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Ownership of body and land

Central American News
Ownership of body and land
By Central American News • Issue #112 • View online

Dear Readers,
While five out of seven Central American countries marked their independence day on September 15, the week was heavy.
These patriotic celebrations leave a bittersweet taste as indigenous and afro-descendant peoples, unionists, students, and other groups, demonstrate that their democratic sovereignty and their rights are not respected. The week was also a blow for nearly 300,000 Salvadoran, Nicaraguan, Sudanese, and Haitian people whose lives in the U.S. depend on TPS, as a judge ruled that the Trump administration has permission to cancel it. Also, whistleblower Dawn Wooten alleged forced mass hysterectomies at an ICE detention center and overall horrendous conditions regarding COVID-19. These questions raise the link between ownership to one’s body and health, and to the land and basic rights.
A silver lining is you, our readers, who keep up with the news of our peoples. Every week, more than 400 of you open this newsletter and many more follow us on our podcast and social media accounts. Thank you for trusting us.
We have a treat for you: Nicole D. Ramsey’s newest essay on how Belizean independence (celebrated on September 21) reminds her of the complicated legacy of colonization. It is a thoughtful and heartwarming piece, the kind only she can write.
Salú,
Melissa
Photo of the week
Supporters of the National TPS Alliance gather in the United States Capitol on September 15, 2020. Source: VOA Noticias.
Supporters of the National TPS Alliance gather in the United States Capitol on September 15, 2020. Source: VOA Noticias.
Reflections on Belize by Nicole D. Ramsey
Check out Nicole’s newest reflections on Belize on our Medium.
Belizean Independence reminds me of the complicated legacy of colonization | by Central American News | Sep, 2020 | Medium
Podcast
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Headlines
Migration
📰 Hysterectomies: Former nurse at Irwin County Detention Center and whistleblower Dawn Wooten alleged that the facility underreported COVID-19 cases and performed hysterectomies on detained women. Other women have come forward about having a similar procedure done without their consent. The doctor who is accused of performing the hysterectomies was revealed to not be a board certified obstetrician-gynecologist.
📰 ICE: In sweeping ICE arrests, the Trump administration is arresting undocumented people for minor crimes (or none). // ICE deported a key witness in an investigation about agents sexually assaulting detained women in camera blind spots of an El Paso facility. // ICE officials are expected to expand DNA sample collection of detained migrants across the country later in the year and are considering prosecuting detainees who refuse the DNA collection. 
📰 TPS: An appeals court will allow the Trump administration to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) protections for nearly 300,000 migrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. 
📰 Chad Wolf: Federal judge ruled that Chad Wolf is likely to be unlawfully appointed as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, so enforcement of new asylum restrictions have been temporarily barred.

Belize
📰 Equal Opportunities Bill: The Equal Opportunities Bill —aimed at protecting members of marginalized groups from discrimination, including members of the LGBT community— was ultimately pulled out by the Government due to controversy among religious groups. According to these groups, the bill introduced “never seen before” terms of legislation such as “gender identity” and “gender mainstreaming”.
📰 Climate Change Initiative: Belize, along with three other countries, will receive funding from the Commonwealth Secretariat to aid the formation and implementation of climate action projects
📰 Remembering George Price: This Saturday marked the 9th anniversary of George Price’s death, the first Prime Minister of independent Belize and honored as the “Father of the Nation.” 

Costa Rica 
📰 Economy: The Costa Rican government proposed privatizations, tax increases, and additional austerity measures to present to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of negotiations to secure a $1.75 billion dollar loan to offset the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
📰 Drug Transit: A memorandum signed by U.S. President Donald Trump identified Costa Rica amongst other countries as one of the countries with the highest transit of drugs and places it next to the South American countries that are the main producers of cocaine. 
📰 Unemployment Rate: Unemployment rate in Costa Rica is higher among women who have at least one child (63.4%), according to a survey from the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC).
 
El Salvador
📰 Corruption: A report by IBI Consultants establishes links between the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, with the main leader of the FMLN, José Luis Merino; PDVSA and the company created by Hugo Chávez Alba Petróleos. The Bukele administration denies ties with Jose Luis Merino, the former guerrilla commander who founded Alba Petroleos with the late ex-president Hugo Chávez. This company was 60% owned by PDV Caribe, a subsidiary PDVSA, and 40% of the FMLN. 
📰 Refuge: The United Nations Organization for Refugees is opening an operational headquarters in El Salvador to assist refugees, asylum seekers and victims of internal displacement. 
📰 Economic Contraction: A data analyst says the country may be going through its strongest period of economic contraction in 40 years. The clothing and textiles industry were among the hardest hit sectors of the economy.
📰 Police Brutality: Indigenous groups allege police brutality at a peaceful protest against construction of a market in Cuisnahuat. 
 
Guatemala
📰 COVID-19: President Giammattei confirms that he has tested positive for COVID-19, stating he only has mild symptoms. // Aurora Airport’s reopening started on September 18th; many shared the lack of social distancing protocols in place.
📰 Ixil Genocide: 14 female survivors of the Ixil Genocide provided a detailed account of their experiences which will serve as testimony against Luis Enrique Mendoza García. Mendoza García is a retired military officer charged with the crime of genocide and crimes against humanity while serving as chief of army operations in the government of José Efraín Ríos Montt in 1982.
📰 Justice: A Prosecutor Office and the police captured an assistant prosecutor of the Public Ministry, Sergio Baltazar Valenzuela, along with police officers. They are accused of being involved in criminal activities such as murder and theft.
📰 Human Rights: International organizations sent a letter to President Giammattei reminding him of the obligation Guatemala has regarding the verdict from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of 2014 for the case “Defender of Human Rights and Others vs. Guatemala ”. Guatemala is ordered to produce a Public Policy for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.
 
Honduras
📰 Elections: The National Electoral Council called for primary elections on March 14, 2021, during which political parties will vote for their frontrunners for the general elections in November. The political opposition denounced irregularities in the new electoral census and faces the possibility of an alliance with controversial figure (Yani Rosenthal) as presidential candidate. 
📰Repression: Police threw tear gas and chased protesters at the end of a demonstration on September 15th organized by unionists and students, known as the "countermarch” (contramarcha).
📰 COVID-19: The number of positive patients for COVID-19 increased. The beginning of an outbreak is starting to show due to the reopening of the economy, said Dr. Carlos Umaña. 
📰 Reopening Economy: On Monday, certain restaurants are being authorized to open in-house dining in a pilot-trial. Private sector authorities claim this is an important step to recover jobs. 

Nicaragua
📰 Life imprisonment: In his speech for independence day, President Ortega suggested to re-establish life imprisonment for hate crimes. Human rights organizations and journalists saw in this a direct threat to political opponents as “hate crimes” are not sufficiently defined. // Vice President Murillo equated feminist movements to criminals who commit femicides for promoting abortion rights.
📰 Press Freedom: Regime intensifies harassment against journalists in the southern Caribbean region, according to Fundación V. de Chamorro. // Channel 12 workers asked the population to support them by leaving messages on social networks with the hashtag #NosResistimosAlEmbargo (“We resist the embargo”). Channel 12 was seized by the tax office for an alleged 2011 tax debt.  
📰 Tourism: AVIANCA is the first airline to re-establish commercial flights to Managua. The tourism sector does not believe that this is enough to reactivate the sector. 
📰 Misquito Cays: Industrial boats steal lobsters from indigenous people in Misquito Cays, community leaders claim. These boats are owned by businessmen from Bluefields, the main city of the southern Caribbean in Nicaragua. 

Panama
📰 Drug Trafficking: Governor Erick Iván Martelo Robinson of the PRD party was arrested along with his driver for transporting 79 kilos of cocaine in Pacora province. Martelo was immediately removed from his post as governor of Guna Yala by President Laurentino Cortizo.
📰 Housing: Panama’s $650 million housing renovation project in Colón is recognized by Engineering News Record as the Project of the Year for Global Best Projects of 2020. 
📰 Mass Grave: New mass grave discovered in Ngäbe Bugle indigenous community. The grave was discovered while investigating a Christian religious sect for sexual and physical abuse. 
📰 Family Businesses: National Secretariat for Disability delivers seed capital for the Fami-Empresas program in the central province of Veraguas to guide, train, and promote the creation of small family businesses. 
Our COVID-19 Map
Visit our interactive COVID-19 map of Central America
Visit our interactive COVID-19 map of Central America
Good Reads
📌 Deforestation: In Nicaragua, indigenous and kriol communities are experiencing escalating deforestation and local conflict in their homes as the government has increasingly cracked down on dissent in the country (Undark).
📌 Whistleblower : Irwin Detention Center in Georgia is at the heart of the recent whistleblower complaint, detailing the long history of neglecting and violation of the rights of migrants detained at the facility (The New Yorker).
📌 End Immigrant Detention: The National Immigrant Justice Center released a policy brief arguing for five reasons to end immigrant detention.
📌 Facebook: A fired Facebook employee exposed how Facebook “does not care” enough about harmful coordinated campaigns on its platform which destabilize politics and elections around the world. Honduras and Juan Orlando Hernandez are particularly under the spotlight in the memo. (Buzzfeed)
Rostros y voces del conflicto
In El Salvador, El Diario de Hoy built an interactive map of the victims of the war to remember them.
Central American Voices & Events
✍️ Unforgetting: In an interview with Jacobin Magazine, Roberto Lovato discusses “the need to be militant about our stories” to counter the historical amnesia we have experienced regarding U.S. intervention and dictatorship in Central America. 
✍️ Badass Women:  Two years since massive protests, Nicaragua continues to be an area of high conflict. Despite the risks, these 5 young Nicaraguan women continue to organize, changing the panorama of the country’s traditional political framework. (The Tempest).
🎵 Panamanians Make Music History: Several Panamanian artists were recognized on the Billboard list for the best Latin American songs in history including “A puro dolor” by Son By Four and “El gran varón” by Willie Colón, which were both composed by Panamanian Omar Alfanno. The salsa song “Pedro Navaja” by Rubén Blades and the globally recognized song Despacito, co-written by Panamanian singer-songwriter Erika Ender, were also celebrated (Foco Panama).
📅 September 21: “Black and Indigenous Resistance in the Americas: From Multiculturalism to Racist Backlash”. A digital book launch and panel, including Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj (Stanford University) on Indigenous Activism in Guatemala.
Five Central American Rising Stars by Remezcla
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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 // 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 // Fátima Ramírez, Panama News // Nicole Ramsey, Writer // Jacqui Martinez, Guest Art Curator
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