Thursday, December 15, 2016

FARC expels commanders who refuse to demobilize (Dec. 15, 2016)

The FARC is showing signs of division. The guerrilla group's leadership announced the expulsion of five mid-level commanders for refusing to demobilize and follow the peace deal with the Colombian government, reports the Guardian

Experts calculate, using other demobilization processes as a reference, that about 10 percent of the 6,000 FARC troops could go rogue. In the communication the group's high command warned other fighters not to follow "a futureless path of adventure," and rather to remain with the FARC through the demobilization, reports la Silla Vacía

The demobilization process is a moment of deconstruction of myths regarding the FARC. The dissidents (both these and previous ones over the past year) show that the organization does have elements that favor drug trafficking over revolution, while fighters' movement towards concentration zones is also demonstrating the key social and political role the guerrillas played in certain regions, according to la Silla Vacía.

News Briefs
  • The Colombian government pardoned at least 110 FARC rebels, the first of an estimated 300 pardons that will be issued for "political crimes," but not more serious offences such as killings, rape and torture, reports Al Jazeera
  • The revised peace pact approved by Colombia's Congress purportedly improved the issue of transitional justice for human rights crimes committed during Colombia's five decade conflict. But a last minute change at the behest of army commanders would exempt the armed forces from "command responsibility," meaning officers in charge of troops who committed human rights crimes would not be held criminally responsible, writes Human Rights Watch's Daniel Wilkinson in a Financial Times op-ed. The issue is all the more shocking considering that FARC commanders expressly rejected such an exception for their own chain of command, he notes. At stake are prosecutions of 14 army generals under investigation for the so-called "false positives" cases in which the military lured civilians to remote areas, then killed them and presented them as guerrillas, to inflate body counts. (See post for June 25, 2015, for example.)
  • Colombian senators approved a referendum to ask citizens whether they believe gay couples should be permitted to adopt, reports El País. Voters will be asked whether they would like to modify the constitution to stipulate that only a couple constituted by a man and a woman could adopt -- a measure that would leave out single parents, divorcees, and widows/ers as well as same-sex couples. The country's highest court determined that adoption agencies could not discriminate against same-sex couples last year. (See briefs for Nov. 6, 2015.) Opponents say the measure is discriminatory, and sends the message that families differing from a heterosexual married norm are less desirable. But the measure was presented with the signatures of 2 million Colombian voters, notes CNN.
  • A heavy handed approach to citizen security is one of the few points of agreement between Venezuela's government and political opposition. InSight Crime analyzes new data showing a significant increase in deaths associated to clashes between security forces and alleged criminals. 
  • Venezuelan foreign minister Delcy Rodríguez scuffled with security guards who blocked her attempt to enter a Mercosur meeting in the Argentine Foreign Affairs Ministry, reports Página 12. Venezuela was ousted from the trade bloc earlier this month. (See Dec. 2's briefs.) Rodríguez later managed to meet with Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, but did not gain access to the Mercosur meeting of foreign ministers, reports Reuters.
  • Venezuela's push to withdraw the 100 bolivar bill, currently the highest in circulation, threaten to leave citizens cashless just before the Christmas holidays, reports the Financial Times. Though the government planned to replaced them with higher denomination notes to be released this week, so far they have not entered circulation. (See Monday's post and yesterday's briefs.)
  • Hondura's supreme electoral tribunal accepted the candidacy of President Juan Orlando Hernández for reelection, reports El Heraldo. (See Nov. 10's post.)
  • A massive security deal between Honduras and Israel -- for more than $200 million in military contracts -- could be nixed by Washington opposition, reports the Jerusalem Post. (See Tuesday's briefs.) The U.S. opposes an Hernández administration policy allowing the air force to shoot down suspected drug planes flying through Honduran airspace, according to the JP. 
  • Fears that the U.S. could rollback the detente with Cuba has further weakened the island's economic forecast for next year, reports the Financial Times.
  • Brazilian President Michel Temer received another corruption related blow yesterday when an advisor resigned yesterday amid reports he had accepted illegal payments from construction company Odebrecht SA, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • A Brazilian chemical company agreed to pay fines and damages of about $957 million as part of a leniency accord with prosecutors investigating a corruption scheme centered on Petrobras, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Brazil's lower chamber of congress voted early today to debate a bill that would increase the minimum retirement age by about a decade. Left-wing parties used stalling methods for 10 hours before the proposal was accepted by lower house's constitutional affairs committee, reports Reuters. The Temer administration is carrying out broad austerity measures, aimed at curbing public spending and restoring investor confidence in the economy. This proposal in particular would set the minimum retirement age at 65, in a country where most people work until 54. It is fiercely opposed by labor unions.
  • Economic activity decreased in Brazil in Oct for the fourth straight month, reports Reuters.
  • The tenuous ties between Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's government and Keiko Fujimori's right-wing party which dominates congress are fraying, reports Reuters. Though Fujimori's legislators initially helped him pass raft of reforms, they are now angling to oust PPK's education minister.
  • Ten year's of militarized fighting against criminal gangs in Mexico has been a mistake, according to the chairman of the U.N. Committee on Enforced Disappearances, reports TeleSur.
  • A standoff between a gang and vigilante group in Mexico's Guerrero state had a relatively happy ending. Residents of Totolapan released the gang leader's mother, who they had kidnapped, in exchange for a businessman captured by "los Tequileros," reports the Associated Press. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • New York Times español op-ed by Patricio Fernández analyzes the roots of a massive discontent in Chile with traditional politicians. And points to the growth of a new middle class that demands less economic inequality. "Chile has experienced an unprecedented political dispersion in the last decades A new order to replace the Concertación, now called Nueva Majoría, has not yet emerged. And the political class does not seem to have found the way to translate into compelling discourses and proposals the prevailing dissatisfaction," he writes. A generation raised without fear of a democratic failure is now demanding far more of its leadership.
  • Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's widow is accused of embezzling public funds through a not-for-profit women’s group in order to fund her husbands fight against extradition from Britain in the 1990s, reports AFP.
  • Nicaragua hired a U.S. lobby firm at $35,000 per month for the next year, reports the Hill. President Daniel Ortega recently won his third consecutive presidency and has been criticized for authoritarian tendencies. (See Nov. 7's post, for example.)
  • A joke gift to Chile's minister of economy -- an inflatable sex doll with a note saying "to stimulate the economy" taped over its mouth -- has caused a furor. President Michelle Bachelet weighed in on Twitter, calling the joke misogynist and an affront to her government's goal of promoting respect for women, reports the Associated Press.

No comments:

Post a Comment