected Awá governor of the Pingullo Sardinero community in Barbacoas municipality, Nariño Department.
January 10, 2019
Long one of the country’s leading coca producers, Putumayo has advanced further with substitution—both in acres eradicated and participating families—than any other department. But while the program was supposed to create new opportunities for sustainable development, it has also destabilized an already precarious “post-conflict” transition, exposing the department’s most vulnerable communities to new risks and perils.
January 9, 2019
The Red de Mujeres del Caribe roots its peacebuilding efforts in what it calls the “built knowledge” of Caribbean communities, not in policies written at a desk in Bogotá or Havana or Oslo. In summits and workshops, the network’s organizers emphasize the authority of local women, acknowledging them as uniquely capable of understanding the current political moment. Their writings theorize the importance of “senti-pensar” (“feeling-thinking,” a decolonial feminist term referring to the validity of lived experience and affect as a source of knowledge production) in peacebuilding and conflict transformation, in contrast to what a 2017 statement by several Caribbean women’s and LGBTI organizations calls the “modern/colonial” model of “knowledge production and social classification that exploits the bodies-lives of women and other subaltern groups.”
December 25, 2018
Assassinations of Awa indigenous leaders Hector Ramiro García and his son, Arturo García, on December 2 in Ricaurte, Cundinamarca Department.
December 24, 2018
Increasing harassment of members of the indigenous association Central Campesina Ch’ortí Nuevo Día (CCCND) involved in environmental defense, including surveillance of CCCND Coordinator Norma Sánchez, threats to member Ubaldino García, and the murder of member Elizandro Pérez.