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Central American News
By Central American News • Issue #72 • View online

Dear Readers,
Carlos was a 16 year old boy who died in U.S. custody from a preventable disease on May 19, 2019. It was caught on film.
The publication of the video showing his last hours in his cell and the trauma his family endured because of it poses age-old ethical considerations about journalism.
Yet, the investigation itself of ProPublica plainly shows how children are migrant (not) treated in the United States and how U.S. immigration agencies try to hide this. Fever or not, kids sleep on concrete beds, do not receive blankets, and are left to their fate. John Sanders, the Customs and Border Protection’s acting commissioner at the time, resigned.
Reporting on these news, however painful, however repetitive, is needed.
Studying the underlying foundations of how these tragedies happen is also indispensable.
That is why recognizing the contributions of the growing body of Central American scholars is relevant. Digging deeper into the contexts of these mournful events gives hope to eradicate them.
We join Ester Trujillo’s last words in her op-ed on the debate about whether Chicano/a studies should incorporate Central American studies : “We have a lot of work to do, so let’s dive in.”
Thanks for reading us and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, too.
The Team
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Photo of the Week
Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez Died in Border Patrol Care. Source: Ordoñez for Getty images/DW.
Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez Died in Border Patrol Care. Source: Ordoñez for Getty images/DW.
📰 Rest in Peace, Carlos: Recent video footage recording the death of a sick Guatemalan teen in U.S. custody contradicts Border Patrol’s account of his death. 
📰 No Plan for Family Separations: An official U.S. report on the Trump administration’s zero tolerance family separations reveals the lack of plans, technology, and protocols to track family separations with plans of reunification. 
📰 Migrants: U.S. authorities confiscated migrant kids’ medications at the southern border. // Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed officers in Louisiana used pepper spray on migrants who protested prolonged detention.
📰 Asylum Agreement: Seven civil society groups share concerns over how the asylum agreements forged between the United States and various Central American nations have a high potential to violate the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers.
El Salvador
📰 Relations with China: After a State visit from Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, China announced an agreement to invest in several major infrastructure projects in El Salvador, including a large sports stadium, multi-story library, and water treatment plant.
📰 Maras: The MS-13 has poultry farms, coffee plantations, and receives money from politicians, revealed an ex gangster in a massive trial in El Salvador.
📰 Reconciliation Law: The Salvadoran Supreme Court extended the deadline for the Legislative Assembly to approve a new “National Reconciliation Law” until February 28, 2020.
📰 Human Rights: During first “in loco” visit to El Salvador in 32 years, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) heard from civil society organizations who denounced rise in crimes against the LGBTI population, attacks on the press, and aggressions against human rights defenders.
📰 Government Policies: The Government of Belize is debating whether to approve a $20M loan to improve education.  
📰 Fishing: Members of OCEANA Belize want more action from the Government regarding phasing out gillnet usage, a harmful fishing practice.  
📰 Caribbean Community: Belize joins with CARICOM in celebrating 47 years of diplomatic relations with Cuba.  
📰 Corruption: Abuse of power, corruption, and human rights violations prevail in Central America, according to a regional report. Nicaragua is mentioned as ”the most corrupt country“ in the region according to Transparency International. 
📰 Femicides: Seven women were killed in November in Nicaragua, which increases the amount of femicides this year to 60 women. This could be one of the worst years for women, warns the Catholic Observatory for the Right to Decide (CDD).
📰 Education: Enrollment in universities falls between 30% and 50% due to the country’s sociopolitical crisis.
📰 President Jimmy Morales: President Jimmy Morales confirms his future role as parliamentarian in the Central American Parliament (Parlacen).// The Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating three cases that could involve President Jimmy Morales and the head of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, Stuardo Campo.
📰 Environment: A plantation of pinabete, a native tree of Guatemala, is on the verge of extinction due to illegal logging. // Accumulated garbage due to spillway in Santiago Atitlán contaminates protected area El Mirador del Rey Tepepul.
📰 US Relations: US seeks to strengthen the Office of the Prosecutor against Impunity to fight corruption in Guatemala. // The U.S. government considers Alejandro Sinibaldi, a former Communications Minister, a fugitive from justice. Sinibaldi is involved in corruption cases and has six arrest warrants in Guatemala.
📰 Journalists: The Public Ministry creates a special prosecutor’s office that will investigate crimes against journalists.
📰 Adoptions: Over 30,000 children in Guatemala were adopted worldwide decades ago but several have learned they were taken away from their birth families.
Costa Rica
📰 Security: Costa Rican authorities launched a “Safe December” initiative that will increase police presence throughout the country to help combat crime and ensure that Costa Rica has a safer year compared to 2018, where the country closed 2018 with 586 homicides. // Costa Rican authorities inaugurated a new airplane that will be used by the country’s Air Surveillance Service, a branch of the Public Security Ministry. 
📰 Organ Trafficking: Prosecutors in Costa Rica are investigating a suspected organ trafficking ring at a hospital in the country’s capital of San José. This is the second time in recent years an organ trafficking ring has been uncovered.
📰 Human Rights: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, encourages Costa Rica to continue creating spaces for dialogue and social participation. // A museum commemorating the victims and others who have been killed during the protests against the government of President Daniel Ortega will be exhibited in Costa Rica. 
📰 Berta Cáceres: Seven men convicted of killing the Honduran indigenous leader and land defender received sentences between 30 to 54 years. The masterminds who financed and organized her murder have still not been convicted and remain free. 
📰 MACCIH: The Honduran Congress created a Special Commission to investigate the actions and advances of the MACCIH, the OAS mandated anti-corruption body, in its 4 years of operation. This commission has received backlash, as many of the members of Congress are under investigation by this very body. // The European Union and bipartisan house leaders in the U.S. called for the renewal of the commission’s mandate. 
📰 Palmerola Airport: The Honduran Congress issued an expansion of the Palmerola Airport, increasing the budget for its construction. A few weeks ago, Contracorriente reported that the contract had been given to Lenir Perez, a businessman with ties to questionable mining companies. 
📰 Feminist Performance: Honduran feminist organizations convened in Tegucigalpa to recreate the feminist performance “El Violador Eras Tu” originally performed in Chile by Las Tesis collective that denounces sexual violence against women. 
📰 Martinelli Sues Prisa Group: Panama’s former president Martinelli filed a lawsuit against Grupo Prisa radio for US $5 million, under the charges of “slander”.
📰 Summit in Panama City: The XIII China-LAC Business Summit, scheduled for next Monday and Wednesday in the Panamanian capital, will generate an estimated movement of $190 million, according to the organizers. At least 2,000 visitors, including 1,300 foreigners, will participate in the meeting.
📰 Supreme Court: The unicameral Parliament of Panama ratified nine new judges of the Supreme Court. The Judges were nominated by the president of his country, Laurentino Cortizo, who asked them "not to fail” in the mission of strengthening the discredited administration of Panamanian Justice.
📰 Direct Investment: According to preliminary figures, foreign direct investment expanded by 10.9%.
Virgin Mary Celebrations in Nicaragua
On December 7, Nicaraguans prepared altars for the Virgin Mary. Some altars included symbolic barricades, the national flag, or the Immaculate Conception of Mary defeating dragons symbolizing political oppressors. Source: La Prensa.
On December 7, Nicaraguans prepared altars for the Virgin Mary. Some altars included symbolic barricades, the national flag, or the Immaculate Conception of Mary defeating dragons symbolizing political oppressors. Source: La Prensa.
Good Reads
☑️ Academia: “Central Americans Aren’t Co-Opting Chicano Studies. They’re Building on Their Shared History,” an op-ed by Assistant Professor Ester Trujillo on Remezcla
☑️Honduras: “Guardians of the Homeland” is a program run by the Armed Forces with the support of the Catholic Church. It seeks to give children classes of moral and civic values, art, sports, and religious training. It has been questioned by human rights organizations for the involvement of the Armed Forces in the socialization of children, reports Contracorriente
☑️ Nicaragua: Despacho 505 reports on how the Sandinista party performed electoral fraud throughout five elections.
☑️ Prison System: A law professor penned an op-ed in the New York Times arguing that U.S. immigration prisons should be abolished to end the inhumane suffering of migrants and invest money in alternative solutions for migrants.
Bona Island of Panama is Now a Protected Area
The Panamanian environmental authorities declared Bona Island a protected area. The island is located in the Gulf of Panama and next to the entrance of the interoceanic Pacific Channel, and serves as a nesting and breeding site for local and migratory seabirds from South America.
The Panamanian environmental authorities declared Bona Island a protected area. The island is located in the Gulf of Panama and next to the entrance of the interoceanic Pacific Channel, and serves as a nesting and breeding site for local and migratory seabirds from South America.
In Numbers
“Nayib Bukele’s $31 million Territorial Control Plan put 2,500 officers and 3,000 soldiers in San Salvador and other cities to recover territory occupied by gangs in 17 municipalities.” Source: Insight Crime.
🎧 El Mozote: “Witnesses: The Voices that Survived El Mozote,” in El Faro. El Mozote Massacre took place in and around the village of El Mozote, in El Salvador, in 1981 when the Salvadoran Army killed more than 800 civilians during the Salvadoran Civil War.
🎧 LGBTQ: La Podcast” is the LGBTQ podcast of Despacho 505. It explores what it’s like to be LGBTQ in Nicaragua and in Central America.
🎧 Art: An artist who worked as a janitor at a detention center in Arizona secretly collected belongings confiscated from migrants and thrown in the trash to make a photo exhibition titled “El Sueño Americano/The American Dream: Photographs by Tom Kiefer.” 
🎧 Guatemala: In this short documentary titled “Cho Ukayib’al” (“Deep Looking”/”Mirar Profundo”), shares the history and struggle of the Maya K’iche through the eyes of Maya cosmology and philosophy. 
The Team
Melissa Vida, Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Rodrigo Peñalba, Nicaragua News, Editor
Rachel Ketola, El Salvador News
Nansi Rodríguez, Guatemala News
Jonathan Peraza Campos, Migration News
Jalileh García, Honduras News
Rachel Osorio, Costa Rica News
Natalie Leach, Social Media Officer
José Martinez, Social Media Officer 
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