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El Heraldo is a Honduran daily published in Tegucigalpa. Founded in 1979, it is an independent newspaper popular in the central and southern regions of the country.
a photo of a man on his laptop overlooking a city
Alidad Vassigh and Irene Caselli

Free WiFi For All? Cities (And Nations) Making Universal Digital Access A Right

Whether it's to bridge the socioeconomic digital divide or to attract tourists, foreign businesses and digital nomads, the time may be ripe to offer free internet access across society. Here are some of those leading the push.

For years, certain big cities have been wooing tourists and remote workers by offering free WiFi hotspots to help find the best restaurants or connect for meetings from a park bench. This month, Mexico City won the Guinness World Record for most free WiFi hotspots in the world, with 21,500.

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Photo of two police members in Veracruz, Mexico

Police Bust Mexican Drug Gang For Recruiting Boys Via Video Games

The three victims, 14 and younger, were contacted while playing the online game Free Fire, and promised paid work.

OAXACA — Police in Mexico have intervened to rescue three minors, aged 11 to 14, from recruitment into a drug gang that had enticed them through online gaming.

A top Mexican police agency official Ricardo Mejía Berdeja, said the gang had contacted the youths in the south-central city of Oaxaca, chatting through a free-to-download game called Free Fire, which involves shooting at rivals with virtual firearms.

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Columbus Statue In Mexico City Is Coming Back — Quietly
Alidad Vassigh

Columbus Statue In Mexico City Is Coming Back — Quietly

Target of vandalism and anti-colonial protests, the Christopher Columbus statue in the emblematic Plaza Colón (Columbus Place) lost its place to an indigenous woman statue. But now officials have voted to put it back up in a quiet and chic district called Polanco.

MEXICO CITY — Christopher Columbus, the 15th century "discoverer" of the Americas, has recently been having a bad run in the Western Hemisphere, among the European conquerors getting a bitter anti-colonial reassessment of their supposed heroic role in history. In Mexico City, authorities recently decided not to restore the prominent Columbus statue to the spot it had occupied since the 19th century, after it was taken down for repairs in October 2020.

Now, Mexico's Council of Monuments, a state body, decided unanimously to move Columbus from the emblematic Plaza Colón (Columbus Place) along the city's most prestigious avenue, to a quieter, residential district called Polanco, the Heraldo de México daily reported.

The statue, which was made in Paris and had become the target of sometimes political graffiti and vandalism in the 1990s, became a touchstone as part of the worldwide Black Lives Matter last year. Now officials have sought to keep Columbus in a public space, but take away much of his spotlight: the spot in Parque América was chosen over 20 other possibilities, in part as this area has the capital's lowest vandalism figure — at least so far. Polanco is a wealthy residential zone that includes embassies, and it may be no coincidence here that it has a greater proportion of residents of Spanish or European origins.

For the Plaza Colón, the city wants instead a monument to commemorate native Mexican women, though that has proved as divisive as Columbus's removal. A sculpture initially chosen, named Tlali, is being shelved, as critics said it was the work of a white, male artist with a Spanish name, Pedro Reyes, and chosen without consultations. Reyes recently insisted the principal challenge in this project was in fact aesthetic, not political. That may be the hardest case of all to make.

It's Raining Fish, Hallelujah! Mysterious Lluvia de Peces Lands Again In Honduras
Alidad Vassigh

It's Raining Fish, Hallelujah! Mysterious Lluvia de Peces Lands Again In Honduras

Residents near the Caribbean coast of Honduras have been witness to an unlikely, and much welcome, event: fish that seem to arrive from the skies. Or maybe from somewhere else?

CENTRO POBLADO — "Sunny with a chance of fish..." In one area of northern Honduras, weather forecasters await the unlikely arrival of a kind of "fish storm" in the summer months, which allows locals to feast on small silver pesces. It's a phenomenon with no clear scientific explanation. Sound fishy?

The most recent "Lluvia de Peces' ("Fish Rain") happened in Yoro, the department along the country's Caribbean coast, as the Honduran dailyEl Heraldo reports. Locals say it has been observed in parts of Yoro since the 19th century. After a strong rainstorm subsides, they go out with buckets to collect the fish — experts have compared them to sardines — and enjoy them collectively; in many places the bounty is distributed equally and it's looked down on to profit from the harvest. Indeed, many in this religiously devout region see the bizarre event as a blessing.

The sardine showers occur after particularly intense storms in the rainy months from May to October. Some have suggested that a powerful, coastal gust must carry and drop the little creatures onto some lucky district. The problem is that some Fish Rain hotspots are not near water: the village of Centro Poblado is 200 kilometers from the coast. La Tribuna, another local paper, reports that Honduran weather officials and U.S. experts who investigated the fish in 1970 found them to be freshwater, not sea fish. The observations that clarified little — they were still alive when rainfall had ceased and not endemic to the region.

Others believe the fish come from underground.

Another theory posits that the fish do not fall from the heavens but rise to the surface with underground waters during heavy rains. This is why they come back to the same places year after year. This explanation has been used for other animal showers, which are rare but maybe not as much as you would think: Spiders, frogs and worms have reportedly fallen from the sky in places ranging from Singapore to Australia to Ethiopia.

In Honduras, many locals prefer another explanation, that the fish began to appear after Catholic missionary Manuel de Jesús Subirana prayed to God to alleviate the poverty he saw in Yoro when he arrived in 1858. It seems he got his loaves and fish, and then some.

Police forces in Corinto, Cortez, Honduras

Central America: Tri-National Force To Fight Drug Gangs

TEGUCIGALPA — The Central American countries of the "Northern Triangle" (Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala) have long battled gang wars and drug-related crime that have left the region's cities among the world's most dangerous.

Individual attempts in the past to defuse the crisis, including local gang truces and national crackdowns on drugs, have been largely in vain. Now, Honduran daily El Heraldo reports that the three neighbors are uniting to form a tri-national military force to take on the region's myriad drug gangs, which increasingly have links across borders.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández first proposed the idea last month, declaring it a necessary solution to end the proliferation of violence and drugs in the region. He later visited his Guatemalan counterpart Jimmy Morales and dispatched a government delegation to El Salvador to hold high-level talks on the new force, which would coordinate crackdowns and share information.

The investigative organization InSight Crime says the estimated 70,000 members of drug gangs in the Northern Triangle typically have little trouble crossing borders, which makes it difficult for one country to defeat them alone. Security and defense ministers from the three nations, including prosecutors, have already met to lay down plans, but no clear timetable has yet been announced.

"If the three countries really do implement a joint security strategy, it will definitely bring good results," says Migdonia Ayestas of the National Autonomous University of Honduras' Observatory on Violence. "Transnational crime can only be defeated with transnational strategies."