Cristosal Joins Human Rights Groups in Expressing Concerns to Rex Tillerson

Cristosal joined with many other human rights, environmental, humanitarian, labor, and faith-based organizations in expressing concerns to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about the American policy approach to issues in Central America. More than 100 groups from Latin America and across the globe signed a letter sent to Tillerson a week before he met with officials from North and Central America in Miami at the June 15-16 Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America.

The letter details the epidemic of violence in the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras). Families, individuals, and children are forcibly displaced from their homes by both gang violence and excessive police or military force. The average citizen has no access to justice, and it’s common for crimes to go unpunished. To learn more about forced displacement by violence in El Salvador, follow this link to read Cristosal Executive Director Noah Bullock’s June article in the Humanitarian Exchange Magazine.

The signatory groups focus their concern on the likelihood of United States policy suggestions that depend solely on private investment and military aid. Their letter points out that encouraging an increase in private investment, unchecked by labor or environmental concerns, could actually increase displacement. Any investment plan that leaves out small farms and community-based development initiatives would cripple or bankrupt families in rural areas, forcing them to search for new livelihoods in other areas or countries.

Additionally, strengthening state police or military forces without requiring governments in the region to address the gross human rights violations perpetrated by state security forces will not foster prosperity or security. 2016 U.S. State Department reports on El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras all link state security forces to excessive violence, unlawful killings, and corruption. Ordinary citizens fear, hide, and flee from such forces, contributing to internal and external displacement in the region.

The letter closes by emphasizing the need for policies that address the root causes of violence and displacement while respecting individuals’ rights to seek asylum in the U.S. and elsewhere in the region. Until there are sustainable, human-rights-based solutions in place that work with civil society organizations to build inclusive economies and demand universal justice and accountability, long-term prosperity and security in Central America will remain out of reach. Read the letter and see the complete list of signatories here.

Hannah Rose Nelson