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A Safe Country

Central American News
A Safe Country
By Central American News • Issue #53 • View online

Dear Readers,
Welcome back to another week of Central American News!
It’s been difficult to cover Central America as a region lately. Why? Because the news cycle keeps moving the pendulum towards U.S. migration policies and the horrors that happen to migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The latest news is about how the U.S. administration pressured Guatemala into signing a “Safe Third Country Agreement,” which essentially means that asylum seekers traveling through Guatemala would have to seek refuge there and not in the United States. Guatemala - a migrant-sending country itself - would have to process around 93,438 asylum applications each year.
Borders are moving south. Almost two months ago, it was Mexico that had agreed to detain migrants traveling north to avoid a U.S.-imposed 5% tariffs on its exports. Since then, Mexico has detained 43,279 undocumented migrants - 88% more than before.
We will see whether this “Safe Third Country” agreement will actually come into force.
In any case, stay tuned with Central American News through the newsletter! We are one subscriber away from the 500. More subscribers means more informed people! 💪
Salú,
The Central American News Team
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Photo of the Week
Enrique Degenhart y Kevin McAleenan, titulares de Seguridad Interior de Guatemala y Estados Unidos, firmaron el viernes el Acuerdo para Examen de Solicitudes de Protección para salvadoreños y hondureños. (Foto Prensa Libre: )
Enrique Degenhart y Kevin McAleenan, titulares de Seguridad Interior de Guatemala y Estados Unidos, firmaron el viernes el Acuerdo para Examen de Solicitudes de Protección para salvadoreños y hondureños. (Foto Prensa Libre: )
Headlines
Guatemala
📰 “Safe Third Country” Agreement: After the “safe third country” agreement was blocked by the Guatemalan Constitutional Court, Trump threatened tariffs, remittance fees and a ban on Guatemalans unless Guatemala’s government agreed to sign the deal. Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales filed an appeal against the Guatemalan Constitutional Court to unblock the deal and signed the agreement later this past week to designate Guatemala a “safe third country.”
In the U.S., a federal judge blocked the policy and ruled that it was “inconsistent with the existing asylum laws.” 
In Guatemala, hundreds of Guatemalans protested against the migration agreement and businesses are relieved that there will not be U.S. economic sanctions on Guatemala. Guatemala may receive 93,438 asylum applications each year from migrants from El Salvador and Honduras. Guatemalan Congress may verify whether the deal is unconstitutional.
📰 Tear Gas: Police launched tear gas to disperse protesters in front of the Supreme Court. They were asking for new elections due to what they call an “election fraud.”
Migration
📰 U.S. Detention : ICE arrested 35 migrants of the 2,000 migrant families targeted in Trump’s Operation Border Resolve this past week. // Thousands of unaccompanied migrant children may be held in federal custody indefinitely. // ICE has begun DNA testing at seven locations at the southern border to identify individuals who claim to be families.
📰 U.S. Policy: The Trump Administration announced an expedited removal rule that will speed up undocumented migrants’ deportations by stripping due process for migrants. // The Supreme Court lifted a court order that helps to expand the border wall with Mexico.
📰 Mexico: Mexican immigration authorities reported detaining at least 43,279 migrants (representing an 88% increase of detainments) during the first 42 days of the US-Mexico migration deal. // The National Institute for Migration in Mexico denies accusations of threats and harassment against migrants. // The photograph of a Guatemalan migrant hugging her son and pleading with National Guard troops to let her migrate to the U.S. has gone viral online.
Nicaragua
📰 Armed Forces: Nicaragua Army speaks up about repression for the first time: General Avil denies that paramilitary forces exist in the country and they will not bow to “social media pressure”. 
📰 Raynéia Da Costa Lima: On the first anniversary of the Brazilian student’s murder, the only charged paramilitary for her killing had walked free out of jail thanks to the “amnesty law”. The Brazilian government protested
📰 Repression: Anti-government protests were met by police repression on July 25 in different parts of the country. // Human rights lawyer María del Socorro Oviedo was detained in Masaya while accompanying her client and activist Christian Fajardo, later released. // Former political prisoner Jaime Navarrete was jailed again. // There are 109 political prisoners still behind bars and opposition groups say there are two executions per day related to protests.
📰 Diplomacy: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Nicaragua and congratulated the country on its 40th anniversary of the 1979 revolution and blasted the US Administration’s for violating international regulations.
Belize 
📰 Remembering History: Belize celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the 1919 Belize City Riots. These were protests held by returning Belizean soldiers against the racist treatment they received in the British Armed Forces during WWI.
📰 EU Aid: Belize signed an agreement with the EU to receive BZD $32M in financial support for the energy sector in the government’s efforts to commit to their sustainability goals.
📰 Sarstoon River Tensions Continue: Members of the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) was stopped by the Guatemalan Army Force during an excursion up the Sarstoon River, telling them to present papers as “the river belongs to Guatemala.” 
El Salvador 
📰 Law for the Disappeared: Attorney General Raúl Melara presents bill to the National Assembly to add the crime of forced disappearance to the penal code and pushes for harsher penalties. The bill is supported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
📰 Economy: The government estimates that failures within the regional customs system have cost the Salvadoran treasury $200 million since the new system was implemented in May. // The Secretary of Labor and Social Welfare, Rolando Castro, announced that the selection criteria for temporary work visas in the US will be defined next week, a program that hopes to place at least 1,000 Salvadorans in agricultural jobs in the US. 
📰 US Relations: Last Sunday, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo met with President Bukele to discuss reducing irregular migration and combating criminal organizations. Reflecting on the visit, US ambassador Jean Manes said that El Salvador is already receiving preferential treatment compared to its neighboring countries. Organizations and institutions in El Salvador criticized the silence of Central American governments regarding U.S. migration policies.
Honduras 
📰Migration: Honduras joins Mexican employment program to curb forced migration.
📰Penal Code: A UN report urges the Honduran government to review its new Penal Code as currently the laws proposed would violate international treaties and has disproportionate penalties for crimes. 
📰Land defenders: 22 communities of Atima demanded that the Forest Conservation Institute not to authorize more plans to exploit their forest, as this has led to a diminution of resources for the communities of this municipality. 
📰Repression: More than 100 organizations condemned the use of excessive force, tear gas, and the arbitrary detentions of minors executed by police forces in Tegucigalpa. The incident occurred last week. 
Panama 
📰 Environment: Panama becomes the first Central American country to ban plastic bags to try to curb pollution on its beaches. Supermarkets, pharmacies and retailers in Panama must stop using traditional polyethylene plastic bags immediately, while wholesale stores will have until 2020.
📰 US Tour: President Cortizo culminated this week a “productive” work tour in New York in which he exposed the “transparency” of Panama’s financial system and its action plan to remove the country from the gray list of the International Financial Action Task Force. 
📰 Remittances Tax: the National Assembly will again discuss a proposal to fix a tax on remittances or money transfers sent abroad, currently not taxed.
📰 Spain: Spain will grant a loan of 20 million dollars to Panama for a program of Universal Access to Energy. 
Costa Rica
📰 Methanol-tainted alcohol: The Health Ministry reported that the amount of people suspected to have been killed by consuming methanol-tainted alcohol in Costa Rica has risen to 20. In response to this the government has issued a national alert about tainted alcohol and has confiscated about 30,000 bottles of alcohol from various off-brands suspected to be tainted with toxic levels of methanol. 
📰 Styrofoam ban: Costa Rica is set to ban the import and sale of polystyrene (styrofoam) due to its harmful effects on the environment. The ban is set to come into effect in 2021; which is the same year the government has stated that Costa Rica will become the first plastic and carbon free country in the world.
Infographic by Nómada on the "Safe Third Country Agreement"
Good Reads
💬 📷 This New York Times opinion piece, “Pay or Die”, highlights corruption in Honduras and the way it affects the rule of law, gang violence and extortion, health and education. With excellent photography, as shown below 👇
Pilgrims sleeping on the floor of the Basilica of Suyapa during the celebration of the feast of the Virgin of Suyapa. Photo credit: Victor J. Blue,  a freelance photographer based in New York.
Pilgrims sleeping on the floor of the Basilica of Suyapa during the celebration of the feast of the Virgin of Suyapa. Photo credit: Victor J. Blue, a freelance photographer based in New York.
🔎 GQ explains how private companies, mainly the two largest private prison companies, GEO Group and CoreCivic, and their affiliates, are making a profit from ICE detention centers. 
📚 After Guatemala signed the “Safe Third Country” agreement, Prensa Libre weighs the anticipated limitations and conflicts of providing asylum to thousands of migrants when Guatemalans themselves are leaving their country. 
💬 In Oakland, California, people are learning words in Mam Maya language to better communicate with the growing Mam Maya community from Guatemala, on KQED News.
🔎 According to federal inspections, as many as 6,000 detainees in migrant detention centers are suffering mental health crises that detention facilities and personnel are not equipped to handle.
Multimedia
📷 Photos featured in The Atlantic show the lives of migrants at the Mexico-Guatemala border after the recent deployment of National Guard members along the southern Mexican states. 👇
A Haitian immigrant woman stands next to others after crossing the Suchiate River from Tecún Umán, Guatemala, to Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, on June 21, 2019. Credit: Carlos Jasso / Reuters
A Haitian immigrant woman stands next to others after crossing the Suchiate River from Tecún Umán, Guatemala, to Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, on June 21, 2019. Credit: Carlos Jasso / Reuters
🎧 Journalist Garrett Graff talks about the years of corruption and dysfunction in the Customs and Border Protection agency on NPR
📺 Panama’s water resources remain in danger and not only in climate change. Indiscriminate logging and lack of planning by the government keeps them under constant threat. See report by Eco TV, Panama
¡Raí Lima, Presente!
In Nicaragua: on Saturday afternoon, dozens of students from the American University (UAM) received their university degrees in an improvised act after their graduation ceremony was suddenly cancelled. The students believe it was cancelled because they wanted to pay tribute to Raynéia Da Costa Lima, the young Brazilian woman who was murdered a year ago by a paramilitary. In this Tweet, you see the improvised “graduation” and the tribute to their killed classmate. 👇
Una Minúscula Más
Juramento Hipocratico estudiantes de medicina UAM2019

“No estamos completos, esto es por ella”

¡Raí Lima, Presente!

#SOSNicaragua https://t.co/gOARFyRhkR
8:55 PM - 27 Jul 2019
Pupusa Love
After Leonardo DiCaprio made the comment that he is a “pupusa man” on Univision, El Salvador’s Ministry of Tourism invited him to celebrate National Pupusa Day in El Salvador.
Leonardo DiCaprio: "Las pupusas son mejores que los tacos"
Leonardo DiCaprio: "Las pupusas son mejores que los tacos"
The Team
Melissa Vida, Founder and Editor
Nansi Rodríguez, Guatemala News
Rodrigo Peñalba, Nicaragua News
Jonathan Peraza Campos, Migration News
Jalileh García, Honduras News
Rachel Ketola, El Salvador News
Rachel Osorio, Costa Rica News
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