You are here

IRTF News

News Article
After an irregular rainy season and an unpromising harvest, almost 80% of maize grown in Guatemala’s highland region was lost, according to Oxfam. All that remains for many families are tiny corncobs studded with discoloured grains that look like rotten teeth. Central America is one of the world’s most dangerous regions outside a warzone, where a toxic mix of violence, poverty and corruption has forced millions to flee north in search of security. The threat of famine and the battle for dwindling natural resources are increasingly being recognised as major factors in the exodus
News Article
In February 2020, still waiting as he now passed 950 days in detention, Kevin began thinking that he might just give up and self-deport, even if it meant going back to a place he’d been followed out of by text messages saying if he ever returned he would be killed. This is a story about the ongoing efforts of the U.S. government to deport a Honduran teenager named Kevin Euceda, who had already been in detention for more than two years. The U.S. government’s anti-trafficking program took the extraordinary step of certifying Kevin as a victim of “severe human trafficking,” finding that he had been “subjected to involuntary servitude by being forced to work for a gang.” The designation gave Kevin the right to all the benefits of a legal refugee, and meant he would be a prime candidate for asylum. [In September 2019, Kevin watched his court proceedings] from a remote detention center. On one side of the judge, he could see his lawyers, ready to argue that he should be freed immediately. Across from them was a lawyer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), there to argue that Kevin should be deported. And in front of them all, inside a thick folder, was an old report from a shelter for immigrant children that was the reason the long-running matter of Kevin Euceda existed at all: “Youth reports history of physical abuse, neglect, and gang affiliation in country of origin. Unaccompanied child self-disclosed selling drugs. Unaccompanied child reports being part of witnessing torturing and killing, including dismemberment of body parts,” the report said. The person who had signed it: A therapist at a government shelter for immigrant children who had assured Kevin that their sessions would be confidential. Instead, the words Kevin spoke had traveled from the shelter to one federal agency and then another, followed him through three detention centers, been cited in multiple ICE filings arguing for his detention and deportation, and now, in the fall of 2019, were about to be used against him once more.
News Article
“José” is an award winning film from Guatemala about a young gay man’s struggles to find love in a socially conservative, homophobic society. “José” opens this Friday in South Florida theaters. But its star, Guatemalan actor Enrique Salanic, won't be here for the film's American premiere, as he'd hoped. That's because the U.S. has denied Salanic a visa to enter the country. “José” won the Queer Lion at the Venice Film Festival – the prize for the best LGBTQ-themed movie. But this film is different from a lot of films about gay people in Latin America. The homophobia is certainly felt. But the story focuses more on how hard it is for a gay man to secure a loving relationship there.
News Article
Study finds 42.5% interviewees leaving Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador reported the violent death of a relative “We’re speaking of human beings, not numbers,” Sergio Martín, MSF general coordinator in Mexico, said at the study’s presentation on Tuesday. “In many cases, it’s clear that migration is the only possible way out. Staying put is not an option.” A 2019 survey from Creative Associates International found violence was the main driver of migration for 38% of Salvadorans, 18% of Hondurans and 14% of Guatemalans. In Guatemala – the main source of migrants detained at the US border with Mexico – 71% of respondents cited “economic concerns” as their main motive.
News Article
A gay refugee from El Salvador who said he fled gang violence and spent a year traveling to get to the U.S. is suing the Trump administration for sending him to Guatemala as a "safe third country." After a member of the MS-13 gang threatened him in El Salvador & his mom disowned him, he came to the U.S. But he was sent to Guatemala instead. Why does the U.S. consider Guatemala a "safe third country" for LGBTQ asylum seekers? A 2012 report from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said that states that LGBTQ people in Guatemala face “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, including a constant threat of violence that amounts to torture, forced disappearances, sexual violence in detention centers, and non-consensual medical testing.”
News Article
Authorities are expanding the Remain in Mexico program, which critics say puts migrants into dangerous border towns A Human Rights First report released in December documented at least 636 public reports of violence against asylum seekers returned to Mexico including rape, kidnapping and torture. Human Rights First said that was a steep increase over October, when the group had identified 343 attacks, and noted the latest figure is surely an under-count because most crime victims don’t report.
News Article
The president of El Salvador tries to intimidate the members of parliament by marching up with soldiers. This was due to the call of the Council of Ministers, over which the President presides, for an extraordinary session designed to approve a loan of USD 109 million to finance the so-called Territorial Control Plan Phase III. This Plan consists of strengthening the equipment of public and military security apparatus in the country.
News Article
Berta Cáceres, who was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015, had long protested the construction of the dam, which threatened the livelihood of the Indigenous Lenca community living along the Gualcarque River. The activist was later shot dead in March of 2016 at her home in La Esperanza, in southwest Honduras. Private call logs, SMS, and WhatsApp messages unearthed by the Honduran Public Prosecutor’s Office revealed that the hit squad “communicated through a compartmentalized chain that reached the highest ranks of leadership” of Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA), the company building the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam, the Intercept reported on December 21. Seven of the eight men accused of carrying out Caceres’ killing — among them US-trained former military officials and DESA employees — were found guilty in November of 2018 and later sentenced to serve between 30 and 50 years in jail.

Pages