Things That Matter

Prosecutors Are Preparing To Take Evelyn Hernandez To Court For The Third Time Because Of A Miscarriage

Evelyn Beatríz Hernández is just 21 years old and seems to be proving that El Salvador will jail women for simply being women. In 2016, Hernández was raped by a gang member and was afraid to tell anyone about it after he made death threats against her and her family for speaking out. Months later, she fainted while using the bathroom, unknowingly having miscarried during the process. One year later, El Salvador charged her for murdering her newborn child and sentenced her to 30 years in prison for aggravated homicide. After public outcry, the Supreme Court annulled the conviction and freed her after spending nearly 3 years in prison, citing lack of evidence.

It ordered a retrial with a new judge. That judge acquitted her in August. But prosecutors won’t rest until they see Hernández go to prison. Federal prosecutors are appealing the judge’s ruling, which means Hernández may have to endure another court trial.

Evelyn Hernández was just 18 years old at the time of her rape and miscarriage.

Credit: @ilyseh / Twitter

She was still a student in high school when she was raped in 2016. She had no idea she was pregnant when she went to her rural home’s outhouse with stomach pains and bleeding. That’s when she fainted. Her mom found her on the outhouse floor, drenched in blood and took her to the hospital. Doctors found signs that she had delivered a baby, but not even an awareness of a baby.

El Salvador has an absolute ban on abortion which has led to the harsh criminalization of women and their bodies. 

Credit: @allianceforchoice / Twitter

Doctors are required to call authorities. Hours later, local officials found a newborn dead in the family’s septic tank. Hernández was immediately accused and charged with inducing abortion and aggravated homicide. El Salvador imposed a total ban on abortions in 1998, no matter if the woman is raped, or if the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother’s life. 

Hernández was found guilty by a female judge, who sentenced her for 30 years on a murder conviction.

Credit: @bassemvaudais / Twitter

The three years that follow her initial traumatic rape have been a nightmare for the young woman. In July 2017, a female judge ruled that Hernández had induced abortion. Thankfully, civil rights activists around the world called on El Salvador to reexamine the case. Her lawyers cited forensic tests that showed the baby more likely died of natural causes and was stillborn, prompting a re-trial. The Supreme Court annulled the original conviction on September 26, 2018, and ordered a re-trial.

Six months later, she walked out of Ilopango Women’s Prison, met by a cheering crowd of mujeres carrying “Justice for Evelyn” banners.

Credit: @ErikaGuevaraR / Twitter

“I thank all of you who have supported me and thank everyone from around the world who has shown support,” Evelyn told the press and her supporters. “It was tough to be locked up, especially when I was innocent. There are others who are still locked up and I hope they are freed soon.” 

Last month, she faced what many people thought would be her last trial, during which prosecutors blamed her for the miscarriage.

Credit: @ActualidadRT / Twitter

The American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights reported that the federal prosecutor argued that she was “liable for aggravated homicide by omission: in other words, that Ms. Hernandez had failed to fulfill the duty of care that she owed her child.” Hernández allegedly had “knowingly neglected to seek appropriate prenatal services during her pregnancy.”

Still, on August 19, 21-year-old Evelyn Beatríz Hernández Cruz was acquitted after a judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to convict her of the alleged crime she had been accused of years prior.  She stood on the steps of the courthouse after her acquittal and told the world, “Thank God, justice had been done. My future is to continue studying and to move forward with my goals. I am happy.”

El Salvador continues to prosecute Hernández because that’s what El Salvador does to women.

Credit: @AbortoPORlaVIDA / Twitter

According to Buzzfeed News, Hernández is just one of the dozens of women who are serving prison time for murder charges of their infants. If women are even suspected of abortion, they can be prosecuted as criminals in El Salvador. Even seeking the procedure itself, without actually benefitting from it, is tantamount to the crime in El Salvador. It is one of 16 countries in the world with such strict regulations on women’s bodies, including  Egypt, Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua, among others.

Human rights activists are disturbed by the level of resources the Salvadoran government is spending on convicting women. Hernández has been found innocent twice, now, and may be looking at another trial.

READ: A Salvadoran Rape Victim Sentenced To 30 Years In Prison For Having A Stillbirth Has Been Acquitted

Latino Homes Are Experiencing The Highest Rate Of The Worst COVID-19 Symptoms

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Latino Homes Are Experiencing The Highest Rate Of The Worst COVID-19 Symptoms

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COVID-19 is still a threat to the U.S. The country is experiencing a sudden spike two weeks after Americans defied social distancing rules and gathered in mass for Memorial Day. Latino households are experiencing a higher number of cases with severe symptoms and the rising cases are troubling the community.

Latino households are experiencing some of the worst COVID-19 cases.

A new analysis from USA Today found that Latino households are experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms at higher rates. According to a study of more than 1.6 million people, Latinos, by and large, said they have experienced the symptoms tied to COVID-19. These symptoms include difficulty breathing, loss of taste, and coughing.

“Data is now emerging that matches the reality that we’re seeing,” Clarissa Martínez de Castro, deputy vice president of UnidosUS, told USA Today. “There are lots of factors at play, but among the biggest is the overrepresentation of Latinos in front-line jobs that don’t allow working from home.”

This a trend that health experts have seen within Latino communities in major cities.

Latino and Black communities have been devastated by COVID-19. The communities have been disproportionately affected by the virus with death rates higher than the population statistics in various states. Fears of discrimination and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests have prevented Latinos from seeking medical care long before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Public charge was just the latest thing,” Dr. Daniel Correa, a neurologist at Montefiore Medical Center, told NBC News. “There was already a lot of apprehension in the community before the pandemic. We were seeing concerns regarding public services, and in health care we were already seeing a decrease in public visits.”

These statistics come along the backdrop of Latinos facing the steepest financial and employment impact of any other group.

Latino households have faced the most job losses of any other demographic in the U.S. because of COVID-19. The job losses have compounded problems for the Latino community as DACA recipients and undocumented people are not eligible for federal government aid, despite paying billions in taxes.

According to Unidos US, 5.3 million out of 27.8 million Latinos in the U.S. are out of work giving Latinos the highest unemployment rate. Unemployment within the Latino community is 18.9 percent. The current national unemployment rate is 13.3 after the U.S. added 2.5 million jobs in May as states reopen.

The current job numbers are being celebrated by the Trump administration as a signal that the pandemic economic toll is ending. However, the current unemployment rate is higher than any point since the Great Depression and most jobs added are part-time jobs. The large portion of part-time employment has left some skeptical about the stability of the economic recovery.

READ: Covid-19 Cases Surge In Meat-Processing Plants As COVID-19 Spreads In Rural America

Tropical Storm Leaves At Least 20 Dead In El Salvador And Now Threatens The U.S. Gulf Coast

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Tropical Storm Leaves At Least 20 Dead In El Salvador And Now Threatens The U.S. Gulf Coast

Salvador Melendez / Getty

The 2020 Hurricane season is off to a very strong start – in fact, it’s a record breaking one. The season officially started on June 1st, however, we’re only on June 3rd and there have already been three named storms. Even before the season got started, officials were warning of an above average season and it seems their predictions are playing out.

Tropical Storm Amanda killed at least 20 people when it struck El Salvador, unleashing flooding and landslides.

After making landfall in El Salvador, Tropical Storm Amanda has been blamed for at least 20 deaths in the country. Officials there say that more than 7,000 people have been taken into shelters as the country attempts to recover from the devastating effects.

Torrential rains and strong winds destroyed hundreds of homes and left highways and roads out of service, stranding many in very dangerous situations.

Carolina Recinos, a senior aide to President Nayib Bukele, said the storm had dumped the equivalent of “almost 10 percent” of the annual rainfall on the country in a relatively short span of time.

Bukele declared a 15-day state of emergency to cope with the effects of Amanda, which he estimated to have caused $200 million in damage.

“We’ve never experienced this,” Maria Torres, whose house was damaged, told the Associated Press news agency. “The rain was so strong and suddenly, the water entered the homes, and we just saw how they fell.”

The storm came as the country of some 6.6 million people is grappling with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Credit: @Minerva_Juarez / Twitter

To date, El Salvador has reported 2,582 confirmed Covid-19 infections and 46 related deaths. It’s not been as hard hit as many other Latin American countries, but experts agree that the country is poorly equipped to handle any further strain.

“We are experiencing an unprecedented situation: one top-level emergency on top of another serious one,” said San Salvador Mayor Ernesto Muyshondt.

The country had already instituted some of the most strict lockdown measures across the region. Even a trip to the market is heavily regulated – you’re only allowed access depending on the numbers in your identity documents, and residents aren’t allowed to cross municipal boundaries, even to buy food or medicine.

The storm also lashed other countries across Central America.

Credit: @Minerva_Juarez / Twitter

Both Guatemala and Honduras were also badly hit by the storm. In Honduras, four were left dead after they were swept away by rising flood waters. Meanwhile, several communities were left buried under feed of mud and debris and mudslides happened across the country.

Two people were also killed and two injured in Guatemala, where authorities reported 500 homes damaged.

After weakening, the storm has now reformed as Tropical Storm Cristobal and could pose a risk to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Credit: NOAA

Tropical Storm Amanda weakened after impacting Central America and then entered the Gulf of Mexico, where it’s since reorganized into a new Tropical Storm – this time named Cristobal. This marks the first time in history that there have been three named storms so early in the hurricane season. Typically, the third named storm does not brew until way later in the season, occurring on average around Aug. 13

The weather disturbance is expected to move through the Gulf of Mexico in the coming days, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said, and is likely to severely impact the Mexican coastline in the coming days.

The storm is expected to take a northward turn, and it could gain strength over the Gulf of Mexico prior to reaching the southern United States coastline.