Just Americas: A Blog by LAWG

Forced Disappearances and Torture in Ciudad Juárez


The Latin America Working Group, Peace Brigades International, and the Washington Office on Latin America were pleased to host a delegation of human rights defenders from Mexico in late April 2013.  At an event held at DC’s Busboys and Poets, the two human rights defenders discussed the risks and challenges they face in their work to address critical human rights issues impacting their communities: torture, forced disappearance, kidnapping and violence against migrants, human trafficking, and the impact of the “war on drugs” on Mexico’s social fabric.

In her presentation, below in English and Spanish, Silvia discuses her work at the Centro de Derechos Human Paso del Norte and the torture of three men in Ciudad Juarez.

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What Cuban-American Lawmakers Don't Understand About Cuba


75_support_travelOn July 17th
, 2013 the House Appropriations Committee passed the Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Services bill that included language proposed by Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25) that would negatively impact two key points in President Obama’s plan to promote engagement and people-to-people contact with the Cuban people.

As Cuban Americans for Engagement (CAFE) explained in their press release, “Section 124 would effectively dismantle the "people-to-people" licensing program, allowing American citizens to travel to Cuba for educational purposes, by defunding the program. These licenses have allowed U.S. citizens to legally visit Cuba and experience the island first-hand, ending their reliance on the skewed portrayals of Cuban reality by either the U.S. government or the corporate-controlled media.”

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Cuba Summer Reading: Cuba 54, Everything About Cuba and More

Did you know...

Cuba_54

1. "When Cubans are waiting to enter a public facility and you arrive, you must determine who the last person is before you to arrive was and then you are now the last one – they do not form lines?"

2. "Cuba has good drinking water, and daily fresh baked bread in every corner of the street?"

3. "Pedestrians do NOT have the right-of-way in Cuba. Cars, trucks, and buses will bear down on you with the horn blaring?"

Through these and other insights, author Paul LeBon aims to give the readers of his newly published book "Cuba 54" a background on Cuba useful for any visit to the island. While the book would be a valuable addition to any traveler to Cuba's reading list with these tidbits alone, what makes "Cuba 54" great is its desire to dig deeper. In fact, LeBon taps into his real life experiences and interaction with individuals across Cuba to find out "...why the whole Cuba debacle manifested itself, why things are the way they are, and how much better things could be." This mini-encyclopedia on modern Cuba covers three main topics critical to understanding the country today: a general introduction to Cuban culture, the "Miami Cartel" and their operations in the United States, and what lies ahead for Cuba's future.

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The Situation of Migrants Through the Eyes of a Human Rights Defender in Saltillo, Coahuila


The Latin America Working Group, Peace Brigades International, and the Washington Office on Latin America brought a delegation of human rights defenders from Mexico in late April 2013.  At an event held at DC’s Busboys and Poets, the two human rights defenders discussed the risks and challenges they face in their work to address critical human rights issues impacting their communities: torture, forced disappearance, kidnapping and violence against migrants, human trafficking, and the impact of the “war on drugs” on Mexico’s social fabric.

In his presentation, below in English and Spanish, Alberto talks about the migrants he sees and aides for in Saltillo, Coahuila. Alberto works for the Casa del Migrante located in Saltillo, Coahuila, a migrant shelter which sees a minimum of 120 migrants per day.

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Cuba: You Can't Take Someone Else's Word for It


Whenever I tell people I studied abroad in Cuba, I feel like the reactions can be categorized by two familiar emotions: curiosity and confusion. There are usually a lot of questions…How did I travel to a country that has been “off-limits” to U.S. citizens since 1961? What is it REALLY like? Did you see old American cars, smoke a cigar, and/or drink rum? From first glance, I also do not have any obvious connections to the island: I am a blonde haired, blue eyed girl from Wisconsin who did not meet anyone from Cuba until college and whose initial exposure to Latin America was through cheesy videos in middle school Spanish class...

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