Current Actions

  • Words of encouragement for a nascent Colombian peace community

    La PlayitaIn Colombia´s largest port of Buenaventura, displacement, extortion, and brutal murders have reached a fever pitch. Driven by illegal armed actors and powerful economic interests, the violence in Colombia´s most dangerous city is documented in a special Human Rights Watch report released last month and was the topic of an upcoming debate in the Colombian Senate.

    But this month, the community of  La Playita, one of the oceanfront neighborhoods most impacted by port expansion and illegal armed groups, took a brave stand against fear and violence. Accompanied by the Interchurch Justice and Peace Commission (JyP) and international NGOs, including Witness for Peace, they began the process of establishing the first-ever urban humanitarian zone--an area free of armed actors-- in Colombia, calling it the Puente Nayero humanitarian space. The first week culminated with a general assembly in which families committed to participating in a humanitarian space governed by the regulations they created. 

    The success of this project depends on both physical accompaniment on the ground and international attention from afar. Will you send a brief message of support to the families in the Puente Nayero humanitarian space? The Witness for Peace Colombia team will translate English messages to Spanish and share them with La Playita.

  • Adelante! Peace with Justice for ALL Colombians

    You know the truth about Colombia.

    Politicians in Washington claim more military aid and the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement improve security and foster economic growth.

    Make your voice heard today because you know that the $9.4 billion in aid provided to Colombia since 2000, 72% of which has been military aid, has failed to bring peace to Colombia. More than 5 million Colombians have been displaced from their homes as a result of the conflict and nearly 300,000 people have been either forcibly disappeared or killed since the conflict began over half a century ago. And a NAFTA-styled free trade agreement may boost corporate profits, but it will also put workers and the environment at risk.

    Now is your chance to tell Washington the truth. Join thousands from across the United States in a National Day of Action for Peace in Colombia by contacting your representatives in Washington to call for peace and economic justice for Colombia.

    Please fill out the form below to send an email message to your representatives in Washington.

    When thousands speak with one voice, Washington must listen.

  • Brutal Attack on Lenca Family in Río Blanco, Honduras--Take Action Now!

    María Santos Domínguez from Rio Blanco, Honduras, was attacked by seven men with machetes on March 5 while walking home, according to a COPINH (Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras).  Maria stated that before she was surrounded, she was talking on her cell phone with her husband Santos Roque Domínguez, who was worried about constant threats the family had been receiving. María told him that she was surrounded and Santos rushed out of the house with their 12-year-old son Paulo to look for her. When they found María, she was already badly injured by machete cuts and was being hit with sticks and stones. Roque begged the attackers not to kill her while Paulo rushed to help his mother. One of the attackers cut off Paulo’s ear and part of his face. They also attacked Roque, who sustained serious injuries as well. All three were hospitalized and are recovering, according to  COPINH. 

    María is an indigenous leader in her region and a vocal human rights defender. She, her husband, and other community members in Río Blanco have been demanding that the Honduran government and the company DESA, responsible for the hydroelectric project Agua Zarca in Río Blanco,  respect the Lenca community’s land title. The community has been engaged in peaceful opposition to the dam   since April 2013. 

    Take action now to denounce this crime against a peaceful indigenous protester in Río Blanco, Honduras.

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    María Santos Domínguez de Río Blanco, Honduras, fue atacada por siete hombres con machetes, el 5 de marzo, mientras caminaba hacia su casa, según COPINH (Consejo de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras). María afirmo que antes de que la rodearan, ella estaba hablando por su teléfono celular con su esposo Santos Roque Domínguez, quien estaba preocupado por las constantes amenazas que la familia había estado recibiendo. María le dijo que ella estaba rodeada y Santos salió corriendo de la casa con su hijo Paulo de 12 años de edad. Cuando encontraron a María, ella ya estaba gravemente herida con lesiones de machete y estaba siendo golpeada con palos y piedras. Roque rogó a los atacantes de no matarla, mientras Paulo se apresuró a ayudar a su madre. Uno de los atacantes le cortó la oreja y parte de la cara de Paulo. También atacaron Roque, quien sufrió heridas graves también. Los tres fueron hospitalizados y se están recuperando, según COPINH.

    María es una líder indígena de su región y un defensora vocal de los derechos humanos. Ella, su marido y otros miembros de la comunidad de Río Blanco han estado exigiendo que el gobierno de Honduras y la empresa DESA, responsable del proyecto hidroeléctrico de Agua Zarca en Río Blanco, respetan los títulos de propiedad de la comunidad Lenca. La comunidad ha participado en la oposición pacífica a la presa desde abril de 2013.

    Tome medidas ahora para denunciar este crimen contra una manifestante indígena pacífica en Río Blanco, Honduras.

  • On NAFTA's 20th Anniversary, Stop Free Trade Expansion

    (Español abajo.) Scroll below the Spanish text to enter your information, edit your letter, and send your message.

    January 1st marked the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA was the first free trade agreement (FTA) between a developing country and two developed nations (Mexico, the United States, and Canada). It was also the first FTA to intentionally create protections and benefits for transnational corporations and foreign investors. Thanks to NAFTA, the last 20 years have been immensely profitable for transnational corporations, but in equal manner disastrous for the vast majority of citizens and residents of North America.

    In Mexico, NAFTA has devastated the agricultural sector, and the way of life for millions of farmers and indigenous people. Food prices have increased, as has migration, while local production and workers’ rights have diminished. All sectors of the economy have seen increased privatization, and internationally funded megaprojects are threatening community relations, the environment, and human health.

    NAFTA’s effects on the people of the United States and Canada have also been extremely harmful.

    Despite NAFTA’s obviously negative impacts on the populations of these three countries, similar FTAs have been implemented across the world.

    The United States is engaged in several FTAs with Latin America, including CAFTA, the FTA with Colombia, and with Panama. And we are currently negotiating a much bigger FTA: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

    12 countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States) have been negotiating the TPP for four years. The meetings related to the TPP have been secret to the general public, but open to transnational corporations, who are working hard to advocate for conditions that increase their profits and protect their interests. More than 600 official, overwhelmingly corporate, “trade advisors” have special access to the discussions and the TPP text.

    The TPP could be the most dangerous FTA to date. We ask that you stand with the workers, families, indigenous groups, and local producers of these 12 countries, and ask your legislators to oppose Fast Track authority for the TPP.

    We and the people of North America (and of all other countries involved in the TPP) need your solidarity to stop this dangerous FTA. Help us stop the TPP so that we don’t expand the same catastrophic mistake we made 20 years ago. 

    Take action below!

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    Bajo el siguiente texto, ponga su información, edite su carta, y mande su mensaje.

    El primero de enero marcó el aniversario número 20 del Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (TLCAN). El TLCAN fue el primer Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) entre un país en vía de desarrollo con dos países desarrollados (México, Canadá y Estados Unidos). También fue el primer TLC que creó protecciones y beneficios para las corporaciones transnacionales y l@s inversionistas extranjeros. Gracias al TLCAN, los últimos 20 años han sido increíblemente rentables para las corporaciones transnacionales, pero inmensamente desastrosos para la mayoría de l@s ciudadan@s y residentes de América del Norte.

    En México el TLCAN ha devastado al sector de la agricultura, y la forma de vida de millones de campesin@s y de personas indígenas. Los precios de la comida han aumentado exorbitantemente, y también ha aumentado la migración, mientras que la producción local y los derechos de l@s trabajador@s continúan disminuyendo. Ha habido un aumento en la privatización de todos los sectores económicos y en el número de megaproyectos financiados por corporaciones transnacionales, los cuales amenazan los tejidos comunitarios, el medio ambiente, y la salud humana.

    Los efectos del TLCAN en la gente de Estados Unidos (más abajo en el enlace) y Canadá también han sido muy dañinos.

    A pesar de que obviamente el TLCAN ha tenido muchos impactos negativos en las poblaciones de estos tres países, TLCs similares han sido implementados por todo el mundo.

    Los Estados Unidos están involucrados en varios TLCs con Latinoamérica, incluyendo el TLCAC (CAFTA en inglés), el TLC con Colombia, y el TLC con Panamá (más abajo en el enlace). Actualmente están negociando un TLC mucho más grande: el Tratado Trans-Pacífico (TTP).

    12 países (Australia, Brunéi, Canadá, Chile, Japón, Malasia, México, Nuevo Zelanda, Perú, Singapur, Vietnam, y los Estados Unidos) han estado negociando el TTP por cuatro años. Las reuniones de las negociaciones han sido secretas para el público general, pero a ellas han sido invitadas corporaciones transnacionales que están trabajando fuertemente para crear condiciones que incrementen sus ganancias y protejan sus intereses. Más de 600 “consejer@s de comercio” oficiales, la mayoría miembros de corporaciones, han tenido acceso a estas discusiones y al texto del TTP.

    El TTP podría ser el TLC más peligroso que haya visto el mundo. Por favor, demuestre su solidaridad con l@s trabajador@s, familias, grupos indígenas, y productor@s locales de estos 12 países, y pídale a sus legislador@s que se opongan a la autorización de Vía Rápida (Fast Track authority) para el TTP. 

    Nosotr@s y las personas de América del Norte (y de todos los otros países involucrados con el TTP) necesitamos de su solidaridad para parar a este peligroso TLC. Ayúdenos a parar el TTP para que no se amplifiquen los mismos errores catastróficos que sucedieron hace 20 años. 

    ¡Tome acción abajo!

  • Defend a Mexican Community's Rights to Say No to Mining

    Scroll below the Spanish text below, click on "Select this recipient," edit your letter, enter your information, and send your message.

    They had already said “no.” Last February, the community assembly of the town of Magdalena Teitipac, in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, voted in favor of removing the Royal Silver mining company from the town’s communal lands. Although the company remained, mining was suspended. In August, the city council decided to further “prohibit all work related to the exploration and/or exploitation of mineral and natural resources that belong to the community.” These actions are in response to an intensification of mining in the region that has been promoted by NAFTA.

     

    Then, on Monday, November 25, the town’s municipal authorities received official correspondence from Vicente Jesús Aranda Vásquez, an engineer with the Secretariat of Tourism and Economic Development, informing them that the General Directorate of Mining Regulation would be coming to Magdalena Teitipac on a compliance verification visit for mining works carried out in 2012. Upon receiving this correspondence, local authorities responded that due to decisions previously made regarding mining in the town, it would not be possible to receive the General Directorate in the community for the verification visit.

     

    In response, on November 28, municipal authorities received two phone calls from Guillermo Espinoza Aranda, the Undersecretary of Development and Economic Advancement. In an attempt to intimidate and threaten the local authorities, he told them, “You are obligated to receive us, you cannot say that you won’t…we are going to arrive tomorrow to do the testing regardless, even though you don’t want us to.”

     

    Although the compliance visit wasn't carried out, the community fears that this situation will once again generate confrontations and violence. These actions by the Mexican government are clear violations of the right of the people of Magdalena Teitipac to self-determination and free, informed, and prior consent, as protected by the Mexican Constitution and international agreements concerning the rights of indigenous peoples.

     

    Mexico is the world’s top producer of silver. Since 1992, the Mexican government has granted close to 31,000 concessions for over 800 mining projects. The 1994 passage of NAFTA then facilitated the entrance of transnational mining companies into Mexico. Communities with a history of mining report contamination of water resources, deforestation, and health side effects experienced by the local population. Very few of the profits from the mines end up staying in the community. Most importantly, the rights of communities to determine what is best for their situation are repeatedly ignored, if not violently repressed, when the decision is not in line with the priorities of the government and mining companies.

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    Debajo del siguiente texto haga clíc en "Select this recipient," edite su carta, ponga su información, y envíe su mensaje. 

    Ya habían dicho que "no". El pasado mes de febrero, la asamblea de la comunidad del pueblo de Magdalena Teitipac, en el estado de Oaxaca, México, votó a favor de la expulsión de la empresa minera Real de Plata de sus tierras comunales. Aunque la compañía no se fue, las actividades mineras se suspendieron. Posteriormente en agosto, la asamblea decidió "prohibir todo trabajo relacionado con la exploración y/o explotación de los recursos minerales y naturales que pertenecen a la comunidad." Estas acciones fueron una respuesta a la intensificación de la minería en la región, la cual ha sido facilitada por el TLCAN.

     

    La semana pasada, el 25 de noviembre, las autoridades municipales recibieron una carta oficial de Vicente Jesús Aranda Vásquez, un ingeniero que trabaja para la Secretaría de Turismo y Desarrollo Económico, informándoles que la Dirección General de Regulación Minera realizaría una visita a Magdalena Teitipac para verificar el cumplimiento de la actividad minera que se llevó a cabo en año 2012. Al recibir esta correspondencia, las autoridades municipales respondieron que debido a las decisiones previamente tomadas por el pueblo acerca de la minería no sería posible recibir a la Dirección General en la comunidad.

     

    Como respuesta a su negativa, el pasado jueves 28 de noviembre, las autoridades municipales recibieron dos amenazas por teléfono. La persona que llamó fue el subsecretario de Desarrollo y Promoción Económica, Guillermo Espinoza Aranda, quien les dijo: "Tienes la obligación de recibirnos, no pueden decir que no van a recibirnos...nosotros de todas formas llegaremos a hacer los trabajos mañana, aunque ustedes no quieran".

     

    Aunque no se llevó a cabo la visita, la comunidad teme que esta situación llegue a generar confrontaciones y violencia. Las acciones del gobierno mexicano son violaciones claras del derecho a la libre determinación y Consentimiento Previo, Libre e Informado del pueblo de Magdalena Teitipac; derecho que está garantizado por la Constitución mexicana y los tratados internacionales relacionados con los derechos de los pueblos indígenas.

     

    México ocupa el primer lugar en la producción de plata en el mundo. Desde 1992, el gobierno mexicano ha otorgado cerca de 31.000 concesiones para más de 800 proyectos mineros. La implementación del TLCAN en 1994 facilitó la entrada de las compañías mineras transnacionales a México. Las comunidades que históricamente han tenido minas en sus territorios han reportado que la minería ha generado contaminación en el agua, deforestación, y varios efectos negativos en la salud de los residentes locales. Además, un muy bajo porcentaje de las ganancias generadas por las minas se quedan en las comunidades. Lo más preocupante es que los derechos de las comunidades de determinar su futuro y sus prioridades son ignorados repetidamente, o reprimidos violentamente, cuando sus decisiones no coinciden con las prioridades del gobierno y de las empresas mineras.

    ¡Tome acción abajo! Haga clíc en "Select this recipient," edite su carta, ponga su información, y envíe su mensaje.

  • Colombian Unionist Murdered: U.S. Must Pressure For Justice and Protections.

    Tell the Department of Labor to pressure the Colombian government for justice for trade unionist Óscar López’s murder, and to take steps to prevent violence against other trade unionists.

    Below the Spanish text, edit your letter and enter your information to send your message.

    Colombian trade unionist Óscar López Triviño was murdered Saturday evening, November 9, in Bugalagrande, Valle del Cauca. He had worked for Nestlé for 25 years and was a member of the Sinaltrainal union. The day before Óscar was killed, Sinaltrainal leaders received a text message with a death threat from the paramilitary group “Los Urabeños.” 

    In 2011, The U.S. and Colombia signed the Labor Action Plan, which includes promises to increase protection for people under threat because of their union activities and to combat impunity in cases involving union members and labor activists. However, according to a report released in October 2013 by the offices of Congressmen George Miller and Jim McGovern, in Colombia “Killings have a level of impunity of 93.4%, while death threats have an astonishing impunity level of 99.9 percent.” 

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    Dígale al Departamento de Trabajo estadounidense que presione al gobierno colombiano para garantizar la justicia por el asesinato del sindicalista Óscar López y tomar medidas para prevenir la violencia contra otr@s sindicalistas colombian@s.

    Abajo, edite su carta y ponga su información para enviar su mensaje.

    El sindicalista colombiano Óscar López Triviño fue asesinado el sábado, 9 de noviembre, en Bugalagrande, Valle del Cauca. López había trabajado para Nestlé en Colombia durante 25 años y era miembro del sindicato Sinaltrainal. El día antes que Óscar fue asesinado, dirigentes de Sinaltrianal habían recibido una amenaza de muerte, por el grupo paramilitar "Los Urabeños," a través de un mensaje de texto. 

    En el 2011, EE.UU. y Colombia firmaron el Plan de Acción Laboral, que incluye promesas para mejorar la protección a personas amenazadas debido a sus actividades sindicales y combatir la impunidad en los casos que involucran sindicalistas y activistas laborales. Sin embargo, según un informe emitido octubre del 2013 por las oficinas de los Congresistas estadounidenses George Miller y Jim McGovern, en Colombia “Los asesinatos tienen un nivel de impunidad de 93,4% y las amenazas de muerte tienen un nivel de impunidad asombroso de 99,9%.”

  • Stand up for human rights in Honduras!

    Since the June 2009 coup d’état in Honduras, criminalization of human rights defenders in the country has dramatically escalated. The U.S. government continues to fund Honduran police and military forces in the name of the War on Drugs - despite overwhelming evidence that the police and military are routinely involved in violating the human rights of innocent Honduran citizens.

    The situation in the indigenous community of Río Blanco is particularly concerning. This community has peacefully mobilized in opposition to the Agua Zarca project, a hydroelectric dam in the community of Río Blanco, Intibuca. The dam is a project of the Honduran company DESA and other collaborators. The indigenous community of Rio Blanco contends that the dam is an illegal. In response to the protests, the area has been militarized.

    In the wake of this militarization, at least one person has been killed. Additionally, the leaders of the Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), which has been supporting the community of Rio Blanco, have been subject to death threats and intimidation. Berta Cáceres, Aureliano Molina, and Tomás Gomez Membreño have been persecuted by the state of Honduras for their work defending these communities. An order for arrest has been issued for both Berta and Aureliano - and Tomás is subject to restrictive measures.

    Please take action below to call on your members of Congress to stand up for human rights in Honduras.

  • Tell Your Rep to Sign the Dear Colleague Letter to Stop Fast Track for the TPP!

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), known to many as "NAFTA on steroids," recently concluded its 19th round of secretive negotiations, and could soon be passed without the deliberation of your elected officials if it is given "Fast Track" treatment on Capitol Hill. The equation is simple: if we stop Fast Track, it will be virtually impossible for the TPP to be approved. If Fast Track is granted, it will be extremely difficult to stop the TPP. That's why it is critical that you take action and/or make a call today! We know the devastating effects that NAFTACAFTA, and the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement have had: we can't afford more of the same kinds of trade agreements.

    Enter your information below the Spanish text to edit and send your message to your Representative asking them to sign the Dear Colleague Letter opposing Fast Track for the TPP.

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    El Tratado Trans-Pacífico (TPP, por sus siglas en inglés), conocido a much@s como "el TLCAN con esteroides," recientemente ha terminado su 19 ronda de negociaciones sigilosas en Bruneí, y pronto podría pasar sin la deliberación de sus funcionari@s elect@s si se lo diera el tratamiento por el proceso "Fast Track" ("Vía Rápida") en el Capitolio. La equación es sencilla: si paramos Fast Track, será prácticamente imposible aprobarse el TPP. Si se concede Fast Track, será muy difícil parar el TPP. ¡Por eso es crítico que usted tome acción y/o llame hoy! Sabemos de los efectos devastadores del TLCAN (NAFTA), TLCAC-RD (CAFTA), y el TLC EE.UU-Colombiano podemos soportar más de estos tipos de acuerdos.

    Agregue su información abajo para editar y enviar a su representante un mensaje pidiéndole que firme la carta estilo "Estimad@ Colega," en oposición a Fast Track para el TPP.

  • Take action to protect key WFP partner, Ricardo Esquivia
    Ricardo Esquivia speaks to a Witness for Peace delegation in Colombia. Photo courtesy of El Puente (www.webelpuente.com).

    Ricardo Esquivia, a renowned Colombian human rights lawyer, peace advocate, religious leader and a great friend to Witness for Peace, will be arrested by the military on false charges of being a guerrilla if we don't stop it. 

    In 2005, Ricardo moved from Colombia's capital to work more closely with communities and churches hard hit by the war on the Caribbean coast. That year he founded Sembrandopaz with the goal of accompanying community processes of justice and peacebuilding in Montes de María and the Caribbean region of Colombia. Since 2012, Sembrandopaz has been supporting a community movement of the High Mountain Zone in Montes de María. This movement carried out a peace march from April 5 to 8 of 2013 to demand a dialogue with local, state and national governments, which began in San Jacinto on April 7th and continues today.

    The threats began shortly after the peace march.

    On September 13, a threatening letter signed by paramilitaries claimed community organizers were members of the FARC guerrillas. Just days later, prosecutors arrested one of the threatened community leaders, alleging that he is a member of the FARC and charging him with criminal conspiracy, homicide, forced displacement, extortion, and other charges.

    Now a well-placed source has told Ricardo that he is next. This source has indicated that the military is preparing to arrest Ricardo, alleging that he is also a member of the FARC.

    WFP has known Ricardo for thirteen years, as Ricardo was instrumental in his then role as director of Justapaz, in Witness for Peace beginning work in Colombia. You may have met Ricardo during a Witness for Peace delegation to Colombia or on one of his many visits to the United States. Ricardo has been an advisor to Witness for Peace for many years and has long been recognized internationally for his commitment to human rights, peace and nonviolence, evidenced by him winning the prestigious Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding peace award.

    Please join us in calling on Congress and the U.S. Ambassador to Colombia to speak out against the persecution of Ricardo and the community organizers with whom he works. Click here to take action today. You will be standing up for one of the most inspiring peace leaders in Colombia.

    Tome acción para proteger a un contraparte clave del APP, Ricardo Esquivia

    Ricardo Esquivia, un reconocido abogado colombiano de derechos humanos, persona clave en el movimiento por la paz, líder religioso y un gran amigo de Witness for Peace, será detenido por los militares bajo falsas acusaciones de pertenecer a la guerrilla si no actuamos.


    En 2005, Ricardo se trasladó desde la capital de Colombia para trabajar más de cerca con las comunidades e iglesias afectadas por la guerra en la costa Caribe. Ese año fundó Sembrandopaz con el objetivo de acompañar los procesos comunitarios de justicia y paz en los Montes de María y la región caribeña de Colombia. Desde 2012, Sembrandopaz ha estado apoyando un movimiento comunitario de la zona de alta montaña en los Montes de María. Este movimiento llevó a cabo una marcha por la paz del 5 al 8 de abril de 2013 para exigir un diálogo con el gobierno local, regional y nacional, que se inició en San Jacinto, el 7 de abril y continúa hasta hoy.

    Las amenazas comenzaron poco después de la marcha por la paz.

    El 13 de septiembre, un panfleto con amenazas firmado por paramilitares afirmó que organizadores comunitarios eran miembros de la guerrilla de las FARC. Apenas unos días más tarde, los fiscales arrestaron a uno de los líderes de las comunidades amenazadas, alegando que él es un miembro de las FARC y acusándolo de concierto para delinquir, homicidio, desplazamiento forzado y extorsión, entre otros cargos.

    Ahora, una fuente ha indicado que vienen por Ricardo. Esta fuente ha indicado que el ejército se prepara para detener a Ricardo, alegando que él también es un miembro de las FARC.

    Conocimos a Ricardo hace trece años, ya que Ricardo, el entonces director de Justapaz, fue clave en iniciar el trabajo de Acción Permanente por la Paz en Colombia. Es posible que ud. haya conocido a Ricardo durante una delegación de Acción Permanente por la Paz en Colombia o en una de sus visitas a los Estados Unidos. Ricardo ha sido asesor de Acción Permanente por la Paz durante muchos años y siempre ha sido reconocido internacionalmente por su compromiso con los derechos humanos, la paz y la no violencia, evidenciado por los prestigiosos premios de la paz que le han dado, como el del Centro Tanenbaum el Entendimiento Interreligioso.

    Por favor, únase a nosotros para exigir al Congreso y al embajador de EE.UU. en Colombia para que se pronuncien en contra de la persecución de Ricardo y de los organizadores comunitarios con las que él trabaja. Haga clic aquí para tomar medidas hoy. Usted estará tomando acción por uno de los líderes más inspiradores de la paz en Colombia.

    TAKE ACTION HERE:

  • Solidarity with Indigenous Honduran Activists: Tell The U.S. Government to Respect Rights/Solidaridad con Activistas Indígenas de Honduras: Dígale al Gobierno de EUA que Respete los Derechos

    On September 10th and 11th, people across the country and the world are standing in solidarity with indigenous communities in Honduras. On September 12, three leaders of the Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) will be the subjects of a hearing for alleged misappropriation, coercion, and up to $3 million in damages to private property of the Honduran company DESA, which is currently constructing an illegal hydroelectric dam called Agua Zarca in indigenous Lenca territory. 

    Tell the U.S. government to stand up for the accused, and pressure the Honduran government to uphold universally guaranteed rights to free speech and assembly established by the United Nations. Further, the U.S. should demand that Honduran authorities complete a thorough and well-rounded investigation that is not steered by DESA and the U.S.-funded Honduran state security forces.

    Below the Spanish text click "Include recipient" under each official listed (it will then say "Exclude recipient," but please do not click on that). Then click "Use Selected Recipients," edit the letter text, and enter your information to send. 

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    El 10 y 11 de septiembre, gente por todo el país y el mundo se plantean en solidaridad (enlace en inglés) con comunidades indígenas en Honduras. El 12 de septiembre tres dirigentes del Consejo de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH) se presentarán en una audiencia por presunta usurpación, coacción y hasta $3 millones de daños a la propiedad privada de la compañía hondureña DESA, que está actualmente construyendo un proyecto hidroeléctrico, llamado Agua Zarca, en territorio indígena Lenca. Berta Cáceres, Tomás Gómez Membreño y Aureliano Molina están siendo criminalizad@s por su apoyo a la comunidad Lenca en La Tejera, Río Blanco. 

    Diga al gobierno de EUA que debe de defender a l@s acusad@s, y presionar al gobierno hondureño para sostener los derechos universalmente garantizados a la libertad de expresión y a la asamblea, establecidos por las Naciones Unidas. Además, EUA debe demandar que las autoridades hondureñas elaboren una investigación meticulosa y comprehensiva que no esté influida por DESA y las fuerzas de seguridad del estado hondureño, fundadas por EUA. 

    Haga clíc en "Include recipient" debajo de cada funcionari@ presentad@ abajo (luego verá "Exclude recipient," pero por favor no haga clíc en eso). Luego haga clíc en "Use Selected Recipients," edite el texto de la carta, y ponga su información para enviar.

  • Mexican Environmental Activist Murdered. U.S. Embassy: Speak Out./Activista Ambientalista Mexicano Asesinado: Embajada de EE.UU: Hable Claro.

    Tell the U.S. Embassy in Mexico to support justice for these crimes, and promote steps that will protect, not victimize, activists like Noé. Below the Spanish text, click on "Select this Recipient" next to the picture of the Ambassador, edit your letter to your preference, and enter your information to send the letter.

    On August 2, 2013, Noé Vázquez Ortiz was stoned to death by unidentified individuals in his hometown of Amatlán de los Reyes in the Mexican state of Veracruz, with no response from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. Noé had gone out early that morning to gather leaves, seeds, and flowers for the opening ritual of the 10th Anniversary of the Mexican Movement of People Affected by Dams and in Defense of Rivers (MAPDER). MAPDER seeks to protect the rights of communities in the face of an onslaught of hydroelectric dam projects in Mexico. Noé was a craftsman. Through his work he promoted his culture and raised awareness about the destruction of the environment, especially in the mountains of Veracruz.

     

    The local, state, and federal governments had been notified of the 10th Anniversary celebration, and the governor of the state of Veracruz had guaranteed its security. Since Noé’s murder, there have been numerous problems with the investigation, including the refusal of the Amatlán’s Public Ministry to receive the initial report filed by Noé’s family on the day of the crime. 

     

    Since 2010 the number of hydroelectric projects in the state of Veracruz has increased dramatically. Currently there are plans for 112 privately-funded dams throughout the state. In Noé’s town, the hydroelectric dam project El Naranjal threatens not only Amatlán, but also at least five other municipalities in the region, and would affect an estimated 30,000 residents of the area. 

     

    Threats and violence against community leaders have become more commonplace in Mexico as minimally-regulated private capital, promoted by NAFTA and the Mesoamerica Project, rushes to construct megaprojects such as hydroelectric dams, wind farms, and mines in communities without respecting their fundamental right to prior consultation. The Mexican Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal found that the Naranjal dam project violated the right of prior consultation of six municipalities in Veracruz. It also reported that coercive methods were used to acquire property where construction is to take place.

     

    NAFTA opened the floodgates for transnational investment in Mexico. In Latin America, Mexico is the number one destination for foreign direct investment. Of the more than one hundred changes that were made to the Mexican constitution prior to NAFTA, one of the most devastating was opening up formerly communal land to privatization. One of the consequences has been the construction of a wave of megaprojects, like the Naranjal dam. The rights to land use are typically granted by the federal government without consulting the communities beforehand, even though the land belongs to the communities and they are most directly affected by the projects. Let’s honor Noé’s legacy by supporting the right to land and self-determination.

    --

    Dígale a la embajada estadounidense en México que insista en la justicia para estos crímenes, y que promueva medidas que protejan, y no victimicen, a activistas como Noé. Abajo del siguiente texto, haga clíc en "Select this Recipient" al lado de la foto del embajador, edite su carta (en inglés) según sus preferencias, y ponga su información para enviar la carta.

    El 2 de agosto del 2013, Noé Vázquez Ortiz fue asesinado a pedradas por sujetos de identidad desconocida en su pueblo natal de Amatlán de los Reyes, en el estado mexicano de Veracruz, sin respuesta alguna por parte de la Embajada de EE.UU. en México. Noé había salido temprano esa mañana para recoger hojas, semillas y flores para el ritual de apertura del 10º Aniversario del Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Presas y en Defensa de los Ríos (MAPDER). MAPDER busca proteger los derechos de las comunidades frente a una avalancha de proyectos de represas hidroeléctricas en México. Noé era un artesano. A través de su obra, promovió su cultura y creó conciencia sobre la destrucción del medio ambiente, especialmente en las montañas de Veracruz.

     
     
     
     

    Los gobiernos locales, estatales y federales habían sido notificados de la celebración del 10º aniversario, y el gobernador del estado de Veracruz había garantizado su seguridad. Desde el asesinato de Noé, se han producido numerosos problemas con la investigación, incluyendo la negativa del Ministerio Público de Amatlán de recibir el informe inicial, presentado por la familia de Noé en el día del crimen.

     
     
     
     
     

    Desde el 2010 el número de proyectos hidroeléctricos en el estado de Veracruz se ha incrementado dramáticamente. Actualmente hay planes para 112 presas de financiación privada en todo el estado. En el pueblo de Noé, el proyecto de la presa hidroeléctrica El Naranjal amenaza no sólo Amatlán, sino también por lo menos otros cinco municipios de la región, y afectaría a un@s 30.000 residentes de la zona.

     
     
     
     
     

    Las amenazas y la violencia contra l@s líderes comunitari@s se han vuelto más comunes en México, mientras el capital privado poco regulado, promovido por el Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (el TLCAN) y el Proyecto Mesoamérica, fomenta la construcción desenfrenada de los megaproyectos como las represas hidroeléctricas, parques eólicos, y minas en las comunidades, sin respetar su derecho fundamental a la consulta previa. El Tribunal Permanente de los Pueblos Mexicanos declaró que el proyecto de la presa Naranjal violó el derecho a la consulta previa de los seis municipios de Veracruz. También informó de que los métodos coercitivos se utilizaron para adquirir bienes donde la construcción se llevará a cabo.

     
     
     
     
     

    El TLCAN abrió las compuertas para la inversión transnacional en México. En América Latina, México es el principal destino de la inversión extranjera directa. De los más de cien cambios que se hicieron a la Constitución Mexicana antes del TLCAN, uno de los más devastadores fue abrir las tierras anteriormente comunales a la privatización. Una de las consecuencias ha sido la construcción de una ola de megaproyectos, como la presa de Naranjal. Los derechos del uso de la tierra suelen ser otorgados por el gobierno federal sin consultar a las comunidades de antemano, a pesar de que la tierra pertenece a las comunidades y estas están más directamente afectadas por los proyectos. Honremos el legado de Noé por apoyar el derecho a la tierra y a la autodeterminación.

  • Take Action to Protect WFP and Other Accompaniers in Honduras!/¡Actúe para Proteger a APP y Otr@s Acompañantes en Honduras!
    On July 25th, 2013, French citizen Orlane Vidal woman and Swiss citizen Daniel Langmeier, both international human rights accompaniers the the Honduran International Accompaniment Project (PROAH), were kidnapped and threatened for two and a half hours by armed guards of the mining operations of Minerales Victoria, in the community of Nueva Esperanza, Atlántida Department, Honduras. Vidal and Langmeier had met the previous day with members of Nueva Esperanza to discuss protection issues and international accompaniment for the community, which has been protesting Minerales Victoria's mining operations in the community. Armed men had been present in Nueva Esperanza for nearly two months prior to this kidnapping, terrorizing the community for resisting the mining activities. There has been no response from Honduran authorities and the U.S. Embassy, and armed men continue to be present in the community.

    In August-September 2013 a 30th anniversary Witness for Peace delegation traveled to Honduras to accompany human rights defenders in various areas of the country. Delegates documented threats and violence against human rights defenders by U.S.-funded state security forces. Accompaniment of human rights defenders is a major part of WFP's work in Honduras. Tell the U.S. Embassy in Honduras and the State Department that they must be vocal in support of accompaniers in Honduras, and take steps to ensure that their work is not undermined. Enter your information below the Spanish text, and edit and send your message. Click on "include recipient" for both the Ambassador and Benjamin Gedan at the State Department, and then click "include selected recipients."

    --
    El 25 de julio de 2013, ciudadana francesa Orlane Vidal y ciudadano suizo Daniel Langmeier, dos acompañantes internacionales de derechos humanos de Proyecto de Acompañamiento Internacional en Honduras (PROAH), fueron secuestrad@s y amenazad@s por dos horas y media por guardias armados de las operaciones mineras de Minerales Victoria, en la comunidad de Nueva Esperanza, departamento de Atlántida, Honduras. Vidal y Langmeier se reunieron el día anterior con miembr@s de Nueva Esperanza para discutir asuntos de la protección y el acompañamiento internacional para la comunidad, que protesta las operaciones mineras de Minerales Victoria en su comunidad. Habían hombres armados en Nueva Esperanza durante casi dos meses antes de este secuestro, aterrorizando a la comunidad por su resistencia a las actividades mineras. No ha habido una respuesta de las autoridades de Honduras y la Embajada de EE.UU., y los hombres armados siguen presentes en la comunidad.

    Para celebrar el 30 aniversario de Acción Permanente por la Paz, una delegación viajó a Honduras en agosto y septiembre del 2013 para acompañar a l@s defensor@s de derechos. L@s delegad@s documentaron las amenazas y la violencia contra l@s defensor@s de derechos humanos por las fuerzas de seguridad estatales, respaldadas por EE.UU. El acompañamiento de l@s defensor@s de derechos humanos es una parte importante del trabajo de APP en Honduras. Dígales a la Embajada de EE.UU. en Honduras y al Departamento de Estado de EE.UU que hagan claro su apoyo a l@s acompañantes en Honduras, y que tomen medidas para asegurarse de que el trabajo l@s acompañante no se vea socavado. Llene su información abajo, y edite y envíe su carta (en inglés). Haga clíc en "include recipient" para la Embajadora (Kubiske) y Benjamin Gedan del Departmamento del Estado; y luego, haga clíc en "include selected recipients."
  • Human Rights Defender Killed by Honduran Army/Defensor de Derechos Humanos Asesinado por el Ejército Hondureño

    Tomás García was participating in a peaceful mobilization against a hydroelectric dam on the morning of Monday, July 15, 2013, when he was shot and killed by members of the Honduran army. According to COPINH, the Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (link in Spanish), members of the First Battalion of Army Engineers, stationed in Siguatepeque, are responsible for García’s murder. They are also responsible for shooting and injuring his son, Allan García Domínguez, age 17, who was taken to the hospital and is in serious condition.

    Take action now! Contact the US Embassy in Honduras. Tell them to pressure the Honduran government to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice. And contact your member of Congress to demand that the U.S. stop supporting the Honduran security forces that slaughter members of their own population. Scroll past the Spanish text below to enter your information, and edit and send your message to the Embassy and Congress. You must click on "Select this recipient" to then also select your members of Congress.

    --

    Tomás García estaba participando en una movilización pacífica en contra de una presa hidroeléctrica en la mañana del lunes, el 15 de julio, 2013, cuando fue asesinado a tiros por miembros del ejército hondureño. Según COPINH, el Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas y de Honduras, los miembros del Primer Batallón de Ingenieros del Ejército, estacionado en Siguatepeque, son responsables por el asesinato de García. Tambien son responsables por disparar y herir a su hijo, Allan García Domínguez, de 17 años, quien fue llevado al hospital y se encuentra en estado grave.

    ¡Tome acción ahora! Póngase en contacto con la Embajada de los EE.UU. en Honduras. Dígales que presionen al gobierno de Honduras para llevar a los autores de este crimen a la justicia. Y exija a sus miembros del Congreso que los EE.UU. deje de apoyar a las fuerzas de seguridad hondureñas que matan a su propia población. Lllene su información abajo para editar y enviar su mensaje a la Embajada y al Congreso. Hay que hacer clíc en "Select this recipient" para después también seleccionar a sus miembr@s del Congreso.

  • Congress: Defeat These Unjust Immigration Bills./Congreso: Derrote Estos Proyectos de Ley Sobre Inmigración Injustos

    Join Witness for Peace in continuing to stand up for immigrant rights and justice, and send a message (scroll past the Spanish text below) to your Representative to vote against several bills that would push the final immigration bill in a vastly wrong direction. Or, if you're able, you can call via the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, or toll-free at 1-866-220-0044; or, you can find your Representative's direct line here: http://capwiz.com/fconl/directory/congdir.tt. Ask to speak with their immigration aide. Email Walker Grooms at walker@witnessforpeace.org with the response you receive.

    Here's a short script you can use: "Hello, my name is ___, and I'm a constituent of Representative ____ from [City], and I'm calling to urge Representative ___ to vote against the SAFE Act, the Border Security Results Act, the Agricultural Guestworker Act, the Legal Workforce Act, and any other proposed bills that would harm human and civil rights, further criminalize immigrants, and further militarize border enforcement. These kinds of bills are the opposite of the much needed reforms to our immigration system. Please keep me updated about how Representative ____ will vote on these and similar measures concerning immigration."

    Or, scroll past the Spanish text below to enter your information and edit and send a message.

    (Photo: voxxi.com)

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    Unáse a Acción Permanente por la Paz para seguir defendiendo los derechos de y la justicia para l@s inmigrantes: envíe un mensaje (debajo de este texto) a su Representante para que vote en contra de varios proyectos de ley que llevarían la reforma migratoria comprehensiva en una dirección muy equivocada. O llame a su Representante a través de la línea central del Capitolio Estadounidense a 202-224-3121, al número gratuito, 1-866-220-0044; o a la línea directa de su Representante aquí (enlace en inglés): http://capwiz.com/fconl/directory/congdir.tt. Pida que se pase al/la asesor/a de inmigración (en inglés, "immigration aide"). Por favor, contacte a Walker Grooms a walker@witnessforpeace.org con la respuesta que reciba.

    Aquí hay un "guión," en inglés, que se puede utilizar: "Hello, my name is ___, and I'm a constituent of Representative ____ from [City], and I'm calling to urge Representative ___ to vote against the SAFE Act, the Border Security Results Act, the Agricultural Guestworker Act, the Legal Workforce Act, and any other proposed bills that would harm human and civil rights, further criminalize immigrants, and further militarize border enforcement. These kinds of bills are the opposite of the much needed reforms to our immigration system. Please keep me updated about how Representative ____ will vote on these and similar measures concerning immigration."

    Esto quiere decir, en español: "Hola, mi nombre es ___, y yo soy un/a constituyente del/la Representante ____ de [Ciudad], y estoy llamando para pedir que el/la Representante ____ vote en contra de los Proyectos de Ley "SAFE," "Resultados de la Seguridad Fronteriza," "Trabajador@s Huéspedes Agrícolas," "Fuerza Laboral Legal," y todos los demás proyectos de ley que dañarían los derechos humanos y civiles, criminalizarían aún más a l@s inmigrantes, y militarizarían aún más la vigilancia fronteriza. Estos tipos de proyectos de ley son lo contrario de las reformas que necesitan nuestro sistema de inmigración. Por favor manténgame informad@ acerca de cómo el/la Representante _____ votará sobre estas y otras medidas relacionadas con el tema de la inmigración."

    O, ponga su información abajo para editar y enviar un mensaje electrónico (en inglés).

    (Foto: voxxi.com)

  • Stop Repression of Small-Scale Farmers in Colombia/Pare la Represión de Campesin@s en Colombia

    Since June 19, small-scale farmers peacefully protesting in northern Colombia have been met with violent repression from state security forces, resulting in four deaths, at least 50 civilian injuries, two illegal detentions, property damage, and the displacement of over 160 people. This violence has led to restricted mobility for approximately 50,000 people, creating a food security and humanitarian crisis. At the heart of these protests is disagreement with two fundamental policies emanating from the United States: drug policy that focuses on supply-side eradication and Consolidation Policy that purports to achieve security through militarization. The protests grew when the government insisted that military participation be accepted in negotiating their development projects. Small-scale farmers throughout Colombia have been uniting to say that these policies don’t work, but that they have alternative proposals that do!

    Tell the U.S. Embassy and Congress to urge the Colombian government to listen to these proposals! Scroll past the Spanish below to fill in your information and send your messages. You must click "Select this recipient" for the Ambassador to enter your information to view, edit, and send your letters to all recipients.

    (Photo: terra.com.co)

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    Desde el 19 de junio, campesin@s quienes se encuentran protestando pacíficamente en el norte de Colombia han sido violentamente reprimid@s por las fuerzas publicas, resultando en cuatro muertes, por lo menos 50 heridas, dos detenciones ilegales, daños a propiedad privada y el desplazamiento de más de 160 personas. La violencia ha restringido la movilidad de aproximadamente 50.000 personas, creando una crisis alimentaria y humanitaria. El meollo de las protestas es un desacuerdo con dos políticas fundamentales emanando de los EE.UU: la política antinarcótica de erradicación desde el lado de la oferta y la Política de Consolidación que pretende lograr la seguridad a través de la militarización. Las protestas aumentaron cuando el gobierno insistió que se aceptara la participación del ejército en los proyectos de desarrollo. Campesin@s por todo Colombia se han unido para decir no sólo que esas políticas no funcionan, pero que ell@s tienen propuestas alternativas que sí funcionan!

     

    ¡Dígales a la Embajada Estadounidense y al Congreso que inste al gobierno colombiano que escuche a tales propuestas! Llene su información abajo y envíe su mensajes. Hay que hacer clíc en "Select this recipient" para el Embajador para llenar su información para ver, editar, y enviar sus cartas a tod@s l@s recipientes.

    (Foto: terra.com.co)

  • Stop Militarization in Indigenous Communities in Honduras/Pare la Militarización en las Comunidades Indígenas en Honduras

    (Español abajo.)

    In part because of international pressure from activists like you, a Honduran court verdict resulted in a partial victory for Berta Cáceres, one of the two leaders who was detained by U.S.-backed Honduran state security forces in the Blanco River area. Unfortunately, threats and intimidation have continued. According to indigenous rights organization COPINH, the Lenca community of La Tejera has been militarized, with soldiers and police nearing homes, taking pictures of community members, and threatening arrests and evictions. Honduran state security forces have surrounded the protestors' road blockade. COPINH reports that on June 29 one of its members who resides in a Blanco River community was attacked with machetes by supporters of the hydroelectric project, and that Lenca indigenous people in the area have recently received death threats from hired assassins.

    La Tejera and other indigenous communities in the Blanco River area should not have to live in fear of violence or threats for peaceably protesting the privatization of their resources. Tell the Embassy that this conduct by U.S.-supported forces is unacceptable. Take action now! Scroll past the Spanish below to fill in your information and edit and send your message.

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    En parte debido a la presión internacional por activistas como usted, un veredicto judicial de Honduras resultó en una victoria parcial para Berta Cáceres (enlace bilingüe), una de l@s dos líderes que fueron detenid@s por las fuerzas de seguridad estatales de Honduras, respaldadas por EEUU. Desafortunadamente, las amenazas y los actos de intimidación han continuado. La organización de derechos indígenas COPINH reporta que la comunidad Lenca de La Tejera ha sido militarizada, con el acercamiento de casas por militares y policías, la toma de fotos de personas y varias amenazas de detenciones y desalojos. Las fuerzas de seguridad estatales de Honduras también han rodeado el bloqueo de ruta de l@s manifestantes. COPINH reporta que uno de sus miembr@s fue atacado con machetes por partidari@s del proyecto hidroeléctrico el 29 de junio, y que personas indígenas Lenca en la zona recientemente han recibido amenazas de muerte por parte de sicari@s. 

    La Tejera y otras comunidades indígenas en la zona de Río Blanco no deberían tener que vivir con el temor de la violencia o las amenazas por protestar pacíficamente la privatización de sus recursos. Dígale a la Embajada que esta conducta por parte de estas fuerzas apoyadas por EEUU es inaceptable. ¡Tome acción ahora! Llene su información (en inglés) abajo, y edite y envíe su mensaje.

  • Tell Your Senators: NO to the Corker-Hoeven Amendment!/Dígales a Sus Senador@s: NO a la Enmienda Corker-Hoeven

    TODAY, the Senate will vote on the Corker-Hoeven Amendment to S. 744, the Senate's immigration bill. This amendment would require 700 total miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, purchasing $3 billion in new technology for border "security," and hiring 20,000 more border patrol agents before any green card could be issued under the S. 744 path to citizenship. We need you to call your senators, using the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 or toll-free at 1-866-220-0044; or, you can find your senators' direct lines here: http://capwiz.com/fconl/directory/congdir.tt. Ask them to OPPOSE THE CORKER-HOEVEN AMENDMENT. Tell them you don't want your tax dollars to make the border one of the most militarized borders in the world, with the increased human and civil rights violations that would produce. Email walker@witnessforpeace.org with the response you receive. Or, you can scroll past the Spanish below to enter your information and send your senators a message online.

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    HOY, el Senado votará sobre la Enmienda Corker-Hoeven al S. 744, el proyecto de ley de inmigración del Senado. Esta enmienda requeriría 700 millas totales de muro en la frontera México-Estados Unidos, la compra de $3 mil millones en nueva tecnología para la "seguridad" fronteriza, y la contratación de 20.000 más agentes fronteriz@s antes de cualquier tarjeta de residencia se expidiera bajo el propuesto camino a la ciudadanía del projecto de ley S. 744. Le pedimos que llame a sus senador@s a través de la centralita del Capitolio Estadounidense, a 202-224-3121, o al número gratuito, 1-866-220-0044; también se pueden encontrar líneas directas a sus senador@s aquí (enlace en inglés): http://capwiz.com/fconl/directory/congdir.tt. Pídales que SE OPONGAN A LA ENMIENDA CORKER-HOEVEN. Dígales (en inglés), "I don't want my tax dollars to make the border one of the most militarized borders in the world, with the increased human and civil rights violations that would produce." Esto quiere decir que usted no quiere que sus impuestos hagan la frontera una de las fronteras más militarizadas del mundo, con el aumento de violaciónes de derechos humanos y civiles que produciría. Envíe un correo a walker@witnessforpeace.org con la respuesta que reciba. O llene su información abajo y envíe un mensaje a sus senador@s en línea.

  • Stand up for justice in Honduras

    UPDATED JUNE 14

    Honduran police and military outside the hydroelectric project Agua Zarca. Photo credit: CICA

    For nearly two months Berta Cáceres and Tomás Gomez Membreño of COPINH (Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations in Honduras) have been standing with communities that live along the Blanco River where a hydro-electric dam is being constructed. Communities are terrified that they will lose access to this important source of water. COPINH leadership has worked in defense of the right to land and water and has subsequently been subject to death threats and intimidation. On May 24, Berta and Tomás were detained by U.S.-backed Honduran authorities. Both activists were released.

    At Berta Cáseres’ hearing on June 13 it was ruled that she is free to travel outside the country. Although the defense wanted a definitive stay, the case remains open with the possibility of the prosecution presenting new evidence. Marcelino Martínez, Berta’s lawyer, stated, “It was clear that members of the military were following orders and contradicted themselves.  The police didn’t carry out an investigation, they only repeated the military’s version.”

    In Honduras the criminalization of rights defenders is all too common. Human rights violations and impunity are rampant. Honduran state security forces, who receive arms and training from the U.S., are often among the alleged perpetrators. Courageous individuals put themselves at grave risk in calling for justice.

    Members of the U.S. Senate want answers. On Thursday, May 23rd, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) authored a letter addressed to Secretary of State John Kerry. The letter addresses ongoing human rights violations in Honduras, expressing concern of alleged participation on behalf of U.S.-backed security forces in such abuses. This is particularly important in the context of the upcoming general elections in November 2013. Human rights defenders in the country have begun to see an increase in rights abuses and repression and which they expect to continue leading up to the elections.

    State Department certifications, which are intended to assure that U.S. foreign assistance dollars support the rule of law in Honduras (per the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012), appear to contradict the reality on the ground.


    The letter asks State Department to:
    • provide Congress with a detailed assessment of the efficacy of current Honduran government efforts to address this issue as mandated by FY12 Appropriations language;
    • conduct a detailed review of specific State Department actions to help ensure that no U.S. funds are being used to support police implicated in human rights violations; and
    • make every reasonable effort to help ensure that Honduras’ upcoming November 2013 elections are free, fair and peaceful.

    -------------------------------------

    Ya son casi dos meses que Berta y Tomás han estado apoyando comunidades que viven a lo largo del Río Blanco, donde se está construyendo una presa hidroeléctrica denominada Agua Zarca. Las comunidades están aterrorizadas por perder el acceso a este fuente importante de agua con la privatización del río. COPINH ha trabajado en defensa de su derecho a la tierra y al agua y por eso ha sido sujeto a amenazas de muerte e intimidaciones. Los residentes de Río Blanco están experimentando un alto nivel de militarización en su pequeña comunidad. El 24 de mayo, Berta y Tomás fueron detenidos por oficiales hondureñ0s apoyados por Estados Unidos. Ambos activistas fueron dejados en libertad.

    En la audiencia Berta Cáseres el 13 de junio se falló que no hubo elementos suficientes de prueba contra la luchadora hondureña y que por ende recupera su posibilidad de viajar fuera del país. Aunque la defensa reclamaba el sobreseimiento definitivo, el juicio se mantendrá aún abierto y se aguarda que la parte acusatoria, el Estado a través de la Procuraduría de la República, debería aprobar nuevos elementos.  Martínez declaró, “Quedó evidenciado que los miembros del ejército entraron en grandes contradicciones y cumplían órdenes. La policía no realizó ninguna investigación sino que se limitó a repetir la versión del Ejército.”

    En Honduras la criminalización de los defensores de los derechos es demasiado común. Las violaciones de derechos humanos y la impunidad están generalizadas. Las fuerzas de seguridad del Estado de Honduras, los cuales reciben armas y entrenamiento de los EE.UU., muchas veces están entre los presuntos responsables. Individuos valientes se ponen en grave riesgo para pedir justicia.

    Los miembros del Senado de EE.UU. quieren respuestas. El jueves 23 de mayo el senador estadunidense Ben Cardin (Democrata-MD) escribió una carta dirigida al Secretario de Estado, John Kerry. La carta se dirige a las violaciones continuas de derechos humanos en Honduras, expresando su preocupación por la presunta participación de las fuerzas de seguridad, respaldadas por Estados Unidos, en tales abusos. Todo esto tiene un significado especial en el contexto de las próximas elecciones generales en noviembre del 2013. Los y las defensores de los derechos humanos en el país han comenzado a ver un aumento de las violaciones de los derechos y de la represión, y esperan que va a seguir hasta las elecciones.

    Las certificaciones del Departamento de Estado, las cuales tienen como objetivo asegurar que la ayuda externa de los EE.UU. apoye al Estado de Derecho en Honduras (por la Ley de Asignaciones Consolidadas de 2012), parecen contradecir la realidad vivida en el país. 

    La carta pide al Departamento de Estado:
    • proporcionar al Congreso una evaluación detallada de la eficacia de los esfuerzos actuales del gobierno de Honduras para esta cuestión conforme con el lenguaje de las Asignaciones del año fiscal 12;
    • llevar a cabo una revisión detallada de las acciones específicas del Departamento de Estado para ayudar a garantizar que ningunos fondos de los Estados Unidos se están utilizando para apoyar a los policías implicados en violaciones de los derechos humanos, y
    • hacer todos los esfuerzos razonables para garantizar que las próximas elecciones de Honduras en noviembre 2013 sean libres, justas y pacíficas.
    Tome acción para apoyar los derechos humanos en Honduras. 

  • The Colombia FTA's Protections Have Not Worked. And We Can't Afford the TPP!

    On the one-year anniversary of the implementation of the U.S-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, Colombia remains the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists. Indeed, two years after President Obama and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed the Labor Action Plan with the stated purpose of addressing U.S. concerns about labor and human rights violations in Colombia, the basic conditions have still not been met.

    Tell the Department of State and the Department of Labor that a U.S. trade agreement with a country that has such a terrible labor rights record is unacceptable. Demand transparency in the TPP negotiations, telling Congress to oppose an agreement that is bad for workers and consumers at home and abroad. Scroll down past the Spanish to enter your information, and be sure to click "Use Selected Recipients," after entering your initial information.

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    En el aniversario del primer año de la implementación del Tratado de Libre Comercio entre los EE.UU y Colombia, Colombia sigue siendo el país más peligroso para sindicalistas. Dos años después de que el presidente Obama y el presidente colombiano Juan Manuel Santos firmaron el Plan de Acción Laboral con el propósito de abordar las preocupaciones estadounidenses sobre los abusos de los derechos humanos y laborales en Colombia, todavía no se han cumplido las condiciones básicas.

    Dígale al Departamento del Estado y al Departamento de Trabajo que un tratado de comercio estadounidense con un país con antecedentes laborales tan terribles no es aceptable. Exija transparencia en las negociaciones del TPP, diciendo al Congreso que se oponga a un tratado que es dañino para l@s trabajadores y l@s consumidores, tanto en los EE.UU como en el extranjero. Llene su información abajo, y por favor haga clic en "Use Selected Recipients" después de llenar su información inicial.

  • Tell the U.S. Embassy in Honduras that Indigenous Rights Must be Respected!

    (Español abajo.)

    For over a month, the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) has been engaged in peaceful civil disobedience. The Blanco River, an important source of water for the communities that live along its edge, is threatened with privatization, reports COPINH. Gathered in protest, they are demanding their right to prior, informed consultation in projects and policies that impact their communities. 

    COPINH and international observers have reported violent actions and intimidation against peaceful protesters on behalf of Honduran police and security forces. The night of May 6, police were transported to the roadblock in vehicles of the private company that owns the project, according to COPINH's recent press release. The protesters expect them to return. 

    Tell the U.S. embassy in Honduras that indigenous rights are human rights. The U.S. cannot be complacent! Scroll past the Spanish below to edit and send your letter.

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    Por más de un mes el Consejo de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH) se ha dedicado a manifestarse pacíficamente con la desobediencia civil. El Río Blanco, una fuente importante de agua para las comunidades que viven a lo largo del río, está amenazado con la privatización, reporta COPINH. Manifestando junt@s, exigen su derecho a la consulta informada y previa en proyectos y políticas que impacten sus comunidades. 

    COPINH y l@s observadores internacionales han reportado acciones violentas e intimidación contra l@s manifestantes pacífic@s por parte de la policía hondureña y las fuerzas de seguridad. La noche del 6 de mayo la policía llegó a la toma de la carretera en los vehículos de la compañía privada que es dueño del proyecto, según un comunicado recién del COPINH. L@s manifestantes anticipan su regreso. 

    Dígales a l@s funcionari@s en la embajada de los EEUU en Honduras que los derechos indígenas son derechos humanos (carta en inglés). ¡Los EEUU no pueden ser complacientes! Edite y envíe su carta abajo.

  • Tell Your Rep. to Sign the Letter on Mexico's Human Rights Crisis

    Of 7,441 human rights complaints filed against the Mexican military from 2006-2012, not one has resulted in a conviction in Mexico's civilian court system. Mexico's own National Human Rights Commission has identified over 2,000 cases of forced dissapearances with clear involvement of the federal security forces. These figures cannot begin to convey the devastating impacts this crisis has had on the daily lives of thousands of Mexican citizens. In light of the human rights crisis Mexico is experiencing, Representatives Jim Moran (D-VA) and Ted Poe (R-TX) are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter to members of the House of Representatives, asking their colleagues to join them in signing a letter to Secretary of State Kerry, urging him to make human rights central to the bilateral agenda between Mexico and the U.S. 

    Contact your Representative TODAY to encourage her/him to sign Reps. Moran and Poe's letter. The deadline is Friday, April 19th. Scroll past the Spanish below to fill in your information and send your message.

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    De las 7.441 denuncias en contra de las fuerzas militares mexicanas entre el 2006 y el 2012, ni siquiera una ha resultado en una condena dictada por el sistema judicial civil de México. La Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos de México ha identificado más de 2.000 casos de desapariciones forzadas en las que que han participado miembr@s de las fuerzas de seguridad federales. Estas cifras no pueden comunicar los impactos tan devastadores en las vidas diarias de miles de ciudadan@s mexican@s. A la luz de esta crisis, los Representantes Jim Moran (D-VA) y Ted Poe (R-TX) están encabezando la circulación de una carta estilo "Estimad@ Colega" a l@s miembr@s de la Cámara de Representantes, solicitando firmas de otr@s congresistas, exigiendo al Secretario del Estado Kerry que haga los derechos humanos un tema central en la agenda bilateral de México y los EEUU.

    Póngase en contacto con su Representante HOY y dígale a ella/él que firme la carta "Estimad@ Colega" de los Representantes Moran y Poe. La fecha límite es el viernes, 19 de abril. Llene su información abajo y envíe su mensaje.

  • Congress: Support Travel to Cuba

    In 2011 we convinced President Obama to issue an executive order that liberalized the United States’ Cuba travel regulations. This expanded general licenses for academic and religious travel and re-instated specific licenses for people-to-people travel. Now we want to push the envelope even further, asking President Obama to grant general licenses for ALL purposeful categories of travel. This would eliminate the laborious license application process, as well as the majority of the red tape that prevents licensable travel to Cuba. Representative Sam Farr (D-CA 20th) is leading this initiative by circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter to members of the House of Representatives, asking them to join him in signing a letter to the President asking him do just that.

    Contact your Representative TODAY to encourage her/him to sign Rep. Farr's letter that supports granting general licenses for all the current categories of travel to Cuba. The deadline is Monday, April 22nd. Scroll past the Spanish below to fill in your information and send your message.

    --

    En 2011 le convencimos al presidente Obama que emitiera una orden ejecutiva que liberalizara las regulaciones que rigen viajar de los Estados Unidos a Cuba. Esta orden ejecutiva expandió las licencias generales para los viajes académicos y religiosos, y reinstaló las licencias específicas para los viajes persona-a-persona. Ahora queremos presionar aún más, pidéndole al Presidente Obama que conceda las licencias generales para TODAS las categorías identificadas en las regulaciones. Esto eliminaría el laborioso proceso de solicitud de licencia, así como la mayoría de los trámites burocráticos que impiden los viajes licenciables a Cuba. El Representante Sam Farr (D-CA 20) está encabezando esta iniciativa mediante la circulación de una carta "Estimad@ Colega" a l@s miembr@s de la Cámara de Representantes, solicitando firmas de otr@s congresistas para presionar al Presidente para hacer eso.

    Póngase en contacto con su Representante HOY y dígale a ella/él que firme la carta "Estimad@ Colega" de Representante Farr, que apoya la concesión de licencias generales para todas las categorías actuales de viaje a Cuba. La fecha límite es el lunes, 22 de abril. Llene su información abajo y envíe su mensaje.

  • Sign the Dear Colleague Letter Supporting Peace for All Colombians

    (Español abajo.)

    This month Colombian government and FARC negotiators are in Havana engaging in their eighth round of peace talks.Land development is the number one item on the peace talks agenda, as land issues are central to Colombia’s decades-long conflict, and land restitution is essential to a lasting peace. Between 1980 and 2010, 6.8 million hectares of land in Colombia changed hands, a principal factor in what is now the largest internal displacement crisis in the world. Among the displaced are the residents of Pitalito, a small settlement of about 20 families in northern Colombia. The community has been displaced twice by armed groups, including on January 16, 2010, when a retired army official named Juan Manuel Fernández showed up in Pitalito with ten heavily armed men. Fernández returned two weeks later with men dressed in army uniforms to raze the families’ houses and menace the community's residents.

    Pitalito is one community, of many, which illustrates the need for a negotiated peace that includes land restitution and guarantees that victims returning to their land will be safe from future violence and intimidation. The U.S. government can play an important role during and after the peace process, from supporting programs for internally displaced populations and returning communities, to demanding justice for extrajudicial killings and the dismantling of paramilitary successor groups. A lasting peace will require aid for peace, not aid for war, to help create the conditions to reach an agreement at the table and to implement that agreement on the ground.

    Tell your Representative to sign the Dear Colleague letter to advocate for the U.S. to support peace with justice in Colombia! Scroll down past the Spanish below to enter your information.

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    Este mes, l@s negociador@s del gobierno colombiano de las FARC se encuentran en La Habana, participando en su octava ronda de las negociaciones de paz. El asunto de la tierra es el principal punto de la agenda en la agenda. La tenencia de la tierra es fundamental en las largas décadas de conflicto en Colombia, y la restitución de tierras es esencial para una paz duradera. Entre 1980 y 2010, 6,8 millones de hectáreas de tierra en Colombia cambiaron de manos, mayormente a través de los grupos armados ilegales, un factor principal en lo que es actualmente la mayor crisis del desplazamiento en el mundo. Entre l@s desplazad@s se encuentran l@s habitantes de Pitalito, un pequeño asentamiento de unas 20 familias en el norte de Colombia. La comunidad ha fue desplazada dos veces por grupos armados, incluyendo el 16 de enero del 2010, cuando un oficial jubilado del ejército llamado Juan Manuel Fernández se presentó en Pitalito, con diez hombres fuertemente armados, vestidos con uniformes del ejército. Dos semanas después, Fernández volvió con hombres vestidos con uniformes del ejército para arrasar las casas de las familias y amenazar a l@s residentes de la comunidad.

    Pitalito es una comunidad de much@s que demuestra la necesidad de una paz negociada que incluya la restitución de tierras, y la garantía de que las víctimas que regresen a su tierra sean protegidas de futura violencia e intimidaciónEl gobierno de los EEUU puede desempeñar un papel importante durante y después del proceso de paz, apoyando a programas para las poblaciones desplazadas y las comunidades que regresen; y exigiendo justicia por los asesinatos extrajudiciales y presionando por el desmantelamiento de los grupos paramilitares sucesores. Una paz duradera requerirá una ayuda para la paz, no para la guerra, para ayudar en crear las condiciones necesarias para alcanzar un acuerdo en la mesa negociadoara, y para implementar el acuerdo.

    ¡Díle a su Representante que firme la carta "Estimad@ Colega," instando que los EEUU respalde una paz con justicia en Colombia! Llene su información abajo.

  • Tell Congress to Stop Funding Honduran Security Forces
    On March 23, 2013, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. continues to fund Honduran police units under the command of the Honduran National Police Chief, Col. Juan Carlos "The Tiger" ("El Tigre") Bonilla, who has been credibly accused of three extrajudicial killings that occurred in 2002, and links to 11 more deaths and disappearances. According to the AP, Honduran prosecutors have documented some 200 death squad-style attacks in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula in the last three years, showing that this is a systemic phenomenon. All of this information underscores that the continued funding for the Honduran police contradicts what the State Department has told Congress and the American public, and is in violation of the Leahy Law and international law.

    Tell your Representative to eliminate funding for Honduran security forces, and to instead support reforms that de-militarize the Honduran National Police and restore the separation of military and police forces. Scroll down past the Spanish below to enter your information, personalize your letter, and send it to your Representative.
    --
    El 23 de marzo de 2013, la Prensa Asociada (o "AP") informó que los EEUU sigue financiando unidades policiales hondureñas bajo el mando del Jefe de la Policía Nacional de Honduras, el Coronel Juan Carlos "El Tigre" Bonilla, quién ha sido creíblemente acusado ​de tres asesinatos extrajudiciales que ocurrieron en el 2002, y enlaces con 11 muertes y desapariciones. Según la AP, fiscales hondureñ@s han documentado unos 200 ataques estilo escuadrón de la muerte en Tegucigalpa y San Pedro Sula en los últimos tres años, demostrando que este es un problema sistémico. Toda esta información subraya que la continuación del financiamiento para la policía hondureña contradice lo que el Departamento de Estado les dijo al Congreso y al público estadounidense, y además, es una violación de la Ley Leahy y una violación de la ley internacional. 

    Dígale a su Representante que elimine la financiamiento para las fuerzas de seguridad de Honduras, y que, en cambio, respalde reformas que desmilitaricen la Policía Nacional de Honduras y restauren la separación de las fuerzas militares y policiales. Llene su información, personalice su carta, y envíela a su representante.

  • Congress: Fumigation Wrecks Livelihoods. It's Time for a Different Strategy.

    Through Plan Colombia and successor programs, billions of dollars of U.S. military aid have entered Colombia, aimed at stemming drug production by destroying coca crops (used to process into cocaine) with chemical defoliant sprayed from planes. In southern Colombia, six women who form the Association of Women Pineapple Growers are currently engaged in a long battle to seek justice after finding, on January 25, 2013, that all fifteen hectares of their pineapple crop in Villagarzón, Putumayo had been fumigated.

    As these women struggle for justice, the House Appropriations Committee is meeting to decide how to allocate our tax dollars for another year in Colombia. Tell your Congressional Representatives that it is time to redirect aid for Colombia from a futile War on Drugs to peace and sustainable economies. We demand not only that these women be compensated for their lost crop, but that the policies responsible for such devastation end. Click below to personalize and send a letter to your Representative.

    Scroll down past the Spanish below to enter your information.

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    A través del Plan Colombia y sus programas sucesores, miles de milliones de dólares de ayuda militar de los EEUU han entrado a Colombia, con el fin de frenar la producción de las drogas por medio de destruir los cultivos de coca (usados para procesar la cocaína) con química defoliante rociada por aviones. En el sur de Colombia, seis mujeres que conforman la Asociación de Mujeres Piñeras están involucradas actualmente en una larga lucha en busca de la justicia después de encontrar, en el 25 de enero, 2013, que fueron fumigadas sus quince hectáreas de cultivo de piña en Villagarzón, Putumayo.

    Mientras estas mujeres luchan por la justicia, el Comité de las Asignaciones de la Cámara de Representantes se reune para decidir cómo asignar nuestros impuestos en Colombia por otro año más. Dígale a su representante en el Congreso que este es el momento para reorientar la ayuda para Colombia: no a la Guerra Contra el Narcotráfico, y hacia la paz y las economías sostenibles. Demandamos no solamente que sean compensadas estas mujeres por su cultivo perdido, pero además, que paren las políticas responsables por esa devastación. Haga clic abajo para personalizar y enviar una carta a su representante.

  • Protect a Colombian priest under threat and support his human rights work

    Father Alberto Franco is a Colombian priest and a leading human rights defender in a country at war. His work supporting peace communities under threat, human rights victims and peacemakers has been internationally recognized. 

    Today Fr. Alberto, his colleagues from the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission, and the communities they support are under attack and need you.

    Due to the death threats against Fr. Alberto, he has a bodyguard and an armored car. On February 13, Fr. Alberto's bodyguard pulled up to his house to pick him up for work. Before going to the door to get Fr. Alberto, the bodyguard scouted out the surroundings to ensure the coast was clear. As he was doing this, someone fired a weapon with a silencer, hitting the passenger side of the windshield three times. That is the spot where Fr. Alberto would have been sitting just minutes later.

    This is not the first indication that Fr. Alberto and his colleagues at the Inter-Church Commission are under threat. Just in the past year, 13 surveillance plots against them have been uncovered. They have received numerous death threats. They face a defamation campaign. It appears Fr. Alberto and the Inter-Church Commission are at greater risk than ever.

    Why? Because they have stood up for peace, justice and human rights in a country where speaking truth has dangerous consequences. The Inter-Church Commission has helped create peace communities in war zones. They fight for land restitution for farmers driven off of their land by paramilitary gunmen. And perhaps it is no coincidence that this latest attack comes as the Inter-Church Commission helps represent war victims at the Inter-American Human Rights Court in a case against the Colombian military for the atrocities committed during the scorched-earth campaign in 1997 dubbed Operation Genesis.

    Please take action now to stand up for Fr. Alberto, the Inter-Church Commission and the communities under threat that they support! Demand the U.S. Embassy stand up for these human rights defenders!

  • Congress and Obama: Immigration Reform Means JUST Reform

    This week (6-11-13) the Senate voted to begin debating S. 744, the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013." The "Gang of Eight" senators who crafted the bill have touted it as the "only chance" for comprehensive and meaningful immigration reform that the U.S. will have for many years. President Obama has also announced his own immigration plan, saying "this is not just a debate about policy. It's about people." Immigration reform is overdue, but it has to respect immigrant rights and address the root causes of migration. Take action below to tell your legislators and President Obama that immigration reform must be JUST!

    Esta semana (11-06-13) el Senado de los EEUU votó a favor de empezar a debatir el proyecto de ley S. 744, "La Ley de Seguridad Fronteriza, Oportunidad Económica, y Modernización de la Inmigración de 2013." Los senadores que conforman la "Banda de l@s Ocho" que elaboraron el proyecto de ley lo han promocionado como la "única posibilidad," por muchos años, de una reforma migratoria integral y significativa para los EEUU. El Presidente Obama ha anunciado su propio plan de inmigración, diciendo que "esto no se trata de un debate sobre la política. Se trata de personas." La reforma migratoria es algo atrasado, pero tiene que respetar los derechos de l@s inmigrantes y abordar las causas fundamentales de la migración. ¡Tome acción abajo para avisarles a sus legislador@s y al Presidente Obama que la reforma migratoria debe ser justo!

  • Tell Your Representative: Demand Justice for Afro-Hondurans!

    Afro-Hondurans are among those most affected by the human rights crisis in Honduras, a situation fueled by U.S. military and police aid. Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA), along with 3 other members of the Black Congressional Caucus, has authored a Dear Colleague Letter addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder.  The letter requests a thorough investigation into the abuses of the Honduran police and military and the role of U.S. agents, such as those involved in the May 11th killings in Ahuas.

    Ask your Representative to join Congressman Johnson in demanding justice for Afro-Honduran peoples!

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Remove outdated label that limits Cuban peoples’ access to economic assistance

    Cuba

    Cuba was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. Department of State in 1982. Countries such as Libya, Iraq, North Korea, and South Yemen have all been taken off the list. Yet domestic politics keeps Cuba on the list despite the fact that the State Department itself admitted that that there is “no evidence of direct financial or ongoing material support” to terrorist groups. Cuba is one of only four countries on the list, with Iran, Sudan, and Syria. As a result of this designation, the Cuban people face strict sanctions, such as prohibition of economic assistance. This is in addition to the United States’ draconian embargo on Cuba. It’s time to get rid of this Cold War-era foreign policy that harms both Cuba and the United States and makes it more difficult for Congress or the President to lift the economic embargo or travel ban.

    Sign the petition below to call on Secretary of State Clinton to remove Cuba from the list of state-sponsors of terrorism.
  • U.S. Policy Towards Honduras Needs a Re-Set!

    In a letter to Secretary Clinton this month, Representative Howard Berman, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, stated, “U.S. policy in Honduras needs a re-set.” Recently Senator Patrick Leahy’s office has held up millions in security assistance to Honduras because of allegations of human rights abuses and violations of international law.

    Because of pressure from activists like you, in the past year almost 100 members of Congress have called for suspension of military and police aid. The State Department is starting to pay attention. After DEA-led missions in recent months left four civilians dead and, in violation of international law, shot down planes, the U.S. has been forced to re-evaluate its current strategies to wage the “drug war” in Honduras. At this moment we may be reaching the tipping point in U.S. policy in Honduras.

    Key members of Congress have recognized that U.S. military and police aid have worsened the situation of violence and human rights abuses in Honduras.

    Send a message to your Senator and Representative today asking that they support a push for alternatives to the current failed policies! 

  • Take Action: Stand with injured GM Workers in Colombia

    The association of injured workers, who were fired by General Motors when their bodies were disabled and could no longer perform manual labor, went on strike in 2011, setting up a make-shift camp outside of the U.S. Embassy in Colombia. After almost 500 days without justice, despite mediation attempts, some workers began a hunger strike by sewing their mouths shut on Nov. 20. They need justice now and you can help!

    The fired workers, unable to find work elsewhere, call on GM to meet their simple demands: reintegration into the workforce and medical care or a just financial settlement. 

    They earn no income and have no means of supporting their families. 

    In August, actions by the workers and solidarity actions in the U.S. coordinated by Witness for Peace and others brought GM to the negotiating table. While that attempt at mediation failed on August 31, it proved that we have the power to help these workers and bring GM back to the table.

    We've forced GM back to the negotiating table before. And with your help we can do it again. Thank you for joining them in their fight for justice. 

    Feel free to edit the content of the letters to Congress, the Secretary of Labor, the U.S. Ambassador to Colombia and GM's President for South America. Scroll all the way to the bottom to send them.

    Find other ways you can get involved here.

  • UPDATED: Further Action Needed to Protect Lives in Colombia
    Join Jani in taking action to protect human rights in Colombia!

    In recent weeks we have received numerous calls from Jani Silva, a Colombian community organizer. You may remember Jani. She went to the U.S. and was at the gates of Ft. Benning last year on a Witness for Peace Southwest tour. She invites you to join her in taking action because of the dire situation in Putumayo, her home.

    Many of you answered Jani's call and took action last month, telling Congress and the U.S. Embassy that the continued the U.S.-backed Colombian military continues to carry out human rights abuses and put civilian lives at risk. Unfortunately, the situation has deteriorated in Putumayo. And we want to ask you to reiterate your concern by sending another message to policymakers today.

    The military is intensifying its offensive in the Family Farming Reserve Zone where Jani Silva lives. The military has been firing on civilian houses and a school. And Jani's house was raided.

    Thank you for supporting Jani and her community by taking action now!

  • Tell Washington to Stop Funding the Honduran Police and Military!

    After the June 28, 2009 military coup in Honduras that overthrew democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya, a citizens’ movement united to struggle for democracy and justice in Honduras. This movement continued after the illegitimate 2010 election of President Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo and has carried on to this day. We in the United States bear a special responsibility to take action, given our government's shameful economic, diplomatic and political support for the violent coup regime in Honduras, as well as increased U.S. militarization of the region. While trade unions, students, campesinos, and teachers continue to struggle for economic and social justice, human rights violations and violence against the Honduran people are increasing.

    We must keep the pressure on! Send a message to your members of Congress! Ask them to contact Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and call for: 

    AN END TO U.S. MILITARY AND POLICE FUNDING FOR HONDURAS! RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY!

  • Accountability needed for DEA's involvement in killings

    According to recent reports, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) participated in a drug raid with Honduran police that left at least four civilians dead.  Honduran news sources report that two of those killed were pregnant women. The U.S. has yet to issue a statement regarding this atrocity.

    Please click here to join us in demanding a prompt response, including an investigation and prosecution of those responsible for these murders.


    The U.S. has steadily increased its focus on Honduras in the “war against drugs.” As we have seen in Mexico and Colombia, civilians too often get caught in the crossfire. Leading Honduran human rights organization COFADEH states:  “From the perspective of human rights organizations, this reality is unacceptable and reprehensible.”

    The U.S. DEA regularly sends special units abroad in the “war against drugs.” According to reports, on May 11th U.S. DEA agents were accompanying Honduran police in an attempt to capture drug traffickers along the Patuca River in La Moskitia.  

    During the raid, a helicopter carrying U.S. and Honduran agents opened fire on a boat of civilians, killing Emerson Martínez, Chalo Brock Wood, Candelaria Tratt Nelson, Juana Banegas and the women’s unborn children.

    Thank you for taking your time to raise attention to this important issue.

  • Stop Mining Land Grab

    In recent weeks, a notice was hung at a town hall advising the Afro-Colombian community of Roche that their land would be expropriated so that Cerrejón —one of the world´s largest open-pit coal mines —could expand its operations. 

    Cerrejón exports millions of tons of coal to the United States every year.

    Cerrejón relocated the majority of Roche’s community members, but seven families asking for a return to the negotiating table remain in their homes. Cerrejón, whose slogan is “Responsible Mining,” promised not to leave the negotiating table, but broke this promise by asking the Colombian government to expropriate the families’ land.

    Take action now to stop this expropriation.

  • Stand up for Mexican labor leaders under attack

    On Tuesday, May 15th, José Enrique Morales Montaño, member of the Center of Support for Workers (el Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador-CAT) was kidnapped, beaten, and tortured for 17 hours. The following day, Blanca Velazquez, director of the CAT, received death threats. Blanca Velazquez is a close partner of Witness for Peace and has traveled with us on speakers tours in the fall of 2002 to California and Arizona and in the spring of 2004 to Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.  The attacks and threats against Mr. Morales Montaño and Ms. Velazquez illustrate the risks that all human and labor rights defenders face in Mexico in the current context of the U.S.-backed drug war.

    Members of the CAT have been the targets of a systematic pattern of death threats and harassment for their work promoting labor rights and organizing independent labor unions in the state of Puebla since 2008. Their efforts have raised awareness of the precarious working conditions in the state’s manufacturing sector. In particular, the CAT has focused on improving conditions and organizing workers at various U.S.-owned plants, including those owned and operated by the Wisconsin-based company Johnson Controls.

    In 1994, the U.S. passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to eliminate barriers for American companies wishing to establish manufacturing plants in Mexico. Although it enthusiastically protects corporate rights, NAFTA does little to ensure labor rights in Mexico. In fact, working conditions in these plants are notoriously dismal and labor rights continue to be incredibly limited. NAFTA’s inability to protect labor rights and hold employers accountable for abuses leaves many workers unprotected. Given this reality, the work of the CAT is crucial in defending the human and labor rights of workers in Puebla.

    Unfortunately, attacks like those against the CAT have become commonplace in Mexico, where the human rights crisis brought on by the U.S.-backed military strategy to counter drug trafficking has made defenders particularly vulnerable. The assault on organized crime was launched at the start of Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s term in late 2006.  In 2007, the U.S government agreed to help equip and train Mexican armed forces through the Merida Initiative.  Billions of dollars later, over 60,000 people have been killed and thousands more disappeared. In addition, the increased insecurity and presence of armed forces in the streets have created a hostile environment and resulted in a dramatic increase in harassment, threats, disappearances, and deaths of human rights defenders. Committed people whose lives are dedicated to protecting human rights and bringing justice against abuses, including those against laborers, activists, and people defending their land, find themselves under threat more and more each day.  Since 2006, over 60 human rights defenders have been killed and countless others have been the targets of threats and intimidation. The vast majority of these cases have not been investigated. Impunity remains the norm in Mexico, where only 2% of all crimes are successfully prosecuted.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to provide training and funding through the Merida Initiative to Mexican authorities. These same authorities are sometimes directly responsible for the aggressions against human and labor rights defenders and are often unwilling to protect them. U.S. support is also being provided to the Mexican judicial system, which many believe is corrupt and ineffective in procuring justice. Just yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee approved $248.5 million for Mexico to continue its assault against organized criminal groups. Far from ensuring safety and security in Mexico, this strategy has created an extremely dangerous situation for those that work to defend human rights in the country.

    Please join us in demanding urgent action in regards to this matter.

  • Tell Congress: Accountability needed for DEA's involvement in killings

    According to recent reports, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) participated in a drug raid with Honduran police that left at least four civilians dead.  Honduran news sources report that two of those killed were pregnant women. The U.S. has yet to issue a statement regarding this atrocity. 

    Please click here to join us in demanding a prompt response, including an investigation and prosecution of those responsible for these murders.
     Once you send this letter, please take one more minute to send a message to the State Department. You will find that link after you send you letter to Congress.

    The U.S. has steadily increased its focus on Honduras in the “war against drugs.” As we have already seen in Mexico and Colombia, civilians too often get caught in the crossfire. Leading Honduran human rights organization COFADEH states:  “From the perspective of human rights organizations, this reality is unacceptable and reprehensible.”

    The U.S. DEA regularly sends special units abroad in the “war against drugs.” According to reports, on May 11th U.S. DEA agents were accompanying Honduran police in an attempt to capture drug traffickers along the Patuca River in La Moskitia.  

    During the raid, a helicopter carrying U.S. and Honduran agents opened fire on a boat of civilians, killing Emerson Martínez, Chalo Brock Wood, Candelaria Tratt Nelson, Juana Banegas and the women’s unborn children.

    Thank you for taking your time to raise attention to this important issue.

  • Tell the State Department: Accountability needed for DEA's involvement in killings

    According to recent reports, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) participated in a drug raid with Honduran police that left at least four civilians dead.  Honduran news sources report that two of those killed were pregnant women. The U.S. has yet to issue a statement regarding this atrocity.

    Please click here to join us in demanding a prompt response, including an investigation and prosecution of those responsible for these murders.
     Once you send this letter, take one more minute to send a message to Congress as well. You will find that link after you send your message to the State Department.

    The U.S. has steadily increased its focus on Honduras in the “war against drugs.” As we have already seen in Mexico and Colombia, civilians too often get caught in the crossfire. Leading Honduran human rights organization COFADEH states:  “From the perspective of human rights organizations, this reality is unacceptable and reprehensible.”

    The U.S. DEA regularly sends special units abroad in the “war against drugs.” According to reports, on May 11th U.S. DEA agents were accompanying Honduran police in an attempt to capture drug traffickers along the Patuca River in La Moskitia.  

    During the raid, a helicopter carrying U.S. and Honduran agents opened fire on a boat of civilians, killing Emerson Martínez, Chalo Brock Wood, Candelaria Tratt Nelson, Juana Banegas and the women’s unborn children.

    Thank you for taking your time to raise attention to this important issue.

  • Urgent Action: Colombian union leaders in danger

    Multiple death threats to labor union leaders and their families mark the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Colombia today.  John Jairo Castro of the Port Workers’ Union; Wilson Ferrer, President of the CUT labor federation in Santander; Johnnson Torres Ortis of the sugar cane cutters’ union SINALCORTEROS; and Rene Morales Silva of the African palm oil workers’ union SINTRAINAGRO all received death threats this week. 

    Please click here now to send a letter to the U.S. Ambassador in Colombia and the Secretary of Labor to stand up for these brave union leaders!

    These threats come in an upsurge of anti-union violence which is marked by the April 27 assassination of Daniel Aguirre, the Secretary General of SINALCORTEROS. Mr. Aguirre was the first union leader killed since Obama announced the implementation of the free trade agreement (FTA) at the Summit of the Americas. The FTA is being implemented without having meaningfully complied with the Labor Action Plan, an agreement signed by Presidents Obama and Santos in 2011 that was intended to make the FTA’s passage contingent on improving the grave state of labor and human rights in Colombia. The U.S. Department of Labor has provided $2 million to the Labor Action Plan but labor conditions for Colombian workers remain dire. The unionists that were threatened over the weekend all worked in sectors prioritized by the Labor Action Plan. In fact, trade unionists have received over 500 death threats resulting in 29 assassinations (seven in this year alone) since the Labor Action Plan went into effect. This is a tragic reminder that exercising labor rights, including the right to be directly contracted, can mean risking your life in Colombia. 

    Currently only 4 million of Colombia’s 18 million workers are estimated to have formal labor contracts, and more than half of those are temporary. Only 3.5% of the labor force is able to unionize due to violence and third party contracting which denies workers their basic rights. Colombian workers are demanding that these conditions change, and death threats and assassinations are the response that they have received for their fight to preserve their lives and their rights. The freedom to organize without fear of reprisal is fundamental to the creation of a fair working environment, and a fair and humane trade agreement cannot exist in a climate where union leaders are under threat and extrajudicial killings are conducted with widespread impunity.

  • Tell Congress: Protect Honduran human rights defenders!


    Members of a prominent Honduran human rights organization, The Committee of Family-Members of The Detained and Disappeared (COFADEH), have been targeted with death threats, intimidation and physical aggression. And the perpetrators didn’t stop there. International human rights observers of the U.S.-based Honduras Accompaniment Project (PROAH) who have provided protective accompaniment to members of COFADEH have also received death threats. 

    Click here to take action now!

    Berta Oliva, general coordinator of COFADEH, says that these acts should be seen within the greater context of human rights violations in Honduras. Since the U.S.-backed coup in 2009, Honduras has been in a human rights crisis. Rural farmers, afro-descendents, LGBTI and indigenous people are constantly the targets of intimidation, kidnappings, torture, illegal detention and assassinations. Journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders risk their lives to expose these injustices. And in the majority of cases, Berta Oliva explains, the targets of these attacks are those who in one way or another have opposed the coup d’état. 

    While the human rights crisis swells in impunity, the United States supplies arms and training to the Honduran military and police. The United States gave $9.8 million to Honduran police and military in 2011 and has $8 million budgeted for 2012. In addition, $50 million has been allotted to Soto Cano Air Base (Palmerola). Far from quelling these abuses, the aid has only made them worse. 

    Tell congress, ‘NO' to U.S.-lead militarization and ‘YES’ to the work of human rights defenders in Honduras.

  • Urgent Action: Protection for Land Rights Activists in Colombia

    On the afternoon of March 23, 2012 Manuel Ruiz and his fifteen-year-old son Samir de Jesús de Ruiz were illegally detained by police in the small city of Mutatá in Urabá, Colombia. Minutes later, traveling for home on public transit, a passenger identifying himself as a paramilitary forced Manuel and his son to get out of the vehicle, where two other paramilitaries were waiting for them.

    At this time, Manuel’s body has been recovered and it appears as though Samir’s body has been located.

    Please click below to contact the U.S. Embassy in Colombia to demand a transparent police investigation, call for protective measures for the other 37 leaders under threat, and take action against paramilitary influence on the Land Restitution process in Colombia.

    Then please make a quick call to the U.S. State Department to express your concern. You can call the Senior Desk Officer for Colombia, Mary Brett Rogers-Springs at 202-647-4173. Here's what you can say to Ms. Rogers-Springs:

    I am writing to express my distress over the recent killing of Manuel Ruiz, a leader in the land restitution process in Chocó, Colombia, and his fifteen-year-old son, Samir de Jesús de Ruiz. 

    Mr. Ruiz was scheduled to lead a government visit of illegally occupied lands within his community's territory just hours before his disappearance.  The local police affirmed that the timing of his disappearance was strange, yet abstained from conducting formal investigations, forcing the community to search unaided and unprotected for the bodies of Ruiz and Jesús de Ruiz.

    I respectfully ask the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá to:

    1. Demand the transparency of the Mutatá police in this investigation, including explanations for the original detention of Ruiz and his son by police shortly before they were abducted by paramilitaries, and the reasons for their inattention to a report on March 24, 2012 as to the whereabouts of a body fitting Ruiz's description.  The two bodies located by community members in the absence of formal investigations should be turned over to the Investigative Technical Body and transported to Chigorodó for Christian burial, as requested by the family of the victims. 

    2. Advocate for better protection measures for the 37 leaders in Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó who like Ruiz, are under threat as the restitution process advances, and who despite having demanded protective guarantees of the government, have only received cell phones in certain circumstances.

    3. Request immediate action to provide all protection necessary for the family members of Manuel Ruiz and Samir Jesús de Ruiz, who have been displaced twice since the disappearances, and currently find themselves in Mutatá without protective measures.

    4. Request an urgent, exhaustive and impartial investigation into the believed links of paramilitary operators to the Mutatá police and the 17th Brigade.

    Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter, 

    Thank you for taking action today to demand respect for human rights in Colombia.

  • Stand up for Honduran Journalist Gilda Silvestrucchi

    URGENT ACTION: Honduran Journalist in Danger – Contact the U.S. embassy in Honduras NOW to demand immediate protection and to condemn the repression against journalists in Honduras.

    Since the coup d’état in 2009 human rights violations have been rampant.  Journalists are among those groups who have suffered severe repression.  According to the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) since 2009, 18 journalists have been murdered, 25 have received death threats, 14 have suffered illegal detentions, 4 have been kidnapped and tortured and 37 other attacks and aggressions on journalists have been recorded.

    As the repression worsens and impunity continues the United States supports militarization providing  training and arms to the Honduran military and police.  Since the coup d’état, the United States has given over $16.5 million in arms and training to the police and military and plans to give over $8 million more this year.  U.S. backed militarization has not quelled the grave human rights situation for journalists or for anyone else.

    Gilda Carolina Silvestrucchi is an independent journalist and Director of the radio program “In the Plaza.”  She and her children have been the victims of numerous acts of intimidation and death threats throughout January, the most recent of which happened on January 23rd after holding an interview on her radio program on issues relating to the pending Honduran Mining law.

    COFADEH has called for immediate action in this case.  Please stand in solidarity with those struggling for their rights in Honduras.  Contact the U.S. Honduran Embassy and the U.S. State Department and demand an end to impunity and an end to the repression of journalists. Demand protection for Gilda and her children.

    Click below to send a letter to the human rights official in the U.S. Embassy in Honduras, Nathan Anderson.

  • Stop Dropping Herbicide on Colombia

    This could be a petition to gather names for people who would like to stop herbicide spraying in Colombia.

    It should be followed up with a thank you page, then a Tell A Friend Page (or the email postcard); then a donation page.

    The second phase will begin after signatures are collected. We will then do a targeted action that goes to congress on the issue. We will specifically reach out to the signers of this petition.