Just Americas: A Blog by LAWG

Why Is It So Important for Mexico to Reform Their Military Code of Justice?

The Mexican Senate recently wrapped up public debates on reforms to the Military Code of Justice. Why have reforms been a long-standing priority for human rights organizations in Mexico? When soldiers commit human rights violations against civilians, they are almost exclusively investigated and prosecuted in the military justice system, a notoriously opaque and unaccountable system that has left thousands of victims of human rights violations by the military without access to justice...

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The Colombian Conflict and Peace: Perspectives from Catholic Afro-Descendants

Three Catholic leaders from Colombia participated in a discussion at the Washington Office on Latin America about the ongoing-armed conflict in Colombia and the current peace talks in Havana. The panel consisted of Sister Zoila Cueto of the Diocese of Buenaventura, Father Sterlin Londoño of the Diocese of Quibdó, and Sister Lucero Machado of the La Playa Educacional Institute in Nariño.

Paying particular attention to Afro-descendant and Indigenous communities, they contributed to the general discussion about the armed conflict by focusing on the most vulnerable and affected populations. Below are some of the points they raised. To watch the full discussion, click here.   

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Worrying Wave of Violence Against Human Rights Defenders in Oaxaca

This blog originally appeared on Peace Brigades International Mexico's website.

In Oaxaca human rights defenders are confronted with severe risks. Community and indigenous rights defenders are particularly vulnerable. They demand respect for their right to free, previous, and informed consultation in a context of apparent imposition of megaprojects, such as wind farms and the extractive industry...

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A Real Understanding of Cuba: Second Time’s the Charm

While very few U.S. students have had the opportunity to study abroad in Cuba, even fewer have had the ability to study there twice. The first time I traveled to Havana was in the fall of 2011 for a period of four months, with Tulane University’s Junior Semester Abroad Program at the University of Havana. The four months I spent studying in Havana, were inspiring, unforgettable, and ultimately life-changing. At the end of that time I wasn’t just nervous about returning home and trying to figure out how to explain what seemed like a completely surreal experience to my friends and family, I was nervous about leaving my newfound customs, daily routines, and most importantly my friends, behind.

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Colombia´s National Human Rights Prize: A Celebration of Determination and Spirit

"I am happy to have this honor,¨ said one of the finalists for Colombia´s second annual National Prize for the Defense of Human Rights in Colombia. "But I am torn, because while I am here, I am thinking about my community, which is still at risk." Despite peace talks, despite the Colombian government´s optimistic picture of an improved Colombia, the war grinds on, and the threats continue from paramilitary groups, army, guerrillas, mining companies, lumber, and palm plantations.

But the prize offers a moment of celebration of the creative, indomitable and collective spirit of Colombia's human rights community.

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