Honduras gangs begin talks towards truce

 

In an unprecedented event two of Honduras largest Central American gangs, Mara Salvatrucha and the 18th Street gang made separate announcements vowing a ceasefire. Both gangs said they had embarked on talks toward a complete truce.

The details of the arrangement have yet to be determined. However, leaders from both gangs spoke from the jail in northern Honduras and pledged zero violence and extorsions toward the Honduran population.

The country’s Catholic Church largely spearheaded the talks in particular by San Pedro’s bishop, Romulo Emiliani.

According to news reports, Emiliani has a long history of trying to negotiate peace between the two gangs and has long been an advocate of rehabilitative programs.

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Police-run death squads growing problem in Honduras

 

This week The Associated Press ran an exclusive in-depth investigation about members of street gangs mysteriously disappearing or being killed shortly after having run-ins with the federal police feeding allegations that police-run death squads are operating social cleansing campaigns.

Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a series of reports where human rights activists and teenagers have allegedly been victims of such squads. According to observers and analysts, the bigger issue is tied to American involvement.  The United States has given an estimated $30 million in aid to Honduran law enforcement in the last two years. U.S. military expenditures for Honduras in particular have tripled those of 10 years ago. Aid has gone up every year since 2009, when a military coup deposed democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya.

According to an op-ed authored by Dana Frank, professor of history at UC Santa Cruz whose work focuses on modern Honduras, “the Obama administration’s escalating military commitment in Honduras only deepens its support for the corrupt and repressive Lobo government.”

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“I Activate Guazapa” for a culture of peace and dismantling violence

 

Some argue that initiatives, opinions, and solutions that contribute to the transformation of reality are found in the voice of youth. This idea is reinforced by Fundación Comunicándonos in El Salvador, with the support of the Seattle International Foundation, who supports our programs with young women to prevent violence, strengthen the organization and establish a Culture of Peace in Guazapa.

Written by Héctor Mena

In early May 2013, about 100 youth from different parts of the municipality of Guazapa were brought together by a common interest: the role of communication in strengthening community organizing and violence prevention; the same interest that lead institutions such as Guazapa Radio 92.1 FM, the Interactive Mediacenter “Zona i”, The Council of Violence Prevention and Promotion of a Culture of Peace (PREPAZ), the Ministry of Justice and Public Security of El Salvador, and EMARTV Council of Granada, Spain, to join the initiative.

The goal of the initiative was to take action to prevent violence, create new young leaders, strengthen youth organizing and develop processes of communication to integrate values of a culture of peace.

In practice, this translated into training sessions with youth on issues of leadership, peaceful conflict resolution, and communications best practices; allocation of 50 scholarships in computer science for a period of seven months; interactive and recreational activities like visits to a national museum, radio workshops on production of radio spots, the program Vociferando and youth radio forums. Read the rest of this entry »

Immigration reform opens new opportunity in Central America

 

Published on May 7, 2013 in The Seattle Times.

Mauricio Vivero

 

FOR far too long, the federal government’s narrow focus on drug trafficking and border security has monopolized the conversation about neighboring Central America.

Creating more economic opportunities in Central America was one item on the agenda during President Obama’s visit to the region in March 2011. However, the issue was overshadowed by concerns about how to combat street gangs, transnational drug cartels and other criminal groups that threaten citizen security in both the U.S. and the region.

Over the last decade, the U.S. has spent more than $20 billion to combat the flow of narcotics that come from the Andes, through Central America and then head north.

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Why the Nobel Women’s Initiative supports Guatemala genocide trial

 

Why the Nobel Women’s Initiative supports Guatemala genocide trial and what this has to do with women’s rights today

 

Members of the Nobel Women’s Initiative (NWI) held a media call to reiterate their support for the genocide trial in Guatemala. Last week, two days before the court was set to hear closing arguments, the trial came to a screeching halt. A pre-trial judge decided to annul the proceedings and set everything back to square one before Gen. Efrain Rios Montt was charged for genocide and crimes against humanity.

The ruling sent international shockwaves. Unbeknown to many, the overwhelming majority of genocide crimes and torture during the 36-year-civil war were directed at women.

Pamela Yates, filmmaker that documented the atrocities committed by the Guatemalan army in the 1980s in her film “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator,” explained it on today’s call.

Guatemala is also one of the countries with the largest rates of femicide and violence against women. Experts say this cultural practice of violence expanded during the war.

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SIF grantee and Women in the World keynote speaker featured on NPR

 

Recently NPR’s international correspondent, Carrie Kahn visited Guatemala to do a series of reports from the Central American nation.

Kahn was interested in doing an in-depth story into the start of the genocide trial against retired General Efrain Rios Montt and his former head of intelligence, Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez. Charged in January 2012, they are accused of overseeing the murders of 1,771 Ixils in 15 massacres between 1982 and 1983 when Rios Montt was de facto head of state.

Kahn returned to Guatemala for the first time since visiting the country at the end of the 1960-1996 civil war. Rios Montt is the first Latin American strongman to be charged with genocide. With such a historic feat, Kahn wanted to understand what had changed in Guatemala in order for such an unprecedented trial to take place.

In a country with such a fragile democracy overrun with impunity and crime, she found the answer: Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz.

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About the blog:
This blog was created to support the Central America Network and encourage dialogue around relevant research, news and poverty alleviation efforts in the region.
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