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: The Republican colonizationists had always fixated on Latin America, especially Central America, where African American settlers might resist “filibusters,” expansionist expeditions supported by American citizens. For their part, the region’s rulers toyed with an influx of immigrants that would expand their population but darken its complexion. Once Abraham Lincoln came to power, he focused on the province of Chiriquí in what is now Panama (then part of Colombia), where black colonists might secure an isthmian crossing for US troops and traders. Announcing the venture in a notorious address of August 1862, the president had to retreat once he came to realize the instability of Colombian politics and the extent of his own associates’ stake in the business. Accordingly, the very same day that Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, he instead signed an agreement with a contractor to settle a party of freed slaves on the Île à Vache, one of Haiti’s satellite islands. That colony’s tragic failure finally impressed on him that he should not deal with sovereign states via shady contractors.
In this ambitious new study, Sophie Brockmann argues that interactions with landscape and environment were central to the construction of Central American identities in the Age of Enlightenment. She argues that new intellectual connections and novel ways of understanding landscapes had a transformative impact on political culture, as patriotic reformers sought to improve the region's fortunes by applying scientific and 'useful' knowledge gathered from local and global networks to the land. These reformers established networks that extended into the countryside and far beyond Central America's borders. Tracing these networks and following the bureaucrats, priests, labourers, merchants and scholars within them, Brockmann shows how they made a lasting impact by defining a new place for the natural world in narratives of nation and progress.
Observers have increasingly described the drug-related violence and corruption affecting Central America as the region's ‘Colombianisation’. This narrative is not just confused and misleading; it is dangerous. The Colombianisation discourse perpetuates ineffective and destructive anti-drug policies. It also obscures the circulations and connections that make the drug trade, the drug war and their associated economies of violence possible. We do, however, recognise one form of Colombianisation that actually is under way, but it is not the one imagined by security pundits. The real Colombianisation is a convergence of geopolitical and economic interests that have seized upon the geographical realignments of the drug trade to expand the same agroindustrial-military nexus in Central America that proved so ‘successful’ in Colombia.
Mesoamerica is the world's third largest biodiversity hotspot and has c. 4,000 wildlife species protected under CITES. Despite the high biodiversity in the region, there is limited global attention, data and funding for conservation. The continued exploitation of wildlife species for the trade requires a more proactive approach to address emerging trends, and low-cost and effective solutions to prevent species decline. Over a 5-month period in 2017, we used expert-driven horizon scanning, facilitated online, to identify emerging trends of the illegal wildlife trade in Mesoamerica. We found that the main emerging trends included digital and technological advancements, greater regional access to the global community, developments in trafficking techniques and growing demand for certain species. Our findings demonstrate that horizon scanning can be used as a tool for identifying emerging trends of illegal wildlife trade in data-poor contexts. We recommend that horizon scanning is used regularly for systematic monitoring of trends and to prioritize resources for immediate and emerging trends in illegal wildlife trade.
The establishment of the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua following the overthrow of the US-friendly Somoza regime in 1979 caused considerable alarm in the United States. Chapter 6 analyzes the role of human rights concerns in the battle between the Reagan administration and members of Congress over US policy toward Nicaragua in the 1980s. Fearful of Nicaragua turning into a communist stronghold in Central America, the administration conducted covert operations against the Sandinistas and supported the anti-Sandinista guerillas know as the Contras. Once these activities were revealed, the administration found itself engulfed in a public diplomacy war for congressional and public support. The chapter examines congressional attempts, predominantly by liberal Democrats, to restrict US aid for the Contras through the imposition of the so-called Boland Amendments. Ultimately, restrictions led the administration to undertake illegal actions that resulted in the Iran-Contra Affair. The chapter demonstrates how both the administration and its congressional critics invoked human rights to claim moral authority for their positions on Nicaragua. It argues that the debate over Nicaragua both raised the salience of human rights concerns in the United States and highlighted their ambiguity as it underscored the selectiveness of the administration’s commitment to human rights.
This chapter discusses “newer” (i.e. in the last 400 years or less) varieties of English spoken in the Caribbean, in particular the relationship between the Caribbean and Central American varieties on the western edge of the Caribbean. It also presents a short discussion of the influences that have shaped these varieties and various popular heuristics for imagining their emergence as well as a description of the geographical locations in the Caribbean where these varieties are spoken. The social contexts of their emergence are also discussed as well as a grammatical sketch pointing out similarities and differences and a discussion of several theoretical issues of relevance to the field.
Multiproxy analysis of two sediment cores recovered from lagos Morrenas 3C and Ditkebi, located in the páramo of Costa Rica's Chirripó National Park, was undertaken to develop multidecadal-scale reconstructions of late Holocene fire regimes for the region. Analysis of macroscopic charcoal and sediment geochemistry (C%, N%, δ13C, δ15N, and C/N ratios) documents periodic burning of the páramo in Chirripó National Park during the past ~1700 yr. The charcoal records provide evidence of high fire frequency between AD ~560 and 720 and between AD ~980 and 1230. Severe fire episodes are reflected by a rapid increase in the flux of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) from the surrounding catchment because of the volatilization of páramo vegetation. Additionally, δ15N, which sharply increases following local fire events, captures postfire changes in nutrient loading and, likely, the decadal-scale rate of postfire recovery of páramo vegetation. The consistently high δ13C and C/N values observed between AD ~700 and 1100 suggest an expansion of Muhlenbergia, a native C4 grass growing near shore, suggesting that the interval between AD ~700 and 1100, broadly corresponding to the Terminal Classic Drought and Medieval Climate Anomaly, was characterized by a decrease in effective moisture and temperature.
This paper explores the ways in which neoliberal policies enacted by elites across the Northern Triangle have led to increased violence in Central America, a lived experience that continues as individuals migrate to Mexico and the United States. In this work, I examine how neoliberal polices in the region have created limited economic opportunities and means of subsistence for the poor in Central America, as well as the rise of extra-legal actors and criminal enterprises. Together these conditions leave Central Americans with no choice but to migrate north. This paper then explores the violence migrants experience as they move through Mexico. In this stage of the journey, migrant bodies are objectified and then commodified as cheap labor for the global market as well as local economies of violence. Lastly, I discuss the multiple zones of violence that migrants experience at Mexico's border with the United States. This project relies on in-depth, semi-structured interviews (n = 99) with Central American migrants over the course of 4 years (2014–18). Ultimately, I find that for Central American migrants, violence can be a seemingly inescapable reality as neoliberal forces maintain and normalize violence in order to preserve an established social order at the expense of these migrants.
Two new species of Malpighiaceae are proposed: Hiraea costaricensis C.E.Anderson and H. polyantha C.E.Anderson. Hiraea costaricensis is characterised by the presence of basifixed hairs on the stems and leaves; H. polyantha, of Colombia, is distinctive in its large inflorescences, composed of c.100 flowers. Collections of the novelties had been associated with Hiraea smilacina Standl., a species that traditionally had been thought conspecific with H. quapara (Aubl.) Sprague; they are immediately separated by their fruits. In Hiraea smilacina the schizocarps break into three butterfly-shaped samaras, as is typical for the genus. The fruit of Hiraea quapara is spherical, composed of three mericarps covered by a network of reduced winglets. Hiraea smilacina is found from southern Mexico through Central America, except El Salvador and Nicaragua, and has been collected also in Colombia and Ecuador. Hiraea quapara is known mainly from French Guiana, with one collection from adjacent Suriname and two from Amapá, Brazil. All taxa are fully described and illustrated.
Pathogens are increasingly implicated in amphibian declines but less is known about parasites and the role they play. We focused on a genus of nematodes (Rhabdias) that is widespread in amphibians and examined their genetic diversity, abundance (prevalence and intensity), and impact in a common toad (Rhinella horribilis) in Panama. Our molecular data show that toads were infected by at least four lineages of Rhabdias, most likely Rhabdias pseudosphaerocephala, and multiple lineages were present in the same geographic locality, the same host and even the same lung. Mean prevalence of infection per site was 63% and mean intensity of infection was 31 worms. There was a significant effect of host size on infection status in the wild: larger toads were more likely to be infected than were smaller conspecifics. Our experimental infections showed that toadlets that were penetrated by many infective Rhabdias larvae grew less than those who were penetrated by few larvae. Exposure to Rhabdias reduced toadlet locomotor performance (both sustained speed and endurance) but did not influence toadlet survival. The effects of Rhabdias infection on their host appear to be primarily sublethal, however, dose-dependent reduction in growth and an overall impaired locomotor performance still represents a significant reduction in host fitness.
Central America’s Northern Triangle is infamous for high levels of violent crime and human rights abuses, producing “impunity states” in which violence typically goes unpunished. That violence reflects the broader impunity or “transitional injustice” that has persisted since the peace accords and transitions to democracy of the 1980s and 1990s. Several “posttransitional” trials for past human rights violations in recent years in Guatemala were made possible by institutional strengthening efforts in the prosecutorial agency, led by a unique United Nations commission. Significant progress away from broad impunity may also be seen in the 2015 “Guatemalan Spring,” in which a sitting president was forced to resign and submit to prosecution in connection with a corruption scandal. Comparisons of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras suggest that institutional strengthening is necessary before “posttransitional justice,” or an end to impunity more generally, can be possible.
The phenomenon of missing migrants, including victims of enforced disappearance, presents exceptional challenges due to its specific features and transnational scope. This article analyzes the case of missing and disappeared migrants in Mexico and illustrates the obstacles faced by their families, mostly residing in Central America, in their efforts to establish the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones and to obtain justice and redress. The article describes the process which led to the establishment of three mechanisms – a Forensic Commission, an Investigative Unit on Crimes against Migrants and an External Mechanism of Support for Search and Investigation – that aim at providing innovative responses and tackling the transnational dimension of the issue. The first significant achievements are presented, along with the remaining pitfalls.
Following the ends to the civil wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, the revolutionary coalitions that had led the fight against authoritarian regimes began to fracture. However, none of the splinter parties that broke from the Sandinista National Liberation Front, Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, and Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unit has succeeded on their own as political parties. In this article, I argue that there is no single reason to explain the poor performances of the Democratic Party (PD), the Renovating Movement (MR), and the Democratic Front Party (FDR) in El Salvador, the Sandinista Renovation Movement (Renovate-MRS) and the Movement to Rescue Sandinismo (Rescue-MRS) in Nicaragua, and the New Nation Alliance (ANN) in Guatemala. However, their limited financial resources, alliances with non-revolutionary centrist and centre-right parties, and voter tendency to overlook internal ideological and personal debates within the original political parties, especially the FSLN and FMLN, have not helped.
Scholars have paid considerable attention to the connection between Washington's withdrawal from intervention and the emergence of dictatorship in Central America during the 1930s. The current article seeks to enhance our understanding of those interconnected developments through the investigation of the US Foreign Service and its role in the early 1930s presidential campaigns in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. It shows that the dynamic interaction between actors in both Washington and Central America set in motion a process that would produce decades of authoritarian rule in the isthmus.
The species of Podocarpus L’Hér. ex Pers. (Podocarpaceae) occurring in the Central America and Northern Mexico Bioregions are revised. Four species (Podocarpus costaricensis de Laub., P. guatemalensis Standl., P. matudae Lundell, P. oleifolius D.Don) occur in these bioregions as well as three infraspecific taxa, that are here all treated as subspecies [Podocarpus matudae subsp. matudae, P. matudae subsp. jaliscanus (de Laub. & Silba) Silba, P. oleifolius subsp. costaricensis (J.Buchholz & N.E.Gray) Silba]. A fifth species, Podocarpus magnifolius J.Buchholz & N.E.Gray, may also be present in Panama but this requires verification; a brief account is provided. Podocarpus monteverdeensis de Laub. is considered a synonym of P. oleifolius subsp. costaricensis, the concept of which is amplified to include all Central American material of P. oleifolius. Several previously recognised infraspecific taxa within both Podocarpus guatemalensis and P. matudae are reduced to synonymy. Within Podocarpus matudae, P. matudae subsp. matudae is regarded as including subsp. macrocarpus and subsp. reichei but P. matudae subsp. jaliscanus is regarded as a distinct, second subspecies disjunct in westernmost Mexico. Podocarpus costaricensis, P. matudae (both subspecies) and P. oleifolius subsp. costaricensis are endemic to these bioregions. A key is provided, all definitely recorded species are illustrated and the distributions of all definitely recorded taxa are mapped. The distributions are discussed in relation to the geology and geological history of the region as well as altitude and climate. New IUCN conservation assessments are proposed for Podocarpus matudae subsp. jaliscanus, P. matudae subsp. matudae and P. oleifolius subsp. costaricensis while details of the current assessments for the remaining taxa (including Podocarpus matudae as a whole) are given. Two appendices list all accepted names and synonyms, and give a list of exsiccatae.
What is the political impact of police corruption and abuse? From the literature, we know that police misconduct destroys people's confidence in police forces and hampers public collaboration with the criminal-justice system; but, what about the political regime, especially in countries striving for democratic governance? Does police wrongdoing affect the legitimacy of the overall regime? Focusing on Central America, this article provides empirical evidence showing that corruption and abuse perpetrated by police officers erode public support for the political order. Results indicate that, under some circumstances, police transgressions can have a greater impact on the legitimacy of the political system than crime or insecurity. They also show that police misconduct not only affects democratising regimes, such as El Salvador and Guatemala, but also consolidated democracies, such as Costa Rica.
We report the first record of the sea anemone Bunodosoma californicum on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, extending its southern distribution. Four specimens were collected from an artificial breakwater in Mata de Limón, Puntarenas. We present images of the live specimens and analyses of their cnidae composition.
Vertical stratification of vascular epiphytes is frequently attributed to niche partitioning along microclimatic gradients but experimental confirmations of this notion are rare. This study investigates the role of the regeneration phase for the stratification of five bromeliad (Catopsis sessiliflora, Guzmania subcorymbosa, Tillandsia anceps, T. bulbosa and Werauhia gladioliflora) and seven aroid species (Anthurium acutangulum, A. brownii, A. clavigerum, A. durandii, A. friedrichsthalii, A. hacumense and A. scandens) in a Panamanian rain forest. We documented gradients of temperature, vapour pressure deficit and light (n = 10 d) as well as species height distributions (n = 11–120). Microclimatic gradients were substantial (maximal T and RH differences between strata: 5 °C and 18%, respectively) and mean attachment heights of the study species (range = 4–21 m) differed significantly. We tested sensitivity to recurrent drought (four treatments) during germination (all species, cumulative germination of 20 seeds, n = 3) and seedling growth (four aroid species, n = 25). Seedling survival of six aroid species transplanted to three heights (n = 27) was monitored in situ. Some species did not germinate under severe recurrent drought while others germinated at the same rate in all treatments. Seedlings of the most exposed species grew fastest under intermediate recurrent drought while those of the other three species grew fastest when kept constantly wet. Survival of transplanted seedlings did not depend on species attachment height, but this may be attributable to insufficient statistical power. Taken together, the results suggest that the stratification can be explained to a large degree by differential sensitivity to the vertical moisture gradient during the regeneration phase.
Freshwater migratory shrimps, an important component of tropical aquatic ecosystems, are vulnerable to land-use change during their upstream and downstream migrations. At La Selva Biological Station in the Sarapiquí region of Costa Rica, shrimp population data were collected between 1988 and 1989, before massive land-use change occurred downstream that could potentially affect shrimp recruitment upstream. Using generalized linear models and a Bayesian inference framework, the relative abundance of Macrobrachium olfersi between recent (2008–2011) and historical time periods (1988–1989) was compared in three stream reaches. Shrimp relative abundance in two stream reaches within the protected area of La Selva was relatively constant yearly and between recent post-disturbance (2008–2011) and historical pre-disturbance (1988–89) time periods. In contrast, a stream reach bordered by pasture accessible to fishermen, showed an 87% decrease in relative abundance between recent and historical time periods suggesting site-level disturbance, possibly from fishing. The lack of change between historical and contemporary sampling periods within interior-forest stream reaches suggests that shrimp populations in protected forested reaches are resistant or resilient to certain land-use changes occurring downstream.