A former Salvador military commander, Inocente Montano, went on trial in Spain, accused of ordering the murder of six Spanish Jesuit priests in 1989. Two Salvadoran women were also killed in the incident. Montano was formerly held in the US, but was extradited to Spain in 2017. Ex-colonel Montano was vice-minister of public security in El Salvador during its civil war from 1979-1992. Montano commanded troops believed to be responsible for at least 1,169 human rights violations. Additionally, prosecutors believe Montano was part of the paramilitary group La Tandona that carried out extrajudicial executions. (Photo: Wikimedia)
Mounting police-state measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are now resulting in stand-offs between executive and judicial authorities. In El Salvador, President Nayib Bukele is openly defying Supreme Court rulings to respect fundamental rights while enforcing the lockdown. His security forces have arbitrarily detained hundreds in containment centers, where rights observers charge they face an increased risk of spreading COVID-19. Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that the government may not continue using tracking capabilities developed by the internal security service Shin Bet in efforts to contain COVID-19, imposing a deadline for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to seek legislative approval for the practice. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte, already threatening to shoot lockdown violators, has escalated to warning of an imminent declaration of martial law. (Photo: Philippine National Police via Wikipedia)
As nations across the globe remain under lockdown, more sweeping powers are being assumed by governments in the name of containing the COVID-19 pandemic. Facing demands for relief from poor barrios running out of resources under his lockdown orders, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to shoot protesters in the streets. Police have opened fire on lockdown violators in Nigeria, Ghana and Peru. In Tunisia, remote-controlled wheeled robots have been deployed to accost lockdown violators. States of emergency, including broad powers to restrict movements and control the media, have been declared from the Philippines to Serbia. Amnesty International warns that the restrictive measures could become a “new normal.” (Photo: Pulse, Ghana)
The US State Department announced sanctions against 13 former Salvadoran military officials for their involvement in the 1989 killings of eight individuals. The former officials were found to be implicated in gross human rights violations when they planned and carried out the extrajudicial execution of six Jesuit priests and two others on the campus of Central American University in El Salvador on Nov. 16, 1989. (Image: Salt and Light Media)
Commentators have noted the roots of the current massive migration from Central America in the political economy of the free trade order. The US-led repression and counter-insurgency in the isthmus in the 1980s allowed the imposition of “free trade” or “neoliberal” regimes in the generation since then—culminating in the passage of CAFTA. This, in turn, has exacerbated the expropriation from the peasantry of their traditional lands by agribusiness and agro-export oligarchies. But this dynamic is now being augmented by factors related to political ecology—the degradation of the land itself due to climate destabilization. (Photo: IOM)
The first mission of the new security force created by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will be blocking migrants on the Guatemalan border, evidently part of a deal struck with the Trump administration. Mexico has pledged to deploy up to 6,000 National Guard troops to its southern border in an effort to avoid Trump’s threatened tariff on all exports to the United States. The deal was announced as Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard is leading a Mexican delegation in talks with White House officials in Washington. Mexican officials said that 10 National Guard contingents of 450 to 600 troops each will be assigned to the border with Guatemala by September. The deployment would represent a fourfold increase on the 1,500 federal troops currently patrolling the border. A further three units will be deployed to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico, to set up roadblocks and checkpoints to stop the movement of migrants. (Photo: Mexico News Daily)
Days after the Catholic Church declared El Salvador's martyred Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero a saint, a judge in the Central American country issued an arrest order for a former military captain long suspected of ordering the killing of the religious leader. Judge Rigoberto Chicas issued the order for national and international authorities to apprehend Alvaro Rafael Saravia, 78. He remains at large and is believed to be in hiding. Saravia had been arrested for the crime in 1987, but the case against him was dropped when El Salvador passed its amnesty law in 1993. The case was re-opened after El Salvador's Supreme Court struck down the amnesty law in 2016. (Photo via Catholic News Agency)
The ACLU of Southern California filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of several immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and citizens whose parents have TPS, challenging the Trump administration's revocation of the status for over 200,000 people. The administration has terminated TPS for all people from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. The suit contends that the administration's actions are unconstitutional as they interfere with the right of school-aged citizen children of TPS beneficiaries to reside in the country. The young citizens would have to choose whether to leave the country or to remain without their parents. (Photo: WikiMedia Commons)
With his "shithole" comment, Trump makes clear he would bring the United States back nearly a century to the 1920s, when immigration "quotas" were imposed for countries whose inhabitants were deemed undersirable, essentially cutting off immigration of Jews, Italians and Slavs. But deepening the insult, today Haitians and Salvadorans are being driven from their homelands by poverty and instability which is itself the bitter fruit of "free trade" policies foisted upon their governments by pressure from Washington. (Photo: Homeland Security's Otay Mesa Detention Center, BBC World Service via Flickr)
The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR-UK) called for the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations of war crimes in Yemen by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), especially concerning the recruiting of foreign nationals to serve in an army of mercenaries. AOHR-UK alleges that the mercenaries began work under contract to the UAE in March 2015 and have conducted military operations in Yemen, in addition to supervising secret prisons in which Yemeni citizens have been subjected to torture.
Civil rights organizations in New York are trying to determine if police and school officials on Long Island helped federal authorities detain immigrant students on the basis of dubious claims of ties to Central American gangs. The controversy comes after Trump's inflammatory speech before Suffolk County police, in which he pledged to "destroy" the MS-13 gang, calling its members "animals."
Panama is the latest Central American nation to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Bejing—under pressure of China's fast-growing economic presence on the isthmus.