March was a busy month for LAWG. We brought Latin American human rights activists to meet with Congress, strategized with partners on the ground, and kept cooking up new ways to counteract this administration’s senseless policies and decrees. And April’s looking pretty hectic, too.
To keep you in the loop, here’s a quick update on what we’ve been up to.
Mexico and Migration
We shone an international spotlight on the United States’ turning asylum seekers away at the U.S.-Mexico border. Daniella, LAWG’s Mexico, Border, and Migration Senior Associate, testified at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ hearing on the Trump Administration’s policies endangering asylum-seeking families and children at the U.S.-Mexico border. She highlighted the conditions of violence and impunity that make Mexico’s northern border an unsafe location for migrants to be returned to.
|Left to right: Joanna Williams (Kino Border Initiative), Daniella Burgi (LAWG), Kathryn Shepherd (American Immigration Council), Sarah Paoletti (UPenn). Photo: Emma Buckhout|
With YOUR help, we supported letters addressing the dire human rights situation in Honduras. Together, we worked to get signatures on a House Dear Colleague letter led by Representatives Jim McGovern and Mark Pocan denouncing the murders of environmental and human rights activists, and supported another one led by Senator Patrick Leahy in the Senate. These letters urge Secretary Tillerson and the Trump Administration to enforce human rights conditions on Honduras vigorously (withholding aid where needed), to work with the Department of the Treasury to oppose investments in Honduran industries implicated in human rights violations, and to hold the Honduran government accountable for attacks against human rights defenders and environmental activists.
We accompanied human rights defenders to meetings with Congress and the State Department. Our partners Byron, Alejandro, Jomary, Danilo, and Harold talked about the alarming situation facing human rights defenders in post-accord Colombia, noting the lack of comprehensive protection measures and the government’s reluctance to view these attacks as systematic. They also highlighted the urgent need to dismantle paramilitary successor groups in order for peace to be truly sustainable.
|Left to right: Harold, Lisa (LAWG), Alejandro, Jomary, and Caitrin (PBI). Photo: Elisabeth Wilder|
We sent a letter to Secretary of State Tillerson urging him to support peace accord implementation. The letter, which was signed by over 30 U.S. religious and non-governmental organizations, called for the United States to back the accords both diplomatically and financially. It also encouraged support for the ongoing negotiations between the Colombian government and the country’s second largest guerrilla group, the ELN.
We met with grassroots activists to discuss new strategies to push for the end of the blockade. Andrea, LAWG’s Cuba program assistant, attended this year’s National Cuba Conference where she gave a short presentation on the current state of Cuba-related legislation in Congress. She was fortunate enough to engage with many activists and prominent figures who have been fighting for the Cuban people’s right to self-determination for years.
There’s still plenty more to do, and we hope can continue counting on your support along the way!