Former President Alberto Fujimori, middle, was impeached in 2000 for human rights violations. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile via Wikimedia Commons.
This Week in Latin America

Peru Sued for Forced Sterilizations Under Fujimori Administration

September 30, 2020 By Staff

TODAY IN LATIN AMERICA

PERU: The Peruvian government was sued before the United Nations for forced sterilizations between 1996 and 2001 under President Alberto Fujimori’s administration. The case was the first to be filed before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and centers around the cases of five women. Between 1996 and 1997, the women were forcibly sterilized by state agents as part of the Reproductive Health and Family Planning Program imposed by President Fujimori’s Ministry of Health, according to the lawsuit. 

To improve the Peruvian economy, Fujimori’s administration created a campaign to reduce poverty by offering contraception to low-income families. In reality, mostly low-income, rural and Indigenous women were not given contraceptive options, but pressured, coerced or physically forced to undergo sterilization procedures. More than 270,000 women were forcibly sterilized, according to the Peruvian government. As a result, many women suffered physically and psychologically. The suit filed with the UN demands reparations on behalf of the women and their families.

Fujimori served as president of Peru from 1990 to 2000. His authoritarian government dissolved Peru’s Congress in 1992, restored Peru’s economy and effectively eliminated the Shining Path guerilla insurgency, which had terrorized Peru for over a decade with bombings and attacks. He fled to Japan in 2000 when he was charged with human rights violations and corruption, and was sentenced in 2009 to 25 years in prison for the deaths and kidnapping of dozens of people during his terms in office.

Headlines from the western hemisphere

SOUTHERN CONE

BRAZIL: The Brazilian National Environmental Council (CONAMA) eliminated protections for tropical mangroves on Monday, opening up delicate coastal ecosystems to possible development and angering environmental groups. The revoked “permanent protection zones” were established in 2002 and prohibited construction and other economic activity in mangrove forests, which are one of the ecosystems that capture the greatest amounts of carbon and counteract climate change. Last week, President Jair Bolsonaro defended his administration’s environmental policies. But in May, the Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles proposed decreasing environmental regulations. 

ANDES

VENEZUELA: President Nicolás Maduro presented an anti-blockade bill on Tuesday to counteract the effects of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela. Although details are not yet available, the proposed executive bill is supposed to help remedy the economic crisis in Venezuela. In August, the United States increased sanctions on oil, mining and banking industries, as well as over 150 individuals connected to the Venezuelan government. Vice President Delcy Rodríguez, who co-wrote the anti-blockade bill, called the sanctions “crimes against humanity” and the anti-blockade bill a necessary defense.

CARIBBEAN

PUERTO RICO/DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: The Coast Guard off the coast of Puerto Rico repatriated 20 migrants from the Dominican Republic following eyewitness reports of a vessel off the shore. The vessel the migrants were on did not appear to have lifesaving equipment, and everyone on-board was exposed to leaking boat fuel. Once on land, all migrants received food, water, shelter and basic medical attention. The majority of the migrants were returned to the Dominican Republic on a navy vessel, while two individuals were transferred to authorities in Santo Domingo.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: Prime Minister Keith Rowley announced that next year’s carnival will be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, just a week after Brazil decided to cancel the famous Rio de Janeiro celebration for the first time in a century. Citizens in creative, entertainment, hospitality and retail sectors are now facing even more financial uncertainty. Carnival typically generates a lot of income, bringing in an average of about $100 million a year in revenue for the country. However, locals remain hopeful that, given an extra year to plan, the carnival for 2022 will be “the greatest show on earth.”

CENTRAL AMERICA

NICARAGUA: Eighteen Indigenous and Black leaders from the Rama-Kriol community were arrested in the Indio Maíz reserve while documenting environmental degradation. Since 2018, the Ortega government has been intensifying their actions against political opposition groups and NGOs. A press release given by the Nicaraguan Army said they were doing “routine identification checks” when they came across the group. Since 2015, the reserve has been monitored by self-trained Kriol and Rama rangers because state rangers are increasingly rare. After the initial arrest, 17 people were released, while one still remains in custody

 HONDURAS: Journalist Luis Almendares was shot to death by two gunmen riding on a motorcycle in the city of Comayagua. Almendares ran his own social media information channel, and previously worked for Radio Globo and TV Azteca. He was known for voicing his critiques of the police and government. The journalist’s family and colleagues said he had received death threats before the incident. Almendares’ death fits into a larger pattern of violence against communication workers. Currently, 44 journalists are receiving protection by the government because of such threats and harassment. The Honduran College of Journalists is demanding the government investigate the murder.

NORTH AMERICA

MEXICO: In light of the 70 arrest warrants issued over the weekend related to the 2014 disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Teachers College, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced that some of the detained may be granted protected witness status in exchange for giving information to the government. He noted that some of the people who have been arrested are already collaborating with the government, and that the “code of silence” that protected those who perpetrated and covered up the event has been broken. Of the members of the military who are facing arrest, the president said that none of them are active-duty, but wouldn’t specify what their ranks were.

UNITED STATES/MEXICO: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that 59 Mexican nationals serving prison sentences in the United States have been sent back to Mexico. where they will serve out the remainder of their sentences. The prisoners have all been convicted of selling or attempting to sell methamphetamine, and had been locked up all around the country before being brought to Texas to be transferred. Some prisoners had requested to serve out the remainder of their sentences in their home country. The transfer took place under a 1977 agreement between Mexico and the United States that allows prisoners to be transferred between the two countries. In the last 10 months, ICE has sent back a total of around 100 prisoners under the agreement.

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