Wednesday, August 8, 2018

AMLO launches "Forums for Peace" (Aug. 8, 2018)

Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador launched a series of forums yesterday, aimed at fomenting reconciliation in a country suffering massive rates of violence in relation to drug trafficking. The ultimate goal is a peace process to supplant the war on drugs, aiming at reconciliation. Other key aspects include justice for homicides and enforced disappearances, which have an impunity rate of about 98 percent, reports El Comercio. The process would also aim at creating truth commissions for some of the more emblematic cases, such as Ayotzinapa, and the demobilization of organized crime groups. It's a radical change from the military strategy against drug trafficking applied by the last two administrations. Last month TeleSUR reported that Pope Francis accepted an invitation to participate.

AMLO's proposed security secretary, Alfonso Durazo said the meetings aim at finding a Mexican recipe for pacification. Projects could include amnesty, pardons, and a special transitional justice system, he said. Durazo, emphasized that amnesty would not apply to perpetrators of crimes against humanity, including genocide, summary executions, femicide, enforced disappearances, and systematic torture. (Milenio)

Mexico has over 30,000 disappeared people. Last year was the bloodiest on record in terms of homicides and this year is already poised to be worst. (See July 31's briefs.)

Yesterday's event in Ciudad Juárez was the first in 18 scheduled meetings to be held around the country over the next two months. The city is emblematic both for high homicide rates and past attempts at pacification policies, and the audience was skeptical, notes Univisión. AMLO's team assured participants that they are betting against combatting violence with violence. AMLO urged the audience not to forget but to forgive. Cries from the audience countered him, yelling against forgiveness, reports Animal Político. Families of victims of violence called on Chihuahua governor Javier Corral to ensure justice in their cases. At least three people climbed on the stage to accuse Corral of not working with victims, reports Vanguardia.

AMLO's proposed Secretaria de Gobernación, Olga Sánchez, noted the need for integral policies -- noting that amnesty or decriminalization of narcotics alone would not be a full solution.

News Briefs

Argentina
  • Up to two million women are expected to gather in support of an abortion bill up for vote today in Argentina's Senate, despite the rainy winter day. Pro and against demonstrators will be divided by security fences in front of Congress, in a battle pitting religious defenders on the Pope's home turf against an increasingly strong and transversal womens' rights movement, reports the Washington Post. The proposal would legalize abortion within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, and would make Argentina the largest country in the region to allow termination at will. The campaign has received international attention (see yesterday's briefs), including interventions from Margaret Atwood and Judith Butler.
  • At the heart of the issue is not when life begins, but an underlying terror of female desire, writes novelist Claudia Piñeiro in Time. "If it were not so, how can it be understood that an embryo resulting from a rape can be discarded but not the embryo from a consensual relationship? ... The only thing distinguishing them is if they resulted, or not, from the sexual desire of a woman."
  • If you haven't been following (why not?), the New York Times has an explainer. Chances of passage are close but appear to be leaning against the bill, though there are rumors of last ditch attempts to decriminalize women who abort or to present a modified proposal that would then have to return to Congress' lower chamber, reports La Nación.
  • Argentina's notebooks scandal is probably one of the country's most significant cases of corruption -- notable for the amount of bribes detailed, the high level of officials involved, and the length of time the alleged scheme lasted. Nonetheless, its unlikely to become the Argentine Lava Jato as some hope, writes Bruno Binetti at Americas Quarterly.
  • Former Argentine vice president Amado Boudou was sentenced to nearly six years in jail yesterday in a corruption case. (AFP)
Brazil
  • Security camera footage showing a man gruesomely attacking his wife in an elevator before he threw her off the balcony of their apartment has set of a national debate about domestic abuse in Brazil. Almost a third of Brazilian women say they have suffered abuse, more than half at hands of a current or former partner, reports the New York Times. #metaAcolher is trending on Twitter, urging onlookers to intervene in marital disputes, against popular custom.
  • Two Brazilian researchers mapped Facebook users' political views using Facebook interactions -- and found over the past few years they have become markedly more polarized. (Conversation)
  • Likely Workers' Party presidential candidate Fernando Haddad promised to reform the country’s media ownership rules if he is elected, reports the Associated Press.
  • Brazil's top electoral court is expected to rule next week regarding former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's candidacy -- which will likely be invalidated due to a corruption conviction. In that case the Workers' Party will back Haddad's run. Yesterday Lula's lawyers dropped a release petition to the Supreme Court in order to avoid a potential negative decision before the electoral court ruling next week, reports Reuters.
Migrants
  • Brazil reopened its border in Roraima state, just hours after implementing a judges order to turn back migrants fleeing Venezuela's multifaceted crisis, reports the Guardian. (See yesterday's post.) Authorities yesterday struggled to interpret three contradictory court rulings handed down on the issue over 48 hours. The border was closed for about 15 hours, until a federal judge found that turning back migrants was contrary to Brazil's international obligations. (Folha de S. Paulo)
  • The U.S. will provide an additional $6 million for Venezuelan refugees who have fled to Colombia, the announcement is expected today. (McClatchy)
Venezuela
  • WOLA experts David Smilde and Geoff Ramsey take apart the mysterious drone attack against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro at Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights. Though Maduro has insisted on blaming Colombia, Smilde argues that the attack was probably carried out by dissident military elements and lacked an international component. 
  • Maduro also pinned blame yesterday on two prominent opposition leaders, including lawmaker Julio Borges -- who is exiled in Colombia. The pro-government Constituent Assembly will analyze lifting the lawmakers' immunity from prosecution today, reports the Associated Press. (See Monday's post.)
  • A former Venezuelan municipal police chief and anti-government activist told Reuters he participated in the operation, with a loose association of anti-Maduro militants known generally in Venezuela as the "resistance."

Nicaragua
  • Pope Francis and the Catholic Church's Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, refused to receive Nicaragua's foreign minister. Denis Moncada, who carried complaints from the Nicaraguan government regarding Episcopal Conference mediation of the country's political crisis was delegated to a lower official, who transmitted the pope's total support for Nicaragua's bishops. (Confidencial)
  • The Comisión Permanente de Derechos Humanos (CPDH) has identified 132 court cases against protest participants. Two laws passed in July qualify certain acts of protest as terrorism, and carry up to 20 year jail sentences. (Confidencial)
  • The Ortega administration said yesterday that 197 people died during the anti-government protests that have gripped the country since April 18. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) said that the estimated number of deaths in the protests between April 18-July 30 stood at 317, including 21 police officers and 23 children and teenagers.The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) reported 305 deaths, while the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH) reported 448. (EFE)
Colombia
  • Iván Duque assumed Colombia's presidency yesterday, in a conciliatory speech emphasizing a young conservative agenda, reports la Silla Vacía. Duque pledged support for the peace process, but spoke of "corrective measures," reports BBC. In the past Duque has said the 2016 peace accord is too lenient towards former guerrillas.
  • At Americas Quarterly Brian Winter gives a more personal profile of Duque, who aspires to be the Colombian Macron.
Honduras
  • Lawyers for Berta Cáceres' family asked that the trial against her alleged assassins be transmitted live, given irregularities committed by prosecutors that lead them to believe the judicial process will not be transparent. (ConfidencialHn)
Militarization
  • Alongside the region's increasing militarization of internal security is a trend towards militarization of the justice system, further shielding members of the military accused of rights violations, reports NACLA.
El Salvador
  • Former Salvadoran president Antonio Saca agreed to plead guilty to charges of diverting more than $300 million in state funds during his 2004-2009 tenure, reports EFE.
Guatemala
  • Jailed former Guatemalan president Otto Pérez Molina was transferred to a hospital after suffering a cardiac problem. (Reuters)
Peru
  • "Multinational mining corporations in northern Peru have devised a number of strategies for suppressing environmental activism and protest, from strategic investment to media relations to outright intimidation and repression," reports NACLA.
Mexico
  • Mexico City's mayor elect, Claudia Sheinbaum, is an environmental scientist who wants to create stricter emissions standards for car makers in order to tackle the city's infamous smog problem, reports Reuters.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 

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