You are here

IRTF News

News Article

The man who has referred to himself as the "world's coolest dictator" appears to be strolling toward another election victory. President Nayib Bukele, a millennial who sports a trademark backward-facing baseball cap, is the odds-on favorite to win El Salvador's presidential contest on Feb. 4.

News Article

Medea Benjamin and Steve Ellner argue that the Trump and Biden administrations' continuation of the 19th-century Monroe Doctrine has led to disastrous consequences in Latin America. The authors highlight the failure of US policies towards Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, leading to economic sanctions, coup attempts, and a migration crisis. They propose a new approach based on Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Good Neighbor Policy" from the 1930s, emphasizing the need to end military intervention, close US military bases in the region, stop political meddling, eliminate economic blackmail, and support trade policies that benefit people and the environment. The authors also call for a humane immigration policy, recognizing Latin America's cultural contributions and addressing the root causes of migration. They argue that a New Good Neighbor Policy is essential for mutual respect, non-intervention, and cooperation in the 21st century.

News Article

The Trump administration revived the Monroe Doctrine, impacting Latin American nations in favor of U.S. interests. The Biden administration continued this approach, causing a migration crisis and negatively affecting regional stability. Despite unsuccessful attempts to overthrow Venezuela's President Maduro, U.S. policies persist, supporting controversial figures. A proposed alternative is a modernized "Good Neighbor Policy," emphasizing: ending military intervention and base presence, refraining from political meddling, ceasing economic coercion, supporting fair trade policies, adopting humane immigration practices, and recognizing Latin America's cultural contributions. Such a policy shift aims to foster non-intervention, cooperation, and mutual respect in the region.

News Article

El Salvador is set to hold presidential and legislative elections amid concerns over human rights violations and a decline in the rule of law. President Bukele's actions have raised alarm, including unconstitutional re-election, concentration of power, and electoral reforms benefiting his party. The lack of checks and balances, threats to judicial independence, and changes in the voting system have fueled democratic backsliding. Concerns also surround institutional weaknesses, overseas voting clarity, and transparency issues. The international community is urged to defend democracy by supporting civic space, protecting electoral observation, restoring constitutional guarantees, and issuing recommendations to prevent abuses and ensure fair elections.

News Article

A group of fourteen Members of Congress, led by Joaquin Castro and the leaders of the Progressive Caucus, expressed significant concerns to the U.S. Department of State about democratic backsliding and human rights violations in El Salvador. They highlighted worries about the upcoming February 4th elections, where President Nayib Bukele is running for an unconstitutional repeat term. The letter emphasized the Salvadoran constitution's prohibition on consecutive presidential terms and criticized Bukele's candidacy, enabled by judges appointed by his ruling party. The Members urged Secretary Blinken to take a stronger stance, denounce human rights violations, and restrict assistance to Salvadoran security forces. They also raised concerns about radical changes to the electoral system and lack of transparency in electronic voting. Human rights organizations in the U.S. echoed these concerns, emphasizing the potential impact on human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in El Salvador.

News Article

On December 23, 2023, the community of Aguacatán, Huehuetenango celebrated the publication of a Municipal Water Protection Agreement in the Official Journal of Central America (Diario Oficial de Centroamérica). The Water Protection Agreement symbolizes the recognition of Indigenous people’s right to land and water in the Municipal Code, and the power of local grassroots organizing.

News Article

In El Salvador, a significant environmental victory was achieved in 2017 when the government, influenced by local activists, banned gold and metal mining across the country. However, Pacific Rim, a multinational mining corporation, initiated an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) case against El Salvador, a mechanism allowing corporations to sue governments for legislation impacting profits. Despite ISDS cases generally favoring corporations, El Salvador won in this instance.

The victory was attributed to the strength of Salvadorean civil society, particularly water defenders who campaigned against mining due to environmental and health concerns. Nevertheless, President Nayib Bukele, aligned with big business interests, has arrested five water defenders on dubious charges, reigniting the battle. Bukele, facing economic challenges after the crypto bubble burst, is considering overturning the mining ban, necessitating the neutralization of the water defenders' opposition.

Bukele gained popularity for addressing gang violence in the aftermath of El Salvador's civil war. However, critics argue that previous crackdowns failed to address underlying issues of poverty and structural violence. Bukele's heavy-handed approach, labeling himself "the coolest dictator in the world," has led to the criminalization of human rights activists and political opponents, including the water defenders.

Accused of being members of the FMLN and involvement in a murder during the civil war, the water defenders face unsubstantiated charges, prompting global condemnation. Experts and activists worldwide have called for dropping the case, citing political motivation, human rights violations, and threats to democracy. Local evidence suggests that farmers in mining areas are being approached for land leases, further emphasizing the conflict between local communities and multinational corporations exploiting natural resources. The situation underscores the challenges faced by campaigners globally in protecting communities from corporate exploitation amid a shifting global focus away from fossil fuels.

News Article

The article discusses the Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR) in Guatemala, formed in response to the country's armed conflict. The AJR played a crucial role in the landmark 2013 case that sentenced former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide. The interview with Romelia, a Maya Achí woman and AJR's leader, highlights their ongoing struggles for justice, historical memory, and transitional justice. Despite successes, challenges persist, including corruption, impunity, and efforts to obstruct justice. The AJR participated in the 2023 national strike for democracy, expressing concerns about the new government's ability to address corruption in the judicial system. Romelia emphasizes the importance of international support to continue their work for justice, historical memory, and the rights of Indigenous communities.

News Article

The article discusses the legal battle between U.S. investors and Honduras over the country's special economic zones (ZEDEs). These zones, allowing private corporations extensive autonomy, have faced criticism for lack of transparency and potential human rights threats. Honduran President Xiomara Castro aims to eliminate ZEDEs, a move opposed by the U.S. ambassador. A U.S. company operating a ZEDE is suing Honduras in an investor-state dispute settlement court, leveraging investment provisions under the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The dispute raises concerns about the potential bankruptcy of Honduras, highlighting the complex challenges facing Castro's administration.

News Article

Communities and social leaders in both rural and urban areas of Colombia have experienced a significant increase in violence over the past year, making it difficult to find a safe haven. The narrative follows Erik, a farmer, who starts his day optimistically but highlights the underlying threat and danger faced by many. Armed groups roam freely, posing a heightened risk to social leaders, human rights defenders, and farmers. The article reflects on the grim reality of escalating violence, with a particular focus on El Guayabo, a campesino community accompanied by CPT Colombia for over a decade. The message extends prayers and thoughts to all affected peasant communities, expressing concern for their ability to cultivate the land and the fear of displacement. The hope is for a dignified life for all, free from violence, where stories can revolve around sunny days, cultivating the land, and sharing moments under an old mango tree.

Pages