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Gold, Dams, Fires

Central American News
Gold, Dams, Fires
By Central American News • Issue #57 • View online

Dear Readers,
The Amazon forest wildfires are the latest and most visible of deforestation processes. Many reports link them to state-sponsored agribusiness and mining projects at the expense of our ecosystems and indigenous peoples’ rights.
In Central America, too, grassroots organizations like the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) have long denounced a state policy that manipulates concession processes to extract resources for profit at all costs. This policy would have directly influenced the murder of environmentalist and indigenous woman Berta Cáceres, who had led a peaceful protest against the construction of the Agua Zarca dam in Honduras.
Miriam Miranda, Garífuna leader of OFRANEH led a campaign in Tegucigalpa last week to call on Honduran authorities for justice for Berta Cáceres’s murder, as well as other femicides, and to stop the violent militarization of the region of Vallecito, Colon. They fear dispossession of their lands by the State.
This is one of her quotes from the campaign:
«Ante tanta desesperanza, ante tanta pérdida de fe, ante tanto dolor acumulado, tenemos que tener mucho amor para construir otra Honduras, no nos queda de otra» - Miriam Miranda.
“In the face of so much despair, in the face of so much lost faith, in the face of so much accumulated pain, we have to have a lot of love to create another Honduras. We have no other choice.“ - Miriam Miranda.
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The Central Team
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Photo of the Week
Miriam Miranda, Garifuna leader of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, during a sit-in on the morning of August 21 in front of the Supreme Court of Justice in the city of Tegucigalpa. Photo Credit: Martin Calix for ContraCorriente.
Miriam Miranda, Garifuna leader of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, during a sit-in on the morning of August 21 in front of the Supreme Court of Justice in the city of Tegucigalpa. Photo Credit: Martin Calix for ContraCorriente.
📰 Medical Care in Detention: The U.S. will not vaccinate migrant families in detention centers despite calls from doctors to reduce further preventable migrant deaths in U.S. facilities // Detained migrants with a range of medical conditions and disabilities accuse the U.S. government of “torture” by denying them food, medicine, surgeries and basic accommodations in a lawsuit.
📰 Migrant Children:  The Trump administration announced a new regulation that will allow officials to indefinitely detain migrant children despite previous rules that limited how long children could be held by authorities.
📰 Restricting Migration: Mexican officials have reportedly begun limiting the days and times U.S. immigration agencies can send asylum-seekers back to Mexico and have cracked down on which migrants can be returned. // The U.S. is seeking a safe third country agreement with the government of Panama to return “extra-continental” asylum seekers from Africa, Asia, and other countries. // This week the U.S. deported 117 Nicaraguan migrants who fled political repression back to Nicaragua. 
📰CICIG: The International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG) said goodbye with a seminar organized on August 20 and 21, prior to the end of its mandate on September 3, and began their closing process by transferring its information to the Public Ministry.  // Organizations go to Constitutional Court to make CICIG remain in the country until 2021.
📰Alejandro Giammattei: President of Guatemala Alejandro Giammattei met with Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, later reporting that they discussed “reinforcing bilateral cooperation between the two countries, for the benefit of their fellow citizens.“
📰 Corruption: A Guatemalan court acquitted the son and brother of outgoing President Jimmy Morales in the Botín corruption case, while Anabella de León was convicted guilty of the crime and paid a fine.
📰Corruption: The Former First Lady of Honduras, Rosa Elena de Lobo, and her private secretary, were found guilty of embezzlement and fraud (18.3 million lempiras). Their sentence will be known on Tuesday. // The Former President of Congress, Lena Gutierrez, along with 14 others, were acquitted for allegedly selling flour pills to people, among other crimes, through the company Astropharma. 
📰Judicial Independence: On his visit to the country, UN Special Rapporteur Diego Garcia-Sayan indicated that Honduras needs urgent Government action as “the independence of the judicial system and other crucial democratic principles, such as the separation of powers, remain a great challenge in the country.” 
📰 Tuxtla Summit: Latin American presidents did not attend the summit, which analysts point to as a sign of the international discredit of President Juan Orlando Hernández.
📰Sit-In: Miriam Miranda, Garífuna leader of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, participated in a sit-in in front of the Supreme Court of Justice in Tegucigalpa to denounce constant threats by armed men, and militarization and drug-trafficking in the region of Vallecito, Colón. There, she also collected signatures for the creation of a Garifuna university in Vallecito.
El Salvador
📰 Justice: Evelyn Hernández, who was accused of aggravated homicide when she had a miscarriage, was acquitted of all charges on Monday in a retrial. The ruling has been celebrated by local and international human rights organizations. 
📰 Historical Memory: Two more former military officers will face prosecution for involvement in the 1981 El Mozote massacre. They will be tried on the charges of torture, forced disappearance and forced displacement. // This Thursday, August 22, marked the 37th anniversary of the El Calabozo massacre in San Vicente. Those behind the military operation have yet to face justice, despite the Salvadoran Supreme Court reopening the case in 2016. 
📰 Security Forces: According to a new study on the use of lethal force by police in Latin America, 11.7% of all violent deaths in 2016 in El Salvador were from use of lethal force by security forces and 10.3% in 2017. The percentage has increased greatly since 2011, when it was estimated that only 1% of all deaths in the country were caused by the security forces.
📰 Justice:  The prosecutor’s office fabricated cases against demonstrators according to a report of news media Confidencial. The Public Ministry would have assigned loyal officials to the Ortega regime to fabricate cases and charges against its political prisoners, while “puppet” prosecutors would have signed complaints that they were not allowed to read. 
📰 Exiles:  The Costa Rican government estimates that at the end of this year there would be as many as 100,000 Nicaraguan asylum seekers in Costa Rica. The Permanent Commission for Human Rights (CDPH) received legal status in Costa Rica to work with Nicaraguan asylum seekers.
📰 Economy: There was a 40% drop on electronic transactions in 2019 compared to the same period last year, according to a report of the Central Bank of Nicaragua. 105 bank branches have closed since 2018
Costa Rica
📰 Nicaraguan exiles: More than 50 Nicaraguan journalists in exile are developing 23 digital platforms to overcome censorship in Nicaragua.
📰 Amazon Forest: Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday released a statement in response to the Amazon rainforest wildfires, expresses ‘deep concern’.
📰 Methanol-tainted alcohol: According to health officials in Costa Rica the death toll from methanol-tainted alcohol has risen to 25, with 59 people being hospitalized.
📰Panama Papers: Panama and France agreed to seek mechanisms to mutually exclude themselves from the discriminatory lists in which they were included following the scandal of the so-called Panama papers in 2016, an official source reported.
📰 Migration: The president of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo, said it is not feasible to reach a “safe third country” agreement with the United States to receive asylum seekers. // The National Assembly of Panama requested the report of an investigation on the complicity of the Panamanian police in selling visas to Cuban citizens.
📰Economy: Panama’s economic activity grew by 3.0% in the period from January to June 2019 compared to the same period of 2018.
📰 Environment: Panama risks becoming a broken link in an intercontinental wildlife route, according to the findings of a survey that suggest the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor is failing.
Evelyn Hernandez
Evelyn Hernandez, 21, smiles in court after being acquitted on charges of aggravated homicide in her retrial related to the loss of a pregnancy in 2016, in Ciudad Delgado on the outskirts of San Salvador, El Salvador, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. Photo Credit: Salvador Melendez for AP.
Evelyn Hernandez, 21, smiles in court after being acquitted on charges of aggravated homicide in her retrial related to the loss of a pregnancy in 2016, in Ciudad Delgado on the outskirts of San Salvador, El Salvador, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. Photo Credit: Salvador Melendez for AP.
Good Reads
🔎 The Conversation explores how “Canada is centrally involved in the life-and-death struggle for migrant justice in the United States” and how their “foreign economic policies and domestic asylum laws are working in tandem with the U.S.”
🗨️ The Nation argues that the Trump Administration’s attempts to indefinitely detain migrants without due process and without basic necessities leads to legalizing concentration camps in the U.S. 
💡 A Foreign Affairs story evaluates whether the same strategies that helped lower homicide rates in US cities could help reduce violence in El Salvador. 
🖋️ National Geographic discusses the life struggle of researcher Alan Rabinowitz to save the jaguar from extinction and how it all started in Belize, which has a forest key in preserving the species. Today, defenders are continuing the work.
🖋️Confidencial reports on how the public investment fund of the Nicaraguan army was one of the most profitable investment groups in Nicaragua until the April 2018 crisis, although its investments are managed outside public scrutiny.
🔎 Stephany Leutert, the Director of Central America/Mexico Policy Initiative Strauss Center, obtained official data on the US Border Patrol apprehensions by nationality from 1992 to June 2019, with insights on deportations to Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Cuba. Twitter thread 👇
Stephanie Leutert
I finally got around to going through some FOIA data on US Border Patrol apprehensions by nationality & month from FY1992-June FY2019. A few interesting patterns emerge when looking at monthly and not just yearly data...
There will be a double feature of documentary movies about Nicaragua in Costa Rica: Las Sandinistas and the premiere of Exiliada. Both will be presented at Cine Magaly, San José, Costa Rica, starting September 5th.
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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