El Faro English
The same day that Nayib Bukele staged a military siege of the gang bastion Soyapango, Xiomara Castro deployed police and military in 162 of Honduras’ most marginalized urban communities after decreeing a state of exception. The suspension of constitutional guarantees goes even further than in the Salvadoran model.
From EL FARO ENGLISH: Central America Journalists Create United Front Against State-Sponsored Attacks
The Network of Central American Journalists hopes to protect independent news media from state-sponsored attacks, spur regional collaboration, and increase the international visibility of press freedom strained by criminalization and public and private-sector censorship.
Nine months before the presidential election, the country’s right-wing regime is fracturing into rivaling projects as progressive groups discuss the elusive idea of a united candidacy. Meanwhile, electoral authorities are indulging the pre-campaigning by the ruling party and top conservative Zury Ríos.
A defining moment has come for President Xiomara Castro, who must decide how much free rein to grant a future U.N.-backed anti-corruption commission that could end up investigating her own government.
Amid multiple corruption and misconduct probes muddling his first three months in office, President Rodrigo Chaves has lashed out at the press. In July, authorities shuttered a business financing the operations of leading newspaper La Nación.
Leaked court documents reveal that wrongful arrests in El Salvador are on the rise as the country courses its fifth month in a state of exception that suspended multiple constitutional rights.
El Faro has released a three-part multimedia special on the Garifuna struggle against land theft, criminalization, and enforced disappearances in the fishing village of Nueva Armenia and the sister island Cayo Chachahuate, 10 miles off the Honduran coast.
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele has accused the United States of violating the sovereignty of El Salvador—this time, following the U.S. State Department’s sanctioning of officials engaged in corruption or undermining democracy across four Central American countries.
The “Engel List” adds five dozen names to the U.S. State Department’s corruption map, and the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras won’t be happy, as now banned from U.S. soil are many officials and business people linked to the Central American leaders.
Bukele’s government told Wall Street investors in March that it hasn’t totally ruled out a deal with the IMF to avoid default, offering backup plans. All scenarios involve massive credits from regional development banks and somehow squeezing more tax revenue.
A trail of images and videos published on social media expose what journalistic publications have shown for months: that the senior leader of MS-13 was illegally freed last year by the government of El Salvador despite 40 years remaining on his prison sentence and a U.S. extradition request.
The Huehuetenango-based crime ring Los Huistas is trafficking cocaine produced by Colombian FARC dissidents for the Jalisco New Generation Cartel through the turf of its rival, the Sinaloa Cartel. The arrests of colluding Guatemalan military officers and the Huistas’ family ties to legislators beg the question of just how far the drug trade has penetrated the government and politics.
Central American leaders are averting their gaze from Nicaragua’s Ortega-Murillo regime, aware that picking a fight with the most consolidated autocracy in Central America would give more oxygen to criticism of corruption and human rights violations in their own countries.
Global financial duress is pummeling cryptocurrencies including Tether, an important piece of Nayib Bukele’s bitcoin project.
Central America, in Brief: After the no-show of the Northern Triangle presidents at the Summit of the Americas, their foreign ministers gave strident speeches defying Joe Biden and named their countries’ terms for U.S. and regional engagement.
Guatemala, in Brief: The persecution of independent judges and prosecutors pressed onward with the order to put former top state attorney Virginia Laparra on trial. The shady Foundation against Terrorism, lead architect of the legal attacks that have already pushed two-dozen anti-corruption operators into exile, has named among its next targets the human rights ombudsman and three of the country’s most influential judges.
Four days before the Summit of the Americas begins on June 6 in Los Angeles, the U.S. is short on friends in the Northern Triangle. Even Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, once President Joe Biden’s ally of last resort, said he will not attend.
A Supreme Court magistrate appointed by the ruling party was years ago the attorney of “Diablo de Hollywood,” the head of the Mara Salvatrucha. The detail, undisclosed when he was appointed last year, was revealed when the judge recused himself from ruling on the gang leader’s pending extradition to the United States.
El Faro obtained audio files of conversations between a senior Bukele official and the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), revealing that the covert negotiations with the gangs fell apart after MS-13 considered the surprise arrest of a group of its leaders a violation of the agreement they brokered in 2019 for a reduction in homicides.
The falling price of bitcoin underscores El Salvador’s precarious debt crisis, financial experts say. President Nayib Bukele, nevertheless, perseveres: On Monday, May 9, he announced a new $15 million state bitcoin purchase and boasted about his mockup of the megaproject Bitcoin City.
Despite unprecedented peacetime policing operations that led to 27,000 arrests in two months, gangs continue to extort businesses as an expression of their territorial control. Human rights groups and the press have also documented at least five in-custody deaths during President Nayib Bukele’s state of exception.