After a long hiatus, Awasqa is on its way to a new phase. Based on its original goals of promoting language and communication justice for indigenous and afrodescendant groups in Latin America, Awasqa is going through a website redesign that will allow us to create a more collaborative process. After many months of an exhaustive search, Awasqa has decided to partner with Common Knowledge, a not-for-profit workers cooperative in London that builds digital tools for grassroots organizers, to help us build a new collaborative website. Together with Common Knowledge, we will organize several meetings with partners across Latin America to build a website that will allow indigenous, afrodescendent, and environmental community journalists and communicators post their own news. The website will include a collaborative editorial space, a backend to have posts translated to English by professionals, and most importantly, post funding requests for their communications projects and needs to directly reach funders in economic privileged countries. We believe communications is one of the least funded areas, yet key for the success of people’s movements and civil society organizations. We have also hired a Communications Manager from the community of indigenous communicators and artists in Ecuador, who will help us steer this process. Part of this hiring decision was to free ourselves from the heavy burden of fundraising for an NGO in the United States, which requires a budget of close to $1 million! Our immediate thought was, how many indigenous radio stations in Latin America could be built with $1 million? (The answer is over 50.) All Awasqa administrators based in the US are volunteers. Thus, we have geared away from becoming a full-fledged nonprofit, which will significantly cut down costs, to invest grants instead on designing and maintining the website, creating a phone app to make it easier for folks to post their own news, create a volunteer collaborative editorial board, and hire professional translators to make culturally appropiate translations, with an eye on language justice. We will keep updating you in the next couple of months!
Radio Fe y Alegría about the current situation in Paraguay of evictions and criminalization of peasant and indigenous communities.
Interview with Andres Tapia, community communicator for Lanceros Digitales and CONFENIAE on the participation of indigenous peoples in the COP26 summit.
The ancestral knowledge of indigenous people about their territories places them in the perfect position to manage the land and forests and provide community solutions to climate change.
Last April, the House of Representatives approved reforms to Mexico's Health Law to regulate traditional and complementary medicine. Several indigenous and civil society groups have rejected the reforms, calling the law unconstitutional for violating the right of indigenous people to free, prior, and informed consent.
The 17 elected representatives for the seats reserved for the first nations for the Constitutional Convention in Chile have released a statement against the militarization and declaration of a state of emergency in Wallmapu territory.
Nicaragua faces a human rights crisis that is particularly bitter towards indigenous nations. From April 2018 to August 2021, there have been 32 murders of indigenous peoples. According to the Center for Legal Assistance to Indigenous Peoples (CALPI), the most recent incident was the massacre of at least 15 indigenous Miskitos and Mayangnas on August 23 in the Bosawás Reserve in the Moskitia region (Radio Onda Local, in subsequent days, reported close to 20 murdered). CALPI points to the illegal colonization of indigenous territories by armed settlers and informal mining as the main reason behind the murders. Territorial conflict has been present in the region since the establishment of the Bosawás Reserve and the creation of the Autonomous Regional Council in 1991, without consulting the people inhabiting this ancestral territory, the Mayangna and Miskitu. The administration of the land passed into the hands of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources instead of under the control of the autonomous indigenous government. As Reinaldo Francis from the Environmental Commission of the North Atlantic Regional Council expressed in 2011, “Indigenous Peoples are not within protected areas, rather the protected areas are within indigenous territories and communities.” Since then, the government has allowed the proliferation of armed settlers, responsible for frequent attacks against indigenous peoples, despite protective and precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in favor of the Miskitu. In an open letter on September 4 signed by the Mayangna people of Mayangna Sauni AS territory, they demand answers from Ortega’s government: “The news about the massacre is already international news, but your government has not said anything, what is the reason for this silence, Mr. President? “ The news about the massacre is already international news, but your government has not said anything, what is the reason for this silence, Mr. President? Mayangna people of Mayangna Sauni AS They demand a return of land sovereignty by “bringing our lands back to health, the urgent disarmament of the invaders, who have brought the culture of evil and death to our territories, and the relocation of the invasive settlers.” Despite the violent nature of crimes, rape and torture allegations, and forced disappearances perpetrated against indigenous people in Moskitia, the Nicaraguan government has not established criminal investigations or statements seeking justice. On the contrary, it has decided to persecute those who dare to denounce these crimes. For example, it recently initiated an inquiry and an arrest warrant against human rights defender Amaru Ruiz Alemán, director of the Fundación del Río, for denouncing the murders of Miskitos and Mayangnas last August. Ruiz Alemán, in testimony given to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, said that he was accused of “spreading false news through information and communication technologies.” He is currently in exile in Costa Rica. On September 13, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, expressed great concern in a public statement: “We also received reports that on 23 August, according to official sources, at least nine indigenous persons were reportedly killed, and two women sexually abused, in an attack related to a land dispute over gold mining in the Sauni As territory of the Northern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region.” Bachelet also made references to the extreme situation experienced by human rights defenders in that country. The government of Daniel Ortega has created a climate of fear and retribution against many non-governmental and human rights organizations, by taking away their legal NGO status and confiscating their economic resources, accusing them of “money laundering” for receiving international philanthropic funding. According to Human Rights Watch, various movement and political leaders have been recently imprisoned or are under trial, including seven presidential candidates. Other people have opted for forced exile. Meanwhile, the historical incidence of aggressions against Miskitos and Mayangnas on both sides of the Honduran-Nicaraguan border continues. “This situation not only affects the rights to life, physical integrity and health of the Mayangna People of the Mayangna Sauni As territory, but also constitutes a new genocide and a new threat to the physical survival, cultural traditions, worldview and citizen security of the Mayangnas, without forgetting that this is the second massacre that has occurred within the territory, first in the Kahkah-Community of Alal sector, where multiple murders were perpetrated,” said the Mayangna Women’s Government in a communiqué. This situation not only affects the rights to life, physical integrity and health of the Mayangna People of the Mayangna Sauni As territory, but also constitutes a new genocide and a new threat to the physical survival, cultural traditions, worldview and citizen security of the Mayangnas, without forgetting that this is the second massacre that has occurred within the territory, first in the Kahkah-Community of Alal sector, where multiple murders were perpetrated Mayangna Women’s Government Indigenous people affected by the violence in the region insist on an immediate transfer of the Bosawás Reserve under indigenous governance and administration. “Several indigenous organizations are part of the Technical Advisory Council of the Bosawás Reserve, but this body does not have voting power in those decisions,” they explain in a statement. “The administration of the Reserve depends on the Bosawás Technical Secretariat (SETAB) of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA), which operates more than 500 km away from the reserve, and in which indigenous people do not participate… The territory demarcated by this Reserve has belonged to the Miskitu and Mayangna indigenous peoples for hundreds of years.” Cover photo: Peñas Blancas, Bosawás Reserve, Nicaragua. Photo Credit: Rebecca Ore.