Human rights abuses in the Americas vary considerably country by country. Some nations, such as the United States and Canada, have relatively strong protections for basic human rights and have reputations as human rights defenders. However, critical abuses continue to occur in other parts of the region. In Latin America, social unrest, attacks on freedom of expression, and violence against women are continually reported in countries such as Venezuela and Guatemala.

Protecting individuals at risk of human rights violations is AWARE’s mission. We are part of a global movement to end abuses around the world.

Key Abuses: Brazil

  • Abuse of construction workers has been reported at projects for the World Cup, including long hours and dangerous conditions that are often referred to as “slavery-like labor.”
  • Al Jazeera reports that nine men lost their lives during construction at World Cup stadiums in Brazil, including at least three workers at building sites in Sao Paulo.
  • In 2014, nearly 53,000 abuse reports were filed for gender-based violence, more than half of them due to physical violence.
  • According to the Gay Group of Bahia, there were 326 murders of LGBT people in Brazil in 2014.

Specific Examples of Abuse:

Key Abuses: Colombia

  • Colombia’s armed conflict, which began in the 1960s, has displaced more than 5.7 million people, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).
  • Per Human Rights Watch, gender-based violence is widespread in Colombia with the lack of proper training and poor implementation of protocols creating obstacles for women and girls to seek post-violence care.
  • The United States Department of Labor reports that children in Colombia are engaged in child labor, including in agriculture and street work, and in the worst forms of child labor as they continue to be forcibly recruited by illegal non-state armed groups.

Specific Examples of Abuse:

Key Abuses: Guatemala

  • An overwhelming majority of Guatemala’s workforce is in the informal sector and is not monitored by the government. This means workers receive no health care, overtime pay or job security.
  • The AFL-CIO reports that only 2% of Guatemala’s working population belongs to a union. It has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for union activists.
  • According to the International Trade Union Confederation, at least 73 trade unionists have been killed since 2007 in Guatemala, which has one of the highest murder rates in the Americas.
  • A 2012 Small Arms Survey says gender-based violence is at epidemic levels in Guatemala and the country ranks third in the killings of women worldwide. According to the United Nations, two women are killed there every day.

Specific Examples of Abuse: