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October 5, 2020
The ZEDEs (Zonas de Empleo y Desarrollo) -- also known as "model cities" -- continue stirring up controversy on the pages of the daily newspapers and on the streets of Honduras in the form of organized resistance. Edmundo Orellano is the former foreign minister and former defense minister of Honduras. In this article published in La Tribuna, he describes the ZEDEs this way: "We are handing over the territory and sovereignty, displacing the population and stripping it of its real estate, to establish small States ['model cities"] in a territory that will no longer be ours, populated by foreigners, that are like the ones that appear provoking the islanders in the video went viral on the networks, they will be, for the most part, louts."
October 5, 2020
A "model city?" According to Edmundo Orellano, the former foreign minister and former defense minister of Honduras: "We are handing over the territory and sovereignty, displacing the population and stripping it of its real estate, to establish small States ['model cities"] in a territory that will no longer be ours, populated by foreigners, that are like the ones that appear provoking the islanders in the video went viral on the networks, they will be, for the most part, louts." This article looks at local resistance on the island of Roatán to the model city (aka ZEDE, or Zona de Empleo y Desarrollo) called Próspera .
October 5, 2020
With little more than a year passed since President Nayib Bukele took office, one thing has become crystal clear: the country is still trying to resolve its different historical problems through repression. At the onset of the pandemic, the president publicly instructed the security forces to “be tougher” on those who did not comply with the quarantine, noting that he did not care about complaints of the authorities “bending wrists” or seizing vehicles. Over the last few months, armed soldiers have, for example, been deployed to perform tasks related to containing the virus. These images only served to remind us of the terrible years of the armed conflict. In addition to the deployment of security, police and military forces, there have been multiple allegations of excessive use of force and arbitrary arrests. According to official figures, more than 16,000 people were quarantined in state custody, including those accused of breaking the national lockdown and people returning from overseas.
October 1, 2020
On September 27 in Comayagua, as journalist Luis Almendrares, age 35, was getting out of his car to go into a store for groceries, two men wearing hoods drove up on a motorcycle, shot him repeatedly, and fled. Luis Almendares began taping the scene of his own attack with his cellphone. He died the next day at a hospital in Tegucigalpa. The Honduran Press Association (APH, Asociación de Prensa Hondureña) has affirmed that "the problems of the press in Honduras begin with reports of journalistic investigations into corruption of officials or the political class.” On his Facebook page, Periodista504, the journalist had published information about corruption by local elected officials in Comayagua and violence committed by the police. Luis Almendares is at least the third journalist to be assassinated in Honduras in 2020, and at least the 85th since 2001. The National Human Rights Commission of Honduras (CONADEH) reports an impunity rate of 91% for the murders of journalists.
September 29, 2020
The Trump Administration’s cruel approach on immigration policy, particularly around interior enforcement and asylum at the border, has further enshrined the practice of family separation within the U.S. immigration system. Family separation has resulted in unmeasurable moral, political, and economic costs that communities are grappling with every day. There’s approximately 16.7 million people in the U.S. who share a home with an undocumented family member, and nearly 6 million of them are U.S.-citizen children. Mental health professionals have spoken out against family separation policies, stating that they “may have severe consequences in a child’s developmental processes and psychosocial functioning,” and that children who have endured these separations were “more likely to develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress and depression.” These policies designed to deport as many undocumented immigrants as possible have brutalized immigrant families and communities, and hurt the economy – and continue to be rejected by Americans across the political spectrum.
September 25, 2020
The Jesuit Massacre, November 16, 1989 at the University of Central America (UCA) in San Salvador. An elite commando unit killed the six priests, their housekeeper (Elba) and her daughter (Celina) at the priests’ campus residence. The military tried to make the massacre appear as though it had been carried out by leftist guerrillas. Nine members of the military were initially put on trial, but the court absolved seven of them. Two officers served short sentences in El Salvador, but were released in 1993 after passage of an amnesty law. Fast forward to 2020: A court in Spain sentenced former Salvadoran colonel Inocente Orlando Montano to 133 years in prison. Arnau Baulenas, a lawyer with the Human Rights Institute at the University of Central America said Montano’s conviction and sentence in Spain showed that the orders came from high up. He blames a lack of political will and resistance within El Salvador’s justice system for being unable to achieve similar outcomes in his own country.
September 23, 2020
In 2011, Cindy Erazo experienced a miscarriage in a shopping mall bathroom on the outskirts of the capital. She was taken to a hospital where authorities accused her of attempting to abort the fetus. Convicted of aggravated homicide under El Salvador’s strict anti-abortion laws, Cindy served six years of a 10-year sentence. She was released from prison (“conditional release”) on September 23. She was originally sentenced to 30 years in prison, but that sentence was later reduced. Human rights groups say at least 18 innocent women are currently in prison for similar cases in El Salvador.
Former US-Backed Salvadoran Colonel Sentenced by Spanish Court to 133 Years in Prison for 1989 Jesuit Massacre
September 14, 2020
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. How long? This time, 30 years. Col. Montano led an elite U.S.-trained army unit that massacred six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her teenage daughter during El Salvador's 12-year civil war. More than 70,000 men, women, and children died during the Salvadoran Civil War. One-million refugees (20% of the country’s population!) fled seeking safety, most of them to the US. The Salvadoran Truth Commission investigation concluded that 85% of the more than 22,000 atrocities that were reported during the war were committed by the U.S.-backed military regime and associated forces. And what was does the US government say now in hindsight? “One of fabulous achievement” is how Elliott Abrams, the Reagan administration’s "death squad ambassador" in Central America, has hailed the US record in El Salvador. Today, Elliott Abrams works as the Trump administration's special representative for Iran and Venezuela.
August 25, 2020
To bring attention to several identified environmental, social, human, and economic impacts of large scale mining projects in the Atlantic zone, residents of El Guapinol (Colón Department) and surrounding communities organized the Encampment on the Defense of Water and Life in August 2018. They pointed to contamination of the Guapinol and San Pedro Rivers, which supply drinking water to fourteen surrounding communities, caused by an iron ore mine operated since 2014 by Los Inversiones Los Pinares (owners: Lenir Pérez and Ana Facussé). Of particular concern are impacts on the Montaña de Botaderos National Park, which supplies several rivers flowing to Olancho, Atlántida, and Colón Departments. Area residents have documented how the mine is destroying animal life and contaminating smaller waterways. Tens of thousands of inhabitants are at risk of losing their agricultural crops and homes. Because of their actions in defense of the environment, these men have been imprisoned in “preventive detention” awaiting formal charges since September 2019: Porfirio Sorto Cedillo, José Abelino Cedillo, Kelvin Alejandro Romero, Arnold Javier Alemán, Ever Alexander Cedillo, Orbin Nahúm Hernández, Daniel Márquez, and Jeremías Martínez. We demand their release!
August 24, 2020
Several armed groups are competing in Nariño for control of land to grow illicit crops, illegal mining, and routes for drug trafficking. In the last four months, at least seven community members and members of the Awá Indigenous Guard have been murdered. On July 28, Fabio Alfonso Guanga García, the second Indigenous governor of the Ñambí Piedra Verde Reservation (in Barbacoas municipality), and his partner Sonia Lorena Bisbicus Ortiz were assassinated. At noon on August 11, six men shot at the truck in which Francisco Cortés Guanga and his two security bodyguards from the National Protection Unit (UNP) were riding. Francisco Cortés Guanga serves the Piguambí Palangala Reservation as human rights spokesperson with UNIPA (Unidad de Pueblos Awá). His father, Segundo Jaime Cortés Pai, governor of the same reservation, had received death threats two weeks prior. Then on August 19, three Awa Indigenous youths were killed in the remote Aguacuate community of Pialapi Pueblo Viejo Reservation (Ricaurte municipality); others are rumored to have been forcibly disappeared.