Thousands of Chileans gathered in Santiago's Plaza Italia on Friday to mark the 12 weeks since the country's massive protest movement exploded. Police initially tried to stop demonstrators from entering the Plaza. Though most of the demonstration was peaceful, on the periphery, police clashed with some groups of protesters. A bus was burned and there are reports that police used chemical substances in water used to disperse protesters, reports EFE.
Student demonstrations focused against the university entrance exams -- a group boycotted them last week -- as part of their criticism of Chile's educational sector -- and said the system exacerbates inequalities, reports EFE, separately.
Chile's private pension scheme is a top issue for protesters, Jorge Heine explains why it's time to move away from a system based on individual retirement accounts and employee-only contributions to one based on the traditional principles of social security, in Americas Quarterly.
- An 11-year-old boy killed a teacher and wounded six people at his private school in Mexico's Coahuila state. He then killed himself. Though violence is rampant in Mexico, school shootings are rare, and authorities believe the boy might have been influenced by a violent video game called Natural Selection. (New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Animal Político)
- But, causes must also be sought closer to home, argues journalist Javier Garza Ramos in Post Opinión. Violence rates have normalized killings, assassinations are sickeningly simple to carry out, and firearms are easily procured, he writes.
- Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised justice for the LeBaron family massacre last year, and a monument to the nine victims, reports Animal Político.
- The Venezuelan government's attempt to illegally control the National Assembly is a significant escalation in the country's slide into totalitarianism, argues Alberto Barrera Tyszka in a New York Times Español op-ed.
- And the developments of the past week mean that chances of holding legislative elections (they are supposed to happen before the end of 2020) that meet the requirements of legitimacy, and provide a potential exit to the country's prolonged political crisis, are increasingly distant, reports Efecto Cocuyo.
- Chronic malnutrition continues to increase in Venezuela, warns Efecto Cocuyo.
- Private messages unearthed by the Honduran prosecutor's office show how activist Berta Cáceres' assassins "communicated through a compartmentalized chain that reached the highest ranks of leadership of the company whose dam she had been protesting," reported the Intercept in December. The information shows that the "murder was the culmination of years of coordinated corruption and violence. The illicit network responsible, including the Atalah Zablah executives at DESA and their allies, remains intact."
- The actual shooters have been convicted, but "Honduran authorities seem less keen on prosecuting the alleged intellectual authors of the assassination, leaving the criminal network that directed her murder still very much intact," reports InSight Crime.
- The U.S. announced new restrictions on charter flights to most Cuban destinations -- though not Havana -- a move authorities say is aimed at restricting Cuba's financing of Venezuela's Maduro government, reports the Wall Street Journal.
- Months after Hurricane Dorian, the official death toll remains at 69, and an estimated 300 people are missing but survivors' accounts indicate that is just part of the story. And for undocumented Haitian migrants, the toll is hidden and unknown: instead the focus has been on deporting survivors, and there has been little accounting of this part of the population's missing, writes Angelique V. Nixon for Stabroek News.
- Brazil's experiment with eliminating daylight saving time has the sun rising earlier than ever, and Brazilians longing for the good old days of clock switches, reports the Washington Post.
- Brazil under the leadership of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his foreign minister Celso Amorim, attempted to build a diplomatic bridge between Iran and the U.S. The two decry hostilities between the two countries, and Brazil's endorsement of U.S. President Donald Trump's actions in this regard, in a Guardian opinion piece.
- Argentina would do well to pander more to Trump, given the U.S.'s key position in upcoming IMF debt renegotiations, argues Jorge Castañeda in a New York Times op-ed. He recommends the Fernández administration stop: "defending a lost cause in Bolivia, where few principles are involved, and helping Cuba and Venezuela perpetuate the misery of their people at the cost of American support where it really counts are simply not worth it." (Argentine President Alberto Fernández's take, in an interview this weekend: "Evo Morales is a political refugee and for us there is nothing more to explain.")
- A month into Fernández's presidency in Argentina, the focus is on concrete actions in the midst of economic crisis, explains Página 12's Martín Granovsky.
- Horacio Verbitsky interviews Fernández in-depth in Cohete a la Luna.
- Diego, a 100-year-old giant tortoise, is retiring after his exceptional sex drive helped a conservation program aimed a preserving his species from extinction in the Galapagos National Park. (New York Times)
- Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra launched a reforestation plan for Machu Picchu that involves planting a million trees in the archeological site to preserve it from mudslides and forest fires. (AFP)
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