Rapid Response Network (RRN) letters this month
11 JUN 2022
assassinated: Afro-descendant community leader Jesusita Moreno in Chocó -- ¡presente!
We wrote to officials in Colombia to demand accountability for the assassination of Jesusita Moreno, an Afro-descendant community leader of the San Juan River basin in Chocó Department. Affectionately known as Doña Tuta, the 60-year-old was killed on June 7 when several armed men entered her house in the La Floresta neighborhood of Cali and shot her repeatedly.
Afro-descendant and Indigenous communities in the middle and lower San Juan River basin have been overwhelmed by the intensity and degradation of the armed conflict. Jesusita Moreno worked tirelessly to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the community of Noanamá in Istmina municipality. She helped to broker agreements with armed groups to respect civilian populations. One of Doña Tuta's dreams was creating a shelter-refuge in Noanamá for displaced persons so they could remain close to home and not have to flee to the cities.
You can read the full letter at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-06-11-000000
12 JUN 2022
assassinated: CODECA leader Pablo Ramos -- ¡presente!
Pablo Ramos, age 66, president of the Community Directive of CODECA (Committee for Campesino Development) in the rural community of Navajoa, Morales Municipality, Izabal Department, was assassinated on June 7. The previous day he had gone to a hearing at the Public Ministry in Morales to register his community’s opposition to the illegal commercialization of their properties (dividing and re-selling of campesino plots). Pablo Ramos had been summoned to the hearing by the Manchame family, which is involved in land disputes with several community residents. There have been reports of threats to Pablo Ramos by members of the Manchame family.
We are deeply concerned about the targeted killings of leaders of CODECA, which has 90,000 members across Guatemala. Shot dead while working in the general store he ran from his home, Pablo Ramos became the 24th member of CODECA killed in Guatemala since 2018.
You can read the full letter at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-06-12-000000
13 JUN 2022
criminalization: resisters to nickel mine in El Estor, Cristóbal Pop and Roque Sub Cucul.
We wrote once again to officials in Guatemala about the criminalization of environmental defenders in El Estor, Izabal Department, who have been resisting the El Fénix nickel mine, which has been operating illegally since 2005. Although the Constitutional Court of Guatemala ruled in 2019 that the Guatemalan Nickel Company had to suspend its mining activities, the government re-issued an operations permit in January 2022.
Cristóbal Pop and Roque Sub Cucul were captured by police today in Guatemala City after a press conference in which they announced that they would sue the State of Guatemala before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for the illegal installation of the El Fénix nickel mine and the criminalization of environmental defenders. Cristóbal Pop is president of the Fishermen’s Guild of El Estor, which has been denouncing the contamination of Lake Izabal resulting from the nickel mine. Roque Sub Cucul is an Indigenous leader of the Mayan Q'eqchi' ancestral council in Alta Verapaz Department.
We condemn acts of state violence and criminalization of Indigenous environmental rights defenders in El Estor and urge the government of Guatemala to release from detention and drop the criminal charges against Cristóbal Pop and Roque Sub Cucul.
You can read the full letter at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-06-13-000000
14 JUN 2022
assassinated: two LGBTI defenders: Brayan Josué López and Suany Maradiaga -- ¡presente!
LGBTI defenders and their allies face particular risks of violence in Honduras. This year alone there have been at least 21 murders: 12 gay men, four lesbian women, and five transgender persons. Over the course of the past week, two more innocent people were murdered because of their sexual orientation and work in defense of LGBTI rights: Brayan Josué López and Suany Maradiaga. Both murders happened in San Pedro Sula, Cortés Department.
June 5: 29-year-old Brayan Josué López, an active member of Sampedrana Gay Community for Comprehensive Health and the Color Pink Unity Collective helping people with HIV-AIDS. Police discovered his body in a vacant lot on the outskirts of his neighborhood.
June 12: 31-year-old transwoman Suany Maradiaga, who had previously filed with authorities a documented complaint of discrimination, threats, physical, and verbal aggression. Assailants shot her several times with a shotgun, then ran over her body with a vehicle.
LGBTI rights organizations in Honduras report a culture of anti-LGBTI bias in the Public Ministry that allows such hate crimes to continue with impunity.
Brayan and Suany, ¡presente!
You can read the full letter at: https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-06-14-000000
15 JUN 2022
attacked: social leader Guillermo Pérez Rangel)
assassinated: social leaders killed Danilo de Jesús Madrid López, Oscar Parada Torres-- ¡presente!
Attacks on social leaders continue with impunity. Since the Peace Agreement was signed in November 2006, 1,311 social leaders have been murdered, with at least 84 this year.
May 20, Bogotá: Guillermo Pérez Rangel is a peasant leader in César Department (president of the Mesa de Derechos Humanos y Territorios del Cesar and member of the Unión Nacional de Integración Rural), displaced from his home since February 2020. After leaving the office of TeleSur TV, where he gave an interview, he was followed by unknown individuals. Hours later the men intercepted him at a bus station, threw him to the ground, threatened him and beat him on his head and body. Although he has been included in the National Protection Unit (UNP) program since 2016, the UNP did not respond after he reported being followed by unknown individuals to the Attorney General's Office on April 29.
June 8, Antioquia Dept: Danilo de Jesús Madrid López, the 49-year-old vice-president of the Community Action Board of Doradas Altas Village (Tarazá municipality) was found dead on his farm in the morning, with gunshots to various parts of his body.
June 8, Bogotá: LGBT advocate Oscar Parada Torres, 55-year-old attorney and father of five, was shot dead while walking in front of a church in the Engativá district of the city. In February he had been appointed as a representative of the bisexual community to the Bogotá District LGBTIQ Consultative Council.
You can read the full letter at: https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-06-15-000000
16 JUN 2022
criminalization: Tzeltal human rights and environmental defender Manuel Santiz Cruz and others
The judicial system in Chiapas fabricates crimes as a method of repression. Authorities are currently fabricating charges against Tzeltal human rights and environmental defenders because of their opposition to the militarization of their territory and construction of infrastructure for mega-tourism projects.
Manuel Santiz Cruz, president of the Human Rights Committee of San Juan Evangelista Catholic parish in San Juan Cancuc, was falsely arrested on May 29 for drug possession. He was released and re-arrested a day later for aggravated homicide. By June 4, a total of eight Tzeltal defenders had been arrested: Manuel Santiz Cruz, Agustín Pérez Velasco, Martin Pérez Domínguez, Juan Velasco Aguilar, Agustín Pérez Domínguez, and three more persons (names withheld for their personal security).
These arbitrary detentions take place in a context in which inhabitants of San Juan Cancuc have opposed the military presence in their territory and the construction of a highway project that would connect San Cristóbal de las Casas with the region of Palenque. The highway is part of the development of mega-tourism projects in the region that have been promoted by the government without free, prior informed and culturally appropriate consultation with impacted Indigenous communities.
We are deeply concerned about the ability of Indigenous communities and leaders to carry out their legitimate activities in defense of their peoples’ territories and waterways. Last year we wrote to authorities about the about the assassination of Tzeltal human rights defender Simón Pedro Pérez López, age 35, in the Los Bosques de Chiapas region of Chiapas State (cf our letter July 6, 2021).
You can read the full letter at: https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-06-16-000000
Rapid Response Network
InterReligious Task Force on Central America & Colombia
3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland OH 44113
(216) 961 0003