Friday, June 1, 2018

Hondura's Supreme Court defangs MACCIH (June 1, 2018)

Hondura's highest court ratified the OAS backed international anti-impunity commission. The court determined yesterday that the decree creating the MACCIH was constitutional -- in response to a challenge questioning whether the commission infringed on Honduran sovereignty, reports el Heraldo.

President Juan Orlando Hernández celebrated the decision yesterday, reports Proceso. Many leaders of the business community and from politics did as well, reports el Heraldo.

The challenge was brought by lawmakers accused of corruption by the MACCIH's work. (See March 21's post on the struggles against MACCIH by Honduran politicians, and May 22's briefs on the latest MACCIH Monitor report.)

But experts warn that the decision does in fact undercut anti-corruption work. The court determined that the Public Ministry's specialized unit against corruption impunity (Ufecic) -- created to work with the MACCIH -- was created irregularly. The decision cannot be appealed, reports Confidencial Hn

The determination effectively undermines MACCIH capacity to work in Honduras, said experts. The head of the National Anti-corruption Council, Gabriela Castellanos, warned that the decision is nothing to celebrate, reports el Heraldo.

(La Tribuna has the oficial court decision.)

Earlier this week the U.S. embassy emphasized the importance of Ufecic's continuity to MACCIH's work, notes el Heraldo.

Other Honduras news
  • Last week Buzzfeed reported on a controversial program for Honduran children run by the country's military with support from the Catholic and Evangelical churches. Critics say the 30,000 children involved in the Guardianes de la Patria program are indoctrinating loyalty to Hernández and pushing increased militarization in the country.
News Briefs

Nicaragua
  • At least 15 people were killed this week in anti-government protests, bringing the total toll of the six-week political uprising to over 100, reports the New York Times. (See yesterday's post.) Police yesterday said the deaths were caused by "delinquent groups who operate wearing masks," reports Reuters. Human rights organizations say the groups are government supporters and that police were involved, reports the Associated Press. Local human rights organization CENIDH, in a statement, said that Wednesday’s events had led to 16 deaths.
  • The European Union called for elections yesterday, echoing local demands to move up the 2021 presidential vote. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Protesters called for continued demonstrations against the government and a national strike. The Alianza Cívica called for more road blocks and protests against the government, and said the Ortega administration must cease repression in order to continue a national dialogue process, reports Confidencial.
  • Scientific and legal associations called yesterday for a civil disobedience program against the Ortega administration, including not paying taxes or electric bills, reports Confidencial.
  • President Daniel Ortega accepted the resignation of his allied electoral council head Roberto Rivas, sanctioned for corruption by the U.S. last December, reports Confidencial.
Venezuela
  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro strongly suggested yesterday that the government would release political prisoners, meeting a key opposition demand, reports Bloomberg. He spoke in a meeting with four opposition provincial governors last night, reports Efecto Cocuyo. Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez said the government will grant "procedural benefits" to prisoners who committed crimes of "political violence" today.
Brazil
  • Brazilian oil workers called off a three-day strike yesterday, bringing a measure of relief to the country after days of a truckers strike that paralyzed the country, reports AFP.
  • It's tempting to dismiss calls for a coup in Brazil as fringe extremism. But a private poll shows that as much as 40 percent of the country would support some form of military intervention, writes Brian Winter in Americas Quarterly. The truckers strike over the past week and the chaos it caused are only likely to strengthen the hand of right-wing firebrand presidential candidate, former Army captain Jair Bolsonaro, he writes. Not that people should expect tanks on the street: "In the 21st century, when democracy erodes, it almost always happens via the ballot box. Bolsonaro has vowed if elected to appoint military officials to key cabinet positions, roll back human rights provisions and give security forces “carte blanche” to kill suspected criminals, among other measures."
El Salvador
  • A local policing program, praised for pushing out gangs in some small rural communities, could owe part of its success to vigilantism and extrajudicial killings of suspected gang members, reports InSight Crime.
Colombia
  • Tragic flooding caused by the Hidroituango dam construction construction may have raised the price of the project too high for the local Cauca River communities, reports Al Jazeera.
Cuba
  • The wife of President Miguel Díaz-Canel, Lis Cuesta Peraza, is assuming the role of First Lady, a novelty in post-revolutionary Cuba that has left state-media and the population struggling to keep up, reports the Miami Herald.
Bolivia
  • Women's rights groups denounce discrimination against female lawmakers and government officials, pointing to a disconnect between Bolivia's legally established gender equality and reality, reports EFE.
  • Bolivia’s government turned in a police officer accused of killing a protester last week, reports the Associated Press.
Chile
  • Pope Francis denounced a "culture of abuse and cover-up" in the Catholic church in a letter to Chilean faithful in reference to victims of clerical sexual abuse, reports the Associated Press.
Ecuador
  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's asylum in Ecuador's London embassy is assured if he complies with conditions preventing him from voicing political opinions on Twitter, reports the Guardian.
  • Land-based tourism to the Galapagos, less regulated than that based on ships, is both an opportunity and threat for the islands, according to tour operators who have asked the government to set limits, reports the New York Times.

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