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Nicaraguan Lawyer Receives Alternative Nobel Prize for Environmental, Indigenous Rights Defense

Central American News
Nicaraguan Lawyer Receives Alternative Nobel Prize for Environmental, Indigenous Rights Defense
By Central American News • Issue #114 • View online

Dear Readers,
This past week, thousands of Honduran people packed their bags to flee their country and were met with rows of soldiers in southern Guatemala. Mexico and Belize had also flung armies at their southern borders. Guatemala sent back more than 2,000 people back to the place they were fleeing. The people of Honduras suffer from land dispossession, poverty accelerated by widespread corruption and mismanagement, climate desertification, and a non-elected government supported by the U.S.
In all of this, a person who has tirelessly fought for the protection and demarcation of indigenous land in Nicaragua has been internationally recognized for her efforts: Lottie Cunningham Wren will receive the “Alternative Nobel” prize from the Swedish foundation Right Livelihood Award. She helped shape Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast so that Indigenous and Black peoples have official ownership over their land. She also promoted leadership of women in local activism.
As Nicaragua’s Indigenous land is being deforested as I write, Lottie told DW that: “This award encourages me to continue the struggle and achieve the dreams of my people so that one day social justice will prevail.”
Have a good reading – and also hope you enjoy our “Central American Academia” section below! Here are our links to our podcast and social media for more.
Lottie Cunningham Wren
Nicaraguan lawyer Lottie Cunningham Wren, environmentalist defender of indigenous rights, will receive the so-called Alternative Nobel, from the Swedish foundation Right Livelihood Award.
Nicaraguan lawyer Lottie Cunningham Wren, environmentalist defender of indigenous rights, will receive the so-called Alternative Nobel, from the Swedish foundation Right Livelihood Award.
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📰 “Law-and-Order”: The Trump administration is considering putting up billboards that display migrants who have violated the law to bolster Trump’s law-and-order message leading up to the election. // ICE raids are planned to take place in “sanctuary cities” across the U.S. as a part of Trump’s pre-election campaign. 
📰 Honduran Caravan: A migrant caravan from Honduras entered Guatemala this week, en route to the US. // The Mexican government deployed army to the country’s southern border to block entry of the caravan and President AMLO believes the caravan to be a U.S. election ploy. (More in Guatemala and Honduras sections.)
📰 Policies and Courts: The Trump administration plans to limit refugees admissions to a maximum of 15,000 for fiscal year 2021, reaching a historic low. // Federal judge blocked fee increase for citizenship, asylum and work permit applications. Here’s why. // // In March, Vice President Pence ordered the Center for Disease Control to use emergency powers to close the borders in light of COVID-19 despite lack of evidence that border closures would reduce the spread. 
📰 Border Patrol: Border Patrol snipers and FBI surveillance drones were brought in by local police during George Floyd’s burial to quell any unrest

📰 Land Politics: The Government of Belize introduced a “land tax break” with the hopes of supporting farmers who have suffered due to the pandemic // Tensions arose in the Cayo district over the distribution of land among local residents, who did not consult the village council.
📰 Taiwan: Belize signed an economic pact with Taiwan, which will include mutual tariff reductions among other policies.
📰 Re-re-opening: The country is set to re-open for tourism again, already welcoming in visitors through the international airport after a six month lockdown.
📰 Honduran Caravan: Soldiers have been posted at the border to prevent the migrant caravan from Honduras from entering Belize.

Costa Rica 
📰 Protests: Demonstrators organized three days of road blockades against the government’s plan to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a $1.75 billion dollar loan to alleviate the economic hardships caused by COVID-19. The proposal included new taxes and an increase in other taxes as well. On Sunday night, President Alvarado announced that the proposal with the IMF will not continue and called for a national dialogue.
📰 Vaccines: Costa Rica signed an agreement with the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech to guarantee the country’s timely access to vaccines against COVID-19 where the country would receive 3 million doses, after authorization from the ministry of health. 
📰 Human Rights: Hundreds of Nicaraguan exiles protested outside the Nicaraguan embassy in Costa Rica against a set of “gag laws” that would limit the actions of independent media or media critical of the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
📰 Tourism: The Ministry of Tourism announced that beginning on November 1, Costa Rica will allow the entry of tourists from any state in the U.S. into the country. 

El Salvador
📰 Media Repression: Salvadoran journalist and human rights defender Mónica Rodríguez was fired after nine years working for Televisión El Salvador. Rodríguez is on the board of directors for Asociación de Periodista de El Salvador which demanded an end to ongoing hostilities against the press.
📰 El Mozote: The Salvadoran army, as informed by the Bukele administration to the judge, maintained to block the investigation of files regarding the massacre in El Mozote. Colonel Carlos Vanegas cited the constitution to protect “secret military files” from the 1981 massacre. Human rights groups believe Bukele is committing the crime of covering up the files.// There’s ongoing pressure to further investigate and prosecute the murder of five priests in 1989.
📰 San Julián Murders: Five people were reported murdered in a village of San Julián in Sonsonate on Thursday. While the murder rate in El Salvador has dropped by 56% since 2019, there were 2,829 reported murders between January and September. 
📰 Bukele’s Reaction: President Nayib Bukele prayed for Donald Trump’s quick recovery after the U.S. President tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized. The two presidents last met over a year ago. This meeting was criticized as Trump had made widely derogatory comments against El Salvador.

📰 #CaravanaMigrante: Guatemala has sent back more than 2,000 Honduran migrants who are part of the new #CaravanaMigrante. President Giammattei declared a fifteen day state of prevention in the departments where the migrants are entering the country to limit peoples’ mobility. 
📰 Lote Ocho Lawsuit: Affidavit documents have surfaced detailing Canadian mining company, Hudbay Minerals Inc.’s collusion with Guatemalan officials to evict indigenous communities from their land in 2007. There is a current lawsuit against Hudbay Minerals which includes rape charges against their security personnel who assaulted several Lote Ocho women.
📰 COVID-19: The “state of calamity” was uplifted officially on October 1st,  placing public spaces under strict sanitary protocols, while more than 93,000 people remain infected with COVID-19.// Since March 22nd 42,669 people have been arrested for being outside after curfew during the pandemic. 
📰 Journalism: Journalist Lucía Ixchiú was covering news on forest depredations and environmental issues while she was attacked by a group who are illegally logging trees. 
📰 Exodus: Thousands of people gathered in various groups to migrate to the U.S., but many faced militarized borders and security forces in Guatemala. The reasons to migrate include poverty, unemployment and violence, which deepened due to COVID-19. One young migrant known as “Kike” died. After 2,000 were deported back to Honduras, smaller groups have continued walking north. The governments of Mexico and Guatemala declared that the caravan has been dismantled.
📰 Human Rights: Pedro Canales, land defender, denounced that powerful families in the Zacate Grande (southern Honduras) have increased the attacks against community members due to their fight against the installation of the economic development zones. // David Castillo, one of the alleged masterminds of Berta Caceres’ murder, will remain in prison under pre-trial detention for 8 months and 23 more days, after a Court denied the defense’s appeal. 
📰 Corruption: The mayor of Tegucigalpa and presidential candidate, Nasry Asfura, is being investigated by the Specialized Fiscal Unit Against Corruption Networks (UFERCO) for acts of corruption. He belongs to the same party as President Juan Orlando Hernandez, Partido Nacional.
📰 Military: The Honduran Agricultural Development Program, which had been entrusted to the Armed Forces, was declared, through an appeal, unconstitutional for violating constitutional articles related to defense, national security, and the comprehensive agrarian reform process. 

📰 Human Rights: Nicaraguan lawyer Lottie Cunningham Wren, environmentalist defender of indigenous rights, will receive the so-called Alternative Nobel prize from the Swedish foundation Right Livelihood Award. // 3 political prisoners went on hunger strike by sowing their mouths. They have been transferred to maximum security cells.
📰 Rama-Kriol: The army retained and later released members of the Kriol branch communal government and ignored their political authority, while allegedly allowing settlers to invade indigenous territories.
📰 Press Freedom: The embargo on Channel 12 remains. Judge Silvia Elena Chica Larios ruled that the channel must pay a tax relief of $ 607,000 or it will be auctioned. The owners of the channel announced that they will appeal. 
📰 New Laws: The law proposals “Law of Regulation of Foreign Agents” and “Special Law of Cyber crimes”, will be discussed and likely approved by the parliament on October 13. The “Foreign Agents” law will affect NGOs “that have political aspirations” and the “Cybercrime” law will affect freedom of speech with jail time for those who share “fake news”. Various sectors interpret these laws as political instruments of control and repression.

📰 LGBTI rights: The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) held a virtual hearing on the rights to and recognition of same-sex marriage in Panama. // Panamanian Fundación Iguales emphasized the need for the modification of legislation to be more inclusive and less discriminatory of LGBTI people. 
📰 Vaccine Testing: The COVID-19 Vaccine Research Consortium began with the Phase 2 testing of German vaccine CureVac. 250 people are participating in the testing, including Governor Judy Meana.
📰 Economic Stimulus: The National Assembly is currently debating a legislative project to establish mandatory rest days for employees of specific companies to promote reactivate internal tourism.
📰 Medical Honor: Doctor José Manuel Fábrega, Surgery professor at the University of Panama, will be named a 2020 Honorary Fellow of The American College of Surgeons. On 4 October 2020, he was recognized as one of nine most prominent surgeons in the world
📰 Animal Rescue: Units of the National Police rescued 68 animals from a San Miguelito house, where it is inferred they would have been used as sacrifices in rituals.  
Our COVID-19 Map
Visit our interactive COVID-19 map of Central America.
Visit our interactive COVID-19 map of Central America.
Good Reads
📌Women in Science: Panamanian researcher Mairim Solís Tejada received the National L’Oréal-UNESCO award “For Women in Science 2020" for her work on stem-cells COVID-19 therapy (TVN-2 Panamá).
📌COVID-10 and Politics: Governments and gangs in Central America are using the pandemic as an opportunity to further their own interests, but there are opportunities to reimagine state-building and economic models for more inclusive, equitable societies. (
📌 Honduras: Could an ex-money launderer for drug traffickers be the next president of Honduras? (VICE)
📌 Mayan Ixil in Ciudad Juarez: Mayan Ixil asylum seekers from Guatemala fled racist violence and await asylum in Juarez, but they have continued interpreting and advocating for their people who embark on the migrant journey and in Guatemala (Your Basin)
📌 Bukele and the Gangs: Insight Crime released a report with (anonymous) interviews with political and police officers on the alleged “informal pact” between government and gangs. (Insight Crime)
Panamanian podcast ‘Indomables’, a nonfiction narrative podcast, was chosen to be part of the Google Podcast creator program. This is the first time Central American podcasts are selected to participate in the prestigious program. Below is an episode on an interview with indigenous community Guna and their concept of a third gender.
Como Mujer - Indomables | Podcast on Spotify
Central American Academia
🎓 Black Central America: Scholar Dr. Paul Joseph Lopez Oro presented on Black Central American experiences in the U.S. in the face of mestizaje and anti-blackness with Yale University.
🎓 Voseo: How communities maintain the use of “vos” despite migration and culture shock. A study by Selvyn Y. Martinez Barahon.
🎓 Data Colonialism: Experts discuss the penetration of the internet in the region and the use of data by national and international actors for political or economic purposes.
🎓 Guatemala: Memory or amnesia, the situation of the Historical Archives of the National Police (AHPN) (El Observador).
🎓 Honduras: Scholars Dr. Suyapa Portillo and Cristian Padilla Romero document the historical and contemporary social movements in Honduras against state repression and dictatorship. On the Oxford Research Encyclopedias.
🎥 2021: Are Free and Fair Elections Possible in Nicaragua? Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, evaluatd the political situation in Nicaragua, the space for electoral reforms, and the way that Daniel Ortega perceives the legitimacy of his mandate.
📅 How the US and Mexico see our Migrants: Maras, migrants, and Mexico: Policy issues for the next US administration. A panel with experts and former diplomats from Mexico and the United States. October 5th. 
📅 Testimonio in Central America: Columbia University’s Social Studies Education program and Teach Central America Week joined forces to organize the virtual event “Central American Youth Speak Back: The Power of Testimonio” where youth will express their relationship to U.S. imperialism and migration. October 9th.
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The Team
Melissa Vida, Founder, Editor-in-Chief // Rodrigo Peñalba, Editor & Nicaragua News // Melissa Orellana, Editor // Jonathan Peraza Campos, Migration News // Cecilia Rivas, Podcast Co-host // Isabeau J. Belisle Dempsey, Belize News // Rachel Osorio, Costa Rica News // Pablo Arauz Peña, El Salvador News // Jalileh García, Honduras News // Nansi Rodríguez, Guatemala News // Irene Ledezma, Panama News // Nicole Ramsey, Writer // José Martínez, Podcast Producer, Social Media Officer // Natalie Leach, Social Media Officer // Jacqui Martinez, Guest Art Curator
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