Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Puerto Rico's devastation (Sept. 27, 2017)

Hurricane devastation, which has left 3.4 million Puerto Ricans without electricity and an estimated 1.5 million without access to clean water, "has brought the island's state of political neglect into sharp relief," reports the Washington Post. Experts say the bankrupt territory is a victim of colonial policies, which leave residents unable to manage their own economy.
U.S. President Donald Trump's response has been criticized as lacking, leaving residents scrambling for food and medicine, reports the BBC. On Monday he commented on Twitter regarding the island's debt, saying the island is in "deep trouble."

Democrats argued that Trump should appoint a general to the territory and send in troops, and said Hurricanes Irma and Maria could be Trump's Katrina, reports the Miami Herald.

The slow response could also be political payback, argus Fabiola Santiago in the Miami Herald.

News Briefs
  • Amid criticisms towards the international community for slow and insufficient aid to the hurricane battered Caribbean, the 15-member Caricom is being noticed for its cooperation among governments, reports the Miami Herald.
  • A Salvadoran judge determined that an innocent young man was executed by police in the 2015 "San Blas Massacre," in which police killed six alleged gang members and two civilians. But he cleared the eight police officers accused of the murder of Dennis Alexander Hernández Martínez, saying there was no evidence about which had carried out the killing, reports El Faro. The case put forward by prosecutors ignores the question of the other seven deaths, and ignores evidence contradicting the police story of a confrontation with gang members, writes Roberto Valencia. 
  • Mexico's earthquake could have political aftershocks -- amplifying citizen anger at political parties and government inefficiency, reports the Guardian. Last week, President Enrique Peña Nieto was booed by students as he toured a damaged town in his home state. "Grab a shovel," shouted one of them. Others have accused officials of diverting aid in order to distribute supplies through political machines. Some experts believe anger could impact next year's presidential campaign, bringing issues such as housing and reconstruction to the fore.
  • The earthquake displaced number in the many thousands, including those whose homes were destroyed, but also those living in buildings now declared structurally unsound or abutting others at risk of collapse, reports the New York Times. Federal officials say this month's earthquakes damaged at least 155,000 homes, with more than 27,000 destroyed and 19,700 damaged so severely as to be uninhabitable.
  • At least 14 people have been killed and eight injured in an attack on a drug rehabilitation centre in the northern Mexican city of Chihuahua, reports the BBC.
  • The U.S. government is advancing in the construction of eight prototype barriers for the Mexican border, four would be concrete and another four in alternate materials, reports the BBC.
  • Despite the end of armed conflict with the FARC, mass displacements in Colombia have increased this year, report local watchdogs. The worst affected areas are all key drug trafficking territories and areas where guerrilla demobilization has created a criminal power vacuum, according to InSight Crime. "As the FARC have withdrawn, other armed groups, primarily the ELN, the Urabeños and FARC dissident networks have sought to capitalize by moving into former FARC territories to take control of these zones and the criminal economies that lie within them, coming into conflict with each other as a result.
    The regions identified by CODHES as mass displacement hotspots are all epicenters of these new criminal conflicts.
    "
  • Pope Francis' recent trip to Colombia aimed to push a polarized population towards acceptance of the FARC peace process. He didn't bring President Juan Manuel Santos and his predecessor and peace critic Álvaro Uribe any closer, but "his concept of peace has resonated with the country’s social and political movements, ethnic groups, victims, and intellectuals," writes Ana Isabel Rodríguez Iglesias at the Aula blog. "A nascent coalition of left-leaning minority parties, called Ni-Ni’s, could give voice and organization to them and – perhaps in the future – bring some pressure to bear on opponents of the accords to come toward the middle.  Congressional elections next March and Presidential elections two months later guarantee that implementation of the peace accords will remain front and center in Colombian politics."
  • Polls putting former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the lead for next year's presidential elections sent Brazilian markets tumbling last week. But a political shift leftwards -- assuming corruption cases against Lula don't leave him out of the running -- is only one of three potential scenarios investors should look out for, including the potential for a right-wing populist government under dictatorship apologist Jair Bolsonaro, argues Bret Rosen in Americas Quarterly.
  • Political corruption is a headliner around the region, but what about white-collar tax evasion? Colombia's La Pulla goes into how multinational corporations evade and how its normalized.

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