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CICIG out, CICIES in.

Central American News
CICIG out, CICIES in.
By Central American News • Issue #59 • View online

Dear Readers,
Things never stand still in Central America. The week CICIG left Guatemala, CICIES is launched in El Salvador. In Honduras, the OAS-led MACCIH helped condemn the former first lady, Rosa Elena Bonilla, to 58 years in prison for keeping money that was meant for poor families.
CICIG, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, was a UN-led anti-corruption body designed in 2006 to help the country’s better investigate impunity and corruption cases and enforce the law. Last year, President Morales did not renew its mandate and banned the head of CICIG, Iván Velásquez, from setting foot in Guatemala.
CICIG helped have 70 corruption structures revealed, 1,540 people accused, 700 people prosecuted, and 400 convictions. The organization helped unveil how the State “has been kidnapped” by power groups seeking to perpetuate impunity. These corruption structures have fueled forced migration, writes the editor-in-chief of Nomada reports, citing Mayan anthropologist Irmalicia Veláquez Nimatuj.
Three days after CICIG left Guatemala, El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele and Luis Porto, a representative of the Organization of American States (OAS), launched a CICIES, an International Commission against Impunity in El Salvador.
CICIES would work on the executive branch for now, because CICIES will be adopted by an executive order and not go through the legislative assembly. One of its first projects would be to put a specialized anti-corruption unit within the National Civil Police. Unfortunately, journalists from the media El Faro and Revista Factum were not allowed to enter the press conference.
We will see what the future will hold for anti-corruption efforts in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. You’ll find news on it on Central American News ;) See you next week.
Salú,
The Team
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Photo of the Week
President of the Republic Nayib Bukele and Luis Porto of the Organization of American States (OAS) announced the installation of the technical mission of the International Commission Against Impunity in El Salvador / Photo Marcela Moreno
President of the Republic Nayib Bukele and Luis Porto of the Organization of American States (OAS) announced the installation of the technical mission of the International Commission Against Impunity in El Salvador / Photo Marcela Moreno
Headlines
Migration
📰 Reducing Migration: Mexico has reduced the number of undocumented migrants crossing into the U.S. by 56% since May and will continue immigration agreement with the U.S. after its 90-day term.// The Pentagon authorized the diverting of $3.6 billion for 11 wall projects on the southern border with Mexico. 
📰 Mexico: An official of Mexico’s National Supreme Court of Justice stated that six articles in Migration Law are unconstitutional. // Conditions that migrants experience in Chiapas akin to “concentration camps,” according to activist. // The Salvadoran government will open a consulate in Ciudad Juarez to assist the high number of Salvadoran migrants.
📰 The South: A Court ordered ICE in New Orleans to stop detaining asylum seekers who do not pose a threat. // An ICE agent in Tennessee opened fire on immigrants outside of a Tennessee grocery store, according to a local immigrant rights group.
📰 Children & Families: U.S. Federal judge ordered that 11 parents who where deported without their children can to return to the U.S. due to the likelihood that they were coerced into authorizing their deportation. // Trump administration announced that it will reconsider its decision to deport immigrants receiving medical treatment for life-threatening health conditions.
Guatemala
📰State of Siege: President Jimmy Morales declared a state of siege in 22 municipalities for 30 days after an ambush of alleged drug traffickers on the military which resulted in three dead, two missing and three injured in El Estor, Izabal. However, the recollection of events presented by Morales is not the same version given by the Semuy II community and is being questioned by the Guatemala’s institute of forensic sciences.
📰CICIG: The Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres said that he hopes that the fight against impunity will continue in Guatemala despite the international anti-corruption body officially closing after 12 years of service, on September 3rd. 
📰 Sandra Torres: Former presidential candidate Sandra Torres from the UNE party came to court for her first statement hearing after being detained last Monday in her home for unregistered electoral financing and conspiracy. The Public Ministry presented more than 100 wiretaps at the hearing and deputies of UNE try to avoid having their party cancelled. // Judge Claudette Dominguez revealed on September 6th that Torres does not have any mental disorder that could incapacitate her, so she will remain in jail until at least September 12, when the hearing resumes.
📰Third Safe Country Agreement: President-elect Alejandro Giammattei met with Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State of the United States, and stated that he does not agree with the immigration agreement for Guatemala to serve as a shelter for Salvadorans and Honduran asylum applicants. 
Honduras
📰Justice: A court has sentenced former First Lady Rosa Elena Bonilla to 58 years in prison for misappropriating $779,000. Bonilla’s personal assistant, Saúl Escobar, was also sentenced to 48 years in jail for fraud. 
📰Freedom of Speech: The new penal code, effective on November 10 of this year, will no longer include “crimes against honor,” such as defamation, libel, and slander. These crimes will be moved to the civil code. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CJP) welcomed the announcement. 
📰Drug-Trafficking: Former Honduran National Police officer was charged in a New York federal court with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States. The suspect is the Honduran President’s cousin. 
📰Guapinol Case: The seven defenders of the Guapinol River were transferred to a maximum security prison, disobeying a court order. The UN High Commissioner’s Office in Honduras expressed its concern about the authorities’ non-compliance with the judge’s court order.
El Salvador
📰 Evelyn Hernandez: The Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that it will appeal last month’s acquittal of Evelyn Hernandez, who was accused of homicide after experiencing a stillborn and exonerated during a retrial. Despite the ruling that there was not enough evidence to charge Evelyn, the government will make her stand trial for a third time, a decision that has sparked outrage from local and international activists.
📰 Homicide Rates: According to official data, August closed with 131 homicides - an average of 4.2 a day - making it the least violent month of the 21st century so far. In light of the reduced homicide rate, President Nayib Bukele lifted the strict emergency measures in all prisons, which were implemented in June as part of his Security Plan.  Despite the record low homicide rate of August, 31 murders were reported in the first four days of September, bringing into question the sustainability of the government’s approach to reducing violence. 
📰 Anti-Corruption Commission: On Friday, President Nayib Bukele, announced the launch of the International Commission against Impunity in El Salvador (CICIES), accompanied by a representative from the OAS. During the conference, Bukele said he could implement the commission without the approval of the Legislative Assembly or the Supreme Court. According to journalists of El Faro, they, and a journalist from Revista Factum, were not allowed to attend the press conference due to their “bad behavior” in former press conferences.
📰Environmental Justice:  A real-estate project “Valle El Angel” has been met with protest and opposition by El Salvador’s civil society, including environmental organizations, the church, and academic institutions. The proposed development project - which would include 8,000 luxury houses, shopping centers and more - could threaten the already scarce water supply in the San Salvador region. 
Nicaragua
📰 UN Report: New UN report finds that the Nicaraguan justice system is used to criminalize dissent and promote impunity of those responsible of human rights’ violations, and that arbitrary arrests are used as a means to repress dissent.
📰 Sanctions: The US Treasury office published the regulation for financial sanctions (PDF) against officials of the Government of Nicaragua and the European Union finalizes a legal framework to impose sanctions on the regime. 
📰 Army: Nicaragua’s Army pledges to the sovereignty of the state and accused NGOs of asking the army to organize a coup in 2018. Venezuela’s Defense Minister received the Nicaraguan Army “in recognition of the strengthening of cooperation ties with the military institution of that country”. 
📰 Peasants: 18 extrajudicial killings of peasants have been registered in 2019 in the “War corridor” zone (Matagalpa, Jinotega, Nueva Segovia and North Caribe region), Colectivo Nunca Más reports. Peasant Marvin Blandón Mercado is the latest victim, a murder that was condemned by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro.
📰 Expropriation: Armed invaders expel Mayagna communities from their territories. The invasion is coordinated by councilors loyal to the government.
Belize
📰Border Tensions: As Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales declares a state of siege, he deploys more military to several departments including the border with Belize.
Costa Rica
📰 Decreased amount of forest fires: An image from NASA demonstrates a relatively low amount of forest fires in Costa Rica compared to other countries in Central America. 
📰 Glass Recycling: Costa Rica comes second in Central America on recycling and recovering glass and it contributes with 14% of the total glass that is recovered in Central America to be recycled to help decrease the amount of waste in landfills, and energy used to produce new glass materials.
Panama
📰 Panama Canal: Ricaurte Vásquez Morales, an economist with more than 30 years’ experience in the public and private sector, was sworn-in as the new administrator of the Panama Canal.
📰Child Pornography: Child pornography material was seized in five provinces during a raid carried out simultaneously in seven countries, shocking Panama.
📰Migration:  During the first 62 days of the new government, 13 people have been captured for the alleged crime of trafficking in migrants in the province of Darién. Migration flux keeps going, however.
📰Closer to Costa Rica: The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will finance a project to expedite custom processes for the passage of goods and people on the border between Panama and Costa Rica.
For Plantain Lovers!
In Panama, the indigenous community Ipetí Ember has taken up the challenge to cook the largest Patacón (a twice-fried plantain slice) in the world. They are aiming for the Guinness World Records.
Good Reads
🔎 Connectas produced an in-depth report that shows how education is used as government propaganda in Nicaragua. Textbooks promote “the government’s successes” and teachers act as official activists, while the education budget overall is being reduced.
🖊️ The Bay State Banner writes profile on Omar Suazo, a Garifuna organizer who was nearly killed in Honduras and who found refuge Boston. He wants to go back to Honduras, despite a Honduran arrest order against him. 
🔎 If you have a hard time following all the criminal allegations made against Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, this new report from Insight Crime will help you see clearer.
🗨️ Part Two of a Q/A between James Kilgore and Daniel Gonzalez on the ever-expanding electronic surveillance infrastructure used to monitor migrants in the U.S. On Medium.
🎧 Salvadoran Community Radio ARPAS went to Santo Domingo de Guzmán, where the largest number of Nahuat speakers in El Salvador live and reports how the indigenous community is working hard to keep their language alive. 
🖊️ Archaeologist Robert Rosenswig of UAlbany researched how ancient Central American societies thrived while others did not through study of pre-Columbian Belizean settlements. By Times Union.
New Report on Migration
The NGO Creative Associates International conducted 2,400 in-person interviews and researched the 60 municipalities from where most people migrate from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The goal: finding the most common drivers. Here is the study’s website, the study itself (PDF), and their trailer 👇
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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