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CRLN’s 30th Anniversary Celebration speaker, Miriam Miranda, spoke of the retaliation against Garifuna communities for their struggle to protect their land from being taken by the government and given to palm oil plantations or tourist development corporations. Last year,16 members of Garifuna communities were assassinated.

Last Saturday, a group of Garifuna men were abducted by men wearing Honduran police investigative unit vests and driven away in unmarked cars. Click bit.ly/snidercenteno2 to learn more and contact your U.S. Representative and Senators to notify the State Department and Embassy to urge Honduran officials to find and return the men to their community.

For reporting on the incident: Nina Lakhani, “Fears growing for five Indigenous Garifuna men abducted in Honduras https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/jul/23/garifuna-honduras-abducted-men-land-rights

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CRLN recently recommended that you watch a NISGUA webinar titled “From the U.S. to Central America: Asylum, Deportations, and COVID-19,” featuring five panelists from Central America and the U.S. who are experts on migration and powerful movement leaders. The panelists spoke about the illegal and inhumane Asylum Cooperative Agreements (ACAs), also known as safe third country agreements. They also discussed deportations during the pandemic, which have greatly impacted already under-resourced medical systems in the Global South.

The recording of the webinar, complete with English subtitles, is now available for viewing, if you were unable to see it when the webinar first aired.

Links: 

Asylum Cooperative Agreements (ACAs)

deportations during the pandemic

recording

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CRLN is a member of the Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN). Karen Spring is HSN’s representative in Honduras and is an insightful analyst of what is going on in Honduras today. We encourage you to tune into her upcoming podcast series. The first 2 episodes aired yesterday on the 11th anniversary of the 2009 overthrow of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales. Read her statement and listen below!

Hi there!

Today is the 11th anniversary of the 2009 coup d’état in Honduras. Like so many, I continue to be inspired by the amazing resistance of Hondurans across the country.

Today, I LAUNCHED the Honduras Now podcast, to remember not just a day that sparked a crisis in Honduras but a day that brought together an amazing and tireless popular movement that despite all odds, continues today.

 

Listen to the first two episodes:

** Episode One: The 2009 coup d’état in Honduras – download HERE
** Episode Two: What the coup means 11 years later – download HERE

If you would prefer to read the episodes (or get the links to Honduran feminist artist Karla Lara’s beautiful music), I will post the show notes at: www.hondurasnow.org

Hasta pronto! Thanks for listening!

Karen Spring
Honduras-based Coordinator, Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN)
Honduras Now Podcast

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CRLN is proud to share this piece on Tackling the Root Causes of Immigration to the US from Honduras written by our own former Staff member, Maria I. Leon Gomez Sonet! Please find the very important, informative article below!

Opinion-–-Tackling-the-Root-Causes-of-Immigration-to-the-US-from-Honduras

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We are excited to be part of an advocacy campaign organized by our friends at NISGUA (Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala) to stop the Asylum Cooperative Agreements (ACAs) the U.S. has made with the Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. These agreements enable the U.S. to deport asylum seekers arriving from any country to these Central American countries to seek asylum there instead. None of these countries provide for the safety of their own citizens adequately; they cannot protect asylum seekers, either. Under this program, the U.S. is knowingly sending asylum seekers into the same kinds of dangers they sought to escape, which violates international asylum law.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, these agreements also have served to spread the virus to Central America. Asylum seekers reaching the U.S.- Mexico border are detained until they can be flown out to one of these three countries. Estimates now, based on the small number of tests that have been performed in ICE or CPB detention centers, are that at least 70% of those in detention have the coronavirus. Guatemala reports that 20% of its coronavirus cases are people who were deported from the U.S.

The first step in the campaign is to learn more about the ACAs. NISGUA has a wealth of information on its webpage.

The following articles are also helpful:

The second step is to sign onto a petition that can be sent to members of Congress after enough signatures are collected. It currently has 600 signatures, but we can do much better! Please sign it yourself and then forward to friends to ask them to sign on.

The third step is to email your member of Congress. Here is a sample email you can use:

Email template for congressional representatives

Subject: Constituent concerned about inhumane and illegal U.S. asylum agreements with Central America

Dear [Representative],

I am deeply concerned about the Asylum Cooperative Agreements (ACAs) that the Trump administration has signed with governments in Central America. As your constituent, I am calling on you to take action.

Under these agreements, the U.S. designated El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala as “safe third countries” to which to send asylum-seekers, rather than allowing them to pursue an asylum claim here, as is their right under international law.

These policies are immoral and, according to a U.S. lawsuit filed in November 2019 regarding the first agreement with Guatemala by the American Civil Liberties Union and others, illegal. None of these countries provide a full and fair asylum application procedure. More importantly, they themselves are so unsafe that their own citizens flee en masse to the United States.

Meanwhile, in the face of a deadly global pandemic, the Trump administration has continued to deport migrants and asylum-seekers to Mexico and Central America, including people who have already tested positive for covid-19, another demonstration of the Administration’s disregard for human life in the region.

Since November, more than 900 people, the majority women and children from Honduras and El Salvador who sought asylum in the U.S., have been sent to Guatemala to seek protection there instead. News outlets report that only twenty thus far have requested protection in Guatemala, where they may be vulnerable to many of the same sources of violence as in their home countries. The rest have made the life-threatening decision to return to the dangers from which they originally fled. For example, a February 2020 Human Rights Watch investigation found that, since 2013, at least 138 Salvadorans were murdered in acts of gang, police, or hate crime violence after being deported. A similar reality exists for Honduran migrants.

It’s clear that these Asylum Cooperative Agreements are a gross violation of the internationally-recognized right to asylum and of the core principle of non-refoulement, so much so that U.S. asylum officers have filed an amicus brief denouncing their illegality.

I call on you to:

1. Take action to defund the “Asylum Cooperative Agreements” by pushing for the inclusion of the following language in the upcoming appropriations process for both DHS and State and Foreign Operations: “None of these funds may be used for the implementation of the Asylum Cooperative Agreements between the U.S., Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.”
2. Demand more information regarding the signing and implementation of these agreements.
3. Take a public stand and declare opposition to these agreements as a threat to safety, human dignity, and international law.

Now, more than ever amid the deadly global threat posed by COVID-19, the Trump Administration’s assaults on immigrants and asylum seekers must be stopped. I call on you to take action to immediately halt all deportations as well as other inhumane policies, such as the “Remain in Mexico” program.

Your action is urgent. If your office has already issued statements or taken other action regarding the Asylum Cooperative Agreements, please let me know.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

 

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Solidarity with the Honduran people in Pandemic Times:  COVID-19, Another Weapon in the Hands of the Dictatorship

The U.S. and Canada-backed regime of Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) is using the very real dangers and fears of the
coronavirus pandemic to militarize the country, justify acts of corruption, destroyand further privatize public services, repress dissent, and criminalize poverty.

 

On March 15, 2020, without previous implementation of any minimal COVID-19 prevention measures, JOH implemented a nation-wide lockdown enforced by and managed by the Honduran military and police. The regime suspended numerous
constitutional guarantees, including the right to freedom of expression, freedom of movement, and freedom from arbitrary detention. The regime closed public spaces and many businesses, and, in the name of enforcing the lockdown, has carried out hundreds of arrests. Some of these arrests have been politically-motivated.

 

On March 17 in the southern city of Choluteca, the police surrounded the home of a well-known community activist, Aleyda Huete. The next day, Huete was released from jail after an international and national outcry against her arrest but still faces charges and death threats that are believed to grow out of her opposition to the JOH dictatorship. Journalists covering police evictions of the public markets are threatened to be put in government-run quarantine.

 

The Honduran government has used the crisis to justify freeing at least one individual indicted and jailed on corruption charges and also named in connection to JOH’s brother, Tony Hernandez’s drug trafficking activities. This is while the
government continues to ignore judicial motions and demands to free the eight Guapinol defenders and political prisoners that are at exceptional risk inside Honduran prisons.

 

Over the last few days, the desperation of the population in rural and urban areas has led to increased government attacks and repression. At the best of times, 60% of Hondurans live in poverty and half of that number live in extreme poverty. Approximately 70% of employment in Honduras is through the informal sector, and with the closure of street markets, small, road-side vendors, streets and parks, an emergency life and death situation is growing across the country.

 

With the extreme government-imposed measures, Hondurans are being forced to “lockdown and starve” and are unable to go to the streets in search of food, assistance, and whatever means to survive without facing arrest, harassment, and
repression. As the well-known Honduran human rights organization COFADEH explained: “A curfew can’t be obeyed when people are dying of hunger.” The already difficult economic, social, and political situation in Honduras has been
exacerbated by the pandemic, and again, Hondurans are being forced to confront the illegitimate, U.S. and Canada-backed JOH regime in the most extreme circumstances.

 

In early March, under the real threat posed by the global pandemic but when less than 3 COVID-19 cases were reported in the country at the time, the Honduran Congress used the crisis to approve over $420 million USD in alleged assistance to confront the crisis. In addition, the JOH government is requesting support from the international financial institutions that have turned a blind eye while feeding public corruption for several years. The Honduran Convergence Against Re-election fears that this money will never be audited and instead, used to line the pockets of the corrupt instead of addressing the public health crisis. As of March 29, there are 139 reported COVID-19 cases, 3 resulting deaths, and increasing economic and public health demands being made by the population.

 

Despite the availability of emergency funds, the government’s response to the crisis has been to politicize food packages, delivering small amounts of food aid only to families on the National Party’s election roster. With growing indignation and
desperation, people in several communities, municipalities, and urban neighbourhoods have taken to the streets and blocked roads, demanding that food and basic supplies be provided. These protests are met with repression, live
bullets, tear gas, and arrests. In addition, physicians, medical residents, and healthcare workers have walked off the job and continue to complain of the complete lack of basic medical protective equipment in the largest public hospitals
in the two major cities. These complaints add to the growing frustration of the intentional neglect of the public healthcare system which has been decimated by corrupt plundering and privatization efforts for several years.

 

The JOH government’s corruption is well-documented, whether it is theft of money designated for public health services that then found its way into JOH’s 2013 election funds or the bank accounts National Party officials and their family
members accused of theft of public funds, fraud, etc. Hondurans are outraged by the evidence presented in U.S. Federal Courts in New York during court proceedings against JOH’s brother Tony Hernandez, his cousin, and other narcotics traffickers that link JOH directly to drug cartels in Honduras, and the fact that, despite this evidence and the blatant corruption and violations of human rights, JOH is still supported politically and financially by the U.S. and Canadian
governments.

 

The Honduras Solidarity Network stands with the Honduran people and organizations who call for an end to the repression and corruption and demand urgent funds and resources for healthcare, food, and water for the Honduran
people. We also continue to stand with the people’s demands for an end to the U.S. and Canada-backed narco-dictatorship. Our governments must stop propping up an illegitimate and corrupt government in Honduras.

For daily updates on the situation in Honduras including possible calls to action,please visit:

Facebook: Honduras Solidarity Network
Twitter: @hondurassol

March 30, 2020

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Our friends at the Latin America Working Group (LAWG) are gathering signatures on a petition to President Trump and Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf to stop deportations to Mexico and Central America during the COVID-19 pandemic. While international travel is restricted during this health crisis, it is outrageous that the U.S. risks increasing spread of the coronavirus by deporting detained migrants. They already may have been exposed to the virus while in overcrowded detention centers. Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador have fragile and underfunded public health systems, which are having enough difficulties treating the coronavirus patients they already have.

 

Please read and sign the petition at the link below.

https://lawg.salsalabs.org/stopdeportations/index.html

 

For more information at LAWG, click here

 

“Central America Fears Trump Could Deport the Coronavirus” (Los Angeles Times)

 

 

 

 

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Last year, Guatemala experienced a constitutional crisis when former President Jimmy Morales ignored orders from the highest court in the land, ended the mandate of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (who had accused him of corruption), and surrounded their offices with tanks to force commissioners to leave the country. Now a constitutional crisis has erupted in El Salvador. Here’s what happened.

 

President Nayib Bukele called for an extraordinary session of the Legislative Assembly on Sunday, February 9, at 3:00 p.m. in order to get approval for a $109 million international loan he wanted for modernizing military and police forces. He insinuated on social media to his followers that if deputies did not show up, they would be violating constitutional order and that the people had the right of insurrection in this case, although the Legislative Assembly is an independent branch of government that is authorized to make decisions about its own affairs. Not wanting to be dictated to, deputies scheduled a regular session for Monday, February 10, to take up the matter.

 

The president then called for his supporters to gather at the Legislative Assembly and deployed military and police forces throughout the city. A small number of deputies showed up for the extraordinary session, and then the President brought armed soldiers into the legislative chamber to surround the room, railing against the deputies who had not shown up and against all of them for not yet passing his request to approve the loan. Finally, he prayed silently, left the chamber, and spoke to his followers outside that God had told him to be patient. In a real violation of Constitutional order, he commanded the deputies to pass his request within the week, or he would call out his supporters again, with the implied threat that they would remove the deputies from offfice by force.

 

The militarization of El Salvador’s political spaces had been, until now, a thing of the past, since before Peace Accords were signed in 1992 ending the civil war. Now, political leaders on the left and the right are concerned that President Bukele is about to perform a self-coup, using the armed forces and his supporters to take control of the Legislature. CRLN urges its members to read the joint statement, sent to us by U.S .- El Salvador Sister Cities, signed by some of El Salvador’s social movements and to learn more from the articles below. Then, please take action, following the Action Alert from our friends at CISPES (copied below the articles).

 

 

Joint statement by groups in Salvadoran popular movements:  https://www.elsalvadorsolidarity.org/pronunciamiento-bukele-militars

 

 

Article in “El Salvador Perspectives”: www.elsalvadorperspectives.com/2020/02/bukele-sends-armed-troops-before-him.html?utm_source=MailChimp+Bulletin&utm_campaign=857ddc5cf9-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_02_10_10_52&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d6d7f903dd-857ddc5cf9-420957

 

 

Press release by U.S. Solidarity groups: https://www.elsalvadorsolidarity.org/press-release-regarding-feb-2020/?utm_source=MailChimp+Bulletin&utm_campaign=857ddc5cf9-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_02_10_10_52&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d6d7f903dd-857ddc5cf9-420957

 

TAKE ACTION!

  1. Use this link to send an email to your Representative in Congress, asking them to speak out against Bukele’s power grab in El Salvador.
  2. Call your Representative and/or Senator and ask them to speak out. Call the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be connected to their office. Ask to speak with the person in charge of foreign affairs.Sample script: My name is ______ and I am a resident of _________. I am calling because I am extremely concerned about threats to democracy in El Salvador. Have you been following the crisis there over the weekend? The president commanded the legislature to hold an extraordinary session in order to approve a loan he wanted for security funding, which he does not have the authority to do, in this case, and threatened consequences if they didn’t show up. Then he deployed the Armed Forces to occupy the legislature in a clear violation of the Peace Accords. It is urgent that Members of Congress speak out against this rollback of democracy in El Salvador. Will you make a statement calling on the President Bukele to respect the autonomy of the elected legislature? Will you call on the U.S. Embassy to do the same?

[They will probably want more details. If so, ask for their email address and offer to connect them with Alexis Stoumbelis, Executive Director of CISPES, who is coordinating the national effort and can provide additional information: alexis@cispes.org. Please let Sharon Hunter-Smith in the CRLN office know if you reach your Illinois Representative. She will work with you to get Illinois Representatives to speak out and will stay in contact with Alexis.]]

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In “Deported to Danger: United States Deportation Policies Expose Salvadorans to Death and Abuse,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) shares the results of its investigation into what happens to Salvadorans seeking asylum who are nevertheless deported back to El Salvador. Here’s a quick summary of what they found:

  • Between 2014-2018, the U.S. recognized only 18.2% of Salvadorans as qualifying for asylum.
  • In the same period, the U.S. and Mexico deported 213,000 Salvadorans.
  • While no official tally exists, HRW was able to document 138 people who were killed after being deported, many for the same reasons they had fled from El Salvador in the first place. The number killed is likely higher, since not every death makes it into public records.
  • HRW was also able to identify over 70 people deported who were subjected to sexual violence, torture, other harm, or who went missing, also at the hands of the same people whose violence they had fled. The number is almost certainly higher, since these instances are almost never reported.

Here is the link to the full report: https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/02/05/deported-danger/united-states-deportation-policies-expose-salvadorans-death-and

The U.S. now has a cap on the number of  refugees allowed into the country, and much lower percentages of them are actually receiving asylum in response to their petitions.

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