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Panama Ranks High and Low

Central American News
Panama Ranks High and Low
By Central American News • Issue #118 • View online

Dear Readers,
Panama is a country we rarely hear about abroad, except for financial news.
Part of it perhaps stems from the fact that Panama has one of the fastest growing economies in the world – so it does not garner that much attention. The other reason might be that the Panamanian press is severely impeded by unfriendly legal structures and self-censorship.
That is why we are very happy to welcome our new Panama news curator, Irene Ledezma. She will help our readers receive more nuanced news from this southern Central American country.
For example, in this week’s section, an Oxfam’s and Development Finance International’s index conveys that Panama’s government is not doing much to bridge the gap on inequality. Panama ranks 108 out of 158 countries in this list analyzing workers’ rights, public services and taxes. Costa Rica ranks 40, El Salvador, 50, Belize 53, Honduras, 62, and Guatemala, 117. There is no data for Nicaragua.
We look forward to hearing more about Panama – and having balanced news of the country. Thank you for reading us.
Stay healthy, stay safe
National Hurricane Center prediction for Hurricane Eta, which will affect Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Belize with high tides, winds and rain.
National Hurricane Center prediction for Hurricane Eta, which will affect Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Belize with high tides, winds and rain.
📰 Trump Immigration Plans: Central American Asylum Cooperative Agreements would become a model for other field asylum claims. Trump aide Stephen Miller is also prepared to push through anti-immigrant executive orders if Trump is re-elected
📰 Migrant Children: 200 children were deported to Mexico over the past eight months rather than their home countries. The Mexican government claims it has no record of unaccompanied child migrants sent to Mexico by the U.S. government. // A thirteen year old Honduran boy and his infant brother were caught crossing the border with other unaccompanied children as child migration continues throughout the pandemic.
📰 DHS: The Department of Homeland Security allegedly buys cell phone data to track migrants who cross the border, raising concerns over surveillance in the U.S.
📰 ICE: Immigration and Customs Enforcement is expanding their expedited removal policy that allows them to rapidly deport migrants without a court hearing. ICE also targeted six states in a wave of immigration raids leading up to the presidential election.

Central America
📰 Hurricane Eta: A tropical storm forming in the Caribbean will become a hurricane near the coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras as of Monday. It is estimated Hurricane Eta will reach Category 2 when it reaches northern Honduras. Follow Hurricane Eta reports here.

📰 Prime Ministerial Debate: A debate between the political parties running for Prime Minister was held this week — but the two of the main parties, the United Democratic Party and the People’s United Party, did not show up.
📰 Land Rights: The Maya Leaders Alliance spoke against surveyors putting survey lines that cut through crop fields on indigenous land without permission.
📰 International Relations: Belize is suing Trinidad & Tobago and St. Kitts-Nevis, CARICOM countries, over sugar exports from Guatemala.

Costa Rica
📰 Reforestation: The government of Costa Rica announced the goal of planting 200,000 trees in the northern zone of the country under the name “Trace of the Future”. 
📰 Trawling bill: President Alvarado vetoed the trawling bill due to lack of “scientific elements and technical studies that support the sustainability of shrimp fishing with this technique.”
📰 Sustainability: Tourists will be able to offset their carbon footprint in an effort to support sustainable tourism with the planting of trees, protection of river basins, natural regeneration, and agroforestry farming systems.

El Salvador
📰 Fatal Mudslide: At least nine people lost their lives and one person is missing after a mudslide swept through Nejapa in the north of San Salvador. The town’s mayor says the tragedy should prompt a “profound” review of the country’s total development model. 
📰 Murdered Jesuits: After the recent 133-year sentence against the former Minister of Security Inocente Montano in Spain, the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice decided not to reopen the case in El Salvador and ordered to close the cases of six Jesuits who were murdered in 1989. 
📰 Human Rights: A report from the Observatory of Human Rights at the University of Central America says that excessive human rights violations occurred in contagion centers that were intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 
📰 El Mozote: The judge overseeing criminal proceedings of the massacre at El Mozote was denied access to documents regarding the tragedy after visiting the military headquarters of all six military branches. 

📰DHS in Guatemala: U.S. Democratic lawmakers signed a letter requesting the Trump administration to provide a full report of when DHS agents transported Honduran migrants back to the Guatemala-Honduras border. 
📰 Felipe Alejos: The United States officially banned first secretary of the Guatemalan Congress, Felipe Alejos and his family from entering the U.S. due to his involvement in corruption. Alejos is accused of charging illegal commissions to process tax credits for companies.
📰 Press Freedom: Journalist Anastasia Mejia was released from prison after 36 days thanks to the collaboration of community members who helped pay a Q20K bond (2566 USD). //The Public Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Journalists, in coordination with the National Civil Police, captured the two agents accused of abuse of authority during the apprehension of Figueroa Alvarado. They are now being sued.

📰 Corruption: The Special Prosecutor’s Unit Against Corruption Networks presented a request for a pre-trial against Nasry “Tito” Asfura, a pre-candidate for the presidency and current mayor of Tegucigalpa, for the crime of using public funds for his political campaign in 2014.
📰 COVID-19: October 27 is the Day of the Honduran Physician. Health authorities expressed that this day is one of mourning, given that over 48 doctors have died directly from COVID-19.
📰 Human Rights: David Castillo, alleged mastermind of Berta Caceres’ murder, will appear in court on November 9. // Four women human rights defenders have been killed this year in Honduras. // Several U.S. Congresspeople sent a letter to Secretary Pompeo regarding their concern over the Honduran government’s treatment of the Guapinol defenders. 

📰 “Cybercrime” law: Nicaraguan assembly approved a law that penalizes with jailtime “spreading false news creating alarm, fear, anxiety“. Human rights groups describe it as a threat to freedom of speech.
📰 Drug trafficking: A recent string of drug seizures linked to Nicaragua suggests smugglers are moving cocaine through the country, despite official rhetoric that it is not a transit hub.
📰 Economy: 13,000 jobs lost in sweatshops between January and July 2020, according to a new Central Bank report.
📰 Politics: The Economist Economic Unit predicts 2021 elections will not be fair, and that Daniel Ortega (or its successor) will remain in power

📰 Inequality Ranking: Panama ranks 108 out of 158 in the 2020 Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index. The report has indicated that Panama is one of the most unequal countries in the world. 
📰 Metro de Panamá: The contract for Line 3 of the Panamanian metro has been signed with the Korean HPJ Joint Venture Consortium. It will cross under the Canal of Panama.
📰 Guna Prohibition of Masks: The General Congress of Guna Culture emitted a communiqué indicating that residents and visitors of the Comarca will be forbidden from using masks despite its required use from health authorities. The Guna’s other General Congress must approve the validity of this new measure. 
📰 Racism: Footballer Abdiel Arroyo was a victim of a racist act during a recent game of his team, Maccabi Petah Tikva, in Israel. Commentator Shlomo Sharaf said that Arroyo should go back to Panama to “eat bananas” after missing a shot on goal. The Israeli Ambassador in Panama indicated that Sharaf will be forbidden from entering the team’s games, his news channel will be contacted, and has indicated the possibility of filing a lawsuit
Our People
A woman shows radish seeds that she sows in a vegetable garden where men and women work. Santa Elena, La Paz, Honduras October 21, 2020. Photo: Martín Cálix from his photogallery on women campesinas (click on image).
A woman shows radish seeds that she sows in a vegetable garden where men and women work. Santa Elena, La Paz, Honduras October 21, 2020. Photo: Martín Cálix from his photogallery on women campesinas (click on image).
Good Reads & Documentary
📌 U.S. 2020 & Honduras: Amelia Frank-Vitale responds to the question “How could the election result in the United States change the course of Honduras?” in this interview. (Contracorriente). 
📌Political Representation in Honduras: LGBTI+, Indigenous, and Black Hondurans, as well as Hondurans with disabilities, face the most barriers when it comes to political representation. (Expediente Público)
📌Asylum process: The rise and fall of the asylum seeking process in the U.S. under the Trump administration’s morally corrupt use of the system to persecute immigrants. (Mother Jones)
📌Georgia: A Salvadoran woman aspires to become the new mayor in a Georgia town to push forward immigrant-friendly and inclusive policies that represent the interests of diverse communities (in Telemundo Atlanta). 
🎥 State of Fear: The U.S. Legacy in El Salvador: Big Story on America CGTN released a new documentary to examine the roots of cycles of gang violence in El Salvador stemming from U.S. policy and intervention. 
Good News
Musically United to the Emmys: Virtual project Musically United has received two nominations for the 2020 Emmy Awards. Its participants include students and professors of the Filarmónica Infantiles y Juveniles de Panamá, the Fundación Sinfónica Concertante de Panamá, and other international orchestras and musicians. (Ver Panamá)
Guatemala Day: The state of North Carolina established November 1st as Guatemala Day to pay tribute to Guatemalan traditions on the same day as All Saints’ Day in Guatemala. There are 80,000 Guatemalan nationals that live in North Carolina.
Nicaraguan gastronomy in CDMX
Nicaraguan cook, who worked at Pujol before the pandemic hit the industry, opened her own hidden restaurant called Waslala.
📚 New York Books reviews three recent books that document the experiences of asylum seeking and family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border. 
📅 National Holidays: On November 3, Panama will be celebrating 117 years of its separation from Colombia. A musical bands’ gala will be held virtually to celebrate. November 4 and 5 are also national holidays, honoring the national symbols and the City of Colón.
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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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