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El Salvador's millennial president, Nayib Bukele, secured an easy re-election on February 4, claiming a landslide victory with 85% of the vote and 58 out of 60 congressional seats for his party, Nuevas Ideas. Despite delays in official results and concerns over technical issues, Bukele declared himself president, leading to doubts about the election's legitimacy. Human rights groups criticize Bukele's crackdown on gangs, and his second term raises concerns about authoritarianism. Bukele's vice president, Félix Ulloa, stated they are "eliminating" and "replacing" democracy, causing international alarm. The country faces an economic crisis, with rising poverty attributed to factors like climate change and lack of support for farmers. Bukele's popularity, fueled by a cultivated image and a disregard for democratic institutions, has garnered support from the far right and libertarians, including figures like Tucker Carlson and Roger Stone. Bukele's attacks on the press involve invoking antisemitic conspiracies about George Soros, raising concerns about his approach to transparency and democratic values.

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Rights Action supports, and encourages Canadians and Americans to follow this ‘Putting the U.S. and Canada On Trial’ campaign.

The repressive, corrupt, drug-trafficking regime in Honduras was in power from June 28, 2009 (seizing power after a U.S. and Canadian-backed military coup) through to January 27, 2022. During the entire time, the U.S. and Canada basically lied about their relations with the regime in Honduras, and referred to it as a “democratic allie”. Countless North American companies, banks and investors happily did business with the “Open for Global Business” regime, and some of them directly contracted with known drug traffickers.

This ‘Putting the U.S. and Canada On Trial’ campaign is an important effort to once again expose, and try and achieve a small amount of political or even legal accountability in the U.S. and Canada for the knowing complicity of our governments and certain businesses and investors.

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The election of Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Vice President Francia Marquez, seen as a result of national strikes and mobilizations, is now under threat. The current Attorney General Francisco Barbosa, linked to the previous government, alleges campaign finance violations by the FECODE teachers union, attempting to suspend the transition to a new Attorney General. Despite intimidation, no credible witnesses support Barbosa's claims. The coup plotters, employing "lawfare," advise the armed forces not to obey the president. The U.S. role is complex, with past Republican strategies against Petro and the Biden administration seeking to influence his policies on Venezuela. High-level U.S. officials' recent visits to Colombia raise concerns of foreign interference. Demonstrations supporting the elected government are planned globally, emphasizing opposition to any coup and the respect for the Colombian people's will. A coup threatens Colombia's peace process and intensifies risks to Venezuela and the region, urging global support for the people of Colombia.

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Former Honduran police chief Juan Carlos Bonilla, known as "El Tigre," has pleaded guilty to a U.S. drug trafficking charge related to cocaine importation conspiracy. He was initially expected to be tried alongside the country's ex-President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who faces similar charges. Bonilla admitted directing police to allow cocaine shipments through checkpoints without inspection in exchange for bribes during his tenure as the national police chief from 2012 to 2013. Bonilla faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. Hernandez, who pleaded not guilty to taking bribes from cartels during his presidency, will now be tried alone. Another defendant, Hernandez's cousin Mauricio Hernandez, pleaded guilty to cocaine importation conspiracy. The U.S. Department of Justice has accused Hernandez of running Honduras as a "narco-state" and receiving bribes from the Sinaloa cartel's leader, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Hernandez contends that drug traffickers are falsely accusing him in retaliation for his anti-drug efforts.

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The blog post discusses the challenges faced by small-scale avocado growers in Mexico, particularly those associated with bringing their produce to the US market. The author, Nicole Vitello, President of Oke USA, shares insights from her visit to PRAGOR, a Fairtrade avocado cooperative in Michoacán, Mexico.

The cooperative consists of 22 small-scale farmer members, each owning 15 hectares or less. The organization manages the purchase, packing, and export of avocados to the US through Equal Exchange. The pricing structure involves weekly negotiations between the general manager and farmers, with prices set by APEAM, a trade association. Organic avocados command a higher price in the export market.

Vitello emphasizes the unique approach of Equal Exchange in exclusively sourcing avocados from the co-op, negotiating prices in dollars, and avoiding brokers or middlemen. The cooperative follows Fair Trade principles, ensuring fair wages and conditions for farmers. The blog stresses the commitment to transparency, with avocados bearing the Equal Exchange logo and being packed in branded boxes labeled "Small Farmers, Big Change."

The post highlights the cooperative's focus on empowering small farmers as business people who take on risks beyond cultivation. Despite challenges, the supply chain aims to reflect the true cost of growing avocados, fostering a connection between consumers and the specific group of people involved in the production process. The author advocates for a deeper understanding of the avocado industry, shedding light on the complexities of pricing, market functions, and the farmers' role. Overall, the post underscores the cooperative's dedication to providing a genuine story about the origin and journey of avocados consumed in the US.

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El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele, previously at odds with the U.S., has now garnered public support from the U.S. despite concerns over human rights and democracy. The shift in tone is seen as a strategic move, acknowledging Bukele's success in reducing gang violence and curbing migration. The U.S. emphasizes "good governance" and "fair trials" while engaging in more critical diplomacy behind closed doors. Bukele, adept at navigating the U.S.-China rivalry, uses his relationship with China as a negotiating card. The decline in migration and El Salvador's economic ties with the U.S. contribute to the diplomatic balancing act. While the U.S. pushes Bukele to ease the crackdown on gangs, China's growing influence in El Salvador adds complexity to the geopolitical landscape.

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The presidential and parliamentary elections in El Salvador are facing recount challenges due to technical issues, according to the president of the Supreme Electoral Court. Despite incumbent President Nayib Bukele's claim of victory, technical problems in the electoral authority's electronic system have halted updates, requiring a recount of almost 30% of ballots. Bukele, seeking a second term, had a significant lead with 83% of counted votes. Opposition parties, labeling the elections a "farce," dispute Bukele's self-proclamation and accuse the ruling party of unconstitutional actions. Bukele, known for his tough stance on crime, faces allegations of violating the constitution's prohibition on direct re-election. To circumvent this, he plans to take a six-month leave before the inauguration on June 1.

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The Pit-Cnt, Uruguay's labor grouping, has expressed strong opposition to the visit of General Laura Richardson, head of the US Southern Command, citing concerns about her interest in fresh water resources and the potential establishment of a military base in Uruguay. The labor union accuses the US of seeking access to the Guarani Aquifer and rare land resources, while also countering China's influence in the region. Additionally, they criticize Richardson as a representative of a country that has engaged in wars worldwide. Meanwhile, Uruguay's Defense Minister, Javier García, views Richardson's visit as an opportunity to negotiate favorable deals for the purchase of weapons, trucks, and maritime radars from the United States. Despite the labor union's objections, García sees the visit as a positive development in the deepening relations between the two countries.

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El Salvador President Nayib Bukele has declared victory in national elections, claiming over 85% of the vote and a majority in the Legislative Assembly, despite official results not being released. Preliminary data shows Bukele with 83% support. The election, held under a state of emergency due to Bukele's anti-gang measures, marks the first time El Salvador voted during such conditions since the civil war in 1992. Bukele's crackdown on gangs has led to reduced crime rates but raised concerns about human rights. The president's economic policies and strongman approach face scrutiny amid challenges, including a fragile economy and high incarceration rates. International figures, including the US Secretary of State and China's embassy, have congratulated Bukele on his apparent victory.

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On January 23, Greater Cleveland Partnership got an early morning wake up call when Sam Allard of Axios Cleveland broke the story that a coalition of grassroots organizations led by Cleveland Owns, the InterReligious Task Force on Central America, Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, and the Greater Cleveland Housing Justice Coalition would be leading a walkout at the second annual Sustainability Summit organized by Greater Cleveland Partnership.

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