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Afro-Descendant & Indigenous: News & Updates

News Article
Thank you to the more than 120 people who attended the IRTF annual Commemoration of the Martyrs online on Sunday, November 7. You helped to create a beautiful and moving tribute to human rights defenders throughout southern Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. Here you will find links to (1) Commemoration program book 2021, (2) Zoom recording of the event, (3) Facebook livestream recording, (4) playlist from the social hour, (5) an additional play list, (6) how you can add your name to urgent human rights letters, (7) donations for the Honduras support fund, (8) IRTF Legacy Circle planned giving fund, and (9) highlights from the speakers' presentations. Thank you!
News Article
In the midst of a long conflict and recent protest over a nickel mine in El Estor, in eastern Guatemala, police have carried out more than 40 raids and 60 arrests, and the government has declared a 30-day state of emergency. Indigenous Mayan opponents to the mine say they were never properly consulted about the mine and its impacts on their lands, livelihoods and lake, and protested on the town’s main road, refusing passage to mining vehicles. Four police were shot during the police crackdown on protests by what the government blames as armed protestors, although mine opponents say the assailants were not involved in the protest. There are concerns mining operations will pose environmental damages to Guatemala’s largest lake, home to diverse fish, bird, reptile and mammal species, including the endangered Guatemalan black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra).
News Article

The United States is a contradiction. From the stirring words of the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution to the Statue of Liberty beckoning the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” the U.S. trumpets to the world – and does not hesitate to export at gunpoint – the ideals of democracy, freedom, and unbridled capitalism; yet, it is a nation that is also based upon the murderous oppression of Black, Indigenous and other peoples of color. The United States was born of Indigenous genocide and settler colonialism, and African slavery, which included genocide and extractive colonialism, all driven by capitalism and the desire to exploit every natural and human resource for the fulfillment of greed and hegemony. These are not historical issues which have been overcome; they exist today in other no less deadly forms than their earlier iterations.  

News Article
Data from the Victims Unit show that 192,638 Indigenous People and 794,703 Afro-Colombians were affected by the war experienced in recent years. The guerrilla made life impossible for several indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians, and massacres such as that of the Awá in Nariño and Afro-Colombians in Bojayá, mined collective territories, communities stripped of their territories and young people and children recruited are some examples of the FARC's violent acts carried out against ethnic peoples. Almost a third of the national territory is categorised as indigenous reserves, and most of them have to face serious environmental conflicts and land grabbing due to extractive activities in the zone.
News Article
After four days of oral and public trial, today the indigenous Lenca campesinos, José Santos Vijil and Víctor Vásquez, were finally released, having been criminalized for their struggle in defense of the land and territory in the department of La Paz. Vijil and Vásquez had been in prison for nine months for false criminal charges of forced displacement. They were being charge under a law that was designed to prosecute the displacement caused by criminal gangs against communities and neighborhoods affected by their illegal activities. But the Public Ministry has illegally used this law to harass and prosecute defenders of human rights that defend their territory. They are now free to organize their defense from outside of prison. Their lawyer is Edy Tabora. The trial is to take place in Comayagua where both the Sentencing Court and the Court of Appeals are located.
News Article
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.

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