Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Nicaraguan protesters repressed again (May 29, 2018)

Nicaraguan police detain protester in confrontations yesterday

Two people were killed yesterday in Nicaragua, and about 40 wounded, in the midst of confrontations between security forces, armed government supporters and anti-government protesters, reports El Confidencial. It was the bloodiest day since April, when protests led to at least 77 deaths over the course of a week, reports El País. The government ordered a crackdown after students took over the National Engineering University (UNI), up until now controlled by pro-government forces.

The Ortega administration said it would be willing to return to negotiations with the opposition Alianza Cívica. The talks, mediated by the Episcopal Conference, were suspended last week due to lack of progress. (See last Thursday's briefs.)

Yesterday the Alianza Cívica called for a massive peaceful protest, saying the government has not met the minimal demands for dialogue: stopping violent repression of protests and dismantling armed youth groups, reports El Confidencial.

The "thuggish" response by the government has eroded its traditional pillars of support in the Catholic Church and the business community, reports Reuters. On Sunday the leading private sector association called on businesses to join protests for justice.

EFE denounced that its team was harassed by police while covering repression of protesters who were shot at with rubber bullets.

At Slate, Cintia Membreño gives a first person account of how the Ortega administration has alienated youths.

Repression briefs
  • El Confidencial gathered x-rays of victims of repression showing precise bullet wounds to the head.
  • The family of Angel Gahona, a journalist shot in April while covering the protests live, believe police took advantage of the chaos to kill a reporter and send a message to his colleagues, reports the Guardian. He was known in his home city of Bluefields for brave investigative pieces into police corruption and drug trafficking.
News Briefs

  • The eighth day of a truckers' strike in Brazil kept the country paralyzed yesterday -- despite concessions on Sunday to lower the price of fuel, that initially seemed to have won over key unions, reports the Guardian. Over 600 roads remained blocked yesterday. São Paulo and Río de Janeiro operated on holiday schedule, with reduced bus frequency and many schools closed. Among the demands voiced yesterday by truckers still on strike: overthrow of President Michel Temer and a military intervention, reports El País. The strike is feeding into anger at the Temer administration -- 55 percent of the country disapproves of the strike, but 95 percent disagrees with how the government has dealt with it, reports the New York Times.
  • Mexico's National Electoral Institute (INE) has fined independent presidential candidate Jaime Rodríguez Calderón. The Nuevo Laredo governor, known as "El Bronco" is accused of a series of irregular campaign practices -- including using 652 municipal employees to gather signatures in support of his candidacy and using individual citizens as fronts for irregular financial contributions. The case has been elevated to the national prosecutor's office, reports El País. He is also accused of making irregular payments to campaign workers collecting signatures, reports Animal Político.
  • A leading Mexican business association, Coparmex, has asked the government to professionalize police and improve access to justice in the face of a rampant increase in violence that has affected many businesses, reports El País. Business leaders say the high levels of violence have become an obstacle to economic growth, and called on the government and candidates in July's presidential election to stem robberies, reports Reuters.
  • Paraguayan President Horacio Cartés resigned yesterday, three months before the end of his mandate. The surprise move, aimed at allowing him to assume a senate seat and maintain immunity from prosecution, is considered illegal by many jurists, reports El País. The resignation must however be approved by Congress. Approval seems likely, according to the Associated Press. The head of the Senate is former President Fernando Lugo, illegally ousted in 2008. Lugo has said he would not accept the resignation, nor would he swear in Cartés as senator because he considers the candidacy illegal.
  • Guatemala's government admitted that U.S. casino magnate Sheldon Adleson flew the official delegation to Israel two weeks ago. (See May 17's briefs.) Manfredo Marroquin, director of civil society organization Citizen Action, said accepting such a gift is illegal under Guatemalan law, and the country's human rights prosecutor also voiced concern, reports the Associated Press.
  • The Peruvian government said it is formally requesting the U.S. to extradite former President Alejandro Toledo so he can face accusations of taking $20 million in bribes from the Brazilian construction firm, Odebrecht, reports the Associated Press.
  • Thousands of protesters demonstrated in Bolivian cities after a student was killed in a manifestation last week, reports the Associated Press.
El Mozote
  • The case of a 1981 massacre in El Salvador has been reopened, allowing the survivors of the infamous El Mozote executions to give testimony about the atrocities carried out by military forces in their village, reports the New York Times. Evidence is showing what happened, but has not yet shed light as to why soldiers were so brutal and who ordered the killings.
  • The Macri administration's "gradualist" approach to slashing spending has failed to address inflation, and has both investors and citizens angry. Economic experts urge further cuts, which will likely fuel discontent and strengthen the political opposition, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • The community of Azacualpa in northwestern Honduras is divided over a gold mine expansion that is digging up the local cemetery, reports the Guardian.
War on Drugs
  • In the midst of record-rates of violence in the region, much of it linked to illicit drugs, the time has come for Latin American countries to consider legalizing narcotics, ECLAC head Alicia Barcena said in a Paris forum. "I’m going to be very provocative. Who would drug legalization be good for? Latin America and the Caribbean, for God’s sake. Because the illegality is what’s killing people," she said, according to Reuters. "It’s time to seriously consider legalizing drugs."

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