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Presidents, Conspiracy and Cocaine

Central American News
Presidents, Conspiracy and Cocaine
By Central American News • Issue #54 • View online

Dear Readers,
Welcome back to another week of Central American news.
This week, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was identified as being complicit in a drug trafficking and money laundering case according to a document filed in a U.S. district court in New York. The same documents reveal that Tony allegedly helped mastermind two murders, a rival drug-trafficker and an employee.
The Honduran government denies the allegations, claiming that the publication of said information is without context and constitutes defamation of the president.
This is the same president that the U.S. administration vouched for in 2017 amidst international and national accusations of the elections being irregular, or in other words, fraudulent. The U.S. was one of the first countries to recognize Juan Orlando Hernandez.
Further reading on Honduras:
  • An op-ed on Honduras being a narco-state: “Un pato llamado Honduras” (El Pais)
  • Honduran politics and its impact on society at large: “Pay or Die” (New York Times)
  • If you want to go into detail on the government’s links to narco and this year’s protests: “Caso de narcopolítica e ilegitimidad de Juan Orlando Hernández desestabilizan país” (Contracorriente)
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Salu,
The Central American News team
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Photo of the Week
Street art in Honduras by Kill Joy, Mazalt and Stinkfish. Click on image for more of their work.
Street art in Honduras by Kill Joy, Mazalt and Stinkfish. Click on image for more of their work.
Headlines
Migration
📰 U.S. Asylum Policy: A federal judge ruled that the Trump Administration’s policy to bar migrants from seeking asylum violates the law. // U.S. Attorney General William Barr ruled Monday that immigrants who fear persecution because of threats against family members are no longer eligible for asylum.
📰 Buffer Zones: Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan stated that the U.S. is pursuing agreements with Honduras and El Salvador similar to Guatemala’s to turn the region into a buffer zone for migrants.
📰 At the Border: Architecture and design professors in California installed seesaws at the border wall to use “humor and inventiveness to address the futility of building barriers.” // The Supreme Court ruled that $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds could be used to construct sections of the border wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. // The U.S. sent nearly 900 mostly Central American and Cuban migrants to a northern Mexico border city since expanding the “Remain in Mexico” program two weeks ago.
📰 U.S. Shooting: Domestic terrorist killed 20 and wounded 26 in hate crime against “Hispanics” and migrants, in El Paso, next to Mexican border.
Guatemala
📰 Reactions to “Safe Third Country” Agreement: On August 8, a delegation of 20 U.S. Democrats will visit Guatemala to discuss and evaluate the agreement. Campesino organization Codeca will hold a national strike that day throughout Guatemala. // Representatives of the Council of Mayors of Totonicapán went to Congress to reject the agreement. // Hundreds of Guatemalans protested the agreement that President Jimmy Morales signed with Washington. // Guatemalan official asks Constitutional Court to nullify President Jimmy Morales’s agreement with the Trump Administration.// Students protest that their university has been used to hold US-Guatemala talks on the agreement, campus is closed.
📰 Amnesty Bill: Two weeks ago, the Constitutional Court temporarily suspended legislative talks on Amnesty Bill. Lawmakers now want part of the Constitutional Court to be impeached.
Belize
📰 History: Belize celebrates 185th anniversary of emancipation of slavery, reflects on race relations today.
📰Cultural Development: Cultural Development Grant Fund to be used to build Belize’s first Yucatec Maya Museum.
📰Tourism: Belize Tourism Board is offering all-expenses paid vacation to U.S. residents of town near Area 51, Nevada, U.S., to escape wave of tourists coming to see the “aliens”
El Salvador
📰 Bukele’s Security Plan: President Nayib Bukele announces third phase of security plan which will focus on “modernizing” the National Police and Armed Forces with more advanced technology and equipment. // The Armed Forces graduates 1,060 newly recruited soldiers as part of the anti-gang security plan. // President Nayib Bukele celebrated a day without a homicide on Wednesday, July 31, the eighth murder-free day in 19 years. 
📰 Economy: The government places $1.097 million worth of Eurobonds on the international market, counting on international investment to stimulate El Salvador’s economy.
📰 Nominations: The Legislative Assembly appointed five new magistrates to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the nonpartisan body responsible for organizing and monitoring national elections. The elected officials have been criticized for their links to political parties. 
📰 Funes:  Former Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes is granted Nicaraguan citizenship. The move presents a challenge to current Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele from bringing Funes and his family before the country’s justice system where they face numerous corruption charges.
Honduras
📰Drug-Trafficking: Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was identified as a co-conspirator in a drug trafficking and money laundering case against his brother Tony Hernandez, according to a document filed in U.S. district court in New York.  
📰 Corruption: Anti-corruption bodies Maccih and Ufecic requested that assets acquired through Pandora graft case be confiscated, including property and a corporation run by President Hernandez’s brother-in-law and wife, Ana Garcia Carias. The first lady denied that she has a relationship with said company. However, this is not the first time she has been linked to irregularities with companies or NGOs.
📰 Land defenders: Rosalina Domínguez, leader of the Lenca community in Río Blanco was threatened with a machete, along with a fellow defender and two girls. The community of Río Blanco and the victims recognized the aggressors as former employees of DESA, the company which masterminded the murder of Berta Caceres.
Nicaragua
📰 Politics: Daniel Ortega announced to the Vatican that talks with the Alianza Cívica are done (the government did not formally announce this decision to any Nicaragua counterpart) and that he will only discuss political and electoral reforms with traditional political parties
📰 Diplomacy: Officials from the United Nations, European Union, United States, Spain and IAHCR criticized decision from government to retire from talks with opposition. Nicaragua’s government granted Nicaraguan nationality to the former president of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, requested in his country for crimes of corruption and embezzlement of public funds.
📰 Prisoners: Committee for the Release of Dams and Political Prisoners published updated list of 120 prisoners. Critics believe the government is trying to stop political prisoners from organizing or leading any social movement.
📰 Health: Ministry of Health issued an epidemiological alert to strengthen the fight against dengue fever after an increase in cases. //Doctors denounce that the Ministry of Health cancelled cancer treatment because of a lack of resources.
Costa Rica
📰 Combating fake news: The Costa Rican government announced on Wednesday the launch of a platform that is dedicated to combating fake news. The initiative is called “Gobierno Aclara” (Government Clarifies). The initiative was created in response to widely circulated stories that incorrectly claimed that the Finance Ministry planned to raise the value added tax (VAT) from 13% to 16%. 
📰 Seized drugs: Costa Rican authorities reported on Saturday the confiscation of 422 kilos of cocaine found on a plane that was found to be flying from El Salvador and landed on a clandestine runway in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. 
📰 Month of Afrodescendence: On August 31st, the country plans to celebrate the Day of the black person and Afro-Costa Rican culture, with activities from the event that will last the whole month.
Panama
📰 Migration: Costa Rican and Panamanian officials arrested nearly 50 people linked to an international network suspected of smuggling migrants from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean through Central America and toward the United States.
📰 Central American Train: A train that seeks to unite Mexico and Panama to boost the economy of Central América has been already given “the approval” to begin. This project is an idea proposed by the Central American Parliament (Parlacen).
📰 Canal: Panama inaugurated the third bridge connecting the country’s eastern and western halves over the Panama Canal. At the same time, the Administration of the Canal adopted new measures until November 30, to protect cetaceans during their migratory season.
📰 China and Panama Relations: China’s ambassador Wei Qiang, said that relations between the two countries are visibly growing, that much progress has been made in promoting tourism
Climate Change
The Guardian publishes a series focused on the effects of climate change throughout Central America and how it fuels forced migration.
 "Victor Funez and his daughter Patricia carry water pitchers back to their house after filling them up at a cemetery tap." Photograph: Juan Carlos/The Guardian
"Victor Funez and his daughter Patricia carry water pitchers back to their house after filling them up at a cemetery tap." Photograph: Juan Carlos/The Guardian
Good Reads
📝July 2019 was one of El Salvador’s least deadly month. El Faro analyzes this by bringing nuance to the table: do iron fist policies work on the long term? (In Spanish).
🗨️ Ortega just abandoned the talks. Why? This author argues that it’s because he can only stay in power through crisis. On 4tomono, in Spanish.
📝 The Guardian reports on a Salvadoran migrant with the cognitive age of a four year old who was separated from family members when they arrived at the U.S. border and has been left alone in Mexico. Disabled people rarely make it to the headlines, so we appreciate this story.
👪 A Toolkit for K-12 Educators and Parents for how to teach about immigration, asylum, and family separation at the US-Mexico Border.
🔎 Foreign Policy investigates continued attempts on behalf of the Guatemalan government to bar access to the national archives that document the “dirty war.” These archives would be key to prosecute Guatemalan politicians and officers who were implicated in human rights violations and war crimes. 
Mosquitia divers in Honduras
On July 3, 33 divers of the Misquito community in Honduras died or disappeared at sea while trying to fish high-end lobster for U.S. and European markets. Casualties are frequent and it is an impoverished community in Honduras. Source: La Prensa.
Multimedia
📺 ‘I Just Simply Did What He Wanted’: The New York Times presents a short doc on the stories of migrants who disclose the sexual violence they experience from an immigration official while in detention.
📺 Engineers explain, in a simple and dynamic way, what the Panama Canal is and how it works. By Interesting Engineering.
📷 “The indigenous Guna: Living with albinism in Panama” is the name of a photoreport by Al Jazeera, which states that the rate of albinism within the Guna population is among the highest in the world, experts say.
La Llorona
Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante will present his new film “La Llorona,” starring maya Kaqchikel actress Maria Mercedes Coroy, at an Italian film festival later this month. It intertwines the popular legend of la Llorona with the armed conflict and genocide during the 1980s war. A clip 👇
La Llorona - Clip 1
La Llorona - Clip 1
Rest in Peace
Many people die and are killed when migrating and when being detained in immigration centers. Here are just a few cases that have been picked up by the press and that we want to acknowledge. Central Americans matter.
Guatemalan migrant Vilma Xiomara Mendoza Canahui drowned while trying to cross a canal in her second attempt to enter the U.S. // 32-year old Salvadoran migrant died in Border Patrol custody on Thursday in New Mexico. // Mexican police killed a Honduran migrant for allegedly carrying a firearm and using it aggressively while witnesses claim that the officials arrived and began “shooting to kill.” // Guatemalan migrant Yazmin Juarez is suing private prison company CoreCivic after her one year old child died from health complications weeks after being released from a Texas detention center.
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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