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In "Flights: Radicals on the Run," Joel Whitney discusses Rigoberta Menchú's harrowing experiences as an indigenous activist in Guatemala. Menchú's life was marked by tragedy, including the loss of her family to military regimes and her own involvement in the struggle for indigenous rights. Despite enduring unimaginable suffering, Menchú's resilience led her to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 and establish Guatemala's first indigenous political party. Through her activism and memoir, Menchú shed light on the atrocities committed against the Maya population, including massacres, forced labor, and cultural suppression. Whitney's article highlights Menchú's journey from victim to advocate, emphasizing her enduring impact on Guatemala's political landscape.

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Nicaragua's congress recently revoked a controversial canal concession awarded to a Chinese businessman after nearly a decade. The proposed canal, aimed to link Nicaragua's Atlantic and Pacific coasts, faced significant opposition from farmers fearing land seizures and environmentalists warning of its impact. Despite a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony in 2014, no actual work commenced on the project. The cancellation of the concession marks the end of a project viewed by many as unfeasible and environmentally risky. Critics of President Daniel Ortega's government saw the canal as emblematic of his increasingly repressive regime, while supporters argued it would boost the economy and create jobs.

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At the end of its seventh year, the implementation of the 2016 Colombian Peace Accord is at a critical midpoint. A new report from the Peace Accords Matrix (PAM) at the Keough School of Global Affairs’ Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies details the current status of the accord's implementation, highlighting progress and challenges as the peace process enters the second half of its 15-year plan.

The eighth comprehensive report, “Seven Years of Final Accord Implementation: Perspectives to Strengthen Peacebuilding at the Halfway Point,” covers December 2022 to November 2023, using quantitative and qualitative data to assess the implementation of all 578 stipulations in the agreement.

Key events during this period include the government's focus on the Total Peace policy, aimed at negotiating with illegal armed actors for sustainable peace, and the regional elections in October 2023, along with the adoption of the National Development Plan (PND) 2022–2026.

Data reveals that 10% of stipulations have not started, 39% are minimally implemented, 19% are at an intermediate stage, and 32% are completed. Most points in the agreement saw changes in implementation levels, except for the Problem of Illicit Drugs. Integral Rural Reform (Point 1) and Verification and Monitoring Mechanisms (Point 6) were particularly dynamic but remain among the least implemented.

Although implementation has continued over the past seven years, progress has been slow since 2019. This trend saw a slight improvement in 2023, with 2% of stipulations initiating implementation, up from 1% in 2022.

Effective peace agreements maintain momentum early and mid-term. However, there is concern about completing the remaining 49% of commitments within the 15-year deadline. The disparity in implementation levels is partly due to the complexity of reforms and partly to ineffective or incomplete implementation, particularly in gender, ethnic, and territorial integration.

The report concludes with recommendations for strengthening the implementation process, including transparent execution of the PND, convening the Peace Cabinet, and reviewing the Framework Plan for Implementation. The Kroc Institute has also produced a policy brief summarizing key points and released several prior reports on various aspects of the peace process.

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In Colombia, violence against social activists, trade unionists, and former guerrillas persisted throughout April 2024, adding to a grim tally since the start of the year: 59 activists and ten former FARC members in the peace process have been killed, alongside 21 documented massacres. Despite government efforts to engage in dialogue with armed groups, the scale of the human rights crisis remains daunting.

Key incidents in April include:

  • 1 April: Ever Albeiro Espí Hernández, president of a community council in Arauca, was murdered, marking the 40th activist killing in 2024.
  • 5 April: Explosions in Cauca and the forced confinement of indigenous families in Buenaventura due to armed groups' presence.
  • 7 April: Five people killed in a bar in Valle del Cauca, and a Conservative Party councillor murdered in Caldas.
  • 9 April: A councillor from an indigenous political party was abducted in La Guajira.
  • 13-14 April: A massacre in Cucuta, followed by the killing of lawyer Jaime Alonso Vásquez.
  • 15 April: Youth worker Yoiner Gómez Burbano was murdered in Cauca.
  • 17 April: Former FARC member Carlos Garzón Noscue was killed in Putumayo, and LGBTQ activist Manuel José Bermúdez's body was found in Antioquia.
  • 19 April: Two Attorney General's Office employees were abducted in Cauca, and activists Carlos Arturo Londoño and Clarivet Ocampo were killed in Valle del Cauca.
  • 20 April: A massacre in Antioquia, the killing of community activist Zayra Enciso Gómez, and the murder of teacher trade unionist Luis Alfredo Leones Álvarez.
  • 21 April: Community activist Narciso Beleño was killed by Gulf Clan paramilitaries in South Bolivar.
  • 25 April: Youth worker Yarlinton Robledo Rentería and social activist Robinson Franco were murdered.
  • 27-30 April: Several killings, including political candidate John Freddy Gil Franco and social activist Antonio Montañéz Villazana in Arauca.

These events underscore the ongoing and severe human rights challenges in Colombia, with numerous activists and former combatants being targeted despite peace efforts.

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In a court hearing in San Salvador on April 10, a judge upheld charges against five anti-mining activists known as the Santa Marta Five. The activists, arrested in January 2023, face charges of "illicit association" and an alleged murder dating back to the Salvadoran Civil War. Supporters believe that Bukele's administration targets them for their roles in the country's mining ban. Despite being granted house arrest in August 2023, international support calls for justice, as concerns arise over the motive behind their criminalization and its threat to the mining ban.

The Santa Marta Five, including Teodoro Antonio Pacheco and Saúl Agustín Rivas Ortega, are esteemed community leaders who fought against the US-backed military dictatorship in the 1980s. They played pivotal roles in rebuilding their community post-civil war and organizing against foreign mining companies in the 2010s, leading to the historic mining ban of 2017. However, their detention under Bukele's administration raises concerns about legal rights.

Bukele's rise to power signifies a shift from the promises of the 1992 peace accords, as his administration undermines democratic principles and human rights. Despite his efforts to combat gang violence, his tactics, including indefinite detention without due process, draw criticism. The state of exception, declared in 2022 and now permanent, suspends civil and political rights, posing a threat to human rights and the rule of law. The broader implications extend to environmental activism and economic interests, overshadowing the fight against gang violence.

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Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was recently found guilty of drug-trafficking in a New York court, revealing the complicity of the U.S. and Canada in supporting his regime for over 12 years. The Under the Shadow podcast series discusses the U.S.-backed military coup in 2009 and subsequent support for the narco regime. Karen Spring, a former Rights Action colleague, provides insight into the trial, exposing the regime's violence and corruption, enabled by U.S. and Canadian support. The trial highlights the failure of the "war on drugs," institutional corruption, media complicity, and the challenges faced by the new Honduran government in repairing the damage. Despite this, there is a lack of accountability for the actions of U.S. and Canadian governments, leaving the Honduran population to suffer the consequences of their support for oppressive regimes.