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Article

20 Oct 2020

Author:
Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras (IM-Defensoras), Front Line Defenders, la Unidad de Protección a defensoras y defensores de Derechos Humanos en Guatemala (UDEFEGUA), el Espacio OSC para la Protección de Personas Defensoras y Periodistas, la Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en México (RNDDHM), the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) y Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED)

Mexico and Central America: Governments prioritise extractive projects over the rights of their citizens throughout the pandemic, according to report

"Defending Rights in Times of COVID: A regional review of the conditions for defending human rights and freedom of expression in Mexico and Central America", October 2020

... Extractive projects have enjoyed preferential treatment during the pandemic. The health emergency has not stopped mining concessions in Honduras or the illegal logging of indigenous land in Panama. In Mexico, mega projects are considered “essential activities” and key to economic recovery. Indigenous peoples, deeply affected by these initiatives and the historic abandonment by the state, have not been contemplated in pandemic containment strategies and the measures adopted do not necessarily respond to the region’s intercultural needs. They have not been guaranteed health cover, and their territorial and medicinal autonomy has been overlooked by states in their response to the pandemic.

Finally, the health crisis and the consequential economic depression has been used by businesses and governments to erode many advances made in labour rights, and state support for those most affected by job loss has not been forthcoming. In Costa Rica, an old debate on a 12-hour working day was revived, and in Panama a reform was adopted to regulate the suspension of contracts since the beginning of the pandemic, which is considered extremely regressive. Honduras, Guatemala, México, and El Salvador have been criticised for social protection policies that are insufficient, poorly designed and selectively implemented.