Thursday, September 29, 2016

Clandestine graves, homicides and corruption -- Mexico Briefs (Sept. 29, 2016)

News Briefs
  • Eleven victims of police sexual assault in the wake of a protest crackdown in 2006 are taking their case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The case could complicate President Enrique Peña Nieto, who ordered the police attacks as governor of Mexico State. (See last Thursday's briefs.) The New York Times has a photo-essay of the women who suffered brutal sexual abuse, featuring their perspectives ten years afterwards.
  • The Mexican government's utterly botched investigation into the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students "contributed significantly to the erosion of public trust in the authorities," in a country where most Mexicans feel unsafe in their community and mistrust of police is high, reports InSight Crime. "This has been compounded by several factors including continuing indications of corruption among security forces, a general lack of accountability for security force abuses, persistently high levels of violence, and the apparent inability or unwillingness of the government to make serious efforts to determine the whereabouts of the thousands of people reported missing in the country." (See Monday'sTuesday's, and yesterday's briefs.)
  • The spotlight of the Iguala drew attention to a nation-wide epidemic of disappearances and a countryside riddled with clandestine graves. The lack of official response has driven an "improbable wave of widows, parents, siblings and friends of the disappeared assuming the role of amateur forensic anthropologists," reports the Los Angeles Times.
  • Three Mexican priests were murdered in the same week (see Monday's briefs), a sign of general, widespread drug cartel violence, reports the Guardian. Over the past four years, 15 priests have been killed in Mexico, perhaps a sign of the obstacle they present for gangs seeking to control local power structures.
  • A $1.3 billion government program to hand out nearly 10.5 million televisions to Mexico's poor was rife with corruption, especially in the latter stages of the 2014-2015 implementation, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • But let the Mexican free of corruption throw the first stone, said Peña Nieto inaugurating National Transparency Week. He said Mexican society is interwoven with corruption in all of its strata, reports Animal Político.
  • Mexico's mining industry is strengthening organized crime, according to a prominent activist heading the government's Commission for the Dialogue with Indigenous Peoples. Illegal production makes up nearly 10 percent of the country's gold industry, but legitimate mining operations also have links to the cartels -- which either control them outright or demand extortion payments from national and international operators, reports InSight Crime.
  • El Faro reports on a shelter for families displaced by gang violence in a semi-rural municipality of Caluco in El Salvador. Nineteen families have gathered over the past few weeks in the first shelter of its kind since the civil war, but local authorities are running out of supplies and there's been no attention from the national government, according to Carlos Martínez.
  • Three people were killed and the vice governor of Goiás state was injured in a campaign rally shooting in the central Brazilian state, reports Reuters. José Eliton, who was leading to become Itumbiara mayor in this Sunday's municipal elections was wounded, the latest in a spate of violence against municipal candidates. (See Tuesday's briefs.)
  • The violence against candidates in Rio, particularly, is stoking fears that the city's shadowy militias, linked to rogue police officers, are seeking to influence the vote in Sunday's elections, reports the AFP.
  • The Colombian peace accord is a front-runner for next week's Nobel Peace Prize, reports Reuters. The award would theoretically be shared by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, though winning could hinge on the results of a national plebiscite on the agreement this Sunday. (Full coverage of the pre-plebiscite tomorrow.)
  • Colombia's second-largest guerrilla force, the ELN, says they're really ready to start peace negotiations now. The process was formally announced in March, but has been stymied by the group's continued kidnappings and attacks on infrastructure, reports Reuters.
  • More than 80 police officers in Honduras have allegedly been working for Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), reports TeleSur.
  • The 2009 coup in Honduras opened a chapter for extremely questionable hydro-power deals, with projects receiving permits despite political conflicts of interest and bypassing community consultation mechansims, reports El Faro. "Since the 2009 coup d'etat, the successive administrations of Micheletti, Lobo and Hernández have granted 111 concessions for hydroelectric constructions. They also approved an incentives law that grants fiscal exceptions to those who develop these projects. Some of Honduras' most powerful families created "green" companies to develop hydrological projects in the midst of extremely poor communities. The state buys most of the energy produced."
  • A third of Argentina's population is poor, according to numbers released by President Mauricio Macri's revamped statistics office, reports El País. It's the first time in years the country has an official statistic measuring poverty, though its in line with private assessments. Macri campaigned last year on the promise to revamp Argentina's discredited statistics office. But the ensuing change in methodology means there's no opportunity for comparison to past measurements, according to Página 12
  • U.S. President Barack Obama's candidate for ambassador in Cuba has no chance of Senate approval, reports the Guardian. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Peruvian authorities say a remote indigenous community burned a woman alive earlier this month, accusing her of making people sick through witchcraft, reports the Associated Press
  • Sandra the orangutan changed Argentine jurisprudence last year, when a judge declared her a non-human person, which entitled her to some legal rights enjoyed by humans. But she remains in her concrete cell in a Buenos Aires zoo -- that has since been shut down, partially in recognition of its inhumane housing for animals. Transferring Sandra poses risks to her health, and though everybody seems to agree her habitation should be improved in the meantime, not much has been done, reports the Associated Press.

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