Lisa Haugaard

Let’s Talk about What We Can Do to Halt the Flow of Assault Weapons into Mexico


As we continue our national conversation about gun violence in the aftermath of the Newtown elementary school shootings, let's also consider a plea from our neighbors in Mexico. One hundred thousand people -- yes, 100,000 people -- have been killed in the violence that has devastated Mexico in the last six years. Twenty-five thousand people have disappeared. Seven thousand bodies lie unidentified in morgues.

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Ten New Year's Resolutions for U.S. Policy Towards Latin America


U.S. policy towards our Latin American neighbors is, as usual, in need of a few New Year's resolutions. Here goes:

  1. Ban assault weapons. Three months before the murders of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut, 110 victims of violence and advocates from Mexico traveled across the United States calling on us to take action to stop the violence that has claimed over 100,000 lives in Mexico during the last six years. They asked us to ban the assault weapons that arm Mexico's brutal cartels. Some70 percent of assault weapons and other firearms used by criminal gangs in Mexico come from the United States. The United States should reinstate and tighten the assault weapon ban and enforce the ban on the import of assault weapons into our country, which are then smuggled into Mexico. Do it for Newtown. Do it for Aurora. Do it for Mexico's mothers and fathers who have lost their children to senseless violence.
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Unraveling Justice: Military Jurisdiction Expanded in Colombia

On December 11, the day after International Human Rights Day, the Colombian Congress approved a justice “reform” bill that will likely result in many gross human rights violations by members of the military being tried in military courts—and remaining in impunity.  The bill, along with a separate ruling by the Council of State, unravels the reforms put in place after the “false positives” scandal in which over 3,000 civilians were killed by soldiers.

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Celebrating Colombia's Defenders: First National Human Rights Prize


We are often telling you about the dangers faced by Colombian human rights defenders—the email death threats and terrifying phone calls, the funeral wreaths labeled with their names sent to their homes, the trade unionist or land rights activist shot dead.


But there is also much to celebrate in the creativity, bravery and dedication of Colombia's human rights community.  And celebrate they did in September 2012, as Colombian civil society leaders and the international agencies coalition DIAL (Inter-Agency Dialogue on Colombia) launched Colombia's first national human rights prize.

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A Lawyer for Rural Justice in Honduras Slain


On Saturday night, September 22th, 2012, after he attended a wedding, Antonio Trejo Cabrera was shot six times. He later died at a Tegucigalpa hospital.  He was the legal representative of the MARCA campesino movement, and in June he had won the historic though still contested judgment in favor of returning three plantations to campesinos in Bajo Aguán.

“Since they couldn't beat him on the courts, they killed him,” said Vitalino Alvarez, a spokesman for Bajo Aguan's peasant movements, cited in an Associated Press story.  Trejo "had denounced those responsible for his future death on many occasions."  Trejo also prepared legal challenges to a proposal by U.S. and Honduran companies to run privately-run charter cities that critics call unconstitutional, as they would skirt national labor and other laws.

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Let’s Listen to the Message: Mexico’s Caravan for Peace Calls for a New Approach to Drug Violence


One hundred and ten victims of violence from Mexico and human rights activists traveled thousands of miles, caravanning in 2 buses to visit 25 cities across the United States
to urge communities from Los Angeles to New York, Tucson to Montgomery to help them stop the horrific violence that is afflicting their families and their country. The Latin America Working Group was proud to join with Global Exchange, Washington Office on Latin America, Drug Policy Alliance, Witness for Peace, Center for International Policy, RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Mennonite Central Committee, and many other partner organizations and faith communities to host this historic caravan as they ended their journey on September 12, 2012 in Washington, DC. and other partners to host this historic caravan as they ended their journey on September 12, 2012 in Washington, DC. 

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Despite Obama's Visit, Afro-Colombian Communities Surrounding Cartagena Lack Titles


In old city Cartagena, Colombia, elegant colonial buildings with verandas and wooden shutters contain trendy restaurants, a Benetton store and expensive shoe shops.  But the Afro-Colombians selling strands of pearls on the sidewalks, who add  life to this tropical tourist haven,  may have come from Urabá, Carmen de Bolivar, Marίa la Baja or other areas where threats and clashes between all the armed actors, paramilitaries, guerrillas and the armed forces forced them to flee the violence.

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