December 10 is internationally recognized as the day of human rights, and 2023 has certainly been a mixed year for human rights in the Americas. In Argentina, the anniversary of 40 years of democracy coincides with the inauguration of a president and vice president who have sought to deny and minimize the crimes against humanity committed by the civic-military dictatorship.
Democratic backsliding has remained a problem across the region. This year has shown that when governments attempt to co-opt power, the people react in the streets, and security forces crack down — often with lethal consequences.
There have been some important victories, too. Argentina has continued to prosecute and convict members of the security forces who tortured, disappeared, and murdered victims during the 1976-1983 dictatorship. In September, Mexico’s supreme court decriminalized abortion nationwide. Former Bolivian President Gonzalo Sánchez de Losada, who fled to the United States after the 2003 “Gas War” protests in which the security forces killed an estimated 67 people, was ordered to compensate the families of victims in October after a 20-year legal battle.
The map below shows human rights issues that the Herald believes merit ongoing attention. Mouse over a country to view details.
We recognize that every situation of human rights violations merits its own dedicated approach, and they cannot all be compared with the same yardstick.
This document will be updated periodically to reflect developing situations.
Data visualization by Adrián Fernández
In Argentina, 1,204 repressors have been convicted of crimes against humanity in 337 trials for the atrocities committed during the last civic-military dictatorship, from 1976-1983. A further 16 trials remain open. Human rights defenders have sounded the alarm over the election of far-right President Javier Milei and his Vice President Victoria Villarruel. Villarruel in particular is well-known for defending repressors and campaigning to relativize and deny the atrocities from this period. Since their election, supporters have threatened opponents with images of a green Ford Falcon — a symbol of the dictatorship’s disappearances.
In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo — who is also his wife — have ruled over the country’s descent into a full-fledged dictatorship, after state repression of protests starting in 2018 left hundreds dead and a sham election in 2021. In March, UN investigators concluded that the government had committed crimes against humanity, including murder and torture. Critics from all spheres of civil society have been jailed, and some have been stripped of their citizenship. Foreign journalists are not allowed to enter the country.
In Guatemala, the current government and attorney general launched a campaign of persecution against President-elect Bernardo Arévalo and his Vice President-elect, Karina Herrera, of the progressive Movimiento Semilla party, after they came second in June’s........
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