Wednesday, March 22, 2017

JOH confronted in DC over Cáceres (March 22, 2017)

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández was confronted in Washington D.C. by protesters demanding an independent investigation into the murder last year of environmental activist Berta Cáceres, reports the Guardian.

Hernández met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. lawmakers, reports La Prensa.

Increasing violence against land activists around the world are frequently the result of a conspiracy aimed at silencing campaigners, according to an investigation by Yale Environment 360. They also found that while the victims are usually characterized as environmental activists, "their campaigns run much deeper and are often rooted in the social identity of minority groups," reports the Guardian, separately.

The piece goes in depth into Cáceres' assassination and her key role in reviving Lenca heritage as part of her campaigns. 

News Briefs
  • Ongoing testimony in a U.S. court from a former Honduran criminal group leader has  implicated the brother of current Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández. Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, said he met with the president's brother, Congressman Antonio "Tony" Hernández and discussed how a Maradiaga family business could carry out public works and pay a kickback to Hernández in return, reports InSight Crime. Already the former head of Los Cachiros had implicated former Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, and several media accounts say he also referenced the current president by his initials, JOH. (See March 13's post.)
  • Los Cachiros were so powerful at one point in Honduras that they had a group of police officers functioning as the organization's hit men, reports La Prensa based on Maradiaga's testimony in the U.S. Testimony shows how a group of six officers planned protection of shipments of cocaine across the country, reports La Prensa, separately.
  • Waldomiro Costa Pereira, a prominent Brazilian land activist, was killed by gunmen in a Para state hospital, where he was recovering from a previous assassination attempt, reports the BBC. Brazil has become one of the world's most dangerous places for land activists, according to national rights groups that point to 61 murders last year, reports Reuters.
  • Three Guatemalan police officers were killed yesterday, in a series of attacks on police, reports the BBC. The assaults on officers were apparently in retaliation for a raid on a gang controlled youth detention center, which led to the arrest of 13 suspected gang members and seizure of weapons. Dozens of inmates had been rioting in the center, and police entered to free hostages. The assaults were apparently carried out by the Barrio 18 gang, reports Reuters. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Haiti's parliament ratified Jack Guy Lafontant, a doctor with no previous political experience, as the country's new prime minister. The Chamber of Deputies confirmed President Jovenel Moïse's candidate early yesterday, after 19 hours of debate. Legislators questioned his suitability, as well as questions over his tax record. But much of the debate centered over how he will finance an ambitious list of priorities, reports the Miami Herald.  
  • Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez said the country will be pulling its peacekeeping troops out of Haiti at the end of the month, reports the Associated Press. The announcement comes a few days after U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres recommended ending the 13 year stabilization mission in Haiti. (See Monday's post.)
  • At least two people were wounded in Port-au-Prince on Monday when shots were fired at a motorcade carrying former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, reports the Associated Press.
  • New polls put Alianza País candidate Lenín Moreno ahead in Ecuador's upcoming second-round presidential vote, reports EFE. The ruling party candidate has 52.4 percent to conservative banker Guillermo Lasso's 47.6 percent. Moreno came out ahead in the February first round, but not by enough to win outright. The elections were marred by delayed results, which led to opposition accusations of irregularities. (See Feb. 21's post.) April 2's run-off will be technically simpler to tally, and electoral authorities promise quick results, reports TeleSUR.
  • Moreno's possible win is "good news," for the Nation's Greg Gandin, "indicating that the Trump effect might rebound in favor of the Latin American left, halting an emboldened neoliberal right, which now rules in Brazil and Argentina."
  • Oil theft is a major source of funding for Mexican drug gangs, which can earn up to $90,000 in seven minutes from tapping a pipeline of refined oil, according to an Atlantic Council study. Mexico is one of the biggest oil theft hotspots, where an estimated $1 billion is stolen each year. About 40 percent of that market is controlled by the Zetas cartel, reports the Guardian.
  • The family of a teen who died from drinking liquid methamphetamine while in U.S. Border Patrol custody in 2013 have been awarded a $1 million settlement, reports the BBC.
  • Mexicans are up in arms over pictures on social media of federal police officers posing with tourists in Playa del Carmen, in Quintana Roo state, reports the BBC.
  • Hong Kong joined China in suspending Brazilian meat imports in the wake of allegations that major meatpacking companies bribed inspectors to approve unsafe products, reports the BBC. (See yesterday's and Monday's briefs.)
  • Bolivia demanded Chile return two soldiers and seven custom agents detained over the weekend in a border altercation. Bolivian authorities say their forces were carrying out an anti-smuggling operation and the arrest of their agents ocurred on Bolivian soil, Chile says it occurred on its side of the border, reports EFE.
  • A two year WWF project has trained members of Guyana's Wai-Wai tribe to use cutting-edge software, smartphones and GPS to gather data and assess carbon stocks, reports the BBC

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