Thursday, May 10, 2018

Another former FARC fighter killed (May 10, 2018)

The FARC denounced the killing of another demobilized guerrilla fighter earlier this week. The rebel group turned political party accused the government of failing to take appropriate measures to protect former fighters, reports CNN.

Last month the head of the U.N. mission in Colombia urged the government to step up reintegration efforts, especially in light of increasing challenges to the faltering deal and upcoming presidential elections.

Thirty-eight former fighters have been assassinated since the force signed a peace deal with the Colombian government in 2016, according to EFE. Twenty-two of the killings have happened this year, reports Semana. Though the perpetrators of the latest death are unknown, nine of the homicides have been ascribed to the ELN, the Gulf Clan, and FARC dissidents. Some have questioned whether they are an intentional sabotaging of the peace accord.

FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño told party members that "the conflict hasn't ended, what has changed is its form of expression." He called on former fighters to maintain discipline and take care of themselves, and said the assassinated former fighter remained in an area where paramilitaries and dissidents were known to operate, reports El Espectador.

Other Colombia news
  • An 11-member truth commission, part of the peace deal, officially began work earlier this week. It will hold public hearings aimed at exposing the killings, kidnappings, sexual violence, and other crimes committed during Colombia's five decades of internal conflict. It will also facilitate private meetings between victims and perpetrators, reports Reuters.
  • La Silla Vacía analyzes whether presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, polling second ahead of elections later this month, will manage to keep the votes favoring the peace deal.
News Briefs

  • The Trump administration's termination of a temporary immigration program for undocumented migrants from Central America and Haiti went against career diplomats' strong warnings that expelling 300,000 migrants with permission to legally work and reside in the U.S. could destabilize the region and trigger further illegal immigration, reports the Washington Post.
  • Mexico is increasingly the frontline for dealing with Central Americans fleeing violence at home. Asylum applications have swamped authorities, and the country is increasingly perilous for migrants traveling through or seeking to stay. At the same time, the flood of migrants has provoked xenophobic backlash in the country's south, reports a new International Crisis Group report. "Mexico’s border policy, currently part of the government’s efforts to get what it wants in negotiations with the U.S., should turn instead to preventing the festering local resentments, crime and violence that lurk along its southern frontier. The geopolitics of migration must not delay or dilute attempts to lessen the perils that refugees and migrants face."

  • More than one million people have entered Colombia from Venezuela since midway through last year, according to the Red Cross. The numbers correspond to those who passed through official entry points, but could be higher. Not all have stayed in Colombia however, notes the AFP. The Red Cross called the situation in Venezuela a humanitarian crisis.
  • Military officers have joined the exodus to Colombia and Brazil, forcing the Maduro government to call upon retirees and militia to fill the void, reports Bloomberg.
  • If reelected next week, President Nicolás Maduro promised to win the "economic war" he blames for the country's protracted crisis, reports Reuters.
  • In the midst of the mounting crisis, blackouts have grown more frequent and are lasting longer, reports the Associated Press. Human rights organization Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict reports that blackouts prompted 325 street protests across Venezuela in the first three months of 2018.
Pink Tide
  • The Nation analyzes the ebb of the Pink Tide in the region -- pushed by leftist fatigue and economic turmoil --, the right-wing backlash it provoked, and its lasting successes in promoting rights and socio-economic advances. It was one of the largest marches to date after a crackdown last month on dissent killed an estimated 63 people, reports the Associated Press.
  • Tens of thousands of citizens protested against the Ortega government in Managua yesterday, reports the BBC. Their demands included President Daniel Ortega's resignation, freedom of expression and an end to violence.
  • Unsubstantiated allegations of Kremlin influence in the  U.N. Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), demonstrate "the unintended consequences of heightened concerns about Russian interference," writes Rachel Schwartz in the Washington Post's Monkey Cage. "There is little evidence to suggest the CICIG has become part of the Russian state’s “long arm.” But the allegations of Russian interference may effectively doom the CICIG’s anti-corruption mission altogether, by flipping its most consequential source of foreign support: the U.S. government." The allegations have played to Guatemalan CICIG opponents' interests, giving them new fodder to sabotage the commission's anti-corruption investigations. (See Monday's post.)
  • Thousands of Guatemalan teachers protested the Morales administration to demand it adhere to a February collective bargaining pact, reports EFE.
  • High ranking defense and military officials from a dozen Latin American countries, the U.S. and Canada are attending the Central America Security Conference in El Salvador, aimed at analyzing strategies to combat street gangs and drug cartels, reports the Associated Press.
  • A credit line from the IMF bought the Argentine government some breathing room in the midst of a growing financial crisis, but the political cost could be high for the Macri administration, reports the Wall Street Journal. Argentines are gun-shy when it comes to the IMF, given the impact of its conditions in causing the 2001 crisis, notes the Guardian.
  • The latest round of the Operation Car Wash investigation -- the 51st, dubbed Déjà Vu -- implicates President Michel Temer's PMDB party in a kickback scheme bribe of $40 million, reports Folha de S. Paulo. But massive backlogs in Brazilian courts could slow down prosecutions and raise questions about the massive corruption investigations' long-term impact, according to InSight Crime.
  • Authorities in Paraguay issued an arrest warrant for the man President Horacio Cartés has described as his "soul brother," wanted by Brazilian prosecutors in relation to the Car Wash investigation, reports the Associated Press.
  • Operation Car Wash's track-record against corruption is impressive, but its biggest test yet will be the upcoming October elections, according to Foreign Affairs. "The bulk of the political class today is betting that public opinion will tire of scandal after scandal and that the Operation Car Wash team will become exhausted or start making serious mistakes. If they are correct, the October election may perpetuate, not reform, Brazil’s bad old ways."
  • The Brazil-China Cooperation Fund, administered by the Chinese and Brazilian governments, has agreed to provide $2.4 billion in financing to five projects, reports Reuters.
U.S. trade
  • The U.N. said the "unjust" U.S. trade embargo on Cuba has cost the island's economy $130 billion over nearly six decades, the same estimate given by Cuba's government, reports Reuters.
  • Top level NAFTA talks made little headway yesterday, stalled on the issue of automobiles, according to Reuters.
  • Mexican relations with the U.S. have been even more fraught since U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to send National Guard troops to the shared border last month. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto also has issued an unusual order to review all bilateral relations with the United States, reports the Washington Post
  • Presidential front-runner Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is clashing with Mexico's business elite, who he accuses of scheming to undermine his candidacy, reports the Los Angeles Times. AMLO said some business leaders have pushed the ruling PRI party -- lagging in the polls -- to favor the second-place candidate, Ricardo Anaya.
  • AMLO said he'd welcome international organizations and civil society organizations' participation in fighting drug violence and corruption, reports Reuters. Without mentioning it by name, he said he'd be willing to allow the creation of a CICIG-style body.
  • Mexican electoral authorities are investigating 17 male candidates who allegedly registered as transgender to avoid a gender quota in local races in the southern state of Oaxaca, reports the Associated Press.

  • The Guardian has a photo-essay of Jalousie, one of Haiti's largest slums, where about 80,000 people live.

Tariq Zaidi/Guardian

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take?  Let me know ... 
Latin America Daily Briefing

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