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Gender & Sexual Solidarity: News & Updates

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Please see a summary of the six letters we sent to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, El Salvador, and Honduras, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries. We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: -protect people living under threat -demand investigations into human rights crimes -bring human rights criminals to justice IRTF’s Rapid Response Network volunteers write letters in response to urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn, or ask us to mail you hard copies.
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Together with the movement against militarism in Colombia, we denounce the sexual violence committed by members of the ESMAD anti-riot police that also caused a young woman to commit suicide. We raise our voices in outrage at the systematic sexual and gender violence carried out by the Army and the Public Force members. These violations are a serious expression of patriarchal violence exercised under the power of an institutional armed actor, which legalizes and legitimizes the idea that power is exercised over the bodies of women, teenagers, and girls. We join with civil society organizations across Colombia who are organizing resistance to war and speaking out against all forms of violence.
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On April 2, INDEPAZ (Instituto de Estudios para el Desarrollo de la Paz) documented the 24th massacre of 2021. The three victims in La Pata, Huila Department, belonged to the same family: 55-year-old Luis Eliber Quintero Trujillo and his sons, 32-year-old Ricardo and 29-year-old Luis. By April 26, the 32nd massacre was recorded. It occurred in the rural area of Sonsón, Antioquia Department, where paramilitary groups have recently intensified their activities, particularly around control of illegal mining operations. Three people were shot dead at 9:40pm on Sunday night, April 25. The victims were Yulieth Natalia Díaz Carmona (age 23), Julián Vanegas Marulanda (age 26), and Michel Daiana Sánchez (age 13).
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Rivas Beaches in Good Environmental Condition: The results of an UNAN research study indicate that the environmental quality of the waters of the bays on Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast are between optimal and suitable for recreational activities and the preservation of flora and fauna. But there is contamination by microplastics in the beach sand and large variations in acidity and temperature that compromise conditions for organisms such as oysters. So there are still actions to be taken for the conservation of marine resources in the area. The study provides information for decision-making that will lead to sustainable management of the marine-coastal areas. A group of researchers from the Center for Research in Aquatic Resources of UNAN-Managua in conjunction with the Paso Pacífico Organization carried out five environmental studies in the south Pacific Coast area of Nicaragua in the period 2011-2019. Read this and 10 other news briefs from this week.
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The Pacific port city of Buenaventura has a long history of violent conflict, which led to it being dubbed Colombia's "capital of horror". Since 1988, armed gangs have battled for territorial control of drug routes out of the port and carried out gruesome dismemberments in "casas de pique" (Spanish for chop houses). Buenaventura is now suffering a new wave of violence, and midwives like Feliciana Hurtado put themselves at risk by confronting armed fighters to help women living in violent areas deliver babies.
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Widespread violence continued to impact Colombia’s most vulnerable and marginalised communities and social groups in 2020, according to the annual report on the country by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The report also found alarming levels of inequality, with women badly affected, and lack of access to essential services, with some regions lacking clean water and medical care. In many instances, the Colombian state has failed to address security and humanitarian concerns, particularly in regions long impacted by conflict, structural poverty and historic state abandonment. The global pandemic also impacted on the human rights of the population. Among its recommendations, the OHCHR prioritised full implementation of the peace agreement in addressing the endemic violence which has claimed hundreds of lives since late 2016.
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The Latin America Working Group (based in Washington, DC) has been monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human rights across the region. This blog is focused specifically on the impact of the pandemic on women’s and LGBTQ+ rights. The following are brief summaries that capture the situation for women and members of the LGBTQ+ community since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and to call attention to the lack of support and urgency behind addressing this violence by these governments.
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The humanitarian crisis in Honduras found international attention this month as the first and biggest migration caravan since the corona pandemic took off in mid-January. A combination of a pandemic, two hurricanes hitting Honduras in later 2020, an abysmal response by the JOH regime and a lack of perspective among the corruption and human rights violation left again thousands of Honduras without any other option that trying to leave. Congress also showed again how it rather worsens the situation of minorities and vulnerablized groups by changing the constitution to forever ban same-sex marriage and abortions instead of using its power to improve the situation of Honduras. There were also setbacks in the Berta Cáceres case and the Guapinol case. Further corruption cases were undermined, meanwhile Honduras dropped further in an international corruption index. Last but not least, JOH’s drug trafficking links prominently reappeared in the national and international headlines thanks to newly released court documents from New York. Welcome to another month in Honduras.

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