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Vice President Kamala Harris today announced more than $1.9 billion in new private sector commitments to create economic opportunity in northern Central America, more than doubling the value of initial private sector investments in response to her Call to Action.  As part of her role addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, in May 2021, the Vice President launched the Call to Action for businesses and social enterprises to make significant commitments to promote economic opportunity for people in the region. This is in support for the U.S. Strategy to Address the Root Causes of Migration which the Vice President launched in July 2021. The announcement today builds on the announcement the Vice President made in December 2021 of $1.2 billion in private sector commitments.  Aggregate commitments under this initiative now total more than $3.2 billion.  Taken together, these investments are creating an ecosystem of opportunity and helping to provide hope for people in the region to build safe and prosperous lives at home.  
 

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Seeking asylum is never an easy process. Families, children, and adults forced to flee their homes experience the trauma of violence or other life-threatening circumstances at their place of origin, the rupture of leaving their past lives behind, and the uncertainty of where and how to find refuge. But in recent years, this already difficult path has become increasingly fraught with obstacles for the rising population of protection-seeking people arriving at Mexico’s southern border, the majority of whom make their asylum claims in the city of Tapachula, Chiapas.

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Mexico’s immigration enforcement is increasingly militarized with the armed forces and National Guard now accounting for more migrant detentions than immigration agents, according to a report published Tuesday by six nongovernmental organizations. The human rights and migrant advocacy groups, among them the Foundation for Justice and the Democratic State of Law, say that many of the detentions are also arbitrary, based on racial profiling and have led to abuses. The armed forces are supposed to just be supporting immigration agents in their work, but the organizations found that they are now responsible for the majority of detentions.

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Step by step, the nefarious legacy of the 12 years of the JOH regime are being dismantled in Honduras. Two key steps took place this month, the first being the extradition of JOH himself to the US. What seems unthinkable after his illegal reelection backed by the US in 2017 and still very unlikely just some months ago, has now passed in record speed. A second cornerstone of JOH’s reign were the ZEDEs, the private cities. Their legal basis were outright repealed, unanimously, by Congress this month. A huge victory for Honduras’ social movements, while still leaving many questions unresolved regarding the existing ZEDEs in Honduras. The Xiomara administration and its allies in Congress further reformulated the 2022 budget which includes more spending on education and public health, but also rose some questions. Welcome to another month in Honduras.

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Reporting on the human rights situation in Guatemala, the US State Department illustrated worsening conditions and highlighted the role that corruption and impunity have played in the last year. The 2021 Human Rights Report–released on April 12–summarizes and provides examples of what the State Department deems “significant human rights issues” in Guatemala, including the following: unlawful and arbitrary killings; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; restrictions on freedom of expression, including threats and violence against journalists; interference with freedom of association and organization; and significant corruption. 

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Countries in Latin America came under particularly harsh criticism in the U.S. State Department’s annual report on human rights, with allies such as Mexico and adversaries including Nicaragua facing similar opprobrium. The report zeroed in on many of the widely denounced human rights abuses, including the killing of journalists, discrimination against LGBTQ people, targeted murders of women, and widespread violence fueled by drug traffickers, but largely ignored by the government of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The annual reports examine actions from the previous year.

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U.S. human rights, faith, labor, environmental, and grassroots organizations sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken regarding their deep concern with the human rights and humanitarian situation in Colombia. We believe the Biden Administration should take firmer action to fully protect and implement the accords, particularly with respect to the rights of Colombia’s ethnic minorities, police brutality, and the right to peaceful protest. The letter outlines a series of actions the State Department can take to ensure coordinated diplomacy for forward momentum on peace accord implementation, human rights, and racial justice. This includes pressing for protection of human rights defenders and for full implementation of the accords’ comprehensive rural reforms, Ethnic Chapter, and gender provisions. The letter also urges the State Department to take a much stronger stance regarding police brutality and human rights abuses by Colombia’s military.  The Biden Administration must immediately mobilize a range of government agencies to rescue Colombia’s long sought-after and waning peace.

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The deportation of Hondurans, mainly from the United States and Mexico, increased by 84.2% in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the same period of 2021, the Consular and Migration Observatory of Honduras reported Friday.  A total of 24,207 Hondurans were deported between January and March of this year compared to 13,140 in the same period of 2021, according to a report by the Consular Observatory. Of the total number of Honduran returnees in that period, US immigration authorities deported 11,368, including 2,617 minors. The Honduran returnees are attended in the Returning Migrant Attention Centers (CAMR) located in San Pedro Sula and Omoa, in the north and Caribbean of the country.

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According to the INDEPAZ human rights organisation, the first three months of 2022 saw a rise in killings of social activists and massacres. From 1 January to 31 March, there were 48 murders of social activists and 27 massacres, compared with 42 and 23 respectively in 2021. There was a slight decline in the number of former FARC combatants murdered, from 14 in January-March 2021 to 11 this year. The scale of violence reflects the lack of a non-military state presence in many parts of the country and the expansion of paramilitaries and other armed groups. The government of Iván Duque still has not properly implemented security mechanisms contained in the 2016 peace agreement even though the United Nations has repeatedly said these are urgently required to address the violence. Here is JFC’s monthly summary of human rights violations in Colombia.

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Q REPORTS (EFE) The Latin American economy will grow 2.3% in 2022, estimated this Thursday the UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which lowered its outlook for the region three-tenths compared to those calculated six months ago, due to the negative effects of the Ukraine war on the global picture.

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