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Newsletter No.31

🗞️ The US has pressured Mexico and Central American countries to strengthen their borders and further militarize them, in order to prevent migrants heading north. As a result, many are taking more precarious routes to get there.

🗞️ Juan Antonio Hernández, the Honduran president’s brother, has been sentenced for importing cocaine and conspiring to possess arms.

🗞️ A private tech city has opened up on the Honduran island of Roatan. There, companies are immune to local laws and taxes.

📷Gallery📷

Migrants crossing over to Guatemala at blind spots

Police detaining teenagers at a stop point. Photo: Contracorriente

A small group of around 80 migrants left San Pedro Sula this week. But with even greater crackdowns and border closures en route to the US, they were forced to attempt to cross into Guatemala at blind spots; through mountains, often carrying children.

At at least three different points along the road to the Guatemalan border, police had set up checkpoints in order to demand documents from travellers. Teenagers, travelling on their own, were detained and sent back in buses.

The Guatemalan government, meanwhile, has authorized a State of Prevention in five departments in order to prevent migrants from heading north. This measure includes the use of the police and army and the use of force on the border with Honduras.
Scroll to the end of this page to see our photo gallery.
 

Honduran president’s brother sentenced

Juan Antonio Hernández, a former deputy and President Juan Orlando Hernández’s brother, has been sentenced to 30 years prison in the US and been given a US$158 million fine.

He was found guilty of conspiring to import cocaine, possessing arms, conspiring to possess arms, and giving false testimony. 

During the trial, US prosecutors said President Hernández had been a "co-conspirator" in his brother's crimes, although he has not been charged. They also said the president took millions of dollars in bribes from drug lords, including "El Chapo" Guzman. 
 
A Washington Post investigation also revealed that President Hernández hired an elite DC law firm in a “failed lobbying effort to derail” the case against his brother. Prosecutors said that four people linked to the investigation were murdered.
 

Analysis of the Honduran primaries

A few weeks have passed now since the Honduran primaries, but there are still no official results. While the National Electoral Council (CNE) is carrying out a final recount, we can already observe that the Liberal and Libre parties came out weaker, with significant internal facturing.

The President’s National Party on the other hand, despite being in the spotlight for the cases in the US and being criticized for corruption and drug smuggling, maintained unity.
 
Our in-depth analysis (in Spanish) can be read here.
 

Central America News Roundup 

🌎 A private tech city has opened for business in Honduras. Prospera, located on the island of Roatan, off the coast of Honduras has its own laws and administrative system - meaning businesses can do what they like, no matter the impact on the land or on Hondurans. We covered this dystopian initiative with an extensive analysis recently.

🌎 El Salvador received its first batch of the Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by Sinovac. El Salvador began its vaccination program on February 17, but will only begin inoculating adults and people with chronic diseases on April 15.

🌎 After Mexico closed its border with Guatemala and beefed up the military presence there, a soldier shot and killed a Guatemalan citizen this week. According to Mexican authorities, soldiers stationed near the border shot at a vehicle with three men who approached and then suddenly backed up.

🌎 Lava from the Pacaya Volcano is causing wildfires in Guatemala. The volcano is located 30 miles south of Guatemala City.

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This newsletter was written by Tamara Pearson and designed by Cesia Garay.

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