April 30, 2013
Washington, DC – Over 150 international, regional and local organizations from 10 countries have come together to address presidents from the US and Mesoamerica on the eve of their summit.
Organizations have expressed concern about rising rates of violence and call on governments to “acknowledge that failed security policies that have militarized citizen security have only exacerbated the problem, and are directly contributing to increased human suffering in the region.” Examples from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and the United States demonstrate that militarization has weakened public institutions, led to thousands of civilian deaths, and has done nothing to decrease transnational organized crime or make citizens safer.
Organizations also expressed concern about regional economic policies and stressed that “the imposition of large-scale extractive projects on marginalized communities does not constitute ‘development.’” Instead, they write, it has resulted in further impoverishment, forced displacement, environmental destruction and an increase in government repression of social movements that oppose such projects.
Finally, the letter draws connections between failed security and development policies and forced migration. Violence and harmful multinational development projects, they say, leave many with “few options other than to migrate to the United States in search of safety and economic opportunity. Meanwhile, the United States has criminalized and detained immigrants in ever-greater numbers within its own borders.”
The human rights, immigrant rights and civil society organizations from across the region asked their governments to stop the flow of weapons across the US-Mexico border; to protect human rights defenders; to end military involvement in citizen security initiatives; and to address failed security, development and immigration policies through a strengthening of public institutions and the rule of law.
“We must first and foremost make the protection of fundamental human rights – economic and social, civil and political –a focal point of this SICA gathering and future regional dialogues,” they said.
Simultaneous press conferences were held in Mexico, Guatemala and other countries.
President Obama will be meeting with Presidents from the region from May 4-5, first in Mexico City, and then in San José, Costa Rica. JASS (Just Associates), the America’s Program, the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA and the Latin America Working Group collaborated to present the letter to the White House and other decision makers.
Read the full letter in English and Spanish