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RRN Letters Summary - OCT 2023

Rapid Response Network (RRN) letters this month


21 OCT 2023


assassinated: Bruno Plácido Valerio, co-founder of the Union of Peoples and Organizations of the State of Guerrero (UPOEG) ¡presente!

Community leader Bruno Plácido Valerio played a significant role in addressing crime in Guerrero. The former member of the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities (CRAC) co-founded the Union of Peoples and Organizations of the State of Guerrero (UPOEG) in 2013. Bruno Plácido Valerio rose to prominence by organizing rag-tag teams of farmers to capture suspected gang members. His group held about 50 suspects for weeks in improvised jails, before handing them over to civilian prosecutors. By 2014, UPOEG had a presence in 41 of Guerrero’s 81 municipalities, with a strong presence in Chilpancingo.

On October 17, Bruno Plácido Valerio was shot to death along with his driver by a group of hitmen, who fired about 20 shots, outside the Guerrero Health Secretariat in Chilpancingo, the state capital. Two others were also hit; one of them has died as well. The assassination of Bruno Plácido Valerio occurred just a few days after another UPOEG co-founder, Juan Carlos González Olívar, was executed by a hitman.

You can read the full letter at .



22 OCT 2023


death threats: social leaders in Caquetá:  Javier Güependo, Javier Sotto, Darwin Manchola

The residents of the Campesino Reserve Zone (ZRC) El Pato-Balsillas (municipality of San Vicente del Caguán, Caquetá Department), are at risk from the escalating conflict and struggle for dominance between the armed groups Central General Staff (EMC, a FARC-dissident group) and the Second Marquetalia. On October 7, the EMC named three social leaders as military targets: Javier Güependo, legal representative of the Municipal Association of Colonos del Pato (Amcop); Javier Sotto, prosecutor of Amcop and manager of the COOPABI cooperative; and Darwin Manchola, signatory of the Final Peace Agreement, president of the Guayabal Community Action Board, and current candidate for the San Vicente del Caguán Council. 

The government negotiated with EMC to begin a three-month ceasefire, which began on October 16, but agreements have been broken in the past, and the community continues to hold increasing fear of being attacked by the dissident groups present in the region.

You can read the full letter at  .




23 OCT 2023


raped: 13 year-old girl, by military personnel

The National Health Forum (FNS) of El Salvador has reported that since the State of Exception was initiated in March 2022, sexual violence against girls, teens, and adult women committed by state security forces (National Police or Armed Forces) has intensified.  

On the night of September 23 in the rural village of Santa María Mizata, Tetotepeque municipality, La Libertad Department, six members of the military separated a 13 year-old girl from her friends. One of the teenage friends who tried to stop the officer in charge from taking her was beaten by the other soldiers. She was raped and left on the side of a highway. A truck, later identified as property of the mayor’s office, picked up the soldiers. Residents called the police, who took 40-60 minutes to arrive. Police detained the military officer but released the other five military subordinates. The police did not release the names of the six military personnel.

In a survey of Salvadorans’ encounters with security forces since March 2022 by the Human Rights Institute of the Central American University, it was reported that 18% of respondents reported threats, 17% surveillance, 16.6% arbitrary detention, and 14.8% mistreatment or torture by police officers and soldiers. We are urging that government authorities thoroughly investigate sexual offenses committed by members of Armed Forces and the National Civilian Police and bring those responsible to justice.

You can read the full letter at  .



24 OCT  2023


assassinated: Milena Valdez, 26 year-old Afro-descendant community leader ¡presente!

Communities in the Pacific coastal department of Nariño have reported an increase in arbitrary acts of violence against young people, especially women. Residents are left without protection or support as their homes become the locations of armed confrontations between the different armed groups that are present in the area.

On September 26, illegally armed actors arrived in the community of Nueva Isla del Consejo Comunitario Unión Patía Viejo and murdered Milena Valdez, age 26, an Afro-descendant community leader.  Her body was found three days later in a state of decomposition. Milena Valdez was a member of the Unión Patía Community Council. According to other community members, the young woman was pregnant. Those responsible for the murder reportedly belong to the FARC-dissident 30th Front.

You can read the full letter at .



25 OCT 2023


assassinated: Kevin Azahel Meza, member of campesino cooperative in Aguán Valley.  ¡presente!

The freedom and impunity that national and international companies in the Aguán Valley in northern Honduras have to operate and maintain irregular possession of some of the best agricultural lands in the country, with the help and complicity of the government, is unparalleled and shameful.

In 1984, the government of Honduras awarded a property title for 4,036 hectares to the Empresa Asociativa Campesina de Isletas (EACI). By 1990, a subsidiary of the transnational company Dole Food Company (called ASISA) had forcibly taken control of EACI campesino lands through multiple violations of the legal system and with the assistance of the Honduran military and death squads.  Today, the dispute over rightful ownership of the land continues, and it occasionally erupts into violence.

In Trujillo, Colón, on October 14, the National Police shot live ammunition indiscriminately at peasant farmers who were carrying out a public action to claim their legitimate right to land. Kevin Azahel Meza, a 24-year-old farmer who was a member of the Empresa Asociativa Campesina de Isletas (EACI), died due to the excessive use of lethal force by the National Police.

You can read the full letter at  .


26 OCT 2023


attacked: Garífuna community leader Norma Lino injured in Puerto Castilla


Violent attacks against the Garífuna people along the north coast of Honduras are a systematic process perpetuated by powerful economic interests with the collusion of the State. Foreign and Honduran tourist interests, mining and energy companies, developers of the Zones of Economic Development and Employment (ZEDEs), and agro-industrial companies operate in full complicity with elements of the military, police, local authorities, and organized criminal groups.

Community leader Norma Lino was injured in an armed attack on September 26 in the Garífuna community of Puerto Castilla, Colón Department. Armed men entered reclaimed ancestral property and began shooting. After receiving treatment at a hospital, Norma Lino and others who were injured proceeded to file a complaint at the National Police office in Trujillo, about 20 km south of Puerto Castilla. They were met with dismissive and racist remarks.

You can read the full letter at .