Friday, September 9, 2016

Lingering complications from foreign intervention in Haiti; Colombia's path to peace (Sept. 9, 2016)

Three separate pieces pointing to the many complications of foreign intervention in Haiti, along with their lingering effects.
  • CEPR has a report on Clinton e-mails that point to U.S. intervention in Haiti's 2010 presidential election. With Haiti in the midst of a political crisis in which it hasn't had an elected president for most of the year, and ahead of October's upcoming presidential election "re-do" that is being carried out against U.S. recommendations to hew to the challenged results of last year's election, the piece has a useful review of foreign intervention in the country's last attempt to pick a leader democratically.
  • The effects of the U.N.'s long denial of involvement in Haiti's cholera outbreak were devastating, though the organization has now backtracked. "The United Nations’ stonewalling had ripple effects,"writes epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux in the New York Times. "Convinced that the spread of the disease was the result of intractable problems like climate and poverty, the Haitian government wrote a response plan that assumed the bacteria would linger in the environment indefinitely and new cases would continue to pop up. Cholera became accepted as part of the daily life of Haitians. One Haitian official told me he was comfortable with the status quo, as “only” 1 percent of cholera patients were dying. By incorrectly blaming Haiti’s climate and poverty, the United Nations crushed the hopes of Haitians." Now the U.N. must step up to help Haiti detect and control outbreaks, he argues.
  • Actress Angelina Jolie made a surprise appearance at a major U.N. peacekeeping summit, and told delegates that the organization's credibility had been undermined by cases of sexual abuse by peacekeepers. Reports of abuse from missions around the world include Haiti, notes the Guardian.
And several issues as Colombia heads towards the peace plebiscite and beyond. (See yesterday's briefs as well.)

  • Difficulties in implementing peace in Colombia include convincing marginal communities -- who have long fallen outside the reach of the state -- that they will be defended from other armed actors once the FARC lays down arms. The guerrilla group's demobilization could leave a power vacuum to be filled by the ELN and armed groups known as BACRIM, wriets Annette Idler in the Washington Post. "In the very short term, if Colombia’s people on the peripheries have greater trust in the Colombian state, that would help pave the way to a “Yes” in the October plebiscite, which would set the course for the six-month demobilization period. This would deprive newly emerging violent groups of social support, while empowering democratic processes. It is also key to reducing new grievances,similar to those that were at the root of the civil war in the first place and thus would help to prevent Colombia’s violent history from repeating itself."
  • It's important to understand that defeating the FARC militarily was not a viable option, said former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria this week. Gaviria is part of the "yes" campaign leadership, and criticized opponents of the deal for pushing erroneous analysis of the accord, reports the Latin American Herald Tribune.
  • Colombia's attorney general has requested aerial fumigation of coca crops be reinstated, as the country attempts to control booming coca production ahead of the peace process, reports InSight Crime. While the controversial practise was suspended last year, manual eradication has become impossible due to blockades and protests, armed groups and weapons in targeted areas, tropical disease and reduction in manpower, argued the attorney general earlier this month.
  • Note: Yesterday's brief on the upcoming Colombian plebiscite on the peace accord with the FARC erroneously said that the "yes" vote has a narrow margin. The Associated Press piece cited said it has an 11-35 percent lead.

News Briefs
  • Cuba's armed forces -- specifically their business interests -- may be the prime beneficiaries of the country's recent tourism boom, fueled by the diplomatic detente with the U.S., reports the Associated Press. The military's tourism arm is on a hotel building spree, while the military-run Mariel port is seeing double-digit growth, much of it related to tourism demands. 
  • Honduran authorities have captured a sixth suspect in relation to environmental activist Berta Cáceres murder in March. The head of Honduras' criminal investigation unit said this was the last suspect sought in relation to the shooting itself, but investigators are still trying to determine who ordered the killing, reports the Associated Press. One of the arrested suspects was an active duty military officer, and at least one (possibly three) worked for the hydroelectric dam project that Cáceres opposed.
  • Brazil's attorney general is urging the country's Supreme Court to allow abortions for pregnant women infected with the Zika virus, known to cause severe fetal malformation. The petition has already sparked backlash from religious groups and some legal authorities, reports the Wall Street Journal. Attorney General Rodrigo Janot argued forcing women to continue their pregnancies in the context of Zika infection would violate their “reproductive autonomy” and subject them to emotional and psychological "torture."
  • Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment a week ago left the average Brazilian more confused than anything else, reports the Financial Times based on an old fashioned "man on the street" piece from São Paulo’s central Sé square. The findings are backed by the latest Datafolha poll which found that nearly a third of the country doesn't know who the current president, Michel Temer, is. Such political apathy is dangerous in a context in which increasing amounts of citizens seem to want change and have lost faith in the political system to deliver it, argues Samantha Pearson.
  • The U.S. is moving away from privately run prisons -- an important message for Latin American countries with the model. Though the regions penal system is notoriously overcrowded, "private prisons are not the solution to the explosion of the incarcerated population in the Americas," according to a new WOLA analysis. "... Addressing the prison crisis starts with more humane drug laws, and an end to punitive approaches to low-level, nonviolent offenders, and an emphasis on rehabilitation and reinsertion programs."
  • Omar Graffigna, the former head of Argentina's air force, was convicted yesterday in the kidnapping and torture of two young activists during the country's last dictatorship, two among thousands of disappeared in the period. The 90-year-old was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 1978 abduction of Patricia Roisinblit and Jose Manuel Perez Rojo, reports the Associated Press. One of the plaintiffs in the trial was the son of the couple, who was born in captivity after their abduction and raised by an air force intelligence operative until finding out his true identity at 21, reports the Guardian.
  • Successful efforts to reduce homicide in Latin America must be based on four key approaches, argue Robert Muggah and Ilona Szabo de Carvalho in Foreign Affairs: data driven strategies, focusing resources on violence hotspots, involvement of the community in creating safe spaces and social cohesion, and strong leadership in resolving the problem. Not easy, but it could lead to stunning turnarounds like famous reductions in Bogotá, Medellín, and Ciudad Juarez, they say.
  • Bolivian transgender activists celebrated the new IDs they received yesterday, the result of a law that permits citizens to change their official documents to reflect their gender identity, reports the BBC.
  • Chile's Senate health commission approved a bill that would permit abortion in case of rape, serious health risk for the mother and grave fetal malformation, reports TeleSur. The bill would lift a decades long ban on the practise by dictator Augusto Pinochet, and has deeply divided lawmakers.
  • Contraband is costing Guatemala 22 percent of its annual budget, reports InSight Crime.
Latin America Daily Briefing

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