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When Borders Are Countries

Central American News
When Borders Are Countries
By Central American News • Issue #126 • View online

Dear Readers,
Hurricanes and the economic effects of the pandemic, adding onto long-standing issues of state corruption in Honduras, pushed nearly 9,000 people to flee the country. Over a million jobs have been lost recently. Guatemala deployed 4,000 soldiers to stop the caravan while “regional governments are using coronavirus measures as the latest tool to curtail migration,” reports Reuters. Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico issued a joint declaration imposing coordinated health measures, which include negative coronavirus tests at border checkpoints. Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras have an agreement with the United States to stop migration from the south.
President-elect Joe Biden has promised a more humane approach to immigration and his incoming administration is said to focus on immigration reform. We will see what 2021 has in store.
Have a good newsletter reading!
Caravan 2021
Guatemala police fire tear gas at US-bound migrant caravan #AFP Photo: @johanordonez
Guatemala police fire tear gas at US-bound migrant caravan #AFP Photo: @johanordonez
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📰  Immigration Policy: A federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to restrict asylum for LGBTQ+ migrants through a new set of rules. // The incoming administration will focus on immigration reform, according to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. This would include faster processes to obtain citizenship, protection for undocumented workers, and reducing backlogs in immigration court hearings. 
📰  Detention: According to a recent report, detained migrants did not have access to soap as COVID-19 spread throughout ICE detention centers. 
📰  Border Wall: In his first appearance since his followers attacked the U.S. Capitol, Trump arrived in Alamo, Texas, to visit the border wall construction, one of his most well-known policies. 
📰 Migrant Caravan: Another migrant caravan from Honduras has embarked on the journey northward after COVID-19, recent hurricanes, and economic insecurity have diminished opportunities in the country.

📰 Migrant Caravan: Approximately 9,000 people left Honduras last week, fleeing the dire situation of instability, lack of economic opportunities, and the devastation caused by COVID-19 and the two hurricanes – Eta and Iota.
📰 COVID-19: Over 250 people have died due to COVID-19 in the first two weeks of the year, assured the Association of Funeral Homes.
📰 Economy: Over a million jobs have been lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the two hurricanes Eta and Iota. Almost half of these jobs were lost in the small businesses sector. 
📰 Criminalization of Abortion: Two weeks after abortion was decriminalized in Argentina, Honduran Congressman Mario Pérez presented a bill in the National Congress that seeks to deny that abortion could be legalized in the country, even if the constitution were to be changed. 
📰 Caravan: Militarization and checkpoints were set up to block incoming migrants and about six hundred migrants were detained. Approximately 1,000 people were sent back to Honduras.
📰 Territory: Community members in the department of Retalhuleu will face a trial for alleged charges of threats and coercion for defending the rivers that are being diverted due to the sugar mills in the area.
📰 Delia Leal: Delia Leal, human rights defender and pastor was detained on December 29, 2020 in Cobán. She was being accused of human trafficking in relation to the alleged disappearance of two girls whom she supported; these charges were officially dropped after her hearing on January 11th. 

📰 COVID-19: Government announces the purchase of three types of vaccines for 3.5 million Nicaraguans, or 55% of the population. 
📰 Economy: Nicaragua received 1,851 million dollars in remittances in 2020, 60% coming from United States. Remittances represent 14.8% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

📰 Politics: Prime Minister Briceño called on the current chairman of the Election and Boundaries Commission to resign due to his affiliation with United People’s Party
📰 Land Scam: Investigations into the land scam that took place under the previous government continue as new discrepancies in land cases are coming to light. 
📰 COVID: Analysts are reporting a relative decrease in positive cases in the country. There are currently 590 active cases

Costa Rica 
📰 COVID-19 vaccines: The Costa Rican Social Security Fund reports that nearly 25,000 vaccinations against COVID-19 have been applied since Costa Rica started administering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on December 24, 2020.
📰 Biodiversity: Costa Rica, along with other countries, launched the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People (HAC) with the goal to preserve 30% of the planet’s biodiversity by 2030.
📰 Tourism: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and travel restrictions in 2020, only 1.01 million visitors arrived in Costa Rica. During 2020, tourism fell by 68% compared to 2019, when 3.14 million arrived.

📰 COVID-19: The #TodoPanamá movement just launched its new COVID-19 virtual assistant. // The Pan-American Health Organization report indicates that Panama is among the countries in the region that applies the most diagnostics tests to its population. 
📰 Security Exercises: The U.S. embassy in Panama announced that from 21 January to 1 February security teams from both countries will jointly carry out humanitarian rescue exercises across Panama.
📰 Education: The Panamanian Ministry of Education officialized the 2021 school calendar. Classes will be commencing virtually on 1 March, 2021. 

El Salvador
📰 Peace Accords: Salvadorans who fought on both sides of the civil war celebrated the 29th anniversary of the Peace Accords together for the first time. Former combatants and activists denounced President Nayib Bukele’s statements that the accords were a “farce.”
📰 Indigenous Rights: A court in Santa Ana filed a complaint against the government’s planned Nueva Nahuizalco II dam on the Sensunapán river in Sonsonate, a sacred site for the Nahuat. Indigenous communities call it a “death project.”
📰 El Mozote: A court ordered the inspection of documents and correspondence kept by the Archdiocese of El Salvador involving El Mozote massacre that killed nearly 1,000 people in 1981.
📰 Climate Response: A project led by the United Nations Environment Programme and local organizations plans to turn San Salvador into a “sponge city.” The City Adapt project intends to reduce the risk of flooding for 115,000 people by 2022.
📰 Terrorism charges: U.S. prosecutors announced terrorism charges against top MS-13 leaders imprisoned in El Salvador. The accused may be brought to New York to face prosecution.
Prohibido Olvidar
Poster collects a number of very moving and powerful tweets from #ProhibidoOlvidarSV with personal stories and memories about El Salvador’s Civil War, on the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Peace Accords in El Salvador.
Poster collects a number of very moving and powerful tweets from #ProhibidoOlvidarSV with personal stories and memories about El Salvador’s Civil War, on the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Peace Accords in El Salvador.
Good Reads
📌Non-binary refugee:  ‘I felt like I was born again’: first non-binary person granted UK refugee status. Initially refused asylum, a judge on appeal ruled that Arthur Britney Joestar would suffer persecution if sent back to El Salvador (The Guardian)
📌Costa Rica & Nicaragua:  Human smuggling thrives between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, despite mobility restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic. (Insight Crime)
📌El Salvador: There is an anti-indigenous sentiment among Salvadorans against Nahuat and indigenous languages because they are “useless in modern society” (Revista Culturel)
📌”Banana Republics”: “Stop Comparing the Capitol Riot to Banana Republics. It’s Lazy—and Wrong.” (New Republic)
Central American folktale
On Spotify: The Coyote Teodora is a Central American folktale and story of love, distrust, and betrayal set in a country that was recently colonized by the Spanish and rife with distrust and bad blood.
Good news
UFC win: Panamanian MMA fighter Joselyne “La Pantera” Edwards won unanimously at her UFC Fight Island 7 debut in Abu Dhabi. (La Prensa, UFC Español)
“Rebeldita”: Ethnic Studies scholar and mom Dr. Oriel Maria Siu wrote a children’s book titled “Rebeldita the Fearless” to fill in the gap of Honduran stories that represent her family and challenges migrant family separation during the Trump era (Los Angeles Times).
Changing the face of Latin cinema
Carlos Aguilar
The amazing Yalitza Aparicio visited Guatemala and met with María Mercedes Coroy, who plays the title role in LA LLORONA and who was the star of IXCANUL. Two talented indigenous actresses changing the face of Latin American cinema.🇲🇽🇬🇹
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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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