Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Mexican congressional candidate killed (June 12, 2018)

A Mexican congressional candidate was assassinated on Friday after an event in which he spoke of public security in his state. Security cameras captured how Fernando Purón was shot in the head after speaking to a supporter outside the debate hall, reports Animal Político

The country is increasingly used to political violence -- a total of 112 candidates or politicians have been killed since last September, reports CNN based on a study by consulting group Etellekt. But Purón was the first candidate running on a federal level to be killed. 

And the country is bracing for more bloodshed ahead of July 1's voting, reports the Guardian. On Sunday, Rosely Magaña, a PRI candidate for town council in Isla Mujeres, near Cancún, was shot and wounded when assailants on motorcycles opened fire on her home. 

Some analysts point to the growing impact of organized crime on local government, but others also say its a corollary of the country's inability to uphold the rule of law.

Other Mexico news
  • Andrés Manuel López Obrador remains firmly in the lead ahead of the July vote, according to the latest Mitofsky poll. He has 37.2 percent support, while his closest opponent, Ricardo Anaya, has 20 percent, reports Animal Político.
  • Several Mexican organizations of civil society denounced human rights abuses committed by the Mexican army before the International Criminal Court. The charges relate to the first phase of Operativo Conjunto Chihuahua (OCCH), carried out between 2008 and 2010, reports Animal Político. Their case involves 121 direct victims and documents the use of military infrastructure as sites of torture.
  • The Mexican government is sitting on corruption information linking officials to Odebrecht, but is avoiding pressing charges because it would hurt the ruling PRI party in an electoral year, according to the New York Times. The situation is common for politically sensitive cases in a country rife with corruption.
News Briefs

  • Peruvian prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into alleged money laundering against three former presidents -- Alan García, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, and Alejandro Toledo -- in relation to Odebrecht bribes, reports El País.

  • Crime cost Brazil an estimated $1.937 trillion in cumulative costs over the past two decades, according to a new government study. Homicide rates soared between 1996 and 2015, despite vast increases in spending on public safety, reports the New York Times. Brazil reached a record-high homicide rate of more than 30 per 100,000 residents in 2016, and black Brazilians are affected disproportionately and increasingly by lethal violence. Recommendations in the new government report seek to lower the costs of policing and incarceration, but avoid the drug policies and penal code that experts consider to be at the heart of the issue, notes NYT. The report does call on authorities to implement policies based on empirical evidence, and recommends constant monitoring and evaluation of how security resources are being spent in determining how to best use funding, reports InSight Crime.
  • Women in Guatemala play an increasingly visible role in extortion rackets, which have become a major source of informal employment for women in poor, urban neighborhoods, reports InSight Crime.
El Salvador
  • Salvadoran prosecutors ordered the arrest of former president Mauricio Funes, along with 30 members of his inner circle, reports the Associated Press. Attorney General Douglas Melendez said Funes stole $292 million from El Salvador’s mortgage bank, including millions carried out as cash in plastic garbage bags.
  • Protesters' roadblocks along dozens of the Nicaragua's highways have impacted cargo truck transit through the country, reports the Associated Press. (See yesterday's post.)
  • The U.S. government announced it would ask immigration courts to stop granting asylum to victims of domestic abuse and gang violence. It's a dramatic policy shift and the latest in a series of hostile moves against immigrants -- including forcibly separating families -- by the Trump administration, reports the Guardian. Activists say the move will affect tens of thousands of asylum applications, reports the BBC.
  • A teen was killed just two weeks after moving to Mexico upon losing DACA protected status in the U.S., where he'd lived since the age of 3, reports the Washington Post, offering yet another glimpse of the difficulties faced by immigrants forced to return "home."
  • Paraguay is officially malaria free, the first country in the region to have eliminated malaria since Cuba in 1973, reports Reuters.
  • Thousands of Colombians have been displaced by a tunnel collapse at the country's biggest dam project, in the Cauca region -- affecting communities already hit by historic violence, reports the Guardian. The area of the Hidroituango dam, north of Medellín, was a clashing point between guerrillas and paramilitaries in the country's long conflict. But now locals point to problems with the state-owned company behind the dam, EPM, which hasn't compensated people displaced by the megaproject.
  • A swarm of angry bees attacked a campaign event and forced right-wing former president Álvaro Uribe to flee for cover. The bizarre incident led a Senator of candidate Iván Duque's to accuse leftist candidate, Gustavo Petro, of "bioterrorism," reports the Guardian. Petro responded: “So it turns out that african bees are Petro supporters,” he tweeted. “Could it be because they are workers?” A more likely explanation is that Uribe's helicopter disturbed the bees hive.
I will be away starting tomorrow, until June 29. Elyssa Pachico will keep you all up to date in my absence.

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