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Like the Rain of May

Central American News
Like the Rain of May
By Central American News • Issue #63 • View online

Dear Readers,
Tony Hernandez, the brother of the President of Honduras, is on trial in New York for drug-trafficking, and the Honduran president himself appears as an alleged conspirator in the case. Although he is not formally charged, it seems to be only the beginning of suspicions about Juan Orlando Hernandez’s connections to crime.
Far away from New York, Hondurans are leaving their crops and homes due to dryer and dryer seasons and evermore devastating storms. This touching photoreportage from the California Sunday Magazine tells their stories, starting with a popular Central American refrain - “Te espero como lluvia de mayo,” - I wait for you like the rain of May.
Also, the Nicaraguan movement Las Madres de Abril, the mothers who lost children in 2018’s clashes with the government’s police forces, made a virtual museum to honor their children’s memory.
In all of this, it is “Teach Central America Week” in the U.S., starting on October 7. This is the program, check it out: https://www.teachingcentralamerica.org/
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Salu,
The Team
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Photo of the Week
"Outside the Dry Corridor, residents in oceanside communities experience increasingly severe tropical storms that destroy villages, monsoon-like rains that rot crops, or rising sea levels that slowly erode towns. Many migrate to La Ceiba, the fourth-largest city in Honduras." From The California Sunday Magazine
"Outside the Dry Corridor, residents in oceanside communities experience increasingly severe tropical storms that destroy villages, monsoon-like rains that rot crops, or rising sea levels that slowly erode towns. Many migrate to La Ceiba, the fourth-largest city in Honduras." From The California Sunday Magazine
Headlines
Migration
📰 At the border: President Trump proposed border officials to “shoot migrants in the legs” and build a moat filled with alligators to stop migrants crossing the US-Mexico border. // Desperate migrants blocked from entering the U.S are considering riskier tactics to enter the U.S.
📰 Families: The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit for the violation of rights and the trauma of thousands of migrant children and parents separated by the Trump administration. // Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed more than 2,500 migrant family members between August and September in 2019, an increase in deportations under the Trump administration.
📰 Restricting migration: The Trump administration plans to reject visa applications from immigrants considered unable to pay for health insurance or cover health care costs in the U.S. // U.S. border officials are using fake addresses, mass trials in tent courts, and placing migrants in dangerous conditions along the U.S.-Mexico border.
📰 DNA Testing: The Department of Homeland Security announced that will begin testing DNA for immigrants and enter their genetic information into an FBI criminal database.
Guatemala
📰Forests: Guatemala’s forest conservation scheme is under threat. Introduced in 1994, it granted 12 communities concessions to manage 20% of the biosphere and the deforestation rate has been 0.4% in recent years. However, the concessions will be be renewed within the next five years, starting in 2020.
📰State of Siege: President Jimmy Morales wanted to extend the state of siege for 30 more days, but Congress did not approve Morales’ request. The state of siege is no longer legally valid.
📰 Maya Achi Case: Francisco Cuxum Alvarado, wanted in Guatemala for participating in mass sexual assault of indigenous women, pled guilty in the United States for illegal entry in the U.S. He will be returned to Guatemala after serving his time in the U.S.
📰Economy: Guatemalan corn production is becoming increasingly difficult due to climate changes and less U.S.aid. 
Belize
📰Environment: The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Central America met in Belize City to agree on how to protect marine life and develop more sustainable practices.
📰Tax Haven: Prime Minister Dean Barrow passes law to remove Belize from the European Union’s blacklist—the EU had Belize blacklisted in March, considering it a “tax haven”.
📰Taiwan: Belizean Foreign Minister defends Taiwan when it was excluded from participating in UN matters.
Nicaragua
📰 Drug-Trafficking: A substitute parliamentarian of the Sandinista National Liberation Front in the Central American Parliament (Parlacen) will be dismissed by the National Assembly because he is accused of being part of a group linked to drug trafficking. He has had previous charges and accusations in organized crime, drug-trafficking, abuses against a minor as well as influence peddling.
📰 Economy: 264 business in the tourism sector closed in 2018; travel flights were reduced by 50% this year. Economic recession will hit rock bottom soon, economists predict. // Banco Atlantida, from Honduras, was authorized to operate in Nicaragua, promising to invest US$231 millions. // Central Bank is withholding economic indicators from public reports. 
📰 Diplomacy: OAS meets with Alianza Cívica and victims of the repression in El Salvador because the Nicaraguan government barred their visit. They will deliver a report and recommendations by November 11. President Daniel Ortega threatened to denounce his opponents in international justice courts for “crimes against humanity”. Ortega’s government have been accused of such crimes but the International Court has no jurisdiction in this country. 
📰 Human Rights: Ariana Enid Martínez, a Nicaraguan-American citizen was killed in Matagalpa by a paramilitary with ties to FSLN party. // NGOs report 49 femicides in 2019, while the government only records 17 because the murders “happens in homes”. // Three people were killed and 10 houses were burned, including a church,  in an attack to an indigenous community in Prinzapolka, north Caribe region. // The Nicaraguan government will not return buildings of 100% Noticias TV news channel because it is the “instrument with which the crime was carried out”, after illegally closing the channel and jailing its director and news chief for six months for reporting on the repression and violence in 2018. 
El Salvador
📰 US Relations: The US State Department reduced the Travel-Safety warning for El Salvador from “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” to “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution.” The US Ambassador to El Salvador said that the change is not related to political agreements between the two countries. Some pointed out that it comes on the heels of the bilateral agreement to divert asylum seekers from the US to El Salvador. 
📰 Corruption: Former Minister of Security, René Mario Figueroa, has been arrested and charged with money laundering over $300 million as part of scheme of former president Antonio Saca. 
📰 Police Hitmen: Authorities in El Salvador say they have broken up a criminal network involving police officers that allegedly carried out more than 48 contract killings between 2016 and 2017. 
📰 CICIES: A technical mission from the UN arrived in El Salvador this week to help implement anti-corruption commission, meeting with the Attorney General and legislators to discuss the structure and powers of the commission.
Honduras 
📰Tony Hernandez:  This week, the trial of President Hernandez’s brother began in New York City. He is being accused for the processing, receiving, transporting, and distributing multi-ton loads of cocaine. The assistant U.S. Attorney, Jason A. Richman, told the jury that Tony Hernández’s cocaine network had thrived because of his political power in Honduras. A “drug ledger” presented by the prosecution detailed cocaine shipments allegedly received by Tony Hernandez, as well as payments to someone with the initials of “JOH”, a nickname given to the Honduran president. Prosecutors also said drug lord “El Chapo” had “delivered $1 million to the president’s brother with the intention that the money would be funneled to President Hernandez.” The case is exemplary of how drug trafficking has infiltrated State institutions. The President of Honduras denies the claims of receiving money from drug-traffickers, saying that they are “false, ridiculous, and absurd.” 
📰IACHR: The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights published a report on Honduras, which states that citizens distrust public and political institutions, as police and military implement disproportionate use of public force to quell social protest. They also distrust the concentration of power of the institutions.
📰Berta Caceres: The hearing against David Castillo, the supposed mastermind of Berta Caceres’ murder, was postponed for a second time. The judge allowed for an extension even though no justification was given, COPINH says. 
📰Flower Festival: The yearly “Festival de las Flores” is taking place in the city of Siguatepeque this holiday weekend. The four-day festival is using the slogan “vení y visita el corazón de Honduras” to welcome visitors to the area.  
Panama 
📰 Military Cooperation: The Panamanian Air and the Naval Service (SENAN, in Spanish), in coordination with the Attorney General’s Office and the Office of the Prosecutor for Narcotics, seized more than 24 tons of illicit substances in 45 joint operations, also capturing 59 people from January to August 2019, with the help of air, naval, and land resources, many donated by the U.S. government.
📰 Apology: Catholics supported the attitude of the Archbishop of Panama, Jose Domingo Ulloa, who publicly apologized to parishioners for sex scandals in the local church and asked for their forgiveness.
📰 Medicines Act: President Cortizo assented Ley de Medicamentos that seeks to guarantee lower prices for medicines and ensure supplies in health institutions by unifying purchases made by the Ministry of Health (Minsa) and the Social Security Fund (CSS).
Costa Rica
📰 Tax Haven List: Costa Rica is expected to be removed from the European Unions tax haven “gray list” (countries that qualified as tax havens and had promised reforms to inadequate tax laws). Next Thursday, European finance ministers will decide on this.
📰 Alternative to Venezuela: Costa Rica has presented itself as an alternative to Venezuela at the UN Human Rights Council. “Due to the serious violations against human rights that the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (Michelle Bachelet) evidenced, the Venezuelan regime is not a suitable candidate for the UN Human Rights Council.” President Carlos Alvarado tweeted “Costa Rica is proposed as an alternative.” 
AMA y No Olvida, Museo de la Memoria contra la Impunidad
In Nicaragua, the movement “Mothers of April” inaugurated a touching virtual museum and a temporary exhibit in memory of the victims of the repression to protests in 2018. 
Screenshot of AMA y No Olvida's virtual website.
Screenshot of AMA y No Olvida's virtual website.
Good Reads & Multimedia
📷 🖊️ The California Sunday Magazine reported on the Honduran farmers who left their crops due to climate change. It is well written and has beautiful photos and portraits.
Q/A 💬 A different take on Hispanic Heritage Month. Teacher Rosalie Reyes, whose parents are from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, launched the first-ever Teach Central America Week. On LA School Report.
🖊️ CONNECTAS reports on how the Nicaraguan government is suffocating the press by confiscating essential material for the production of newspapers. Last week, El Nuevo Diario closed after 39 years of publishing, and this week will be the last edition of El Azote, a satirical supplement of La Prensa.
🎲 Revista Factum provides an interactive timeline on the effort to pass a reconciliation law that guarantees justice for victims of the civil war. The Salvadoran legislative assembly has until November 13 to pass the new law that will replace the Amnesty Law.
📺 Univision consicely reports on how drug trafficking has infiltrated State institutions in Honduras.
Documentary
Salvadoran film Cachada wins “Best Director” award at the Ourense International Film Festival. The documentary focuses on five Salvadoran women who started a theater troupe, bringing personal stories on gender-based violence and on working as street vendors to the stage.  
Trailer La Cachada Teatro: Mujeres Salvadoreñas pasan de la calle al Teatro al Cine Español
Trailer La Cachada Teatro: Mujeres Salvadoreñas pasan de la calle al Teatro al Cine Español
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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