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Central American News - Recovering Our Native identity (#157)

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Central American News
Central American News - Recovering Our Native identity (#157)
By Central American News • Issue #157 • View online

Dear Readers
The erasure of Native voices in our isthmus is a violent reality which many Native and Indigenous peoples resist daily. 
This week, Samaria Polet Carias Ayala, our new in-house editor, has shed light on this crucial topic in her first piece titled “‘Recovering a Central American Native identity is key to stopping our erasure’.” 
Samaria, an Afro-Native artist and visionary from Honduras, describes her personal experiences with erasure and resistance. She notes: “I have endured forced assimilation to the colonial norms and been displaced from my original homeland. I am the living personification that we resist colonial teachings as we suffer the backlash of living as our Native selves.” 
“The people on Central American soil inculcated colonial thought through Spanish social norms and a Westernized education system,” writes Samaria. “Imagine wanting to connect to yourself and your family but having to put together very limited pieces of a stolen puzzle, while others around you perpetuate your erasure,” she continues. 
Her piece resonates with the lived experiences of many Indigenous and Native people across the Central American isthmus and beyond. Just this week, the Lenca community of Rio Blanco had to fight to be recognized as victims in the corruption case regarding the concession of the Gualcarque River, despite having experienced the transgression of their ancestral river, contamination, dispossession, threats and murders (including the land defender and activist Berta Cáceres).
500 migrants leave Tapachula, Chiapas (Southern border of Mexico) after waiting for months for a legal transit permit to the northern border. The caravan was dispersed by police and migration offices.
500 migrants leave Tapachula, Chiapas (Southern border of Mexico) after waiting for months for a legal transit permit to the northern border. The caravan was dispersed by police and migration offices.
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Headlines
Migration
📰 Immigration Policies: The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the reinstatement of the “Remain in Mexico” policy. // A federal judge ruled that a law that criminalizes re-entry to the U.S. after deportation is unconstitutional due to its racist origins. // Detained migrants are still paying high bail bonds for release from detention per a Trump-era policy. 
📰 Border Camp: After a migrant camp at the U.S.-Mexico border was closed, nearly 2,000 migrants gathered and opened another makeshift camp.
📰 Mexico: Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador called on the U.S. and Canada to invest in development rather than migration restrictions for Central American countries. // At the same time, Mexico is deporting hundreds of migrants to rural Guatemala.
Belize
📰 COVID-19: The country has officially surpassed 1,000 active cases of COVID. Still, vaccinations are continuing throughout the country, including children between the ages of 12 and 17.
📰 Sustainability: The Cabinet has endorsed an update to the National Determined Contributions, which addresses Belize’s commitment to fulfilling the United Nations’ goals for reducing climate change. The government has also been collaborating with fishery managers to develop new sustainable plans for fishing in order to lessen the impact on local ecosystems.
📰 Queen of the Bay: For the first time in seven years, the Queen of the Bay beauty pageant was held in Belize District—though this year, it was a virtual event. Nurse Druewel Jones was crowned Queen. Back in June, there was some tension surrounding the coordinating council of the pageant, with the Belmopan Coordinator recently choosing to sue the council over defamatory remarks.
Costa Rica 
📰 COVID-19: Cases, hospitalizations and deaths increased in the country despite 58% of the population having at least one dose of a vaccine. The Health Ministry reported a 7% increase in cases and a 15% increase in deaths. Authorities also say they’re reducing wait times for vaccinations for second dose vaccinations for residents aged 30 and up to speed up the country’s vaccination efforts. 
📰 Corruption: At least 23 audit reports prepared by the National Laboratory of Structural Materials and Models (Lanamme) were totally or partially neglected by the National Highway Council (Conavi) and the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT), leaving a trace of irregularities or deficiencies in infrastructure projects in the last five years. Deputies could open a corruption investigation on these projects, similar to the Cochinilla case that recently had 30 detentions and 57 raids, as requested by the Public Ministry. 
📰 Trade Dispute: Trade authorities say that Panama is restricting or prohibiting goods such as dairy products, fruits and meats from Costa Rica. The Costa Rican government is requesting an arbitration panel from the World Trade Organization to settle the dispute. 
📰 Insect Agriculture: The Foreign Trade Minister announced an initiative to commercialize products made from insects such as crickets and mealworms. Both have high nutritional value, and help diversify the national economy by opening up an industry to produce food for both animal and human consumption.
El Salvador
📰 Legislative Reforms: Vice President Félix Ulloa, presented a request for 215 reform proposals in the constitution, including changes on presidential terms, referendum mechanisms, and a new constitutional court, among other requests. // Eight labor unions rejected the proposed reforms to El Salvador’s Social Security Law, citing that the possible changes would allow privatization of the country’s social security. As a result, the reforms were withdrawn from the Legislative Assembly. // Alexia Rivas, along with other deputies from the Women’s Commission, proposed a reform to shorten the penalty for those charged with spreading pornography from 4-8 years to 3-5 years.
📰 Gangs: President Nayib Bukele’s government negotiated with three gangs and tried to hide the evidence. An investigation by a previous prosecutor revealed these negotiations, has dismantled the unit that presented the findings. 
📰 Bitcoins: The Government will install 200 ATMs for Bitcoin transactions, which will be a legal tender in El Salvador as of September 7. // Last Friday, demonstrators took to the San Salvador streets to protest the upcoming implementation of the Bitcoin Law. This adds onto the growing doubts regarding the use of cryptocurrency.
📰 FMLN: Three more family members of former President Sánchez Cerén were granted nationality in Nicaragua. // CISPES and 40 other international organizations published a statement in La Prensa Gráfica denouncing the arrests of former FMLN officials
📰 Religion: Four Salvadorans, including Father Rutilio Grande and Father Cosme Spessotto, will be beatified in San Salvador on Jan. 22, 2022.
Guatemala
📰 COVID-19: Medical staff announced they have exceeded their capacity to care for COVID-19 patients in hospitals with “occupancy levels above 140%”. The first cases of the Delta variant were confirmed on August 9 and local authorities are still waiting for the Ministry of Health to inform them and to establish new measures.
📰 Corruption: The Public Ministry (MP) reported that it has not yet investigated the alleged millionaire bribery given to President Giammattei by people of Russian nationality. Prosecutor Curruchiche stated that a respective analysis is being carried out as there is no investigation record on the subject.
📰 Rainy Season: The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred) reported 16 deaths and more than a million people affected by the torrential rains this year.
Honduras
📰 Corruption: The public trial of the 6 out of 16 implicated parties in the corruption case “Fraud Over the Gualcarque River” began this week. The case demonstrates corruption between State officials and businessmen in the procurement of licenses for a hydroelectric dam in the Gualcarque River. // The Lenca community of Rio Blanco was accepted as a victim in the "Fraud on the Gualcarque” trial by the Supreme Court. The community was initially denied the ability to participate in the trial, despite being directly affected by the concession given that it is located in ancestral Lenca territory. 
📰 COVID-19: Two pregnant women and their babies passed away due to COVID-19 in San Pedro Sula this past weekend. Health authorities are urging  pregnant women to get vaccinated. 
📰 Human Rights: The Sentencing Court of Trujillo extended the arbitrary detention of the defenders of the Guapinol River by 6 more months. The defenders have already been arbitrarily imprisoned for two years. UN officials have repeatedly called these detentions arbitrary and have urged the defenders to be freed.
Nicaragua
📰 Mayagnas: Settlers attacked community members in Mayangna territory in the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve, located in the northern Caribbean region. So far 18 dead bodies have been counted and it is believed that the number of victims may rise to more than 20.
📰 Political prisoners: The Public Ministry accused presidential candidates, social activists, journalists and former employees of NGOs on charges of “treason”, “money laundering” or “conspiracy”. // Nicaragua did not attend a hearing of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the situation of these political prisoners
📰 COVID-19:  Despite a national “voluntary vaccination” campaign, now in its 6th month,  Nicaragua has only vaccinated 3% of the population, the least in Central America. // Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, top leader of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, confirms that he is infected with COVID-19, but in good health.
📰 Economy: The National Assembly approved reforms to extend surveillance on financial institutions. These reforms authorize fines up to U$500,000 USD and the removal of managers who do not comply with regulations, including a gag order on any investigation by the government..
Panama
📰 Access to Information: Student protestors from the University of Panama gathered in Casco Viejo to protest the restricted access to information by the Ministry of the Presidency and alleged corruption within the national government.
📰 COVID-19: Groups of peaceful protestors marched in front of Plaza Cinco de Mayo in Panama City against the possibilities of a mandatory vaccination. 
📰 National: Doris Zapata, Minister of Labor and Labor Development, met with businesses and laborers to discuss the reconfiguration of Panama’s minimum wage for 2022. 
📰 Environment: El Montuoso Forest Reserve in the province of Herrera has been protected by law since 1977, but a new draft bill proposes to change the protected area into a hydrological reserve. It could potentially be used for ecotourism, planting of non-traditional agricultural products, and other projects.
Good Reads
‘Recovering a Central American Native identity is key to stopping our erasure’.
‘Recovering a Central American Native identity is key to stopping our erasure’.
📌 ‘Recovering a Central American Native identity is key to stopping our erasure’. An op-ed by Samaria Polet Carias Ayala, Afro-Native artist and visionary from Honduras and member of Central American News. (Central American News’ Medium)
📌Corruption: Each Central American country differs from the others and has its own unique problems. Yet all have certain things in common. They have long been dominated by small yet powerful political and economic elites that do not necessarily favour democracy.” (The Economist)
📌Union Busting: How Nicaragua’s FSLN turned “sindicatos” into political weapons against right wing governments first, and then agaisnt workers rights. (Expediente Público)
📌“Desaparecidos”: Forced disappearance in Nicaragua is the new tactic to repress, according to a new Amnesty International report. Current political prisoners have no proper legal defense, with concealment of their whereabouts. (Amnesty International)
📌Indigeneity in El Salvador:  Salvadoran writer Gustavo Pineda released two new books about the indigenous peoples of El Salvador (in ContraPunto). 
📌Human Rights in El Salvador: Over 60 Civil Society Organizations Denounce the Alarming Deterioration of Human Rights Situation in El Salvador (FIDH)
📌Bitcoin in Honduras: Cryptocurrency ATM Opens In Honduras Amid Rise In Demand For Virtual Assets (NDTV)
📌Goodbye, Juan Orlando?: As electoral campaigns officially starts in Honduras, El Faro English reviews the political landscape of elections, corruption, and narcotics. (El Faro English)
Tokyo 2020 Paralympics
Sherman Guity wins a silver medal in the 100 meters, T64 category, in Tokyo 2020.
Sherman Guity wins a silver medal in the 100 meters, T64 category, in Tokyo 2020.
Panama: Did you know that Panama has won eight Paralympic medals? Read about Panamanian athletes’ accomplishments in the Paralympics for their country. (La Estrella)  
El Salvador: Herbert Aceituno became the first Salvadoran to win a medal at the Paralympics. Herbert won a bronze medal in powerlifting. (CVBJ)
Costa Rica:  Sherman Guity won a silver medal in the 100 meters, T64 category, in Tokyo 2020. This is the first ever medal for Costa Rica in Paralympics Ggames. (ESPN)
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The Team
Melissa Vida, Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Jonathan Peraza Campos, Migration News
Pablo Arauz Peña, Costa Rica News
Jalileh García, Honduras News
Nansi Rodríguez, Guatemala News
Bree’ya Brown, Panama News
Kirsten Cintigo, El Salvador News
Natalie Leach, Social Media Manager
Vivian Ramos, Twitter Manager
José Martínez, Podcast Producer
Cecilia Rivas, Podcast Producer
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