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December 16, 2021
We wrote to officials in Honduras expressing our dismay about a court-ordered eviction of the San Isidro Campesino Cooperative which commenced today when 150 policemen arrived and forcibly evicted 80 families from the cooperative farm. This is an illegal eviction that benefits wealthy private landowners and extractive companies in Honduras. In 2012, the San Isidro Cooperative recovered their lands after an arduous legal process. In 2019, a first eviction was carried out in a context of extreme violence. Yesterday, the San Isidro Cooperative tried to stop this eviction by presenting an appeal in the national jurisdiction court of Francisco Morazán. Although the appeal was accepted, two hours later the judge ordered the eviction of the community. We are urging that authorities in Honduras order an investigation of the judges who are issuing these eviction orders as to whether there has been collusion between the court and private economic interests. Land rights groups are suspecting corruption, influence peddling, and bribery.
December 15, 2021
We wrote to officials in Honduras to protest the illegal eviction orders against several campesino cooperatives issued by three judges in three departments. Several private interests, among them the Honduran Council of Private Enterprise (COHEP), the Dinant Corporation, and the Agropalma company, have persuaded judges to issue the orders, which, we anticipate, will be backed up by military and police. The families of the campesino cooperatives San Isidro, Trinidad, Despertar, Remolino, Camarones, Laureles, Tranvio, Paso Aguán and Plantel are facing imminent threat of eviction, even though the cooperatives are in possession of definitive titles that the National Agrarian Institute (INA) maintains in its archives. Although these cooperatives have filed numerous complaints with the government for the crime of usurpation against Dinant, Agropalma and Ceibeña investments for many years, the investigations have never advanced. We strongly urge that government authorities take swift action to prevent any acts of violence against the campesino families who are making use of their legitimate right to access these lands.
December 14, 2021
We wrote to officials in the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) of Guatemala to express our disappointment that it has not resolved the 15-year controversy surrounding the El Fénix nickel mine in El Estor, Izabal Department. On December 10, the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) announced that the community consultation process on the mine was officially completed and that mining operations could resume in January 2022. This is preposterous. The consultation—a process which normally takes at least a year to complete—was conducted in just over three months, during the majority of which the community of El Estor was under a state of siege (cf our letter of November 21, 2021). The Xinka Parliament, the Q’eqchi’ Ancestral Council, the Defensoría Q’eqchi’, and the El Estor Fisherman’s Guild have all refused to recognize the rushed and inadequate consultation process. We urging that MEM suspend the mining license until there is a new consultation process that includes the legitimate ancestral authorities who have been elected by their communities and representatives of the Fishermen’s Guild.
December 13, 2021
We wrote to officials in Honduras with our concerns about acts of intimidation against Nidia Castillo, staff attorney with the National Network of Women Human Rights Lawyers in Choluteca. Unknown actors damaged her car, and a man on a motorcycle followed her when she left home to run errands on December 2. This was the same day she had attended a press conference to oppose the ZEDE Orquídea (Employment and Economic Development Zone); construction commenced in the village of Las Tapias in January. Due to the vast biological diversity of flora and fauna of this area situated near the border of Nicaragua, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared it a biosphere reserve in 2017. Opponents have concerns that the ZEDE’s industrial agriculture projects, designed to produce exports to the U.S., will create severe negative environmental destruction, disrupting communities and threatening the biosphere of the region.
December 9, 2021
“I couldn’t believe it. But there was my parish priest, standing in the back of a pickup truck with a megaphone, encouraging a group of people to burn the Sandinista party headquarters. I stepped back into the shadows so he wouldn’t see me, but I saw him.” Marisol is referring to events that took place on Saturday, 21 April 2018, in Ciudad Sandino, a city of 180,000 just outside Managua. A few days earlier in the capital, protests had begun; protests ostensibly against proposed reforms to the social security system. It quickly became obvious, however, that the protests were about something else: an attempt to overthrow the democratically-elected Sandinista government. She raises one finger defiantly, eyes blazing, “I would expect anything from a politician, but not from a priest.” Marisol is not the only devout Nicaraguan Catholic eschewing mass and the Church these days – far from it. She and her neighbors say that the same four or five people are the only ones showing up for Sunday mass.
December 8, 2021
“Although they are legally authorized to work, temporary migrant workers are among the most exploited laborers in the US workforce because employer control of their visa status leaves many powerless to defend and uphold their rights,” according to a February report from the Economic Policy Institute. The H-2A visa program creates a severe power imbalance. The system almost always ties workers to their specific employer, which means that a worker’s legal status to work depends on maintaining the job they were contracted to do. As such, workers are hesitant to speak out about deplorable working conditions due to fears of losing their legal status and facing deportation.
December 8, 2021
The United States accused El Salvador’s government of negotiating a secret pact with leaders of MS-13 and another gang under which the armed groups would cut back on bloody street killings and support the president’s party in midterm elections. The US Treasury Department announced that it was imposing sanctions on two Salvadoran officials for their roles in the alleged gang negotiations: Osiris Luna Meza, the vice minister of justice and director of the prison system, and Carlos Amilcar Marroquín, head of a major social welfare agency...José Miguel Cruz, a specialist in Salvadoran security issues at Florida International University, said the imposition of U.S. sanctions brought the allegations to a new level. “This implies that there is sufficient evidence that can be used in legal proceedings to show the link between the government and the gangs,” he said....Cruz said it was not clear the allegations would seriously hurt Bukele domestically. The 40-year-old president, a Twitter enthusiast who styles himself as a corruption-fighting political outsider, is one of Latin America’s most popular leaders.
December 7, 2021
El juez Rafael Rivera, declaró sin lugar la nulidad argumentando en su resolución que «el cementerio de Azacualpa no constituye patrimonio cultural indígena» de la población Maya Chortí, que «si fuesen los peticionantes indígenas, esto no significa que puedan decidir sobre el cementerio» y que «es de interés público las exhumaciones en el cementerio», según lo compartido por el abogado Mejía con Criterio.hn. Frente a estos argumentos del Juez Rivera de Santa Rosa de Copán, el integrante del bufete Estudios Para la Dignidad expone que el cementerio de Azacualpa fue declarado patrimonio cultural indígena en Cabildo Abierto, que está dentro del territorio Maya Chortí, y que fue la misma Corte Suprema de Justicia la que en su sentencia de amparo dispuso que en caso de existir fallas geológicas, las autoridades municipales debían hacer lo necesario para garantizar la integridad del cementerio por ser un mandato popular a través de Cabildo Abierto.
December 7, 2021
México y Haití figuran entre los países que han tenido menos éxito en el proceso de solicitud de asilo en Estados Unidos en las últimas dos décadas, informó este martes el centro Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), de la Universidad de Syracuse, en Nueva York. De acuerdo con el informe de TRAC, las cinco nacionalidades con las tasas de obtención de asilo más bajas en las cortes de inmigración son México (15 %), Honduras y Haití (18 % cada uno), Guatemala (19 %) y El Salvador (20 %). Indica además que en conjunto, las personas de Honduras, Guatemala y El Salvador son el segmento más grande de solicitantes de asilo en los últimos años.
December 7, 2021
Watch this webinar to hear from Honduran activists an update on the state of affairs in the weeks after the highly contentious 2021 Presidential Elections. In particular, we learned more about the trial against the eight political prisoners of Guapinol, which started December 9, 2021. The webinar features Juana Zúniga: activist, community leader, and the spouse of one of the political prisoners of Guapinol, and analysis of the elections by Padre Ismael Moreno, of the Jesuit-sponsored media outlet Radio Progreso.