Newsletter No.27
📌 A femicide can cause grief to friends and families, but the fallout often goes well beyond that.
📌 Why won’t Honduras’ security minister reveal how much was spent on the president’s hospital stay, when - it turns out - he didn’t have Covid-19.
📌 The Honduran primaries are due in a week, but long demanded electoral reform as well as major disagreements are overshadowing them.
📌 El Salvador’s New Ideas party gained a legislative majority last weekend, but were people voting for policy or for a personality?

Poor Honduran families are never able to rest

Norma Rodríguez was living in Spain when she heard that her daughter had been murdered, allegedly by Honduran police. 

The death of Keyla Martínez prompted protests in her local state of Intibucá, and around Honduras. Rodríguez had moved to Spain four years ago in order to earn money to support her two younger daughters through university.

Journalists at ContraCorriente talked to her about her life in Intibucá before she left, and the poverty there. One of the poorest regions of Honduras, some 40% of homes spend 75% of their income just on basic food like beans and corn. 

Rodríguez also describes the harassment her family has been subject to, particularly by Honduran security forces, following the death of her daughter and the protests. This article is in Spanish.

Norma Rodríguez demands justice for her daughter. Photo: Martín Cálix.

Cover-up around president’s hospital stay
When Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández announced he had Covid-19 mid last year, it seemed convenient. Then, based on information requests made by ContraCorriente, it turned out that his test at the time was actually negative. 

We also asked for information on how much was spent on his 16-day-stay time in the military hospital. However, the defense ministry has denied our request for this information, using the same argument that the health minister originally used to deny our access to the president’s Covid-19 test.

While it seems that the president was able to stay in hospital for an illness he didn’t have, other Hondurans struggle with access to basic care. One woman, for example, told us that she had had to spend 30,000 lempiras (US$1,200) on treatment so far, for her husband to stay in a public hospital for 20 days. More on this in our article in Spanish.

Problems pile up as Honduran primaries approach
Since the 2009 coup, Honduras has been experiencing a political crisis, and the upcoming primaries, on March 14 are no exception.

Electoral reforms, demanded by civil society since 2017 when the current president was unconstitutionally elected, have not been implemented. 

And only three of 14 legally constituted parties will be participating in internal elections - but even in that regard, the national electoral council (CNE) has been deficient in guaranteeing transparency.


El Salvador legislative elections give major victory to
Nayib Bukele

The above image, by El Faro, shows the likely composition of the legislative assembly, with over 90% of votes counted. The seats represented by “N” are for President Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas party.

Last weekend, Bukele’s Nuevas Idea (New Ideas) party, together with its ally, GANA (the white bird in the above graphic), gained a definite majority in the legislative assembly. This will allow them to elect an attorney general and Supreme Court judges, and approve budgets and constitutional reforms without concern for opposition.

El Faro, in analysing the election and election campaigning (here in English), noted that many people likely voted for the president’s party, rather than for any concrete proposals made by his party.

Underreported and unpunished, femicides in El Salvador continue

Like in Honduras and Mexico, there is almost complete impunity when it comes to rape and femicides in El Salvador.

A 2017 survey found that 67% of Salvadoran women had experienced some form of violence in their lives, Nacla reports. And although El Salvador passed a gender violence law in 2011, establishing sentences of 20 to 50 years for femicide, acknowledging and prosecuting such cases is very difficult. The pandemic and stay-at-home measures have further exposed these challenges.

Women’s activist groups in El Salvador, including groups that are pro abortion rights and women’s human rights, came together to provide a hotline for women with psychological and legal support. They received more gender-based violence cases in the first six months of the pandemic than during all of 2019. 

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This newsletter was written by Tamara Pearson and designed by Catherine Calderón.

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