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April 9, 2021
Justice for Colombia is starting a new series spotlighting women activists. This first spotlight is on Olga Quintero, a leader in the Catatumbo Peasant Farmers Association (ASCAMCAT). ASCAMCAT has about 5,000 affiliated members and works to defend its members rights over land and territory and works to advance peace and justice in the region.
April 9, 2021
April 9 2021—Today the U.S. federal government announced the results of the union election at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse. The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) did not achieve a majority of the votes counted. However, the RWDSU has released a statement demanding “a comprehensive investigation over Amazon's behaviour in corrupting this election” and announced intention to file charges regarding the company’s egregious union busting.
Afro-descendant & Indigenous Solidarity: No Native American face paint, headdresses allowed in Progressive Field for Indians games
March 31, 2021
Cleveland Indians fans will not be able to paint their faces in Native American fashion or wear headdresses to games at Progressive Field this season. The Cleveland Indigenous Coalition has released a statement in response: “[We] continue to work closely with the Cleveland Major League Baseball team during this period of transition, and we are encouraged by the team’s cooperation in listening to our recommendations and input. The donning of headdresses and stereotypical Native American-style face paint reflects and reinforces harmful stereotypes, which hurt our community—especially our Native youth. By enforcing the removal of Native American headdresses and Native American-style face paint for the 2021 season, the team is creating a more inclusive experience for all fans.” There is no opening day protest against racist team logos planned by Cleveland area Native American groups.
March 31, 2021
The high risks attached to labour organising in Colombia have once again been emphasised with the murder of yet another trade unionist, as the country remains by far the most dangerous in the world for those in the role. On Monday 29 March 2021, Carlos Vidal was shot dead while walking his dog near his home in Florida, Valle del Cauca. Carlos was the president of the SINTRACOS union for sugar industry workers and a member of the CGT trade union centre. He was also known for his community activism. Following on from at least 20 murders of trade unionists in 2020, the latest case is at least the fourth this year.
March 30, 2021
Wesent letters to the president and attorney general of Colombia about the assassinations of social leaders (as well as other human rights crimes) that occurred during the last week of March. Those killed include: (1) Carlos Andrés Bustos Cortes, a former FARC combatant enrolled in the reincorporation process. Puerto Asis, Putumayo. March 23 2021. (2) Carlos Alberto Vidal, president of SINTRACOS sugar workers union. Flórida, Valle del Cauca Department. March 29 2021. (3) José Santos López, 54-year-old Awá indigenous leader, and Jhon Edwar Martínez, a 22-year-old Awá indigenous man. Tumaco, Nariño Department. March 29 2021. We echo the call by the United Nations Mission in Colombia, urging “the implementation of concrete measures for the comprehensive protection of all communities as well as the strengthening of security guarantees in the territories affected by the violence.”
Environmental Human Rights: 25 Organizations Call for an End to U.S. Support for Aerial Herbicide Fumigation in Colombia
March 30, 2021
Summary: Colombia’s government is moving closer to reinstating a program, suspended in 2015, that would spray herbicides from aircraft over territories where coca is cultivated. The country’s highest court has required President Duque’s government to meet a series of health, environment, consultation, and other requirements before reinstating the aerial fumigation program. Colombia’s defense minister is now saying that the spraying could restart in April. Urging President Joe Biden to avoid US support for a renewed fumigation program, 25 organizations from the US and Colombia have signed a letter that succinctly lays out the reasons why this would be an unfortunate and harmful policy mistake. The letter was shared with the White House on March 26.
March 25, 2021
Juan Carlos Cerros Escalante, age 41, was president of the Nueva Granada Board of Trustees and a leader of the local Lenca indigenous community in his hometown of Chinda, Santa Bárbara Department. On March 21, unknown assailants fired 40 shots at him in front of his children as they were returning from his mother’s house in the village of Nueva Granada, municipality of San Antonio in Cortés Department. Juan Carlos Cerros Escalante led Communities United of Chinda, a local group opposing the “El Tornillito” hydroelectric dam that is being constructed by HIDROVOLCÁN (Hidroeléctrica El Volcán Company) in hamlets near the Rio Ulúa. This dam, which will be the second largest in Honduras, will mean the disappearance of ten communities of an indigenous Lenca population because the livestock, crops and houses of these two municipalities would drown, and their inhabitants would be forced to move.
March 25, 2021
In Nicaragua, governmental recognition of land rights was the first step in tackling incursions by non-Indigenous settlers from western Nicaragua and the violent conflicts they sometimes produce. But because colonization of Indigenous territories has been taking place for decades, taking the next steps – delineation of the territories, dealing with illegal titles (primarily given under previous governments) and potentially removing settlers – is a complex process that involves delicate negotiation and agreement at the local level. Sadly but inevitably, the invasions by settlers have become another issue on which to attack Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Also, Nicaragua briefs and updates are included.
March 24, 2021
For the past few years, residents of El Guapinol have been organizing against the operations of an iron ore mine that is contaminating the Guapinol and San Pedro Rivers, water sources for populations across three departments in northern Honduras. Eight environmental defenders have been held in "pre-trial detention" since September 2019. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stressed that there is no legal reason to hold these eight men in pre-trial detention and that there is no legal reason to prosecute them. The UN Working Group also recommended that those responsible for the illegal detention should be investigated, suggesting that the State is punishing them for exercising their legitimate rights in defending the environment.
March 22, 2021
A Honduran Lenca Indigenous activist who helped led a fight against the construction of a dam has been killed. Juan Carlos Cerros Escalante led a local group called “Communities United,” which was active in hamlets near the Rio Ulúa and which opposed the El Tornillito hydroelectric dam. He was shot dead in front of his children. “We condemn the killing of yet another comrade and activist,” said Betty Vásquez, the coordinator of the Santa Barbara Environmental Movement. “It is not conceivable, it is not right, that they criminalize people, persecute people and later kill them for defending the land. We consider this a political assassination.”