Social Bridesmaids Style 8172 In Spice – Orange from Dessy Group, New Versace White Leather Platform Sandals from 1stdibs.com, Women’s Dyeables HB1805 White Dyeable (One Size) from Overstock.com
Want to support Palestinian freedom, justice and equality?
Each year, Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) takes place in more than 150 universities and cities across the world. With creative education and action, IAW aims to raise awareness about Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid over the Palestinian people and build support for the nonviolent Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
In response to the impressive growth of BDS in the last few years, Israel and its right-wing allies in the west have launched repressive, anti-democratic attacks on the movement and the right to boycott, instead of fulfilling their obligations to end Israel’s violations of international law. This makes this year’s #IsraeliApartheidWeek more crucial than ever.
Support Palestinian popular resistance to oppression–join IAW 2016.
Check out apartheidweek.org and #IsraeliApartheidWeek to find out what’s happening in your area. More events in different cities are being added all the time, so do check back if there’s nothing in your city listed yet.
Want to organise #IsraeliApartheidWeek events on your campus or in your city? Register your organisation here and you’ll receive an info pack full of ideas about how to organise #IsraeliApartheidWeek.
UK: February 22-28
Europe: February 29-March 7
Palestine: March 1-10
South Africa: March 7-13
Arab World: March 20-26
US: various, including March 27-April 3
Latin America: April 10-24
Canada: various throughout March, check with local organisers
Gratitude blog available here where you can leave comments
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming
gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust
I am so grateful for all that is happening in resistance to the incredible
odds and repression practiced by the elites in power. While some may get
activism or compassion “fatigue” , there are literally millions of people
deciding to leave their apathy behind and put their hands with other people
to work. Our tiny little small part of the world (Palestine now an
apartheid sate called a “Jewish state”) has become a major center of global
activism. This centrality can be due to many factors:
1.Religious centrality to three main religions, one of which was hijacked
for political purposes locally in the past (Christianity –> Crusaderism),
the other hijacked in the past 150 years and is still strongly hijacked
(Judaism –>Zionism) and the other more recently and in nearby areas
beginning to be hijacked (Islam –> Isis and Wahhabism).
2. Nowhere else on earth is Western government hypocrisy more evident than
in Palestine. While the western leaders speak of democracy and human
rights, they support an apartheid racist “Jewish state” that engaged and
engages in racism, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing
(so far 7 million of us Palestinians are refugees or displaced people).
Thus, this is the Achilles heel of Western propaganda.
3. The 12 million Palestinians in the world, most refugees and others
squeezed into bantustans have been remarkably peaceful and tolerant and had
a long history of popular resistance for the past 130 years that provided a
stellar example to the world (see my 2012 book “Popular Resistance in
Palestine: A history of hope and empowerment”).
4. Israeli citizens and the global community are increasingly joining hands
with us to demand justice as the only road to peace.
5. More and more people realize that peace in the “Middle East” (Western
Asia) and around the world is dependent on peace for Palestine. Zionism
with its (sometimes dominant, sometimes subservient) twin US imperialism
are and have been most destructive forces in causing global conflict.
But what really gives us optimism daily are the people we interact with.
Students at the universities who see the importance of knowledge (power)
and come to school with enthusiasm even in the face of suppression of their
movement. Farmers that work hard in their fields even as land and water are
being taken from them by the occupiers. Unarmed young demonstrators showing
bravery in challenging the heavily armed Israeli forces (who occasionally
murder them). Thousands of political prisoners and “administrative
detainees” who resist the prisoners (one on hunger strike is close to
death). Activists who sometimes sacrifice comforts to be with us.
Organizers of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities around the
world who refuse to be silenced by illegal measures their governments try
to impose on them to suppress free speech. Volunteers at our activities
from refugee camp youth centers like Al-Rowwad to our Institute of
Biodiversity and Sustainability (http://www.palestinenature.org/about-us/ ).
Sometimes small actions make us retain our sanity and gives joy and meaning
to our lives. Just this past week:
– A small village of Izbet al-Tabib managed to gather 300 demonstrators
protesting the illegal confiscation of land and resources to serve settlers.
-We saved a cattle egret (bird with long legs and beak from the heron
group) which had been shot and with a macerated wing. We did an operation
that saved its life (unfortunately the wing had to be amputated).
-We released a fox that was drowning in a water treatment pool in the
Bethlehem garbage dump site.
– My tourism class did an exercise to help in a local tourism promotion
-We noted several species of butterflies in our botanic garden already and
the flowers of rare orchids and even the Star of Bethlehem
-We had our first class in biodiversity for the new master program in
environmental biology at Birzeit University.
-We received dozens of visitors to our facilities and added to our very
large network of friends (now tens of thousands)
-We submitted two small grant proposals (we hope to start to do major
fundraising soon for our museum, botanical garden, and institute of
biodiversity and sustainability)
-Our aquaponic system is doing great and we expect our first harvest next
– We said goodbye to some volunteers and we welcomed others who helped us
build this institution.
We expect to receive more volunteers next week including a professor from
Jordan and an aquaponics researcher from Switzerland and at least 10
students from Bethlehem University doing their community service. We are so
grateful for all the above and we welcome volunteers and supporters with
all backgrounds and skills. We are guided by love and respect (to
ourselves, to others, then to nature). We are strengthened amid all the
suffering (here in Gaza, in Syria, in Yemen etc) by human connections and
by caring for each other.
Israeli soldiers beat detained Palestinian teenaged boys
Palestinian Teacher Among World’s Top 10
Reconstruction Of Gaza: Zero Buildings, Massive Profit
Should Jews Have To Pay Reparations for Slavery? Richard Kreitner
“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have
roses.” Alphonse Karr
Professor and (Volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Have you ever won a trophy?
I took dance classes from age 2 to age 9. We always got trophies for participating, but those trophies were more a courtesy thank you for participating type.
Some time in middle school I was on a soccer team and there was a local competition in which our team placed 2nd, so I got a medal for that. I played defense but I scored one goal during the season. I was definitely not the best athlete. I’d actually consider myself athletically challenged.
But, my biggest childhood achievements occurred in the 5th grade when I won 1st place for the ‘Why Science is Important?’ essay contest. I won 1st place in the entire school. I also won 2nd place in the science fair that year as well. My science project was called “Fancy Footwork” and it focused on the ability to use your right hand to write a number 6 and motion your left foot to write a 6 on the floor at the same time. And vice versa with the left hand and right foot.
Because I placed 2nd in the school, I was able to go to the county science fair, in which I place 3rd. I didn’t make it to the state competition, but it was pretty cool because I was able to get into some extra science classes after school with the other participants.
Something you have done right:
In the summer of 2006 the Middle East was ravaged with war between politicians and factions in which innocent Palestinian and Lebanese civilians paid the deadliest price. The images of maimed children, dying youth and pain stricken eyes not only moved me, but it shook me. It quaked my soul and threw my body into a spiral of grief that I refused to allow to continue. A group of students who were as stubborn as I was to make a change came together to try and plan a benefit concert at NYU. The concert wasn’t the most successful, but I couldn’t accept failure. Failure wasn’t an option— I manifested my guilt in failing and used all my energy to organize a fundraiser of sorts through the help of Life for Relief and Development. I asked my local ISCJ to provide a room to collect donations. ISCJ made announcements to its congregation asking for non-perishable foods, new or like new clothes, first aid supplies, diapers, feminine products and other necessary needs refugees and the wounded could use to rebuild their everyday lives. I also advertised online and emailed local houses of worship from every religion. We received so many donations in the room we were storing them in that the piles were taller than any of us. I enlisted some 20 volunteers to organize, label and load the products onto a 18-wheeler flatbed tractor trailer container. We filled the entire container. The boxes that Life for Relief and Development weren’t enough. My family went out and bought more boxes out of pocket. We even had products that we couldn’t fit in the container because the container was at capacity. Those products we then chose to donate to local charity bodies suggested by the ISCJ.
Deadline: 29 January 2016
Open to: young civil servants working for local government in a developing country
Venue: 23 May – 10 June; 19 September – 7 October; 3 – 21 October 2016, The Netherlands
The Hague Academy for Local Governance organised international, practice-oriented training courses for people involved in local governance.
This Talent Program comprise the following components:
- A two- week training course at The Hague Academy for Local Governance;
- Week-long internship at a Dutch Municipality;
- Talent for Governance networking activities.
The Talent program will be organised three times in 2016 and each program will revolve around a different local governance theme. There will be just one application period.
To apply for the Talent program candidates need to choose one of the following program themes. These themes are based on the topics of the training course at The Hague Academy which is part of the Talent program:
- Citizen Participation & Inclusive Governance – Program from 23 May – 10 June 2016, (more information about the training course part of the program);
- Local Economic Development – Program from 19 September – 7 October 2016, (more information about the training course part of the program);
- Local Service Delivery- Program from 3 – 21 October 2016, (more information about the training course part of the program).
Young civil servants working for local government in a developing country can apply for the Talent for Governance program. They must have a strong motivation and a concrete project or idea to improve the performance of the organisation and create better services for their community.
Application is possible if you:
- Work for a local government (not an NGO or private enterprise);
- Work in one of the countries listed on the DAC country list;
- Be 37 years of age or younger when you apply;
- Have at least two years of work experience in local governance;
- Work there for at least two years more;
- Speak and understand the English language well (all programs are in English);
- Be able to write down and orally defend your motivation for and relevance of the specific program;
- Be able to identify an issue/project as a real life case within the theme of the program for which you will write a Back Home Action Plan during the Talent program;
- Have written support of your employer to participate in the program and to implement the Back Home Action Plan when you return home.
The Hague Academy for Local Governance Talent Program has almost all the costs covered for the participants. The talent program covers the tuition fee, travel costs, accommodation and living expenses in the Netherlands.
The Hague Academy is to select the travel arrangements and accommodation; the living expenses entail three meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). All additional drinks, snacks, supplements etc. that are not to be offered to you by the program are on your own account. The talent program does not cover the costs of travel for family members, nor does it provide money to support them.
Following the division made on the DAC list:
- They ask talents coming from ‘Least Developed Countries’ and ‘Other Low Income Countries’ for a contribution of EUR 100;
- They ask talents coming from ‘Lower Middle Income Countries and Territories’ and ‘Upper Middle Income Countries and Territories’ for a contribution of EUR 200.
How to apply?
The deadline for application is 29 January 2016.
Applicant must fill out online application form.
For more information please visit the official website.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 26, 2015
FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Announces New Efforts to Promote Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture
Agricultural producers and their communities across the country are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. Increasingly severe floods, drought, wildfire and other factors pose an immediate threat to the lives and livelihoods of our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and land managers. President Obama is committed to working across all sectors to take strong action on climate and ensure food security both domestically and abroad. As we look to Paris, today’s actions demonstrate America’s continued leadership in land management strategies that mitigate emissions and adapt to climate change.
Today, the Administration is announcing new efforts to promote climate-smart agricultural practices across the country and is recognizing leaders who are taking action to make our agricultural supply chain more sustainable. The White House will honor 12 Champions of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture that are implementing practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve environmental conditions and grow local economies. Such actions include promoting soil health, improving nutrient and manure management, protecting sensitive lands, and encouraging renewable energy. In recognition of the importance of sustainable practice, the White House is announcing that it will plant cover crops in the White House Kitchen Garden this week to improve soil quality, reduce erosion and increase soil carbon.
These announcements made today underscore the crucial role that farmers and ranchers play in mitigating the impacts of climate change. The Obama Administration recognizes the track record of leadership and stewardship the agricultural sector has already demonstrated through innovations that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon storage, and generate clean renewable energy. The Administration remains committed to encouraging new voluntary actions to foster resilient economies and food systems alike.
Federal Efforts to Promote Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture
· USDA Provides Funding for More Than 1,100 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced funding for more than 1,100 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to help rural small businesses and agricultural producers reduce energy usage and costs in their operations nationwide. USDA is providing more than $102 million in loan guarantees and $71 million in grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Among the projects, nearly $6 million is being awarded for 17 anaerobic digesters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Washington. In total, the projects are expected to generate enough energy to power more than 83,000 homes for a year and reduce emissions equivalent of eliminating a year’s worth of pollution for more than 131,500 cars.
· Regional Climate Vulnerability Assessments. USDA formally announced the availability of eight regional climate vulnerability assessments, providing regionally specific information on the effects of climate change for America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. The assessments provide land managers and agency partners with an introduction to the regional sensitivities and climate adaptation strategies, include a greenhouse gas emissions profile with mitigation opportunities, and offer an overview of how partner USDA agencies are being affected by a changing climate.
Leading By Example
· White House Champions of Change. The White House will recognize 12 individuals from across the country today as White House Champions of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture. These individuals were recognized by the White House for their exemplary leadership in supporting change in their communities through innovation in agricultural production and education. The Champions being honored include: Anita Adalja – Washington, D.C.; William “Buddy” Allen – Tunica, Mississippi; Keith Berns – Bladen, Nebraska; Larry Cundall – Glendo, Wyoming; Herman “Trey” Hill – Rock Hall, Maryland; Loretta Jaus – Gibbon, Minnesota; Martin Kleinschmit – Hartington, Nebraska; Jennifer “Jiff” Martin – Storrs, Connecticut; Jesus Sanchez – Fresno, California; Erin Fitzgerald Sexson – Rosemont, Illinois; Timothy Smith – Eagle Grove, Iowa; and Donald Tyler – Beech Bluff, Tennessee.
· Planting Cover Crops in the White House Kitchen Garden. First Lady Michelle Obama planted a vegetable garden on the South Lawn in 2009 to initiate a national conversation around the health and wellbeing of our nation—a conversation that evolved into her Let’s Move! initiative. Each year, a variety of fruits and vegetables are planted in the garden, and the White House kitchen uses the produce in meals for the First Family and guests at the White House. In addition, winter cover crops have been planted every year, and they will soon be planted for this year. Cultivating cover crops leads to healthy soil and healthy crops through protecting the soil, improving soil quality, reducing erosion and runoff, and building up soil carbon. Field studies indicate that increased biomass inputs to the soil can increase soil carbon up to 11% over 20 years.
· National Farmers Union. In a statement signed by the National Farmers Union Board of Directors, NFU made an independent commitment to promote efforts to address the threat of climate change and encouraged the conclusion of a climate change agreement in Paris that takes a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future, saying: “climate change jeopardizes food security domestically and abroad, as well as the economic viability of family producers and rural communities…International cooperation is essential to navigating climate change-related threats to food security and rural communities.” In the statement, NFU also lays out its support for practices that avoid greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon by managing land for enhanced soil health, applying fertilizer for maximum utilization and minimal sublimation or runoff, reducing and utilizing methane emissions from livestock operations, exercising additional precaution with sensitive lands, employing climate-smart grazing and pasture practices, retaining woodlands, and utilizing renewable energy on farms and ranches.
**Please Forward Widely***
Amer Jubran Statement on Detention Under Jordan’s General Intelligence Directorate.
Torturers Named. Threats of Retaliation by Prison Officials.
On October 1st, Amer Jubran made another statement with a more complete commentary on his case and the conditions he is now facing in prison. In this statement he named two of the GID interrogators who tortured him.
We received word on Oct. 10th that Amer is now being threatened by prison officials, who are limiting contact with his family and pushing for him to be placed in solitary confinement. We urge people to continue to write Jordan’s Minister of Justice. New sample letter here: https://freeamer.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/sample-letter-101215/
We are releasing Amer’s statement below, along with some further details from court papers concerning his trial:
“This case is made of two parts: one of targeting US soldiers stationed in Jordan back in 2006, and the other, of joining Hezbollah to carry out terrorist acts. As far as the part about US soldiers is concerned, how can a plot go on for 8 years without execution unless it was not true at all? Besides, there are no American troops in Jordan, as confirmed by the king himself and the Jordanian Prime Minister through their official statements published in the local media and presented to the court as evidence. Furthermore, there was a similar case that was ruled in favor of the defendants based on the same official statements. And also, there is one big question here: who is to be believed and who is lying? Is it the king, or is it some confessions extracted by force by the GID?
The GID has exaggerated this case for the following reasons, apart from its vindictiveness against me: first, they wanted to enlarge the achievement for themselves and for the officers involved, for promotional reasons; also, accordingly, to reflect maximum punishment and revenge against me in person; and thirdly, to use their false achievement to collect anti-terrorism funds from the foolish US government. No proofs were presented in this case except for the confessions made by forceful process. If this case is as serious as they claim, how come all the co-defendants have received 2-3 year sentences and I have received a 15 year sentence? Lastly, please note that I was declared innocent on the charge relating to carrying out terrorist acts and this constitutes a screaming contradiction between the verdict and the sentence.
As for the part about Hezbollah, apart from the political argument over this issue and my denial of this charge–and despite my respect and admiration for Hezbollah–here is the big fact: the Jordanian government has not classified Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The judges denied us our requests numerous times where we have requested both in writing and verbally to make the prosecutors spell out Jordan’s official position on Hezbollah’s classification or have us get an official statement from the Prime Minister or the GID and the Ministry of Interior, or the Ministry and the Ministry of Defense. The Court ruled on this based on its opinion and not based on the legal official stance of Jordan on Hezbollah. Again, in this part, no proofs were submitted except for a false confession and a laptop–that had an encoding and decoding software–seized from the defendant number 7. Defendant number 7 had this laptop in his possession, and surprisingly he was cleared of any charges including also codefendant number 5. Which puts a question mark on, Why?
During the interrogation there were numerous sessions during which I was asked questions about friends and activists from the States. Including [list of names]. They claimed, when I asked why, that this was for their own use of information and for their friends in the States. [He provides some additional details about statements that the GID claimed were made by his co-defendants concerning people from the US.] These are total lies, made up to pressure me into cooperating […]
My dear friends, I admit that I was not a hero during the encounter with the GID. Except for refusing to be a sell-out. I was broken down by the amount of threats against my faith and my family, and the one I love. But one would ask, Why I would believe these threats? Because the GID is credible in its evil and criminal history. I, until this moment, still fear the vindictive reaction against myself and my loved ones. I have signed all documents that they have presented to me. And wrote all sorts of confessing narratives including admitting to full responsibility of an attack that was carried against the Israeli Ambassador convoy back in January 2010. Also plotting to attack the Israeli embassy in Amman. At the end, it got so funny with the confessions and the rearrangement of the confessions, that they had to rewrite them and to rearrange them–the whole full set of the confessions by all the co-defendants for over five times. And each time they changed–they made sure that it is directed toward my full responsibility. And along with these changes and amendments and total turn around of events in each different confession that they had assigned, the Prosecutor went on and made the changes accordingly in order to match and fit the confessions made by the interrogators, or before the interrogators.
The abuses and torture were carried out by a colonel whose name–you have his name in the papers. His name is Habes Rizk. He was the man in charge. And also, he is Officer Number 1 in the table list which you have. Also, there are many others. The first five witnesses presented by the prosecutor. … The first 5 of them were the actual interrogators and officers in charge of the whole show. The first witness is what you know as Officer Number 2. And he’s the one who took charge, from the moment of raiding my house, threatening me and my family inside my house, taking me and doing all sorts of torture and threats and abuse.
Last item I have, I’m kept now in a group solitary confinement with the other six co-defendants, of which 5 of them have made my life hell as they have been instructed by the GID if they were to get off the hook.
[… ] Now I will be in lock-up for perhaps some retaliatory measures to be carried out against me while in prison like perhaps by denying my rights to make phone-calls and visitation, or even by moving me to another prison where individuals who are charged with Al-Qaeda and its sisters do not take lightly people who are charged with being with Hezbollah or members of that party. And this is the least I would say.
Please note, I don’t know if you have realized in the documents which you have received that the court of military judges has said that they did not need to look even at our facts of defense or our evidence of defense and they have thrown all of that out and ruled from their own heads what was designed or predesigned before even the trial went on.”
Amer refers in his statement to a table list with officers who conducted the interrogations against him. This list of interrogation methods was provided as part of his trial testimony, but with numbers in the place of the names of officers. Since Amer has now provided the names of two of the individuals who tortured him, we are supplying the names of the actual officers in brackets from the narrative provided by Amer’s lawyers:
1. Officer 1 [Colonel Habes Rizk] threatened to “hide [the defendant] behind the sun” and expressed his racism that all the Palestinians are traitors because they want to free their country.
2. Officers 1 [Colonel Habes Rizk] and 2 [Captain Motaz Ahmad Abdurrahman] deceived the defendant by claiming that his father [name] , his brother [name] and ten of his company’s employees had been arrested.
3. Torturing other arrested persons in the same case before him like [defendant name] and [defendant name].
4. Successive interrogation sessions lasting 72 hours, with an interrogation team alternating every 8 hours. Sometime these sessions extended for 120 hours. During such sessions, the defendant sometimes suffered from fainting and in three such instances was taken to an internal clinic, a large quantity of acetone was poured into his nose to revive him, and the doctor would say that the fainting has nothing to do with cardiac disease, but is a psychological effect of the severity of the interrogation. When the interrogation was resumed, if the defendant lost consciousness he was given a cold shower with his clothes on to wake him up and the interrogation continued.
5. On the third day after each interrogation tour, Officer 2 [Captain Motaz Ahmad Abdurrahman] would pour water on the defendant and treat him as if he had urinated on himself. He would then be punished by ordering him to stand in the corner of the room and then by insulting him, e.g. ‘Is not it shameful for a 45 year old man to urinate on himself?’ This would be repeated every three or four days.
6. During the interrogation, Officer 2 [Captain Motaz Ahmad Abdurrahman] threatened to bring the wife of the defendant, and to insult and assault her in a way that would guarantee cooperation on part of the defendant. This occurred in the presence of Officer 3.
7. Officer 2 [Captain Motaz Ahmad Abdurrahman] would use the method of applying pressure to the point where the defendant’s neck meets his shoulder while he is seated. He would do this by using a conscript called ‘Abu Zeid’ who was heavily built. Abu Zeid would put his elbow on the aforementioned area while pushing the head in the opposite direction for several hours. In addition, the method of slapping the defendant on the face was used when he was not responsive.
8. Officer 2 [Captain Motaz Ahmad Abdurrahman] would order the defendant to sit in the prayer position and would place both feet on the leg of the defendant in case of his failure to respond.
At the conclusion of his statement, Amer refers to the Court’s refusal even to consider the testimony and evidence of the defense. The court relied entirely on the confessions obtained through torture, although the defendants testified that in some cases they had not even been allowed to read these “confessions” before signing them. Here is the statement of the court:
“… The court was assured of the evidence presented by the prosecution, and relies on it for proof, including the fact that the confessions of the defendants during the investigations were given clearly, correctly, with no ambiguity, and were given freely and by choice. … Upon the preceding and upon the prosecution’s evidence, this court finds that it is not obliged to discuss Defense’s evidence presented by defense attorneys since accepting prosecution’s evidence automatically implies rejection of defense’s evidence, as this was the interpretation settled upon by the respected Court of Cassation in many of its rulings, among them decision number 757/2002 chapter 21/10/2002, from which is quoted: ‘…the State Security Court has done well to set aside defense’s evidence without discussing it.'”
Amer’s case is still on appeal before Jordan’s Court of Cassation. We urge supporters to share information publicly about his case to create as much visibility as possible while it is still in appeal.
Amer’s case underlines the fact that the primary purpose of torture has never been to gather intelligence. Its purpose instead is to terrorize people into silence and inaction and to force them to implicate themselves and others in false crimes, which in turn props up whatever narrative the state wishes to promote about terrorism.
As friends of Amer from his time in the US–some of us apparently named in the the GID’s interrogation sessions–we express our full solidarity with Amer in his pursuit of justice, and condemn the use of torture against him and his co-defendants.
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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
March 3, 2015
JOINT STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENTS OF EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, AND HONDURAS, AND THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA REGARDING:
THE PLAN FOR THE ALLIANCE FOR PROSPERITY OF THE NORTHERN TRIANGLE
The Presidents of El Salvador, Salvador Sánchez Cerén; Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina; Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández; and, the Vice President of the United States, Joseph Biden, met in Guatemala City on March 2-3, 2015, with the President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Luis Alberto Moreno, to discuss the important commitments which will accelerate the implementation of the Plan for the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle of Central America. The senior representatives also agreed to conduct joint high-level dialogues on security issues with relevant authorities, to discuss social issues with civil society, and to review trade and investment issues through meetings between the U.S. private sector and the private sectors of the Northern Triangle of Central America. All these meetings will be held in the first half of this year.
The leaders stressed that their governments agreed to continue the development of the Plan for the Alliance for Prosperity of the North Triangle in an expedited and comprehensive manner, through coordinated efforts among the three countries of the Northern Triangle and with the technical support of the Inter-American Development Bank. They will continue this work throughout 2015. The draft implementation plan and roadmap for each of the above-mentioned topics will be presented in Washington on March 16. For its part, the Government of the United States reiterated its commitment to support these efforts.
The leaders agreed that the joint regional plan and its continued implementation represent significant milestones for the collaboration among the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
The leaders reviewed recent progress in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, including the following examples:
- El Salvador has passed an Investment Stability Law, giving investors assurances that tax and customs regulations will not change over the course of an investment. It has also begun the process of restoring one-stop business registration for foreign investors.
- The Government of El Salvador has created the National Council for Public Security and Coexistence to promote consensus on a public security strategy and a forum for dialogue between the government and multiple social actors; it has also established an Anti-Extortion Task Force.
- El Salvador has passed the Development and Social Protection Law, which establishes a legal framework to support development, citizen protections, and social inclusion. Likewise, El Salvador conducted ambitious reforms in the area of health, laying the groundwork for a new, integrated health system. El Salvador also has implemented important educational programs, such as “Full-Time School,” which allows for a holistic approach to expanding the educational system’s intervention model.
- Guatemala has inducted new police officers through regional academies throughout the country that will be assigned to police stations for those geographic areas, continuing the policy of regionalization with a goal of deploying 35,000 agents nationwide. This has already reduced murder rates from 46 to 31 persons per every 100,000 inhabitants.
- Under its plan to implement the National Policy on Integrated Rural Development, the Government of Guatemala has reached agreement with 33 communities on reparations for communities where human rights were violated by the construction of the Chixoy dam, through Government Agreement 378-2014 of the Cabinet Council.
- Guatemala has achieved a diversified energy grid incorporating new technologies such as natural gas, wind, and solar power, allowing for 60% of its energy generation to be based on renewable sources of energy, which contributes to reducing greenhouse gas effects and fulfills the objectives of Guatemala’s Climate Change Law of 2013.
- The Government of the Republic of Honduras, in its renewed commitment to transparency in public administration, has become the first country to sign a Cooperation Agreement with Transparency International for the Promotion of Transparency, Combating Corruption, and Strengthening International Transparency Systems, which includes plans to make human resources and government procurement information publicly available.
- Honduras developed mechanisms aimed at restoring peaceful coexistence, highlighting the following efforts and results: i) air, sea, and ground shields to prevent the entry of drugs into the country; ii) counternarcotics actions to combat the drugs that enter the country; iii) development of effective judicial authorities; iv) strengthening of democratic institutions; v) anti-corruption measures; vi) emphasis on the protection of human rights; vii) actions against poverty; and, viii) a security tax. These actions resulted in a significant decrease in homicide rates from 86.5 in 2012 to 66.4 in 2014 for every 100,000 inhabitants. Based on the same commitment, Honduras has extradited 7 Honduran and 8 foreign high-profile drug traffickers involved in Latin American drug networks.
- In the area of fiscal management, Honduras reduced its fiscal deficit by more than 3 percentage points of GDP, closing at 4.5 in 2014. Honduras increased tax revenue by 21% in 2014, and took specific actions to control public spending to include specific measures strengthening transparency in its public finances.
These examples of progress are the results of the commitments that the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are making to Central America’s success. In this context, and well aware of the continued challenges, the leaders expressed their commitments on the following points:
1. The presidents of the Northern Triangle of Central America and the Vice President of the United States of America expressed a shared commitment to promote the strategic areas of the Alliance for Prosperity, such as: energizing the productive sectors of the economy; creating economic opportunities; developing human capital, citizen security, and social inclusion; improving public safety and enhancing access to the legal system; and strengthening institutions to increase trust in the state.
To that end, we, the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, recognizing the importance of promoting the productive sector of the economy in our countries, will:
1.1 Advance economic integration based on the legal frameworks of the Central American integration process, CAFTA-DR, and other existing trade agreements.
1.2 Welcome the signing by Honduras and Guatemala of the General Framework for the Establishment of the Customs Union, which includes, inter alia, the elimination of border crossings between both countries and the establishment of a unified customs area. The details of this agreement will be defined and supported through negotiations to occur before December 2015.
1.3 Take steps to promote an integrated, efficient energy market among the countries of the Regional Electricity Market (MER), and the markets of neighboring countries. Review existing regulations and gradually standardize them so that commercial transactions between countries may be conducted in an equitable, competitive, transparent manner, to ensure legal certainty and allow for the promotion and development of markets with reduced costs. This will be addressed in subsequent forums in 2015, to be completed before the end of 2016.
1.4 During 2015, continue to promote the conditions for increased investment in the diversification of the energy grid, specifically to support measures resulting in the operation of the natural gas pipeline between Mexico and Central America, for which an agreement between the member countries of the Alliance will be required. By March 13, Guatemala and Honduras will sign an additional protocol to the Mexico-Guatemala agreement, which will permit this interconnection work to go forward.
1.5 Promote a public-private dialogue regarding the implementation and monitoring of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle governments by mid-2015, through existing public-private partnerships.
1.6 Continue efforts to establish and run one-stop business registration windows for foreign investors before the end of 2015.
2. The Government of the United States will support the governments of the Northern Triangle to promote their productive sections with a view toward greater inclusion, by:
2.1 Facilitating trade with the support of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) authorities, who can share proven risk management strategies and provide other types of training to make the transfer of goods across borders more secure and efficient.
2.2 Helping to implement actions to improve trade between the countries of the Northern Triangle, within the Central American Integration System.
2.3 Providing support for the integration of energy markets in Central America, Panama and Mexico, including by supporting the review of existing regulation to promote long-term contracts.
2.4 Providing technical assistance to develop laws that will incentivize the adoption of technologies and best practices for energy-efficiency.
2.5 Supporting rural development of the countries of the Northern Triangle.
2.6 Providing potential investors and project developers the financial and risk mitigation tools to make investments in the Northern Triangle more attractive, with the support of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
3. We, the countries of the Northern Triangle, will strengthen our strategies for social and economic development to achieve the following:
3.1 In line with national plans, identify the geographic areas of greatest need to focus development and investment by April 2015.
3.2 Establish a plan to strengthen and streamline investment in education, especially at the pre-school, secondary, and vocational levels by 2016.
3.3 Create the conditions to facilitate access to credit for micro, small, and medium enterprises through financial education programs, improvements to legal frameworks, and development of specific financial products beginning in 2015.
3.4 Expand existing programs to improve health services, nutrition, and child development.
3.5 Strengthen equal opportunities policies, especially for the economic empowerment of women, ethnic groups, and at-risk youth by 2016. During the same year, each country will double the number of women and youth served and provided training by specialized community centers.
4. The United States government will support the Northern Triangle governments in meeting commitments for the development of economic and social opportunities for its citizens, giving special attention to the following:
4.1 Advancing economic prosperity with programs and training that accelerate business development in urban and rural areas.
4.2 Helping to create a better climate for micro, small, and medium businesses to create conditions to expand their access to credit and strengthen proven results throughout specialized business centers in the hemisphere, thus strengthening value chains.
4.3 Continuing efforts to boost family farming and food security through various programs, such as “Feed the Future.”
4.4 Implementing plans to improve access to education and educational quality for underserved populations, including indigenous and afro-descendant children in rural schools, as well as the expansion of educational and vocational training opportunities for at-risk youth.
4.5 Supporting populations along Central American border areas in order to bolster a surge in new economic activity in these communities.
4.6 Backing the efforts of the Northern Triangle countries to redouble their assistance to women and youth in specialized community centers.
5. We recognize the need to improve public security and access to justice; therefore, the leaders of the Northern Triangle agree to:
5.1 Expand security policies and programs, especially those that dismantle gangs and prevent gang violence, as well as by combating common crime, extortion, money laundering, human trafficking, illegal trafficking, and drug trafficking. We will strengthen justice institutions, among others, using international best practices, depending on the specific context of the priority areas.
5.2 Promote approaches to strengthening the justice sector, emphasizing efficiency, transparency, and accountability, as well as decreasing case backlogs and promoting alternative dispute and domestic violence resolution techniques.
5.3 Improve prison systems, including infrastructure based on prisoner risk profiles, the capacity of prison staffs, and rehabilitation programs, including those focused on juvenile offenders and their prison conditions.
5.4 Deepen police reforms, including reforms focused on money laundering and human trafficking throughout 2015. During the first half of 2015, Honduras will announce a proposal for the comprehensive reform of its educational system and its police training initiative, as well as its plan to train and contract 6,000 new police officers over the next three years. Guatemala announced that it is in the process of reforming its immigration law in order to criminalize the trafficking of Guatemalans, especially children and adolescents.
5.5 Approve and strengthen laws against money laundering. El Salvador has established an Anti-Extortion Task Force, and will begin in mid-2015 a legal reform to criminalize bulk cash smuggling.
5.6 Guatemala will promote reforms in its civil and commercial procedure codes to establish and streamline oral hearings and make more efficient its judicial proceedings during 2015. In addition it will create new specialized criminal investigative anti-money laundering units, asset forfeiture units, and cyber-crime units, in the first half of 2015.
6. The Government of the United States, along with the governments of the Northern Triangle, will back efforts to improve public safety and access to justice by supporting:
6.1 Police reforms, to including police training in the areas of internal affairs, vetting, and oversight and transparency mechanisms, as well as through the provision of equipment and information systems.
6.2 The work of governments to strengthen local mechanisms for the prevention of crime and violence.
6.3 The work of religious and civil organizations within the framework of government strategies to provide at-risk youth with life skills, job training, and recreational activities, and supporting civic groups to recover public spaces controlled by gangs and improve basic infrastructure.
6.4 The expansion and strengthening of centers against domestic violence and violence against women.
6.5 The strengthening of juvenile justice and alternatives to incarceration and detention.
6.6 The efforts of States to improve criminal investigations, especially through improved forensic laboratories.
6.7. The work of the security agencies to effectively dismantle transnational organized crime networks that carry drugs and money in coastal waters and across land borders.
7. With the goal of promoting strengthened institutions, Northern Triangle countries will continue to promote transparency and engender confidence in our citizens. In this regard we will:
7.1. Promote independent monitoring mechanisms, using best practices to ensure governmental transparency throughout 2015.
7.2. Increase and strengthen tax revenues through greater efficiency and effectiveness in tax collection, strengthening tax authorities, simplifying tax codes, and professionalizing tax collection authorities.
7.3. Join forces to improve the professionalization of the civil service, starting in 2015.
8 The Government of the United States will support governments of the Northern Triangle in strengthening its institutions, by:
8.1. Working with Central American governments to provide expert advisors, such as those from the Department of the Treasury, and including assistance to governments to leverage additional resources through more efficient tax administration and public-private partnerships.
Finally, with regards to implementing this plan, we agreed to take into account existing best practices in the region, such as the model implemented by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, to maximize the impact of our initiatives and actions that seek to be effective and transparent, and which recognize the leading role of the state and its public institutions.
Agreed to in Guatemala City on March 3, 2015.