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Our last newsletter in 2020: TPS, Vaccines, and Feminist & Indigenous Hope for a New Guatemala

Central American News
Our last newsletter in 2020: TPS, Vaccines, and Feminist & Indigenous Hope for a New Guatemala
By Central American News • Issue #124 • View online

Dear Readers,
This will be our last newsletter of 2020 as our team takes a well-deserved time of rejuvenation.
From 2020, we will remember the powerful feminist marches and Black Lives Matter virtual demonstrations throughout Central America, the pandemic and its human and economic devastation, catastrophic hurricanes which affect a region vulnerable to climate crisis, an increase of authoritarian, censorship and military practices from El Salvador to Nicaragua, social protests in Costa Rica and the recent civil uproar in Guatemala in a hope for change. The crossborder movement of peoples, in all of this, has also been halted as well as their human right to seek asylum outside of their country.
In the highs and lows of the news cycle, you, our readers, have always been there. Every week, between 45% and 50% of you open our emails, which is no small feat for a newsletter, let alone homemade. We give a heartfelt thanks for your trust. Next year, we are betting on growth and special projects for our Patreon members.
We want to hear from you. What are you remembering from 2020? What are you hoping for next year? Let us know by responding to this email or by social media.
Nos vemos muy pronto,
Melissa
"Central American love." (By Melissa Vida)
"Central American love." (By Melissa Vida)
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Headlines
Central America
📰 Diplomacy: The acting secretary of National Security of the United States, Chad Wolf, will travel to Panama and then to El Salvador to “discuss broader security issues impacting the region” and “future areas of cooperation”. 
📰 Space Satellite: The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will send the Morazán project, the third Central American satellite, made in Honduras, into space. This satellite has support from universities in Honduras and Costa Rica.

Migration
📰 TPS: The U.S. government is extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Honduran, Salvadoran, and other nationals who are recipients of TPS until October 2021.
📰 Caravan: More than 300 people left in a “caravan” towards the United States seeking for better opportunities after many lost everything in the hurricanes. The Honduran police stopped the caravan from continuing in the Aguas Calientes border.
📰 Detention: Migrant teens in U.S. custody claim that they are being heavily drugged without their consent in detention. // According to a new report from the Detention Watch Network, Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials’ mismanagement of COVID-19 led to its spread in and around detention facilities and added nearly a quarter million cases in the U.S. 
📰 Border Wall: Lawmakers request that Biden cancel border wall contracts and stop the spending of military funds toward its construction.

Belize
📰 ICJ Referendum: Guatemala has filed its Memorial to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding its historic territory dispute with Belize. With both countries’ statements presented, the ICJ will now begin its process of reviewing the case.
📰 Economic Effects of COVID-19: The government has approved the distribution of over $900,000 in COVID-19 relief for Belize’s most disadvantaged citizens. Nearly 65,000 Belizeans are out of work due to coronavirus and other factors. Part of the Briceño administration’s 100-day plan will be to provide loans to farmers who have suffered significant losses due to the pandemic. 
📰 People’s United Party: Corozal Bay’s representative, PUP member Dido Vega, has passed away due to COVID-19. A state funeral will be held for him.

Costa Rica 
📰 Planting Trees Campaign: Costa Rica announced the start of a fundraising campaign titled “Huella del Futuro” (Footprint of the Future) where the country’s goal is to plant 200,000 trees in nine northern cantons by September 2021.
📰 Carbon Neutrality: The government of Costa Rica announced a new climate commitment to reduce emission rates at the UN. The country aspires to seek carbon neutrality 35 years earlier, in 2050, than initially proposed, in 2085.
📰 Minister Resigns: The Minister of the Status of Women, Patricia Mora, presented her resignation from office, where it was noted that she was concerned and not in favor of how the Costa Rican presidency handled the multi-sectorial dialogue meant to address the country’s economic crisis and negotiation with the International Monetary Fund.

El Salvador
📰 El Mozote: Survivors and advocates for the victims of the massacre at El Mozote gathered to honor those killed on the incident’s 39th anniversary. Safety protocols due to COVID-19 were followed. Advocates have been calling for a public apology from the government, but President Nayib Bukele has accused survivors and advocates of being a front for the FMLN.
📰 Persecution: Human rights defenders say the Bukele administration is harassing and arresting farmers in Chalatenango, accusing them of drug trafficking in order to repress local municipalities that are administered by FMLN mayors.
📰 Offering Aid: President Bukele publicly offered to send 100 hospital beds to Costa Rica to help relieve the lack of beds as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country have left hospitals beyond capacity.
📰 Attorney’s Responsibility: Activists in the Salvadoran diaspora are asking the attorney general’s office if he is acting in the best interest of the people as he leads various corruption investigations.

Guatemala
📰 #12D Protests: Protests continue in Guatemala City on the Plaza de la Constitución. Protests are being led primarily by feminist and indigenous groups who are calling for a deeper change in the country’s system
📰 COVID-19: Edwin Asturias resigned as the head of the Presidential Commission for Attention to the COVID-19 Emergency, which directly reports to President Giammattei. His resignation comes as Guatemala is facing 126,000 reported cases. 
📰 Petén: Petén communities affected by storms Eta and Iota are still flooded and have not received any government aid. Many of the families lost all their crops and grains that were stored for 2021.

Honduras
📰 COVID: In the nine months of the pandemic, Honduras has accumulated 113,207 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 3,000 deaths. 
📰 Hurricane Aftermath: Children are being sexually abused in shelters according to a children’s rights organization. // The Ramón Villeda Morales airport in San Pedro Sula, which got inundated due to the hurricanes, should be running in the coming days. // The UN World Food Program (WFP) distributed food assistance to 345,000 people who are in a vulnerable condition due to the pandemic and hurricanes Eta and Iota. 
📰 Climate Change: At the 2020 Climate Ambition Summit, the Honduran President asked the nations of the world to give Honduras access to the Green Climate Fund, after the devastating passage of hurricanes Eta and Iota. Yet, Honduran environmental defenders state that the government has never cared for environmental issues and that it’s another excuse for corruption. 

Nicaragua
📰 COVID-19: Only 20% of Nicaraguans will have a vaccine against COVID-19 under the coverage of the WHO’s COVAX program, as it focuses on healthcare workers. The government will have to acquire additional doses to cover the rest of the population. 
📰 New Laws: The government opens the way to privatize water resources. Another new law creates taxes for advertising on signs, from grocery stores to panoramic billboards on highways, and will prohibit the use of “messages that promote actions or ideas contrary to the law, public morals and good customs, that violate, harm or damage in any way human dignity and respect.” 
📰 Power: The government will reduce subsidies in electricity, affecting 900,000 families
📰 Human Trafficking: The Spanish National Police dismantled a network of labor exploitation of Nicaraguan women in Seville during an operation that left at least five people in detention.

Panama
📰 COVID-19: There have been over 21,000 new cases in the first eleven days of December. The first batch of COVID-19 vaccine will be given to front-line healthcare personnel and at-risk people, including the elderly, those suffering from chronic illnesses, and personnel from the Tocumen International Airport and the Canal. The 9:00 pm to 5:00 a.m. curfew has been re-established.
📰 Multimillion Dollar Loan: The World Bank approved a $300 million loan for Panama. The funds will be destined for priority policy actions in education, competitiveness, job creation, farming regulation and expansion of the use of generic drugs.
📰 Investigations: Arturo Fabrega, the Panamanian Ambassador in India is being investigated for alleged irregularities concerning passports. 
📰 Emigration: Panama has seen a mass exodus of foreigners given the severe economic crisis caused by the pandemic. More than 20,000 foreigners have left the country in 2020 for economic reasons.
Virgin of the Struggle
Dressed in her iconic 'Virgin of the Struggle' costume, Cristina Valenzuela participates in a feminist action ahead of broader protests in Guatemala City this week [Sandra Cuffe/Al Jazeera]
Dressed in her iconic 'Virgin of the Struggle' costume, Cristina Valenzuela participates in a feminist action ahead of broader protests in Guatemala City this week [Sandra Cuffe/Al Jazeera]
Good Reads & Central American Studies
🎓 Social creation: Scholar Gio Batz parallels the Maya K’iche creation story, the Popul wuj, with the current social movement in Guatemala in which indigenous and oppressed people continue to face off with destructive forces (in Plaza Publica). 
📌Maquila Protest: “This is the life of a woman who protests against a maquila during a pandemic”. Concepción Cruz is one of 113 women protesting against Florenzi Industries, the maquila that fired them without justification in Honduras. (Contracorriente).
📌Business in Nicaragua:  Two hurricanes and a rain of financial resources changed the political panorama in Nicaragua (Revista Envío). “The destructive force of Eta and Iota has altered the national political scene, becoming a justification for business groups to press for a national dialogue.”
🎓 “Learning from the Past:” In a new report for the Wilson Center, authors from different backgrounds “contend that the U.S. and other donors to the Northern Triangle should prioritize improved democratic governance and anticorruption efforts”. (Wilson Center).
🎓 Why We Leave: Why are migrants leaving Central America? A report prepared by the National Council of Rectors of Costa Rica. (CONARE)
Top 20 Movies of 2020
Rolling Stone includes La Llorona in their Top 20 movies of 2020 (Rolling Stones)
Rolling Stone includes La Llorona in their Top 20 movies of 2020 (Rolling Stones)
In Other News
Panamanian Innovator:  Panamanian entrepreneur Felipe Echandi has been selected by the MIT Technology Review en Español, as one of its “Innovadores menor de 35 Latinoamerica 2020". (Senacyt Twitter)
✨Christmas: How Christmas is celebrated in different countries in Central America. There is also great Central American recipes for Noche Buena to try out. (Blog of Remitly)
Trailera Tica: Milena González, a Costa Rican truck driver, has become viral for her truck driving videos on Tik Tok. (La Teja)
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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. José Martínez, Podcast Producer, Social Media Officer. Natalie Leach, Social Media Officer. 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. Jacqui Martinez, Guest Art Curator
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