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We Are Not Criminals

Central American News
We Are Not Criminals
By Central American News • Issue #76 • View online

Dear Readers,
Welcome back to a new year with Central American News. We are excited to continue giving you the essential news and analysis from the region. If you have any ideas for us to grow, please tell us!
Let’s start the year fresh by getting rid of the prejudices that plague the region. One of them is about how youth in vulnerable communities in El Salvador are seen as gang members - youth who are “up to no good,” or, due to their circumstances, doomed to a criminal life.
Revista Factum, a Salvadoran media, launched a video series made by filmmaker Marcela Zamora, loosely translated as “We are not criminals”. In five minutes, you can get to know a person who defies the expectations imposed on them by resisting a life of violence, growing through abuses or developing their artistic talent.
What other prejudices from Central American communities can you think about? Let us know.
Salu,
The Central American News team.
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6:33 PM - 9 Jan 2020
Photo of the Week
Youth from El Salvador covering his face while smiling. Photo Credit: Melissa Vida 2019.
Youth from El Salvador covering his face while smiling. Photo Credit: Melissa Vida 2019.
Headlines
Migration
📰 DNA Sampling: Trump administration began the program to collect DNA samples from migrants to submit to FBI and add to a national database.
📰 Neo-Nazi in detention center: A senior employee at a for-profit immigrant detention center was active on a neo-Nazi website and wanted to build a white nationalist chapter in his area.
📰 PACR: Trump administration has expanded the Prompt Asylum Claim Review (PACR), designed to expedite the processing and deportation of asylum-seekers from all over the world, implementing the new policy in the busiest sector of the U.S.-Mexico border.
📰 Going to Panama: Nicaraguan migrants have increasingly traveled to Panama after northern countries tighten their borders.
Panama
📰 Handover Anniversary: Panama celebrated the 20-year anniversary of the Panama Canal handover 31 December, 2019, amid a climate change crisis that threatens the waterway’s commercial viability. // Ilya Espino de Marotta, who played a lead role in the expansion of the Panama Canal took office on January 1 as the first woman deputy administrator of the waterway.
📰 Major Water Shortage: The lack of rainfall and rising temperatures put at risk the level of freshwater that fills the locks surrounding the Panama Canal. The water helps keep the canal working, but is also a resource of drinking water for 2 million people.
📰 Degraded Prison System: A report on prison security highlighted severe deficiencies in Panama’s penitentiary system a month after the country’s deadliest outbreak of prison violence in La Joyita prison, and called for urgent corrective measures. According to the report, the violence reflected a year-old problem of arms, drugs, cellphones, knives and other contraband being smuggled into La Joyita and other prisons, but most striking was the use of multiple assault rifles. 
Costa Rica
📰 Travel Advisory: The U.S. State Department has downgraded Costa Rica to a level 2 travel advisory, warning that visitors should “exercise increased caution” due to crime. // Costa Rican government officials held a press conference in response to the level 2 travel advisory.
📰 Gender Violence: The National Institute for Women (INAMU) in Costa Rica reports that femicide rates decreased in 2019 (13 femicides), and there was an increase in hotline calls to denounce cases of violence against women as well.
📰 No Pension for Ex-Presidents: President Carlos Alvarado decided to not receive the “ex-presidents pension” when he leaves office as President of the Republic.
Nicaragua
📰 Electoral Reform?: The National Assembly announced 8 work areas for the legislative branch in 2020, including electoral reforms which will be consulted with political parties but not with civil or opposition groups // National Police announces 31 new police stations and the acquisition of 150 vehicules, and to strengthen police investigation of crimes through technological platforms.
📰 Deportees: The United States deported 2,240 Nicaraguans back to Nicaragua in 2019.
📰 Gender: 63 femicides were reported in the country in 2019, but only 5 authors have been judged and sentenced. 64 more women have survived femicide attempts. 
Belize
📰LGBT+ Rights: Belize’s Court of Appeals ruled in favor of declaring “colonial-era sodomy law” unconstitutional, upholding a ruling from 2016.
📰Politics: General elections are slated to happen this year, by November at the latest. Members of the People’s United Party are claiming a “manipulation of the election process through mass naturalization of immigrants.”
📰Environment: The long-lasting drought impacting the Caribbean region has continued into the new year, with limited water available in Belize. The drought is impacting the start of sugar crop season and putting sugar production 30% down. 
Honduras
📰 Asylum Agreement: DHS Secretary Wolf and Honduran President Hernandez are finalizing the asylum agreement between the two nations. // Honduras will receive migrants from five countries including: Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Brasil, and Nicaragua. 
📰 Tony Hernandez: The U.S. Southern District Court postponed the sentencing for Tony Hernandez’ case until February 24, 2020 at the request of defense attorneys, who cited that they needed to receive crucial documents from Honduras.
📰 Water shortage: The government will build 420 water reservoirs in the Dry Corridor (“Corredor Seco”) to guarantee water for crops during drought period. 
📰 Corruption: The Constitutional Chamber of the Judicial Branch granted an appeal of constitutional protection (“amparo”) in favor of UFECIC, anti-corruption mechanism, after a special judge determined to dismiss evidence that incriminates a group of Congressmen for the Arca Abierta case.
Guatemala
📰Jimmy Morales: There are an estimated 50 legal proceedings against President Jimmy Morales for various crimes reported during his administration. His terms ended and Alejandro Giammattei will assume office on January 14, 2020.
📰 CICIG: The UN Secretary-General released a statement supporting CICIG actions to end corruption in Guatemala. It also urges authorities to protect and ensure the safety of former CICIG staff, defenders, and justice workers after being informed of a recent legislative report discrediting the CICIG.
📰 Activism: Maya Q'eqchi’ residents are reclaiming their land that Guatemala’s military took in the 1960s to establish Creompaz, a military base that operated as detention and execution center during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict. // Mayan journalist Palas Luin was declared innocent of the charges against him by the Spanish company Ecoener Hidralia Energía, stating a lack of evidence. // The trial against three Mayan Q'eqchi’ land defenders and former colonial workers accused of aggravated usurpation of the land of a farm La Cumbre Sa'kuxhá began in Alta Verapaz.
📰 Guatemala: The arrest of a mayor in Guatemala’s northern department of San Marcos has unveiled a criminal structure known as “Los Pochos,“ linked to the Sinaloa Cartel..
El Salvador 
📰Corruption: An arrest warrant was issued for prominent FMLN politician Sigfrido Reyes, accused of embezzling $6 million of public funds during his term in office.
📰 Forced Displacement: The Legislative Assembly passed a new law that will establish protection and attention for victims of forced displacement and create for the first time a comprehensive national system of State institutions to prevent and respond to the issue.
📰 Historical Memory: Judge authorizes the exhumation of the remains of two young people who were buried at the University of El Salvador during the armed conflict. 
📰 Press: A new report published by the Association of Journalists of El Salvador (APES) reveals that over 77 violations against journalists were reported in 2019, including digital attacks, sexual harassment, job insecurity, mass layoffs, forced displacement, threats to life, as well as obstacles to accessing to public information.
Yvette Modestín
Yvette Modestín was the first black cheerleader for Cristóbal High School, after the end of school segregation in the Canal Zone, Panama. Source: BBC Mundo.
Yvette Modestín was the first black cheerleader for Cristóbal High School, after the end of school segregation in the Canal Zone, Panama. Source: BBC Mundo.
Good Reads
✏️ Central American Studies: “How Educators Are Rethinking The Way They Teach Immigration History:” Journalist Anna-Cat Brigada explores how teachers at Boston Latin School are figuring out ways to incorporate Central America into their lesson plans for the first time.
✏️ Belize:  The University of Bristol presents an article about how environmental protections in Belize may have saved a species of jaguar from extinction.
✏️ Panama:  “Working with the United States: A View from Panama”, an article by a former ambassador to the United States, Jaime Alemán where he lays out where the relationship with the U.S. stands now.
✏️ Asylum in 2019: The year 2019 will be remembered as the year that the Trump administration attempted to shut down asylum and the border to restrict migration into the U.S. CBS wrote a useful summary of what happened.
Multimedia Suggestions
🎧 The language hurdles that Maya migrants endure in U.S. immigration courts are discussed in this Democracy Now podcast.
🎧 In this FRONTLINE documentary “Targeting El Paso,” nine year old Dariana speaks about her experience as the first child held inside the Clint Texas Border Patrol facility.
🎧 Zoneitas: There was a time when living near the Panama Canal was equivalent to enjoying certain privileges. At least, if you were an American - then you were a “zoneíta”.
Events
The two-day conference at UCLA on “Central American Migration to Mexico and the US” addresses issues faced by Central Americans and their historical presence in Mexico & the US. On January 31st.
Patreon
Many thanks to our two new patrons who donated over the holiday season!
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The Team
Melissa Vida, Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Rodrigo Peñalba, Nicaragua News, Editor
Rachel Ketola, El Salvador News
Nansi Rodríguez, Guatemala News
Jonathan Peraza Campos, Migration News
Jalileh García, Honduras News
Rachel Osorio, Costa Rica News
Natalie Leach, Social Media Officer
José Martinez, Social Media Officer
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