Just Americas Blog

Guatemala's Week of Natural Disasters

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Here’s an update on the recent natural disasters that have hit Guatemala from Kelsey Alford-Jones of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA (GHRC/USA):

A week after Guatemalans experienced a dual assault from Pacaya Volcano and Tropical Storm Agatha, volcanic ash still hangs in the air. Over 80,000 people wait in emergency shelters—the homes, crops and livelihoods of many completely destroyed.

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The Head-Honchos of Cuban Civil Society Set the Record Straight on U.S. Citizens' Travel to Cuba

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Many in the United States Congress continue to hem and haw when it comes to repealing the unjust ban on U.S. citizens' travel to Cuba, but the head-honchos of Cuban civil society know where they stand -- and, presumably tired of the hardliners invoking their name in opposition to any change to the status quo, they've decided to set the record straight. In a letter made public on June 9th, 74 Cubans urged members of Congress to vote in favor of H.R. 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, legislation currently being considered by the House Committee on Agriculture that would restore the right of each and every U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba, without getting a permission slip from Uncle Sam, and ease the sale of U.S. food to the island.

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Colombia's President Rails against Justice, Clinton Stands By

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Colombia’s outgoing President has launched an assault against his country’s courts for taking some initial steps to bring high-ranking military and government officials to justice for their role in murder, illegal wiretapping, disappearances and torture.  This is no abstract political debate. When the President takes to the airwaves to denounce those working for justice, the judges, lawyers, witnesses and victims’ families know that death threats, and sometimes murder, often follow.  The threats and attacks usually appear to be from paramilitary groups. Colombia’s Supreme Court made a call for help:  “We make an appeal to the international community to accompany and show solidarity with the Colombian judicial system which is being assaulted for carrying out its duties.” 

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Appropriate Use of Force? Not on our Border

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Just days ago, Sergio Adrián Hernandez Güereca, a 15-year-old from Ciudad Juárez, was shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent on the banks of the Rio Grande, not far from downtown El Paso.   The fatal shooting of this teen came on the heels of the death of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, a longtime San Diego area resident and father of five U.S.-born children, who died from injuries suffered when Border Patrol and other federal officers responded with a baton and taser gun when he resisted deportation. His death has been ruled a homicide by the San Diego coroner’s office.  LAWG extends our condolences to both families.

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Guatemala: "Without Justice, Bloody Histories Have a Way of Repeating Themselves"

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The pursuit of justice “is a challenge that we have been called to take on, and we have no idea how far this journey will lead us,” said Guatemalan human rights defender Jesús Tecú Osorio at a reception in his honor on May 17th, 2010. Human Rights First and the Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC) organized this gathering to celebrate Tecú’s selection as winner of the 2010 Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty Award for international human rights defenders.

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