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Colombia’s first progressive president, Gustavo Petro, initiated a "total peace" program upon taking office in August 2022 to end the nation's long-standing conflict. This initiative involves negotiating with various illegal armed groups that remained after over 13,000 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were demobilized through the 2016 peace accords. These accords, supported by the U.S., ended the Western Hemisphere’s longest conflict (1964-2016), which caused nearly seven million people to be displaced and over 250,000 deaths.

Despite setbacks, negotiations with the largest remaining guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), have progressed further than under previous administrations. Talks with dissident FARC factions and other groups are ongoing. The Petro administration has significantly increased efforts and investments to implement the 2016 peace accords. However, many Colombians in conflict-affected areas still suffer from armed group violence and have not benefited from the promises of peace.

Negotiations with criminal groups like the Clan del Golfo have been contentious, with civil society groups criticizing the handling of ceasefires. Challenges to peace include government administrative weaknesses, armed groups' disrespect for civilians, and opposition from a divided Congress. The United Nations acknowledges the government's engagement with armed groups has reduced lethal violence. The Petro administration is improving its negotiation strategies and enforcing stricter ceasefire conditions.

The path to peace remains challenging, as most peace accords fail within five years, though Colombia has surpassed this period with a fragile peace. With global conflict on the rise, continued U.S. support for Colombia’s peace efforts, especially the 2016 accords and ELN negotiations, is crucial for further progress.

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President Biden issued an executive order on June 4, 2024, to restrict asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border during surges in crossings, reflecting a major shift in immigration policy. This move is Biden's most restrictive border policy to date and echoes a 2018 effort by Trump that was blocked by the courts. Biden's order was prompted by congressional Republicans blocking bipartisan legislation on border security.

The policy kicks in when daily illegal crossings average 2,500 and suspends the right to seek asylum on U.S. soil, with exceptions for unaccompanied minors, human trafficking victims, and those using a specific app for asylum requests. The American Civil Liberties Union plans to challenge the order in court, arguing it is illegal, as it was under Trump.

This shift underscores the political pressures Biden faces regarding immigration, particularly as he prepares for the upcoming presidential election. The executive order aims to reduce illegal crossings and backlog in the asylum system but has drawn criticism from immigration advocates and some Democrats for undermining asylum protections.

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On June 1, Salvadorans in six countries and five U.S. cities protested the inauguration of Nayib Bukele for a second term, declaring his presidency unconstitutional and illegitimate due to the Salvadoran constitution's prohibition of consecutive terms. Bukele's February 4 win, claimed as historic, only garnered 43% of eligible voters.

Protesters, alongside faith and solidarity organizations, condemned Bukele's State of Exception, citing abuses like 80,000 warrantless arrests and over 300 deaths in state custody. On May 30 and 31, leaders of the National Alliance for a Peaceful El Salvador were arrested preemptively.

Speakers at the Washington, DC rally highlighted the repression reminiscent of the civil war era, with Consuelo Gomez and Ana Sol Gutierrez urging international rejection of Bukele's government. They criticized his policies for increasing poverty and displacement, with recent data showing over 67% of working Salvadorans earn less than $400 monthly. COPPPAL called for a suspension of military and financial support to Bukele’s regime.

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In 2023, global ocean heat reached record highs, Antarctic sea ice coverage fell to record lows, and global temperatures were approximately 1.4°C above pre-industrial levels, nearing the dangerous threshold of 1.5°C. This poses a risk of irreversible damage to ecosystems and severe consequences for vulnerable populations. Governments, particularly developed nations like the United States, must urgently implement policies to reduce emissions and limit warming to below 2°C, ideally 1.5°C, by halting fossil fuel expansion.

Outdated trade and investment agreements, including Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) with Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions, threaten efforts to reduce fossil fuel use. ISDS allows corporations to sue governments in arbitration tribunals over policies that affect their profits, often leading to costly settlements and policy rollbacks. Nearly 20% of ISDS cases are initiated by fossil fuel companies, exemplified by TC Energy suing the U.S. for $15 billion over the Keystone XL pipeline rejection and Ruby River challenging Canada's rejection of a gas facility.

ISDS poses broader threats beyond climate policy, affecting public health, labor rights, and green jobs. Civil society movements globally are campaigning against ISDS, and some countries are terminating BITs. The Biden administration has committed not to pursue new agreements with ISDS, but further action is needed.

Recommendations include:

  1. Stopping the expansion of ISDS by publicly opposing new agreements with ISDS provisions.
  2. Removing ISDS from existing FTAs and BITs through termination or renegotiation.
  3. Withdrawing consent to ISDS claims unilaterally or via multilateral instruments.

Addressing ISDS is crucial to protect public interest policies and support climate action. The U.S. must lead in eliminating ISDS to safeguard the planet and its people.

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During the time of the military government of Romeo Lucas García (1978-1982), the Guatemalan state and army designed and implemented its policy of genocide. While Romero Lucas García was in power, more than 1,700 people were victims of the crimes of genocide, forced disappearance and crimes against humanity by the military operations deployed in the Maya Ixil region. Currently, two former military chiefs will face trial for these crimes in the Ixil Lucas García Genocide Case.

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Since January 2023 when the Bukele administration arrested five water defenders in Cabañas Department on criminal allegations from 34 years ago, IRTF has been part of an international campaign to Free the Santa Marta 5. The five community leaders from Cabañas Department were instrumental in the national campaign—a 13-year mobilization—that led to the national ban on open-pit metal mining—the first in the world! They fought against the Pacific Rim company (aka OceanaGold) because there would be untold contamination of regional waterways.

President Bukele’s crackdown on gangs and violent crime that he calls the State of Exception (initiated in March 2022) has resulted in suspension of constitutional rights, mass arrests and mass incarceration. Many critics have pointed out that Bukele’s crackdown on violent crime is being used to mask arrests of political dissidents. President Bukele, in efforts to attract foreign investment, is suspected of wanting to get rid of the monumental national ban on open-pit metal mining.

TAKE ACTION: We need folks in the U.S. to call on their congresspersons to 1) reach out to the US State Department and encourage them to call for due process and send representatives to observe the trial of the Santa Marta 5; 2) tweet to demand that the charges against the #SantaMarta5 be dropped; 3) take action to halt US police and military assistance to El Salvador in light of the suspension of constitutional rights and mass incarceration currently happening under President Bukele’s State of Exception (State of Emergency). 

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In Jericó, Colombia, farmers and villagers are resisting the construction of a large copper mine by AngloGold Ashanti, fearing it will harm their water supply and agricultural livelihood. The company, seeking to extract significant amounts of copper, gold, and silver, has faced opposition from locals who blocked environmental impact studies necessary for the mining license. The town is divided, with some residents supporting the mine for its economic benefits, including job creation and community investments. Despite these benefits, environmental concerns and potential impacts on local water sources have fueled protests. The project remains stalled, awaiting further environmental studies and government approval.

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The Northeast Ohio Worker Center (NEOWC) and the Young Latino Network have partnered to host monthly wage theft clinics to educate and empower workers in the region. Wage theft, which includes unpaid overtime and misclassification of workers, is a significant issue, costing workers billions annually. The NEOWC, established in 2019, aims to support non-unionized workers by educating them about their rights and connecting them with legal services. The clinics provide bilingual support and help workers understand and exercise their labor rights, including protections against discrimination and wage theft, regardless of immigration status. The NEOWC offers various resources and referrals to assist workers in advocating for fair treatment in the workplace.

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News articles in this month’s Migrant Justice Update:

(1) See Us. Here Us. #ReuniteUS. (2) ICE Air: Update on Removal Flight Trends. (3) Migration Declining. (4)  At the Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border. (5) Guatemalan Youth Defy Tragedy, Continue Trek to US Despite Familial Losses.  (6) Kidnapping of Migrants and Asylum Seekers at the Texas-Tamaulipas Border Reaches Intolerable Levels.  (7) President-elect of Panama pledges to close the Darién Gap.  (8) Trans & Nonbinary Migrants File Complaint Over Treatment at ICE Detention Facility in Colorado


(A) Migrant Families in Cleveland Need Household Items. (B) Root Causes: Cut US Militarism in Latin America. (C) Root Causes: Stop Deportation Flights to Haiti. (D) Root Causes: Redesignate TPS for Nicaraguans. (E) Support Migrants in Detention.


Immigration enforcement continues to be top of mind for many in the US electorate. We’re likely to see the two presidential candidates duke it out on who pledges to be tougher on immigration.

With changes in presidential administrations in two of the countries that the US sees as crucial partners in stemming migration (Panama and Mexico), it’ll be interesting to see how things unfold over the next several months leading up to the US elections on November 5.

In Panama, conservative José Raúl Mulino was elected on May 5 and will be sworn in on July 1. He has  pledged to close down the treacherous Darién Gap, through which more than a half a million migrants crossed last year. “The border of the United States, instead of being in Texas, moved to Panama.” He also pledged to “repatriate all these people.”

In Mexico, a new president will be elected on June 2 and inaugurated on October 1. The Biden Administration has worked closely with the current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to stem the steady streams of immigration into Mexico headed toward the US southern border.  Mexico has been cracking down on migrants at the Guatemala border and within its borders.  Mexico’s migration enforcement set a record in November 2023 with 97,969 apprehensions, only to break that record in January 2024 (120,005 apprehensions) followed by a short dip in February (119,943). And the Mexican government is busing migrants away from its northern border and sending them to destinations deep in the country’s interior or back to the southern border.  The large numbers of people currently bottled up throughout Mexico is causing harm to migrants and is unsustainable.

The next administration in the US will face political challenges with respect to border enforcement. Thousands of migrants currently in Mexico will likely try to head north again—not to mention the thousands yet to depart their home countries. Migrant justice advocates in the US continue to stress the urgent need for an increase in funding for the asylum process and efficient adjudication of those cases. The system dedicates fewer than 725 judges to a backlog of 3 million cases. The US government needs to invest in an immigration and asylum system that is faster, fairer, more humane, and sustainable.

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Over 700 campesinos in Cartagena del Chairá, Colombia, are restoring 4,762 hectares of degraded rainforest, planting nearly a million trees in a deforestation hotspot. Collaborating with researchers from SINCHI and the Association of Community Action Boards (Asojuntas), they have documented over 600 plant and 100 animal species. This initiative, involving environmental education and restoration activities for all ages, has inspired many youths to pursue environmental careers. Economic pressures previously drove deforestation, but now, communities are actively replanting and protecting the forest, valuing its biodiversity and ecological importance. The restoration project has fostered environmental awareness and a commitment to sustainable development among locals, with a long-term vision of a greener, biodiverse future.