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The War on Drugs vs Indigenous Land Rights

Central American News
The War on Drugs vs Indigenous Land Rights
By Central American News • Issue #64 • View online

Dear Readers,
Some things are closely intertwined, such as power, land rights, drugs, and climate change. That’s what researchers from Central America and the U.S. presented at the pre-COP 25 in Costa Rica.
The researchers’ conclusions were that the U.S. military-based approach of the “War on Drugs” policy worsens deforestation in Central America, as drug-traffickers cut through rainforests to bring drugs to the U.S.
They also found that respecting community and indigenous land rights work best to curtail the “negative impacts of drug trafficking and climate change simultaneously,” Jennifer Devine, one of the researchers, told Earther.
“Both the War on Drugs and a conservation model that excludes local communities are driving this problem,” she said.
Central America can only be understood when we see what happens to the region as a whole. Many countries - and forces - are intertwined. That’s why we send out this newsletter every week.
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Photo of the Week
"Soldiers are seen near an African palm oil plantation run by NaturAceites during a temporary state of siege, approved by the Guatemalan Congress following the death of several soldiers in the area, in the village of Semuy II, Izabal Department, Guatemala September 9, 2019." REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
"Soldiers are seen near an African palm oil plantation run by NaturAceites during a temporary state of siege, approved by the Guatemalan Congress following the death of several soldiers in the area, in the village of Semuy II, Izabal Department, Guatemala September 9, 2019." REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
📰 Mexico: Mexico is deporting more migrants than the U.S. with a 67% increase in deportations compared to the first eight months of 2018. // Mexican officials dismantled a migrant caravan traveling from Chiapas to the U.S.-Mexico border.
📰 Advocacy: U.S. Presidential candidate Julian Castro escorted a group of asylum seekers across the border bridge at the U.S.-Mexico border. // Hundreds of asylum seekers stopped traffic across the border in protest of the conditions they are enduring.
📰 Restricting Migration:  Judges put on hold a new “public charge” rule that would screen out immigrants considered a risk of becoming dependent on government benefits. // A union representing asylum officers claims that pregnant migrants are forced to wait in Mexico to avoid them giving birth in the U.S.
📰 Detention: The U.S. has arrested the highest number of migrants since 2007 with nearly 851,000 apprehensions in 2019, according to new federal data. // California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that will phase out the use of privately-run immigration detention facilities by 2028. // Immigration and Customs Enforcement moved over 700 women out of a Texas detention center without giving their lawyers any way of finding them.
📰Tony Hernández: Amilcar Ardón, a former mayor, testified at the Tony Hernández trial admitting that he trafficked “between 30 and 40 tons of cocaine with Tony” and killed people who got “in their way”. Furthermore, Ardón said he provided illicit financing to the current President and other lawmakers for their electoral campaigns. The President denied these claims. // Another witness, Devis Rivera Maradiaga, who formed part of Los Cachiros cartel,  recorded a meeting with Tony. Devis alleged that he bribed the current president of Honduras and one of his ministers with hundreds of thousands of dollars.
📰Berta Cáceres: David Castillo, the alleged mastermind of Berta Cáceres’ murder, had his preliminary hearing suspended for a third time this week. COPINH says that the evidence overwhemingly ties David Castillo to the murder, and that the defense is trying to impede getting to the oral hearing. 
📰 Farmers: The UN High Commissioner’s Office regrets the murder of farmer Marco Tulio Cruz, kidnapped on October 8, and who was found dead on October 9. They call on the state to investigate the murders of farmers in the Bajo Aguan region, majority which remain in impunity
Costa Rica
📰 Organized crime: Costa Rican authorities are investigating a group of traffickers that would recruit homeless women and men from the streets of San José, to introduce phones and narcotics into Costa Rican prisons. 
📰 Girl Children: A Costa Rican project implemented in schools, meant to provide adolescent girls from underprivileged backgrounds with extracurricular training in digital literacy, technology, and prototyping through coaching and mutual learning was awarded by UNESCO.
📰 Economy: Costa Rica fell seven spots to 62nd in the latest Global Competitiveness Index rankings, which were released by the World Economic Forum this week.
📰 Climate Crisis: Costa Rica held the “Pre-Cop 25” meeting. 1500 representatives of governments, businessmen, youth, indigenous people and civil society met near San José to discuss the agenda of the COP-25 to be held in Chile.
📰 Poll: Nicaraguans prepare for the 2021 elections with President Ortega still in power and Ortega is at his lowest level of approval since he was elected in 2007. Nicaraguans are worried about the political, economic and job crisis.
📰 Economy: The banks reported credit recovery with US$644 million dollars, but at the same time a contraction in new credits leads to 29% less credits to purchase cars, 32% less on personal consumption, and 16% less on credit cards.
📰 Exiles: 200 to 250 exiles are returning to Nicaragua every month because they claim to face xenophobia abroad, where they are not legally protected as refugees, or are sleeping in the streets. Some of them are incarcerated upon their return to Nicaragua, accused of common crimes. 
📰 Countryside: Political violence continues in the rural areas, with 66 murders since october 2018. A complete family was killed (8 people) in the Indio Maiz natural reserve. Paramilitaries and armed settlers are the main suspects.
📰Environment: The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are preparing to fight against two deadly agricultural diseases that threaten to badly harm the agricultural sector of Belize’s economy, including the “Panamá disease” which affects bananas.
📰Conservation: Belize and other Caribbean countries are working on addressing disease in coral reef. 
El Salvador
📰US Relations: Salvadoran Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill defended the asylum agreement made with the US, denying that the objective is to convert El Salvador into a “third safe country.” A few days later, Hill met with US Secretary Mike Pompeo to discuss finding a permanent solution for Salvadorans living in the US with TPS who are set to lose legal status on January 2, 2020. 
📰 Reproductive Justice: The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has brought suit against El Salvador for the case of Manuela, a Salvadoran woman who was sentenced to 30 years in prison after suffering an obstetric emergency, and who later died from Hodgkin’s lymphoma because she was not given medical treatment.
📰Environment: Salvadoran environmentalists expressed concerns that the Salvadoran Ministry of Environment is drafting a new Water Law without consulting civil society and is issuing permits to developers without weighing environmental costs. 
📰 Bukele v Mr. Donut: The Ministries of Health and Labor closed down four Mr. Donut locations, citing sanitation and working conditions issues. The closures were criticized by the owner of Mr. Donut as political vengeance from President Bukele, and sparked outrage and protests among Mr. Donut employees.
📰 Gang negotiations: MS-13 gang leader and witness said that current president of the legislative assembly, Norman Quijano, financed US$1 million to the gang for electoral purposes in 2014. President Bukele called for Quijano to be prosecuted.
📰 Cannabis Debate: Lawmakers in Panama have taken up an initiative that seeks to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. The previous legislature gave it initial approval but decided to subject it to a broader study.
📰 Infrastructure: The Sixaola Binational Bridge, connecting Panama and Costa Rica, was supposed to be ready in May this year but the bridge only shows an advance of 56%. According to the government, this bridge will be completed in the first trimester of 2020. 
📰 Economy: The World Bank Group yesterday adjusted its economic growth prospects for Panama to 4.5%, below the estimates given last June, of 5.0%. It kept it as one of the most dynamic economies in Central America.
📰 Official visit to Mexico: President Cortizo will pay an official visit to Mexico by the end of the month. Among the issues to be discussed: migrant crisis and drug trafficking. 
📰Politics: The Board of Directors of the Guatemalan Congress filed a criminal complaint against four constitutional judges for crimes of abuse of authority. These judges were against the controversial “anti-CICIG commission” that was established to investigate the work of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).
📰 State of Siege: The Guatemalan Congress ratified the extension of the state of siege for another 30 days in the same 22 municipalities. The state of siege was applied by the Morales administration in September for the murder of three soldiers at the hands of alleged drug traffickers.
📰Environment: The Constitutional Court had ordered the Guatemalan Nickel Company (GNC) to stop its operations because it had not consulted communities before extracting the minerals. However the GNC never ceased its operations Its parent company actually celebrated a milestone by producing 300 thousand tons of nickel since 2013 - 70% production thanks to the GNC. 
Luna de Miel
A column in El Faro traces the lesbian movement in El Salvador through history, “from a public scandal to the creation of a political agenda.”
Portada de la Boletina Luna de Miel Nº1. Cortesía de Nicola Chávez Courtright y Jules Falquet.
Portada de la Boletina Luna de Miel Nº1. Cortesía de Nicola Chávez Courtright y Jules Falquet.
Good Reads and Multimedia
🖊️ The U.S. “War on Drugs” policy is driving deforestation in Central America. Drug-traffickers cut down rainforests to move their cargo. Reported by Gizmodo.
🖊️ Reuters reports on how Guatemala became a “cocaine producer” country, a “distinction previously reserved for Andean countries,” and explains the roots of the current state of siege in parts of Guatemala.
👀 Univision gives a useful account of “who is who” in the Tony Hernández drug-trafficking trial in New York through title cards.
🖊️📷 In El Salvador, Yolanda, a transgender woman, speaks on how she fears for her life because she has been threatened by gangs. The recent migration agreement between El Salvador and the U.S. limits her chances to stay safe abroad. On Insider, with photos.
🗨️ NACLA contributors argue that the U.S. anti-migrant policies and the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border help keeping low-wage labor force in maquiladoras in Mexico. 
📺 CBS News presents a documentary titled “The Faces of Family Separation”. Children are among those speaking.
How the Salvadoran cuisine made it to D.C.
Click on the photo. WAMU 88.5 radio station talks about the history of pupusas and how the Salvadoran and Mexican cuisines came to be served together in Washington D.C. restaurants.
Click on the photo. WAMU 88.5 radio station talks about the history of pupusas and how the Salvadoran and Mexican cuisines came to be served together in Washington D.C. restaurants.
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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