Friday, July 27, 2018

News Briefs (July 27, 2018)

  • Corruption is one of the region's major transversal themes. InSight Crime reviews five proposals to help countries fight graft, including increasing judicial independence, multilateral cooperation and transparency in public contracting.
  • The head of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights, Alvaro Leiva, called on Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to disband paramilitary groups, dubbed Camisas Azules. (AFP)
  • Ongoing support for Ortega from much of Latin America's left is making it harder for mediation efforts in Nicaragua to succeed, writes Jorge Castañeda in a New York Times op-ed. The other obstacle is Mexico, which president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised to return to uninvolvement in other countries' politics, he argues.
  • Officials from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico asked the U.S. to provide more details on migrant children still separated from their parents, reports Reuters.
  • Executions linked to organized crime rose to record levels in the first half of this year, according to a new report from the watchdog agency Semáforo Delictivo and Lantia Consultores. (InSight Crime)
  • President Jovenel Moïse is increasingly alone in his government and facing high levels of food scarcity and inflation, writes Jake Johnston in The Nation.
  • And the Conversation examines the decade of austerity measures that fueled anger earlier this month.
  • The "cure has been worse than the disease" when it comes to the drug war, outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos wrote in Americas Quarterly.
  • Faith in Colombia's peace process is dissipating fast. Last week several prominent former guerrilla leaders declined to assume Senate seats due to them as part of the peace deal with the government, and the ranks of dissidents are growing, reports InSight Crime.
  • Venezuela will slash five zeros off its current currency, rather than the three previously planned. The move, aimed at targeting the country's hyperinflation, would make 4 million bolivares suddenly worth 40. But the move could further complicate a system already starved for cash, and people wonder whether they will be able to carry out simple transactions. (Reuters)
  • It seems as if experts have been calling the end of Venezuela's Maduro administration for years. Yet, despite the country's ever worsening crisis, he remains in power. The Conversation reviews five grim reasons Maduro will likely stay, including military participation in his government, brutal repression tactics against protesters, a neutralized opposition, the difficulty of finding food, and lack of international leverage to pressure change.
El Salvador
  • El Salvador is in the midst of a severe drought, that has affected more than half the country. About 77,000 corn farmers have been hit particularly hard. (Reuters)
  • About 50,000 people marched against an Argentine government plan to deploy military troops in internal security. Though they would only be used for logistic purposes, to aid security forces, critics say it breaks down an iron-clad barrier established in the 30 years since the last dictatorship. (El Cohete a la Luna)
  • Argentine President Mauricio Macri met with his Russian counterpart yesterday in Johannesburg, where they are participating in a BRICS summit. (EFE)
  • Thousands of Chileans marched in Santiago yesterday, many sporting the green bandanas that have come to symbolize Argentina's pro-abortion movement. They demanded broader access to abortion, which just last year was permitted in cases of rape, danger to woman's life or fetal inviability. (AFP)
  • Half of Colombia's incoming cabinet will be comprised of women, many heading ministries with political clout. (Reuters)
  • Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno distanced himself from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who has been protected from arrest in Ecuador's London embassy since 2012. He confirmed reports the Britain and Ecuador are in talks to end the impasse over Assange, reports Reuters. Speculation is "swirling" about what will happen next, according to the Guardian. (See Monday's briefs.)
  • A Peruvian government commission recognized the existence of the Isconahua and Mayoruna peoples, isolated groups living without ties to the rest of society, in a new proposed indigenous reserve. (TeleSUR)
  • Brazilian health officials are alarmed by drops in vaccination rates, in the midst of a measles outbreak in the country's northeast. (EFE)
  • Brazil's centrist political coalition backed Gerardo Alckmin to run for October's presidential election. The business-friendly former Sao Paulo governor is an investor favorite, reports Reuters.
Guyana's "Watery Wilderness"
  • The gloomy picture painted by a recent New York Times piece on Guyana (see last Friday's briefs) has pushed many to try and highlight a more positive side of Guyana on Twitter under the hashtag #LifeInTheWateryWilderness. (BBC)

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