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On Monday of last week, the right-wing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proudly visited the New College Florida for his new, conservative higher education project. For years DeSantis has been on a crusade on 'woke culture' in all areas of life. His new enemy: inclusive education. On Monday May 15, DeSantis signed a bill banning any state funding for diversity, inclusion and equity programs on public colleges.

At the forefront of this culture war DeSantis has placed the New College Florida which has been subsidized with $50 million  since the beginning of the year, and has seen a significant change in staff and educational programming. According to DeSantis, this funding is needed for a conservative transformation into a 'top classical liberal arts college'. And a radical transformation it is! After replacing the university board with DeSantis supporters, a purge-like culture erupted. Within a short period of time, the board got rid of the DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) office and fired the president, replacing him with a conservative interim president. This new head kicked off his tenure by firing the diversity dean, a trans gender individual, and the librarian, who is part of the LGBTQ+ community as well. But the restructuring doesn't end there. The university is looking to invest the provided money into the hiring of new teachers, the creation of new sports teams, and the recruitment of new students. Furthermore, a new curriculum was established, restricting what topics will be allowed to be taught at the college. This ideology of control and limitation leads to a system in which any lesson planned by teachers must be reviewed and approved by university officials, a process that does not only harm education, but will also slow down the teaching process.

DeSantis' visit at the New College in Sarasota was greeted by rallying and chanting of students opposed to the changes.  During this propaganda event, the conservative board appointee Cristopher Rufo expressed his support for DeSantis' education policies and called the new restrictions a "once-in-a-generation reform."

Though the New College is the only university which has undergone this reform so far, it is most likely that this reactionary schooling culture will spread throughout Florida, under the SB 266 education bill. 

It is devastating to see how such a hazardous ideology can ravage an established school system. If this crusade against inclusive education spreads to more conservative states, it will not only harm the diversity of education and indoctrinate students into a conservative, right-wing world view but will also establish a culture of division and discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals, PoC's, women and anyone not fitting in with the white supremacist, straight, Christian ideology, pushed by the conservative political forces.    


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Worldwide Guatemala is known to be one of the most corrupt nations in existence. This corruption is deeply rooted in the entrenched economic and political power structure controlled by a ruling elite. Over the years, many ambitious state prosecutors and judges have tried to challenge this web of corruption; most have failed.

In Guatemala opposition to the internal power system is often met with heavy state repression. Human rights defenders, journalists and justice officials are victims of false alligations and persecutions, as the ruling class weaponizes the Guatemalan justice system against them. So far 35 justice officials have gone into exile, in fear to be criminalized for their anti-corruption work, and many more are imprisoned. 

One victim of the systematic misuse of justice against opposition is the former the public prosecutor Virginia Laparra. Before her detention, Laparra was known as her work as the chief prosecutor in the 'Special Prosecutor's Office Against Impunity' of Guatemala (FECI). In early 2022, Guatemalan security forces detained Laparra, charging her with "abuse of authority and violation of the duty of loyalty" after filing complaints against Judge Lesther Castellanos alleging acts of corruption within the judiciary. Initially Laparra was detained together with four other female prosecutors and anti-corruption lawyers. Now, on May 9, Laparra's sentence of four years in prison was reaffirmed after being convicted in an irregular trail. To ensure that Laparra stays in prison, she is under investigation a second time, a case that is being kept confidential by order of the court. This second investigation shows once more how the politically controlled justice system keeps Guatemala chained in corruption. Laparra's lawyer Claudia Gonzáles has criticized her detention in the military prison Matamoras. According to human rights groups and Gonzáles, Laparra needed a surgery while in prison. Leading up to this she was denied the freedom to choose a doctor and necessary medication. This act was later documented by international human rights organizations known for investigating corruption and human rights abuses.

Claudia Gonzáles is a well known anti-corruption fighter. Before her days as a lawyer, Gonzáles worked as a prosecutor at the UN backed 'International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala' (CICIG). Today Gonzáles works as a lawyer representing nine fellow lawyers criminalized for their anti-corruption work and challenging the power structure in the country.

In order to stop this corruption and illegal prosecutions, the international community must put pressure on the Guatemalan ruling class as well as the justice system.

IRTF stands in solidarity with Virginia Laparra and all other criminalized anti-corruption fighters in Guatemala.                  

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On May 11, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Guatemalan trans women Estrella Santos-Zacaria. Estrella first fled her home country in 2008, after being raped as a young teenager and receiving death threats from her neighbors because of her gender identity. Shortly after her arrival in the United States, Estrella was taken in to custody by immigration services, and was deported not long after. In its verdict, the immigration court judge stated that Estrella did not make a strong enough case for a possible persecution in Guatemala. Following her deportation, Estrella spent many years in Mexico, without support or protection. Caught in this vulnerable situation, Estrella was assaulted and raped by a Mexican street gang, driving her to a second attempt to seek safety and peace in the U.S.. Finally back in the U.S., Estrella filed a lawsuit in hope of a second chance for asylum. After a long process through the judicial system, and a number of denials, Estrella brought her case to the US Supreme Court. The court, most publicly known for its conservative to right-wing judges and its reactionary stance on women's rights over their bodies, unexpectedly ruled in favor of Estrella, granting her an immigration court date. In a comment on the court's decision, the US State Department verbalized that it has found that Guatemala has done little to protect LGBTQ+ people and that transgender women are subject to frequent threats of violence. 

Though this is positive news, it is still just a technicality and does not guarantee an asylum status. In our eyes, it is necessary that the United States' immigration courts start granting security to all trans people in need.        

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El Salvador's human rights violations may have consequences after all. The human rights organization Humanitarian Legal Aid (SJH) is preparing to sue the Salvadoran state on behalf of families whose relatives have been unlawfully arrested and have died in custody or after release. In its lawsuit, the SJH demands that the government of President Bukele take responsibility for all deaths in prison and after release, requests moral and material reparations for families affected, and demands "to clear the name of the innocent people."   

In an effort to collect info for the lawsuit, SJH has published a social media form in which victims and their relatives can confidentially share their experiences and data to support the case. According to SJH, the lawsuit will first be filed with the Salvadoran Attorney General's Office and its Human Rights Ombudsman's Office (PDDH). SJH further said that if the Salvadoran institutions do not respond, the lawsuit will be brought in front of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), based in Washington, DC.     

El Salvador has been in a 'state of exception', which takes away constitutional rights and allows police to arrest anyone on site, for over a year now. This crack down policy is part of Bukele's violent war on gangs which has seen at least 65,000 detentions and hundreds of death's. SJH director Ingrid Escobar has criticized the law and anti-gang efforts, stating that "According to criminologists, investigators and  lawyers, only 8 percent of the people who died belonged to gangs. The rest were innocent citizens who were stigmatized as terrorists.”

We are hopeful that this lawsuit may bring a glimpse of justice to those who have lost their innocent family members to the violent anti-gang war, though we know that no reparations will bring back loved ones.