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March 22, 2020
The Colombian peace and justice organization Justapaz recently learned of a pamphlet where they were described as an immediate military target by the paramilitary group Águilas Negras (Black Eagles). The pamphlet is not the first time that Justapaz has been threatened. This threat, however, is much more specific; it threatens to target Justapaz members’ families and children at their schools. To protect the important and legitimate work of Justapaz, we are calling on the government of Colombia to take immediate action to protect members of Justapaz and their partners across the country.
March 21, 2020
Assassinations of social leaders is ongoing, especially in rural zones. We are disturbed to learn that members of the Colombian Army could be implicated in two recent killings. Feb 26: Didian Arley Agudelo, age 38, former city councilor and head of farmer organizations. His body was found with his hands bound and shirt around his neck. His body was discovered in a zone controlled by the Seventh Division of the Army, four days after he went missing. (Antioquia Dept.) Feb 29: Amado Torres, age 49, treasurer of the community council of La Miranda. Armed men in military clothes entered his home, took him by force to a remote location, and shot him in the skull with a rifle at point-blank range. (Antioquia Dept.) Mar 2: Julio Gutiérrez Avilés, founder of the local Association of Rural Workers and president of the community council in El Esmero. Walking home to his farm, he was intercepted by unknown individuals, who shot him repeatedly, killing him immediately. (Huila Dept.)
Skeletons in the Closets of World Bank & Inter-American Development Bank: March 13, 2020 marks 38th anniversary of Chixoy dam/Rio Negro massacres in Guatemala
March 13, 2020
The Chixoy dam was a very profitable investment project of the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in partnership with the U.S.-backed genocidal regimes of Generals Lucas García and Ríos Montt. To clear the way, over 30 Mayan communities were forcibly evicted up and down the river. The village of Río Negro was hit the hardest. The Guatemalan government killed more than 444 villagers over the course of five large-scale massacres in 1981 and 1982. (March 13 is the 20th anniversary of the massacre of 177 Maya Achi children and women.) Since 1994, the Rio Negro survivors have courageously pressured Guatemala’s corrupted legal system to put on trial, find guilty, and send to jail nine former Civil Defense Patrollers (PAC) and military commissioners, mainly from the neighboring village of Xococ. But these were merely the “material authors.” The “intellectual authors” have never been investigated or charged. Not one single military officer in the chain of command, who ordered and carried out the Chixoy dam massacres, was captured, tried and sentenced. Not one official or program officer from the World Bank and IDB was subjected to any investigation into the role of these “development” banks in partnering with the U.S.-backed genocidal regimes of Guatemala (1975-83) in planning and carrying out all aspects of the project. On October 20, 2012, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights did find the Guatemalan government responsible for the Rio Negro/ Chixoy dam massacres and ordered the government to legally investigate the massacres and compensate surviving families. On November 8, 2014, then president and former army general Otto Perez Molina (now in jail on corruption charges) formally apologized on behalf of the government for the human rights violations and sufferings caused by the Chixoy dam project, and signed into law Decree #378-2014, “the Public Policy of Reparations for Communities Affected by the Construction of the Chixoy hydro-electric dam project.” Thirty-eight years later, a measure of reparations has been paid to some of the Chixoy dam victims. But no justice has been done for the roles and responsibilities of the “intellectual authors” in the Guatemalan government, World Bank and IDB that promoted, designed, implemented and profited financially from the project. Pointing out the impunity and corruption of the authors and profiteers of the Chixoy dam crimes highlights the enormity of this global human problem. Across the planet today, governments, “development” banks, corporations and investors push ahead with “resource development projects,” violently displacing populations and destroying habitats, violating a wide range of individual and collective rights, and ravaging Mother Earth.
March 6, 2020
Several years ago, Camila Díaz left her native El Salvador and went to the United States, looking for a place where she would be safer as a transgender woman. But she failed to find a sympathetic ear. Deported back to San Salvador, the nation's capital, she was killed just over a year later. Díaz, 30, was one of 138 Salvadorans deported from the United States who have been killed upon returning to their country since 2013, according to a report by Human Rights Watch. Mónica Linares, an activist with the rights group Arcoiris Trans (Rainbow Trans) said the group had demanded authorities investigate her killing.
March 6, 2020
Like many Americans, I tuned in to watch President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night. But as a Muslim Arab American, I knew from the get-go that whatever he would say, it would not match my experience living in the United States.
This is because Trump’s speech was geared only towards his base: white Christian Republican Americans. It projected power, control, hegemony, brute force and imperialism - or in other words, his conception of what makes America “great”.
Tokenising people of colour
March 5, 2020
ICE is boosting its operations in sanctuary cities to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants, conducting round-the-clock surveillance in addition to deploying elite tactical agents. The expanded surveillance operations and added manpower are the latest intensification in a conflict between the Trump administration and cities that refuse to help with deportations, including Boston, New York, Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New Orleans and Newark. The effort began last month and will run through Dec. 31, according to the internal email, which says the initiative is called Operation Palladium. In the Bronx, a local resident on Tuesday took a photo through a peephole of an ICE officer in military-style fatigues carrying an assault rifle on the other side of an apartment door. The resident shared it with Jorge Muñiz, an organizer who is part of a local ICE watch group, and it was then shared widely on the internet, raising alarm.
March 5, 2020
A Lorain Schools parent and her daughter were detained by the U.S. Border Patrol last week. The principal followed school policy and notified staff at the district administration building. The student was taken out of class by a teacher and left the school building with her mother. School Board President Mark Ballard confirmed the pair have been deported. For the community, he said its had a devastating effect on their mental health — many are thinking about their family members who are undocumented and are scared, he said.
March 4, 2020
Fearing for his life, a thin, curly-haired 25-year-old fled to the United States-Mexico border and requested asylum. After nine days in custody, he was put on a plane in McAllen, Texas, and sent to Guatemala. American authorities explained that he would wait there for an “initial screening,” the first step in the U.S. asylum process, and eventually return to stand before a U.S. judge, he said. But it wasn't true. The U.S. government sent him here to apply for Guatemalan asylum under a new Trump administration policy that puts migrants into this Central American country's bare bones asylum system with few resources and fewer options. From the program's start in November through last week, the U.S. government shipped 683 asylum-seekers to Guatemala. That is more than double the number of asylum-seekers processed by Guatemala in all of 2018. But only 14, or about 2% of the foreigners actually pursued asylum here.
March 3, 2020
Today is the 4-year anniversary of the indigenous land defender and feminist leader, Berta Cáceres brutal assassination. Berta was the co-founder of COPINH and was murdered for her brave fight in defense of the indigenous and sacred territories of the Lenca People in Honduras. Before her assassination Berta and COPINH fought against the construction of the Agua Zarca Project, a damaging dam of the Energetic Development Company (DESA). In early 2020, the Berta Cáceres Cause Observation Mission presented a new follow-up report on the year-and-a-half judicial process that culminated in December 2019 with the sentencing. This report emphasized that “[j]ustice in the Berta Cáceres case will not be fully realized until responsibility is established for the intellectual authorship of the facts of the case and for the various actions of delay and obstruction of the investigation and judgment.”
March 1, 2020
Father Ernesto Cardenal was an early supporter of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which was founded in the early 1960s, named after Augusto César Sandino, the revolutionary who had led a guerrilla campaign against the U.S. occupation of Nicaragua in the 1920s and ’30s and was assassinated in 1934. “Christ led me to Marx,” Father Cardenal said in an interview in 1984. “I don’t think the pope understands Marxism. For me, the four gospels are all equally communist. I’m a Marxist who believes in God, follows Christ, and is a revolutionary for the sake of his kingdom.” In 2015 he told The New York Times: “The Bible is full of revolutions. The prophets are people with a message of revolution. Jesus of Nazareth takes the revolutionary message of the prophets. And we also will continue trying to change the world and make revolution. Those revolutions failed, but others will come.”