Regional News

Thousands of Salvadorans endure COVID-19 without running water to wash their hands

Global Voices

agua3 800x435One of the most essential aspects of COVID-19 prevention is regularly washing your hands; however, hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans are facing COVID-19 without reliable access to water. According to the United Nations, more than 600,000 people did not have access to any type of drinking water and sanitation services in 2016 and more than one million people only had access to deficient water services. According to news reports, this situation has possibly worsened due to the pandemic.

Rosa Amelia Mendoza, a 45-year-old mother of three who resides in Colonia Altavista, a municipality about 15 kilometers from downtown San Salvador, has not had any running water in her house since the pandemic started back in March 2020. In fact, she hasn't had any tap water consistently in her home for over two years. On a phone call with Global Voices she said:

“I am afraid for my family, everyone recommends that you wash your hands regularly, just to make sure the virus doesn't get to you. But how can you do that if there is no water to do it with? There is no river or well nearby that we can go carry water, and we don't have the means to pay a water truck regularly. I am not working right now.”

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5 Garífuna Leaders Are Still Missing in Honduras

Massay Crisanto - The Nation

garifunaIt’s been nearly 50 days since five Garífuna leaders were abducted in their homes in Triunfo de la Cruz, on Honduras’s Caribbean coast. On July 18 at 5:30 AM, men wearing police uniforms kidnapped the five leaders after forcefully invading their homes, breaking windows, tampering with locks, and forcing the Garífuna men—Alberth Centeno, Milton Martínez, Suami Mejía, Gerardo Róchez, and Junior Mejía—out of their homes. They have not been seen since.

The men were kidnapped on a Saturday during which the State of Honduras restricted civilian movement due to Covid-19, allowing only state officials, authorities, and health workers to move freely. Relatives of the disappeared leaders claim that heavily armed men with bulletproof vests arrived in pick-up trucks and wearing police uniforms, sowing fear in the community. They first arrived at the home of Alberth Centeno’s father and physically harassed him, demanding that he lead them to his son’s house, where they pulled Centeno out of his bed. They then proceeded to go to the houses of the other Garífuna leaders, smashing doors and windows and physically assaulting relatives who attempted to stop the kidnappings.

Alberth Centeno, 27, is the president of the Triunfo de la Cruz community board and also a member of the Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (OFRENEH). He campaigned for Honduras to fulfill a 2015 ruling by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) that ruled that the government had violated collective ownership rights after it sold Garífuna land to developers without consultation. The judgment demanded that the government compensate the Garífuna community for the territory that had been taken over by foreigners and companies for tourist projects. As of present day, the ruling has yet to be met.

“The Honduran state is creating as many obstacles as possible to avoid complying with the IACHR judgment,” says Naama López, a Honduran lawyer and human rights activist. “The deaths and forced disappearances of these leaders are the most drastic measures used to stop Garífuna organizing so they can eventually hand their territories over to transnational capital.”

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New Report: Mining Injustice Through International Arbitration: Countering Kappes, Cassiday & Associates’ Claims over a Gold-mining Project in Guatemala

Institute for Policy Studies


ea400 million suit against the Guatemalan government. Released today, Mining Injustice Through International Arbitration: Countering Kappes, Cassiday & Associates’ Claims over a Gold-mining Project in Guatemala, examines Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA) attempt to strong-arm the Guatemalan government through international arbitration into green-lighting the unwanted El Tambor gold mine — or compensating the mining firm for hundreds of millions of dollars in future profits it had little hope of ever earning.

“KCA bought the project knowing there was social conflict and despite this, they pressured the government to repress us. That’s exactly what happened on May 23, 2014 and how they managed to operate for two years,” remarks Álvaro Sandoval, member of the Peaceful Resistance La Puya that has maintained an encampment outside the mine gates for the last eight years.

“KCA, its subsidiary EXMINGUA, and their Canadian predecessors, took advantage of the legal and institutional leniency of the Guatemalan state toward extractive industries. This, coupled with rampant government corruption and privileged connections allowed KCA to meet its objectives: consolidate the mining project while riding roughshod over community opposition. KCA knew that, at the end of the day, international arbitration could guarantee them millions in profits,” remarked Guatemalan investigative journalist and report co-author Luis Solano.

As the report illustrates, KCA enjoyed immense privileges in Guatemala. The company managed to obtain its operating license despite a mining moratorium and a woefully incomplete environmental impact assessment. It built its mine without a construction license and through violent repression of local communities by private security and state-armed forces under a corrupt government. Unwavering community opposition and legal actions halted the project in 2016. With the company’s leadership under criminal investigation and its mine suspended, KCA turned to Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) under the terms of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) with the US.

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The Honduran government intensifies persecution against defenders of the Guapinol River

Guapinol1The Court of Appeals ruling confirms Honduras as the most dangerous country for environmental defenders in the world. On August 15, members of the Committee for the Defense of the Public and Common Goods of Tocoa, in Honduras, reported in a press conference that the Court of Appeals, in the department of Francisco Morazán, overturned the ruling that dismissed charges against environmental defenders Juan Antonio López, Carlos Leonel George, Reynaldo Domínguez, José Adalí Cedillo Mendoza, and Marco Tulio Ramos. 

The court also ordered the formal prosecution of the accused along with 8 other defenders who have been in preventive prison for 11 months, for the alleged crimes of aggravated arson to the detriment of the Los Pinares mining company and deprivation of liberty against Santos Corea, the head of a security company hired by the mining company.

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Legal Defense: Honduran Courts Rule to Sustain Political Persecution in Guapinol Case


guapinolLegal Defense: Honduran Courts Rule to Sustain Political Persecution in Guapinol Case, August 17, 2020
Late last week, defense lawyers for the more than 20 environmental defenders from Tocoa, Honduras who have been criminalized by the Inversiones Los Pinares mining company and the Attorney General’s Office were notified that their appeals to dismiss the case were unsuccessful. The resolution, dated March 3, maintains the arbitrariness in the case and clearly points to politically motivated judicial persecution of local leaders and community members who have been at the forefront of environmental protection in Honduras.

The Appeals Court ruled that five more environmental defenders, in addition to the eight who are already in pretrial detention, must now face legal proceedings. The defenders voluntarily presented themselves to the courts to resolve the trumped up charges, which is sufficient legal basis for them to face their proceedings in freedom. None of the charges they face automatically required remand, which should only be applied as an exception.

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Lack of a Water Law prolongs the historical crisis in the country

Gloria Orellana - Diario Co Latino

Tatiana Oliva, from the National Alliance Against Water Privatization, considered the approval of the General Water Law to be of key importance. Especially in the context of the Health Emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is plaguing the world and the country, water must be considered as a human right and the approval of a General Water Law must be ensured. 

In relation to the General Water Law presented by the organizations, the Legislative Commission on the Environment and Climate Change must be receptive to it. It should not be considered valid that the governing body in water management is in private´s hands. Truthfully, this sector only defends its interests. However, the threats to water management are still in force,” Oliva affirmed.

The National Alliance Against the Privatization of Water considered the approval of the General Water Law to be of paramount importance, in view of the serious affectations experienced by citizens due to the lack of this vital resource.

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