South America News and Action Update March 2015

This is the latest newsletter from the South American team. Its copied virtually verbatim – obviously we’ve not tried out all the links!


The last month has been eventful. In this update, we draw your attention to developments in Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Chile. We also provide a link to the English version of Amnesty’s recent report on Defending Human Rights in America, and to the relevant country pages in Amnesty’s Annual Report; and highlight a potentially important regional initiative on the rights of indigenous people. As always, we would welcome any feedback on the actions that you take.

All three of us shall be at the National Conference and AGM next month. We shall be at the Country Coordinators’ stall during the breaks in the conference proceedings. Please come and say hello.

In the last month we have circulated six Urgent Actions. We have referred to these under the respective country headings below. These are all still “live” so there is still time to take action on them if you haven’t managed to do so yet.

Our Facebook page continues to build a larger following. We now have 81 followers. If you haven’t already done so, please “like” us and encourage others to do so too:


Our featured action this month follows the killing of a 14-year-old boy last month during an anti-government protest amid reports of excessive use of force by the security forces. There are concerns the violence will intensify if the authorities do not send a clear message that peaceful protest is permitted and that excessive use of force will not be tolerated. I attach a suggested letter to the Venezuelan authorities, in English and Spanish, in both Word and PDF format. Further details are here:

English, word version of sample letter PRESIDENT MADURO OF VENEZUELA letter

Good news no.1! The Venezuelan authorities have agreed to release Marcelo Crovato, a human rights lawyer, from prison. Marcelo will remain under house arrest pending trial. Amnesty has campaigned for his release (only last month we posted an item on our Facebook page asking you to send letters, emails and tweets) and will continue to campaign on his behalf as no reliable evidence has been produced to justify the charges against him.

Last month marked the first anniversary of the outbreak of anti-government protests in Venezuela and their brutal suppression by the security forces. To mark the occasion, Amnesty issued a public statement, which you can find here:

as well as three case sheets, which we posted on our Facebook page calling on our followers to take action.

On 20 February the opposition Mayor of Caracas was arrested. He has been charged with plotting a coup but this appears to be another attempt by the authorities to silence voices that are critical of the government. Amnesty issued a press release warning of the risk that the situation in the country would continue to deteriorate if the authorities did not take their human rights responsibilities seriously.
Last month we circulated an Urgent Action in support of two jailed opposition leaders whose prison cells were raided. Details are here:


Good news no 2! The gunmen who threatened a Quilombo community (subject of an Urgent Action in 2014) have been detained. Many thanks to all of you who wrote on behalf of the Quilombo São José de Bruno. No further action is needed.

On 21 February, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff protested the death sentence of Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte in Indonesia and refused to accept the new Indonesian ambassador’s credentials. Brazilian authorities are trying to prevent the execution of Gularte, 42, who is on death row for drug trafficking in Indonesia. They argue that he is schizophrenic and should be receiving psychiatric care. Brazilian Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, 53, was executed on December 17 for drug trafficking in Indonesia, and Brazil recalled its ambassador to Jakarta. Brazil abolished the death penalty in 1889. In a recent session of the UN Human Rights Commission, Brazil urged the ending of the death penalty, citing studies that showed it did not deter crime.

The scandal involving Petrobras, Brazil’s state oil company, with huge bribes and payoffs to the political class, including Rousseff’s party, is destabilising the government and the economy. This is reported in the Financial Times.

Many thanks to those Groups who have taken up Jorge Nunes’s case. You should shortly be receiving the AIUK casefile and our suggested first action will be to write a letter of solidarity. More of this from Richard later.

We have circulated one Urgent Action on Brazil in the last month. Twelve people were shot dead and four others injured by military police officers during an operation in the neighbourhood of Cabula in Salvador, north-east Brazil. Residents report feeling threatened and afraid as the military police have maintained their presence in the neighbourhood ever since. For a new Amnesty blog on this read here. Details are here:


There have been six Urgent Actions on Colombia since our last newsletter, including these two new ones:

Members of a Colombian human rights organization supporting land restitution and the peace process have received a series of death threats by phone. Their safety is at risk:

Paramilitaries continue to make death threats against Indigenous leaders in northern Cauca, while Indigenous people demand full reparation, including access to land, as redress for several mass killings:

During February, we also sent you the following, which are still live:

Threats against the Afro-descendant leaders of the La Toma community:

Threats against human rights defender Martha Díaz:

Killing of four Indigenous People in northern Cauca and threats against others:

Here is an interesting blog about the community of El Porvenir, who are using the Land Restitution process to fight for the legal rights to their land:


Máxima Acuña and her family, subsistence farmers in northern Peru, have reported further acts of intimidation and harassment by the police. They are in a legal dispute against a mining company over the ownership of a plot of land where the family lives. They believe this harassment and intimidation by the police is an attempt to drive them away. Last month we circulated the following Urgent Action in their support:


On 19 March, four Bolivian Human Rights organisations, Amnesty and Cejil (the Centre for Justice and International Law) will attend an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hearing about truth, justice and reparation for the human rights violations committed during the military regimes in Bolivia (1964-82). Amnesty is coordinating with the victims to ensure Bolivia undertakes concrete and effective measures to end impunity, to create a mechanism, such as a truth commission, to establish what happened in the past, and to ensure full reparation to the victims. An earlier reparation process did not comply with international standards and obligations and excluded thousands of people.


Good news no 3: The Supreme Court in Chile has ruled that violations committed by the police have to be investigated by ordinary courts and not military courts. The Court took this approach in relation to a case of a man who lost the vision of one eye during a demonstration in 2013 due to the impact of a rubber bullet by a police officer. Amnesty has welcomed the decision.

Annual Report

Amnesty’s Annual Report is out. You can access it here:

For the reports on specific countries, go to:

and replace “argentina” with the name of the country that interests you, e.g: (copy and paste into your browser)

Defending Human Rights In The Americas

In December Amnesty published a report in Spanish on Defending Human Rights In The AmericasL Legitimate, Necessary and Dangerous. The report is now available in English here:

Indigenous people

Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) are discussing a proposed regional Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Amnesty is urging them to ensure that the Declaration properly reflects the views and experiences of those whose rights are at stake. Details are here: