Beachcombing along the drug trail in Nicaragua

Published in Tico Times on 26th of May 2015

EL BLUFF, Nicaragua – It’s Saturday morning, and the beach by this southeast Nicaraguan village is full of seaweed and plastic waste. The waves of the Caribbean Sea are choppy because the rainy season has just begun. Conditions are perfect for a day of beachcombing, says 62-year-old Javier Duncan.

But he’s not talking about normal sea trash – he’s talking about drugs and cash.

“When the coast guard or DEA catches a runner boat, the smugglers throw as much as possible in the sea,” Duncan told The Tico Times. “This can be drugs, but also barrels full of dollars on the way back south. Many people in this village have found things like that.”

Read on in Tico Times

In El Salvador, Nicaragua, abortion can mean death or jail

Published in Tico Times on 15th of May 2015

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — María was in her second year of university. She had a boyfriend and used the pill. Nevertheless, she missed her period for a month so she bought a test, which confirmed her pregnancy. Her relationship wasn’t a serious one, and her studies were very expensive. She wasn’t sure she wanted a child so, ashamed, she told her parents what happened.

Her father had a clear opinion about it: she had to get rid of the child, no matter what. But as María lives in El Salvador, this meant going to a clandestine clinic and risking up to 40 years in prison for murder — of a 6-week-old fetus.

Read on in Tico Times


“Wij willen geen olie meer”

Gepubliceerd in OneWorld op 11 mei 2015


Costa Rica draait heel 2015 al volledig op duurzame energie. De duurzaamheid is vooral te danken aan geothermische- en waterenergie.


REPORTAGE – In 1884 was San José, de hoofdstad van Costa Rica, een van de eerste steden ter wereld met een elektriciteitsnet. Vijfentwintig straatlampen werden aangedreven door een waterkrachtcentrale. Ook nu, zo’n honderddertig jaar later, is Costa Rica nog altijd een koploper op energiegebied. Het land heeft zich als doel gesteld om in 2021 volledig op duurzame energie over te zijn gegaan. Het ziet ernaar uit dat zij een eind op weg zijn: vorige maand kondigde het staatsenergiebedrijf aan dat zij een record hadden gevestigd door de eerste vijfenzeventig dagen van dit jaar volledig op groene energie te draaien. De afgelopen jaren schommelde het aandeel aan duurzame energie in Costa Rica rond de 95  procent.
Rondero en marktkoopman

Vigilantes of the Andes

Published on website Contributoria on 1st of May 2015

A young man and woman are interrogated by a group of people. After some questions about their affair, they have to promise that none of this will ever happen again. The wife of the young man steps forward from the group and he has to publicly apologise to her. After that, he and his mistress bend over and are whipped on their backs by an old woman. This public shaming is videotaped and shown via YouTube.

The video shows a tribunal in Cajamarca, in the northern Andean region of Peru, and was made by the local vigilantes, who call themselves the rondas campesinas (farmer patrols). The rondas protect the cities and villages from criminals and use corporal punishment, whose roots are in the traditional indigenous society.

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How Nicaragua fights to keep the gangs out

Published in the Tico Times on 26th of April, 2015

SOMOTO, Nicaragua — Somoto appears to be a vulnerable place, an economically depressed border town, just 20 kilometers from gang-ridden Honduras. There isn’t much work here, so many people migrate to Spain in hopes of finding jobs. Children get left behind to live with grandparents or alone.

This close to the border, the town regularly sees people come through from Honduras and El Salvador for business or to visit family. Many locals fear that among them, there might be gang members looking to recruit young people in Somoto.

Read on in Tico Times

Fotografie: Eline van Nes

In San Salvador everyone has to pay the gangs

Published in Tico Times on 18th of April 2015

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — It all started with a phone call. The man on the line said he was part of the Mara Salvatrucha gang and asked for money in exchange for the gang’s protection. Carlos owns a car wash in one of the upper-middle class districts in the western part of the capital. He did not want his real name or the name of his business to appear in print for fear of retaliation.

Carlos said he couldn’t afford the $100 per week the gang demanded. The criminals had guessed his income too high. The man kept calling, though, so Carlos went to the police with his phone. The police’s anti-extortion unit listened in on one of the conversations and advised Carlos to change his number and forget about everything. As long as there was no culprit they could catch in the act, there was no case, the police told him.

Read on in Tico Times


Photo: Eline van Nes

On 35th anniversary of Romero’s murder, Salvadorans remember him finally as a martyr

Published in Tico Times, on 24th of March 2015

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero knew they would kill him. Other priests in the country had already been murdered, and it was becoming obvious that the death squads didn’t back away from executing anyone. But since the assassination of his friend, the Jesuit priest Rutillo Grande in 1977, Romero was determined to expose the killings and torture that were happening in his country, even if it cost him his life. This was his chosen path.

“If they kill me, I shall rise again in the Salvadoran people,” Romero said shortly before his death.

Thirty-five years later, it’s clear he was right.

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Photography: Eline van Nes

Nicaraguan organisation seeks to provide antidote to sham exorcisms

Published in Tico Times on 18 March 2015

It all looked so professional. The healer had a clean-cut face; he wore neat clothes; and lived in a decent house on the outskirts of Matagalpa. But once Pedro saw the bottle with the murky potion, which he had to drink entirely, he started to have doubts. There was a little statue of Christ, looking down on them. Pedro asked what was in the bottle.

“A herbal mix with frogspawn,” the healer said. That was what the evil spirit would attach itself to, he explained. The laxatives on the following day would flush the spirit away.

The next day, they looked at Pedro’s diarrhea.

“You see”, the healer said. “There is the troublemaker. That is the Evil. From now on, you are healthy.”

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