The protest movement in Nicaragua is literally increasingly entrenched, behind barricades blocking streets around the country, many made up of paving stones pulled up from the streets. In fact, the Guardian says Nicaragua has become "a country of barricades," and notes that opposition newspapers now publish maps of road blocks on major highways. The barricades are also symbolic, echoing those made by guerrillas once led by now President Daniel Ortega.
In Managua masked civilians block vehicular access to the capital city's main avenues, reports Confidencial. Masaya, a symbolic city for Sandinistas, has become a center for rebellion against them, reports Confidencial separately. (See Friday's post.) And in several masses around the country Catholic leadership exhorted the faithful to be brave and join the calls for democratization yesterday, reports Confidencial. But an afternoon Mass in Managua had to be cancelled due to "paramilitary" threats.
The latest death count is 139, according to the Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos' tally. The latest four deaths occurred on Friday and Saturday in Managua, Masaya and Jinotega, and followed the pattern of high caliber bullet wounds to the head, neck and torso, reports Confidencial.
Sense of security
- Residents of Latin America and the Caribbean are the least likely in the world to feel safe in their communities, according to the latest Gallup Global Law and Order report. The region’s "law and order index" score of 62 was the lowest in the world and slightly worse than what the region scored the year before, reports InSight Crime.
- Whatsapp's crazy penetration in Brazil is nothing new (see briefs for May 4, 2016 for example), but the Washington Post reports on how the messaging app is helped striking truckers coordinate recently. And how it "is helping Brazilians undermine established power structures, injecting a level of unpredictability and radicalization into a country beset by economic and political crises." With the upcoming presidential election wide open, the piece also analyzes how the app could increase political outsiders' impact on the race.
- The Workers' Party launched the campaign of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for October's presidential election. The theme was "Brazil happy again" and it calls for freedom for Lula, who has been jailed for two months, reports EFE. The corruption sentence against him will likely prevent him from actually running.
- Even though he is in jail, Lula is a kingmaker -- in which he likely won't be allowed to run. A new poll found that Former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad would more than double his support to second place if Lula backed his candidacy, reports Reuters.
- The OAS message to Venezuela last week -- to reestablish democratic order -- also applies to the opposition, writes Alberto Barrera Tyska in a New York Times Español op-ed. He argues that it's "inadmissible" that the opposition leadership remains fractured after 20 years, unable to construct a united platform aimed only at resolving the country's crisis.
- Polio has reappeared in Venezuela, joining the ranks of other previously eradicated or controlled diseases such as diphtheria, tuberculosis, measles and malaria, reports Newsweek.
- In Venezuela abortion is prohibited, and contraceptives are impossibly expensive, leading many women to seek sterilization even at very young ages and dangerous home abortions, reports the Intercept. They are also pushed by the increasingly desperate situation with food and medicine shortages, which have pushed up infant mortality rates.
- Argentina's Chamber of Deputies will vote on an abortion legalization bill on Wednesday. And activists have denounced increasing pressure from the Catholic Church, including personal calls from archbishops to sway lawmakers who intend to vote in favor, reports Página 12. Pressure on lawmakers from the country's more conservative northern provinces has been particularly intense, and one has received death threats from "pro-life" groups. Polls show that the measure is widely supported in Argentina's urban centers and Patagonia, but more rejected in the north.
- The U.S. extradited former Panamanian president Ricardo Martelli to face charges of espionage at home, reports El País.
- Mexico City's new airport has become a contentious electoral campaign issue due to the project's over-costs, corruption and potential environmental impact. In the Conversation landscape architect expert Gabriel Diaz Montemayor recommends creating a nature reserve around the new airport, which would at least allay the environmental issues.
- Two more U.S. diplomats in Cuba were affected by the sounds that apparently left them with health impacts -- the latest in about two dozen cases that have become a divisive point between the two countries, reports the Guardian.
- At least 110 people died in the Volcán de Fuego eruption last week in Guatemala. Thousands of people protested in Guatemala City on Saturday night, accusing President Jimmy Morales' government of mismanagement of the disaster, reports BBC Mundo. (See last Thursday's briefs.)
- Wondering why the Fuego volcano eruption was so lethal? Pyroclastic flows, explains the New York Times.