South America Newsletter July 2015

This is the most recent newsletter from AIUK’s South American Team. Incidentally “they” consist of three volunteers, who do a tremendous amount of work, as you can see. We do occasional actions at our monthly meeting, but only scratch the surface of all the work that could be followed up. Please follow up whatever actions you can.


For our featured action this month, we ask you to sign an online petition in support of a change to the law on abortion in Chile. We also draw your attention to developments in Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Paraguay and Bolivia. As always, we would welcome any feedback on the actions that you take.

In the last month there have been several Urgent Actions, some of which we have already circulated. 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 108 followers. If you haven’t already done so, please “like” us and encourage others to do so too:


For our featured action this month we invite all your group members and supporters to sign an online petition organised by AI Chile urging the Chilean Government to change the law on abortion. At present, all abortion is banned in Chile, even if the mother’s life or health is at risk, if she has been raped or if the foetus is not viable. The Chilean Congress is currently discussing a bill to end this total ban. Amnesty considers that the bill is a welcome move towards the decriminalisation of abortion, but national and international campaigning is crucial to ensure legislation is passed and that Chile makes progress in the recognition of the rights of women and girls in line with international human rights standards. Please sign the petition here and encourage others to do so:


FARC blows up oil pipeline in Catatumbo

Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, currently involved in peace discussions with the Colombian government, has blown up a pipeline leaving at least 16,000 people without water, authorities say. Read the article here:
It has since announced a one-month unilateral ceasefire, which the government has welcomed but made it clear that it expects more concrete commitments from FARC to speed up peace negotiations:

On 10 June Congress approved a reform of Article 221 of the Political Constitution which threatens to exacerbate the already high levels of impunity in cases of human rights violations. Read more here:

Peasant farmer community at risk
Miguel Briceño, leader of the peasant farmer community of El Porvenir in central Colombia, has received repeated threatening telephone calls. Those occupying the community’s land are fencing it off, contrary to a judicial order. Download the PDF urgent action here:

Company refuses to rule out diversion of water courses round Cerrejon coal mine. Read the company report here:

Lawyer threatened and attacked for seeking justice
Colombian human rights lawyer Andrea Torres Bautista has been threatened with sexual violence and death. A few days earlier the son of a victim of enforced disappearance, who is being represented by Andrea Torres Bautista, was stabbed with a knife. Take action here:

Human rights defender under surveillance
Unidentified individuals kept Berenice Celeita under surveillance after she returned from a visit to the USA and Canada to expose human rights violations in Colombia. Take action here:

Director of human rights NGO threatened

Iván Madero Vergel, the director of the non-governmental human rights organization Corporación Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CREDHOS), based in Barrancabermeja, northern Colombia, has been threatened twice recently. Take action here:

Caller threatens to kill missing man’s mother

An anonymous caller has threatened to kill a woman searching for her son, who was subjected to enforced disappearance in 2014. Her life may be in danger. Take action here:

Two transgender women killed and another injured

One transgender woman was found dead on the night of 4 to 5 July in Cali, south-western Colombia. Two other trans women were injured, one of them fatally, following attacks with knives during a separate incident, also in Cali. Take action here:


The Brazilian government must take urgent measures to guarantee the security of members of the Forum Suape Social Environmental Space, as well as community members denouncing human rights abuses linked to the Industrial and Harbor Complex of Suape (CIPS) megaproject, the International Service for Human Rights said 21 June. Last year, a Global Witness report showed Brazil to be the deadliest place to be an environmental defender, accounting for 448 (nearly half) of total deaths between 2002 and 2013.
The Brazilian government has violated its own constitution and international law by developing hydroelectric power plants in the Amazon, according to an indigenous leader due to address the 29th United Nations Human Rights Council. Indigenous leaders are in Geneva to protest the building of another bridge across the Tapajos River.

Amnesty International Brazil delivered a petition signed by 4,000 people to the Minister of Agrarian Development asking him to grant land titles to the quilombola community El Charco in Maranhao State. Leaders had been on a hunger strike. “The right is guaranteed on paper, however, is not realized in practice, which is guaranteed by the 1988 constitution” said Amnesty. Only 21 quilombola communities had received these rights, while 336 communities are still waiting to receive land rights. Note: Quilombola communities were founded by African slaves who fled the slave plantations prior to its abolition in 1888.

A proposed constitutional amendment in Brazil will change the age at which children can be tried as adults from 18 to 16 years. This will violate a number of national and international laws, including Brazil’s obligation to protect the rights of the child. This would send 16 and 17 year-old children to adult prisons that are often run by gangs and where violence and torture is endemic. The bill has passed the first reading. The president of the lower house, Eduardo Cunnha, said a second reading of the bill will not take place until after the parliamentary recess for the July holidays. Further, the Order of Attorneys of Brazil (OAB) said the bill was “unconstitutional” and vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court if it is eventually passed by the Upper Chamber. Please continue with your letter writing, see the attached UA. Please send copies to HIS EXCELLENCY MR ROBERTO JAGUARIBE GOMES DE MATTOS
Embassy of Brazil, 14/16 Cockspur Street, SW1Y5BL


Last month over 20 Venezuelan and international organizations, including AI, issued a joint public statement in advance of the review by the UN Human Rights Committee of Venezuela’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
AI submitted a detailed briefing to the Committee:

with an Executive Summary:

We have sent you the following Urgent Actions that remain active:
Defenders at risk following breach of privacy
Detained opposition members must be released


AI have asked all sections to suspend activity in support of the young pregnant girl (now 11) who has been denied appropriate medical care, including access to an abortion. The girl’s situation is highly complex. She is now over 30 weeks pregnant and remains in a home for young mothers. On 22 June her mother was released from prison. Charges against the mother for complicity with sexual abuse have been dropped but she still faces charges of “failing in her duty of care”.


AI has called on the Bolivian authorities to take decisive action to tackle discrimination and other barriers faced by women and girls trying to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights. Read more here: