Amnesty International says there have been historic changes in Latin America, while human rights violations, including torture continue to affect the lives of many in the region.
In its annual report released Wednesday, Amnesty cited the power shift in Cuba with Raul Castro replacing his brother Fidel Castro as president. In Paraguay, former Catholic Bishop Fernando Lugo was elected president, ending more than 60 years of rule by the Colorado Party.
On rights abuses, the report said Cuba's restrictions on freedom of expression and association remain severe. In Colombia, Amnesty said the continuing conflict involving the government, army-backed paramilitary groups and rebels has resulted in serious human rights abuses.
Amnesty cited a new law in Venezuela that will give women in the country greater protection against violence. However, it added that human rights activists there continue to face intimidation and attacks.
The report highlighted destabilizing effects of rising food prices in Haiti, where there have been violent protests that claimed six lives.