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Independence Day

Central American News
Independence Day
By Central American News • Issue #60 • View online

Dear Readers,
September 15 celebrates the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Make sure to eat your favorite Central American dish!
It is also a day when we can ponder on what independence means for Central America today.
The United States wants “safe third country agreements” with Honduras and El Salvador to stop migrants. It managed to reach the deal with Guatemala by enforcing commercial pressure. Central America may also look for investment from China and Canadian mining companies without assessing the true social costs of these agreements. Foreign powers may not be the only ones limiting independence: locally, traditional Central American political and economic elites rarely represent the diversity of its populations. Nicaragua is isolating itself from the world in the name of its sovereignty - but its citizens are being killed and repressed by state forces, according to UN reports.
Tens of thousands of Central American asylum seekers will celebrate independence day away from home with the doors of U.S. asylum closed.
Is this being free?
It is useful to ask ourselves how Central American countries see their political and economic independence nearly 200 years after freeing themselves from Spain.
Let us know your thoughts and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin. Thanks for trusting Central American News.
Salu,
The team
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Photo of the Week
NGO "Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos" celebrating independence day in Honduras (2017)
NGO "Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos" celebrating independence day in Honduras (2017)
Headlines
Migration
📰 AsylumTrump administration can deny asylum requests from migrants at the southern border after the Supreme Court lifted a lower court’s block on a new restriction. Migrants who arrived after July 16 will retroactively be denied asylum if they did not seek protection in another country before, leaving thousands in limbo
📰 Militarization: Pressured by the U.S. government, Mexico has militarized its immigration policy to deter migration to the U.S. // U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement wants to build “hyper-realistic” simulations of homes for training purposes.
📰 Foreign Relations: White House has directed Homeland Security officials to secure “safe third country”–style agreements with El Salvador and Honduras by Oct.1 to reduce immigration to the US. // United Nations commissioner decried the migration policies of the U.S. and Mexico for violating the human rights of migrants.
📰 The Borderlands: The Trump administration announced that new immigration courts on the Texas border with Mexico will be closed to legal observers, the press and the public. It has also begun building a 30 foot high section of the border wall on UNESCO site. // California lawmakers passed a bill that bans private prisons and ICE detention centers from operating in the state.
Guatemala
📰Maya Achí Case: Guatemala Court removed Judge Claudette Dominguez from the 1981-1985 Maya Achí sexual violence case. Dominguez would be partial towards the Guatemalan military and other influential figures in past decisions.
📰Hogar Seguro: President Jimmy Morales ordered to remove the altar that honored the 56 girls and adolescents who died in a fire in 2017 at the Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asunción, and served also as a call for justice for the tragedy.
📰Thelma Aldana: The Guatemalan justice system issued a new arrest warrant against former Attorney General Thelma Aldana (2014-2018), accused of authorizing the irregular purchase of a building for the Public Prosecutor’s Office during her tenure. 
📰 Narco-Planes: So far in 2019, authorities have detected at least 30 small aircrafts used to transport drugs passing through the country, according to data from the Defense Ministry reported by Prensa Libre. 
Honduras
📰Migration Agreement: The Honduran government sent a delegation to Washington to negotiate migratory agreements, including a special asylum agreement with the United States. This agreement could consider Honduras a “safe third country” for Cubans and Nicaraguans who seek to reach the United States to apply for asylum. Additionally, the agreements contemplate sending U.S. Border Patrol agents to Honduras and the exchange of biometric data. 
📰Garifuna Community: Mirna Suazo, Garifuna leader and president of the community council of Masca, was murdered in Honduras. OFRANEH further states there have been a series of unusual murders in the Garifuna communities this week. 
📰Development projects: Citizens of Yorito declared their municipality a “mining-free territory”. They faced police repression and threats in the process, but nonetheless persisted in their fight for water. // The residential project “Bosques de Santa Maria” was temporarily suspended after protests broke out against its construction. Protesters were tear gassed.  Residents in the area want the project to be fully canceled to preserve the water supply.
📰Drug-Trafficking: On Thursday, Tony Hernandez’s last hearing took place. The President’s brother is scheduled to face trial on October 2. 
📰 Berta Cáceres: Cáceres’s daughter affirms that her mother, an environmental defender, was murdered by businessmen who worked in collusion with military and police forces. The case against David Castillo, the alleged mastermind of Berta Cáceres’s murder, was resumed for this 25th of September. 
Nicaragua
📰 Diplomacy: OAS representatives cannot enter the country; their commission has the mandate to find a negotiated solution to the political crisis in 75 days or recommend the suspension of Nicaragua in the OAS. The Vatican calls for electoral reform and negotiations to resume. 
📰 Human Rights: High UN official denounces homicides and attempted homicide between June and July of people who had demonstrated against the Government of Nicaragua. // The Red Cross wants to help find people reported missing in the context of the socio-political crisis. // There has been 24 extrajudicial executions in the first six months of 2019, according to civil society groups.
📰 Business: Nicaraguan and Salvadoran banks may be involved in a money laundering scheme. // Managua to sue a telephone company, Burger King franchises and a bank for unpaid taxes.
📰 Repression: Leader of LGBTI community, Ludwika Ruby Vega, was attacked and assaulted in Managua. // A Black Nicaraguan, Ebanks Taylor, a suspect of the police, drowned in front of the police, who not give assistance (videotape). // Paramilitary groups tag threatening messages on the homes of leaders of political parties and student movements. // José Adan Aguerri, the President of Business Chambers, reported an attempt on his life by paramilitary forces.
El Salvador
📰 Border Patrol: On Thursday, El Salvador officially launched Border Patrol agents at the border with Guatemala, compiled of 800 police and 300 migration officials. The deployment arrives on the heels of an agreement with acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan to combat organized crime and slow northbound migration from El Salvador.
📰 Bukele and the Press: This week, journalists from Revista Factum and El Faro were repeatedly barred from attending presidential press conferences, sparking criticism from local and international human rights organizations concerned with government transparency and freedom of the press. Amid mounting pressure, President Nayib Bukele allowed reporters from Revista Factum and El Faro to attend an event on Thursday.
📰 Alba petroleum: Revista Factum reveals links between President Bukele (and his entourage) and Venezuelan oil company Alba Petróleos.
📰 Anti-Corruption Commission: In response to a request made by the Salvadoran government last week, the United Nations has agreed to send a technical mission to El Salvador to support the implementation of anti-corruption commission, CICIES.
Costa Rica
📰 Dual Education Law: Costa Rica’s President Alvarado signed into law on Thursday the Law of Education and Dual Training (la Ley de Educación y Formación Dual). The law would allow students to participate in vocational training in addition to their classroom studies. The new program has been viewed as controversial by some student groups that argue that the program will treat them like a “cheap workforce.”
Panama
📰 China and Panama: The Chinese Ambassador to Panama said that a “great power” was putting Panama under “pressure” to cool relations with the country. President Cortizo stated the relationship with China “is not cooling” , despite the fact that Panama has not resumed the meetings to agree on a TLC and rejected an investment of a new railroad line by Beijing.
📰 New Budget for the Panama Canal: The new administrator of the Panama Canal, Ricaurte Vásquez, increased the budget for Canal to $ 3.426 million.
📰 Depression among children: In Panama, authorities are concerned that depression affects 21% of children under 18 years old.
📰 Protecting forests: Environmental authorities in Panama combats the illegal logging of trees by not granting forest permits and concessions for one year. A 1.5 million hectares of Panamanian forests are thousands of years old, home to a long list of animals and plants that are part of the national biodiversity.
Independence Day
In 1821, Central Americans of Spanish descent wrote the Act of Independence of Central America to free themselves from Spain. The Provinces, made up of present-day Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, were then annexed by Mexico before becoming independent again in 1823.
In 1821, Central Americans of Spanish descent wrote the Act of Independence of Central America to free themselves from Spain. The Provinces, made up of present-day Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, were then annexed by Mexico before becoming independent again in 1823.
Good Reads
🔎 The Nicaraguan government is boycotting and divesting cities led by mayors who oppose the government. Onda Local reports.
👭 A group of high school girls in Florida, the “Mayan Girls”, translate Mayan languages for social workers and have dreams for the recognition of these languages in the U.S. On WRLN.
👭 This is a list of Central American women thriving in business, social entrepreneurship, sports, journalism and politics, collected by Estrategia y Negocios.
🗨️ International lawyer Marcia Aguilaz summarizes the political situation of Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador and explains how they are “characterized by authoritarianism, human rights violations, and corruption” on Radio Progreso.
🗨️ America’s Quarterly offers an article that explains where we stand with the anti-corruption commission in El Salvador.
📷 After decades of building Washington D.C., Salvadoran workers fear deportation after the Trump Administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for thousands. Reporting and photo-portraits in the New York Times
Symbol of Panama
A scientist holds two golden frogs. This amphibious is the national symbol of Panama. Credit: Bienvenido Velasco/EPA-EFE/REX
A scientist holds two golden frogs. This amphibious is the national symbol of Panama. Credit: Bienvenido Velasco/EPA-EFE/REX
Oswaldo “Pipo” Escobar Velado, Salvadoran Poet of the 1930s
This is a piece of his poem “Patria Exacta”. His biography and the full poem can be found here.
Y a esto, amigo, se le llama Patria
y se le canta un himno
y hablamos de ella como cosa suave,
como dulce tierra
a la que hay que entregar el corazón hasta la muerte.
Mientras tanto al occidente de la casa que ocupo
hay una imagen encaramada en el mundo
(¡mayor razón para que viera claro!)
y allá junto a sus pies de frío mármol
una colonia alegre
se va en las tardes
cantando, a los cinemas
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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