Friday, August 17, 2018

Honduras protest killings remain unpunished (Aug. 17, 2018)

Six months after Honduran security forces killed at least 16 people in post-election protests, not a single indictment has been filed in the cases. Activists say the public prosecutor's office is dragging its feet. And families of the victims have been intimidated and threatened. (Guardian)

Human rights organizations say 38 people died in the post-electoral unrest. The U.N. high commission for human rights has described 16 of those deaths as extrajudicial executions.The public ministry said there are 22 cases under investigation, but there have been no advances and authorities give no information to families and organizations of civil society, reports Contra Corriente.

News Briefs

  • Brazil's top electoral court is expected to decide whether former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva can run for office in the next few weeks -- possibly before campaign advertising on TV and radio begins on Aug. 31. (See yesterday's post.) Lula's candidacy will likely be blocked due to a law prohibiting people convicted of crimes from holding office. Nonetheless, Lula's support could catapult his likely replacement on the ballot, Fernando Haddad, into winning the election, according to Reuters.
  • Brazil's system for electing lawmakers is byzantine and poorly understood. Yet Congress is more important than who holds the presidency, argues journalist Vincent Bevins in Americas Quarterly. The media must provide more information about candidates and the accusations of corruption that the majority of legislators face. That being said, he also notes that political reform is necessary, as most of the candidates aren't even elected directly, further complicating efforts to educate voters.
  • A celebrity plastic surgeon charged with murder in relation to unorthodox butt enhancing proceedures has drawn attention to Brazil's culture of plastic surgery, reports the Washington Post. Women are under intense pressure regarding their looks in their personal and professional lives, notes the New York Times. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Paraguay's new president, Mario Abdo Benítez has promised to target judicial corruption and organized crime. But background and choice of cabinet members casts doubt on his true commitment to those causes, reports InSight Crime. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Three years after a broad corruption scheme dubbed "La Línea" forced out Guatemala's president and vice president, InSight Crime has an extensive -- and juicy! -- analysis of how their administration "was a perfect example of “pay-for-play” in Guatemalan politics, wherein companies finance elections to receive benefits or contracts from the government."
  • Harsh U.S. policies against Central American migrants -- including the now suspended family separation policy and the decision that migrants cannot claim asylum on the grounds of gang violence or domestic abuse -- is leading many migrants to stay in Mexico rather than continue their travels north. Mexican authorities may quickly find themselves overwhelmed, warns the Economist.
  • The US DEA and Haiti's narcotics police are responsible for security failures that have allowed massive shipments of drugs to flow through Haiti's ports, reports the Miami Herald. New whistleblower allegations "coupled with interviews and documents obtained by the Herald, paint a picture of a DEA office in Haiti operating with little oversight as supervisory agents allowed what might have been the biggest drug bust in Haiti in a decade to slip through their fingers."
  • David Smolansky, an exiled former mayor in Venezuela, calls for more active international engagement with the Venezuelan crisis. He calls for extending sanctions against Venezuelan officials, and restricting their international movement, as well as standardizing an asylum system for the massive flows of refugees. (Americas Quarterly)
  • Venezuela's most significant anti-inflation move of late has been revamping bank notes and lopping off five zeros from the badly depreciated Bolivar. But experts say the changes are largely cosmetic and will not significantly tame the country's hyper inflation problem. (New York Times)
  • Armed drones are not just for Venezuela -- Mexican drug cartels are reportedly employing them to attack enemies. (InSight Crime)
  • Mexican authorities have raised the bounty on Jalisco New Generation Cartel kingpin, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, known as "El Mencho." The announcement came as the US Drug Enforcement Administration and Mexican officials plan to deepen cooperation against cartels, reports the Guardian.
Costa Rica
  • Costa Rican authorities are battling worsening violence, driven by local crime groups disputing domestic drug markets, reports InSight Crime. The official strategy has targeted heads of criminal gangs, causing fragmentation and an increase in violent competition. However an increase in fire arms has also contributed. The government announced a new public security plan, based on Medellín's, that "seeks to increase collaboration between federal and community officials, and prioritize resources toward prevention and police operations in high risk areas."
War on Drugs
  • Despite different official attitudes and international alliances, Peru and Bolivia share the common goal of eliminating the air bridge, an airplane route drug cartels use to smuggle cocaine from Peru, through Bolivia, to Brazil, reports the Economist.
  • In the New Internationalist, Carmen Herrera traces the history of the Sandinista National Liberation Front and their evolution from revolutionaries to authoritarian party.
Trinidad and Tobago
  • Trinidad and Tobago's chief justice failed to halt an investigation into his private life and business dealings, in a ruling by the UK's judicial committee of the privy council. Ivor Archie is under scrutiny for close friendship with a "convicted felon" -- but the case is also drawing attention to Trinidad and Tobago's climate of hostility against gay men, "buggery" remains punishable by 25 years in prison. (Guardian)
  • At least two -- and plausibly several more -- Argentine women have died due to complications from clandestine abortions since senators rejected a bill legalizing abortions last week. (Página 12) Luciana Peker calls it "femicide by institutional omission," and said opposing views presented in the long Senate debate have rolled back advances in women's health and will likely frighten more women seeking medical attention in relation to abortions. (Página 12)
  • And the government has posponed presenting a penal code reform -- reportedly over disagreement within the ruling coalition over how and whether to continue penalizing women who undergo abortions. (Página 12)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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