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Ortega's Fear

Central American News
Ortega's Fear
By Central American News • Issue #69 • View online

Dear Readers,
Current events in Bolivia have emboldened the government of Nicaragua, led by Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, to hold fast to power. Intimidation against former political prisoners, priests, business people and political activists resumed for fear that anti-government protests might spark again. Thirteen people have been arrested for bringing water to the mothers of political prisoners, who were on hunger strike in Masaya, Nicaragua.
Last year, more than 400 people were killed during protests, most of which at the hands of state forces and paramilitaries, and around 140 people are still detained and considered political prisoners.
President Ortega is starting to doubt the credibility of elections and justifying the use of weapons to take power.
“We have believed in elections, but Bolivia’s elections are a litmus test to our belief in elections, and if it doesn’t happen, the people could have all the right, the obligation, to take up arms to achieve power by revolutionary means” - Daniel Ortega.
Presidential elections which are set for 2021 may become a tense affair. Let’s keep Nicaragua close on our news radar.
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The Team.
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Photo of the Week
Those arrested by the Nicaraguan police after they delivered water to the mothers of political prisoners on hunger strike. Source: La Prensa
Those arrested by the Nicaraguan police after they delivered water to the mothers of political prisoners on hunger strike. Source: La Prensa
📰 Dreamers: Supreme Court appears inclined to let Trump end DACA program. The courts heard nearly an hour and a half of oral arguments as hundreds of DACA supporters rallied outside.
📰 Asylum Seekers: Guatemalan family becomes the first to begin asylum case proceedings in the U.S. rather than from Mexico.
📰 Detention: The U.S. detained a record 69, 550 migrant children in 2019. // For the first time in a year, more adult immigrants than families are being detained at the U.S.-Mexico border. 
📰 #ReleaseTaniaNow: Honduran consular officials are refusing to issue travel documents to immigration authorities who want to deport a Honduran woman recovering from cancer.
📰 Politics: Daniel Ortega, president of Nicaragua, discards “electoral route” and justifies “use of weapons” in case the people do not trust the electoral result.
📰 Hunger Strike: Mothers of political prisoners started a hunger strike in San Miguel church, in Masaya, in which riot police responded swiftly. At least 13 activists have been jailed after bringing water to the protesters of charges of “national relevance”. Governments of Spain and Costa Rica have declared in favour of ending the siege of the San Miguel church and the protestors. 
📰 Economy: According to the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Funides), in 2020 the economy would close in negative for the third consecutive year, forcing a third of the population to live with less than $1.76 per day. // Public spending will only reach 50% of the total budget for 2019; city halls will be the most affected.
📰 U.S. Agreement: Guatemalan Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart wants to send asylum seekers to the remote jungles of Petén as part of Guatemala’s new migration agreement with the United States. // In contrast, the U.S. government said on Saturday that it had no plans to send asylum seekers to remote regions in Guatemala after the Central American country floated the plan during negotiations for a bilateral migration agreement this week.
📰 Politics: Guatemalan Congress passed a law on Tuesday that will allow prisoners to reduce penalties imposed by the courts by up to 50%, as long as they accept they have “consciously, voluntarily and informally” committed the crime.// Congress removes 97% of the funds from the network of shelters and legal and psychological assistance centers that aid women who suffer violence in Guatemala. 
📰 Indigenous: After having stopped for 10 years, Maya Mam sacred dance has been recovered in honor of the wind energy (Naul Iq’) for better milpa crops.
📰 #VarelaLeaks: Panama’s attorney general, Kenya Porcell, announced her resignation, effective on January 1, 2020, following the revelations of alleged controversial communications between the head of the Public Ministry and then President Varela. This same week, former President Varela filed a complaint for “violation of privacy.”
📰 Transparency: The OECD rated Panama partially compliant regarding taxes, having addressed some OECD recommendations since its last assessment in 2016. These included strengthening its strike-off of inactive entities, and requiring all entities to maintain accounting records. 
📰 Digital Hub: Google announced that it will expand via a one million dollar investment one of its main submarine cables to Panama with the aim of improving the coverage of its telecommunications network to Central America, taking advantage of the competitive advantages offered.
📰Guatemala Tensions: Tensions arise at a border town in Belize as Guatemalans claim they have title to property // The Belizean government is working on addressing undocumented Guatemalans entering the country.
📰 Refugees: Belize joins the Соmрrеhеnѕіvе Regional Рrоtесtіоn аnd Ѕоlutіоnѕ Frаmеwоrk, а rеgіоnаl vеrѕіоn оf thе Glоbаl Rеfugее Соmрасt. Mexico and all countries from Central America except Nicaragua are part of this agreement on treatment of refugees. 
📰Sustainability: BZ $2 million will be committed to helping Belizean fisheries transition away from using gillnets, which are notorious for indiscriminately trapping marine life, in effort to increase marine sustainability. 
📰Mental Health: A new NGO called Mind Health Connect was launched recently, whose goal is to provide resources and inspire hope in those who live with mental health issues.
Costa Rica
📰 Time Magazine: President Carlos Alvarado is listed in Time Magazine 100 influential people of 2019. // In a Q & A with President Carlos Alvarado, he discusses how his fight against climate change means “fighting for a better world for his son.”
📰 Economy: Financial sources report that on Tuesday Costa Rica placed $1.5 billion in Eurobonds in the international market to cover its financing needs without resorting to the local financial market.
📰 Corruption: MACCIH, the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras, delivered recommendations to a proposal that would reform prisons. // The Government of Honduras and the OAS installed a review board to decide whether MACCIH’s mandate should be renewed. // A survey noted that over 80% of Honduras consider corruption to be high, affecting political parties, the police, and the presidency.
📰Palm Oil: The Honduran National Congress approved the “Strengthening of the Productive Sector of the Palm Oil Law,” which will provide financial and technical support to the sector. // This week, peasant leader Santos Torres was shot along with several members of his family in the Bajo Aguan, a region with high rates of violence due to land disputes, also known for its palm oil industry
📰 Press Freedom: Buenaventura Calderón, critical radio host of local authorities and his wife are killed in eastern Honduras
📰Political prisoner: A court acquitted Gustavo Cáceres, a 26-year-old political activist who had been in prison since December 2017, after he had protested electoral fraud that same year. 
El Salvador
📰 Amnesty Law: The Legislative Assembly requested another extension from the Constitutional Chamber to pass a “National Reconciliation Law” after human rights groups denounced the most recent draft, which could make it difficult for victims of war crimes to bring cases forward or appeal decisions.
📰Extrajudicial Killings: Eight police officers have been sentenced to 45 years in prison for the extrajudicial execution of 4 people in 2016, which was covered up to look like a “confrontation” between gang members and police. 
📰 Sexual Assault: The Attorney General has appealed previous ruling and will criminally prosecute Judge Jaime Escalante for groping a 10-year-old-girl. The victim of the sexual assault and her mother have been forced to flee El Salvador following threats not to continue with the charges against Escalante. The Legislative Assembly passed a reform that penalizes inappropriate touching of minors with 12 years in prison. 
📰 Information Leak Scandal: The president of the Institute of Access to Public Information (IAIP) has resigned after a scandal over the leak of personal data to the Executive Branch.
Words From Our Team
Our Social Media Officer, José Martinez, is a DACA recipient and wrote the following regarding the recent oral arguments heard before the U.S. Supreme Court: 
“DACA’s imminent termination is definitely terrifying…but it is also empowering. We have made it this far all while being in limbo and full of uncertainty. If anything, the recent events have energized me! That energy started as fear, but now it’s turned into “This is what I’m capable of”…it’s time that we as DACA recipients become stubbornly successful. It’s like Lin Manuel Miranda says, “I am not throwing away my shot”. This is beyond politics…It’s about humanity. Let’s give the current administration the reality check they need: This is our home and we are here to stay…” 
Thank you, José!
Photo by Paula Rivera. Read an interview with her and six more women photographers in El Salvador in Seven women who paint with light, by Revista Factum.
Photo by Paula Rivera. Read an interview with her and six more women photographers in El Salvador in Seven women who paint with light, by Revista Factum.
Good Reads Suggestions
☑️ El Salvador: On the 30th anniversary of the murder of the Jesuits in El Salvador, prominent human rights activist José María Tojeira reflects on the “tradition of impunity” in El Salvador. In El Faro.
☑️ Nicaragua: The Communication Research Center, CINCO, analysis the strategy of Nicaragua’s government of “closed scenario”, which combines a change of political actors and playing for time for the 2021 elections. 
☑️ Honduras: Contracorriente interviews Andrea Nuila from Luchemos HN, a feminist collective where she shares on being a woman in a country “controlled by drug-trafficking and the military.” 
☑️ Migration: Common Dreams published an op-ed arguing that the legacy of U.S. military intervention in Central America is the force that pushed thousands of migrants to go toward Mexico and the U.S.
☑️ Central American Studies: Student leaders at the University of California, Los Angeles pushed for the Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicano and Chicana Studies to add “Central American Studies” to the department name, along with more Central American faculty and courses.
Multimedia Suggestions
🎧 Honduras: The Theft of Honduran Natural Resources, a podcast by Central America Talks. International companies are already exploiting mines, rivers and valleys all around Honduras, in the last decade the government has given all for free, with authorities accused of benefiting with corruption deals.
🎧 Nicaragua: The 40-year revolution, Watford Institute initiated a 4 episode podcast on the balance of the Nicaragua’s revolution, 40 years later, and where is Nicaragua today, featuring interviews with political leaders from 1979 to 2019. 
🎧 Panama: Young people in Panama want to show the world that their country is not the paradise that many sell in the context of the new constitutional reforms. A report by AJ+
🎧 El Salvador: Remembering The 1989 Massacre Of Jesuits In El Salvador, a podcast by NPR.
🎧 The Border: The Policy and Litigation Director and Attorney for non-profit Al Otro Lado gave a Ted Talk about the legal and migrant justice work that serve immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In Numbers
💉 Four of the five countries with the highest dengue incidence rates in Latin America are in Central America. The number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants are: Nicaragua (2,271), Belize (1,021), Honduras (995.5), and El Salvador (375).
📆 Nicaraguan masks will be auctioned to help political refugees in Costa Rica. The auction will be held at the Miami Dade College Koubek Memorial Center, located at 2705 SW 3rd St., in Miami, starting at 7:30 p.m., this Friday, November 22nd.
📆 Museum of Central America and FICCALA will feature the documentary “Los Eternos Indocumentados” (The Eternal Undocumented), a movie about Central American migration and its causes. It will be shown November 23rd, at With Love Cafe, 1969 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007.
📆 An art exhibit titled “Connected Diaspora: U.S. Central American Visuality in the Age of Social Media” featuring the work of Central American artists, at Duke University. Open until February 2020.
The Team
Melissa Vida, Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Rodrigo Peñalba, Nicaragua News, Editor
Rachel Ketola, El Salvador News
Nansi Rodríguez, Guatemala News
Jonathan Peraza Campos, Migration News
Jalileh García, Honduras News
Rachel Osorio, Costa Rica News
Natalie Leach, Social Media Officer
José Martinez, Social Media Officer
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