Pandemic Aggravated Violence against Women in Latin America

Active Citizens, Civil Society, COVID-19, Development & Aid, Editors’ Choice, Featured, Gender, Gender Violence, Headlines, Health, Human Rights, Latin America & the Caribbean, Regional Categories, TerraViva United Nations

Gender Violence

This article is part of IPS coverage of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Nov. 25.

"Not one woman less, respect our lives” writes a Peruvian woman on the effigy of a woman in a park in front of the courthouse, before a demonstration in Lima over the lack of enforcement of laws against femicides and other forms of violence against women. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

“Not one woman less, respect our lives” writes a Peruvian woman on the effigy of a woman in a park in front of the courthouse, before a demonstration in Lima over the lack of enforcement of laws against femicides and other forms of violence against women. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

LIMA, Nov 24 2022 (IPS) – Violence against women has failed to decline in the Latin American region after the sharp rise recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic, while preventing the causes of such violence remains a major challenge.


This is what representatives of the United Nations, feminist organizations and women’s movements told IPS on the occasion of the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Nov. 25.

“We attack the problem but not its causes. I have been talking for 30 years about the importance of preventing violence against women by fostering major cultural changes so that girls and boys are raised in the knowledge that it is unacceptable in any form.” — Moni Pizani

This date, established in 1999 by the United Nations, was adopted in 1981 at the first Latin American and Caribbean feminist meeting held in Colombia to promote the struggle against violence against women in a region where it continues to be exacerbated by high levels of ‘machismo’ or sexism.

The day was chosen to pay tribute to Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal, three sisters from the Dominican Republic who were political activists and were killed on Nov. 25, 1960 by the repressive forces of the regime of dictator Rafael Trujillo.

The date launches 16 days of activism against gender violence, culminating on Dec. 10, Human Rights Day, because male violence against women and girls is the most widespread violation of human rights worldwide.

“It is not possible to confirm a decrease in gender violence in the region at this post-pandemic moment,” said Venezuelan lawyer Moni Pizani, one of the region’s leading experts on women’s rights. “I could say, from the information I have gathered and empirically, that the level has remained steady after the significant increase registered in the last two years.”

Pizani, who retired from the United Nations, currently supports the UN Women office in Guatemala after a fruitful career advocating for women’s rights. She was twice representative in Ecuador for UN Women and its predecessor Unifem, then worked for East and Southeast Asia and later opened the UN Women Office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama City as regional director.

“Before the pandemic we used to talk about three out of 10 women having suffered violence, today we say four out of 10. The other alarming fact is that the impact is throughout the entire life cycle of women, including the elderly,” she told IPS in a conversation in Tegucigalpa, Honduras during a Central American colloquium on the situation of women.

UN Women last year measured the “shadow pandemic” in 13 countries in all regions, a term used to describe violence against women during lockdowns due to COVID.

Seven out of 10 women were found to have experienced violence at some time during the pandemic, one in four felt unsafe at home due to increased family conflict, and seven out of 10 perceived partner abuse to be more frequent.

The study also revealed that four out of 10 women feel less safe in public spaces.

Pizani said the study showed that this violation of women’s human rights occurs in different age groups: 48 percent of those between 18 and 49 years old are affected, 42 percent of those between 50 and 59, and 34 percent of women aged 60 and over.

Venezuelan lawyer Moni Pizani, one of Latin America's leading experts on gender issues, with a long career at UN Women and its predecessor Unifem, takes part in a Central American colloquium in Tegucigalpa on sustainable recovery with gender equality in the wake of the COVID pandemic. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

Venezuelan lawyer Moni Pizani, one of Latin America’s leading experts on gender issues, with a long career at UN Women and its predecessor Unifem, takes part in a Central American colloquium in Tegucigalpa on sustainable recovery with gender equality in the wake of the COVID pandemic. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

According to the same study, unemployed women are the most vulnerable: 52 percent of them experienced violence during the pandemic.

And with regard to mothers: one out of every two women with children also experienced a violation of their rights.

The expert highlighted the effort made by many countries to adopt measures during the pandemic with the expansion of services, telephone hotlines, use of new means of reporting through mobile applications, among others. But she regretted that the efforts fell short.

This year, the region is home to 662 million inhabitants, or eight percent of the world’s population, slightly more than half of whom are girls and women.

The level of violence against women is so severe that the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) cites it as one of the structural factors of gender inequality, together with gaps in employment, the concentration of care work and inequitable representation in public spaces.

Governments neither prevent nor address violence

Peru is an example of similar situations of gender violence in the region.

It was one of the countries with the strictest lockdowns, paralyzing government action against gender violence, which was gradually resumed in the second half of 2020 and which made it possible, for example, to receive complaints in the country’s provincial public prosecutors’ offices.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office Crime Observatory reported 1,081,851 complaints in 2021 – an average of 117 per hour. The frequency of complaints returned to pre-pandemic levels, which in 2020 stood at around 700,000, because women under lockdown found it harder to report cases due to the confinement and the fact that they were cooped up with the perpetrators.

Cynthia Silva, a Peruvian lawyer and director of the non-governmental feminist group Study for the Defense of Women’s Rights-Demus, told IPS that the government has failed to reactivate the different services and that the specialized national justice system needs to be fully implemented to protect victims and punish perpetrators.

Lawyer Cynthia Silva, director of the Peruvian feminist institution Demus, poses for a picture at the headquarters of the feminist organization in Lima. She stresses the need for government action against gender violence to include not only strategies for attending to the victims, but also for prevention in order to eradicate it. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

Lawyer Cynthia Silva, director of the Peruvian feminist institution Demus, poses for a picture at the headquarters of the feminist organization in Lima. She stresses the need for government action against gender violence to include not only strategies for attending to the victims, but also for prevention in order to eradicate it. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

She stressed the importance of allocating resources both for addressing cases of violence and for prevention. “These are two strategies that should go hand in hand and we see that the State is not doing enough in relation to the latter,” she said.

Silva urged the government to take action in measures aimed at the populace to contribute to rethinking socio-cultural patterns and ‘machista’ habits that discriminate against women.

Based on an experience they are carrying out with girls and adolescents in the district of Carabayllo, in the extreme north of Lima, she said it’s a question of supporting “deconstruction processes” so that egalitarian relations between women and men are fostered from childhood.

On Nov. 26 they will march with various feminist movements and collectives against machista violence so that “the right to a life free of violence against women is guaranteed and so that not a single step backwards is taken with respect to the progress made, particularly in sexual and reproductive rights, which are threatened by conservative groups in Congress.”

Adolescent women and men in Lima, the Peruvian capital, wave a huge banner during the march for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Nov. 25, 2019, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that exacerbated such violence in Latin America. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

Adolescent women and men in Lima, the Peruvian capital, wave a huge banner during the march for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Nov. 25, 2019, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that exacerbated such violence in Latin America. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

An equally serious scenario

Argentina is another example of gender violence – including femicides – in Latin America, the region with the highest levels of aggression against women in the world, the result of extremely sexist societies.

This is in contrast to the fact that it is one of the regions with the best protection against such violence in national and even regional legislation, because since 1994 it has had the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women.

The problem is that these laws are seriously flawed in their implementation, especially in the interior of the countries, agree UN Women, regional organizations and national women’s rights groups.

Rosaura Andiñach, an Argentine university professor and head of community processes at the Ecumenical Regional Center for Counseling and Service (CREAS), said it is worrying that in her country there are still high rates of femicide, despite the progress made in terms of legislation.

Between January and October 2022, there were 212 femicides and 181 attempted gender-based homicides in the country of 46 million people, according to the civil society observatory “Ahora que sí nos ven” (Now that they do see us).

She said the government still owes a debt to women in this post-pandemic context, as it fails to guarantee women’s rights by not adequately addressing their complaints.

“We do not want the same thing to happen as with a recent case: Noelia Sosa, 30 years old, lived in Tucumán and reported her partner in a police station for gender violence. They ignored her and she committed suicide that afternoon because she did not know what else to do. We are very concerned because the outlook is still as serious as ever in terms of violence against women,” Andiñach said.

It was precisely in Argentina that the #NiunaMenos (Not one woman less) campaign emerged in 2015, which spread throughout the region as a movement against femicides and the ineffectiveness of the authorities in the enforcement of laws to prevent and punish gender-related murders, because femicides are surrounded by a very high level of impunity in Latin America.

Moni Pizani, from UN Women, stressed that the prevention of gender violence should no longer fall short in the region.

“We attack the problem but not its causes. I have been talking for 30 years about the importance of preventing violence against women by fostering major cultural changes so that girls and boys are raised in the knowledge that it is unacceptable in any form,” she underlined.

This strategy, she remarked, “involves investing in youth and children to ensure that the new generations are free from violence, harassment and discrimination, with respect for a life of dignity for all.”

  Source

Loss and Damage Fund Saves COP27 from the Abyss

Active Citizens, Civil Society, Climate Action, Climate Change, Climate Change Finance, Conferences, Editors’ Choice, Environment, Global, Global Governance, Headlines, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse, Latin America & the Caribbean, Regional Categories

Climate Action

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, chair of COP27, reads the nine-page Sharm El Sheikh Implementation Plan, the document that concluded the climate summit on Sunday Nov. 20, to an exhausted audience after tough and lengthy negotiations that finally reached an agreement to create a fund for loss and damage, a demand of the global South. CREDIT: Kiara Worth/UN

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, chair of COP27, reads the nine-page Sharm El Sheikh Implementation Plan, the document that concluded the climate summit on Sunday Nov. 20, to an exhausted audience after tough and lengthy negotiations that finally reached an agreement to create a fund for loss and damage, a demand of the global South. CREDIT: Kiara Worth/UN

SHARM EL SHEIKh , Nov 20 2022 (IPS) – They were on the brink of shipwreck and did not leave happy, but did feel satisfied that they got the best they could. The countries of the global South achieved something decisive at COP27: the creation of a special fund to address the damage and loss caused by climate change in the most vulnerable nations.


The fund, according to the Sharm El Sheikh Implementation Plan, the official document approved at dawn on Sunday Nov. 20 in this Egyptian city, should enable “rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction” following extreme weather events in these vulnerable countries.

Decisions on who will provide the money, which countries will benefit and how it will be disbursed were left pending for a special committee to define. But the fund was approved despite the fact that the issue was not even on the official agenda of the summit negotiations, although it was at the center of the public debate before the conference itself.

“We are satisfied that the developed countries have accepted the need to create the Fund. Of course, there is much to discuss for implementation, but it was difficult to ask for more at this COP,” Ulises Lovera, Paraguay’s climate change director, told IPS, weary from a longer-than-expected negotiation, early Sunday morning at the Sharm El Sheikh airport.

“This COP has taken an important step towards justice. I welcome the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalize it in the coming period,” said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. He also described as an achievement that a “red line” was not crossed, that would take the rise in global temperature above the 1.5-degree limit.

More than 35,000 people from nearly 200 countries participated in the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) on Climate Change in Sharm El Sheikh, an Egyptian seaside resort on the Red Sea, where the critical dimension of global warming in the different regions of the world was on display, sometimes dramatically.

Practically everything that has to do with the future of the modes of production and life of humanity – starting with energy and food – was discussed at a mega-event that far exceeded the official delegations of the countries and the great leaders present, such as U.S. President Joe Biden and the Brazilian president-elect, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Hundreds of social organizations, international agencies and private sector stakeholders came here to showcase their work, seek funding, forge alliances, try to influence negotiations, defend their interests or simply be on a stage that seemed to provide a space for all kinds of initiatives and businesses.

At the gigantic Sharm El Sheikh International Convention Center there was also a global fair with non-stop activities from morning to night in the various pavilions, in stands with auditoriums of between 20 and 200 seats, where there was a flurried program of presentations, lectures and debates, not to mention the more or less crowded demonstrations of activists outside the venue.

In addition, government delegates negotiated on the crux of the summit: how to move forward with the implementation of the Paris Agreement, which at COP21 in 2015 set global climate change mitigation and adaptation targets.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres walks hurriedly through the Sharm El Sheikh Convention Center during the last intense hours of the COP27 negotiations, when there were moments when it seemed that there would be no agreement and the climate summit would end in failure. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres (3rd-R) walks hurriedly through the Sharm El Sheikh Convention Center during the last intense hours of the COP27 negotiations, when there were moments when it seemed that there would be no agreement and the climate summit would end in failure. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

On the brink of failure

Once again, the nine-page Sharm El Sheikh Implementation Plan did not include in any of its pages a reference to the need to abandon fossil fuels, but only coal.

The document was the result of a negotiation that should have ended on Friday Nov. 18, but dragged on till Sunday, as usually happens at COPs. What was different on this occasion was a very tough discussion and threats of a walkout by some negotiators, including those of the European Union.

But in the end, the goal of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, established in the Paris Agreement, was maintained, although several countries tried to make it more flexible up to 2.0 degrees, which would have been a setback with dramatic effects for the planet and humanity, according to experts and climate activists.

“Rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions (are) required – lowering global net greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent by 2030 relative to the 2019 level – to limit global warming to 1.5°C target,” reads the text, although no mention is made of oil and gas, the fossil fuels most responsible for those emissions, in one of the usual COP compromises, since agreements are reached by consensus.

The Bolivian delegation in Sharm El Sheikh, which included officials as well as leaders of indigenous communities from the South American country, take part in a meeting with journalists at COP27 to demand more ambitious action. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

The Bolivian delegation in Sharm El Sheikh, which included officials as well as leaders of indigenous communities from the South American country, take part in a meeting with journalists at COP27 to demand more ambitious action. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

The priorities of the South

Developing countries, however, focused throughout the COP on the Loss and Damage Fund and other financing mechanisms to address the impacts of rising temperatures and mitigation actions.

“We need financing because we cannot deal with the environmental crisis alone. That is why we are asking that, in order to solve the problem they have caused, the rich nations take responsibility,” Diego Pacheco, head of the Bolivian delegation to Sharm El Sheikh, told IPS.

Environmental organizations, which showed their power in Egypt with the presence of thousands of activists, also lobbied throughout COP27 for greater commitments, including mitigation actions.

“This conference cannot be considered an implementation conference because there is no implementation without phasing out all fossil fuels,” the main cause of the climate crisis, said Zeina Khalil Hajj of the international environmental organization 350.org.

“Together for implementation” was precisely the slogan of COP27, calling for a shift from commitments to action.

“A text that does not stop fossil fuel expansion, that does not provide progress from the already weak Glasgow Pact (from COP26) makes a mockery of the millions of people living with the impacts of climate change,” said Khalil Hajj, head of global campaigning at 350.org.

One of the demonstrations by climate activists at COP27 held in Egypt Nov. 6-20, demanding more ambitious climate action by governments, as well as greater justice and equity in tackling the climate crisis. CREDIT: Busani Bafana/IPS

One of the demonstrations by climate activists at COP27 held in Egypt Nov. 6-20, demanding more ambitious climate action by governments, as well as greater justice and equity in tackling the climate crisis. CREDIT: Busani Bafana/IPS

The crises that came together

Humanity – as recognized by the States Parties in the final document – is living through a dramatic time.

It faces a number of overlapping crises: food, energy, geopolitical, financial and economic, combined with more frequent natural disasters due to climate change. And developing nations are hit especially hard.

The demand for financing voiced by countries of the global South thus takes on greater relevance.

Cecilia Nicolini, Argentina’s climate change secretary, told IPS that it is the industrialized countries, because of their greater responsibility for climate change, that should finance developing countries, and lamented that “the problem is that the rules are made by the powerful.”

However, 80 percent of the money now being spent worldwide on climate change action is invested in the developed world, according to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the world’s largest funder of climate action, which has contributed 121 billion dollars to 163 countries over the past 30 years, according to its own figures.

In this context, the issue of Loss and Damage goes one step further than adaptation to climate change, because it involves reparations for the specific impacts of climate change that have already occurred, such as destruction caused by droughts, floods or forest fires.

“Those who are bearing the burden of climate change are the most vulnerable households and communities. That is why the Loss and Damage Fund must be established without delay, with new funds coming from developed countries,” said Javier Canal Albán, Colombia’s vice minister of environmental land planning.

“It is a moral and climate justice imperative,” added Canal Albán, who spoke at a press conference on behalf of AILAC, a negotiating bloc that brings together several Latin American and Caribbean countries.

But the text of the outcome document itself acknowledges that there is a widening gap between what developing countries need and what they actually receive.

The financing needs of these countries for climate action until 2030 were estimated at 5.6 trillion dollars, but developed countries – as the document recognized – have not even fulfilled their commitment to provide 100 billion dollars per year, committed since 2009, at COP15 in Copenhagen, and ratified in 2015, at COP21 which adopted the Paris Agreement.

It was the absence of any reference to the need to accelerate the move away from oil and natural gas that frustrated several of the leaders at the COP. “We believe that if we don’t phase out fossil fuels there will be no Fund that can pay for the loss and damage caused by climate change,” Susana Muhamad, Colombia’s environment minister, who was at the two-week conference in Sharm El Sheikh held Nov. 6-20, told IPS.

“We have to put the victims first in order to make an orderly and just transition,” she said, expressing the sentiments of the governments and societies of the South at COP27.

 

Peruvian Women Still Denied Their Right to Abortion

Active Citizens, Civil Society, Development & Aid, Editors’ Choice, Featured, Gender, Headlines, Health, Human Rights, Latin America & the Caribbean, Regional Categories, TerraViva United Nations, Women’s Health

Women’s Health

Yomira Cuadros faced motherhood at an early age, as well as the obstacles of a sexist society like Peru’s, regarding her reproductive decisions. In the apartment where she lives with her family in Lima, she expresses faith in the future, now that she has finally started attending university, after having two children as a result of unplanned pregnancies. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

Yomira Cuadros faced motherhood at an early age, as well as the obstacles of a sexist society like Peru’s, regarding her reproductive decisions. In the apartment where she lives with her family in Lima, she expresses faith in the future, now that she has finally started attending university, after having two children as a result of unplanned pregnancies. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

LIMA, Nov 18 2022 (IPS) – No woman in Peru should have to die, have her physical or mental health affected, be treated as a criminal or have an unwanted pregnancy because she does not have access to abortion, said Dr. Rocío Gutiérrez, an obstetrician who is the deputy director of the Manuela Ramos Movement, a non-governmental feminist center that works for gender rights in this South American country.


In this Andean nation of 33 million people, abortion is illegal even in cases of rape or fetal malformation. It is only legal for two therapeutic reasons: to save the life of the pregnant woman or to prevent a serious and permanent health problem.

Peru thus goes against the current of the advances achieved by the “green wave”. Green is the color that symbolizes the changes that the women’s rights movement has achieved in the legislation of neighboring countries such as Uruguay, Colombia, Argentina and some states in Mexico, where early abortion has been decriminalized. These countries have joined the ranks of Cuba, where it has been legal for decades.

“I didn’t tell my parents because they are very Catholic and would have forced me to go through with the pregnancy, they always instilled in me that abortion was a bad thing. But I started to think about how pregnancy would change my life and I didn’t feel capable of raising a child at that moment.” — Fatima Guevara

But Latin America remains one of the most punitive regions in terms of abortion, with several countries that do not recognize women’s right to make decisions about their pregnancies under any circumstances. In El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Haiti it is illegal under all circumstances, and in some cases draconian penalties are handed down.

In the case of Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru and Venezuela, meanwhile, abortion is allowed under very few conditions, while there are more circumstances under which it is legal in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Ecuador.

“In Peru an estimated 50,000 women a year are treated for abortion-related complications in public health facilities,” Dr. Gutiérrez told IPS. “This is not the total number of abortions in the country, but rather the number of women who reach public health services due to emergencies or complications.”

The obstetrician spoke to IPS from Buenos Aires, where she participated in the XV Regional Conference on Women, held Nov. 7-11 in the Argentine capital.

Gutiérrez explained that the cases attended are just the tip of the iceberg, because for every abortion complicated by hemorrhage or infection treated at a health center, at least seven have been performed that did not present difficulties.

Multiplying by seven the 50,000 cases treated due to complications provides the shocking figure of 350,000 unsafe clandestine abortions performed annually in Peru.

The doctor regretted the lack of official statistics about a phenomenon that affects the lives and rights of women “irreversibly, with damage to health, and death.”

Gutiérrez said that another of the major impacts is the criminalization of women who undergo abortions, due to mistreatment by health personnel who not only judge and blame them, but also report them to the police.

Obstetrician Rocío Gutiérrez (C), deputy director of the feminist Manuela Ramos Movement, stands with two fellow activists holding green scarves – representing the struggle for reproductive rights - during the XV Regional Conference on Women held this month in the city of Buenos Aires. CREDIT: Courtesy of Rocío Gutiérrez

Obstetrician Rocío Gutiérrez (C), deputy director of the feminist Manuela Ramos Movement, stands with two fellow activists holding green scarves – representing the struggle for reproductive rights – during the XV Regional Conference on Women held this month in the city of Buenos Aires. CREDIT: Courtesy of Rocío Gutiérrez

Under article 30 of Peru’s General Health Law, No. 26842, a physician who attends a case of presumed illegal abortion is required to file a police report.

Gutiérrez also referred to the fact that unwanted pregnancies have numerous consequences for the lives of women, especially girls and adolescents, in a sexist country like Peru, where women often do not have the right to make decisions on their sexuality and reproductive health.

Healing the wounds of unwanted motherhood

By the age of 19, Yomira Cuadros was already the mother of two children. She did not plan either of the pregnancies and only went ahead with them because of pressure from her partner.

In 2020, according to official data, 8.3 percent of adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 were already mothers or had become pregnant in Peru.

Cuadros, whose parents are both physicians and who lives in a middle-class family, said she never imagined that her life would turn out so differently than what she had planned.

“The first time was because I didn’t know about contraceptives, I was 17 years old. The second time the birth control method failed and I thought about getting an abortion, but I couldn’t do it,” Cuadros told IPS.

At the time, she was in a relationship with an older boyfriend on whom she felt very emotionally dependent. “I had made a decision (to terminate the pregnancy), but he didn’t want to, he told me not to, the pressure was like blackmail and out of fear I went ahead with the pregnancy,” she said.

Making that decision under coercion hurt her mental health. Today, at the age of 26, she reflects on the importance of women being guaranteed the conditions to freely decide whether they want to be mothers or not.

Peruvian activists go topless to demand the right to legal abortion, during a demonstration in the streets of the capital on Mar. 8, 2018. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

Peruvian activists go topless to demand the right to legal abortion, during a demonstration in the streets of the capital on Mar. 8, 2018. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

In her case, although she had the support of her mother to get a safe abortion, the power of her then-partner over her was stronger.

“Becoming a mother when you haven’t planned to is a shock, you feel so alone, it is very difficult. I didn’t feel that motherhood was something beautiful and I didn’t want to experience the same thing with my second pregnancy, so I considered terminating it,” she said.

Finding herself in that unwanted situation, she fell into a deep depression and was on medication, and is still in therapy today.

“I went from being a teenager to an adult with responsibilities that I never imagined. It’s as if I have never really gone through the proper mourning process because of everything I had to take on, and I know that it will continue to affect me because I will never stop being a mother,” she said.

She clarified that “it’s not that I don’t want to be a mother or that I hate my children,” and added that “as I continue to learn to cope, I will get better, it’s just that it wasn’t the right time.”

She and her two children, ages nine and seven, live with her parents and brother in an apartment in the municipality of Pueblo Libre, in the Peruvian capital. She has enrolled at university to study psychology and accepts the fact that she will only see her dreams come true little by little.

“Things are not how I thought they would be, but it’s okay,” she remarked with a newfound confidence that she is proud of.

Gutiérrez said more than 60 percent of women in Peru have an unplanned pregnancy at some point in their lives, and argued that the government’s family planning policies fall far short.

The National Institute of Statistics and Informatics reported that the total fertility rate in Peru in 2021 would have been 1.3 children on average if all unwanted births had been prevented, compared to the actual rate of 2.0 children – almost 54 percent higher than the desired fertility rate.

“There are a set of factors that lead to unwanted pregnancies, such as the lack of comprehensive sex education in schools, and the lack of birth control methods and timely family planning for women in all their diversity, which worsened during the pandemic. And of course, the correlate is access to legal and safe abortion,” said Gutiérrez.

She lamented that little or no progress has been made in Peru in relation to the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights, including access to safe and free legal abortion, despite the struggle of feminist organizations and movements in the country that have been demanding decriminalization in cases of rape, artificial insemination without consent, non-consensual egg transfer, or malformations incompatible with life.

University student Fátima Guevara decided to terminate an unwanted pregnancy when she was 19 years old. Four years later, she is sure that it was the right decision, in terms of her plans for her life. The young woman told her story at a friend's home, where she was able to talk about it openly, in Lima, Peru. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

University student Fátima Guevara decided to terminate an unwanted pregnancy when she was 19 years old. Four years later, she is sure that it was the right decision, in terms of her plans for her life. The young woman told her story at a friend’s home, where she was able to talk about it openly, in Lima, Peru. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

The obscurity of illegal abortion

The obscurity surrounding abortion led Fátima Guevara, when she faced an unwanted pregnancy at the age of 19, to decide to use Misoprostol, a safe medication that is included in the methods accepted by the World Health Organization for the termination of pregnancies.

“I didn’t tell my parents because they are very Catholic and would have forced me to go through with the pregnancy, they always instilled in me that abortion was a bad thing. But I started to think about how pregnancy would change my life and I didn’t feel capable of raising a child at that moment,” she told IPS in a meeting at a friend’s home in Lima.

She said that she and her partner lacked adequate information and obtained the medication through a third party, but that she used it incorrectly. She turned to her brother who took her to have an ultrasound first. “Hearing the fetal heartbeat shook me, it made me feel guilty, but I followed through with my decision,” she added.

After receiving proper instructions, she was able to complete the abortion. And today, at the age of 23, about to finish her psychology degree, she has no doubt that it was the right thing to do.

  Source

Doubts about Chile’s Green Hydrogen Boom

Biodiversity, Civil Society, Conservation, Development & Aid, Economy & Trade, Editors’ Choice, Energy, Environment, Featured, Green Economy, Headlines, Integration and Development Brazilian-style, Latin America & the Caribbean, Projects, Regional Categories, TerraViva United Nations

Energy

The administration of President Gabriel Boric, a self-described environmentalist, is facing a growing rift between scientists, social leaders and energy companies that have differences with regard to the production of green hydrogen in Magallanes. The first wind turbines have already been installed in the Magallanes region, in the far south of Chile, such as these in Laredo Bay, east of Cabo Negro, where companies are pushing green hydrogen projects in a scenario where environmental costs are beginning to take center stage. CREDIT: Courtesy of Erika Mutschke

The administration of President Gabriel Boric, a self-described environmentalist, is facing a growing rift between scientists, social leaders and energy companies that have differences with regard to the production of green hydrogen in Magallanes. The first wind turbines have already been installed in the Magallanes region, in the far south of Chile, such as these in Laredo Bay, east of Cabo Negro, where companies are pushing green hydrogen projects in a scenario where environmental costs are beginning to take center stage. CREDIT: Courtesy of Erika Mutschke

SANTIAGO, Oct 12 2022 (IPS) – In Magallanes, Chile’s southernmost region, doubts and questions are being raised about the environmental impact of turning this area into the world’s leading producer of green hydrogen.


The projects require thousands of wind turbines, several desalination plants, new ports, docks, roads and hundreds of technicians and workers, with major social, cultural, economic and even visual impacts.

“The scale of production creates uncertainties, heightened because there is no baseline. The question is whether Chile currently has the capacity to carry out large-scale green hydrogen projects.” — Jorge Gibbons

This long narrow South American country of 19.5 million people sandwiched between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean has enormous solar and wind energy potential in its Atacama Desert and southern pampas grasslands. This has led to a steady increase in electricity generation from clean and renewable sources.

In 2013, only six percent of the country’s total electricity generation came from non-conventional renewable sources (NCREs) – a proportion that climbed to 32 percent this year. Installed NCRE capacity in September reached 13,405 MW, representing 40.7 percent of the total. Of the NCREs, solar energy represents 23.5 percent and wind power 12.6 percent.

In Chile, NCREs are defined as wind, small hydropower plants )up to 20 MW), biomass, biogas, geothermal, solar and ocean energy.

According to the authorities, the wind potential of Magallanes could meet 13 percent of the world’s demand for green hydrogen, with a potential of 126 GW.

Green hydrogen is generated by low-emission renewable energies in the electrolysis of water (H2O) by breaking down the molecules into oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (H2). It currently accounts for less than one percent of the world’s energy.

However, it is projected as the energy source with the most promising future to advance towards the decarbonization of the economy and the replacement of hydrocarbons, due to its potential in electricity-intensive industries, such as steel and cement, or in air and maritime transportation.

The National Green Hydrogen Strategy, launched in November 2021 by the second government of then right-wing President Sebastián Piñera (2018-2022), seeks to increase carbon neutrality, decrease Chile’s dependence on oil and turn this country into an energy exporter.

The government of his successor, leftist President Gabriel Boric, in office since March, created an Interministerial Council of the Green Hydrogen Industry Development Committee, with the participation of eight cabinet ministers.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Energy told IPS that “this committee has agreed to bring forward, from 2025 to 2022, the update of the National Green Hydrogen Strategy and the new schedule for the allocation of state-owned land for these projects.”

“We will promote green hydrogen in a cross-cutting manner, with an emphasis on harmonious, fair and balanced local development. By bringing forward the update of the strategy, we seek to generate certainty for investors and to begin to create the necessary regulatory framework for the growth of this industry in our country,” he said.

In the area known as Cabo Negro, in the Chilean region of Magallanes, several companies have installed wind turbines to generate wind energy. The installation of thousands of turbines will affect the landscape of Magallanes and environmentalists believe it will impact many birds that migrate annually to this southern region. CREDIT: Courtesy of Erika Mutschke

In the area known as Cabo Negro, in the Chilean region of Magallanes, several companies have installed wind turbines to generate wind energy. The installation of thousands of turbines will affect the landscape of Magallanes and environmentalists believe it will impact many birds that migrate annually to this southern region. CREDIT: Courtesy of Erika Mutschke

Warnings from environmentalists

In a letter to the president, more than 80 environmentalists warned of the risk of turning “Magallanes y La Antarctica Chilena” – the region’s official name – into an environmental sacrifice zone for the development of green hydrogen.

“The energy transition cannot mean the sacrifice of migratory routes of birds that are in danger of extinction, otherwise it would not be a fair or sustainable transition,” said the letter, which has not yet received a formal response.

Environmentalists argue that the impact is not restricted to birds, but also affects whales that breed there, due to the effects of desalination plants, large ports and harbors.

Carmen Espoz, dean of science at the Santo Tomás University, who signed the letter, told IPS that “the main warning that we have tried to raise with the government, and with some of the companies with which we have spoken, is that there is a need for zoning or land-use planning, which does not exist to date, and for independent, quality baseline information for decision-making” on the issue.

Espoz, who also heads the Bahía Lomas Center in Magallanes, based in Punta Arenas, the regional capital, clarified that they are not opposed to the production of green hydrogen but demand that it be done right.

It is urgently necessary, she said in an interview in Santiago, to “stop making decisions at the central level without consultation or real participation of the local communities and to generate the necessary technical information base.”

The signatories asked Boric to create a Regional Land Use Plan with Strategic Environmental Assessment to avoid unregulated development of projects.

“We are not only talking about birds, but also about profound social, cultural and environmental impacts,” said Espoz, who argued that the model promoted by the government and green hydrogen developers “does not have a social license to implement it.”

Sunset at Laredo Bay in the Magallanes region where the Chilean government will have to decide on what changes in the grasslands are acceptable, in the face of a flood of requests to use the area for largescale green hydrogen projects. CREDIT: Courtesy of Erika Mutschke

Sunset at Laredo Bay in the Magallanes region where the Chilean government will have to decide on what changes in the grasslands are acceptable, in the face of a flood of requests to use the area for largescale green hydrogen projects. CREDIT: Courtesy of Erika Mutschke

The bird question

Prior to this letter to Boric, the international scientific journal Science published a study by Chilean scientists warning about potential impacts of wind turbines on the 40 to 60 species of migratory birds that visit Magallanes.

“It is estimated that the installation of wind turbines along the migratory paths of birds could affect migratory shorebird populations, which is especially critical in the cases of the Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa) and the Magellanic Plover (Pluvianellus socialis),” said Espoz.

Both species, she said, “are endangered, as is the Ruddy-headed Goose (Chloephaga rubidiceps).”

She added that if 13 percent of the world’s green hydrogen is to be generated in southern Chile, some 2,900 wind turbines will have to be installed by 2027, “which could cause between 1,740 and 5,220 collisions with bird per year.”

Jorge Gibbons, a marine biologist at the University of Magallanes, based in Punta Arenas, said the big problem is that Magallanes does not have a baseline for environmental issues.

“The scale of production creates uncertainties, heightened because there is no baseline. The question is whether Chile currently has the capacity to carry out large-scale green hydrogen projects,” he told IPS from the capital of Magallanes.

Gibbons believes it would take about two years to update the data on the dolphin and Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis) populations

“The greatest risks to dolphins will be seen in the Strait of Magellan. I am talking about Commerson’s Dolphins (Cephalorhynchus commersonii), which are only found there in Chile and whose population is relatively small,” he said.

He proposed studying the route to ports and harbors of these species and to analyze how they breed and feed.

“The issue is how noise disturbs them or interrupts their routes. These questions are still unanswered, but we know some things because it is the best censused species in Chile,” he explained.

According to Gibbons, the letter to Boric is timely and will help reduce uncertainty because “the process is just beginning and the scientific and local community are now wondering if the plan will be well done.”

Conflict of interests

The partnership between HIF Chile and Enel Green Power Chile withdrew from the Environmental Evaluation System the study of the Faro del Sur Wind Farm project, involving an investment of 500 million dollars for the installation of 65 three-blade wind turbines on 3,791 hectares of land in Magallanes.

The study was presented in early August with the announcement that it was “a decisive step for the future of green hydrogen-based eFuels.”

But on Oct. 6, its withdrawal was announced after a series of observations were issued by the Magallanes regional Secretariat of the Environment.

“The observations of some public bodies in the evaluation process of this wind farm exceed the usual standards,” the consortium formed by the Chilean company HIF and the subsidiary of the Italian transnational Enel claimed in a statement.

The companies argued that “the authorities must provide clear guidelines to the companies on the expectations for regional development, safeguarding the communities and the environment.

“In light of these exceptional requirements, it is necessary to understand which requirements can be incorporated and which definitely make projects of this type unfeasible in the region,” they complained.

The government reacted by stating that it is important to remember that Faro del Sur is the first green hydrogen project submitted to the environmental assessment process in Magallanes.

“During the process, some evaluating entities made observations on the project, so the owners decided to withdraw it early, which does not prevent them from reintroducing it when they deem it convenient,” the Ministry of Energy spokesperson told IPS.

He added that the ministry stresses “the conviction to develop the green hydrogen industry in the country and that this means sending out signals, but in no case should this compromise environmental standards and citizen participation in the evaluation processes.”

  Source

Colombia’s New President May Need U.S. Blessing to Realize his Domestic Agenda

Armed Conflicts, Civil Society, Development & Aid, Featured, Headlines, Human Rights, Latin America & the Caribbean, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

The writer is a Geneva-based researcher for the Third World Network

A woman paints a mural for Peace and Reconciliation in Colombia. Credit: UNMVC/Jennifer Moreno

GENEVA, Aug 9 2022 (IPS) – For the first time in its contemporary history, Colombia has a left-wing government. The presidency of Gustavo Petro, who took the reins August 8, marks a significant break from the political status quo. He also represents a stiff test for U.S. influence in Latin America.


Colombia is Washington’s most enduring ally in the region, and in recent years their relationship has been built around combatting the nation’s drug cartels. But despite major efforts to curb supply, Colombia remains a top source of cocaine for the United States.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recently estimated that Colombia’s cocaine harvest hit a record high in 2020. On the back of new coca varieties (the base ingredient for cocaine) and better cultivation techniques, Colombia’s potential output reached 1,228 tonnes in 2020. This was triple the 2010 level and four times greater than in the early 1990s, when Pablo Escobar was at the height of his infamy.

Since launching its controversial ‘war on drugs’ in 1971, successive Republican and Democratic administrations have supplied more than $13 billion in military and economic aid to Colombia. To little avail.

According to a 2021 United States’ Drug Enforcement Agency report, over 90 percent of the cocaine seized in the U.S. originates from Colombia. The U.S. remains the biggest consumer market for Colombian cocaine.

Petro is among those who have denounced the U.S.’s counter-narcotics strategy as counterproductive. In particular, he’s taken aim at US-backed aerial fumigation campaigns to destroy coca fields.

He favours expanding crop substitution programs that provide credit, training and enhanced land rights to rural farmers. For Petro, tackling Colombia’s violent drug trade is bound up with the county’s historic land ownership inequality.

He has also been an ardent critic of Colombia’s free-trade agreement (FTA) with the U.S. for pushing farmers into coca production and for exacerbating Colombia’s over-reliance on fossil fuel and coffee exports.

At the same time, imports from America’s highly subsidized agricultural sector have displaced whole segments of Colombia’s agrarian economy, forcing thousands of farmers into coca production.

Petro’s election campaign called for “smart tariffs” to protect Colombia’s rural farmers from U.S. imports and, by extension, criminal activity. “The free trade agreement signed with the United States handed rural Colombia to the drug traffickers,” he told the Financial Times in May. What’s more, he noted that “agricultural production cannot be increased if we do not renegotiate the FTA.”

An ex-member of the M-19 guerrilla group, Colombia’s new president has vowed to tackle asymmetric trade relations in line with land reform and the drug trade. But he will likely face severe opposition from the armed forces, who themselves fought leftist guerrilla movements during Colombia’s 52-year civil conflict.

Further, the military have a longstanding role in the U.S.-led war on drugs. For his part, Petro has accused Colombia’s top brass of corruption and human rights abuses, even since the Government-Farc peace treaty of 2016.

Elsewhere, the President faces a divided congress and deep hostility from landowning elites. It will require skilful manoeuvring to unite a fractured country around his domestic policies. And even if Petro can generate sufficient national support around his policy aims, he would still need to convince the Biden administration to back-track on the U.S.’s ideological commitment to free trade.

So, what cards can Petro play?

His opening gambit is likely to be a financial argument. While cocaine overdoses claim far fewer lives than opioids, the fiscal costs associated with interceding cocaine into the U.S. are staggering.

Navy and Coast Guard seizures alone cost American taxpayers US$56 billion in 2020, to say nothing of land border expenditures. State funds are also used for cocaine-linked policing, incarcerations and medical treatment.

The current geopolitical landscape may also provide Petro with an unlikely Trump card. Given President Joe Biden’s condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he will be careful avoid pushing Colombia (which he has described as a security “linchpin”) into a closer embrace with Cuba and Venezuela, who are diplomatically aligned with the Kremlin.

To isolate Russia even further, Biden will likely soften America’s stance in renegotiating its FTA with Colombia.

Last month, senior representatives from the Biden administration met with Petro to discuss, among other things, the FTA. While the U.S. has taken tentative steps towards renegotiating the deal, Petro should be wary of a favourable result.

Over the past twenty-five years, an intricate web of government and military bureaucracy has been constructed around U.S.-Colombian counter-narcotics operations. It will be difficult to disentangle.

IPS UN Bureau

  Source

The Price of Bukele’s State of Emergency in El Salvador

Civil Society, Crime & Justice, Editors’ Choice, Featured, Headlines, Human Rights, Latin America & the Caribbean, Regional Categories

Human Rights

A group of alleged gang members is presented to the media by police authorities in El Salvador on Jul. 20 as a demonstration of the effectiveness of the war against gangs waged in this Central American country under a state of emergency. But families of detainees and human rights organizations warn that in many cases they have no links to criminal organizations. CREDIT: National Civil Police

A group of alleged gang members is presented to the media by police authorities in El Salvador on Jul. 20 as a demonstration of the effectiveness of the war against gangs waged in this Central American country under a state of emergency. But families of detainees and human rights organizations warn that in many cases they have no links to criminal organizations. CREDIT: National Civil Police

SAN SALVADOR, Aug 5 2022 (IPS) – The body of Walter Sandoval shows a number of dark bruises on his arms and knees, as well as lacerations on his left eye and on his head – signs that he suffered some kind of violence before dying in a Salvadoran prison, accused of being a gang member.


The evidence of the beating is clear in photographs that Walter’s father, Saúl Sandoval, showed to IPS.

Walter, 32, was one of those who died in Salvadoran prisons after being detained by the authorities in the massive raids that the government of Nayib Bukele launched at the end of March, under the protection of the decreed state of emergency and the administration’s fight against organized crime and gangs.

The young man, a farmer, died on Apr. 3, in the parking lot of the hospital in Sonsonate, a city in the west of the country where he was transferred, already dying according to the family, from the police station in Ahuachapán, a city in the department of the same name in western El Salvador.

He had been transferred to the police station after his Mar. 30 arrest in the Jardines neighborhood of the municipality of El Refugio, also in the department of Ahuachapán.

“They tortured him in the dungeons of the Ahuachapán police station,” his father told IPS.

He added that his son had been hanging out with friends, getting drunk. A few minutes later, a police patrol picked him up on charges of being a gang member, which the family vehemently told IPS was not true.

“He never received medical assistance, he died in the hospital parking lot,” the father added.

“They tortured him in the dungeons of the Ahuachapán police station. He didn’t receive medical assistance, he died in the hospital parking lot.” — Saúl Sandoval

He says the only explanation he has for why the police detained Walter is because “they wanted to get the day’s quota.” What he meant is that police officers are apparently supposed to arrest a specific number of gang members in exchange for benefits in their assigned workload.

Deaths like Walter’s, if the participation of police is confirmed, are the most violent and arbitrary expression of the human rights violations committed since the government began its plan of massive raids, in what it describes as an all-out war on gangs.

Since late March, the Salvadoran government has maintained a state of emergency that suspended several constitutional guarantees, in response to a sharp rise in homicides committed by gang members between Mar. 25 and 27.

In those three days, at least 87 people were killed by gang members, in a kind of revenge against the government for allegedly breaking an obscure under-the-table agreement with the gangs to keep homicide rates low.

The state of emergency has been in place since Mar. 27, extended each month by the legislature, which is largely dominated by the ruling New Ideas party. Since then, violent deaths have dropped to an average of three a day.

Among the constitutional rights suspended are the rights of association and assembly, although the government said it only applies to criminal groups that are meeting to organize crimes. It also restricts the right to defense and extends the period in which a person may be detained and brought before the courts, which is currently three days.

The government can also wiretap the communications of “terrorist groups”, meaning gangs, although it could already do so under ordinary laws.

After the state of emergency was declared, homicides dropped again to around two or three a day, and there are even days when none are reported.

But some 48,000 people have been arrested and remanded in custody, accused by the authorities of belonging to criminal gangs. And the number is growing day by day.

However, the families of detainees and human rights organizations complain that among those captured are people who had no links to the gangs, known as “maras” in El Salvador, which make up an army of a combined total of around 70,000 members.

On Jun. 2, rights watchdog Amnesty International stated in an official communiqué that “Under the current state of emergency, the Salvadoran authorities have committed massive human rights violations, including thousands of arbitrary detentions and violations of due process, as well as torture and ill-treatment, and at least 18 people have died in state custody.”

But President Bukele, far from being receptive to criticism, dismisses and stigmatizes the work of human rights groups, referring to their representatives as “criminals” and “freeloaders” who are more interested in defending the rights of gang members than those of their victims.

Walter Sandoval is one of the young men who have died with signs of torture in El Salvador's prisons under the state of emergency in force in the country since the end of March. The police captured him without any evidence linking him to gangs, said the young man's family - part of a pattern that has been documented by human rights organizations. CREDIT: Courtesy of the Sandoval family

Walter Sandoval is one of the young men who have died with signs of torture in El Salvador’s prisons under the state of emergency in force in the country since the end of March. The police captured him without any evidence linking him to gangs, said the young man’s family – part of a pattern that has been documented by human rights organizations. CREDIT: Courtesy of the Sandoval family

Silent deaths and torture

The local human rights organization Cristosal has documented nearly 2,500 cases of arrests which, according to the families, have been arbitrary, with no basis for their loved ones to have been detained under the state of emergency.

The organization has also monitored press reports and social networks and has carried out its own research to establish that, as of Jul. 28, some 65 people had died while detained in the country’s prisons or in police cells as part of the massive police raids.

Some of the deceased showed obvious signs of beatings and physical violence, as was the case with Walter and other cases that have been widely reported in the media.

The official reports of these deaths received by family members are vague and confusing, such as that of Julio César Mendoza Ramírez, 25, who died in a hospital in San Salvador, the country’s capital, on Jul. 15.

The official report stated that he had died of pulmonary edema, i.e., his lungs filled with fluid, but also stated that the case was “being studied.”

Suspicions that the deceased were victims of beatings and torture during their imprisonment are not ruled out by their relatives or by human rights organizations.

“The cause of death given to the relatives in the hospital sometimes differs from the legal medical examination, and that leads one to think that something is going on,” lawyer Zaira Navas, of Cristosal, told IPS.

She added: “There are also families who say they were told it was cardiac arrest, but the victims have bruises on their bodies, which is not compatible (with the official version).”

And in the face of doubts and accusations that beatings and torture are taking place under the watchful eye of the State, the authorities simply remain silent and do not carry out autopsies, for example, which would reveal what really happened.

Navas remarked that, even within the state of emergency, “the detentions are arbitrary” because the procedure followed is not legally justified and many people are detained simply because of telephone complaints from neighbors – with which other human rights defenders coincide.

Another problem is that among these 2,500 complaints by families, about 30 percent involve detainees who have chronic diseases or disabilities or were receiving medical or surgical treatment, according to Cristosal’s reports.

The prison staff do not allow family members of the sick detainees to bring their medication, although in a few rare cases they have authorized it.

“We have seen deaths because it is presumed that they have been tortured, beaten, etc., but there have also been deaths of people who have not been given the medication they need to take,” Henri Fino, executive director of the Foundation for Studies on the Application of Law (FESPAD), told IPS.

Regarding the dubious role played by the government’s Institute of Legal Medicine (IML), in charge of conducting the forensic examinations to inform families about the cause of deaths, Fino said that in his opinion it has no credibility.

Especially, he added, now that members of the so-called Military Health Battalion have been stationed since Jul. 4 at several IML offices, presumably to assist in various tasks, including forensic exams, given the shortage of staff.

“What collaboration can they (the military) provide, if they are not experts, and the only reason they are in the IML is to exercise oversight?” Fino said.

Media war

Some of the people who have died in jails or prisons, who were arrested under the state of emergency, were described by the local media as victims of arbitrary, illegal detentions, in contrast with Bukele’s propaganda war claiming that all the detainees are, in fact, gang members.

The press has highlighted the case of Elvin Josué Sánchez, 21, who died on Apr. 18 at the Izalco Prison located near the town of the same name in the department of Sonsonate in western El Salvador.

The media have referred to him as the “young musician”, because he had been learning to play the saxophone, and they have described him as a decent person who was a member of an evangelical church in the area.

But according to neighbors, Sánchez was well-known as an active gang member in his native El Carrizal, in the municipality of Santa Maria Ostuma, in the central department of La Paz.

“They saw him well-armed on farms in the area, along with other gang members, and he told the owners not to show up there anymore, or they would kill them,” a resident of that municipality, who asked not to be identified, told IPS.

Contradictions like this have strengthened local support for Bukele’s insinuations that the independent media are in favor of gang members and against the government’s actions to eradicate violence in the country.

In fact, opinion polls show that a majority of the population of 6.7 million support the president’s measures to crack down on the maras.

But even though Sánchez was recognized by neighbors as a gang member, his arrest should have been carried out following proper procedures and protocols, based on reliable information proving his affiliation to a criminal organization.

This is something the police do not usually do in these massive raids where it is impossible for them to have the evidence needed on each of the nearly 48,000 detainees.

Nor did the fact that he had been a gang member merit him being beaten to death, since his human rights should have been respected, said those interviewed by IPS.

  Source