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Your Central American News

Dear readers, Welcome back to another week of Central American news. We have three new curators this
Central American News
Your Central American News
By Central American News • Issue #35 • View online
Dear readers,
Welcome back to another week of Central American news.
We have three new curators this week. Mariana Rodríguez-Pareja will cover Panama, Andree Pena Centes will cover El Salvador and Rachel Osorio will cover Costa Rica. The team is now complete! A warm welcome to them.
Here is a round-up of the news:
This week, the Trump Administration has given temporary relief to 86,000 Hondurans whose Temporary Protection Status was coming to an end, while critics of Guatemala’s Amnesty Law proposal also feel temporary consolation as the vote has been postponed due to a lack of quorum in the assembly. El Salvador’s president-elect, Nayib Bukele, makes friends at the U.S. conservative think tank Heritage Foundation in D.C. by criticizing China’s foreign policy.
Belize has been blacklisted by the European Union, which judges the country to be a “tax haven”, while Panama has been taken out of the list - and celebrates. The Honduran government continues to put armed forces on the street even when the UN tells it to focus on civilian police instead.
Yesterday, 50 Nicaraguan prisoners who were detained because of their participation in marches against the government were “freed” and put under home arrest so that the dialogue could continue. One political prisoner managed to escape to Costa Rica.
Thank you for reading and for supporting the newsletter! See you next week.
Salú,
Melissa

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Headlines
Migration
📰 TPS: Trump Administration agreed to temporarily halt termination of Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for over 100,000 people from Honduras and Nepal // House Democrats introduced a bill that aims to give one million undocumented people and TPS recipients a path to citizenship
📰 Mexico: President-elect of El Salvador Nayib Bukele agreed to sign a bilateral agreement with Mexican president Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador to deter forced migration // Trump Administration is expanding the Remain in Mexico program to various ports of entry at the US-Mexico border // Mexican officials are extorting asylum seekers
📰 Violence: An armed gang stopped a bus in Northern Mexico and took 19 of the migrant passengers
📰 Wall: U.S. Senate rejected the national emergency decreed by the president to finance the wall on the border with Mexico
Central America:
📰 Crime: Interpol coordinated a raid against arms trafficking in eight Latin American countries, including Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize and Honduras, resulting in more than 500 arrests
📰 Sanctions: U.S. Congresswoman Norma Torres asked the Treasury Department to apply sanctions to Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Honduran officials who had been listed
Guatemala
📰 Amnesty Law: Guatemala postponed vote on amnesty for war crimes because not enough lawmakers were present, may be rescheduled
📰 Corruption: Former Prosecutor Ronny Lopez to face trial for obstruction of justice in the case of José Armando Melgar Moreno, killed in a land heritage dispute involving organized crime
📰 Politics:  U.S. suspended military aid to Guatemala due to the “misuse” of J8 jeeps // Government moved more than 100 J8 Jeeps to the Air Force and no one knows why
📰 Elections:  President Jimmy Morales criticized the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, saying it is “unstable”// Thelma Aldana makes candidacy official with anti-corruption message
Belize
📰 Blacklisted: Belize officially added to European Union’s tax-haven blacklist
📰 Report: U.S. Department of State released a report alleging corruption in Belize government and cites child labor and violence against LGBT community
📰 Referendum: United Garifuna Association urged Garifuna in Belize to vote “no” in the International Court of Justice referendum, describing what the Garifuna community could lose if the land dispute with Guatemala is taken to the ICJ
Honduras
📰 Crime: President of Honduras deploys the National Security Force in public transport in the most crime-ridden areas of the country //  UN recommended to demilitarize public security and improve civilian police force
📰 Fraud: Judge puts 16 officials accused of fraud, forgery, and abuse of authority in “Fraud over Gualcarque” case on house arrest while they await trial proceedings
📰 Privatization: The National Institute of Vocational Training (INFOP) was militarized Friday morning after 60% of employees were laid off in the face of its privatization
El Salvador
📰 Chinese relations: Speaking at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C, El Salvador president-elect Nayib Bukele claimed China interferes in El Salvador’s democracy, Chinese embassy rejected Bukele’s comments // Supreme Court has temporarily halted the cancellation of a free trade agreement with Taiwan, amid rising unease over El Salvador’s ties with China
📰 CICIES: OAS and UN could participate together in the creation of the International Commission against Corruption and Impunity in El Salvador (CICIES)
📰 Civil War: El Salvador commemorated 42 years since Father Rutilio Grande was murdered during El Salvador’s civil war, his process of beatification is underway
Nicaragua
📰 Dialogue: Government released 50 political prisoners, who are under house arrest, as part of the condition of the Alianza Cívica to restart the dialogue. However, other groups of students, relatives of prisoners and peasants believe it is not enough and left the dialogue.
📰 March: Marches have been called for Saturday March 16 to free all political prisoners while national police “does not authorize” them because “they constitute the continuity of provocations and terrorist and coupist crimes”
📰 International focus: European Parliament demands elections and Member of European Parliament urges the EU to apply sanctions on Daniel Ortega, Rosario Murillo and 15 others public officers // U.S. State Department released report on human rights in Nicaragua and wants early elections (without Ortega nor Murillo)
Costa Rica
📰  The Catholic Church: Costa Rican Catholic Church wants aspiring priests to hand over their criminal record to enter the seminary, after having expelled an aspiring priest accused of sexual abuse
📰 Asylum: A Nicaraguan political prisoner escaped to Costa Rica shortly after leaving prison
Panama
📰  Finance: Panama was excluded from the EU  blacklist of tax havens, the news was widely celebrated by the government
📰  Infrastructure: The government of Panama promotes the installation of a new train line, with the support of Chinese companies // Moody upgrades Panama Canal to A1 after noting that the expanded Canal has increased overall tonnage and attracted new market segment
📰  Corruption: Former President Martinelli- who is being accused of several charges, including illegal wiretapping and corruption- requested a recess in the trial, pleading mental alienation. The Court announced he will request an additional evaluation by psychiatric experts
📰  Culture: Prominent Panamanian artist, Ruben Blades, was nominated to be part of the Hall of Fame of Latino Composers 2019.
Good Reads
📖 Travel writer Bill Donahue looks for beauty in El Salvador on his “shithole world tour” on the Washington Post and writes about his experience at La Dalia and meeting Salvadoran artists.
📖 Laura Valenciano, a feminist activist, describes Costa Rica’s March 8 demonstration in her own words on the TicoTimes.
📖 The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro wants the U.S. to launch a Marshall plan in Central America, akin to the one it gave Europe after the World War II. An interview on The Guardian.
📖 Sandra Cuffe reports on the story of Jose de Eugenio Lopez, who tried to leave El Salvador three times since the Civil War and now obtained refuge in Mexico. On Al Jazeera.
Multimedia
🎥 📊 A strong team of Nicaraguan journalists, both in exile and on the ground, collaborate for El Tiempo on a multimedia report (videos and infographics) on how journalists have dealt, and are dealing, with Nicaragua’s repressive regime.
📷 Simone Dalmasso took photos of Guatemala’s courts the day the Amnesty Law was postponed on the agenda for Plaza Pública.
Photo of the Week
Demonstrators in Washington last month urge Congress to enact permanent protections for recipients of temporary protected status, or TPS. (Shawn Thew / EPA/Shutterstock)
Demonstrators in Washington last month urge Congress to enact permanent protections for recipients of temporary protected status, or TPS. (Shawn Thew / EPA/Shutterstock)
The Team
Melissa Vida, Head Curator and Editor
Nansi Rodríguez, Guatemala Curator
Rodrigo Peñalba, Nicaragua Curator
Jonathan Peraza, Migration Curator
Jalileh García, Honduras Curator
Andree Pena Centes, El Salvador Curator
Mariana Rodriguez-Pareja, Panama Curator
Rachel Osorio, Costa Rica Curator
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