Thursday, July 19, 2018

Nicaragua's historical repetition (July 19, 2018)

  • On the anniversary of the Sandinista overthrow of Anastasio Somoza, President Daniel Ortega has filled the place of the dictator he overthrew nearly four decades ago, writes Carlos Dada in a New York Times Español op-ed. "The only policy of the Ortega government is repression. It is a dangerous bed that represents a point of no return for a regime that has de facto discarded the path of dialogue." He also notes the increasingly institutionalized role in repression played by paramilitaries. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Hundreds of opponents of Nicaragua's government are hiding in safe-houses, after a bloody crackdown on pockets of resistance around the country over the past week. Activists against Ortega's rule are planning more protests, even as the death count since demonstrations began three months ago rose to an estimated 300, reports Reuters. CENIDH said more than 200 people are imprisoned in relation to the protests. Among the detained is Irlanda Jerez, a leader of peaceful resistance who called on merchants to not pay taxes and stay in the streets to oppose the government, reports Confidencial.
  • The Organization of American States adopted a resolution yesterday condemning human rights abuses committed by Nicaraguan police and armed pro-government civilians since mid-April, reports the Associated Press. The resolution also criticized attacks on Roman Catholic clergy, and calls for early elections in March of next year, a proposal championed by negotiators for the Alianza Cívica, reports El País. The resolution was rejected only by Nicaragua, Venezuela and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Support for the resolution from Guyana, Bahamas, Jamaica, Santa Lucía, Antigua and Barbuda demonstrates the waning influence of Venezuela's petro-diplomacy in the Caribbean, notes Confidencial.
  • Nicaragua is facing "its own Venezuelan moment, with a regime violently clinging to power in the face of vehement popular unrest," according to the Washington Post.
  • Three months after the unrest started, El País reviews the genesis of protests against social security reform that turned into the broad resistance movement against Ortega.
  • Also yesterday, a bipartisan group of 10 U.S. senators introduced legislation that seeks to impose sanctions on Nicaraguan government officials responsible for protester deaths, human rights violations and acts of corruption. (Associated Press)
  • The New York Times reports on the citizens leading resistance against the government from behind Masaya's barricades.
News Briefs

  • Paraguay has startlingly high rates of child pregnancy -- and young girls are often forced to give birth in a country where abortion is forbidden unless there is grave risk to the pregnant woman's life, a rarely applied clause. This March alone, three more girls died, aged 10, 14, and 16. Two of them died in childbirth, reports the Guardian. Those who survive the ordeal are scarred physically and psychologically. Experts urge further attention to the underlying cause of widespread child abuse, and call for sex education. (PRI)
  • Detentions of undocumented youth migrants has shot up 90 percent this year in Mexico over the same period in 2017. Between January and May 12, 416 youths were detained by authorities for traveling without proper documentation, nearly half of them were under 11 years of age, reports Animal Político
  • A new report shows that migrants from Central America must often confront and interact with organized crime groups in Mexico, adding to the considerable danger of their journeys, reports InSight Crime.
  • A Mexican court ruled it is legally impossible to create a special investigative commission into the 2014 disappearance case of  43 students from Ayotzinapa -- as  reports Animal Político. The decision contradicts a landmark June ruling demanding a new investigation into the emblematic enforced disappearance case. That court said the investigation carried out by the federal prosecutors office (PGR) was not quick, effective, independent, nor impartial. (See June 5's post.) Amnesty International denounced the ruling, calling it proof of a political decision to hide the students' fate. There were 43 empty chairs at the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College graduation ceremony last week, representing the students who were kidnapped four years ago, reports Mexico Daily News.
  • Mexico's National Electoral Institute (INE) fined president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador's Morena party $10m for breaking campaign finance laws. The INE said it had found "profound irregularities" in the way a trust for last year's earthquake victims was set up and handled. However, authorities dismissed the rival PRI party's claim that Morena had used the trust to pour public funds into its electoral campaign. The PRI and the National Action Party (PAN), were also fined for campaign finance irregularities, although their fines were not as high. (BBC and Animal Político)
  • A year after Mexico launched its National Anti-Corruption System, its a long way from being fully implemented, reports Animal Político.
  • Mexican and U.S. negotiators are aiming for a preliminary renegotiation deal for NAFTA by late August. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Argentine government's determination to use the Armed Forces to combat organized crime has raised numerous alarm bells in a country where deployment for security purposes is illegal and brings back uncomfortable memories of dictatorship abuses. (InSight Crime)
  • In contrast to the Spanish debate over the remains of dictator Francisco Franco, many of Argentina's most reviled former military rulers have been buried anonymously, reports El País.
  • Argentine authorities detained a former Chilean army colonel convicted of human rights crimes under the Pinochet dictatorship, and will extradite him to Chile. (AFP)
  • Venezuela's Chavista government sought to broaden access to higher education, but has failed to solve the problems plaguing the old public university system. In addition, the new institutions are not autonomous and face strict ideological controls and lack of academic freedom, writes Hugo Pérez Hernáiz at Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights.
  • Brazil's celebrity posterior plastic surgeon Denis Furtado, better known as Dr. Bumbum, is on the run after a woman died following injections he gave her to enlarge her buttocks. Medical authorities had warned Furtado was not licensed to practise in Rio de Janeiro, and against the synthetic resin he injected into patients' bottoms. (BBC and Guardian)
  • NPR reports on the glass ceiling for Brazilian blacks.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...Latin America Daily Briefing

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