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Nicaragua: News & Updates

Nicaragua was ruled by the Somoza dictatorship, backed by the US, for 30 years. After the Sandinista Revolution took control in 1979, the US assembled former Somoza National Guardsmen into a counterrevolutionary force that, for the next decade,  terrorized the civilian population in an attempt to weaken popular support for the Sandinistas. The  “contra war”  left 30,000 people dead and forced more than 100,000 to seek refuge in the US.

Learn more here.

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News articles in this month’s Migrant Justice Update:

(1) See Us. Here Us. #ReuniteUS. (2) ICE Air: Update on Removal Flight Trends. (3) Migration Declining. (4)  At the Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border. (5) Guatemalan Youth Defy Tragedy, Continue Trek to US Despite Familial Losses.  (6) Kidnapping of Migrants and Asylum Seekers at the Texas-Tamaulipas Border Reaches Intolerable Levels.  (7) President-elect of Panama pledges to close the Darién Gap.  (8) Trans & Nonbinary Migrants File Complaint Over Treatment at ICE Detention Facility in Colorado

TAKE ACTION items:

(A) Migrant Families in Cleveland Need Household Items. (B) Root Causes: Cut US Militarism in Latin America. (C) Root Causes: Stop Deportation Flights to Haiti. (D) Root Causes: Redesignate TPS for Nicaraguans. (E) Support Migrants in Detention.

 

Immigration enforcement continues to be top of mind for many in the US electorate. We’re likely to see the two presidential candidates duke it out on who pledges to be tougher on immigration.

With changes in presidential administrations in two of the countries that the US sees as crucial partners in stemming migration (Panama and Mexico), it’ll be interesting to see how things unfold over the next several months leading up to the US elections on November 5.

In Panama, conservative José Raúl Mulino was elected on May 5 and will be sworn in on July 1. He has  pledged to close down the treacherous Darién Gap, through which more than a half a million migrants crossed last year. “The border of the United States, instead of being in Texas, moved to Panama.” He also pledged to “repatriate all these people.”

In Mexico, a new president will be elected on June 2 and inaugurated on October 1. The Biden Administration has worked closely with the current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to stem the steady streams of immigration into Mexico headed toward the US southern border.  Mexico has been cracking down on migrants at the Guatemala border and within its borders.  Mexico’s migration enforcement set a record in November 2023 with 97,969 apprehensions, only to break that record in January 2024 (120,005 apprehensions) followed by a short dip in February (119,943). And the Mexican government is busing migrants away from its northern border and sending them to destinations deep in the country’s interior or back to the southern border.  The large numbers of people currently bottled up throughout Mexico is causing harm to migrants and is unsustainable.

The next administration in the US will face political challenges with respect to border enforcement. Thousands of migrants currently in Mexico will likely try to head north again—not to mention the thousands yet to depart their home countries. Migrant justice advocates in the US continue to stress the urgent need for an increase in funding for the asylum process and efficient adjudication of those cases. The system dedicates fewer than 725 judges to a backlog of 3 million cases. The US government needs to invest in an immigration and asylum system that is faster, fairer, more humane, and sustainable.

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Nicaragua's congress recently revoked a controversial canal concession awarded to a Chinese businessman after nearly a decade. The proposed canal, aimed to link Nicaragua's Atlantic and Pacific coasts, faced significant opposition from farmers fearing land seizures and environmentalists warning of its impact. Despite a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony in 2014, no actual work commenced on the project. The cancellation of the concession marks the end of a project viewed by many as unfeasible and environmentally risky. Critics of President Daniel Ortega's government saw the canal as emblematic of his increasingly repressive regime, while supporters argued it would boost the economy and create jobs.

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To read the full article: Migrant Justice Newsletter - April 2024 | InterReligious Task Force on Central America (irtfcleveland.org)

Welcome to IRTF’s March 2024 newsletter on Migrant Justice and the current situation at the US-Mexico border. After you’ve looked through the articles, we hope you can take a few minutes to see the TAKE ACTION items at the bottom. In this newsletter, please read about : 1.  Changing Trends in Migrants at US-Mexico Border. 2. ICE Air: Update on Removal Flight Trends . 3. Study Reveals: Border Wall Height Exacerbates Trauma Incidents . 4. At the Border: Recent . Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border . 5. Border Patrol and Local Law Enforcement’s Patterns of Abuse in Ohio’s Immigration Enforcement. 6. Raising the Credible Fear Screening Standard Will Endanger Lives but Won’t Fix The Border . 7. Children in US-Mexico Border Camps. 8. Migrants Mired in Transit as Mexico Becomes US’s Immigration Enforcer. 9. Kidnapping of Migrants and Asylum Seekers at Texas-Tamaulipas Border Reaches Intolerable Levels . 10.  Migrant Deaths in New Mexico and Western Texas . 11. Human Rights in the Darién Gap of Panamá.

 TAKE ACTION NOW. Here is what you can do to take action this week in solidarity with migrants and their families. (See details at the bottom of this newsletter.) A) SPEAK UP FOR DEMOCRACY IN EL SALVADOR. B)  SPEAK UP FOR PEOPLE IN HAITI. C) STOP DEPORTATIONS TO HAITI . D) PROTECT UNACCOMPANIED MINORS. E) VISIT CAPITOL HILL: #ReuniteUS. F) HELP REFUGEES & MIGRANTS IN CLEVELAND. 

 

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The article discusses the transformative journey of women in Nicaragua, particularly rural peasant women, over the past 17 years. The narrative focuses on various aspects of progress, such as improved gender equity, healthcare, education, political participation, and safety. The positive changes are attributed to the government's shift in priorities, implementing programs like Zero Hunger, free universal healthcare, and educational reforms. The piece highlights women's increased role in agriculture, politics, and law enforcement, leading to economic independence and reduced violence against women. The author interviews Rosibel Ramos, a member of the Rural Feminist Ecological Cooperative "Las Diosas," exemplifying the empowerment and visibility of Nicaraguan women.

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Medea Benjamin and Steve Ellner argue that the Trump and Biden administrations' continuation of the 19th-century Monroe Doctrine has led to disastrous consequences in Latin America. The authors highlight the failure of US policies towards Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, leading to economic sanctions, coup attempts, and a migration crisis. They propose a new approach based on Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Good Neighbor Policy" from the 1930s, emphasizing the need to end military intervention, close US military bases in the region, stop political meddling, eliminate economic blackmail, and support trade policies that benefit people and the environment. The authors also call for a humane immigration policy, recognizing Latin America's cultural contributions and addressing the root causes of migration. They argue that a New Good Neighbor Policy is essential for mutual respect, non-intervention, and cooperation in the 21st century.

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On January 14, the Nicaraguan Government issued the following press release. The unofficial translation is from Tortilla con Sal. 

The Presidency of the Republic, the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity and the People of Nicaragua, express deep thanks to the Holy Father Pope Francis, the Secretariat of State of the Holy See, its Titular Cardinal His Most Reverend Eminence Pietro Parolin and his Work Team for the very respectful and discreet coordination carried out to make possible the journey to the Vatican of two bishops, fifteen priests and two seminarians. 

The list of these people is as follows: 

1. BISHOP ROLANDO JOSÉ ÁLVAREZ LAGOS
2. BISHOP ISIDORO DEL CARMEN MORA ORTEGA
3. OSCAR JOSÉ ESCOTO SALGADO
4. JADER DANILO GUIDO ACOSTA
5. PABLO ANTONIO VILLAFRANCA MARTÍNEZ
6. CARLOS JOSÉ AVILÉS CANTON
7. HÉCTOR DEL CARMEN TREMINIO VEGA
8. MARCOS FRANCISCO DIAZ PRADO
9. FERNANDO ISAÍAS CALERO RODRÍGUEZ
10. SILVIO JOSÉ FONSECA MARTÍNEZ
11. MIKEL SALVADOR MONTERREY ARIAS
12. RAÚL ANTONIO ZAMORA GUERRA
13. MIGUEL AGUSTÍN MANTICA CUADRA
14. JHADER ANTONIO HERNÁNDEZ URBINA
15. GERARDO JOSÉ RODRÍGUEZ PÉREZ
16. ISMAEL REINEIRO SERRANO GUDIEL
17. JOSÉ GUSTAVO SANDINO OCHOA
18. TONNY DANIEL PALACIO SEQUEIRA
19. ALESTER DE JESÚS SÁENZCENTENO 

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Over the last 12 months, there have been 1,482 ICE removal flights, mostly to Latin America and the Caribbean. Notably, there is a focus on removal flights to countries like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, raising concerns about the impact on individuals' rights and well-being. Three-quarters of removal flights are to those three countries. 

The lack of access to asylum at ports of entry has led to distressing situations for asylum seekers. US lawmakers are considering stricter restrictions on asylum, jeopardizing the safety and well-being of vulnerable individuals. The need for improving access to asylum and addressing the challenges faced by asylum seekers, especially women and children, is crucial. 

Read the full IRTF Migrant Justice Newsletter each month at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/blog .

 

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Nicaraguan authorities released 19 clergymen, including Bishop Rolando Álvarez, a prominent government critic, and handed them over to the Vatican. Bishop Álvarez had been convicted of treason and sentenced to 26 years in prison. The release followed Pope Francis' New Year's Day address expressing concern about the attacks on the church in Nicaragua. The government expressed gratitude to the Pope for coordinating the release. President Daniel Ortega's regime has targeted opposition leaders, dissidents, and the Catholic Church. Over 782 acts of aggression against the Church have been documented since 2018, including physical assaults on priests. The recent releases involve priests praying for Bishop Álvarez and follow a pattern of clergy persecution in Nicaragua. While the release is positive, critics condemn the government for forcing religious leaders into exile. Bishop Álvarez gained prominence as a critic during the 2018 government crackdown on protests.

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The implications of the Monroe Doctrine in Mexico, Central America, and Honduras, highlighting the failures of US policies like the Merida Initiative and drug war strategies. It emphasizes the devastating impact on these regions, resulting in violence, human rights abuses, and corruption. The focus is on adopting new paradigms, shifting away from punitive drug policies to prioritize human well-being, domestically and internationally. It also sheds light on the US influence in Honduras, pointing out interventions, support for corrupt regimes, and obstructing reforms. Furthermore, it addresses immigration, stressing the need for a humane approach rather than militarization. Recommendations include investigating DEA activities, reforming drug policies, anti-militarism measures, non-interference in Honduran affairs, and prioritizing human rights in immigration reforms.

 
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Border security continues to be a hot button issue in Congress. And some congressional leaders are holding hostage other non-border issues because of their tough stance on immigration and desire to gut US asylum law. 

In last month’s newsletter, we shared an article about a one-page document that three Republican senators submitted to President Biden on November 6, summarizing the border and migration proposals they demand to include in the supplemental budget request that the president is submitting for the war in Ukraine, Israel/Gaza, and the US-Mexico border. The draconian measures include: ban asylum access for people who did not cross the border at ports of entry; ban asylum access for people who pass through other countries without seeking asylum there; heighten eligibility standards to pass a credible fear interview; expand migrant detention (including families and children); restrict temporary humanitarian parole.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) responded in a combined letter on December 14, denouncing that: “Republicans continue to hold funding for America’s allies hostage at the expense of migrants and to pass Trump-era border policies.”

Articles in this monthly newsletter: 1) ICE Air: update on removal flight trends. 2) How US Policy Toward Latin America Has Fueled Historic Numbers of Asylum Seekers. 3) WOLA Urges Congress to Protect Asylum and Update Obsolete Border Policies. 4) At the Border: Recent Incidents. 5) Governor Abbott Signs Law to Arrest Anyone in Texas without Immigration Papers.

See the Take Action items listed at the bottom of this newsletter. Our advocacy is needed to maintain some modicum of humanity in the nation’s immigration system and to address root causes of migration.  1) Stop Border Militarization. 2) Take Action Now Against Extreme Asylum Restrictions.  3) Help Migrants and Refugees in Cleveland. 


Read the full IRTF Migrant Justice Newsletter each month at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/blog .

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