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A New President in Central America

Central American News
A New President in Central America
By Central American News • Issue #43 • View online

Dear Readers,
Welcome back to another week of Central America news!
Panama will have a new president, Nito Cortizo. One of his biggest challenges will be to deal with the interests of the United States and China - and their rivalry - in Latin America. Panama is close to both.
Belize had a big political moment too - Belizeans chose to hand over the territorial dispute it has with Guatemala to the United Nations World Court. What is it about? 👇
Guatemala recognized the independence of Belize at the beginning of the 1990s. But it never accepted the borders and continues to claim about 11,000 square km (4,250 square miles) of Belize, about half of its territory. - Reuters
In other news, Teaching for Change launched a campaign to encourage and support teaching about Central America in schools. Their website is filled with lessons, book lists and biographies of historical figures. It’s for teachers, but hey, I think we can all enjoy the website and their little quizz on Central America.
Thank you so much for reading and for your support of Central American news.
Salú,
Melissa
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We have had a few new supporters on Patreon lately - we thank you so much for your support! It means a lot to us.
The newsletter was born with the vision of making Central American news accessible to all because we believe that information is power. Not only that, we want it to reflect what is happening from the ground up instead of only focusing on what matters to external countries - like the stereotypical coverage of migration or violence.
Photo of the Day
Nito Cortizo celebrates his victory. Photo: J. Cabezas Reuters
Nito Cortizo celebrates his victory. Photo: J. Cabezas Reuters
Headlines
Migration
📰 Detentions: Ice provides a way for local police to make immigration arrests in sanctuary cities// Mexican authorities detained 52,195 migrants in the first fourth months of 2019.
📰 Border: Apprehended migrants surpassed the 100,000 mark at the southern U.S. border for the second consecutive month. // A court decided that the U.S. government can keep sending asylum seekers to Mexico.
📰 Aid: Mexican president AMLO wants the U.S. to invest in a development plan in Central America and drop the Mérida Initiative, which is security-oriented.
📰 Reunification: 7-year-old girl was reunited with her father 326 days after being separated.
Honduras
📰 European funds: The Honduran government signed two agreements with the European Union for over 76 million dollars to promote “decent employment and human rights in the country.”
📰 Privatization: About a thousand people protested with torches on Friday against President Hernández and against a possible privatization of health and education sectors. The legislative assembly convened again after being suspended last week.
📰 MACCIH: Spokesman of anti-corruption organization MACCIH, Luiz Antonio Guimarães Marrey announced that he will leave his post due to the end of his contract and for family reasons.
📰 Taxes: Citizens and the business sector are unhappy about a tax increase in property and real estate in the capital.
El Salvador
📰Corruption: Supreme Court acquitted Guillermo Gallegos - member of GANA party and Vice President of the Assembly - who was accused of illicit enrichment of over 3 million dollars. // Former president Antonio Saca might have his sentence reduced to from ten to two years because he confessed more.
📰Economy: Two days after the implementation of a new system to make regional trade more efficient, El Salvador’s customs system fails, paralyzing trade within Central America and resulting in a daily loss of $48 million.
📰 Historical Memory: The committee dedicated to evaluate the impact of a new amnesty law ended its mandate without proposing legislation that would guarantee justice to the victims of the armed conflict. //U.N. Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Fabián Salvioli, insisted that the Ministry of Defence hand over the military archives of the 1980s.
📰 Incoming government: María Chichilco, an ex-combatant leader in the FMLN party during the armed conflict, will head the new Secretary of Local Development. Other nominations on the president-elect’s Facebook page.
Guatemala
📰 Censorship: Presidential candidate Sandra Torres used Guatemala’s anti-femicide law to censor a newspaper to report on her campaign  with the help of the appeals chamber. The newspaper had reported on an allegedly illegal electoral financing in 2015. The Guatemalan ombudsman, media associations and international bodies denounced this as censorship.
📰 Israel: Patricia Marroquín de Morales, the wife of President Jimmy Morales, traveled to Israel to participate in the first anniversary of the transfer of the Guatemalan embassy to Jerusalem.
📰 Employment: In the textile industry, between 40,000 and 70,000 jobs are no longer created “because of the lack of flexible labor conditions.”
📰 Corruption: Nómada reports that President Morales gave nearly 60,000 dollars-worth of illegal bonuses to the 20 institutions closest to his interests.
Costa Rica
📰 Jobs: Unemployment rate fell to 11.3% in the first trimester of 2019 and more women are joining the workforce
📰 Interview: The former president of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís, is interviewed to discuss “the rise of evangelicals in Costa Rica, China’s interest in the region and the situation in Nicaragua.” (audio)
📰 Uber: Taxi drivers strike against Uber over a lack of government regulation of Uber as well as Uber’s prices often undercutting the prices of official taxis.
Nicaragua
📰 Funds for the police: Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) will finance at least 24 projects for Nicaragua’s National Police. An online petition gathered over 13,000 signatures asking CABEI to stop the funding because the police is accused of corruption and crimes against humanity. CABEI will continue.
📰 Human Rights: A report of a human rights organization found that political prisoners are repressed and tortured by police and paramilitary groups. It includes sexual abuse, waterboarding, suffocation, electric shocks. // The U.N. will review the human rights situation in Nicaragua on May 15th. A live webcast will be available.
📰 Sanctions: The Nica Act, signed by President Trump, gave President Ortega until June 20 restore democratic freedoms to avoid new sanctions. Ortega also has to release all political prisoners by June 18.
📰 Resignations: Prosecutor General Hernan Estrada resigned abruptly, citing unspecified health concerns. Also, the Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources resigned after 16 months in office.
Belize
📰 Referendum: A majority of Belizeans voted to ask the International Court of Justice to decide on Guatemala’s claim on half of Belize’s territory. Guatemala commended Belize for its decision.
📰 Border tension: Belize People’s Front (BPF), party candidates and members, traveled to the Sarstoon River to assert their rights over Belize’s territory, which is seen as being occupied by members of the Guatemalan Armed Forces.
Panama
📰New president: Center-left Nito Cortizo wins the elections with 33% of votes in 95% of municipalities. Cortizo wants to revise the free-trade agreement with the US and with other Central American states and will try to improve Panama’s reputation after the “Panama Papers.” He will also have a role to play in U.S. and China’s power play in Latin America.
📰 Russia: Sputnik reported that Panama will also seek to expand relations with Russia.
📰 Canal: Panama Canal increased its revenue by 56.7 million dollars between January to March, compared to the same period last year. The drought is making Panama adopt more restrictions for vessels.
Coffee farmers unload a truck filled with coffee plants at Finca San Isidro in San Isidro, El Salvador. Credit: Alicia Vera/The World
Coffee farmers unload a truck filled with coffee plants at Finca San Isidro in San Isidro, El Salvador. Credit: Alicia Vera/The World
Good Reads
💡 The Columbia Journalism Review presents an op-ed by journalist Roberto Lovato who discusses why news coverage should treat borders as fictional boundaries that are permeable to some and not others and that are not removed from geopolitical relations.
💡 United Nations Special Rapporteur, Fabian Salvioli, says it is necessary for El Salvador to prosecute crimes committed during the civil war in order to build a more peaceful future. In an interview with Revista Factum. (In Spanish).
📚 Roads & Kingdoms interviews journalist Nina Lakhani on Berta Cáceres. She gives a background of the case, highlights the Agua Zarca Dam project, DESA’s role in the murder of the activist, and the importance that Caceres case has for modern-day Honduras.
📚 The New York Times spent weeks in Honduras for the story “Inside Gang Territory: ‘Either They Kill Us or We Kill Them.” It highlights the struggles that people face in order to bring peace to their neighborhoods when gangs control them.
📚 CNN traces the life and death of Juan de Leon Guttierrez, the third Guatemalan minor to die in US custody.
Multimedia
🎥 El Faro releases the final video in the Diversoamérica series, “Gays bajo ataque en Honduras,” a sobering look at the dangers faced by the LGBTQI community in Honduras.
🎥 Who is Nito Cortizo? CNN special on the elected President of Panama.
🎧 NPR interviews journalist Jose Antonio Vargas about the connection between race and U.S. immigration policy.
🎥 RT made a special program on Indigenous communities in Panama.
📷🎧 PRI reported on El Salvador’s coffee crisis with photos, audio, and a written report.
Presenting Rachel Osorio, Costa Rica News
Rachel Osorio is a senior high school student of Honduran descent born in L.A. and raised in Northern Virginia who has cone-rod dystrophy and has volunteered at a center for victims of domestic violence & sexual assault for three years. She plans on attending Towson University in the fall with a major in Criminal Justice & Spanish. She enjoys listening to reggaetón, doing arts & crafts, and playing around with different makeup looks.
Rachel Osorio is a senior high school student of Honduran descent born in L.A. and raised in Northern Virginia who has cone-rod dystrophy and has volunteered at a center for victims of domestic violence & sexual assault for three years. She plans on attending Towson University in the fall with a major in Criminal Justice & Spanish. She enjoys listening to reggaetón, doing arts & crafts, and playing around with different makeup looks.
The Team
Melissa Vida, Founder and Editor
Nansi Rodríguez, Guatemala News
Rodrigo Peñalba, Nicaragua News
Jonathan Peraza, Migration News
Jalileh García, Honduras News
Rachel Ketola, El Salvador News
Rachel Osorio, Costa Rica News
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