Brazilian police arrested the head of the national Olympics committee, Carlos Arthur Nuzman, accused of paying a $2 million bribe to ensure the 2016 games were hosted in Rio. The detention is part of a larger, ongoing probe into Olympic vote-buying efforts, which previously saw police raid Nuzman's house in September. As the BBC reported at the time, a prosecutor involved in the case has said the the Olympics were used as a "trampoline" to facilitate corruption in Brazil, mostly via infrastructure contracts.
As was the case with the 2014 World Cup, the Olympics were funded with mostly public money, and were presented as symbols of Brazil's reinvention, making the current scale of the country's various corruption scandals even more ironic. Earlier this year, the AP estimated that the Olympics cost Brazil $13 billion in total, although officials put the figure at just $2 billion.
- The Venezuelan government announced it will debate an amnesty law that would benefit jailed members of the opposition, which could include those imprisoned for organizing and participating in protests, reports EFE. According to lawyer and activist Alfredo Romero (head of human rights NGO Foro Penal), there are 439 political prisoners in Venezuela. "We should reject any attempt by the government to use political prisoners as tokens in negotiations," Romero tweeted.
- From La Silla Vacia: President Juan Manuel Santos is losing support from his political coalition to pass key measures in the country's proposed transitional justice system, known in Spanish as the "Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz" (JEP). Congress has repeatedly delayed voting on the bill since it was first presented in August, which is a problem because after November 30, Congress will no longer be able to "fast-track" the bill. Afterwards, the bill can only be approved via a regular legislative process that could take years. The JEP would investigate members of the FARC, military, police and government suspected of committing crimes during Colombia's armed conflict.
- An op-ed in the Spanish-language edition of The New York Times criticizes broadcast television's coverage of Mexico's Sept. 19 earthquake. TV reporters focused breathless coverage on a young girl reportedly buried alive after her school collapsed, only for officials to later reveal that "Frida Sofia" had never existed. Mexico City announced yesterday that it has formally ceased all search-and-rescue operations and will now focus on reconstruction. According to the AP, the final tally of earthquake fatalities is at least 369.
- The AP reports on Colombian drug traffickers attempting to seek amnesty by bribing guerrilla group the FARC, in order to present themselves as former guerrillas who would receive amnesty under the peace deal. Attempts by organized crime figures to seek protection is arguably among the biggest risks facing Colombia's peace deal, although so far officials have identified 21 people among the 14,000 demobilized guerrillas who are actually suspected drug traffickers awaiting extradition to the U.S.
- The U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala met with President Jimmy Morales and leaders from Guatemala's Congress for the first time, and emphasized that one priority will be supporting the fight on corruption, reports elPeriodico. According to documents accessed via a freedom of information act request, Guatemala's Attorney General's Office is currently investigating 13 members of Congress for electoral fraud and money laundering, elPeriodico found.
- Bloomberg Politics has a helpful guide to ongoing clashes between Peru's president and Congress, with Keiko Fujimori at the head of the opposition. President Pablo Kuczynski (who won the 2016 election with the narrowest of margins) is the first president in 25 years to govern without a majority, and Fujimori's bloc is working hard to force the president to call for new congressional elections.
- The AP profiles how the U.S. travel warning will affect small business owners in Cuba, most of whom work in the tourism sector. A decline in U.S. tourism would be particularly harmful to the Cuban economy, given the current lack of support from ailing economic partner Venezuela, the AP notes.
- Latin America blogger and analyst Mike Allison of Scranton University tracks increased homicides in El Salvador over the past two weeks. The country's police chief has said gangs are trying to pressure the government to stop using "exceptional measures" to combat the gangs. "What this surge in violence does show, however, is that the reduction in the murder rate from its heights in early 2016, is fragile at best," Allison writes.
- Argentine NGO the Center for Legal and Social Studies in Argentina has launched a new initiative, "Protesting is a Right," in collaboration with Open Democracy, the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations, and the ACLU. The initiative is intended to help human rights and social activists coordinate and network with one another more effectively.
-- Elyssa Pachico