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Central American News is Back

Central American News
Central American News is Back
By Central American News • Issue #125 • View online

Dear Readers,
Welcome back to the third year of Central American News, where the isthmus is covered by Central Americans.
You’ll find news on our people’s migrations; the vaccine arriving to Costa Rica; Guatemala’s landmark justice win for the 2009 murder of Maya Q’eqchi’ teacher and community member Adolfo Ich, who opposed Central America’s largest nickel mine; the increasing drug trafficking accusations against Honduras’ president, Panama’s youth, and much more. We also have a treat for you – a new baby tiger was born in Nicaragua, see picture at the end of the newsletter.
We’re happy to see you again. Welcome back.
Salú,
Melissa
Photo of the Week
"Angelica Choc, Ich's wife, spent 12 years seeking justice for her husband. She suffered persecution and threats." Photo by Sandra Cuffe, Tweet by Jody Garcia (link on photo).
"Angelica Choc, Ich's wife, spent 12 years seeking justice for her husband. She suffered persecution and threats." Photo by Sandra Cuffe, Tweet by Jody Garcia (link on photo).
Podcast
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Headlines
📰  Migrant Detention: The zero-tolerance policies implemented during the Trump administration will have prolonged effects into the Biden administration. // Detention facilities have been escaping federal oversight, but after complaints from detainees, investigations have been conducted. The soundness of those investigations have raised concerns. 
📰  Honduran Caravan: As groups are organizing migrant caravans to set off from Honduras to the U.S. in January, a U.S. border official expressed that Central American and the Mexican governments will impede the caravan’s passing. Guatemala and Honduras deployed the military to block the caravan. 
📰  Migrant Assistance: Shelters that lent aid to migrants in Mexico have closed or reduced services due to health laws, worsening conditions for migrants in Mexico. A Texas border city is collaborating with Mexican officials to provide improved services and assistance to arriving migrants, learning from past experiences. 
📰  Climate Refugees: The impact of climate change on Central American countries’ coffee industry has pushed more Central Americans to migrate north towards the U.S. and to Costa Rica.

Belize
📰 Marijuana Bill: The People’s United Party intends to introduce a “controlled marijuana industry” in Belize in an effort to generate additional revenue throughout the country’s economy. 
📰 Land Rights: Prime Minister Briceño had closed down the Department of Lands for investigation of corrupt activity. Recently, in Prime Minister Briceño’s first House meeting, the results of the investigation revealed improper sales of land by the previous Government of Belize.
📰 COVID-19: There are currently 536 active cases of COVID. Of over 11,000 confirmed cases, 10,000 have successfully recovered.

Costa Rica 
📰 Violence at U.S. Capitol: The Foreign Ministry of Costa Rica issued a statement in response to the political violence and takeover of the United States Capitol in Washington D.C.
📰 Inflation: Costa Rica ended 2020 with an inflation rate of 0.89%, which according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC) is the lowest rate of inflation recorded in 4 years. 
📰 IMF Negotiations: The government of Costa Rica will begin negotiations for a loan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on January 11. The Executive Branch’s first attempt to reach an agreement with the IMF last September and October failed amid criticism from legislators who considered that it privileged new taxes over spending cuts.
📰 COVID-19 Vaccine: 9,751 people have already received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Costa Rica. Of the vaccines given so far, 83% were applied in Social Security Fund workers, 9.9% in older adults in long-stay households, 2.4% in long-term household workers and 4.7% in other frontline workers responding to the pandemic.

El Salvador
📰 Mask Scam: The Salvadoran government negotiated with a Chinese company at the start of the pandemic to purchase $2 million in masks that were never delivered. El Faro reports that the government ignored recommendations from the public Solidarity Fund for Health about a “possible scam.”
📰 Respect for Migrants: The National TPS Alliance wrote a letter to the governments of El Salvador and Honduras asking them to respect immigrant communities fighting Trump’s attacks, stop taking credit for victories of organized migrants and stop complicity with Trump’s war on asylum seekers. 
📰 Investigations: Former President Mauricio Funes faces new criminal proceedings of money laundering. Funes is the third Salvadoran president to be accused of seizing public funds.//Hotels seized from accused Salvadoran drug kingpin Chepe Diablo were awarded lucrative government contracts to serve as quarantine centers, according to an audit of pandemic spending by the Court of Accounts.
📰 Upcoming Election: Attorney General Raúl Melara is guaranteeing a “clean and transparent” democratic process for the upcoming legislative and municipal elections on February 28.
📰 Security: After recording less homicides in 2020, El Salvador recorded 20 homicides in first 3 days of January.

Guatemala
📰 Journalism: In 2020, numerous journalists and activists were attacked and repressed by public, national, and local authorities. These attacks ranged from public violent offenses to more invisible offenses such as online harassment.
📰 Justice for Murder: Former head of security of Central America’s largest nickel mine (Fenix), Mynor Padilla, pleaded guilty of killing Maya Q’eqchi’ teacher and community member Adolfo Ich in a 2009 shooting. Adolfo Ich opposed the mine and its evictions. Angelica Choc, Ich’s wife, had spent 12 years seeking justice for her husband. 
📰 ajq´ij Jesús Choc Yat : Mayan healer and spiritual guide ajq´ij Jesús Choc Yat was killed at the beginning of January. Although there is little information about the case, there were clear signs of torture. For context: Who is an ajq´ij? 
📰 COVID-19: 1,063 new cases of coronavirus were detected this past week.

Honduras
📰 Drug Trafficking: According to U.S. federal prosecutors, Juan Orlando Hernandez, the Honduran President, took bribes from drug traffickers in exchange of protecting drug labs and shipments by the country’s armed forces. 
📰 Corruption: Invest-H promises that mobile hospitals will be installed by February. Yet, it’s been nine months since they announced the purchase of the hospitals, while the allegations of over-valuation of the purchases have not been investigated. 
📰 COVID-19: There has been a spike in cases of COVID-19 in Honduras, for which doctors are calling for new confinement measures given that hospitals are at capacity. // The Provost of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) published that UNAH will be the first center in the country to store and apply the COVID-19 vaccine.

Nicaragua
📰 Daniel Ortega: President Daniel Ortega celebrates fourteen years in power. Confidencial reviews his record, from total control of the government, corruption, constitutional changes, incomplete megaprojects, and the April 18’ repression. 
📰 Gender Violence: 2020 ends with 71 recorded femicides, 18 more than the previous year. 
📰 Human Rights: Over 50 political activists and journalists are being besieged by police forces on a daily basis, according to human rights reports. // The national assembly will approve life imprisonment in new reform
📰 COVID-19: COVID-19 forces more than 15,000 Nicaraguans to leave Panama. The Nicaraguan Citizen Observatory registered 23 more deaths from COVID-19 in the last week.

Panama
📰 COVID-19 Vaccine: Both Panamanian nationals and foreigners will be receiving the COVID-19 vaccine when it arrives. // 40,000 doses of the Pfizer and Biotech vaccines will arrive between 18 and 25 January. 
📰 New Lockdown: The Panamanian government implemented a lockdown with restricted mobility from 4 January to 14 January 2021 in the provinces of Panamá and Panamá Oeste. This a return of gender-based outings, restricted by days and ID numbers. There will be a total lockdown on the weekends within these dates. 
📰 Money Laundering: Guatemalan courts rejected an appeal filed by Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, the son of former Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli. He sought to challenge his extradition to the United States, where he is wanted for money laundering. 
📰 Transparency Failure: Only 25 of the 138 complaints made in 2020 to the Autoridad Nacional de Transparencia y Acceso a la Información (ANTAI) were solved. These ranged from nepotism to irregularities in the public administration.
Nieve, the baby white Bengal tiger
The National Zoo of Nicaragua witnessed the birth of a white Bengal tiger cub named "Nieves". The zoo reported that Nieve's mother, Dalila, was rescued from a circus in Nicaragua about five years ago and carries the gene of a white bengal tiger.
The National Zoo of Nicaragua witnessed the birth of a white Bengal tiger cub named "Nieves". The zoo reported that Nieve's mother, Dalila, was rescued from a circus in Nicaragua about five years ago and carries the gene of a white bengal tiger.
Fundación Gabo’s Award Nominations
See the nominees for the 2020 Gabo Awards that hail from Central America (the complete list is here). The virtual ceremony will take place on January 21.
📌Guatemala: “The military objectives of the Lucas García government and the survivors of the Chisís massacre”, published in Plaza Pública de Guatemala: a graphic report in memory of the Ixil victims of the Chisís massacre, at the dawn of a new genocide trial. 
📌El Salvador: The suicidal girls of El Salvador”, published in Univision Noticias Digital: a bilingual multimedia special on the extreme violence suffered by girls and women in El Salvador and how it is leading them to suicide. 
📌El Salvador: Intoxicated Communities”, published in La Prensa Gráfica de El Salvador: a series of reports on chronic kidney disease that is killing farmers on the Pacific coast of Central America and that is silenced based on the profits of crops.
📌El Salvador: Southern Border. The unknown border of America”, published in the daily El País of Spain and El Faro de El Salvador: a series of multimedia reports that travels, narrates, and tries to gut the strip that connects Mexico with Central America.
📌El Salvador: Witnesses: the voices that made El Mozote survive”, published in El Faro de El Salvador. Survivors narrate in four animations and a documentary the greatest massacre of the Salvadoran civil war and their fight against impunity.
Dame un chance
As part of the “Dame un Chance” initiative, 23 teens from the five custody and compliance centers have completed the first Virtual Academy of Values for Adolescents in Conflict with the Criminal Law of Central America (Telemetro). Click on photo for video.
As part of the “Dame un Chance” initiative, 23 teens from the five custody and compliance centers have completed the first Virtual Academy of Values for Adolescents in Conflict with the Criminal Law of Central America (Telemetro). Click on photo for video.
Central American Voices & Events
✍️ La bandera se siente pesada: Panamanian journalist Sophia Nandwani wrote a touching reflection on the remembrance of Martyrs’ Day, which commemorates the heroes of 9 January 1964. This is a day of national mourning which commemorates the anti-American riots over sovereignty of the Panama Canal Zone.
📅 Gangs in El Salvador: New management of violence in Central America? The situation in El Salvador, a live debate by The Crisis Group on January 13.
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The Team
Melissa Vida, Founder, Editor-in-Chief. Rodrigo Peñalba, Editor & Nicaragua News. Melissa Orellana, Editor. Jonathan Peraza Campos, Migration News. José Martínez, Podcast Producer, Social Media Officer. Natalie Leach, Social Media Officer. Isabeau J. Belisle Dempsey, Belize News. Rachel Osorio, Costa Rica News. Pablo Arauz Peña, El Salvador News. Jalileh García, Honduras News. Nansi Rodríguez, Guatemala News. Irene Ledezma, Panama News. Jacqui Martinez, Guest Art Curator
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