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Your Central American News

Central American News
Your Central American News
By Central American News • Issue #42 • View online

Dear Readers,
Welcome back to another week of Central American news.
Protests broke out in Honduras against a bill that would restructure the budget of the healthcare and education systems. Hondurans saw in this bill a dangerous slope to less transparency, more corruption, and ultimately, an open door to privatization. The government denied that there will be privatization. After riot police tear gassed protesters and some buildings were set on fire, the National Congress of Honduras suspended the bill. Yet, Honduran students, unions, teachers and doctors remain vigilant. Poor healthcare and education systems are part of the root causes of migration.
Further south, Panama is having its presidential, parliamentary and local elections today, May 5. The centrist candidate, businessman and former legislator “Nito” Cortizo is “the top contender for the next five-year term” and the main electoral issue is…corruption. We have put a special section on Panama this week below.
Thank you for reading and see you next week!
A special thank you to our early and new supporters on Patreon. Please support Central American news. The newsletter was born with the vision of making Central American news accessible to all because we believe that information is power.
Not only that, we want it to reflect what is happening from the ground up instead of only focusing on what matters to external countries - like the stereotypical coverage of migration or violence.
Photo of the Week
Protests in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, April 30, 2019. Photo by Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images
Protests in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, April 30, 2019. Photo by Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images
📰 Elections: On Sunday May 5, Panama is holding general elections. The struggle against corruption is one of the priorities for the candidates.
📰 China: The fifth round of negotiations on commercial agreements ended.
📰 Women: In Panama, women in the sex trade are exposed to monetary and sexual extortion by corrupt police officers, but a new prosecution system wants to reduce this abuse of power.
📰 Canal: Panama started a new phase of construction of the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal.
 📰 Privatization: Anti-privatization protests broke out in Honduras and so the National Congress of Honduras suspended the Law of Restructuring and Transformation of the Education and Health System with the intention of “inviting all the parties involved to sit down, discuss and build together a new proposal.” Health and education professionals say they will continue to protest until the law is terminated in its totality.
📰 International Workers’ Day: More than 15,000 workers marched in San Pedro Sula to demand better healthcare, education, electricity costs and labor rights. Women demanded justice regarding violence against women, using the hashtag #YoNoQuieroSerViolada (#IDoNotWantToRaped). Police threw tear gas, more than 15 people were detained, and two journalists were hurt.   
📰 Health and Education: Government will invest less in education and health, at the request of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
📰 Asylum: Ten trans women asylum seekers who traveled with one of the initial caravans have won their asylum cases // President Trump calls for asylum seekers to pay a fee for their application and to bar work permits to those that previously migrated without documentation // Advocacy groups are suing the Trump Administration for a policy of forbidding asylum seekers to be granted bond.
📰 Immigrant Detention: The Trump Administration requested $4.5 billion in emergency funds from Congress to handle influx of migrants at the border // New tent cities are built to hold migrants // The U.S. government is expanding its biometric data collection to test the DNA of purported families and fingerprinting children, raising concerns from advocates.
📰 Mexico: Mexican authorities detained 100 migrants who were traveling on top of “La Bestia” train. // 200 organizations denounce that the Mexican government “persecutes and criminalizes” migrants.
📰 Unaccompanied Children: Juan de Leon Gutierrez, an unaccompanied 16-year-old Guatemalan died in U.S. custody after crossing the border // Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has joined the board of directors of the parent company that operates shelters for unaccompanied migrant children.
El Salvador
📰 Violence: Following a car bomb attack targeting police, government authorities claim that the gangs are strategically increasing murders in order to negotiate a new truce with the incoming government.
📰 Politics: President elect Nayib Bukele announced that Alexandra Hill will join his cabinet as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador. During her first public appearance after the announcement, Hill emphasized that she will prioritize strengthening El Salvador’s relationship with United States.
📰 Human Rights: The Court of Zacatecoluca issued a judgement in favor of a trans woman, granting her the ability to change her name and sex on official documents.
📰 Water: Thousands of Salvadorans marched against the privatization of water and requested an increase in the minimum wage, among other demands, on International Workers Day.
📰 Mario Estrada: The UCN party called several officials to know why the President was having lunch with a presidential candidate who is now being held in New York to face trial for alleged conspiracy with a Mexican cartel. They remember the lunch menu, but not the other people present at the meeting.
📰 Thelma Aldana: Five judges and two deputies will decide on Thelma Aldana’s candidacy for the presidential elections. Deputy judge María de los Ángeles Araujo - whose husband had been accused of helping obstruct investigations under Aldana’s administration - is one of them.
📰 Climate Change: Research shows that Guatemala’s subsistence farmers and indigenous people living in poor rural communities are most affected by climate change.
📰 Mayan artifacts: Hundred of Mayan artifacts are discovered in Lake Petén Itzá and laser maps reveal ‘lost’ Mayan treasures in Guatemalan jungle.
Costa Rica
📰 Meteor: A large fireball lit up the sky and struck a house in San Carlos, leaving behind a piece of a 4.5 billion year old rock.
📰 Drugs: Costa Rica has seen a growing demand for the synthetic drug Ketamine known to the country as “Special K” or “Gato”.
📰 Crime: Los Moreco is a new Costa Rican criminal organization that is starting to cause concern because it is involved in drug trafficking and admires Mexico’s Cartel Los Zetas.
📰 National Dialogue: The opposition Alianza Cívica refused to cooperate with President Ortega on calling for the cessation of international sanctions against Ortega’s officials, advisors and family, which stalled the dialogue. Alianza Cívica reiterated that sanctions are legitimate. Seven officials and Ortega family members have been sanctioned by US Treasury so far.
📰 Economy: Nicaraguan Stock Exchange dropped 96.5% during the first semester. // The Central Bank has not published economic statistics on international reserves in the last 90 days and critics believe the government is hiding the seriousness of the economic problem.
📰 Press Freedom: Time magazine included Nicaraguan journalists Luis Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda Ubau as one of the “Most Urgent” cases of threats to press freedom. // The Committee for Protect Journalists (CPJ) appointed Nicaraguan journalist Dánae Vílchez as Central America correspondent.
📰 Referendum: ICJ referendum to be held on May 8, despite controversy.
📰 Venezuela: Belize joins other Caribbean nations in condemning OAS decision to recognize Venezuelan permanent representative, Gustavo Tarre, because Venezuela is “pending new elections.”
Panama Special
On Sunday May 5, Panama is holding general elections. Americas Quarterly talk about the five things to know about the vote and here are the seven candidates running for President. Al Jazeera reports that voters, angry about corruption, are expected to kick out ruling party and elect centrist candidate “Nito” Cortizo.
BBC reveals that entire populations were destroyed while building the Canal in an interview with historian Marixa Lasso. There is also a new app to get information on the Panama Canal.
Good Reads
💬 Contracorriente interviewed Daniel Sponda, leader of the Professional Magisterial Union of Honduras (COPRUMH) about the recent crisis in Honduras and what actions they plan to undertake in the coming days regarding health, education, and labor rights.
🔎 The Archivos Históricos de Guatemala has an online public database that provides access to the digitized archives of Guatemala.
📖 A cheap phone and a few dollars’ worth of prepaid credit serve as the rudimentary tools of extortionists in Northern Triangle countries. How does it work? Insight Crime explains.
💬 “First, a few kind gestures. Then, confusion. Then, manhunt” writes El Faro journalist Oscar Martinez in an op-ed for the New York Times on the change of attitude of the president of Mexico towards Central American migrants.
📖 The Body Dot Com reports on the HIV resources and services women are providing to Central American women and other communities in East Los Angeles that face a greater risk of exposure to HIV.

Multimedia & Art
Photographer Eric Etchart’s trip to Costa Rica “documents an eye-opening journey”. Reported by The Guardian (other photos on the link).
Photographer Eric Etchart’s trip to Costa Rica “documents an eye-opening journey”. Reported by The Guardian (other photos on the link).
🎥 El Faro releases the second video in the Diversoámerica series, “Lesbiana a Pesar de Guatemala,” which explores how queer women in Guatemala are fighting for their rights despite the risk of violence.
🎥 The Cavalier Daily reports on the Cine Cafeína, a film series that depicts Central American issues in modern media, held at the Central American student group at the University of Virginia.
👫 Rewire.News presents “The Journey”  a three-part comic illustrated and designed by Pablo Leon where a young Guatemalan girl takes a big risk to be reunited back with her family.
🎥 Ecologies of Migrant Care compiled over a hundred interviews with migrants, activists, faith leaders, journalists, academics who talk about their stories on Central American migration.
Roughly 8,700 unaccompanied children were turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement this past April, twice as many as last April, says a U.S. senior official, according to CNN.
Presenting Mariana Rodríguez-Pareja, covering Panama
Mariana Rodríguez Pareja is an Argentine human rights lawyer and blogger. She lives in Uruguay and she spends her spare time writing short stories for kids and participating in community activities. Ever since she read Ernesto Cardenal she became interested in Central America, and then little by little fell in love with its culture, art and food!
Mariana Rodríguez Pareja is an Argentine human rights lawyer and blogger. She lives in Uruguay and she spends her spare time writing short stories for kids and participating in community activities. Ever since she read Ernesto Cardenal she became interested in Central America, and then little by little fell in love with its culture, art and food!
The Team
Melissa Vida, Head Curator and Editor
Nansi Rodríguez, Guatemala Curator
Rodrigo Peñalba, Nicaragua Curator
Jonathan Peraza, Migration Curator
Jalileh García, Honduras Curator
Rachel Ketola, El Salvador Curator
Mariana Rodriguez-Pareja, Panama Curator
Rachel Osorio, Costa Rica Curator
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