Latin America

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Partner of Civil Rights Defenders sentenced to six months in prison

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On the 27 March, Cuban Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) activist Lismeirys Quintana was sentenced at the People’s Court of Marianao, Havana, to six months in prison on politically motivated charges for “non-payment of fines”. On the 29 of January, another Dama de Blanco, Aliuska Gómez had to witness the arrest of her 17 year old son Rey Hanoy Marrueto Gómez because of his mothers human rights work.

Two New Cases of Human Rights Violations in Cuba

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Last week Cuban human rights defenders Lismeirys Quintana and Aliuska Gomez were victims of human rights violations. They are both active members of Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), a civic movement by relatives of jailed dissidents. “The fact that the Cuban authorities are clamping down on human rights defenders who work openly, shows that the Cuban government has absolutely no interest in the rights of its citizens”, said Erik Jennische Programme Director for Latin America at Civil Rights Defenders.

Human Rights in Cuba

Cuba is a country under authoritarian rule, where civil and political rights are severely restricted by law and by practice and often violated. The Constitution itself subordinates the exercise and enjoyment of rights to the protection of the revolution and political power is concentrated in the ruling Communist Party, headed since more than fifty years by the Castro family. A very restrictive Association Law further prevents the development of a healthy civil society in the country. All this together means that human rights and democracy work is actually illegal in Cuba; human rights organizations cannot be registered and therefore officially do not exist and are not entitled to receive funding; and human rights defenders can be and actually are legally persecuted.

Rejected Peace Agreement – What is Happening in Colombia now?

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In the beginning of October the Colombian people rejected the peace accord that the government and the guerrilla group FARC had negotiated on since 2012. Subsequently, there has been an ongoing debate on how to continue the peace process. The current political limbo has made an affect internationally. EU recently declared that they have officially suspended the ratification of the aid peace package that was supposed to be installed, but with the hope to open it up later this year.

Seeking Out New Paths After a Polarised Referendum

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Colombia’s peace process led by current President Juan Manuel Santos and the guerrilla group FARC suffered a major defeat when the plebiscite showed that the NO vote had won. 50,2% of Colombians voted against the accord with 49,8% in favour and although it was only a small margin, the uncertainty is over. The fact that only 37% of the electorate voted is another clear sign that the government did not succeed in mobilising support and credibility for the peace accord.

Statement: Cuba Must End Repression Against Human Rights Defenders

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The Cuban Government continues its crackdown on human rights and its repression against human rights defenders. Several activists have now gone to hunger strike as means to demand change. In a statement today, Civil Rights Defenders expresses deep concern over the health conditions of the activists, and strongly condemns the systematic human rights violations they face in Cuba. We urge the Cuban Government to end all repression against Cuban citizens and human rights defenders and to guarantee their civil and political rights.

(Svenska) DN Debatt: “Regeringen måste ställa tydliga krav i nya samarbetet med Kuba”

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(Svenska) Medborgerliga rättigheter respekteras inte. Den svenska regeringen är i slutskedet med en ny biståndsstrategi för samarbete med Kubas regering. Signalen till Raúl Castro måste vara tydlig: Förtryck av människorättsförsvarare ska inte accepteras. Det skriver John Stauffer och Erik Jennische på Civil Rights Defenders i en debattartikel i DN Debatt den 4 juli.

(Svenska) Sverige offrar offentlighetsprincipen för god relation till Kubas regering

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(Svenska) EU och Margot Wallström vägrar offentliggöra avtalsförslaget om politisk dialog och bistånd som EUs och Kubas förhandlingsdelegationer undertecknade i mars i år. “Så fort det här är fullt ut beslutat och signerat så blir det offentligt”, förklarade Margot Wallström för TT. Att EU och Sverige lägger sig för den kubanska regeringens krav att inte offentliggöra avtalsförslaget innebär att man offrar offentlighetsprincipen för att ha en god relation Kubas regering.

(Svenska) Varför får Castro bestämma, Margot Wallström?

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(Svenska) Utrikesministern behöver förklara varför kubanska medborgare och människorättsförsvarare inte får vara med i diskussionen om sin framtid, skriver Civil Rights Defenders i en debattartikel i Dagens Arena den 4/3. Den svenska regeringen skulle kunna vara det land som tog kubanska människorättsförsvarares parti – men i stället har Sverige slutit ett samarbetsavtal utan att involvera den kubanska befolkningen.

Family of Prominent Cuban Human Rights Defender Subjected to Threats and Harassment

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Cuban Human Rights Defender, Ailer Gonzalez Mena, of Estado de SATS, has been threatened by the Cuban authorities over the weekend. The security police visited her father and told him they had evidence she was meeting with the ”Cuban-American mafia members of congress”. They also asked him if he and his wife ”were currently able to receive bad news”, the father having recently undergone heart surgery.

(Svenska) Civil Rights Defenders: Detta är Hugo Chavez arv

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(Svenska) I söndagens val till nationalförsamlingen i Venezuela kammade oppositionen hem två tredjedelar av mandaten och Hugo Chavez politiska projekt föll slutligen ihop. Under många år kunde Hugo Chavez med en kombination av stark karisma och höga oljepriser hålla projektet vid liv, men visade allt mindre respekt för de medborgerliga och politiska rättigheterna ju längre tiden gick. Läs Civil Rights Defenders debattartikel i Dagens Arena.

Human Rights in Venezuela

Over the last decade Venezuelan government has launched widespread attacks on basically all aspects of civil and political rights . The government passed laws, decrees and constitutional amendments to limit the independence of the judiciary, the National Assembly, civil society and the media. It has continuously accused human rights defenders, opposition leaders and journalists of conspiracy, and has sent elected politicians to prison either with and without trial.

Elections in Venezuela – Leaving Democracy Behind

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Venezuela is leaving democracy behind in the run-up to the elections of the National Assembly on December 6. That is the conclusion in a report from Civil Rights Defenders about the rapidly deteriorating situation of civil and political rights in the country. The possibility that the elections will contribute to a solution is diminishing as President Maduro has said that he will not accept a new majority in the National Assembly.

(Svenska) Civil Rights Defenders på Aftonbladet debatt:

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(Svenska) Pierre Schori är just nu på Kuba för att söka stöd för Sveriges kandidatur till FN:s säkerhetsråd. Enligt en artikel på svenska ambassadens hemsida är det ”ett helt annat Kuba” som Pierre Schori besöker i dag än 1975, då han var där tillsammans med Olof Palme. Men utifrån ett människorättsperspektiv har ingen mur fallit. Kuba är precis lika mycket en enpartistat och pressfriheten är lika inskränkt nu som på 1970-talet.

Crackdown on Civil Society in Cuba Continues to Worsen Despite Warnings

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Civil Rights Defenders is shocked to have learned that Antonio Rodilles Project Director of the independent State of Sats has been severely beaten by state security officials and that 80 human rights activists were arrested on Sunday 05th July. This is despite the stark warnings from Cuban civil society and international organisations such as Civil Rights Defenders to the EU and USA regarding the deteriorating situation for human rights defenders in Cuba.

Governments in Latin America Should Open the Doors to all Cubans

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9 to 11 April US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will participate at the Summit of the Americas, the first time both countries have met at this summit in decades. The report that Civil Rights Defenders will publish today demonstrates, however, that any willingness to cooperate with Cuba is solely reserved for the Cuban government. The interest to invite Cuban human rights defenders is wholly limited.