In contrast to 2015’s largely upbeat report on the state of LGBTQ equality worldwide, the news in 2016 was more somber. While there were significant advances, such as the advent of marriage equality in Colombia and the creation of senior LGBTQ watchdog positions at the United Nations and the World Bank, the disturbing persistence of violence targeting vulnerable LGBTQ people around the world was a continuing cause for serious concern. Growing political backlash against LGBTQ rights in Latin America and Southeast Asia, a resurgence in the activities of American exporters of hate and the stunning November victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential elections were other developments that could bode ill for global LGBTQ rights as we move into 2017.
2016 saw major legal momentum on achieving LGBTQ equal rights and protections. The number of countries that continue to criminalize consenting adult same-sex relations fell from 75 to 72. Three countries – Belize in Central America, Nauru in Oceania and Seychelles in East Africa – decriminalized same-sex acts in the span of just four months. The case of Belize was especially remarkable as noted activist Caleb Orozco fought in court for six years to overturn the country’s antiquated sodomy law. The march towards marriage equality continued in 2016, albeit at a slower rate than before. Colombia achieved marriage equality in April through a court decision, making it the twentieth country in the world with full marriage equality. Efforts continue elsewhere to achieve marriage equality, most notably in Australia, Chile and Taiwan. Transgender people also saw incremental progress in many parts of the world and a progressive gender identity law was enacted in Bolivia in September.
Innovation cannot be understood without its context. Recent developments in Guatemala help to explain emerging innovative proposals.
Like many other Latin American countries, Guatemala has a very repressive political history. After years of dictatorship and intense armed conflict that caused the disappearance and death of 190.000 people, “clandestine security squads” are still using violent practices that violate human rights – often with the participation of public agents.
During the 90s, a peace deal was signed. However, violent practices remained common and the historical trauma remained vividly present in the Guatemalan imaginary. In 2007, an International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICG) was created to support the State Prosecution in its fight to break up violent illegal groups. In recent years, the Commission also began investigating corruption in the country. In 2015, it ended up charging the Vice-President (and later the President) for corruption.
On the travel and lifestyle site Matador Network, journalist Adriana Herrera has gathered examples of the work that organizations in Caracas are doing to offer up some optimism in the midst of the economic and political crisis that is clouding the outlook of many Venezuelans.
Some organizations encourage residents to go out and participate in events around the city — a rather significant act in itself, given the high levels of crime in Caracas — while others find ways to awaken their artistic creativity. This is a clear illustration of how everyday actions, done collectively and with common goals, can provide a counterbalance to adversity.
Latin America is increasingly exploiting its renewable energy potential. New wind and solar projects are under construction across the region thanks to partnerships with Chinese energy companies.
Thanks to Chinese energy companies, Latin America is increasingly exploiting its renewable energy potential as historic laggards like Argentina get on board with the region’s energy transition. New wind and solar projects are under construction across the region as partnerships with Chinese deliver affordable finance and materials to local governments and businesses.
Some in the United States may be familiar with the murder of Berta Cáceres, who led an indigenous resistance against the Agua Zarca dam in Honduras, earlier this year. But a new report from Oxfam warns there is a much bloodier campaign of violence directed at human-rights activists across Latin America.
Titled, “The risks of defending human rights: The rising tide of attacks against human rights activists in Latin America,” the report states that while 185 human-rights defenders murdered worldwide in 2015, 122 of these murders occurred in Latin America.
Much of this killing appears to be direct relation to protests against trans-national extractive enterprises, often involving firms from Canada and the United States benefiting from state support.
Lacking the innocence and serenity most kids his age had an abundance of, Osmaro Aviles lived in constant fear and anxiety. The peaceful sky I slept under every night didn’t exist in his world. Helicopters replaced the stars and machine gun fire drowned out the sounds of nature. While I played with rocks I discovered as I walked peacefully around my neighborhood, Ozzy walked to a brick house riddled with bullet holes, and without a roof, to play around with shotgun shells left on the ground surrounding the home, on the rare occasion he was granted freedom to go outside.
When you are raised in the western world and have a normal life free of debilitating trauma like I did, you expect everyone else lives in the exact same world. The world is your oyster; it’s peaceful,fun, and full of wonder. Little did I know a kid my same age lived in a world full of turmoil, violence and secrecy, that robbed children of the very things many of us still take for granted.
Nearly half a million migrants have been apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol in 2016, while hundreds of thousand of others have been detained and deported en route through Mexico. Within this number is a record-breaking number of Central Americans seeking asylum in what Amnesty International called “the world’s least visible refugee crises.” Many of these asylum seekers have escaped communities torn apart by violence, the drug trade and poverty, but human rights groups report that an alarming number of them are subject to serious danger en route to the border.
Subsequent to the United Kingdom’s «Brexit» referendum, which saw 51.9 percent of voters in the United Kingdom opt to leave the European Union, political forces around the world were encouraged that the forces of anti-globalism had achieved a substantial victory. The Brexit success was followed a month later by the U.S. Republican Party’s nomination of anti-globalist businessman Donald Trump as the traditionally pro-free trade party’s presidential candidate. UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage traveled to the Republican convention in Cleveland to forge an anti-global common front with Trump.
In just two months, a series of embarrassing revelations about Trump’s past as a philandering television celebrity and UKIP internal political upheavals, left the two most potent anti-globalist forces in the world – the Trump presidential campaign and UKIP – in shambles. The rapid decline of both political movements led to a belief by many political observers that outside influences, led by professional «agents provocateurs» employed by globalist powerbrokers, caused the fracturing of the Trump and Farage movements.
Over the weekend, while much of the country was preoccupied with the scandal-plagued state of electoral politics, hundreds of activists gathered at the U.S.-Mexico border for a demonstration of multilateral unity. Headed by the organization School of the Americas Watch, or SOA Watch, this convergence brought attention to the human rights dimension of immigration and foreign policy, taking aim at U.S. practices that contribute to displacement and violence in Latin America and beyond.
The people of Latin America need comprehensive legal reform to protect themselves from unlawful government surveillance, according to a new series of reports published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
The reports apply the “Necessary and Proportionate” Principles to surveillance practices in twelve different countries in Latin America. The Principles—cooperatively written by privacy organizations and advocates worldwide, and launched three years ago at the 24th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council—act as guidelines for fair and just government surveillance practices to protect the privacy of people around the world.
Across Guatemala, indigenous communities are organizing to challenge logging in the country’s vast forests. These communities are concerned with the impact that both legal and illegal logging will have on their watersheds and on the environment.
On June 15, concerned residents from the highland Ixil Maya municipality of Nebaj, Quiche staged a protest outside the municipal building to express their concern with the steady increase in trucks leaving town loaded with lumber. The action was organized by residents and members of the Indigenous Authority of Nebaj in order to pressure the state authorities to strip the nine companies of their licenses to exploit timber on private lands. Residents raise concern over the fact that the deforestation affects everyone in the area.
“Venezuela will not drag on its debt” was the title of a recent editorial in the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party. The piece makes a bold claim and a display of realpolitik: “Any country, whatever the political ideology of its ruling party, prioritises economic development and the betterment of the livelihood of its people. Which country in the world would not want to ride on China’s express train to economic development?”
This official editorial was published in response to a wave of speculation about the solvency of the Venezuelan government, against the backdrop of a failing economy, that could precipitate the end of the Chavista government which, for over a decade, has been friendly towards Beijing.