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February 14, 2021
This weekend, we honor the Colombian laborers who make many sacrifices to supply the US with 2 out of every 3 flowers. We ask you to take action to show your solidarity with flower workers this weekend. Flower workers, who are largely women in economically vulnerable situations, have reported health issues, mistreatment by management and grueling work hours- up to 22 hours a shift between the Valentine’s and Mother’s Day months. With the signing of the 2011 Labor Action Plan following the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, the United States committed to protecting the rights of flower workers. Yet, almost 10 years later, the promises to workers have been left unfulfilled. Hear from workers about strategies they are implementing to promote their cause of labor rights and justice.
February 13, 2021
Police used force to displace 44 campesino (peasant) families from two communities in Francisco Morazan. On the morning of February 5, police dressed in black came to their rural communities and—without presenting a legal eviction order—began a forced eviction that ended in the destruction of all the collective work the families had built for more than 12 years. Homes and community buildings were bulldozed. When Luvy Canales, the families’ legal representative, requested to see a legal eviction order, police detained her. The lands that these families inhabited have been designated as communal (ejido). They are used for subsistence purposes only (growing food, raising animals) by families who do not own their own land. The National Association of Rural Workers (CNTC) has initiated an investigation process into this forced eviction. We are urging that officials in Honduras: 1) instruct INA (Instituto Nacional Agrario) to investigate the legal titles of these disputed lands to establish true ownership/possession and make accommodations for the 44 families; 2) safeguard the life and security of all citizens of Honduras through the execution of a comprehensive and inclusive agrarian policy that protects the most vulnerable.
February 12, 2021
Hate speech incites violence. Deadly attacks on FMLN party members are occurring in a hostile atmosphere being fostered by President Nayib Bukele. On January 31, FMLN activists María Gloria Rogel de López and Juan de Dios Tejada were killed when gunmen opened fire on their pickup truck in San Salvador as they were returning from a campaign rally supporting the candidacy of Rogelio Canales for mayor of the capital. Three days later, armed gunmen entered the home of former FMLN Councilman José Berríos and shot him dead. President Bukele has been making unsubstantiated accusations that officials from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal are conspiring to commit fraud against him and his Nuevas Ideas political party, which will be running candidates for the first time on February 28.
February 11, 2021
Social organizations based in the city of Buenaventura, Colombia’s largest Pacific port, have warned of a deteriorating humanitarian situation due to the presence of paramilitary groups and increased violence against residents.
February 11, 2021
Unknown men arrived at the home Julio David González Arango and shot him. Why? Julio González is a member of a movement called the Peaceful Resistance which for the past decade has been actively organizing opposition to the environmental harms caused by the Escobal silver mine, owned by the Canada-based multinational Pan American Silver. Fortunately, Julio González survived. But the very next day, two other members of the environmental resistance movement received death threats by text message: "you will be next." IRTF wrote to authorities in Guatemala, urging that they 1) conduct a complete, independent, and impartial investigation into the assassination attempt and death threats, publish the results, and bring those responsible to justice; 2) ensure that Pan American Silver respects a 2018 order of the Constitutional Court to halt mining operations and puts a stop to all its public relations work that is increasing tension in the region and is contributing to the insecurity of the residents. IRTF is also among 195 organizations from across the Americas that signed a letter directed at the leadership of Pan American Silver.
February 7, 2021
Colombia’s largest port city, Buenaventura, saw a 200 percent increase in homicides in January, compared to the same time period last year. The killings are attributed to deep-rooted problems: state abandonment, systemic racism, and a lack of concerted investments in Afro-Colombian communities.
February 5, 2021
Never in more than forty years has the union organization or its members been threatened. Nevertheless, unfortunately we know first-hand the terror that some groups instill to intimidate those who participate in union activity. Just a few weeks ago several leaders of SINTRABRINKS (the union of workers at the Clínica Medellín) received death threats for the third time.”
February 2, 2021
[IRTF note: See RRN letter Feb 12 2021 in response to the violence that is addressed in this news article.] Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez of San Salvador asked the country to pray "for liberation from Satan" Feb. 1 after violence erupted following a political rally in the capital of El Salvador late Jan. 31. "The devil is running loose in El Salvador, there are many demons on the loose," Cardinal Rosa Chavez said at the end of his homily at St. Francis Church in San Salvador. He compared the Gospel of the day, about Jesus casting out demons from a man possessed, to the deadly incident that took place the previous night. Gunmen shot and killed two FMLN party activists returning from the rally, injuring others. Some are calling the incident the "most serious act of political violence" in almost three decades since peace accords ended the country's civil war in 1992. Three suspects were captured. The Salvadoran attorney general said those under custody were part of a security team for the minister of health, who belongs to the political party of President Nayib Bukele. "This is serious, the electoral contest cannot become a bloodbath," tweeted Salvadoran Attorney General Raúl Melara, referring to the upcoming elections for mayors and the Legislative Assembly on Feb. 28. "Let's entrust to the Lord, this morning, this country that is, that has so many demons," Cardinal Rosa Chavez said. "This is how the political campaign begins ... Why can't points of view be presented with simplicity, respect, tolerance? Why do they resort to violence, verbal, offenses, insults, threats? May God help us so we can have a civilized campaign, as it should be."
February 2, 2021
IRTF, Cleveland Jobs with Justice, and the Cleveland Catholic Worker are among 100+ signatories on a letter to President Biden calling on him to close the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention facility once and for all. “Guantánamo is the iconic example of the post-9/11 abandonment of the rule of law. Guantánamo embodies the fact that…the US government has viewed communities of color…through a security threat lens, to devastating consequences… Guantánamo continues to fuel and justify bigotry, stereotyping and stigma. Guantánamo entrenches racial divisions and racism more broadly…”
February 1, 2021
On the evening of January 31, gunmen opened fire on a group of supporters of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). The group, traveling in a pickup truck covered with FMLN signs, was returning from a day of campaigning for the upcoming February 28 mayoral and legislative elections in San Salvador. Gloria Rogel del Cid and Juan de Dioz Tejada, veterans of the armed conflict [in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, that pitted the Salvador people against brutal US-backed military regimes], died, and at least two more were injured. This State-linked repression was carried out by yet another military-backed, autocratic regime with full economic, military and political relations with the US and Canada. Like the Honduran and Guatemalan regimes, the El Salvador government is considered a “democratic ally” in support of the United States’ anti-democratic efforts in the region, such as the desire to overthrow the government of Venezuela.