Friday, August 3, 2018

OAS creates working group for Nicaragua (Aug. 3, 2018)

The Organization of American States decided yesterday to create a working group aimed at finding a peaceful resolution in Nicaragua. The resolution, which calls for the group to promote a national dialogue for peace, was approved yesterday in an extraordinary session of the group’s permanent council, was presented jointly by Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the United States, Paraguay and Peru. (Reuters)

The resolution was backed by 20 of 34 countries, and opposed only by Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia and San Vicente and the Grenadines. (EFE)

Yesterday the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said the death toll in more than three months of protests against President Daniel Ortega's government toll is 317, a number that included 23 minors and 21 police officers. Ortega has acknowledged 195 dead, while the independent Nicaraguan Pro-Human Rights Commission has reported 450. (Associated Press)

Paramilitaries have been prominent in the repression and killings of protesters, but they are also kidnapping and torturing hundreds of people in the crackdown on dissidents, reports the Washington Post.

Human Rights Watch called for continued international pressure to end the "bloodbath," in a video showing graphic images from the past three months of repression. The Washington Post has a photo essay on the victims and their families.

The U.S. has been critical of Nicaragua's repression, but its Immigration and Customs Enforcement has continued to work with authorities to deport Nicaraguans living in the U.S., reports the Guardian.


Colombia grants temporary residency to 440,000 Venezuelans

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday granted 440,000 Venezuelan refugees temporary residency permits. They allow recipients to to study, work and get medical care for two years. Santos, who leaves office next week, called on Venezuela's leadership to allow international humanitarian relief to enter the country and stem the flow of migrants escaping an increasingly acute crisis situation. Santos said more than 1 million Venezuelans have fled into Colombia in the last 18 months, reports the Associated Press.

An estimated 35,000 Venezuelans cross Simon Bolivar bridge into Colombia every day, Most are seeking supplies that can no longer be obtained in Venezuela, but approximately 4,000 stay in Colombia each day, reports Al Jazeera.

News Briefs

Rule of law
  • Strengthening rule of law in Latin America has proved difficult, though 15 countries have implemented judicial reform switching to adversarial systems, reports the Economist.
  • More than 260,000 people died from violence during six decades of guerrilla conflict in Colombia, according to a new report by the National Center for Historical Memory. It is considered the most comprehensive accounting of deaths directly connected to the conflict, including murders, massacres and terrorist attacks, reports the Associated Press.
  • Paramilitary violence plagues largely black communities on Colombia's Pacific coast, reports NACLA.
  • Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht is suing the Colombian government for $1.3 billion alleging the authorities illegally expropriated assets during a bribery probe. (Reuters)
  • Colombia's National Electoral Council decided to archive an investigation into alleged Odebrecht funding in outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos' 2014 reelection campaign. (Semana)
  • Debora Diniz, a leading Brazilian abortion activist, is in hiding, after receiving death threats. She will still apear in today's Supreme Court hearing challenging Brazil's abortion laws, which criminalize the procedure in most cases. (Guardian)
  • President Evo Morales' attempts to win another reelection are not just about personal ambition, argues a piece in The Nation that looks at the difficult position of his MAS party negotiating with social movements that support the government but nonetheless take to the streets to protest policies. Morales is key to MAS's electoral success, which is why the party's constituent organizations are adamant he run again, despite the unconstitutionality of a fourth presidential term.
  • Ecuadorian officials announced security cooperation with the U.S. including weapons purchases. (Associated Press)
  • The Economist applauds Argentina's pro-export beef policies.
  • Los Cuadernos de Corrupción: a scandal involving notebooks alleging widespread corruption related to public works under the Kirchner governments only promises to grow. (See yesterday's briefs.) Over a dozen people are in jail over the case based on records allegedly kept by a government chofer, but the evidence itself has not been presented in court. (Página 12 and La Política Online) Raul Kollmann points to holes in the case and hazards that authorities are hoping jailed businessmen cave and confess to bribery. (Página 12)
  • Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo found the 128th "grandchild," offspring of the disappeared in the last dictatorship who were appropriated and illegally given in adoption. (Página 12)

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