BOGOTÁ, Jan 12 (Reuters) – The governments of Latin America and the Caribbean must confront poverty, inequality, corruption, insecurity and environmental degradation to improve the situation of human rights, in addition to protecting democracy, it said on Thursday Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its World Report 2023.
The lack of decision to face these problems has been used by some politicians to justify restrictions that violate human rights and have driven millions of people in the Americas to leave their homes in search of safety and opportunities abroad, HRW said.
“The lack of effective responses to corruption, violence and poverty has been used as a pretext by politicians who promise solutions that sound simple but are often abusive,” said Tamara Taraciuk Broner, acting director for the Americas at Human Vigilancia de los derechos.
“The leaders of the region should demonstrate that democracy can respond to the needs of the population, promoting the rights to health, education and security and strengthening the rule of law,” Taraciuk added in a statement.
According to HRW Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela are oppressive regimes that commit aberrational abuses against critics to silence them.
The human rights group urged democratically elected leaders in Latin America to play an essential role in pushing for a transition.
HRW said the government of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela should be urged to negotiate acceptable electoral conditions; the government of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua to release more than 200 political prisoners; and the Cuban government to drop the criminal charges against people detained arbitrarily.
The report denounced that in El Salvador the heavy-handed measures imposed by President Nayib Bukele in terms of security and the accelerated dismantling of democratic institutions have led to widespread human rights violations by security forces.
He also warned about the increase in violence in Mexico with failed militarization strategies by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and in Haiti, where in a context of political and humanitarian crisis, gangs are responsible for a wave of murders, kidnappings and gender violence in the midst of the ineffectiveness of justice.
HRW said that in Ecuador, overcrowding and a lack of state control in prisons have allowed gangs to recruit new members and kill more than 400 people detained since 2021, while Colombia faces increasing violence caused by armed groups in areas affected by the poverty.
The human rights group recommended that Chilean President Gabriel Boric move forward with police reform, the protection of migrants and refugees, as well as improving access to abortion.
For HRW, the president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, must reverse the setbacks in human rights caused by former president Jair Bolsonaro and restore confidence in the democratic system. (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta, Editing by Juana Casas)
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