Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Central American Exodus: First Press Release from Caravan calls for Recognition of Humanitarian Crisis

Central American migrant exodus must be recognized as a HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

[Versión original español]

First Press Release
November 12th, 2018 / Guadalajara, Mexico

Today marks 31 days of the historic exodus of Central Aamerican migrants, known as the “Migrant Caravan,” which departed from Honduran territory on October 13, 2018.

Our exodus is a consequence of forced displacement caused by the widespread systematic violence suffered by men, women, children and entire families who flee from poverty and impunity in our countries of origin.

The whole world is watching with great concern as more than 13 thousand people in Mexican territory advance towards the U.S. border. This monumental collective rejection of violence has reached the dimension of a humanitarian crisis.

In an exercise of autonomy as a displaced group, we named a delegation to dialogue with United Nations authorities in Mexico on behalf of the more than five thousand migrants housed at the shelter in Mexico City, Mexico. They are requesting the immediate application of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which commits States, among other things, to “improve cooperation in saving migrants' lives during their travels." In practical terms, this committment would best be fulfilled by guaranteeing buses so that we arrive safely to our final destination, thereby protecting women and children, who have to endure lower and lower temperatures, amongst other threats to their lives.

On November 8th, our delegation left on foot from the shelter in Mexico City, Mexico, accompanied by a mobilization of more than a thousand migrants that culminated at the office of the United Nations, where a meeting was held. In attendance were authorities of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, and our commission comprised of 21 delegates from the migrant exodus: representatives from 17 of the 18 Honduran Departments, 1 delegate from the “19th Department” (Hondurans residing in the US), 3 representatives per Central American country (Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala), an observer from the organization Pueblos Sin Fronteras, a Human Rights observer, Mr.  Arturo Peimberg, Ombudsman from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, and a Honduran spokesperson, sociologist and journalist Milton Benitez.

WHEREAS:

  • The UN did not follow through in assuring a safe method of transportation to the final destination in order to “save the lives of migrants.”
  • The Commission on Human Rights in Mexico City has confirmed the disappearance of at least 100 people in Mexican territory.
  • There have been at least 3 Honduran deaths during the trip.
  • There are 24 pregnant women, 184 people with disabilities, 31 unaccompanied minors, 87 people from the LGBTQI community, and more than two thousand children travelling in the caravan.
  • There are now two victims of legal persecution and threats: Honduran journalists and a human rights defenders Bartolo Fuentes and Milton Benitez.
  • That this HUMANITARIAN CRISIS stems from factors outside of the control of citizens, namely the inability of the expelling States to protect the lives of their citizens, given that Honduras is one of the most violent and corrupt countries in the world and the poorest in Latin America.
  • That the United Nations and in particular United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have not lived up to their responsabilities and mandates by raising our exodus to the status of HUMANITARIAN CRISIS, as has taken place in relation to other countries such as Venezuela and Iraq. 


WE ASK THE UNITED NATIONS AND STATES AROUND THE WORLD:

  • That our exodus be recognized for exactly what it is - a HUMANITARIAN CRISIS, so that a means of humanitarian intervention can be immediately established in order to guarantee the integrity, health and lives of those of us moving through Mexican territory. 
  • That, consequently, the UN, the UNHCR and the IOM, imediately apply the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration approved on March 13th, 2018, so that governments assume responsibility for the situation of people in need of international protection and humanitarian assistance. 
  • That, as has happened in other cases, the UNHCR encourage States to guarantee that we have free access to the territories and processes wherin our status as refugees can be determined, and ask the governments to adopt practical responses to protect us, such as offering legal status via temporary visas or residency permits as well as programs for normalizing status that guarantee access to the basic rights to healthcare, education, keeping families together, freedom of movement, shelter and the right to a job. 
  • That the UN encourage the signatory countries to make costs and requirements flexible as needed in order to guarantee access to the aforementioned rights. 
  • That, in light of the situation in the Central American and Latin American expelling states, the people not be deported or forced to return.

Let us remember that the first Global Compact for Migration, adopted in the United Nations, “the shared understanding by Governments that cross-border migration is, by its very nature, an international phenomenon and that effective management of this global reality requires international cooperation to enhance its positive impact for all,” as UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres has stated.

We inform the national and international community that, in the case that the UN, the UNHCR and the IOM continue to reduce the magnitude of the Central American diaspora by not treating it as a HUMANITARIAN CRISIS, we would find ourselves unable to recognize and forced to reject any accompaniment coming from these institutions, due to their doube standard.

We thank Mrs. Nashieli Ramírez Hernández, President of the Human Rights Commission in Mexico City and the team of civil society organiations led by Father Alejandro Solalinde; for the timely reception they organized for us to be able to heal and rest in that city, along with Mr. Arturo Peimberg, Ombudsman of the State of Oaxaca and our fellow compatriot Milton Benítez who we have embraced as our Human Rights defenders in Mexican territory and in the world.

To conclude, we want to thank the local authorities who acted with solidarity and without discrimination, and especially thank the community members, our Guatemalan and Mexican sisters and brothers who have offered us food, water, shelter and dignified treatment, supplanting the work that should be carried out by institutions and governments.

Written in the city of Guadalajara, State of Jalisco, Republic of Mexico, on the 12th day of the month of November in the year of 2018.

CENTRAL AMERICAN MIGRANT EXODUS FOR LIFE
On the path… with dignity!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Report from Honduras April 2018 Delegation




In April 2018, La Voz de los de Abajo and Alliance for Global Justice, both members of the Honduras Solidarity Network, led a delegation to Honduras concerned about the political prisoners and ongoing human rights crisis.

Here is the link to the final report from the delegation.

Meeting with political prisoner
foto by Dunia Perez

Friday, March 2, 2018

BREAKING: President of DESA arrested for involvement in Assassination of Berta Cáceres

BREAKING NEWS: David Castillo Mejia, the President of DESA, the corporation building the dam Berta was organizing against when she was assassinated, has just been arrested while attempting to flee Honduras


[Original en español]
COPINH reports to the national and international community that moments ago David Castillo, the President of the DESA corporation and the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, was arrested thanks to all of the work and pressure created by the solidarity and work of organizations nationally and internationally. No thanks is due to the Attorney General's office, who have tried everything possible to cover up the truth in this case.

The Honduran state made this arrest to try to obscure the protests today for the 2nd anniversary of the assassination of our sister Berta Caceres. Nonetheless, from the start COPINH has denounced him as the general manager alongside the entire board of directors of the DESA corporation, which belongs to the Atala Zablah family.

COPINH will continue to denounce the entire murderous, criminal structure behind the assassination of our sister Berta Caceres, of which David Castillo is just one piece.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Delegation Report from November Election Crisis in Honduras


Report from La Voz de los de Abajo, CODEPINK and Marin Task Force on the Americas Human Rights Observation Delegation during Honduran Elections 2017



Tegucigalpa protest 

Singer Karla Lara in Tegucigalpa 

Police and Military Tegucigalpa 
Photos by Chris Jeske




Delegation Report: Honduran Elections 2017

Friday, February 2, 2018

23 Months of Impunity in Assassination of Berta Caceres, but the Struggle Continues

Almost two years after the assassination of the woman who dreamed of re-founding Honduras
COPINH's statement 23 months later
[Original en español]

Today marks 23 months since the assassination of indigenous leader Berta Cáceres and we are about to reach the second anniversary of her transition. We remember this sister on these days, with many people eager to know how far the case has progressed over these two years and what has changed in Honduras with the revelation of manifold human rights violations by extractive corporations who profit off of energy production.

As of now, COPINH continues to struggle for true justice and to push, as a first step, to break the media silence around her case and confront the irregularities that permeate the process.
May of this year will bring the expiration of the preventative detention* for the eight people detained in 2016, including the direct perpetrators of the crime as well as intermediaries such as DESA employee Sergio Rodríguez and armed forces major Mariano Díaz who coordinated the assassination and served as an instructor for the military police.

At this point the Honduran Attorney General and judicial authorities are flailing around desperately to try to move through and put a close to the case by sentencing only those who they have detained. The final arguments are expected in the case halfway through this year. Notwithstanding, the organization, the Honduran people and the international community remain unsatisfied in the face of a lack of action to capture the masterminds who are linked to the powerful and untouchable Honduran oligarchy.

It is worth mentioning that today is the swearing-in hearing for the specialists proposed by the Attorney General to analyze the telephone recordings and financial information in the national sentencing tribunal, which will decide the case.

Regarding the second point about what has changed in Honduras since her death, very little can be said. The concession remains for the hydroelectric damn ferociously defended not only by private enterprise but also by the renewable energy producers who continue to sew hate against the organizations that challenge the installation of numerous deadly projects, ruining their lucrative business.

The government wants to secure the investments of national and international corporations in this business by approving a deceitful law supposedly about “prior, free and informed consent for indigenous peoples” but has been unable to take the final step after strong questioning at a national and international level.

The power structures that protect the deadly project against which Berta Cáceres fought have strengthened themselves with electoral fraud, carried out to ensure continuation of the status quo and protection of private economic interests.

What Berta Cáceres contributed to today’s Honduras is the national uprising that continues without giving up on the same vision that would be on at the front of Berta Cáceres’s mind: the re-foundation of Honduras that no president will be able to carry out, that can only be carried out by the people, the same people who didn’t give up in the streets even as they confronted the violence of the military and their killer weapons, which is the only path to profound change for Honduras.

In the meantime COPINH is convening the “25 years of Life and Justice Gathering” for this 22nd-24th of March to deepen work around the case of comrades Berta and Gustavo and talk about the struggle to this point and what the future holds for Berta’s vision in a country that needs it now more than ever.



*The preventative detention can be extended just once for six more moths, which would expire in November of this year.
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