Sunday was the bloodiest day in Nicaragua over the past three months of violently repressed anti-government protests, according to the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights (Cenidh), which said 38 people were killed in clashes in three different areas of the country. Cenidh says 31 were anti-government protesters, four police officers and three members of pro-government groups, and that most of the clashes occurred between anti-government protesters manning roadblocks and police and pro-government groups attempting to clear the barricades.(BBC)
Yesterday masked government supporters attacked Roman Catholic priests arriving at a Diriamba church to help anti-government protesters trapped inside since Sunday. The delegation led by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes succeeded, but Managua auxiliary Bishop Silvio José Báez said he was wounded, hit in the stomach and verbally attacked by an "angry mob." (Associated Press) He posted a picture of a cut on his arm and blood on his cassock on Twitter. El Confidencial has more details on the attacks, justified as "christianism" by vice president Rosario Murillo.
The attacks came the day after both Brenes and Báez criticized government repression. (See yesterday's briefs.) The national dialogue process, mediated by the Episcopal Conference, was suspended yesterday.
International rights groups criticized the ongoing government repression. Amnesty International said "the repressive actions of the Nicaraguan government have reached deplorable levels," while Human Rights Watch said "high-level Nicaraguan officials bear responsibility for grave, pervasive abuses being committed on their watch."
The crackdown has alienated one of the Ortega administration's key allies, the country's most powerful business association -- Cosep --, reports the Wall Street Journal.
El Confidencial interviews the mother of one of the police officers killed this weekend, who told her his commanding officer refused to let him quit.
Last week El Faro published an in-depth piece on the barricades stopping traffic across the country -- in which anti-government protesters retaliate against deaths by blocking transport.
- Protesters clashed with police yesterday in Port-au-Prince, in the fourth day of unrest following fuel price hike announcements. A general strike that affected transportation kept most people at home across the country, though the government backtracked on the price increase over the weekend, reports the Associated Press. (See yesterday's briefs.)
- The American University's Monitoring MACCIH Project released an assessment of the international anti-impunity commission's first two years of work in Honduras. The title -- From Steady Progress to Severely Wounded -- is indicative. The report by Dr. Charles Call comes as the mission is under increasing duress, with political and judicial elites striking at its ability to effectively operate against political corruption. "The next few months will determine whether there is a window for MACCIH to demonstrate an ability to make any notable difference in transforming one of the most notorious networks of corruption in the world. Without external and internal pressure on the government, MACCIH’s future looks grim."
- Three weeks ago, former Guatemalan foreign minister Edgar Guttiérez published allegations that President Jimmy Morales sexually abused two female government workers. Yesterday he formally reported the accusations in the Public Ministry in a meeting with the new attorney general, Consuelo Porras. The victims remained anonymous at their own request, and no evidence was presented, reports El Periódico. Porras has offered to go to the victims to gather their testimony, and include them in a witness protection system. The implications of their testimony could be vast, both for Morales and for the victims themselves who will likely have to leave the country, according to Nómada.
- Authorities suspended a Mexico City police commander after a newspaper photographer was allegedly attacked by officers while covering street-level drug arrests. (Associated Press)
- Mexico's president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador is often called a populist -- but the tag, intended to be belittling, is misleading in this case, argues James North in The Nation, pointing to the broad social movements that swept AMLO to power on July 1, as well as his long history of grassroots organizing.
- Though AMLO spent much of his campaign battling a narrative that painted him as the next Hugo Chávez, he is now "relishing a singular, exuberant honeymoon," reports the Los Angeles Times. "His rivals have embraced him, current President Enrique Peña Nieto has hosted him in the ornate National Palace, business leaders have extolled his message of moderation and well-wishers have celebrated his relaxed style. On social media, hashtags such as #AMLOVE have been trending, reflecting a kind of collective euphoria normally not associated with Mexican politicians."
- AMLO's government will adopt a hands-off policy towards other countries in the region, such as crisis-wracked Venezuela and Nicaragua, promised incoming Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. (Reuters) It's not yet clear whether Mexico would remain in the Lima Group, a coalition of countries in the region aimed at pressuring Venezuela. (Exame)
- As Venezuela's economy continues its collapse, President Nicolás Maduro is increasingly leaning on the military as a bulwark against challenges to his power, writes David Smilde in his Venezuela Weekly at Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights.
- The recent U.S. attorney general's decision to deny victims of domestic abuse asylum set up obstacles for people fleeing violence in Central America. The new standard requires proof that the home country government condoned, ordered or was helpless to counter the violence by private actors. At the AULA blog, Jayesh Rathod examines the lack of clarity in the new regulations.
- Latin American fact checking organizations reflect some of the peculiarities of the regional media landscape, writes Ariel Riera at the LSE Latin America and the Caribbean Centre. Many are independent or part of small media outlets, in contrast to those in other parts of the world that tend to be part of established news outlets. The piece also explores how Latin American fact-checking sites, such as Chequeado, have sought to incorporate user's in the verification process and in media literacy initiatives.
- Special measures protecting members of Colombia's armed forces in the newly established transitional justice system have left perpetrators of the "false positives" killings in a "limbo of impunity," writes Human Rights Watch's Americas Director José Miguel Vivanco in Semana.
- Outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos condemned Colombia's soaring violence against human rights leaders, yesterday. He called on the nation’s political parties and judiciary to sign an agreement to protect activists, after a particularly bloody week that claimed seven lives, reports Reuters. (See last Thursday's post.)
- Even as the overall murder rate has fallen in Colombia, killings of LGBT people remain high. There were 109 reported murders of LGBT people last year according to Colombia Diversa. (Reuters)
- An Open Society Foundations report in May explores the legal potential for coca leaves in Colombia, reports the Global Post.
- Quota laws aim to increase the participation of women in Brazilian politics -- where female lawmakers make up just over 10 percent of the 513 members of the lower house and just under 15 percent of the 81-seat Senate. But Bloomberg details how parties avoid running viable candidates, instead fielding "ghosts" who run in name only.
- Former senator Marina Silva's newly created party, REDE, will have little public funding. The presidential candidate intends to overcome lack of resources with a forceful anti-graft message. (Reuters)
- Boeing's takeover of Embraer, a $3.8 billion deal announced last week, will likely become a divisive campaign issue ahead of October's presidential elections, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- Peru's government announced plans to create 1,040 square km offshore reserve to protect feeding and breeding grounds for humpback whales and other marine species. The reserve overlap with four offshore oil blocks, which would be permitted to keep functioning, albeit with stronger oversight. (Reuters)
- La Paz will inaugurate he seventh line of the world’s highest-altitude and most extensive cable car system. (EFE)
- Paraguay has officially eradicated malaria, even as cases increased in other countries world-wide and in the region. (New York Times)