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IRTF Policy Packet: July 2018
Advocacy Packet - July 2018
The InterReligious Task Force on Central America
Contacts and Information:
InterReligious Task Force on Central America
3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland OH 44113 • 216.961.0003 • www.IRTFcleveland.org
Co-Coordinators: Chrissy Stonebraker-Martínez & Brian Stefan-Szittai
Volunteer Associates: Marc Alvarado, Janna Hanke
Board of Trustees: Lyz Bly, Heather Craigie, Rachel Rosen DeGolia, Lauren Fraser, JP Graulty, Annette Iwamoto, Joann Rymarczyk-Piotrkowski, & Andy Trares
The InterRelegious Task Force on Central America (IRTF) was founded by people of faith and conscience after the assassinations of Archbishop Oscar Romero, Jean Donovan and Sister Dorothy Kazel in El Salvador in 1980. IRTF calls together the people of Ohio to walk in solidarity with the oppressed peoples of Central America and Colombia to achieve peace, justice, human rights, and systemic transformation through nonviolence.
Table of Contents
- Immigration from Central America
- Alliance for Prosperity & CARSI
- HR1299: The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act
- Security Assistance
- TPS: Temporary Protected Status
- Rapid Response Network: Human Rights Case Summaries and Statistics
Immigration from Central America
Over the past several years, migration from Central America has been the focal point of significant media and public policy attention, as the number of unaccompanied children and families fleeing from gang violence and poverty has risen.
Civil wars, political instability, and economic hardship first drove significant numbers of Central Americans northward in the 1980’s, which caused the population of that region of United States to more than triple. Despite the end of political conflicts in the early 1990s, additional migration was driven by family unification, natural disasters, and persistent political and economic volatility, with many individuals entering the U.S. without documentation. In 2015, approximately 3.4 million Central Americans resided in the United States, representing 8% of the 43.3 million U.S. immigrants. 85% of Central Americans in the United States come from the region known as the Northern Triangle, formed by El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
The Northern Triangle suffers from poor political and socioeconomic conditions, including widespread gang violence and some of the world's highest homicide rates. Since 2011, a growing number of unaccompanied children and families from Central America, largely from the Northern Triangle, have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border, due to these tensions. In fiscal year 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted 46,893 unaccompanied children and 70,407 “Family Units” (denoting individuals apprehended with a family member) from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The numbers of Central American migrants reaching the U.S. southern border are continuing to decrease; largely due to increased immigration enforcement in Mexico which is primarily funded and equipped by the United States. Parts of the southern states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Tabasco now resemble border communities of Arizona and South Texas, with an influx of federal agents, militarized highway checkpoints, and raids on hotels frequented by migrants. The militarized immigration enforcement strategy is providing the desired effect for the United States; Mexico is now detaining and deporting more Central American migrants than the U.S. Border Patrol.
Central Americans arriving to the U.S. border should be viewed and treated as refugees fleeing entrenched structural violence. Their right to apply for political asylum, without the threat of detention, should be upheld.
We Ask U.S. Policymakers to:
- Support the defense and protection of immigrants/refugees from deportation, detention, harassment, discrimination and exclusion
- End detention and block the further expansion of detention centers, such as the construction of new detention centers or increased contracts with the private prison industry
- Oppose budget increases for apprehension, detention, and deportation
- End family detention
- Co-sponsor the Berta Caceres Act: HR1299; suspend funding/training for Honduran military
- Co-sponsor the DREAM Act: HR3440, S1615; to legalize status of DACA-eligible persons
- Co-sponsor the American Hope Act: HR359; to allow dreamers benefits like in-state tuition
- Support renewal of TPS (Temporary Protected Status) before expiration dates, and expand TPS categories beyond natural disasters to also cover immigrants fleeing pervasive violent conditions
- At the local level, send staff to accompany undocumented people to their required check-ins at ICE offices
Sources and Further Information:
- Migration Policy Institute, 2018. https://www.migrationpolicy.org
- National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, The Challenge for Rights and Justice in 2016. 2016. http://www.nnirr.org/drupal/sites/default/files/appeal_flyer_2016.pdf
- Linthicum, Kate. More Central Americans are giving up on the U.S. and looking instead to a Mexican dream. Los Angeles Times, 2016. http://www.latimes.com/sdhoy-more-central-americans-are-giving-up-on-the...
- Olson, Eric. The Merida Initiative and Shared Responsibility in U.S.-Mexico Security Relations. The Wilson Quarterly, 2017. https://wilsonquarterly.com/quarterly/after-the-storm-in-u-s-mexicorelations/the-m-rida-initiative-and-shared-responsibility-in-u-s-mexico-security-relations/
Alliance for Prosperity Plan and CARSI
In summer of 2014, the US witnessed a surge of unaccompanied children arriving at its southern border. The U.S. government then announced the new Alliance for Prosperity with the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The Alliance for Prosperity Plan, or APP, modeled after Plan Colombia, is a five-year plan meant to stem migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America through investments in development and security.
The United States promised to provide $1 billion per year over five years, but in 2016, the budget provided only $750 million USD. Ostensibly, this money is to be used “for development assistance” to Central America, but current allocation estimates that more than 60% will go towards “security measures”, not development.
President Obama’s 2017 budget proposal allocated $65 million for El Salvador, $112 million for Guatemala, and $98 million for Honduras in development assistance, with the other $475 million appropriated to military financing and training, the CARSI (Central America Regional Security Initiative), and other countries in the region. As with 2016, the total proposed for 2017 was $750 million; congress approved $655 million.
For the 2018 fiscal year, the Trump Administration proposed $460 million for the Alliance for Prosperity Plan, a 39% decrease from 2016 funding. However, CARSI would only see a 20% decrease in funding, at $263.2 million. Although Congress ultimately approved a $600 million budget for APP in 2018, it is clear that the administration is interested in cutting funds for development while maintaining these “security measures”. This emphasis on security ignores the fact that corruption and impunity remain high in Northern Triangle countries; supporting them with security assistance does not ensure safety for the people. The APP must establish a better method for holding countries accountable for human rights violations and other abuses if the US is giving over half the budget in security assistance.
Tourism and agribusiness are other focuses of the plan; both are sectors from which U.S. companies could potentially make big profits. They are also related to areas of intense violence and state-backed oppression in Honduras, as wealthy business people attempt to push off or defraud campesinos (rural dwellers) and Afro-descendant Garífuna communities (in the Bajo Aguán, Zacate Grande, the Northern coast and elsewhere) from their land in order to make way for development projects. Private businesses and foreign business seem to be the main benefactors in this situation, which does not address the Northern Triangle’s deep problems of violence, crime, weak institutions, corruption, poverty and inequality.
The Alliance for Prosperity Plan is misguided in its attempt to effectively stem migration; it addresses security initiatives rather than the root causes of migration. The U.S. must recognize our role in creating poor conditions in Central American countries and take actions to rectify peace and stability rather than perpetuate violence and insecurity.
“This [plan] creates a vicious but lucrative circle of investment-displacement-repression, as populations are forced from their lands and then criminalized as migrants, justifying enormous security contracts.”
– Laura Carlsen, Director of the Center for International Policy America’s Program
We Ask U.S. Policymakers to:
- Demand transparency and cut U.S. funding for the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI)
Sources and Further Information:
- Americas Society Council of the Americas, Update: Central America and the Alliance for Prosperity, 25 February 2016. http://www.as-coa.org/articles/update-central-america-and-alliance-prosp...
- Congressional Research Service, U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America: Policy Issues for Congress, 8 June 2017. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R44812.pdf
- Council on Hemispheric Affairs, The Alliance for Prosperity Plan: A Failed Effort for Stemming Migration, 1 August 2016. http://www.coha.org/the-alliance-for-prosperity-plan-a-failed-effort-for...
- US Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol Southwest Border Apprehensions by Sector, 11 July 2018. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/usbp-sw-border-apprehensions
- Center for Immigration Studies, Honduras Responds to U.S.-Bound Caravan, 4 April 2018. https://cis.org/Luna/Honduras-Responds-USBound-Caravan
H.R. 1299 Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras
On March 2, 2017, Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) re-introduced The Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, which seeks to suspend US military and police aid to Honduras until human rights violations committed by Honduran security forces cease and their perpetrators are brought to justice. Among the initial co-sponsors was Representative Marcy Kaptur (OH-9).
In April of 2017, two letters signed by 58 Representatives and 20 Senators were sent to Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, calling for action in Honduras in response to murders of land/environmental activists.
On March 2, 2016, the world-renowned Honduran indigenous leader and recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, Berta Cáceres, was assassinated in her home. Cáceres was a longtime organizer and human rights defender, who had most recently been leading the resistance against construction of the Agua Zarca Dam, an internationally funded hydroelectric dam to be built on the sacred Gualcarque River. Her prominent status and precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights were not enough to shield her from the militarized Honduran state. Within four months of her assassination, two other prominent members of her organization COPINH were also murdered. Berta’s murder is only one of many in a systematic pattern of impunity, corruption, and human rights violations.
Since President Zelaya was forced from office in the June 2009 coup d’état, violence in Honduras has skyrocketed. Considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world, the general climate of violence has been used by the government to repress human rights defenders. In January 2017, the London-based watchdog group Global Witness reported: “since 2010, there have been more than 120 documented cases of activists murdered for standing up to the government and companies that grab land and destroy the environment". Honduran security forces are highly involved in these cases. For example, the Honduran Military Police have been accused of involvement in at least 9 killings, more than 20 cases of torture, and about 30 cases of illegal arrests between 2012 and 2014. However, due to widespread impunity, more than 90% of abuse and killings go unsolved. More than 100 peasant land rights defenders have been recognized by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as needing special protective measures because their lives are in danger. Many have already been killed because of the Honduran government’s failure to protect them.
In 2016, the Honduran police and military and joint police-military task forces received $18 million in US aid, despite their implications with widespread human rights violations. This number is up from the $11 million in military and police aid in 2014. Increased violence, rampant impunity, repression, and corruption on the part of Honduran police and security forces leads to widespread instability and forced migration.
The Berta Cáceres Act states that "the Honduran police are widely established to be deeply corrupt and to commit human rights abuses, including torture, rape, illegal detention, and murder, with impunity.”
We ask U.S. House members to:
- Become a co-sponsor of H.R. 1299 The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act which suspends and restricts(1) monetary and military assistance to Honduran police and security forces and(2) loans from multilateral development banks, until:
- legal justice in Honduras is obtained for Berta Cáceres and other human rights defenders;
- investigating and prosecuting members of military and police forces who are credibly found to have violated human rights and that such violations have ceased;
- follow the Honduran Constitution and ensure that all domestic police functions are responsible to civilian authority and separated from the command and control of the Armed Forces of Honduras;
- establishing that the government protects the rights of trade unionists; journalists; human rights defenders; indigenous; Afro-Indigenous, small-farmer, and LGBT activists; critics of the government; and other civil society activists to operate without interference; and
- effective steps are taken to fully establish the rule of law and to guarantee a judicial system that is capable of investigating, prosecuting, and bringing to justice members of the police and military who have committed human rights abuses.
The bill has broad support, including the AFL-CIO, Indigenous Environmental Network, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and over a hundred other faith, labor, environmental, and human rights organizations.
H.R. 1299 is currently co-sponsored by 70 representatives, including Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9) and Tim Ryan (D-OH-13).
Sources and Further Information
- Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Report, Situation of Human Rights in Honduras. December 2015. http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/reports/pdfs/Honduras-en-2015.pdf
- Amnesty International Annual Report: Honduras. https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/americas/honduras/report-honduras/
- Farber Jessica, Guilty by Association: How Washington is Complicit in Human Rights Abuses in Honduras. Council on Hemispheric Affairs, 30 August 2016. http://www.coha.org/guilty-by-association-how-the-united-states-is-permi...
- Lakhani Nina, Berta Cáceres’s name was on Honduran military hitlist, says former solider. The Guardian, 21 June 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/21/berta-caceres-name-honduran military- hitlist-former-soldier
- Global Witness, Honduras: The Deadliest Country in the World for Environmental Activism. 31 January 2017. https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/environmental-activists/hondu...
- National Catholic Reporter, One year after Caceres murder, US ties to Honduras endure, killings continue. 30 March 2017. https://www.ncronline.org/news/justice/one-year-after-caceres-murder-us-...
- The Guardian, Berta Cáceres court papers show murder suspects' links to US-trained elite troops. 28 February 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/28/berta-caceres-honduras-mil...
- Security Assistance Monitor, Honduras. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47667#.WPYazHwzrcs
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) runs the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly known as the School of the Americas (SOA), a combat training school for Latin American soldiers located at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Since 1946, the SOA has trained more than 64,000 Latin American soldiers and police in counterinsurgency techniques, psychological warfare, military intelligence, and interrogation tactics. Many who were trained at the SOA/WHINSEC have committed human rights abuses against civilian populations. They have tortured, raped, assassinated, and massacred hundreds and thousands of Latin Americans.
There are several reasons that we believe WHINSEC should be closed. First and foremost, WHINSEC costs the US taxpayers approximately $18 million annually. Secondly, WHINSEC lacks oversight and accountability by refusing to implement a tracking mechanism of their graduates and prevents tracking from independent research by human rights groups. Additionally, graduates are responsible for the assassinations and torture of tens of thousands of people in Latin America. WHINSEC victims include, Cleveland’s two church women in El Salvador, Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, indigenous communities in Guatemala, low socioeconomic class, indigenous, and Afro-descendant communities in Colombia, and pro-democracy movement leaders in Honduras. Ultimately, WHINSEC is immoral, damages U.S. credibility and should be closed.
Graduates of WHINSEC include, current head of Honduran Armed Forces, Carlos Antonio Cuéllar, four of the six army generals tied to the 2009 Honduran Coup, and two of the eight arrested in the murder of Berta Cáceres. In 2017, WHINSEC trained 108 Honduran soldiers and 566 Colombian soldiers.
We Ask U.S. Policymakers to:
- Cut funding for WHINSEC
- Support legislation to suspend training at WHINSEC until an investigation of human rights abuses committed by police and soldier graduates is conducted
- Support legislation requiring the disclosure of enrollees at WHINSEC to establish accountability for their human rights records
In Honduras, the United States security aid provided $19,028,000 in the 2017 fiscal year. The money provided was distributed amongst several different initiatives in Honduras including counter-drug assistance (approx. $13,768,000), international military education and training (approx. $760,000), and foreign military financing (approx. $4,500,000). Within these forms of aid, there is corruption and misuses that require attention. In order to approach structural problems, President Juan Orlando Hernández is using military force in the form of institutionalization by policing from top to bottom.
Guardians of the Homeland is a training program run by the Honduran Armed Forces to counter at-risk youth from joining organized crime. The program launched in 2014 and currently reaches 28,000 children each year between the ages of 5-15. The children receive ‘civic and religious’ education through eight-hour training sessions on Saturdays. Many NGOs have been critical of the program and UN Special Rapporteur, Najat Maalla M’jid, expressed deep concern about it’s ability to combat violence and insecurity, and instead advocated for more sustainable alternatives. Armed Forces with well-documented human rights abuses, links to corruption, and participation with organized crime are being given the authority to instill values in at-risk children. Funds provided could instead be put into institutions that are meant to provide resources to ‘high-risk’ neighborhoods for necessities like education and healthcare instead of placing this responsibility on the military.
Another initiative created out of U.S. funding, training, and vetting in January 2014 is Los Tigres, who are a SWAT-style military police unit designed to combat organized crime and violence. The unit was found to be involved in interorganizational corruption with 21 agents being suspended for the theft of $1.3 million of $12.5 million confiscated cartel money in 2014.
Sources and Further Information
- The Tico Times, Honduran military aims to fill in for 'absent' parents with program targeting at-risk kids. 23 January 2015. http://www.ticotimes.net/2015/01/23/honduran-military-aims-to-fill-in-fo...
- Aqui Abajo, Guardians of the Homeland: Militarizing Values in 'High-Risk' Neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa. 27 February 2015. http://www.aquiabajo.com/blog/2015/02/guardians-of-homeland-militarizing...
- UN News Centre, UN expert urges measures to protect children from sale, sexual abuse in Honduras. 28 April 2014. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47667#.WPYazHwzrcs
- Insight Crime, $1.3 millions of confiscated cartel money. 17 February 2015. http://www.insightcrime.org/news-briefs/police-theft-of-1-3-mn-is-latest...
- Security Assistance Monitor, Honduras. https://securityassistance.org/data/program/military/Honduras/2017/2019/...
For more than half a century, Colombia has experienced fighting between government forces, rebel (guerilla) groups, paramilitary groups, and criminal organizations. These conflicts have resulted in human rights abuses such as harassment, threats, physical and sexual assaults, kidnappings, torture, and killings of countless Colombian civilians, indigenous communities, and human rights defenders.
Despite the evidence of systematic human rights abuses, the United States government—initiated as Plan Colombia 1999—has provided more than $10 billion dollars in aid to Colombia; moreover, a vast majority of this aid is going to militarization and policing efforts. For example, in fiscal year 2017 the U.S. is giving $391,253,000 in total aid to Colombia, of which $203,925,000 is allocated for military and police aid. As billions of U.S. tax dollars have been used to fund militarization in Colombia, these policies have continuously failed to defeat the armed insurgencies and other conflicts —whereas the diplomatically negotiated end to the armed conflict between the FARC and the Colombian government did succeed.
The United States can play a positive role with regard to supporting truth, justice, and reparations for the all victims of the decades-long conflicts. To do so, we must stop militarized aid and fully commit to a sustainable peace process for all Colombians. It is time for the United States to fully support a continued diplomatic peace process, end militarization, and ensure human rights protections at home, in Colombia, and globally.
We Ask U.S. Policymakers to:
- End all U.S. military aid to Colombia. As Colombia continues towards peace, it’s time to reorient aid away from militarization and instead support civil society proposals for an equal, inclusive society.
- Push for dismantling of successor groups to the paramilitaries and other illegal armed groups. Investigate the power structures and economic interests of those groups to ensure the protection of indigenous and civilian communities.
- Push for strong measures of justice for paramilitaries, state security forces, corporations, and rebel (guerrilla) forces who have committed and continue to commit atrocities and gross human rights violations to the fullest extent of international humanitarian law.
- Support victims’ rights to truth, justice, and reparations.
- Support land restitution and the safe return home for all displaced Colombians. As part of a full implementation of Colombia’s Victims and Land Restitution Law, U.S. assistance to Colombia should provide support for those who have fled from violence for a safe and sustainable return to their homes and their land.
- Promote broad inclusion of the victims of violence and civil society groups in implementing the peace process. Only broad inclusion of victims’ groups, indigenous populations, displaced communities, faith communities, and labor leaders can construct a just and sustainable peace.
- End all forms of fumigation and provide viable economic alternatives to coca growers in Colombia. The United States needs to take a more holistic approach to address drug abuse as a public health issue at home while reexamining the war on drugs and its strategy of using environmentally harmful and militarized solutions.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent nationals from returning safely, or, in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.
The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due temporary conditions such as: armed conflict, natural disaster, epidemic, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. During a designated period, individuals who are TPS beneficiaries or who are found preliminarily eligible for TPS upon review of their cases (prima facie eligible): 1-cannot be detained by DHS or designated as “removable” from the United States, 2-can obtain an employment authorization document, and 3-may be granted travel authorization. TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status, but it encourages recipients to stay out of trouble because they have to renew their TPS every couple years (and maintain a clean criminal record to do so).
WHY renew and extend TPS?
El Salvador and Honduras are consistently ranked in the top 10 most dangerous countries in the world. If people from those countries lose their TPS and have to return, they would be returning to dangerous circumstances, and are less likely to have strong networks of support due to being out of the country for an extended period of time. Returned/deported immigrants are also vulnerable to extortion from organized crime. Salvadorans currently pay an estimated $390 million and Hondurans pay $200 million annually in extortion fees to gangs, which is their major source of income. Not only do the families of Salvadorans and Hondurans depend on the billions of dollars sent each year from TPS-holder relatives working legally in the US. but the economies of El Salvador and Honduras depend on that income as well. For El Salvador in 2016, remittances provided almost twice as much as the total US public and private sector investments combined ($4.58 billion). For the government of El Salvador, these remittances account for 13% of the Value Added Tax (VAT) collected. The governments of El Salvador and Honduras are already overwhelmed by the numbers of their citizens returning home due to deportation or voluntary departure from the US. There are no comprehensive programs to support their reintegration into society and to ensure migrants do not fall prey to dangerous situations once again that may lead to increased internal displacement or remigration (back to the US).
How do TPS holders contribute to our economy?
Recent data estimate that TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti contribute a combined $4.5 billion in pre-tax wages or salary income annually to U.S. gross domestic product. Total Social Security and Medicare contributions of those individuals is estimated at more than $6.9 billion over a decade.
El Salvador: 263,000 TPS recipients in the U.S. Economy: 17% is remittances from relatives in the U.S.
Honduras: 86,000 TPS recipients in the U.S. Economy: 18% is remittances from relatives in the U.S.
Nicaragua: 10,000 TPS recipients in the U.S. Economy: 10% is remittances from relatives in the U.S.
TPS must be included as part of an effective and comprehensive response to the humanitarian crisis in the Northern Triangle. A new designation would expand TPS to Guatemala, and provide a much-needed re-designation to the TPS status of El Salvador and Honduras, both of which are based only on natural disasters that occurred more than 15 years ago. Designating the Northern Triangle for TPS is both necessary and fully within the existing authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security.
We Ask U.S. Policymakers to:
- Renewal of TPS for designated countries
- Nicaragua: TPS is scheduled to terminate Jan 5 2019
- El Salvador: TPS is scheduled to terminate September 9, 2019
- Honduras: TPS is scheduled to terminate January 5, 2020
- Extension and expansion of TPS to designated countries experiencing conditions of extreme entrenched violence, such as the Northern Triangle of Central America: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras
Sources and Further Information
- Pineda, Martin, National Day of Action For TPS. National TPS Alliance, 2018. www.SaveTPS.com
- Save TPS Now!, America’s Voice Education Fund. 2018. https://americasvoice.org/?s=tps
- Save TPS, Alianza Americas. 2015. https://www.alianzaamericas.org/save-tps/
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Temporary Protected Status (TPS). 2017. https://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/what-we-are-working-on/immigration/tps/
- American Immigration Lawyers Association, Take Action: Protect TPS Holders. 2018. https://www.aila.org/advo-media/tools/advocacy-action-center#/43
Rapid Response Network: Human Rights Cases Summaries and Statistics
On behalf of our 200 Rapid Response Network members, IRTF volunteers wrote and sent six letters each month to government officials in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua, with copies to officials in the U.S. By signing our names to these crucial letters, human rights crimes are brought to light, perpetrators are brought to justice, and lives are spared. Together, our voices do make a difference.
- Deaths/Assassinations: 8
- February 12: Assassination of an Afro-descendant community leader and political organizer Temístocles Machado, a leader of the Black Communities Process (PCN), in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca Dept.
- March 23: Assassination of community leader Juan Mena Ortiz, merchant and President of the Communal Action Board of the Alamos Neighborhood in Quibidó, Chocó Department, who went public about threats by armed criminal groups attempting to extort him.
- March 30: Assassination of community leaders Maria Magdalena Cruz Rojas (worked with coca crop substitution program in Meta Department) and Belisario Benavidez Ordoñez (worked with victims of violence in Cauca Department) in two separate attacks on Good Friday.
- April 1: Assassination of Silvio Duban Ortiz Ortiz, age 27, and his brother Javier Bernardo Cuero Ortiz, age 32, in Tumaco, Nariño Dept; they were the sons of slain Afro-descendant human rights defender Bernardo Cuero Bravo, former leader of the National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES), who was assassinated in June 2017.
- May 11: Assassination of Domar Egidio Zapata George and his uncle Hugo Albeiro George Pérez, member of the Association of Victims and Those Affected by Megaprojects (ASVAM), which is organizing resistance to the Hidroituango hydroelectric project.
- Death Threats: 1
- January 11: A death threat was made to Germán Graciano Posso, who is a legal representative of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in Antioquia Department, and a subsequent armed attack was made on him and other community members by neo-paramilitaries.
- Attempted Assassinations: 1
- February 15: There was an attempted assassination of German Espinel in Bogotá. Espinel was a trade unionist, a member of the Association of Agroecological and Mining Brotherhoods of Guamocó, and is an active member of the Patriotic March Social and Political Movement.
- Forced Displacement: 5
- February 13: Bombing and forced displacement of members of the Wounaan Indigenous reservation of Chagpien Tordó during armed clashes between the Colombian Army and the National Liberation Army in Litoral de San Juán, Chocó Department.
- March 24: Forced eviction of 500 indigenous Yukpa people by the mayor of Cucutá, Norte de Santander Dept., who have historically lived on both sides of the Colombia-Venezuela.
- March 30: Forced disappearance of campesino leader José Herrera, founding member of ASOCBAC (Rural Association of the Bajo Cauca River), president of the Community Action Board of the Vereda Mesetas of Puerto Valdivia (Antioquia Dept.), president of the Association of Peasants of Toledo (ASCAT-NA), and municipal spokesperson for the Comprehensive National Crop Substitution Program.
- May 12: Forced disappearance of community leaders Obdulio Angulo Zamora, Hermes Angulo Zamora, Simeón Olave Angulo, and Iber Angulo Zamora of the Afro-Colombian Naya River collective territory, bordering Valle de Cauca and Cauca Departments, and forced displacement of 50 residents by armed men.
- May 26: Displacement of thousands of residents along the Cauca River in Antioquia Department due to landslides and flooding caused by errors in construction of the Hidroituango Hydroelectric Project, partially funded by the Inter-American Development Bank.
- Deaths/Assassinations: 7
- February 14: Murders of journalists Laurent Ángel Castillo Cifuentes, age 28, and Luis Alfredo de León Miranda, age 30; their bodies, with hands and feet tied, had gunshot wounds to the head and were found near Mazatenango, Suchitepéquez Department.
- April 12: Assassination of Héctor Manuel Choc Cuz of the local Mayan Q’eqchi’ community in El Estor. The community is organized in resistance to the Fenix nickel mine.
- April 23: Assassination of Crisanto Garcia Ohajaca, uncle of Eugenio Ohajaca, who is Vice-President of the Coordination of Associations and Communities for the Integral Development of the Cho'rti People. This group supports land rights claims of 48 indigenous Mayan Ch’orti’ communities along the Honduran border.
- May 23: Assassination of three indigenous land rights defenders in one week: Luis Arturo Marroquin, member of the National Directorate of the Committee for Campesino Development, Jalapa Dept.; José Can Xol and Mateo Chamám Paau, both members of the Campesino Committee of the Highlands in Cobán, Alta Verapaz Dept.
- Criminalization: 2
- January 26: Unjust criminalization of María Magdalena Cuc Choc, environmental and indigenous land rights defender in Izabal Dept., who was involved in a land dispute between her Chabil’ Ch’och’ indigenous community and an investment company held by former president Otto Pérez Molina and former government officials
- May 25: Unjust criminalization and continued detention of Abelino ChubCaal,member of the Guillermo Toriello Foundation, which defends land rights of 29 indigenous communities in the Sierra de Santa Cruz region of Izabal Department against usurpation by plantation owners and mineral extraction companies.
- Deaths/Assassinations: 4
- January 24: Repressive actions were taken by state security forces against pro-democracy demonstrators. Diego Aguilar López and Wilmer Paredes, members of the Broad Movement for Justice and Dignity (MADJ), were beaten and Paredes was killed 2 weeks later. Public smear campaign against MADJ members Martín and Víctor Fernández, social activists Karina Flores and Araminta Pereira, and Jesuit priest Fr. Ismael Moreno Coto (Radio Progreso).
- January 25: TV reporter Igor Abisaí Padilla Chávez was assasinated by four unidentified assailants in San Pedro Sula, Cortés Department.
- March 22: Assasination of 16 year old Luis Fernando Ayala, who was active with the Environmental Movement of Santa Bárbara Department (MAS). Ayala’s body was found mutilated with his hands missing and multiple signs of torture.
- April 25: Assasination of lawyer Carlos Hernández who was providing legal defense to the organized resistance in Atlántida Department against the Río Jimalito hydroelectric project, being constructed by Generación Eléctrica.
- Criminalization: 1
- February 11: False criminal charges were made against human rights defender Edwin Robelo Espinal, who is now in pre-trial detention in a high security prison for up to two years.
- Police Violence: 2
- January 22: There is a violent crackdown by the Honduran military against journalists who were covering Opposition Alliance demonstration in Tegucigalpa. Among those injured were Cesar Silva, Rony Martinez, Pedro Amador, Claudia Mendoza.Congressional Representative Jari Dixon was also beaten.
- Deaths/Assassinations: 7
- January 23: Murder of two members of indigenous community police force (CRAC-PC) by unknown attackers in Cacahuatepec, Guerrero. Subsequent crackdown on the community by state police, federal police, and the army resulted in the murder of three CRAC-PC members, along with environmental defenders Marco Antonio Suástegi Muñoz and Vicente Suástegi Muñoz of CECOP (Council of Communal Lands and Communities Opposing the La Parota Dam).
- Death Threats: 1
- February 16: Death threats against journalist Marco Antonio Cornel, who was reporting on involvement of police in Chilpancingo, Guerrero, in the disappearance and torture of six men.
- Deaths/Assassinations: 1
- April 30: Assassination of journalist Ángel Eduardo Gahona, who was reporting live on anti-government protests as the director of a local, independent, television program in Bluefields.