A Haitian police raid in Port-au-Prince last November led to at least nine suspected summary executions of civilians, reports The Intercept. The police officers were working with the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti, which in October replaced the long-running U.N. peacekeeping mission.
In late December, a U.N. spokesperson confirmed to The Intercept for the first time that the mission had helped plan the raid on a school campus in the Grand Ravine area, though it distanced itself from the civilian deaths.
"Nearly two months after the massacre, no one has been publicly held responsible. The police inspector general has completed an investigation and passed it on to a judge, who could order the arrest or dismissal of officers involved. One police officer accused of involvement is already missing, according to the inspector general. Families of nine victims, including those of the two police officers, received a one-time payment of about $1,500 for funeral expenses. But none of the intellectual authors of the botched raid appear to have been identified or questioned."
- U.S President Donald Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as "shithole countries" in a meeting with U.S. lawmakers, reports the Washington Post. The president singled out Haiti, telling lawmakers that immigrants from that country must be left out of any deal, according to the Post. Reactions on social media were swift, with many users posting pictures of beautiful scenery in their countries. Haiti's ambassador to the United States condemned the statements and said that the country had asked for an official explanation of Trump’s comments from American officials, reports the Washington Post separately.
- U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is heading to Colombia this weekend to support peace efforts, reports the Associated Press. His visit comes amid concerns about the implementation of the peace pact with the FARC and stalled negotiations with the ELN guerrillas. (See yesterday's briefs.)
- Colombia's forests are under double assault: the demobilization of the FARC has lifted protections they imposed on jungle they used for cover, while killings of social activists are leaving environmental movements without leadership, reports la Silla Vacía, focusing on San Vicente del Caguán in Caquetá.
- Ecuador’s state oil company has begun drilling the first of 97 planned wells inside a new field of the Yasuní national park. The reserve is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. Conservationists accuse president Lenín Moreno of backtracking on promises to protect the environment, reports the Guardian.
- Ecuador granted Julian Assange citizenship last month, reports the BBC. The news transcended after the U.K. refused to grant the WikiLeaks founder diplomatic status as an Ecuadorean agent. Ecuador is seeking a way out of the legal impasse that has stranded Assange in its embassy for over five years, reports the New York Times. Ecuador's foreign minister said that Assange would not leave the embassy without security guarantees that he won't be deported to the U.S., has also indicated that the current situation is untenable, reports the Washington Post.
- The United States is the largest source of guns entering Brazil that end up in the hands of armed bandits and drug traffickers, according to Reuters, based on a Brazilian Federal Police report. Roughly 1,500 guns originated in the United States out of a study of more than 10,000 arms seized by police since 2014, mostly in Rio de Janeiro.
- Venezuela's opposition is angling for a presidential election to be held in the first half of this year, reports Bloomberg.
- Venezuelan Constituent Assembly member Tomas Lucena was murdered this week, reports EFE.
- A teen was killed in Venezuela's Guarane city, in the midst of a mass looting of food trucks, reports AFP.
- A boat with 30 Venezuelan migrants sank en route to the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao, reports the BBC.
- Thousands of Peruvians against rallied against a pardon for former President Alberto Fujimori, convicted of human rights violations, reports the BBC.
- Amid increasing rumors that U.S. President Donald Trump will trigger a six month withdrawal process from NAFTA, Mexican negotiators say they will leave the table if the U.S. pulls out, reports Reuters.
- Building on a report earlier this week on Mexican cities that have effectively taken security into their own hands, the New York Times report on how Monterrey's business elite took over the city's policing. "Monterrey’s business leaders had tried to install their corporations as replacement institutions. But they fell victim to the same institutional weaknesses they’d tried to fix. With little in the way of a civil service, a simple change in governor destabilized everything," write Max Fisher and Amanda Taub. "That might seem like a technical or abstract lesson, but it’s one that should concern everybody, and not just in Mexico. We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the health of our institutions; they’re boring, opaque and largely unseen. But maybe we should think about them."
- "If all the Salvadoreans in the TPS programme were to come back, which is highly unlikely, the country’s population would swell by 3 percent," reports the Economist on the end of the U.S. provisional residency program for nearly 200,000 Salvadoran migrants.
- Russia rejected U.S. allegations that it is meddling in Mexico's election, reports Reuters. (See Monday's post and Tuesday's briefs.)
- Pope Francis will be in Chile next week, and will meet with victim's of the Pinochet dictatorship, reports Reuters. But preparations for the pontifical visit only show the increasing irrelevance of the Catholic church in Chile, according to the Economist.
- Argentine President Mauricio Macri announced a series of measures to eliminate outdated regulations in a bid to attract reticent foreign investment, reports Reuters.
- The Peruvian government is evaluating a $2.4 billion railway project to transport mineral concentrates from the country's Andean region to the Pacific, reports Reuters.
- A smartphone game seeks to educate Colombian children about their country’s endangered indigenous cultures, reports the Guardian.
- The U.S. State Department implemented a new numbered classification system in order to warn travelers of dangers. Level 4, which advises travelers not to go to the place in question, largely reserved for war zones, and Mexican states where drug cartels have a very active presence, reports the Washington Post. Flaws in U.S. policies aimed at buttressing security in the region can be spotted in U.S. State Department travel warnings against certain destinations in Latin America, according to InSight Crime. "The United States has long worked with many of the countries for which advisories were issued in attempts to bring down their persistently high levels of crime and violence. But the new warnings against traveling to these nations serve as a type of admission that US-backed security policies have often fallen short of their goals."