The Andes
Quito police

Ecuador votes to approve tightened security measures

Ecuadorans voted to approve a number of security proposals from President Daniel Noboa as the South American country experiences a surge in violence that has claimed the lives of multiple public officials. Among the proposals was a measure to amend Ecuador’s constitution to allow the armed forces to fight organized crime alongside the police. The vote also included a “popular consultation,” containing six non-binding proposals. Among those approved was a proposal to increase penalties for crimes such as murder, human trafficking, drug trafficking and arms trafficking. (Photo: Indymedia Ecuador)

Embajada de MĂ©xico en Ecuador

Mexico cuts ties with Ecuador after embassy raid

Mexico’s President AndrĂ©s Manuel LĂłpez Obrador announced the suspension of diplomatic ties with Ecuador following a raid by Ecuadoran police on the Mexican embassy in Quito and the subsequent arrest of the country’s former vice president Jorge Glas—who was wanted on corruption charges and seeking asylum. Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry stated that the decision was taken to forcibly enter the embassy because of the imminent risk of Glas fleeing the country. The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) issued a statement expressing its rejection of any action that endangers the inviolability of the premises of diplomatic missions. The General Secretariat called for dialogue between Ecuador and Mexico and convened a meeting of the Permanent Council of the OAS to address the issue. (Photo: Embajada de MĂ©xico en Ecuador via WikimediaCommons)

Planet Watch

2023: ‘bonkers year’ for global climate

Records were once again broken last year for greenhouse gas levels, surface temperatures, ocean heat and acidification, sea level rise, and retreat of glaciers, according to a new global report issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The WMO State of the Global Climate 2023 report finds that on an average day in 2023, nearly one third of the ocean surface was gripped by a marine heatwave, harming vital ecosystems and food systems—far beyond the already inflated levels seen in recent years. Antarctic sea ice reached its lowest extent on record—at one million square kilometers below the previous record year of 2022, an area equivalent to the size of France and Germany combined. One leading oceanographer wryly stated: “The scientific term is bonkers year.” (Photo: CounterVortex)

The Andes
La Oroya

Peru ordered to compensate mine pollution victims

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) issued a judgment in the case of Comunidad de La Oroya v. Peru, addressing the Peruvian state’s responsibility for damages suffered by 80 residents of La Oroya mining district, and ordering the payment of compensation to the victims. The site of the economically troubled metal smelting complex is considered one of the most polluted locales on Earth. Community residents filed a compliance suit with the IACHR after Peru’s government failed to uphold a Constitutional Court ruling in their favor, ordering mitigation measures. The IACHR found that Peru failed to comply with environmental protection standards, leading to extremely high levels of lead and other contaminants in the blood of children and pregnant mothers in the community. (Photo: Maurice ChĂ©del via Wikimedia Commons)

The Andes

Peru: ‘impunity’ bill for crimes against humanity

The Constitutional Commission of the Peruvian Congress approved Bill No. 6951/2023-CR, which establishes that no one may be prosecuted, sentenced or punished for crimes against humanity or war crimes committed before July 1, 2002. As a result, emblematic cases from the period of internal conflict in Peru between 1980 and 2000, which are still awaiting a judicial response, could be closed. The bill is next to be debated in the Plenary of the Peruvian Congress for final approval. If passed, the bill will be sent to President Dina Boluarte for enactment within 15 days. (Photo: Protontorniyo via Wikimedia Commons)

The Andes

Colombia: 181 social leaders murdered in 2023

The Colombian Ombudsman’s Office (DefensorĂ­a del Pueblo de Colombia, DPC) reported that 181 social leaders and human rights defenders were murdered in 2023. While the report acknowledges a 16% decrease in cases compared to 2022, with 34 fewer deaths, the DPC remains concerned about the ongoing risks faced by those operating in regions affected by internal armed conflicts. The most affected social sectors include indigenous groups, peasants, Afro-descendants, LGBTIQ+ individuals, and the human rights community. Notably, three departments—Cauca, Antioquia, and Nariño—accounted for 41% of the cases, with Cauca being the most affected at 36 cases. (Map: PCL)

The Andes
Luis Flores SolĂ­s

Peru protests: one year later

A year after the height of a protest wave that swept Peru, demanding the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, we finally see an initial step toward justice for the some 50 slain by security forces in the repression unleashed by her regime. Judicial Power, Peru’s justice department, ordered the “preventative detention” of an officer of the National Police, as he is investigated in the slaying of a Cuzco youth last January.  On the other hand, there is outrage that Luis Flores SolĂ­s, a National Police general and a former agent of the elite Special Intelligence Group, has been named as the new chief of the Counter-Terrorist Directorate (DIRCOTE)—despite the fact that he is under internal investigation by the police force in the killing of protesters in Andahuaylas. Meanwhile, Pedro Castillo, the president whose removal from power and replacement by Boluarte in December 2022 sparked the protest wave, remains imprisoned on pre-trial detention orders. But ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori, who was serving a 25-year term for corruption and human rights abuses, was released last month on order of the Constitutional Tribunal, Peru’s highest court. (Photo: Wayka)

The Andes
Quito police

‘State of armed conflict’ declared in Ecuador

Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa declared a 60-day state of emergency in the country after the escape of Adolfo MacĂ­as Villamar AKA “Fito,” leader of the Los Choneros narco-gang, from Littoral Penitentiary in Guayaquil. MacĂ­as had been serving a 34-year sentence since 2011 for drug trafficking, murder, and organized crime. As news broke of his disappearance, six other correctional facilities across the country exploded into riots. The situation escalated the following day, when hooded gunmen interrupted a live television broadcast in Guayaquil, taking reporters and staff hostage. Noboa responded by declaring a state of “internal armed conflict” in the country, ordering security forces to “neutralize” designated “terrorist organizations” and “non-state actors,” including Los Choneros, Los Lobos and Los Tigueronesnarco-gangs. (Photo: Indymedia Ecuador)

The Andes

Colombia: most dangerous country for ecologists

Colombia recorded the world’s highest number of killings of environmental defenders in 2022, with 60 individuals murdered, according to a report by activist group Global Witness. The organization, which has been documenting environmental defender deaths since 2012, found that the number of environmental defenders slain in Colombia nearly doubled in 2022, compared to the previous year. These killings have pushed Colombia’s environmental defender death toll to 382 since 2012. (Map: PCL)

The Andes

UN: poverty, oppression at root of Ecuador crisis

UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty & Human Rights Olivier De Schutter issued a report citing impoverishment and exploitation as the “root cause” of the fast-mounting violence and instability in Ecuador. Criminal groups exploit the desperate while gang wars deepen desperation, in a “vicious cycle linking insecurity and poverty.” Following a 12-day visit to the country, De Schutter warned against a purely militarized response to the crisis that ignores social and economic factors. (Image: Nicolas Raymond via Flickr)

The Amazon

Win for rainforest in Ecuador elections

Winning 60% support in Ecuador’s election is a ballot measure to permanently bar oil drilling from YasunĂ­ National Park, a world biodiversity hotspot in the Amazon rainforest. Parastatal PetroEcuador must now halt extraction at Bloc 43, which lies near the heart of the reserve. Likewise approved by a wide margin was a referendum on halting copper, gold and silver mining activity in the ChocĂł Andino de Pichincha, a biosphere reserve outside of Quito. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

The Andes
toma de lima

Peru: opposition protests US troop deployment

Peru’s Congress voted to approve Legislative Resolution 4766, authorizing US troops to be stationed on the national territory from June 1 to Dec. 31. Lima lawmaker Alfredo AzurĂ­n, president of the Commission on National Defense, Internal Order & Anti-Drug Struggle, said the soldiers will carry out training missions and joint exercises with Peru’s armed forces and National Police. The vote was harshly condemned by former foreign minister HĂ©ctor BĂ©jar, who said the estimated 700 US troops will be disposed to support operations by the security forces against Peru’s social movements, now preparing a new mobilization: “It is obvious that the presence of these soldiers is a deterrent, part of a policy of intimidation of the Peruvian people, who have announced new protests for next July.” (Photo: IndymediaArgentina)