Friday, July 20, 2018

Nicaragua marks anniversary of Somoza's overthrow (July 20, 2018)

Yesterday marked the 39th anniversary of the Sandinista victory against the Somoza dictatorship, and President Daniel Ortega spoke before tens of thousands of cheering supporters. He called for the reestablishment of order, and asked protesters to rectify their behavior. (Reuters)

Three months into violent unrest in Nicaragua, the government maintains that protesters are criminals and terrorists, though the international community is increasingly uniformly critical of the government's repression. (Guardian)

The exceptions are Venezuela and Cuba, which characterize the protests as coup attempts. Speaking at the anniversary celebration yesterday, Venezuela's foreign minister linked protests in Nicaragua to those in Venezuela, and offered to help defend the Ortega government, reports el Nuevo Diario.

It's hardly the demographic provoking the most concern these days, but the Wall Street Journal covers the thousands of expats suddenly trapped by Nicaragua's unexpected violence.

News Briefs

  • The U.S. border separation policy has left the country without moral authority to pressure Latin American governments when it comes to dealing with Venezuela's refugee crisis, reports McClatchy DC. Calls for assistance in humanitarian efforts and requests to South American governments to open their doors to Venezuelans have raised eyebrows and questions over why the U.S. is not taking in more refugees.
  • Nicaraguans are only a tiny fraction of the thousands of Central Americans who each year try to cross into the U.S. But months of violent repression against anti-government protesters could well change that write FIU researcher José Miguel Cruz in the Conversation. The Ortegas' reliance on paramilitary groups to quash dissent echoes the conditions that created further violence in Nicaragua's neighbors, which in turn has pushed citizens to attempt escape.
  • Two months after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro won reelection, the opposition is more discredited and divided than ever. Meaning that viable opposition to Maduro may wind up coming from within Chavismo, argues Félix Seijas Rodríguez in Americas Quarterly.
  • Off-shore oil wells have the potential to turn Guyana into a wealthy country, but observers fear the opportunity will be difficult to take advantage of for a government with little regulation experience and plagued with corruption, reports the New York Times in an in-depth piece.
  • Peru's Supreme Court head resigned yesterday in the midst of a growing scandal over evidence of corruption and influence peddling in the country's top levels of judiciary. On Wednesday the judicial branch declared a three month emergency and legislators will analyze requesting a blanket resignation of all the National Council of the Magistracy judges. (AFP)
  • Lack of economic opportunity is strengthening the ranks of FARC dissidents, in the midst of delays implementing key parts of the 2016 peace deal, especially in relation to crop substitution, reports NACLA.
  • Brazil is one of the largest consumers of pesticide worldwide, often using products that are not permitted elsewhere, said Human Rights Watch in a report calling on the government to establish buffer zones around areas of pesticide use. (Associated Press)
  • A judicial kerfuffle earlier this month failed to liberate former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from prison, but will only boost the perception among supporters that he has been unfairly singled out by a biased judiciary -- making October's election a contest between whoever Lula picks as his stand-in and right-wing reactionary Jair Bolsonaro, argues the Economist.
  • Lula probably can't run, but Brazil's presidential election this year will still be all about him -- making it the eighth consecutive time the race runs around the charismatic former metallurgic union leader, writes Brian Winter in Americas Quarterly. His analysis fairly spot on for all those people who fail to understand the perennial appeal of the region's populists. " ... Like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator movies, Lula keeps emerging from the fiery wreckage intact – at least politically. You could write a whole book explaining why, but the essence of it is simple: Lula’s time in office marked the best years of many Brazilians’ lives, especially among the working class."
  • The Zika virus, which caused about 4,000 babies to be born with microcephaly, has drawn attention to Brazil’s “invisible children”, the thousands of babies born with neurodevelopmental disorders, reports the Guardian.
  • Brazil's indigenous affairs agency released footage of a lone uncontacted indigenous man in Rondônia. Specialists believe there are 113 uncontacted tribes living in the Brazilian Amazon – of which 27 groups have been confirmed – and one tribe living outside. (Guardian)
  • Honduran transportation unions paralyzed the country yesterday in a general strike calling for a reduction in fuel prices, reports Radio Progreso.
  • Unrest over fuel price increases mandated by the IMF demonstrate the difficulties President Jovenel Moïse will face in implementing his agenda, according to the Economist.

  • A constant flow of petitioners to president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador are asking for everything from government jobs to legal assistance. For some, they are a sign of unrealistic voter expectations that could trip up the landslide victor. (Guardian)
  • Mexico's energy ministry postponed planned oil block auctions until next year, after AMLO assumes office. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Canada's top diplomat will meet with AMLO to discuss NAFTA renegotiation talks later this month. (Reuters)
  • Paraguay is Taiwan's sole ally in South America -- a warm relationship born in the anti-communist fervor of the Cold War. But incoming president Mario Abdo Benítez plans to seek a warmer relationship with China, reports the Economist.
  • Uruguay celebrated the first anniversary of legal marijuana sales in pharmacies. Though the start was slow and marked by insufficient supply, AFP reports on a more streamlined procedure now in the 14 pharmacies selling cannabis.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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