Central America
roe

El Salvador: warning for post-Roe US

The US Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade comes six weeks after a court in El Salvador sentenced a woman to 30 years in prison after she suffered an obstetric emergency that resulted in termination of her pregnancy, according to a local advocacy group that was assisting in her defense. The Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion (ACDATEE)┬ádenounced the sentence and said it would appeal the conviction. The woman, identified only as “Esme,” was held in pre-trial detention for two years following her arrest when she sought medical care at a hospital. She already had a seven-year-old daughter. (Photo: Debra Sweet/WikiMedia via Jurist)

Central America
salvador

‘Massive’ human rights violations in El Salvador

Amnesty International reported that authorities in El Salvador have committed “massive” human rights violations, including arbitrary detentions, due process violations and torture, under cover of an ongoing state of emergency. Amnesty found that 35,000 individuals have been illegally detained without due process since President Nayib Bukele declared a state of emergency in response to gang violence in March, suspending constitutional guarantees. At least 1,190 minors are among the detained, and more than 18 detainees have died in custody. The National Assembly has twice extended the so-called “regime of exception” by 30-day intervals. The day after Amnesty issued the report, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urged El Salvador’s government to comply with international human rights obligations in implementing security measures.┬á(Photo: Presidencia de El Salvador)

Central America
Archipelago of San Andr├ęs

Win for Nicaragua in maritime dispute with Colombia

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague┬áruled that Colombia must end its “interference” in parts of the Caribbean off the coast of Nicaragua, and bring under control fishing and other activities in the zone. This culminates a long conflict between Nicaragua and Colombia. In two rulings in 2007 and 2012, the ICJ recognized the sovereignty of Colombia in the islands constituting the Archipelago of San Andr├ęs. However, the rulings also recognized the jurisdiction of Nicaragua in the surrounding waters. Colombia continued its activities in those waters, prompting Nicaragua to file a new complaint with the Court in 2013. Colombia argued that its actions were necessary to fight drug trafficking and secure environmental protection of the waters. In its new ruling, the ICJ found that these waters are within the exclusive economic zone of Nicaragua, and the “intervention” of another state is contrary to international law. (Map: Wikipedia)

Central America
salvador

El Salvador: state of emergency over gang violence

El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly approved a state of emergency at the request of President Nayib Bukele, in response to a sharp increase in the number of killings by criminal gangs. The emergency regimen seeks to dismantle criminal structures by prohibiting associations and disrupting┬átheir communications. It also extends the “administrative detention” period, and suspends certain constitutional freedoms.┬áThe declaration invokes Article 29 of El Salvador’s Constitution, which allows for the suspension of constitutional guarantees in times of “serious disturbance of public order.” This includes the right to freedom of association and presumption of innocence. The state of emergency will remain in effect for 30 days, in conformity with Article 30, after which it may be renewed. (Map: University of Texas)

Central America

Honduras transition in the New Cold War

Hondurans elected self-proclaimed┬á“democratic socialist”┬áXiomara Castro to be the country’s first woman president. The wife of Manuel Zelaya, the populist president who was removed in a coup in 2009, Castro pledges to revive his programÔÇöand take it much further, instating far-reaching reforms. Castro also announced that she will “open diplomatic and commercial relations with continental China,” which was widely taken as meaning a switch of diplomatic recognition. Honduras is currently one of only 14 countries that recognize Taipei rather than Beijing.┬á It is tragic to see the Central American republics, in their struggle to break free of Washington’s orbit, acquiesce in Beijing’s design to incorporate Taiwan into its own orbitÔÇöor, more ambitiously, its national territory. ┬á(Map:┬áPerry-Casta├▒eda Library)

Central America
Mélidas

Feminist, humanitarian groups raided in El Salvador

Agents of El Salvador’s Fiscal├şa, backed up by police troops, raided seven non-governmental organizations, ostensibly on the grounds of investigating “corruption.” The Salvadoran popular movement describes the raids as the latest in an escalating campaign of political persecution by President Nayib Bukele against voices critical of the regime. Among the groups targeted were Las M├ęlidas, a long-standing women’s rights organization, and PRO-VIDA, a humanitarian association that works in areas of healthcare, ecology, and strengthening of democratic institutions. In a statement following the raids, a representative of Las M├ęlidas condemned them as “unjustified” and meant to “criminalize” the group’s initiatives, which include literacy, violence prevention, sexual health campaigns, and other programs serving the country’s most marginalized women. (Photo via Twitter)

Central America
Dari├ęn

Danger grows on Dari├ęn Gap migrant route

The Dari├ęn Gap, a dangerous jungle route used by a growing number of migrants trying to reach the United States from South America, has become even deadlier, according to Panama’s Forensic Sciences Institute. It reports┬áover 50 migrant deaths to date in 2021, although the figure is believed to be far higher. Towns on the Colombian side of the border are swelling with migrants waiting to cross the GapÔÇömostly Haitians, Cubans and Venezuelans, but some from as far as Afghanistan and Burkina Faso. Colombian authorities say 67,000 migrants have passed through the border zone so far this year, more than 15 times the number in 2020. Former paramilitaries operating in the area are now preying on the migrants, who face rape, armed violence and extortion. (Photo: David Gonz├ílez/TNH)

Watching the Shadows
anti-bitcoin

Podcast: rage against the technocracy

In Episode 89 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes heart at the national uprising in El Salvador against the imposition of Bitcoin as legal tender, and draws the connection his own incessant struggles against corporate cyber-overlords VerizonÔÇöas well as the to the automated drone terror in Afghanistan. As we are distracted (or, at any rate, should be distracted) by the more obviously pressing issues such as police brutality and climate destabilization, the digitization of every sphere of human activity lurches forward at a terrifying paceÔÇöwith zero resistance. Until now. The heroic protesters in El Salvador have launched the long overdue revolution of everyday life. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Twitter)

Central America
antibitcoin

Anti-Bitcoin protests shake El Salvador

Protests repeatedly erupted in El Salvador as the country became the first to make Bitcoin legal tender. The US dollar also remains official currency, but the law pushed through by President Nayib Bukele mandates that all vendors also accept Bitcoin. Small merchants and especially those in the informal sector complain of problems in trying to download the official phone app needed to use the currency. Protesters say the new law will deepen poverty by further excluding the already marginalized from the economy. They also assert that it will further enable corruption. “This is a currency that’s not going to work for pupusa vendors, bus drivers or shopkeepers,” one protester told Reuters. “This is a currency that’s ideal for big investors who want to speculate with their economic resources.” (Photo via Twitter)

Planet Watch
Arenal

Denmark, Costa Rica to launch no-fossil-fuel bloc

Denmark and Costa Rica jointly announced that they are launching an alliance of nations committed to setting a firm date to completely phase out use and production of fossil fuels. The two countries hope to present the initiative, tentatively dubbed the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (BOGA), at the upcoming UN climate summit in Glasgow. Nearly 60 countries have made some sort of net zero emissions pledge, but only a handful of those have actually set a target in law or enacted bans on new fossil fuel exploration and production. An International Energy Agency report released earlier this year found that new fossil fuel exploration needs to halt by 2022 in order to keep warming within the limits set by the 2015 Paris Agreement. (Photo: Flickr/photodiscoveries via weather2travel.com)

Central America
salvador

El Salvador: government deal with maras revealed

Details of an investigation into negotiations between the government of Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele and violent gangs, which involved trading fewer murders and electoral support for improved prison conditions, were revealed by El Faro, an online news site. The talks were carried out by a special unit created by attorney general Ra├║l Melara, who was ousted in May. Officials apparently conducted discussions with Mara Salvatrucha, Barrio 18 Revolucionarios, and Barrio 18 Sure├▒os, which the government considers terrorist groups. El Faro published audio files and text messages documenting what took place over at least a year beginning in 2019. Gang violence has been a main driver of migration from El Salvador. The US State Department recently accused several Bukele officials of corruption, which has cooled efforts to engage bilaterally on migration strategy. (Map: University of Texas)

Central America
Berta Caceres

Accused author of Berta Cáceres murder on trial

The trial of the alleged mastermind behind the March 2016 murder of environmentalist Berta C├íceres began in Honduras. C├íceres was slain when a squad of gunmen invaded her home at La Esperanza, Intibuc├í department. A visiting Mexican friend, Gustavo Castro, was also shot but survived. C├íceres had been campaigning against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project, then under development by Desarrollos Energ├ęticos (DESA). Four of eight defendants were each sentenced in December 2019 to 34 years in prison for the murder of C├íceres and 16 years for the attempted murder of Castro. Three others were sentenced to 30 years as co-conspirators in the crime. In the new trial that opened in a Tegucigalpa court, a former DESA president and military intelligence officer, Roberto David Castillo, is charged with being the “intellectual author” of the murder. (Photo by UN Environment via Wikimedia Commons)