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Ortega is Watching

Central American News
Ortega is Watching
By Central American News • Issue #51 • View online

Dear Readers,
Welcome back to another week of Central American news.
A year after Nicaragua’s paramilitary attacked the UNAN Nicaraguan university for 19 hours, Nicaragua has left media’s headlines, but Nicaraguans are still facing repression according to the United Nations.
People cannot organize peaceful protests, more than 80 people are still in jail and may be tortured. And while 442 political prisoners have been released, 336 of them are under “alternative measures to detention,“ which is mainly house arrest.
So one of our favorite stories from this week is a photo essay of Nicaraguan exiles in Costa Rica, produced by The Guardian. The profiles include former prisoners, retired policemen, journalists, and the stepdaughter of Daniel Ortega.
“San José is infested with Nicaraguan intelligence. I don’t want to live in fear, but I can’t sleep at night,” said a former Nicaraguan police officer who did not want to follow Nicaragua’s Vice-President Murillo’s orders to “kill during the protests.”
They are part of the 30,000 how have formally filed for asylum in Costa Rica. There may be 26,000 more waiting in line.
Another favorite this week is this essay from Caratula’s archives on the Náwat language in El Salvador and Nicaragua, making a case that it is a language on its own and showing that there might be deeper cultural connections between these countries.
The Central American News Team
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Photo of the Week
From The Guardian's photo essay on Nicaraguan exiles in Costa Rica. Photographs, interviews, and transcripts by Jorge Cabrera, Juan Carlos Ulate, Ana Acosta, Mees van der Werf, Diego Rivera, Alberto Molina, M Sawyer Ballance, Rafe H Andrews, Raúl Román, Joey Rosa and Nick Parisse.
From The Guardian's photo essay on Nicaraguan exiles in Costa Rica. Photographs, interviews, and transcripts by Jorge Cabrera, Juan Carlos Ulate, Ana Acosta, Mees van der Werf, Diego Rivera, Alberto Molina, M Sawyer Ballance, Rafe H Andrews, Raúl Román, Joey Rosa and Nick Parisse.
📰 Mexico: To address Central American migration, the Mexican government will initiate its economic development plan, Plan Sembrando Vida, in Central America. // Migrant shelters along the U.S.-Mexico border are noting a reduction in migrants that suggest that the U.S. and Mexico joint crackdowns on Central Americans are hindering and discouraging migration. 
📰 ICE: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is expected to conduct raids in ten major cities on Sunday to detain thousands of immigrant families for deportation. // Federal immigration officials are using databases to check whether migrants have gang affiliations to detain and eventually deport them. // ICE has opened immigrant detention centers in Louisiana and Mississippi as well as Texas in recent weeks.
📰 Protest: Hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside the annual Amazon Web Services summit in New York to demand that the company cut ties with government agencies that use Amazon technology to assist in immigrant detention and deportations. // Migrants detained by ICE at a Mississippi prison are reportedly on hunger strike to protest conditions at the facility.
📰 Justice: Judge released six accused in the Maya Achí sexual violence case and is facing impeachment proceedings as this decision constitutes as a breach of legal duty and a denial of justice for the Maya Achí women // Yazmin Juárez, Guatemalan mother testifies before U.S. Representatives about the U.S’s Immigration Service negligence which led to her daughter Mariee’s death.
📰 Third Country Agreement: President Jimmy Morales will travel to Washington D.C. for an official meeting with President Trump to reach an agreement on whether Guatemala will be a safe third country for migrants - many, including Amnesty International, have spoken against this decision.
📰 Politics: Sandra Torres, the UNE presidential candidate and likely winner of the second electoral round, said that she would immediately implement a stern, “austerity” policy in Guatemala. // Five career diplomats filed an injunction before the Constitutional Court to stop the treaties that Jimmy Morales has recently signed, which according to them, uses foreign policy in his favor to elude counterweights from Congress and the constitutional court itself.
📰 Economy: GDP grew 3% in the first quarter of 2019, higher than the 1.8% from last year due to the performance of productive activities such as  transport, communications, and construction.
El Salvador
📰 Abortion Ban: Evelyn Beatríz Hernández, who was convicted of murdering her child and jailed for three years after a stillbirth, will face a retrial next week. In 2017, she was handed a 30-year prison sentence, but the decision was annulled in February.
📰 Amnesty Law: On Friday, the Supreme Court unanimously voted to give the Legislative Assembly four more months to approve a new national reconciliation law (otherwise known as the “Amnesty Law”), one day before the July 13 deadline. 
📰 Bukele’s Security Plan: During his first television address, President Nayib Bukele asks the National Assembly to approve $91 million to implement the second phase of his security plan. In a press conference a few days earlier, he said that the state of emergency in prisons will be maintained “until the gangs stop killing people.” // The Armed Forces has called for 1,000 reserves to join its ranks in order to implement “Territorial Control” plan. 
📰 Work Visas: The Secretary of Labor Rolando Castro and US Ambassador Jean Manes negotiate plan to secure 10,000 work visas for Salvadorans who want to work temporarily in the US.
📰 Human Rights: UN reports that repression continues in Nicaragua, with political prisoners still in prison, an ambiguous “amnesty” law and constant siege against former prisoners and social leaders.
📰 Journalism: Lucía Pineda Ubau, who was just released from jail, won the IWMF Announces 2019 Courage in Journalism Award.
📰 Sanctions: US sanctions against the companies Albanisa and Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) are harming the Nicaraguan Petroleum Company (Petronic) - an Albanisa shareholder - as banks began to sever their relationship with the state oil company. This could affect oil distribution and subsidies paid from PETRONIC funds.
📰 Environment: Two global shipping firms that have vowed not to transport shark fin products inadvertently moved a 40-foot container of the controversial delicacy from Nicaragua to Hong Kong this year, both companies told Reuters.
📰Conservation: Environmental organization Ya'axché Conservation Trust wins prestigious award for sustainability work in the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve; Belize government to develop waste management plan under program funded by the United Kingdom.
📰Hate Crime: Trans activist, Bessy Ferrera, from the Rainbow Association was murdered. She is the third victim of hate crime in the past few days in Honduras.
📰Arbitrary detentions: The police detained 18 members of the farming community in Nueva Esperanza, Comayagua, for the alleged crime of land usurpation.
📰 Freedom of speech: Human rights branches of the OAS express concern over provisions of the Penal Code in Honduras as it seeks to curtail certain freedoms of speech and protest, calling the government to review it. 
📰Impunity: Although the Inter-American Court  condemned the State of Honduras for the extrajudicial killing of Juan Humberto Sánchez, the crime remains in impunity 27 years since it was committed.
📰 Panamá/ US relations: President Cortizo stated his commitment to work in “harmonious collaboration” with the United States in order to promote common interests, strengthen the Rule of Law and the fight against drug trafficking and other criminal activities. In the meantime, Panama started selling its beef to China. 
📰Interview: In an interview with CNN, President Cortizo assured that “Panama is a country with economic growth, but it is also an unequal country. I call it ‘the sixth border’ where we currently live with 18% poverty.”
Costa Rica
📰 Threats against the President: An armed group disguised as guerillas in a video on social media threatened the Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado and legislators with a coup if they refuse to resign. Two men suspected of recording the video were arrested on Friday. 
Video of the Week
Can you distinguish different Central American Spanish accents? 🤔
Cómo distinguir acentos y expresiones de distintos países de Centroamérica
Cómo distinguir acentos y expresiones de distintos países de Centroamérica
Indigenous Peoples News & Culture
📖 Revista Cultural Centroamericana makes a case that the indigenous languages Náwat Pipil and Náwat Nicarao, from El Salvador and Nicaragua, are different from Náhuatl and may prove a common Central American cultural heritage. (In Spanish).
📖 NACLA: In Guatemala, indigenous voices are finding their way onto the radio waves through community-based radio shows (radios comunitarias) to discuss politics and share their stories, despite government repression. 
Maya meet Mãori in New Zealand (from The Spinoff).
As part of the University of Otago’s Maya-Māori cultural economy exchange last month, four Mayan academics visited New Zealand to share their experiences of colonization.
As part of the University of Otago’s Maya-Māori cultural economy exchange last month, four Mayan academics visited New Zealand to share their experiences of colonization.
Good Reads
Remezcla prepared a “Know Your Rights” publication to prepare for ICE Raids across the U.S.
🗨️ This New York Times Opinion piece by Oscar Martinez, editor of El Faro, highlights that the migration crisis has roots not only in corrupt Central American governments, but also U.S. foreign policy. 
💸 El País and El Faro jointly produced a piece that argues that Honduras is, without a doubt, a narco-state. (In Spanish)
💸 New Times reviewed federal contracts to identify Florida-based companies being paid by ICE. They earn millions of dollars.
✊ On July 13 last year, the government of Daniel Ortega attacked the UNAN university for 19 hours with police and paramilitary forces. Two survivors tell their story: UNAN Managua did not surrender; the chronicle of the same day, on Twitter. (In Spanish)
🗨️ It’s not all about the United States. Honduran migrant Lizzy shares her narrative about being held in custody in Mexico (in English/in Spanish).
✔️ Immigration agents under President Donald Trump have set a new record for arrests of undocumented immigrants who don’t have a criminal record.
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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